Author Topic: [Circle of Hands] Scene cuts, charm and other thoughts after actual play  (Read 643 times)

Tor Erickson

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So we played on Monday, it was me, Tony, Tom, and Cosmo, and had a blast. Tony and I have been discussing since, and I thought the conversation was interesting so I suggested we take it to the forum to share:

Tony said: My thoughts on the system prior to play are strengthened after actually playing. i.e. I told you before they give you a good general idea of a setting and how to play, but don't rely on them for specifics, it's better to make up your own shit (which you did a bit of).

I enjoyed how we played, and I think it will get better (more successful outcomes) as we play and become more familiar. I feel I had an advantage from having read the thing a couple times so I was familiar with the process it wants you to go through (Be helpful in the community based on your social class, make a local friend or you're fucked, magic is way better for conflict resolution).

I already mentioned to you, but more time skips. The whole thing doesn't have to take place in 48 hour game time hours. Ron mentions (somewhere don't ask me to find it) that a way to get your second charm die is "to perform your social roll for a couple days" so there is the implication that Circle knights stay for at least a week, up to a month depending sort of hanging out and helping out (from my reading interpretation).

I think we've stumbled over most of the stuff that will cause us to pause and fight over the rules, so anything beyond this is smoother sailing.

Then Tor said: Great comments. I, too, was struck, by how the system reinforces the style of play you describe. Fit in, make yourself useful, be careful about standing out, or you could be in trouble. My favorite scenes from yesterday revolved around these issues and their interplay: Vreni confronting the drunk boatwright outside Gunda’s house, and how that played out more or less successfully b/c she had community support, and also Irmintrude’s confrontation with the gang of a-hole freemen.

I mean, there is something universal about a community knocking down the peg that sticks out: and it’s frightening, and that was exactly what happened with Irminitrude and it was brutal, and ugly, and in the world of Circle of Hands, that’s what life is like.

What’s interesting about this, and what makes it more than just misery tourism, is that as Circle Knights, you have some power to change things. Don’t like that a woman off on her own can get beaten by the community to within an inch of her life? Burn the village to the ground…

The time skips you mention are huge, for two reasons:

1. They allow room for things to ‘breath’, along the lines of your comment. Relationships take time in the real world, and meaningful relationships can take a lot of time. If we can allow some space for that to develop in the fiction I think we’ll see a returns in the creation of meaning.
2. It will allow the story to proceed forward at a quicker pace, and hopefully finish a venture in 3 hours or less (last night was pretty long, and as a GM I get fatigued after 2-3 hours in a narrative heavy game like Circle of Hands). I think developing a play space where we can aggressively make cuts in scenes is a premier skill to develop, and requires a lot of trust on all sides (by cutting the scene here, before we’ve wrapped up every last tiny little detail and done every last tiny little thing, we have to trust that we’re not going to screw each other down the line).

I also think there is huge promise in the fight mechanics (which seem to build heavily on Sorcerer’s conflict rules). I think we felt their power in two ways: one, in the quick, and utterly brutal way that Irmintrude’s fight was resolved, and then in the boss fight: I was a bit glassy eyed at that point, but the mechanics moved us through the fight really quickly which left me impressed.

Ron Edwards

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Re: [Circle of Hands] Scene cuts, charm and other thoughts after actual play
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2017, 02:04:03 AM »
Hi Tor, and Tony,

Thanks for playing the game! There's a learning curve and as with all my games, it's steep and goes an unexpected way ... but it's not tall. The first venture can be a little stumbly and I think that's OK. 

I'm going to toss out some responses, not an essay or argument.

1. Even a week or a month is way too short-term. Think of the Circle Knights staying at the location for at least a season and likely for a year. This isn't a culture or life-style where you drop by and take off. They're not visiting - they're moving in. That's what everyone does whenever they travel anywhere.

2. "Burn the village to the ground" sounds more like a Dogs thing, as far as default activist responses go. Here, one can get very far with a Charm roll to back up a drastic action in someone's favor, perhaps changing things, without such a militarized response. Remember, the Circle Knights aren't Dogs - they're not there to save anyone and don't have an ideology of sin/punishment. Nor are they on an assigned mission. All they have to do, as player-characters, is to get personal and make personally-important decisions.

(One can imagine a situation in which failed Charm rolls simply turn enough people in the venture against them that they're in a fight, period, and it's all about either torching the place or getting out of there. That's cool but it's an edge situation.)

Related to that, here's how the success of the venture works: unless all the tripwires are triggered, it'll work. Whatever happened will turn out well for Rolke, the Circle, and the young king. So don't concern yourself with the long-term effects of any of those personal decisions, strategically speaking.

3. The term "boss fight" might have been casually imprecise when you used it, Tor, but it isn't a good one. Don't plan boss fights. I don't care how much a given NPC looks like the villain to you; that (i.e. someone who needs killing) needs to develop simply and strictly through the role-playing and interactions, and can only be decided by the players.

Tor Erickson

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Re: [Circle of Hands] Scene cuts, charm and other thoughts after actual play
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2017, 12:05:49 PM »
Hey Ron,

Good points and I look forward to incorporating a longer time span into our play. Allowing long periods of time to pass has been kind of stupidly difficult for me as a GM, but it's also been a persistent player facing problem in my games as well, as nobody wants to "cut to next week" without getting through their grocery list of to do items. I don't know if I'm looking for a prescriptive solution to this, maybe more just pointing out that this has been a bit of a difficult area for me and my groups over the past year and a half.

I actually think the game went pretty smoothly from both a rules and a narrative point of view. We made charm rolls, and the fiction proceeded as a result. We made wits rolls, and the fiction proceeded as a result. Violence took place, inflicted on the PCs, and then by the PCs, and the results were immediate and visceral. Spells were cast, an eidolon was summoned, and a draugr was dismembered.

It was a single component game and the players hit the tripwire, and so in the long term, the situation went to shit, but as you point out, it really didn't have much to do with player decisions (i mean, not consciously.

And lastly: boss fight. Yeah, apologies for throwing that term out there. It was an inside joke between me and tony and I should have explained that, but it does highlight the central tension that led to  the next part of our conversation which I'll post in a couple hours.

- Tor

Tor Erickson

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Re: [Circle of Hands] Scene cuts, charm and other thoughts after actual play
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2017, 07:25:45 PM »
Tom and Tony are turning out to be luddites and can't create accounts to post on their own, so they asked me to post for them.

Tom said: Yeah we definitely ran the gamut of charm rolls. It was interesting actually, from Anselm not missing a single charm roll and having the complete support of everyone, to Cosmo’s character having the complete opposite and suffering hugely and Tony's character hitting and missing and getting bogged down in petty shit until he cut all the tape via magic.
It got to the point where although I, as Tom, was having fun Anselm was probably and probably will continue to see the other PCs as liabilities.
I mean, I feel like this game is more centered on breaking that class/sex divide than it is monster hunting.
In the end how much was our session centered on gathering information and killing zombie children and how much of it was dealing with petty bullshit.
Not tooting my own horn here but considering Anselm was the one gathering the info and Cosmo and Tony were being beaten into the ground/beating other people into the ground respectively we can say that 1/3 was monster hunting and 2/3rds was other shit.
That make sense?

Ron Edwards

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Re: [Circle of Hands] Scene cuts, charm and other thoughts after actual play
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2017, 04:11:27 AM »
Thanks for posting so far. It's a game which grows with play, so I'll look forward to next time.

Nyhteg

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Re: [Circle of Hands] Scene cuts, charm and other thoughts after actual play
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2017, 05:32:18 PM »
1. Even a week or a month is way too short-term. Think of the Circle Knights staying at the location for at least a season and likely for a year. This isn't a culture or life-style where you drop by and take off. They're not visiting - they're moving in. That's what everyone does whenever they travel anywhere.

Just wanted to drop in to say that this simple point has exploded my mind and will totally change how I run my CoH games. :)
So far, the initial stages of a venture have always felt a little...forced? I realise we've pretty much being playing them 'fully zoomed in' with events and relationships arising in 24 to 48 hours or so. It makes no sense at all to do that in the context of the Knights staying in town for an entire season and more.
Not sure why it wasn't more obvious to me to pull out on the timeline more, and let events unfold with far more room to breathe, but there you go. Forehead slapping moment of the month.

Ron Edwards

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Re: [Circle of Hands] Scene cuts, charm and other thoughts after actual play
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2017, 08:08:31 AM »
I hope it also clarifies the topic we've discussed before about the knights doing ordinary things before concerning themselves with one-on-one Charm rolls. When I say "doing ordinary things," I'm talking about day to day activities for weeks on end, not a ten-minute window upon anyone laying eyes on you.