Author Topic: [Trollbabe] One on one  (Read 1445 times)

Bret Gillan

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[Trollbabe] One on one
« on: July 31, 2012, 06:16:07 PM »
I got to play my first game of the revised Trollbabe with my girlfriend Carly. We've been playing one on one games for awhile (S/lay W/Me, Apocalypse World, World of Dungeons) and after some missteps that left both of us unhappy with some of our play experiences we figured out that what we were looking for would be:

1) NPC relationship focused.
2) Not abruptly or randomly fatal to either PCs or cherished NPCs.

It was purely coincidence that I asked Carly to GM Trollbabe for me after she offered to GM a game since I had GMed or co-GMed everything else we'd played. From reading the rules it really seemed to nail what we were looking for with the way you can pluck up NPCs for Relationships, and sacrificing either them or yourself is a deliberate decision.

She was worried about not being experienced, but she was a better study than I was of the rules and corrected me a number of times. Overall the session was really fun and satisfying.

Yvve the Trollbabe walked along a coast in the southwestern continent. She met a shepherd boy who was a bit suspicious of her because he thought Yvve was a member of a troll's gang (Skarlag? I can't remember the names). She couldn't convince him to open up and he shouted that she was a weirdo and ran away (giving Yvve an injury). But a small lamb from the boy's flock started following Yvve (giving Yvve a relationship with a lamb named Blossom).

After wandering around the town, Yvve found out from Kassel, the town's mayor, that a hunter had accidentally killed a troll who was the son of Skarlag, the troll chief. The chief wanted Kassel's son as repayment, a son for a son, and he would raise him as his own.

Yvve saw no problem with that! She tried to talk to Kassel about how it wasn't that bad and perhaps it would be a good thing for his son, who would one day come back to him and not be lost. Kassel didn't buy it so Yvve wandered off before she made everyone angry at her.

At this point, Yvve just kind of hung around and waited for the trolls to show up. Carly wasn't pushing the NPCs at me very hard. Yvve ran into Kassel's daughter who was really upset and tried to tell her that things weren't so bad. When the trolls showed up, there was a bit of confrontation and Kassel refused to give up his son. Yvve used troll magic to have the air and the earth speak to her and tell her where he was hidden, but they couldn't find him. But the shadows could. She guided the trolls to the boy and then got the hell out of there.

Carly and I talked about it a bit afterwards. I had a really good time. She said, though, that she needed to engage me more and we talked about the part where NPCs treat the Trollbabe as not neutral. Overall, the game really suits us and I hope we play more.

Ron Edwards

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Re: [Trollbabe] One on one
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2012, 09:34:37 AM »
One on one play - the fact is, I've never done it with Trollbabe, I didn't write it with that in mind, and I was initially put off (and remain suspicious) based on a lot of reports over the years. But enough people seem to want to do it, and occasionally succeed, that I concede it's not automatically broken.

Here's one idea which you might pass on to Carly. I am guessing - and could be wrong - that she was rightly avoiding railroading you with NPCs who say "do this," or throwing breadcrumbs in a subtler version of the same thing. Which is good, but the question is, what do you do instead? For Trollbabe (and Sorcerer, and Apocalypse World, and ...), I don't think of it as direct pressure, which implies an intended direction for the response, but rather whipping up the level of "going south" for anyone, specifically regarding the Stakes.

Perhaps a person who was observed to be pretty nice has snapped and decided to do really bad things. Perhaps a person who was helpless but hopeful is now subordinated and tormented. Perhaps an injustice that loomed is now in full force. The core principle is that it's not like "wolves prowl out there,  oooh, now people are getting eaten," which is only a signal to go do something about the wolves. Instead, the trollbabe is free to do whatever she wants, including attempting to leave the adventure - but in the presence of the kind of Big Trouble I'm talking about, absolutely anything she does, including "nothing," is a moral choice.

As far as the specific techniques involved go, see Jesse's exchange of posts with me in [Sorcerer] At the GenCon booth. I think that nailed it pretty good.

I hope you play more too. Trollbabe is so, so designed for repeat play, and too often people (me included) just play it at cons and figure they'd "done it." I'm excited that Moreno's game is also continuing, so maybe some posting about the features of continued play can get going.

Best, Ron

Bret Gillan

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Re: [Trollbabe] One on one
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2012, 10:33:53 AM »
I read your warnings in the book about Trollbabe with one player and see what you're saying. The following week after this game I ran a game for Carly and two other players. The main thing it did that I saw was let certain trollbabes' stories become "unstuck" by letting the other trollbabes jump in and help once their own stories had been completed. One player was having a really rough time with the dice, but adding in other trollbabes to let them assist with challenges helped get things moving again. With only one player I can see those runs of bad luck making for a bit more frustrating a time.

I'll direct Carly to this thread and the other, and we're planning on playing Wednesday so I'm looking forward to digging into repeated play.