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Author Topic: My thoughts on how SA's should work.  (Read 6676 times)
ZenDog
Member

Posts: 158


« on: June 19, 2004, 06:44:14 AM »

There has been a lot of debate at RPGnet about how SA's do or don't work. I just posted this at RPGnet and decided to post it here too (mainly to show what a super cool TRoS GM I am :D) just to see what people here think.

Personally I found SA's as written in the book pretty intuitive and plenty of direction as to how they work. It was no mystery to me. In fact I found the combat harder to get my head round, (especially missle combat) and the rules on Sorcery where almost indecipherable to me (so much so that I just don't use them).

SA's just seemed straightforward.

*****
My take is that SA's work best when the the GM first tells the players what kind of setting the game will be in and the kind of themes relevant.

F'rex: A brutal dark age world of interclan warfare, raid and counter raid, bloodfeuds, treachery and ambition. This setting could be either in Historical Darka ages Britain or in the North West portion of TRoS's Weyrth (Savaxen, Picti, Angherahad and Stahl).

No PC sorcerers, there will be hardly any supernatural elements and works best if all the players come from the same tribe.

After that the players and GM get together and brainstorms some ideas for character concepts.

I think this is important as SA's are stronger when they come from the characters concept/ Background.

Remember the SA's should address things the players not characters are interested in, within the game the GM is offering to run.

So ok our three players have come up with their cahracter concepts.

Varghoss Redbeard a young Savaxen warrior, who's father and younger brother were killed by Cymri raiders. The large musclebound variety of Viking Axeman

Corrin the Pict A young Pict, he is the bastard son of varghoss's father. His mother was a Pict girl taken in a raid, but when Varghoss's father married she was sent away. Corrin was Varghoss's fathers Thrall (slave) and is now to all intents and purpose the property of Varghoss. Although he has grown up being more or less free to roam. Corrin is the agile archer type of Warrior.

Farlan Farlan is a young Savaxen warrior. His first raid was disatrous. Him and his companions where betrayed and ambushed, nearly everyone was butchered by the Cymri including Farlans father. He managed to escape but was very shaken up, combat was not the glorious pursuit he had been lead to believe. Farlan is a strong and agile swords man.

So here are the SA's

Varghoss

Consience: Clan and family (he always puts them infront of his own needs).

Luck: Woden one eye likes this lad becasue he is bloodthirsty

Destiny: Destroy the Cymri (whoa holy shit! This guy isn't satisfied with revenge he wants to wipe the Cymri from the face of the Weyrth).

Passion: Hate Cymri (No shit!)

Drive: Protect family (With his father and brother dead Varghoss is determined nothing will happen to his family).

Corrin

Destiny: Become High King of the Picts (from Slave to High King quite a ride).

Drive: Find his mother (his father sent her back to the Picts).

Passion: Loves his brother Varghoss (Corrin has known nothing but the Savaexen community he grew up in. Despite being a Thrall he has been wel treated. He loved his father and Varghoss is the only family he knows).

Faith: Gods of Picti (The Savaxen seer 'Frey no-eyes' has taught him the ways of his peoples gods for reasons she keeps to her self).

Luck: He likes to gamble (sometime with his life).

Farlan

Destiny: Betray the Savaxens to their enemies (He likes a meaty roleplaying challenge).

Destiny: Sacrifice hislife to save his friends. (He really likes to roleplay).

Passion: Fear the Cymri (His first experience in combat really shook him up).

Drive: Overcome his cowardice.

Passion: Jealous of Varghoss's imortance within the clan.


So I the Gm set out in broadstrokes the kind of game we would be playing, Varghoss's player came up with his characters background (father klled by raiders) and the other players sparked off of that and came up with their backgronds concepts.

Then each player (with soem input from me) came up with SA's that addressed things they wanted to play out.

Then I go away and come up with adventures based on their SA's.

There is plenty to work with and what's more it will be easy to weave the three players stories and SA's into each other and tie it up into one epic story.

Ok that's just my thoughts on how SA's work best.
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Sir Mathodius Black
Member

Posts: 132


« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2004, 09:10:43 AM »

I only have one dispute and one question for you.

First the question: You said that SA's should be things the players, not the characters should be interested in.  But isnt the whole point of SA's to flush out the character and represent the character's passions, drives ect...?

My only dispute, and this isnt really a dispute so much as an alternate way of thinking.  I think that in many cases things are more interesting if characters come from different tribes/countries or whatever.  Now if they are from the same tribe then there is the advantage of them having something in common and there are still possibilities for conflict, but i find it much more exciting if characters are drawn together from different walks of life and the connections that they have with eachother come into conflict with that background.  For example, a Xanarian noblewoman falls in love with a Marluk Prince....Unlikely, but still provides for so many SA's built upon that.

In general though i agree with you and i found the SA's much easier to grasp than combat or magic (at first).

SMB
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"God helps those who helps themselves."
ZenDog
Member

Posts: 158


« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2004, 09:56:38 AM »

Quote from: Sir Mathodius Black
I only have one dispute and one question for you.

First the question: You said that SA's should be things the players, not the characters should be interested in.  But isnt the whole point of SA's to flush out the character and represent the character's passions, drives ect...?


The way I see it yes the SA's belong to the character and flesh out the character give him depth, but are a way of focusing on what the player wants to experience in play.

For example if I ever get the chance to play TRoS (rather than GM) I would whatever the setting pick SA's that would allow me to play the Warrior King role.

F'rex- Destiny: To raise and lead a rebel army against the Empire.

or Destiny: Unite the tribes and lead them in or war.

or Destiny: Become the greatest general Otamluk has known.

Because these are the type of Sword and Sorcecery/Historical fiction/Epic fantasy tales I really enjoy reading at the moment and would like to emulate as a player in TRoS.

This is what I really like about TRoS, well that's how I see it as written in the book.

On your second point, that's 'My Bad' playing a focused campaign is a preference of mine. What I was getting at is the GM should lay out the basics of the type setting (ie what part of Weryth the game will be set in), and the type of themes that might be addressed.

Then the players have some focus for who their Character might be and waht they might be doing. So it might be that the game the GM wants to run a game set in the seat of the Xanarian empire but with players from all over Weyrth (perhaps they are all ambassadors to Xan) or the Gm wants to run a game based on freeroaming pirates or Mercs who can come from anywhere and the campaign may take them anywhere in Weyrth.

That still gives the players an idea of the type of character concept that might be suitable, and they will still be able to pick SA's that appeal to them as players within this type of game (be it amassadors or Pirates).

Not sure if I've explained this a clearly as I could, what I'm getting at is this way the GM has an idea in the broadest sense of the type of story/game he will run then if the players like the sound of this they, get to have input by directing the type of adventures they would want through the SA's they choose.
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Vanguard
Member

Posts: 71


« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2004, 07:26:08 PM »

What we have to remember is that SAs can change at any time. At a minor cost. admitedly. But just to reinforce the idea that our characters' drives are not set-in-stone. They can evolve.

As a GM (seneschal) I generally encourage players to go for fundamental drives only at first (conscience, luck, faith). It is as the play itself evolves, that characters should start desiring what their passions / drives might become. And the more they work on that, the more those SAs flourish. It's not enough to just say you suddenly love the princess (0 SA), you've gotta be willing to die for that bitch (5 SA). And that involves pursuing the matter.

Thus Luke Skywalker, for example, starts off his epic with a desire to become a pilot. A drive to save the Princess suddenly cums up. He then develops a drive / faith for the rebellion, finds himself passionate for princess leia (with questionable intent) and is eventually revealed as destined to defeat his own father. And something about Jedi pops in there at some point.

Conan, more simply, has a drive to find the riddle of steel. He then develops a hatred for Thulsa Doom (wot with the whole killing of his family and home village - and subsequent enslavement of Conan to a random wheel in the desert). Later we find him developing a passion for that valkyrie woman and also, again, a drive to save sum princess. And the whole time there's some destiny thing bout becoming a king. But that don't necessarily come to bear in that episode.  

In other words, SAs change. And settling on sum doesn't mean your character can't develop new ones, or change his mind bout things altogether. And deciding on some a particular SA at creation doens't have to mean it is brought into play immediatly. You can always work on the other ecxisting ones, or on the ones that emerge as you play.

Take care
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What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger - or a cripple.
Judd
Member

Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2004, 10:21:14 PM »

Quote from: ZenDog


Remember the SA's should address things the players not characters are interested in, within the game the GM is offering to run.


This is the most important facet of SA's to master.  Once I told the players this, I watched the light behind their eyes go on and all was clear.

I transfered a D&D game over to TROS and a player was writing his SA's up.  Many were clear but there were 3 possiblities open for his last slot.  He debated based on what his character wanted and when I told him that these should be things that HE wanted, not that his PC wanted, I saw his whole notion of the game chance.

There is some kind of method acting school of thought in some story-oriented RPG playing where the character must come first.  In all of the successful games I have ever played the game somehow paralleled and highlighted things that were going on in the players' lives or touched on a subject that was important to the players.

Players make games, not characters.  Realizing that the PC's are only fictional creations was a simple but powerful realization I've recently come to about gaming.
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Jake Norwood
Member

Posts: 2261


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« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2004, 03:31:28 PM »

Quote from: Paka
Quote from: ZenDog


Remember the SA's should address things the players not characters are interested in, within the game the GM is offering to run.


This is the most important facet of SA's to master.  Once I told the players this, I watched the light behind their eyes go on and all was clear.

I transfered a D&D game over to TROS and a player was writing his SA's up.  Many were clear but there were 3 possiblities open for his last slot.  He debated based on what his character wanted and when I told him that these should be things that HE wanted, not that his PC wanted, I saw his whole notion of the game chance.

There is some kind of method acting school of thought in some story-oriented RPG playing where the character must come first.  In all of the successful games I have ever played the game somehow paralleled and highlighted things that were going on in the players' lives or touched on a subject that was important to the players.

Players make games, not characters.  Realizing that the PC's are only fictional creations was a simple but powerful realization I've recently come to about gaming.


Awesome. Thumbs up.

There are lots of ways to look at SAs, but ZenDog's approach very closely models what I used them for in the developmental and early-post-publication stages. It's the earliest use for them, and one of the most functional for many groups, I think.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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