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Started by Marco, July 20, 2004, 05:27:34 AM
QuoteHere are the character parameters:You are both friends/sibilings/co-workers (whatever--you both know and like each other) and you live in the reclaimed desert city of Salga del Mundo CA--it lies out in the mojave down Tijuana way. It's a sleepy town that's got a smattering of the ultra-rich, the indigent poor, and a swath down the middle of surburban recent arrivals that have come here thanks to the pressure in the more populated areas.How you came here is up to you: I know that you are both young--you can be anything from kids to teenagers to young adults (the 12-21 age range is open). Salga has a big artist contingent and its share of RV people who travel around selling crafts and leading "alternate lifestyles" (of the alternity that comes from poverty, bitter lack of employment, and often chemical dependency).It also has its share of new white-washed sidewalks, sparklingstrip-malls, and drive thrus. There's a community college that's just opened and the arcs of new construction projects and track-houses going up around the edges.But the desert, even with a new five lane black-top highway and afresh coat of paint over it is old and strange and dark. Yourcharacters are more aware of that than most people.1. Your characters have 8pts of Luck. That means that you get tore-roll three rolls each session, substitute a 16- roll for a stat or skill roll, and that you lead a "lucky" life. For purposes of this adventure, despite being lucky, you are not rich (it hasn't yet applied to the lottery--although if you play it does give you a decent secondary source of income).2. You have 4pts of Sensitive. You can "smell bad things on the wind" and you get chills in some of the old houses or dark hills. Your character may even have a matter of fact relationship with the unnatural (which is different from the *supernatural* in that your character does not per-se "see dead people"). However, where as some of your friends might be into Wicca or neo-paganism or whatever you have a feeling that things are both far, far stranger and a good deal less sunny than they think.3. Your life is comfortable but *not* glammorous. You may work alow-stress service job. You might go to school. You might live at home as a slacker (if you choose this there will be some discussion of pressure from your parents--it's not socially acceptable to them most likely). This is in contrast to many of your friends whose lives aren't glamorous either and are very *uncomfortable.*4. The rest of America is "going to hell in a handbasket."Unemployment is up. The nation is embroiled in costly foreign wars. The stock-market is down and energy costs are up. There are terror alterts (although out in Salga they have the immediacy of a car alarm blaring two blocks away). Despite the wretched state of affairs, Salga remains a pretty nice place to be (for most of the established people--which you aren't yet).5. Your characters are 50/4 (4pts Archetype in addition to the 12pts you already have). You can be exceptional on this (especially if young). I'd prefer that if you do excel you do it in some relatively quiet fashion--the game I have in mind doesn't revolve around fame per se.a. Your character has a passion. We'll work together on it--but tell me what it is (I may have some suggestions for modification). It mightbe to invent a renewable energy source. It might be artistry. It should have, at it's basis a wish to make the world a better place in some way (even if your character is a hardened cynic on the outside this would indicate an inner core of compassion).c. Reputation: I need to know how alternative your character is. Do you hang out with people who go by the nickname Hangnail and listen to music by "Mucous?" Or are you more preppy and presentable? Also: it is likely that some people find you spooky (although not really spooky unless you have Presence) or that some people believe you are psychic (and you sort of are). The "standard" game assumption is that you are seen as "weird but okay" by some friends--less well liked by others of some acquantiance, and ignored by the rest of the population. Butweird things might lead people to come your way.
QuoteAside: Before I knew what the player was coming up with, I figured that there wouldn't be much actual science involved and created a project on my own dealing with Maxwell's Demon as a potential violation of the second law. When I explained this to the player it was rejected! I was surprised: especially because I had worked the themes of the experiment in with the themes of the scenario in a (to me) very pleasing way.But the player had their own ideas about the project and said that it was using some sort of magnetic energy flow to get the heat moving out in the desert.When the project was explained to me by the player, I said I liked it: It seemed doomed to operatic failure (who beats the second law of thermodynamics) and the player specified that there were solar pannels and windmills set up to collect natural energy to jumpstart the process.I liked the quixotic nature of it--it even had windmills. I was even more excited when the player described the magenetic action in a way that was sort of like a tornado ... or a whirlpool.I silently decided that although perhaps less interesting in terms of real physics the player's idea serendipidously fit perfectly into the nature of the game.I decided then and there that the rodent attacks were a manifestation of the Second Law working against Stephanie's anti-entropy pump. The more her experiments violated the second law the more the universe would retaliate in the forms of vermin, decay, and other things.
QuoteNote:This was the first major divergence from my likely-chain-of-events. Rather than having tension with all the alternate religions that Corey was involved with, she was more of an observer--but an active one, working to figure out what had happened.
QuoteNote:The players *knew* something weird was going on and these two "beautiful people" were somehow wrong and connected and everything (Elvis said he was selling Luxoflux vaccum cleaners, something no one bought). However, again and again they didn't accuse, investigate, or collabrate on it. This lack of investigative avenue contributed to them not realizing that letting the holes open was a viable alternative if they managed it correctly. There were still other ways for that information to be introduced however.Also: the returning rock-star had a lot of information. It linked the tribe's original attempt to end the world to the appearence of Elvis (Laney has a picture with all of them in it) and fractured time. When they met, I thought, it would explain a lot of things--including some of the end-game options (at very least it would set up questions to ask).The party was likely to be the final showdown: that was when the Cult's plan to escape would happen, when some of the personalities would show up, and when the characters would get their showdown with the various authority figures around town (and convince the Mayor that THEIR PLAN TO SAVE THE WORLD WAS NECESSARY (TM))
QuoteNotes: The scene with the artwork was powerful as well--I asked for some positive meaning in the art and got that time was infinite and that things could all work out given a chance. The player didn't know that time in the game was fractured--but I felt this worked very well (so did she when that was unveiled). I had determined that whatever positive value was impressed in the artwork would be relevant in the game.The scene with the cult was both emotional and carefully played: I made sure that the cult, although holier than thou was seen as both moderately caring (the pastor told the PC that the NPC needn't fear punishment if she failed to convert her friend) and with positive attributes (the leader was strong, charismatic, and self-assured). Although abandoning her art was out of character (as well as her bad-relationship with authority) facing the end of the world I think the player had an uncomfortable suspicion that this might be a safe bet that she'd have to take if other avenues failed.We also brought into play the idea that time was running out. The player, after considering this--and, I think, feeling it, suddenly realized there were things in her favor and had the character remind the pastor that there was "Time Enough" for more things to come to pass.The scene ended strongly.
QuoteNotes: The whole climbing down the hole thing was done with a character by herself and with no climbing skill. The player started this with no real inclination that it might be dangerous or difficult ("I tie a rope to me and to the pipe and go down"). Examinations of the character's STR to weight proved that it would, in fact, be pretty difficult to climb up.We resolved the situation with dice-rolls. Because it was established that rats were eating cables and such, if she had been unable to climb out, I would've had a rat come and chew the rope and drop her into the depths (and into the new world). However, the player pulled off several difficult roles and climbed out.I kind of wanted a character down the hole--and the odds were decent she'd hang there long enough that a rat would legitimately come along (the PC's had been attacked by mutant rats in the test area previously). When the rolls were made, however, the avenue of information was lost for then.However: the character and the player both had an idea of what they could do: the system fed on entropy and reduced it. If it could be made stable enough, the character could close the holes. It was also clear that the magnetic whirlpool was going in the opposite direction (the character's system was opposite the phenonemna).
QuoteNote: When grouping up for action, the characters discovered the real identities of James Dean and crew. A neighbor had told Corey that a young man had been by to see her (described Elvis)--and Stephanie's player noted that they had no way to contact James Dean. I pointed out that the company had a contact number. The character called and discovered that Liger was nothing at all like the person she'd met. When going over to the neighbors mobile home, they looked in and saw lots of 50's movie memorabilia--and all their friends up there on the wall.It was a bit dues-ex to have those things co-incide--but the neighbor had existed all along (with invites to come over) and the player had decided to contact Liger at the appropriate moment--so I looked at it more as "coming together."This excited the players, who thought it was cool--but didn't convince them to get anywhere near these spirits of the dead.
QuoteNotes: This was a key scene. There had been allegations all through the game of mutant animals, blackouts, and other nastiness. In the scene with the Mayor there was one of the character's detractors (a reporter) there--and the character had confessed previously to the Chief of Police that, yes, her experiments did seem to somehow be related to power-outages although she couldn't see how.Here's how we ran it: I layed out what was going on and briefly told them what they figured the mayor thought (my town is in crisis and a 19year-old genius who has been runing bizarre research says she's responsible and can reverse it if given much MORE power. I said he wasn't inclined to let that happen yet because he didn't know just how bad things really were--or were going to get.Stephanie's player considered this and felt it would come down to a Persuade roll. Corey's player thought he should get Reason rolls to realize the situation was critical. We discussed the latter and I said that he knew things were bad but couldn't envision a totall collapse of the earth. She agreed.We did the reason roll calling for a "Good Success" (Major, level 3 out of 5 levels). It came up 1 point short.I was glad to see that: the timeline in my head would've allowed that to work pretty undramatically. As it stood, the PC's getting turned away raised the stakes and allowed them more time to explore other options--as well as maybe getting in contact with the rock-star or the spirits of the dead.That was what I figured they'd do.
QuoteNotes: None of this went the way I'd expected it to. I'd originally been amazed they'd involve the native americans at all--but the argument that they'd try to save the world rang true with me since I had portrayed the rank and file as very detached from the spirituality. The shaman wouldn't want to see them die in terror and agony--and given a credible oracle who spoke with Coyote and a scientist who could reverse the mistake made by his estranged son, I decided, what the hell, it has a chance.After the speech, I decided they were convincing enough. I didn't roll for it even though doing so would have created the climax *I* had envisioned from that position (remember, the climax could have been a showdown with the three death archons for proper control and use of the wirlwinds--or complete "failure" and the characters joining the Church of the Few ...)The raid on the power-plant was interesting too: I described the characters as having 70 people for back-up and most of them (lightly) armed. I wasn't sure what kind of security the plant would have but I decided that other than a non-alamred gate there'd be a guard or two--something easily overpowered.I wondered if in an age of home-land security there would be more serious protection--but I decided that (as I'd said in my initial write up) such things seemed far-away down in Salga Del Mundo.The necessity for the physical presence of the Time-Artwork was a thing of beauty: a very badly blown role indicated the loss of a major piece of equipment--a tall metal windmill base. It turned out they had one handy--right there. I think the players must have felt this was magic since they rolled the dice themselves and the descriptions of failure were detailed ahead of time.When Corey's beeper went off (around the time of the party as the timeline indicated) there was a final (nastier) goodbye as Venice, not understanding why Corey wouldn't want to be saved, told her she was an egotistical fool.Wrap-up: Discussions with Stephanie's character about her Tiger-essence were interesting too: although I did very little to overtly encourage it, the one battle (with mutant rats) ended with two characters wounded and running and her chasing down rats. The player felt this was awesome tiger-essence even though I hadn't even thought of that during the game.The player felt the character's raw design had been allowed to make the statement that was wanted in the game (assisted by me--but unwittingly by giving challenges that the character stood up to bravely).The Three: Since the personalities made no breakthrough and didn't interact with the PC's too much, the last scene of them was the three of them sitting down together in the Salga Del Mundo Grill, drinking milkshakes and talking about the future. It seemed, I thought, a very fitting end for them.Finally: There was no mechanical reward system in play. No experince points were given. After the first night I was asked (jokingly) for some and I said "You want some XP? What would you do with it?" The player said that, no, it wasn't a real request--and that was that. If asked I'd have given out 2-3 points (a moderate amount in the game) just because.But there was no reward-mechanic involved for any play--not for roleplaying, not for success, not for figuring things out--nothing like that.
Quote from: MarcoAs per the magic: it was entirely based on how I figured magic would work. I *did* have to think things through and produce as stable a cosmology as I could (including what Corey's Imaginary Friend Coyote knew and didn't know--I ruled it was the fractal image of the pattern that was 'Coyote' within her--meaning it really only knew 'what she knew' but filtered the data through Coyote's mindset ... if that makes any sense).I was shooting for a pretty cause-and-effect style game and relying on the system and situation to provide drama. That meant that I had to have at least a loose understanding of why Gerhard's spell worked and his father's didn't.
Quote from: John KimGood. Pretty much what I thought on that point. I guess you were using JAGS Or JAGS2? So when (if ever) did you think you had problems with the system, and correspondingly when would you say that the system was particularly strong/useful? As far as drama, it seems to me that it worked pretty well. As is generally the case in these (i.e. rgfa Simulationist) games, the drama flows from the character's decisions. From your description, Corey's arc seemed very strong -- going from artist to activist, with his turning point being in the Church of the Few. And the use of "Time Enough" ironically as a last-ditch effort to save the world perfectly represented this. I don't get as strong as an impression from Stephanie. I wonder if you had observations on how she changed as a result of the events.
Quote from: MarcoQuote from: John KimI guess you were using JAGS Or JAGS2? So when (if ever) did you think you had problems with the system, and correspondingly when would you say that the system was particularly strong/useful?It was JAGS-2. The problem that we had with the system was that due to a simplification change Stephanie's rolls were so high they boarded on academic (even rolling at "-10" was a 12- roll). Note that in JAGS/J2 it's often important *how much* a roll was made by which did make things not-entirely-academic even so--but it was still something that, as a game-designer, annoyed me.
Quote from: John KimI guess you were using JAGS Or JAGS2? So when (if ever) did you think you had problems with the system, and correspondingly when would you say that the system was particularly strong/useful?
Quote from: MarcoI did feel there was a pretty high level of drama and player drive--especially since after the initial situations (both of which had no particular outcome in mind) the game had very little traction on the players (the antagonists were there but not calling shots, the players had relatively little information but it was their skills or things they'd chosen like the imaginary friend, that gave them information in ways that I think were predictable--meaning ways they'd expect).Stephanie had nothing quite like the show-down scene in the church--but Corey had Issues with Authority (as a defect) which was central to several of her conflicts (also with the chief of police). Stephanie had relatively few such defects which, again, led to a little less traction.