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Author Topic: Buffalo Run - my first game.  (Read 8812 times)
GB Steve
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« on: June 10, 2005, 09:30:37 AM »

I ran my first game last night. It went pretty well, although not as nicely a James Holloway's did last Saturday. For a start we had four players, two of whom were keen to get in on every conflict whereas on Saturday people were happy for conflicts to be individual. This made them more personal and meaningful.

Also not all the players were as engaged as we were, they was more joking, we had food and a bit of chat. At SteveCon it was much more full on. And James has a phenomenal memory for rules and flavour whereas I had to look things up on occasion.

Some of my players were also much less used to the idea of narrative gaming and slightly resistant to it. One very important moment occured during the accomplishment phase when one of the players looked at his dice and mine and said, with some hurt in his voice, "but I can't possibly win! What's the point?!"

We then explained about narrative gaming, again. He's already played MLwM but that does have some winning condition and so is easier to come to terms with for an Old School gamer. Understanding fallout better gave him something to focus on and, to be fair, he came up with some nice touches throughout the game.

The players had chosen a few supernatural abilities such as driving out demons or being able to see sin and so dial was firmly set to weird west.

What's going on in this town:
Buffalo Run is nestled up against the mountains and used to be on the Buffalo migration route. Now it's settled the beasts don't run here anymore. Mountain Men live up in the wooded foothills but don't often come near the town although they are occasionally to be seen at the river.

Sister Hester is a widow. Her husband died some years ago whilst hunting. She runs the trading post. Elijah is the miller. His son, Pleasant, is a bit simple. Pleasant kept getting in Elijah's way, falling into the millrace and holding up the milling. Hester found that this interfered with trading and so decided to take Pleasant away from Elijah 'for his own good'. She got him working in the trading post on odd days, sweeping up and carrying heavy loads. This went so well she insisted that Pleasant stay with her and got the steward to back her up. Elijah was sorry to see his son go but happy to discharge his responsibility.

Then seeing how well she looked after Pleasant, Hester persuaded the town's people to finance the building of a hospital in which they could put all their old, infirm and simple people to keep them out of the way.

This faithlessness has let in the demons. In fact, Hester is possessed although she is not aware of this. Whenever she is at the hospital accidents happen: Hiram has badly injured his leg, the foundations were overrun with gophers, some buffalo left their usual run and careered into the side of the building. Some of the wood supplied by Jehu, a forester who lives in the woods was warped and unfit. Jehu is known to have dealings with the Mountain Men and is now viewed with suspicion. He doesn't come into town anymore.

Also a rumour started that Mountain Men had cursed the building and some the townsfolk have been shooting them when they see them. This has severely depleted the Mountain Men tribe and they are planning a final assault on the town. Drums and smoke signals are obvious to any who have eyes and ears.

Pride
Sister Hester thinks she can care for people better than their proper stewards.

Injustice
Pleasant should not have been taken from Elijah. Elijah should have been left to discharge his stewardship. Jehu has been unfairly tarred with the brush of collaboration.

Sin
Faithlessness: people are not carrying out their duties of stewardship.
Violence: people are killing the blameless Mountain Men.

Demonic Attacks
Accidents at the hospital:
Attacks on the Mountain Men.

False Doctrine
Hester is the best steward for those who are difficult to manage.

What do the townspeople want?
They want the Mountain Men to pay for the curse

What do the demons want?
They wany Hester to have the old and infirm in her care.

What do the demons want the dogs to do?
They want them to kill the innocent Mountain Men and help build the hospital

What would happen if the dogs didn't come?
Those people put in the hospital, as they became more of a burden, would be killed by Hester, 'because it's what's best, really'. Also there would be bloody war with the Mountain Men.

The conflicts we had were:
Saving Hiram's Leg from amputation.
Understanding the Mountain Men drums and smoke (not really necessary for the story but really necessary from the point of view of explaning contests to one of the players).
Persuading the Mountain Men not to attack the town.
Showing the steward that he was guilty of bad stewardship
Dealing with Hester
Driving the demon out of Hester

There was some fierce debate amongst the player characters over whether the Mountain Men should be given some of the townsfolk's grain but this didn't actually lead to a contest. It probably should have but it was time to go home.

I think I might have made the relationships more complicated than they were but for a first game I wanted to keep it fairly simple.
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Eric Provost
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2005, 10:23:21 AM »

I really like this town.  Very interesting.  In fact, I may just use it after we're done with Silent River.  

I don't see a list of individual townsfolk and what they want from the Dogs.  Did you have one?  Or rather, did you establish what all the named individuals wanted from the Dogs, or just the townsfolk as a whole?

-Eric
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2005, 10:41:43 AM »

[quote="GB_Steve] Some of my players were also much less used to the idea of narrative gaming and slightly resistant to it. One very important moment occured during the accomplishment phase when one of the players looked at his dice and mine and said, with some hurt in his voice, "but I can't possibly win! What's the point?!"[/quote]

I got two answers for that:

1: That's a possibility any time the dice hit the table in any game. That's why they're there.

2: The cool thing about Dogs is that, assuming you don't want the fallout or have taken enough, you can give and launch a followup with different stakes.

Stakes: Bro. Philip is going to kill a Mountain Girl. Dog Evgenia doesn't want him to do that.

Roll the dice: Philip's dice are good, Evgenia's are crap.

Evgenia's player takes some fallout because she wants to have some relationship dice with Philip for the upcoming followup.

Evgenia's player gives. The Mountain Girl dies, but not for lack of trying on Evgenia's part, who's taken "Brother Philip - 2d4" in the process.

Evgenia launches a new conflict: she's going to kill Philip and put his head on a pike in town. She's got two more dice (and maybe more, if she was lucky) to confront Philip now.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Darren Hill
Member

Posts: 861


« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2005, 11:05:10 AM »

Quote from: GB Steve
Some of my players were also much less used to the idea of narrative gaming and slightly resistant to it. One very important moment occured during the accomplishment phase when one of the players looked at his dice and mine and said, with some hurt in his voice, "but I can't possibly win! What's the point?!"


I had a very similar experience during my first run. One of the players realised he was going to lose his accomplishment, and acted just as hurt, and I almost had a rebellion on my hands.
This threw me completely, since he's normally laid back and doesn't mind losing. I managed to get him to settle down and finish the contest - and he discovered that it didn't really matter whether he won or lost.
(At the time, it never occurred to me to say, "wow, this is clearly important to you - I'll Give.")
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2005, 11:26:21 AM »

Quote from: demiurgeastaroth
(At the time, it never occurred to me to say, "wow, this is clearly important to you - I'll Give.")


I'm not sure that's a good idea anyway. My feeling is, as GM, I have a couple of jobs:

- Provide consistently challenging (in whatever realm is appropriate) opposition.

- Help the players come up with clever ideas and solutions (my perspective here is the same as when I'm in a protag player position).

- Help with rules, particularly those that aid the mission of the players.

If I don't provide decent opposition, it cheapens the efforts of the players. However, Dogs lets me roll the dice for the opposition who can be as brutal as I want them to be, all the while giving options to the players like "Take relationship dice with this dude as fallout from this conflict, then follow up after your fellow Dogs get back." or "Hey, you've got a trait down there called 'I can't stand losing - 2d10'. Looks like it's time to use it."

Since it's my goal to play a game with the other players, rather than against them, I get to do all sorts of fun stuff like that.

It sounds like your buddy was invested in winning because they conflict really meant something to the player. Nicely done!
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Darren Hill
Member

Posts: 861


« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2005, 11:48:12 AM »

Quote from: nikola
Quote from: demiurgeastaroth
(At the time, it never occurred to me to say, "wow, this is clearly important to you - I'll Give.")


I'm not sure that's a good idea anyway.


I'd agree with you most of the time but here, there were two reasons that  I might have done it here:
It's an accomplishment, and it doesn't do any harm to let the players have what they want here, and
It was a one-off.

On balance, I'm glad I didn't do that, though since it turned out well.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2005, 12:41:58 PM »

Quote from: demiurgeastaroth
I'd agree with you most of the time but here, there were two reasons that  I might have done it here:
It's an accomplishment, and it doesn't do any harm to let the players have what they want here, and It was a one-off.


Well, what wound up happening is what's supposed to: you win, either way. Either way, it's interesting. If you'd fudged it, one of two things was wrong: the stakes of the conflict (the eventual trait gained therefrom) were set so as to threaten some core concept of the character, which isn't good, or the player didn't understand the purpose of the initiation conflict, which is to give the character something tough to chew on for the rest of the charcter's life.

That's even more true in a one-off, where there are so few opportunities for interesting fallout.

My advice would have been to pick up as much fallout as possible, cuz it's all fun and games including losing an eye.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
TonyLB
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« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2005, 12:50:37 PM »

I would never, ever Give just because somebody complains loudly and sadly.  In fact, if I was considering Giving for other reasons I'd immediately discard the idea.  As I say to my four-year-old "If I let you get your way by screaming this time, what does that teach you to do the next time you want something?"  If the behavior someone is modelling is not behavior you want to see again and again, do not reward it.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2005, 12:52:47 PM »

... plus, it breaks the game. Giving early is not an option you have as GM. It's overstepping your authority and reducing the impact of every conflict that comes after.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
James Holloway
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Posts: 372


« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2005, 12:58:40 PM »

One of the cool things that can happen in the Accomplishment is that the negative outcome you acquire can be as fascinating and exciting as a good one.
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Darren Hill
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Posts: 861


« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2005, 01:25:11 PM »

Quote from: nikola
... plus, it breaks the game. Giving early is not an option you have as GM. It's overstepping your authority and reducing the impact of every conflict that comes after.


I'm sure I remember a post from Vincent where he Gives during an accomplishment when he sees how important winning is to someone.
In fact, the whole GM Isn't Allowed To Escalate During Accomplishments rule emphasises this - at any time a player can automatically win, whatever his dice, by choosing to escalate.
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2005, 01:30:43 PM »

I'm going to disagree with.. well, it seems pretty much everyone, about giving early. It is not wrong to Give when you're not forced to it by either escalation or fallout. Giving is as important a narrative tool as escalation, and it seems to me that you're discounting it. If it is important to the player to win something, but the dice simply don't go his way, it's perfectly appropriate to make him sweat, make him work for it, even "knowing" he's going to lose, then Give at the dramatically appropriate moment.

It doesn't in any way cheapen later conflicts; Later conflicts are validated or not on their own merits, and the circumstances that surround them, not by the numerical outcome of earlier conflicts. As a player or as the GM, giving should always be considered a tool in the arsenal of telling a good story. On the flip side, I in no way considered it "cheap" when I threw my own accomplishment conflict, and Lx decided it most appropriate to just give. He possibly could have pushed on and won the conflict, and Dove would have gained the trait "There's a middle ground between words and guns".. But that wouldn't be nearly so cool.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Simon Kamber
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Posts: 175


« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2005, 04:00:33 AM »

Quote from: GB Steve
This faithlessness has let in the demons. In fact, Hester is possessed although she is not aware of this. Whenever she is at the hospital accidents happen: Hiram has badly injured his leg, the foundations were overrun with gophers, some buffalo left their usual run and careered into the side of the building. Some of the wood supplied by Jehu, a forester who lives in the woods was warped and unfit. Jehu is known to have dealings with the Mountain Men and is now viewed with suspicion. He doesn't come into town anymore.

A small technicality. People don't become possessed unwillingly unless they're following a cult leader. Those aren't really signs of possessions either, it seems like regular demonic attacks. So, the demons aren't in her, they're just circling around her.

I recommend sticking to possessing people who have "turned to the dark side" and made the conscious choice to call upon demons, or who were mislead into following a cultist. It increases the impact of the moral choice the players have to make when they decide what to do about the sinner.
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Simon Kamber
GB Steve
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« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2005, 12:20:22 PM »

On page 85 it says that a possessed person is "either a) a willing knowing heretic, that is a believer in false doctrine, possibly acting alone or b) a sinner withinn the false priesthood of a sorcerer."

Sister Hester is a believer in false doctrine and a willing knowing heretic, but that doesn't necessarily mean she knows she is possessed. She might feel that is righteousness that fills her with power. Well, that's how I read it anyway. I think it's a no foul situation.
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