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Author Topic: [Paladin 40K] #3: Tzeentch (GNS clash?)  (Read 4791 times)
Christoph Boeckle
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Posts: 455

Geneva, Switzerland


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« on: September 14, 2005, 04:22:50 PM »

Third session of Paladin in the universe of Warhammer 40K, continued from last session.

This time, all five players were present. This is also where we saw the most player "disputes". Maybe I'm not able to handle 5 players.
Right at the begining I asked if we wouldn't rather go have a beer downtown: I was feeling that some players weren't concentrated. They prefered to play and everyone settled down. It was looking allright after all.

#3: Tzeentch, or Nobody is utterly evil

Before play
Before all players were ready, we played out Frater Sinistralis' questioning, since he had refused to shoot the guards in mission #1.
We had decided after that game, that his kicker actually only appeared while witnessing the shooting (his parents had been shot by Pater Hieronimus-Pons and what was supposed to be an erased memory comes back).
After the mission, Pater Hieronimus-Pons, demanded that he stayed some more. He then abruptly asks why Sinistralis did not shoot.
At first, the player decides to have his character lie, but the Social roll isn't good enough. So Pater Hieronimus-Pons explains how he thinks the order is walking down the wrong path, and that he is confident that Frater Sinistralis could be of some help in reforming the order. Visibly, H-P doesn't know that he was the murderer of Sinistralis's parents. But he might have changed...


At the main base, Titan
This time, the players brought back the relic from last mission. Pater Aurelis-Fidelis was mighty happy about this, and showed it. At this point, it was clear that he was a heretic all the way.
Frater Divicos (who decided to take heresy points for taking the girl's hand in last game) was promised help to become an Archivist (a respectable position in the order for all things psychic) if he kept on bringing back more corrupted relics. At this point, we agreed that this was an Unbreakable Law breach, for refusing the Word of the Emperor (clearly working with demonic material). The player immediately spends his Heresy points to increase a few attributes.
Frater Solfatis inquired about his friends who were in trial. Pater Hieronimus-Pons responds that he cannot do anything. He says that Pater Aurelius-Fidelis is taking huge risks, and he hopes that if Solfatis' friends are wrongly punished, then Pater A-F will be easy to take down. In the meanwhile, with his strong connection to the Master Archivist and the relics brought back, A-F is getting really powerful...
Frater Nis is applauded for his good job at executing the heretic priest of Berenice. He is offered a higher grade, if the next mission works out.

Tzeentch is lurking

New mission:
- Execute the Governor of Farouk El Emir, for worship of chaos gods
- Investigate all connections and punish appropriately
- Bring back any relic

Because of a storm in the warp, they arrive 53 years before planned! So the governor they will meet is another one, and their target is maybe not even born yet. This one is suspected of having launched the cult though.
The planet had called for help because of an extreme volcanic activity cluttering the whole atmosphere. Agriculture had become impossible and people where dying of lung illnesses. In ten years, the Imperium had done nothing about it, even though they had the technology to help.
The governor is growing so desperate that he is planning to strike a deal with a demon. He is ready to grant him access to the volcanoes, from which the demon will draw energy to summon a horde to invade the Empire. The absorbed energy is supposed to calm down the volcanoes, and the demon agrees to leave this one planet alone.
The governor has yet to meet the demon, who is summoned by some lesser noble who will arrive soon at the palace.

This is when the characters arrive. At this point, some players think that they might solve the problems in a nicer way than last time. They arrived before it was too late... Seeing the ecological catastrophe, they inquire if they can investigate it at the source, saying they are sent by the Imperium to find a solution to the problem. They quickly learn from geologists working around the volcanoes that they could quite easily calm nature's fury with an intelligent use of their starship's onboard weaponry.

The characters are invited by the governor to a ball. Only Frater Trieste declines the invitation.
At the ball, the characters start to talk to various people. Frater Divicos talks to an elder lady who looks exactly like the one he accidently killed last mission, and she also gives a similar atheist analysis of the situation. The player is really wondering what's happening here.
Another character flirts with some hot chick, and goes as far as to have an affair. He learns from the woman who has slept with some quie important people, that "the governor is preparing an alliance with some lord of tzeentch or something"! The character literally jumps out of bed and runs to find his comrades. All this fooling around with the girl earned him his first Mark (for "showing emotions or weaknesses"). We still need to talk about the difformity.
During that time, Frater Trieste decides to visit the governors appartements while he is at the ball. He ignores the guards' orders to keep out, and just walks past them. They ring the alarm, and a whole squad of guards appears, some are weilding plasma weapons which can pose a threat even to Terminator armors. They ask the Grey Knight to back away again. Trieste thinks this is getting ridiculous and just runs off in the opposite direction, towards a closed door. The guards react by shooting at him. He smashes through the door and then fires back, killing a guard.
By the time, the other characters have been alerted and run up the stairs to check out what's happening. The governor, the chief of the guard and a noble (he actually is posessed by the demon, which is only waiting for a moment to posess the governor) are already there, trying to understand what is happening (Trieste is hiding in the library and has stopped shooting).
Frater Nis shows some nice leadership skills and manages to calm down Frater Trieste and apologizes to the governor. At this point the other PCs go back to their apartments and don their armor (that's when they meet the party's Don Juan, who doesn't immediately reveal his vital piece of information).
When they come back up, the demon is a bit startled. He quickly casts a spell wich sends everyone's mind except Frater Solfatis's into a labyrinth of mirors, where each character is alone and confronted with their soft spot. Each player does a nice job of portraying their characters fears or weakness. In the meantime, the demon swaps bodies for the governor's and runs off towards a window, already sprouting wings from his back. Solfatis runs after him, storm bolter blazing. He fires round after round out the window at the vanishing figure, giving in to his rage (the player chose to activate a Heretic attribute to reroll, although he could have used any othet Faith attribute!)
As soon as the other Fratris escape the spirutal maze, they execute all witnesses of this demonic activity and hunt down the demon (this reaps some nice Faith points...).
Frater Trieste acquired a new psionic power to localize demons from afar, and thus they easily found the posessed governor and brought him down in a massive hail of gunfire.
Then they nearly fought over the demon's wand. Divicos wanted to bring it back in one piece, but the others prefered to destroy it, knowing that Pater Aurelius-Fidelis was up to no good. Divicos reluctantly gives in and the wand is sundered. I do not know if I should award the characters with Faith points for destroying the cursed item, or hand out some Heresy points for refusing an order (but it is quite clear that the order comes from a Heretic...) Any advice?
They then teleport back to the ship and decide to bomb the palace and the volcanoes (which is supposed to stop the terrible volcanic activity, and they hope that in 53 years, the new governor won't have to call on the help of Tzeentch to save his planet).


One thing I want to talk about is what I perceive as a definite CA clash. Even though I did my best to explain what I was trying to get out of the game (situations favoring a Nar attitude), it was clear that the players of Fratris Nis and Sinistralis were intent on going an immersionist route. The player of Frater Trieste had claimed the same thing. But what he did at the palace (sneaking off alone to explore the governor's appartments) actually ended up in heated arguments not only between the characters, but the players too.
What I should have asked is that the player clearly state his intentions right at the begining. Then we should have discussed it before playing out the events.
Talking about this event on our private forums has showed that the player of Frater Trieste wanted to pull of some cool insane trick, and that he considered Frater Nis's superior grade as an obstacle to this, precisely because he was a PC. I suspect that what he really likes is more akin to a Gamist agenda (which our many games of CoC might show: we always play characters that screw up completely and do absurd things in their madness, but what is really behind it all is probably some kind of Step On Up). The french-speaking mainstream scene hardly recognizes this as "true" roleplaying, and a lot of discussion on french boards reveals that what "good" roleplayers do is immersion and "becoming the character". I think the player was influenced by this talk and that's why he had claimed a likening to immersionist play, whereas he really likes it when players do unexpected and risky things, for the coolness of it (recognizing the actions as cool being the social acknowledgement/bragging rights thing).
Since Frater Nis's player is much more in a simulationist kind of thinking, they just couldn't agree on how things were to evolve. When Frater Nis was scolding Trieste, it looked like the player felt personnaly attacked although there was no such intention at first (it did degenerate though...)

So while it's true that one can't sneak up an agenda on one's group, it's also true that it is quite difficult to have the players understand what a CA is, never mind each one of us figuring out what our default attitudes favor. I hope we will be able to clearly identify our ways of playing, and thus better understand how to change it for a few sessions of Nar gaming, or at the very least to find a common ground for all.

I don't think we absolutely need to have identical attitudes. In our Cthulhu games, some players are here to explore the process of a character becoming mad or at least confronted with overwhelming powers, while others use this as an excuse to do the most absurd or extreme of actions. It has rarely been a problem, since it is fully accepted that madmen do silly things, and that playing a madman makes it easier to justify doing these silly things.
Maybe sometimes setting/color helps to glue together what at first looks like vastly different player goals. Although this time, I'm not sure I can find an elegant solution.

One source of the clash maybe is my bad Faith and Heresy points awarding. I'm finding it really difficult to give out those points consistently. Perhaps this would unconsciously give a direction to gameplay.

I'd love any advice on how to handle this delicate situation, and then back it up with system.

Thanks for reading!
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Regards,
Christoph
GreatWolf
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designer of Dirty Secrets


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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2005, 09:35:54 AM »

I'm a little confused.  What was the argument between the players about?  Filling that in would be quite helpful.

Also, could you elaborate on your problems with awarding Faith/Heresy points?  What makes you say that you are awarding them inconsistently?
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
Christoph Boeckle
Member

Posts: 455

Geneva, Switzerland


WWW
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2005, 10:32:50 AM »

Yes, I could have been clearer on those points.

The argument was about the actions of Frater Trieste. His "sneaking" around basically put a premature end to the ball, which was starting to become interesting for information gleaning. It also meant that diplomatic manoeuvres were just about impossible from that point onward. Everybody was reluctant to trust the PCs.
So Frater Nis took action, giving Frater Trieste orders to stop with the shooting and stay quiet till they could meet.
While Nis's player was using in game information as well as possible to act out his character in a coherent manner, Trieste's player took this as a personal restriction on his player freedom, as he was limited in pulling off his cool trick if he were to listen to his superior's orders (he also seemed anxious that this would lead to general boredom, since nobody would take individual actions anymore in such circumstances). So they started arguing, not really knowing if they were in character or out of it, which resulted in bad feelings.


My problem with awarding Faith/Heresy points is that it happens really little (hardly any more than what I wrote in the AP). Sometimes it's because I just plain forget about those points (I don't use them myself as GM, so it's not something I think about consistently).
Also, there are some pretty ambiguous situations, where I just don't know how to hand out the points. For example, the PCs where supposed to bring back a relic, but instead they destroyed it because it was clearly corrupted. Should I give Heresy points for refusing an order (which I'm supposed to do in more straightforward situations) or give Faith points for destroying something demonic, that they know will be used by Pater A-F in his heretic plans? I could do both of course, but it doesn't really give the players a clear signal.


Thanks again for taking your time to help us out!
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Regards,
Christoph
GreatWolf
Member

Posts: 1155

designer of Dirty Secrets


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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2005, 12:43:53 PM »

Let's answer your second question first.

From the rulebook.  Chapter 5:  The Flow of Animus

Quote
The main accumulation of Light Animus points [editor's note: your Faith points] come from one source:  facing adversity.  Anytime a character faces danger in pursuit of the goals of their Order or Code without using any Dark Animus, she receives Light Animus points...No Dark Animus can be used when confronting the adversity.  If it is, the Light Animus points gained will be taken away.

So, when awarding Faith points, you only need to ask one question:  did the character face adversity without spending Heresy points?  If so, then award the Faith.

Quote
Dark Animus [editor's note: your Heresy points] is much easier to get:  break the Code and receive Dark Animus points.

Again, when awarding Heresy points, you only need to ask one question:  did the character break the Code?  If so, then award the Heresy points.

Then trust the system to do the work for you.  Notice how you gain Heresy points at a faster rate than Faith points.  If my character faces Unthinkable Adversity but must break an Unbreakable Law to do it, then my character gains 7 Faith but 10 Heresy.  This is a net gain of 3 Heresy.  Also, remember that when a character's Heresy is greater than his Faith, then his access to Faith is cut off until enough Heresy is spent to equalize the numbers.  Since spending Heresy also spends Faith, it means that allowing your Heresy to become greater than Faith effectively flushes the Faith pool.  Since you can always spend Faith to reduce Heresy on a one-for-one basis, the faster method of getting out of this hole is to burn all your Faith on removing Heresy and then figuring out methods of spending the remaining Heresy.  So, in the example above, assuming that the character had no previous Faith or Heresy, the final Animus numbers are essentially Faith 0, Heresy 3.  Until I can get rid of those Heresy points, I'm cut off from using Faith.  Of course, using those Heresy points also prevents me from earning Faith, so I'm pretty much hosed until I can enter a conflict and spend those three points.

Unless I don't flush the Faith pool and burn those Heresy points on advancing one of my Heresy Traits.  Hmm.  That would be much faster, and I would be able to keep my Faith points.  (I think.  You might want to confirm this with Clinton.  If not, I'd still suggest using it as a house rule.)  So now, I burn a bunch of Heresy and bump a Heresy trait, but now my Faith is back!  Except, of course, now I have this new and improved Heresy Trait, just begging to be used in the next conflict.  I won't, of course.  Nope.  Not unless I really, really need the dice.  But that will never happen, right?

See?  Let the system do the work.  All you need to do is award Faith and Heresy just like the rulebook says.  This may result in both Faith and Heresy being awarded for the same action.  So?  That's the risk that your Grey Knights take when they fracture the Code to serve the Code.  Let them deal with it.

As for the first issue, from my armchair, it looks like Nis upbraided Trieste, but Trieste's player took the upbraiding as if it were directed from one player to another.  This sort of thing needs to be addressed carefully.  Creative freedom requires allowing characters to be in conflict without their players being in conflict. From here, it looks like there was some confusion between your players on the matter of in-game effectiveness.  Was Nis's player actually upset?  This is an important piece of information.  In some groups, I could see a player thinking, "You idiot!  Your grandstanding screwed up the entire investigation.  Now the game is going to suck."  He might then proceed "in-character" to yell at the other player.  Obviously, this is what Trieste's player thought was going on.

One way of addressing this situation is by allowing kibbitzing at the table.  When Trieste starts to wander off, Nis's player could pipe up and say, "You know, if you mess up, that might affect our chances here at the ball."  At that point, the question can be addressed out-of-character.

In addition, the players need to be assured that they cannot "break" the scenario by messing up.  There's been discussion here (like in this thread) about alternate ways of running investigation scenarios.  Ordinarily, players are paranoid that they will not be able to find out an important clue, due to a bad die roll or disruptive behavior by another PC, so they fall into very conservative habits.  As GM, it's your job to assure them that they can't break the scenario like this.  They will discover what they need to know; the only question is "How will they find out?"  It would be worth your while to look over the thread that I linked and consider if it would be helpful.

Keep posting!
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
Christoph Boeckle
Member

Posts: 455

Geneva, Switzerland


WWW
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2005, 01:41:03 PM »

The problem with dark animus points is that when you spend one dark animus point, you loose a light animus point as well (down to a minimum of 0).
With dark animus points you can buy new skills/abilities (which also translates as psionic power or special equipment in my game) and increase flesh attributes.

Nevertheless, your advice to let the players handle to consequences is probably quite good. I was just worried it would confuse them. The other problem is that it in cases of ambiguity, it's the GM's point of view on an ethical issue that counts. One might think that's a good point (he should be able to adress premise as well in some ways), but since the GM is considered as an authority, this could sink in as a dogmatic view (and I hate that). Guess I'll have to move to GM-less games!


As for the the player issue, I perfectly realize that some clear out of character statement of intentions is absolutely crucial. But Nis's player really loves immersion, while Trieste's player also claims that (but I'm not sure if it's that important to him after all, I'm still awaiting his reply on that topic). They already agreed to do a little out of character discussion, when premise shows up (at first they didn't want to, but in game #2 they did it naturally). Guess all the blabla I gave them before game isn't as effective as experiencing it the hard way. I guess that they will be clearer about their intentions from now on, but I'm worried some players will resent the loss of immersion this incurs. Ah well, can't please everyone.


Although I use detective work just as a way to plant a few bangs, the advice for investigation scenarios is much appreciated. I only have them roll for minor clues, the big ones they find anyway. When the ball was aborted, I tried to wing it more or less sucessfully, but didn't go as far as I could have. Next time I will not hesitate to follow the advice found on that thread and the others it links to.


Thanks again for your help and guidance, it's very nice of you and I believe it will help me in developing my GM skills. As a matter of fact, it already has!
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Regards,
Christoph
GreatWolf
Member

Posts: 1155

designer of Dirty Secrets


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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2005, 02:39:52 PM »

The problem with dark animus points is that when you spend one dark animus point, you loose a light animus point as well (down to a minimum of 0).
With dark animus points you can buy new skills/abilities (which also translates as psionic power or special equipment in my game) and increase flesh attributes.

Right.  That's why I'm suggesting that spending Dark Animus on Traits should not cost Light Animus.  I think that this is an accurate interpretation of the rules, although I could be confused.  But, even if I'm wrong, I'd suggest it as a good house rule.

Quote
Nevertheless, your advice to let the players handle to consequences is probably quite good. I was just worried it would confuse them. The other problem is that it in cases of ambiguity, it's the GM's point of view on an ethical issue that counts. One might think that's a good point (he should be able to adress premise as well in some ways), but since the GM is considered as an authority, this could sink in as a dogmatic view (and I hate that). Guess I'll have to move to GM-less games!

That's not necessarily so.  In Paladin, all you're doing is judging the character's actions by the Code.  This is different then establishing the GM as The Authority on ethics in the game.  All you're doing is enforcing the code of ethics that the characters supposedly subscribe to.  At the same time, you are tossing them into situations where the Code seems to fail when facing reality.  As the players wrestle with this, they are dealing with the ambiguity.  Remember that the ambiguity is supposed to be there.  That's the whole point of Narrativism, really.  Here are various values in conflict.  How do they resolve?  Removing the ambiguity or shielding them from the system consequences of their actions defuses the "boom" of Narrativism.  Let your players sweat!  Let them suffer!  If they need to be taught the rules of the game, then fine, but force them to make these choices.  This doesn't require a GM-less game; it just means that you need to know what your role is as GM.  Your job is to play the rock of the Code and the hard place of Reality.  Insert characters and squeeze.

Quote
As for the the player issue, I perfectly realize that some clear out of character statement of intentions is absolutely crucial. But Nis's player really loves immersion, while Trieste's player also claims that (but I'm not sure if it's that important to him after all, I'm still awaiting his reply on that topic). They already agreed to do a little out of character discussion, when premise shows up (at first they didn't want to, but in game #2 they did it naturally). Guess all the blabla I gave them before game isn't as effective as experiencing it the hard way. I guess that they will be clearer about their intentions from now on, but I'm worried some players will resent the loss of immersion this incurs. Ah well, can't please everyone.

No, you can't, and, in this context, there's really no room for immersion.

Just so you understand, I have a long history here of insisting on the validity of Exploration as an end in itself, of piping up about the joys of immersion, and all that.  So I'm not being down on that style of play.  It can be a lot of fun.

It's just not what you're doing now.

My wife also enjoys immersion.  However, I've come to find out that, unless everyone is looking for immersion, immersive behavior can quickly become selfish.  It can become concerned with getting my own pleasure out of the game (via immersion), even if it means that I am not helping the others enjoy the game, through OOC explanations and whatnot that allow the other players to riff off of your performance.

I'm going to invoke the jam band metaphor for a moment.  What if a group of musicians got together to jam, but one of them went off in a corner and did his own thing?  Sure, he's playing excellent counterpoint to everyone else, but he's not giving anything back to the group to use.  That's selfish behavior in that context.

This doesn't mean that there's no room for "getting into character" and enjoying acting out your character's actions.  But, there does also need to be something of a disconnect, a willingness to step back from your character and judge him.  There's more going on at the table then merely enjoying the experience of "being a Grey Knight".  If your players don't get this, then you do have a CA conflict.  It might be worth it to discuss this with your players.  Explain your concerns about focusing too much on immersion as a primary goal.  Talk about how this can interfere with the ability to attack the ethical dilemmas of the game.  See what they say.  It may be that they didn't understand before, and now they will.  Of course, you may discover that they might not really care for this style of play.  Maybe all they really wanted was the ability to wear Terminator armor, wield force weapons, and beat the tar out of Chaos forces.

Quote
Although I use detective work just as a way to plant a few bangs, the advice for investigation scenarios is much appreciated. I only have them roll for minor clues, the big ones they find anyway. When the ball was aborted, I tried to wing it more or less sucessfully, but didn't go as far as I could have. Next time I will not hesitate to follow the advice found on that thread and the others it links to.

A question at this point:  do you have a mapped-out scenario, either in your notes or in your head?  Were the players "supposed" to go to the ball?  If so, that can be a bad thing.  Remember that you aren't supposed to give them any answers.  That includes the answer to the question "What happens next?"  In a sense, you should be "winging it" the entire time, reacting to their prompts.  When your players begin to run out of steam, lob a Bang onto the table that provokes further action.  Then keep reacting until the next Bang.

This can be a hard transition to make.  But when you do, you will find that it's worth it.  Since I've adopted this approach to roleplaying, I've been in as much suspense as all my players about "what happens next?"  Since there's no prearranged story, no scenes laid out in advance, no plot points to reveal...well then, anything can happen.  Again, make sure that your players know this.  If they know that they can't break the game, because there's nothing to break, they will spend more time choosing actions than trying to react to your perceived desires.

Quote
Thanks again for your help and guidance, it's very nice of you and I believe it will help me in developing my GM skills. As a matter of fact, it already has!

I'm glad to be of assistance.  Like I said before, keep posting.  I'm curious to hear how this all goes.
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
Christoph Boeckle
Member

Posts: 455

Geneva, Switzerland


WWW
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2005, 01:19:02 AM »

Right.  That's why I'm suggesting that spending Dark Animus on Traits should not cost Light Animus.  I think that this is an accurate interpretation of the rules, although I could be confused.  But, even if I'm wrong, I'd suggest it as a good house rule.

I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind this house rule. This would make Dark Animus even more powerful than it is already, since it still lets a player use the Light animus afterwards.


Quote
Your job is to play the rock of the Code and the hard place of Reality.  Insert characters and squeeze.

I like this analogy and will push it further than I have up to now. One thing that already works is awarding Faith points for executing Heretics that really are quite nice and innocent people. But the adversity here is more at the player level than the character level. A Grey Knight couldn't care less, whereas I know that the players feel slightly disgusted. But Nar is ultimately about the players, isn't it?


Quote
However, I've come to find out that, unless everyone is looking for immersion, immersive behavior can quickly become selfish.  (...) It might be worth it to discuss this with your players.  Explain your concerns about focusing too much on immersion as a primary goal.  Talk about how this can interfere with the ability to attack the ethical dilemmas of the game.  See what they say.  It may be that they didn't understand before, and now they will.

I've been discussing it in parallel to this thread with my players, and at least with one of them it is clear that he is willing to give it a try. He had read the introductory document which stated the critical position of the player towards the character, that what was important was the player's point of view, etc. He had understood it in an abstract kind of way, but until this episode, didn't realize what it meant actually playing like this. Seeing the little clash he is now much more willing to try to change, also because he now sees that he isn't as much of an immersion fan than he thought he was. (I suggested to resolve character conflicts by social rolls, one thing we had never really done before, leaving it all to roleplay. But that was only a disguised player competition, and had nothing to do with immersion. To that he responded that maybe I was more imersionnist than he was. I found that quite amusing, considering the way I've repeatedly scolded immersionist behavior in the context of this game.)


Quote
A question at this point:  do you have a mapped-out scenario, either in your notes or in your head?  Were the players "supposed" to go to the ball?

Usually I only have an initial situation sketched out, a few NPCs described in two or three lines, a number of ideas for bangs to throw in when things slow down, and that's about it. In session number #2 it worked really well. I've been mastering like that since before I discovered the forge, except I didn't use bangs (just "events", with no particular focus to them) and hadn't got a clue what a kicker was (a lot of this campaing is inspired by the kickers, or at least magnified in a significant way by them, and the players seem to like it a lot, some shyer players have been much more active now they have this legit support for their character).
With this preparation I did focus a lot on the ball. That is I described about 10 NPCs (again, just two or three sentences) that would attend it, and have some kind of information or speech to try to make the PCs doubt about the justice in their actions. If the players wanted to find out what was going on in a subtle way, that was their best bet.
I wasn't annoyed at the fact that the ball was disrupted, but I hadn't as good material to use anymore. Then again, the way it evolved could not lend itself to much finesse anymore. So I had the demon meet the governor right after the shooting scene, in front of everyone. At first the demon was just smart talking to all the PCs (but I think this didn't ring any bell, still concerned as they where with the fuss between themselves, at the player level), then he was surprised by the arrival of the GKs in terminator armor (which they weren't wearing at first), quickly posessed the governor in front of everyone (which meant that all the guards were witnesses of a demonic activity -> exterminatus) and fled. So they definetly got their clue, but in a totaly different way (during the ball they might even have helped the governor not to be posessed by the demon and fight it off before it was too late). I've no problem with winging, it's just that it sometimes comes out flatter than an outcome that was really likely to play out and that demanded just a little bit of additional prep in advance (I can always use the material in another game, if it isn't used, and it's a good exercice in any case).


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If they know that they can't break the game, because there's nothing to break, they will spend more time choosing actions than trying to react to your perceived desires.

They already know that from previous games. I've reminded them about this fact at beginning of session #2, I think they are well aware (that's probably why Frater Trieste's player tried something else than going to the ball).


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I'm glad to be of assistance.  Like I said before, keep posting.  I'm curious to hear how this all goes.

Well, right now we seem to be getting to a point where the players identify their goals and desires more consciously. From that point onward, I can also show them how to adapt to this campaign's style (since they seem willing to change once they understand what it really means to change their ways of gaming).
After the campaign I'll try to do some things more S or G oriented, to give them a wider view. But that will have to wait quite a few months. This Paladin campaing is planned to run at least two more sessions, but we won't be able to play for another 3 weeks.


Thanks!
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Regards,
Christoph
GreatWolf
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designer of Dirty Secrets


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« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2005, 05:47:51 AM »

Right.  That's why I'm suggesting that spending Dark Animus on Traits should not cost Light Animus.  I think that this is an accurate interpretation of the rules, although I could be confused.  But, even if I'm wrong, I'd suggest it as a good house rule.

I'm not sure I understand the reasoning behind this house rule. This would make Dark Animus even more powerful than it is already, since it still lets a player use the Light animus afterwards.

Exactly!  But only when purchasing Traits.

Let me give you an example.  Let's say that your character has a Dark Animus trait of "Power through Hatred" (or something like that) at a 2.  This means that increasing it by one will cost 9 Dark Animus points (new rating of 3 * 3).  (Hopefully I'm remembering these numbers properly.)  Now, let's say that he gains some Dark Animus, putting him at 10 Dark Animus and 8 Light Animus.  In essence, this character now has to burn 2 Dark Animus and then flush his Light Animus pool, buying off 8 Dark Animus by spending 8 Light Animus.

But you've been through a lot of work to earn that Light Animus, and maybe you don't want to start over, just because of a measley 2 Dark Animus points.  So you look at your character sheet.  "Aha!" you think.  "If I raise my Power through Hatred score to 3, I can burn off 9 Dark Animus points, leaving me with only 1, and I can still keep my 8 Light Animus points!"  So, grinning to yourself, you mortgage your future for your present.  Because now, one of your more powerful Traits is a Dark Animus Trait, and, later in the game, it's going to be harder to say no to those three dice, especially when you're in a situation where you are pressed.  Now, suddenly, you find that your most effective Traits are evil, and your ability to avoid Dark Animus has been permanently impaired.

But it was so important that you keep that Light Animus at the time.  And it was only once, really.  Well, except for that one time.

And the other time.

Oh yes, and that time, too....

You see?  The theory behind the rule is that it allows an action which is less harmful in the short term but more damaging in the long term.  Do you really want to muddle along through the process of ridding yourself of your Dark Animus?  That can take some time, after all, and you're ruining your chances to earn Light Animus as you go.  Can you really afford to do that?  Wouldn't it be better, simply to bleed it off into this Trait that you'll never use anyways?  Well, except in emergencies?

I admit that it's possible that I'm viewing Paladin through the grid of my own game (Legends of Alyria) which uses a similar system.  However, I am suggesting it because I think that it works.  And think of the thematic power of such an action, also.  I feed my hidden rage to enable myself to look good and do good.  The moral corruption starts from the inside and works its way out.  Suddenly, this noble, righteous Paladin falls, and everyone wonders why....
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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
Christoph Boeckle
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Geneva, Switzerland


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« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2005, 10:22:10 AM »

Allright! I can now see the advantage in your method.
I'll definetly sugest that to my players (though two of them have absolutely no problem with spending tons of dark animus points anyway).

Thanks!
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Regards,
Christoph
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