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Author Topic: AP: El Nasl's a Pimp  (Read 3983 times)
Shreyas Sampat
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« on: September 24, 2005, 04:38:05 PM »

So, last night I played Polaris with three friends: Frank, Sarita, and Josh.

Significantly, Josh and I outlined the feel of the setting without bothering with specific details, which led to some hiccups like somebody referring to timepieces and the sun, but this was not really problematic.


We had set up characters the previous week, and pretty deliberately entangled them to the extreme:

El Nasl, the Arrowhead (I am his heart) was:
* maintaining an affair with Arrakis, the wife of an elder Knight (apparently Weary but not yet fallen), Kuma.
* a political enemy of the aforementioed Kuma, who was a straunch traditionalist, and took Nasl's curiosity and invetiveness as a personal affront
* respectful toward Jabhat al Akrab, curator emeritus of the Left-Hand Museum (now these duties fall to Nasl).
* alternately hunting and romancing Etzlitotec.

El Bali, the Swallower (Frank is his heart) was the ward of Kuma and holds a strongly atagonistic relationship with Etzlitotec. He also shares miscellaneous supporting characters with Purrima.

Purrima (Sarita is her heart) is notably the friend of the unnamed queen, and also notably a midwife. She is the opponent of Dziban, who has some sexist campaign against female Knights. Dziban is a close friend of Kuma's.

Puppis (Josh is his heart) is the brother of the king's unnamed page, and shares miscellaneous supporting characters with Purrima and El Nasl. He has tamed Four Birds, Lord of Carrion.

So, I'm getting increasingly foggy about the borders betwen scenes and what precisely happened, and that means that I won't recount stories. Some thoughts about play:

* We never found an opportune point to bring in the Shogun of Sorrow, our circle's universal Fate.
* Choosing relationships that link to the same character had the noticeable effect of aligning our Knights in specific ways very rapidly.
* We got better at using the ritual phrase conflict system pretty fast, but had repeated confusion over the roll called for by It shall not come to pass.
* We observed a few times that, when we're accepting of antagonism rather than rising to conflict to resist it, much more collateral damage is generated than personal harm to the Knights, and very few experience checks.
* What privileges does a Heart have over his character, when he is acting as the Moon in someone else's scene? We concluded that, being a Moon, you don't have the conflict privileges to argue yourself out of various events being inflicted on you, but your character's actions and choices cannot be narrated by others. Is this the intended pattern?
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2005, 11:17:41 PM »

Cool!

Quote
* We never found an opportune point to bring in the Shogun of Sorrow, our circle's universal Fate.

You seemed to do pretty well with Kuma and Etzlitotec as shared characters, though.

Quote
* We got better at using the ritual phrase conflict system pretty fast, but had repeated confusion over the roll called for by It shall not come to pass.

Read this thread here: Polaris "advantage" question
Does that clear up any confusion?

Quote
* We observed a few times that, when we're accepting of antagonism rather than rising to conflict to resist it, much more collateral damage is generated than personal harm to the Knights, and very few experience checks.

This is generally true.  If you want to change it up, though, the Mistaken can make statements that specifically affect the Knight, such as my favorite "the demon reaches his claws into your forearm, between the bones, and rends them apart from each other, splintering the bones, totally destroying your hand and arm."

Quote
* What privileges does a Heart have over his character, when he is acting as the Moon in someone else's scene? We concluded that, being a Moon, you don't have the conflict privileges to argue yourself out of various events being inflicted on you, but your character's actions and choices cannot be narrated by others. Is this the intended pattern?

Quote from: Polaris Rules
pg 63
Whenever one protagonist appears in a scene which focuses on another protagonist, the first protagonistís Heart retains guidance over her character, regardless of the characterís position in the Cosmos. Indeed, no situation can ever cause the Heart of a protagonist to lose guidance over the characterís actions.

pg 76
If you are using another protagonist as part of a scene (or even if you arenít), either active player can include that protagonist in their statements, but only with the permission of that protagonistís Heart.

Does that clear things up?

I want stories!

yrs--
--Ben
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Shreyas Sampat
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« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2005, 12:34:11 AM »

Regarding clarifications: It was mainly a problem of having not learned the rules by heart yet, and of only having one book between us four. The specific quotes from the text are reassuring!

Here's a story (seating order implicit; my recollection of the precise order and content of scenes is imperfect, so I'm trying to order them in some sensible way):

We learn that El Bali is returning to Southreach, having just thrown a child into the Mistake.

Purrima is with a friend, assisting a birth, when Dziban's agent Puppis arrests her.

Something very confusing happened with Puppis here. I strongly suspect that it was a continuation of the arrest sequence from the prior scene, with a bit of exposition on Puppis' position in that affair. We learn that El Bali is also under arrest, for different reasons. We also learn that it's on the page's orders that he committed the infamous child murder. We learn that the page is in league with an unnamed demon, as are the vast majority of the elder Knights.

El Nasl and Kuma are arriving in Southreach for Purrima and El Bali's ceremonial trials. Sarita narrates Purrima's escape from imprisonment, offering assistance to El Bali; Frank declines. Then El Nasl is apprehended for questioning. (I found this to be an uninteresting route and thus, reacted in the most obvious possible way: I played El Nasl as an irritable troublemaker who knows precisely how far he can go without actually getting in trouble. This actually turned out to be rather fun, but didn't really get us anywhere, in my opinion.)

(there's seating order for you. The rest is far less organised.)

An interesting scene happens where Josh is technically the Heart, but Frank actually plays El Bali impersonating Puppis, and exchanging some discussion with the page. The page almost immediately notices the deception, since El Bali does not carry a My Father's Sword, dripping with black madness. Etzlitotec appears and page makes obeisances, revealing his allegiances. She is displeased. (It seems like Josh and Frank are unconsciously doing this thing where they don't actually distinguish between Heart and Mistaken during these scenes; they're opposing one another and the satellite Moons are present to judge, and that is what's important.)

Purrima brings certain concerns to the queen, who calls together the Knight leadership for El Bali's trial. We learn that there is fighting among the younger Knights, who are immediately responding to the power vacuum by fighting for dominance among one another.

El Bali reveals his newfound knowledge of the Knights' mass betrayal, and in a fairly interesting conflict, he has all the elders (Kuma and Dziban among them, and in addition the criminal page) stripped of rank and Knighthood, and exiled from the Remnant. He trades his own Knighthood for this, and the queen elevates Arrakis (whose indiscretions with El Nasl are revealed), and as punishment for her unfaithfulness, she is given the responsibilities of all the newly vacated posts. Later we find all the elders have fled in one direction, and the page in another.

In a final clash of arms, El Nasl awaits Etzlitotec at the gates of her sanctum. She bursts into an angry tirade about the pain of childbirth and threatens to amputate Nasl's generative organ, and I summarily overrule this entire speech; I would rather confine the feminine issues to Purrima's story. (I plan to be pretty adamant about this. I basically felt like there was some soapbox business going on, and while I'm the Heart I'm not brooking any of that.) The scene ends with Nasl and the demoness at an impasse, him rooted to the ground by trees called up when she plunged her own fingers into the earth. Both are immobilised.

That's where we stopped for the night. It was three rounds of scenes, I believe.
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2005, 12:45:46 AM »

Hmm... interesting broad-strokes stuff.  You're definitely going for consequences in the social, rather than personal realm.

Where were the experience checks?

yrs--
--Ben
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Shreyas Sampat
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« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2005, 01:02:19 AM »

We missed a few in the first go-around.

Nasl probably should have had one when reacting to arrest; he was waving around apathy like a banner.
Puppis and Bali both got one or two for sneaking around, disguising themselves, consorting with traitors, etc.

So far we've basically been sticking to our honour guns otherwise. (I have an idea about that, though. We'll see how it goes.)

As for social consequences...yeah. It's apparently my default threat.

My homework for next week:
* Purrima is dodging conflict. Bring her in with something harsh.
* Tangle Puppis better with the other characters; he feels disconnected.
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suffusionofyellow
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« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2005, 06:52:50 PM »

Puppis is disconnected, I agree. It seemed to happen that when play came around to me, I didn't know where to run with it. You did a good job orchestrating breaks before your turn, so I think I'll try that when stumped instead of shifting focus. A main part of the disconnection comes from El Bali narrating away my entire circle of connections. I did say "You ask far too much" but his alternative changed only a minor detail that had no real bearing on my character at all. So when it came around to me again, I had nothing to go on.

I'm also displeased with how he handles the sanctity of what has been narrated. I'm not going to force something that others find uninteresting, but it almost feels like he's taken his role as Mistaken beyond what it should be. A couple of examples being the Lord of the West Hall being discredited along with the rest of the knights and his constant revision of "Etzlitotec kills many Master Knights" to "a few" and then "one or two". The first I didn't feel I could make a substantive claim on, since Bali was only weakening the Mistaken's hold on me but the second is highly irritating.

This leads me to be uncertain that the Mistaken belongs across from the Heart. I understand the reasons, but what happened here was I essentially had the Mistaken gunning for my character in both my Narration and El Bali's. And to an extent, the Mistaken's role has expanded to the point where I have an adversarial relationship with the player. I'm sure it's unintentional, but it made parts of the session less fun. I know it looked to Shreyas like we were jiving well, but I I felt like I was just keeping my head above the water.

So, goals:
* Bring Puppis back in by means of the Shogun of Sorrows (kills two birds with one stone)
* Work on keeping the Mistaken where he belongs
* As Heart, actually prosecute my characters agenda
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