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Author Topic: [Sorc] Feudal Japan Session #2  (Read 2659 times)
Darcy Burgess
Member

Posts: 476


« on: October 16, 2005, 07:45:56 AM »

  • AP thread for first game, here.
  • Blog/Prep thread, here.

The Preamble
If you've checked out the prep thread, you'll know what I had in my bag 'o tricks coming into the session, as well as what was weighing on my mind.  The coles notes version is this: tricks were exclusively agendas for each of the demons (5 in total, 3 associated with PCs),  and concerns were mostly centered around "how the fuckety-fuck do I RP a demon who can't talk".  A secondary concern was "is the Premise too academic?"

Finally, on a personal level, I was hoping to get one or two "holy shit" moments that were lacking in Session 1 this time 'round.  My tactic for this one was to trust Ron's advice and play the crap out of the demons, and see what shit got stirred up.

So, did it all pan out?  You judge.

The Setup
Brendan was a little late getting to the game, so he walked in on Ty, Glenn and Myself knee-deep in a fairly charged politico-economic debate.  In the past, this sort of thing has happened, and been detrimental to the game (aka -- that debate was much cooler than this shit-box game we're playing).  This time out, not so.  The three of us were already charged and ready to go, and we were in fighting form -- which was a flippin' good thing in my book.

One-page went out, and just to make sure that everyone grokked my big section in the middle, I got them to reinterpret it for the group.  This worked well -- it gave me an insight into what they would use the +2 die rule in Sorc for too.  This was a useful tool to get inside the players' heads and see what they wanted out of the process.

Without too much ado, we dove into the game.

The one and only scene
As alluded to in previous threads, we'd already decided en masse to kick this session off with the scene where all three PCs show up in the same place at the same time, namely Kenji's arrival in Komichi.

Opening action included some questions to each player: what sort of lead-in stuff would there respective characters be up to?  Ty didn't feel that there would be much time for Kyuzu to do anything but get ready to march out to meet this potential threat to the fief, so his actions were more or less pre-scripted by necessity.  He worked in some nice colour though, dealing with the kata-like prep that Kyuzu engaged in.

Brendan's response to the question was more disturbing.  It was like he was looking for reasons not to get involved.  Not in a malicious sense, but rather out of some desire to "do what was realistic" -- ie: that Samurai who killed my brother rode off on a horse, and I'm on foot, there's no chance that I could catch up.  What happened next was cool: I pointed out the fact that this was antithetical to what we as a a group had decided that this session would be about, and the three players solved the dilemma (that wasn't a dilemma).  Next thing we knew, Nobutaka was lurking in the crowd (gathered at the bridge into town) looking for Koga (bro's murderer) with vengeance in his heart.

Glenn and I narrated in a little bit of what happened on the road -- how Seiko was getting increasingly into the habit of referring to Kiko as "theirs" or "ours", which of course rankled Kenji no end.  Glenn also did a little scene "just before cresting the hill into town" where he laid down the law regarding how the two demons were to behave in proper company.  This of course made me giggle inside, and drew knowing glances from around the table.

Somewhere in here, Glenn made a comment to the effect of "Ok, let's stop debating and just play."  I can't remember what it was in response to specifically, but it had to do with the fact that:
  • we weren't "in character"
  • we were doing some groupthink in a scene that he thought should be about "doing" and then "finding out"
  • we were just taking to fucking long to decide
I really wish that I remember what we were debating, but in hindsight, there are two important lessons here:
  • don't set up the action and then stall it
  • when your players pipe up, listen, you sonafabitch! (I did, and things went great)

We waded into the scene with some colour descriptions of the lay of the land, the curious crowd, the local prefects performing loose crowd control, and the samurai assembled to "greet" Kenji.

The tension wasn't all that great, and I was staring at a long evening of "well, this is gonna suck".  Then the first bang came out of left field. Brendan cuts in and says that he wants to start a riot.  So that he can get to Koga and take him out.

My heart -- quite literally -- stopped. 

BOO-FUCKING-YA!  From there, it just got better and better.  We did a little bit of retconning to explain that there was some pre-existing tension in the crowd -- apparently, Kenji (as the Shogun's general) had put down a rebellion in Komichi some years ago, and had essentially installed the previous Daimyo (the man who raped Kyuzu's sister).  There was still some bad blood, and that's what Brendan played with.  Once he narrated in his mark -- the one peasant dumb enough to show any sign of disrespect, I countered with the pushing and bullyish actions of the Prefects.  Nobutaka lights the fuze by using Psychic force to knock the Prefect down into the crowd, and suddenly you've got the LA riots all over again, as the overwhelmed Prefects try to strongarm the citizenry.

Did I mention...Boo-yah!

Quick cut to the other side of the bridge: set against the rising chaos of the riot, we have a war of face between Kenji and the Daimyo's proxy (his son).  It was simply brilliant -- Glenn and I kept RPing our characters in what essentially amounted to a pissing contest of who could be more socially graceful to the other, all the while hedging political concerns over why the fuck is the Shogun's general here.  Gorgeous stuff.  By the end, Glenn put something into the SIS that his host just couldn't ignore, the dice came out, and Kenji won big time.  The Daimyo's son relents, and begs the great general's aid -- will he lead the samurai and quell this insignificant uprising?

Up until now, Tymen had been playing Kyuzu pretty passively -- at least, externally passive.  We had a good sense that he was coiled like a spring, but in keeping with his duty, was "at the ready".  I had been poking at him with his demon -- using the sword's "pulse" as a touchstone for how happy it was.

Things get a little fuzzy for me just about here -- the chain of events went totally apeshit (in a really good way).  I'll go to pointform until I can get my recollections in line.

  • at some point, Kiko breaks from Kenji and Seiko (her "sense Aiko" kicked into high gear and damned if she wasn't going after her
  • Kyuzu's sword does the closest thing to a scream when the little girl runs past him.
  • Kenji leads the sammies into the riot, ordering them to shed as little blood as possible (failing miserably!)
  • Nobutaka, sensing that the Sammies might ruin his chance at Koga, tries to stir the pot further by Psychic force-pushing the "little girl" (Kiko) into Kyuzu, as he crosses the bridge.  He fails, and instead only succeeds in pushing Kiko off the bridge.  At which point, he sees his sister Aiko (Kiko is a doppleganger of Aiko) plunging into the river!
  • Both Nobu and Kyuzu dive in after her -- for differing reasons (Nobu to save his "sister", and Kyuzu to do the "right thing")

Once Nobu and Kyuzu are all wet, Kenji is trying to regain control over the situation -- the riot is being quelled, but by virtue of the fact that the Samurai are not holding back, and peasants are dropping like flies.  He tries to regain control, and (this was a shocker), fails.  To avoid a whiff, we have the sammies reeled back in, but not by Kenji.  It's Koga who reasserts control by cutting one of his own men down for disobedience.

Now, we have all 3 PCs within speaking distance of each other, and more importantly, Nobu is within arm's reach of Koga.

That's when I had Tengu strike.  The Ikebana's agent started firing into the crowd, and the demon started using its taint ability on Koga.  Now, the crowd is a panic'd stampeding herd of terror (and the PCs don't know why -- they can't see the people dropping).

Somewhere in there, Kiko breaks from the group and heads back across the river (fuzzy on that), and Nobu is faced with a horrible choice -- to stay and try and get Koga, or protect his "sister".  He elects to stay.  His failed roll to push Koga to violence by "hitting him from behind" results in two things: 1.  Nobu heads for his sister, since his plan isn't working.  2. Koga does go apeshit, but not because of Nobu's actions -- the taint has taken hold, and the chaos has set into his soul.  He starts killing indescriminately.

And here's what's arguably the best moment of the evening.  As Nobu is heading across the bridge, he hears Kyuzu call Koga out:  "Koga, you're going to die on my sword this day.  Face me now, and die with your honour."

That's exactly what Nobu wants -- Koga dead.  I'm sitting there going "NO! you can't resolve his kicker!  HE has to do it!  FUCK FUCK FUCK!" and then it hits me (as I'm staring at Brendan's satisfied mug!).

"Hey Brendan," says I, "you realize that if he dies with honour, that doesn't do much to satiate Nobu's lust for vengeance."

Brendan's eyes widen, he gives me this little smirk of "you fucker", and then he grins,  "Yeah, you're right."   We then resolve to make the rest of resolving Nobu's kicker about "how do you get vengeance on a dead man?"  Did that feel fucking awesome?  You bet it did.

Nobu is now trying to comfort his sister when Seiko stirs the pot a bit -- no way is she letting this peasant riff-raff take care of "her child".  Kenji spots her winding up to lay some serious Special Damage (rot) beats down on little Nobu.  He screams at her from across the river to stop, and to back it up, punishes the demon for the full-bore 4 points that he can (which we rolled over as currency into his roll to actually stop her from hurting Nobu -- which he needed, since Seiko is a Power-12 beast!).  She eventually gives, and outwardly resumes the demure posture of an obedient wife, all the while glaring at Kenji from below her eyelids, with a cruel little smirk on her face.

We're winding down at this point -- I'm feeling spent (and I let the guys know that I'm running low on fuel), so we start wrapping up.  Kyuzu does a little investigating, and figures out the sniper business, and tries to track him down.

Nobu is skulking through the chaos, stealing Koga's head so that the murderer can't be buried intact.

Kenji is finishing his niceties with his host (at severe penalties, because of his failure to control a simple crowd!)

Kyuzu returns, and his "lord" demands to know why he isn't "Doing something about that abominable behaviour", gesturing at Nobu.

Play ends with Nobu bolting from the executioner. Wow.  What a rush.

Oh yeah, Nobu failed a Humanity roll as he looked over the chaos that he had wrought.

The Wrap-Up
Mostly revolved around "yeah.  that was good"  We chatted a bit about the experience system, and we decided that checks weren't in order.  Glenn pointed out that it was a great session, but that he didn't enjoy "talking about playing instead of playing".  That's something to watch out for.  Next session will probably start exactly where we left off -- in the moment of decision for Kyuzu -- does he draw his sword as he chases the little boy, or does he just chase him?
Logged

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Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2005, 08:21:43 AM »

Hiya,

I completely agree with the "talking about playing" criticism. Such talk is great for social-contract stuff, such as the business about the player you reminded wasn't living up to the previous agreement. But the group is totally on, now - any Premise-focus or Theme-creation can be handled simply through the SIS. You have the scene-framing and the demons at your disposal for facilitating the process, as well as the multitude of NPCs.

In fact, that's now your concern for prep: the other people. Even the ones who up until now were quickie cut-outs. What do they want, now? Who knows one another, and will communicate and perhaps change around some allegiances?

As for the others, they have their sorcerers and their Humanity scores, and now they are in the midst of the happy mess that means "what happens to my Humanity now?" They and you share the Kickers, and by the way, that "spike" for the Kicker was perfect. Exactly right.

Keep playing the demons. All you have to remember is that "object" as a term is meaningless. Have you never felt that an inanimate object was actually, malevolently, animate? Where did that fucking pen go? It always does that! I have to reach for thing X and thing Y, and thing Y is just out of reach, dammit.

In other games, the GM often manipulates the player's ability to affect the SIS by playing inanimate objects this way and permitting no debate about it; it's a subtle use of Force. In Sorcerer, this is not Force, because it's simply a means of playing a character (the demon) and is subject to the player's ability, or not, to keep the thing in line. Play this up hard.

Best,
Ron
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Darcy Burgess
Member

Posts: 476


« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2005, 03:47:18 PM »

Sidenote: I've asked my players to wade into this(ese) thread(s) and share some of their views.  Hopefully we'll see one or two of them pop in.

I am of course thinking a lot about the "talking about playing" issue.  I'm trying more and more to pin down the exact bit of talking that sparked the comment, and the more I think about it, I think the root cause may have been the subject matter, rather than the methodology.

If I remember correctly (big ol' IF), we got wrapped up in some sort of nonsense about the timing of when Kenji and Daimyo Jr. meet and how that fits into the timeline of the riot.  Essentially, something that amounted to colour  in a game (read: the Sorc Feudal Japan game) that wasn't about colour.

Why is this important to me?  Because I think that some of the "talking about playing" that we did in Session #1 (specifically, the entirety of Scene 2/Nobutaka's Kicker) was really really good.

I guess that it's one of those things that's hard to pin down (at least for me) -- when does groupthink about what goes on cease to be play and become meandering?  Or is this a case of what Ron alluded to in his response to Session #1 -- me essentially "asking permission" instead of grabbing the bull by the horns and being "demonic".

Have others out there struggled with this bugbear?  I know I'm not describing it particularly adroitly, but maybe my befuddled ramblings ring true to someone?
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Tymen
Member

Posts: 27


WWW
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2005, 07:37:08 AM »

Tymen here, player of Kyuzu. To bring in my $1.50 point of view to the discussion.

I had loads of fun playing, lloving every minute of it. Sorcerer is the bang.

Without too much ado, we dove into the game.

The one and only scene
As alluded to in previous threads, we'd already decided en masse to kick this session off with the scene where all three PCs show up in the same place at the same time, namely Kenji's arrival in Komichi.

Opening action included some questions to each player: what sort of lead-in stuff would there respective characters be up to?  Ty didn't feel that there would be much time for Kudzu to do anything but get ready to march out to meet this potential threat to the fief, so his actions were more or less pre-scripted by necessity.  He worked in some nice colour though, dealing with the kata-like prep that Kyuzu engaged in.

Brendan's response to the question was more disturbing.  It was like he was looking for reasons not to get involved.  Not in a malicious sense, but rather out of some desire to "do what was realistic" -- ie: that Samurai who killed my brother rode off on a horse, and I'm on foot, there's no chance that I could catch up.  What happened next was cool: I pointed out the fact that this was antithetical to what we as a a group had decided that this session would be about, and the three players solved the dilemma (that wasn't a dilemma).  Next thing we knew, Nobutaka was lurking in the crowd (gathered at the bridge into town) looking for Koga (bro's murderer) with vengeance in his heart.

Glenn and I narrated in a little bit of what happened on the road -- how Seiko was getting increasingly into the habit of referring to Kiko as "theirs" or "ours", which of course rankled Kenji no end.  Glenn also did a little scene "just before cresting the hill into town" where he laid down the law regarding how the two demons were to behave in proper company.  This of course made me giggle inside, and drew knowing glances from around the table.

Somewhere in here, Glenn made a comment to the effect of "Ok, let's stop debating and just play."  I can't remember what it was in response to specifically, but it had to do with the fact that:
  • we weren't "in character"
  • we were doing some groupthink in a scene that he thought should be about "doing" and then "finding out"
  • we were just taking to fucking long to decide
I really wish that I remember what we were debating, but in hindsight, there are two important lessons here:
  • don't set up the action and then stall it
  • when your players pipe up, listen, you sonafabitch! (I did, and things went great)

I believe we were debating the timing of the meet, but it also involved making sure that Glenn's character wouldn't be able to just bug out when the S**t hit the fan (ie. the riot.)

Quote from: Darcy Burgess
We waded into the scene with some colour descriptions of the lay of the land, the curious crowd, the local prefects performing loose crowd control, and the samurai assembled to "greet" Kenji.

The tension wasn't all that great, and I was staring at a long evening of "well, this is gonna suck".  Then the first bang came out of left field. Brendan cuts in and says that he wants to start a riot.  So that he can get to Koga and take him out.

My heart -- quite literally -- stopped. 

BOO-FUCKING-YA!  From there, it just got better and better.  We did a little bit of retconning to explain that there was some pre-existing tension in the crowd -- apparently, Kenji (as the Shogun's general) had put down a rebellion in Komichi some years ago, and had essentially installed the previous Daimyo (the man who raped Kyuzu's sister).  There was still some bad blood, and that's what Brendan played with.  Once he narrated in his mark -- the one peasant dumb enough to show any sign of disrespect, I countered with the pushing and bullyish actions of the Prefects.  Nobutaka lights the fuze by using Psychic force to knock the Prefect down into the crowd, and suddenly you've got the LA riots all over again, as the overwhelmed Prefects try to strongarm the citizenry.

Did I mention...Boo-yah!

Quick cut to the other side of the bridge: set against the rising chaos of the riot, we have a war of face between Kenji and the Daimyo's proxy (his son).  It was simply brilliant -- Glenn and I kept RPing our characters in what essentially amounted to a pissing contest of who could be more socially graceful to the other, all the while hedging political concerns over why the fuck is the Shogun's general here.  Gorgeous stuff.  By the end, Glenn put something into the SIS that his host just couldn't ignore, the dice came out, and Kenji won big time.  The Daimyo's son relents, and begs the great general's aid -- will he lead the samurai and quell this insignificant uprising?

Up until now, Tymen had been playing Kyuzu pretty passively -- at least, externally passive.  We had a good sense that he was coiled like a spring, but in keeping with his duty, was "at the ready".  I had been poking at him with his demon -- using the sword's "pulse" as a touchstone for how happy it was.

I had Kyuzu standing at the ready, waiting for anyone to just step out of line, so he could release the tension boiling inside of him in a single violent act. When the riot started, Kyuzu looked to his acting Damyo for a moment and then marched across the bridge to quell the uprising. This never happened due to the action below.

Quote from: Darcy Burgess
Things get a little fuzzy for me just about here -- the chain of events went totally apeshit (in a really good way).  I'll go to pointform until I can get my recollections in line.

  • at some point, Kiko breaks from Kenji and Seiko (her "sense Aiko" kicked into high gear and damned if she wasn't going after her
  • Kyuzu's sword does the closest thing to a scream when the little girl runs past him.
  • Kenji leads the sammies into the riot, ordering them to shed as little blood as possible (failing miserably!)
  • Nobutaka, sensing that the Sammies might ruin his chance at Koga, tries to stir the pot further by Psychic force-pushing the "little girl" (Kiko) into Kyuzu, as he crosses the bridge.  He fails, and instead only succeeds in pushing Kiko off the bridge.  At which point, he sees his sister Aiko (Kiko is a doppleganger of Aiko) plunging into the river!
  • Both Nobu and Kyuzu dive in after her -- for differing reasons (Nobu to save his "sister", and Kyuzu to do the "right thing")

Once Nobu and Kyuzu are all wet, Kenji is trying to regain control over the situation -- the riot is being quelled, but by virtue of the fact that the Samurai are not holding back, and peasants are dropping like flies.  He tries to regain control, and (this was a shocker), fails.  To avoid a whiff, we have the sammies reeled back in, but not by Kenji.  It's Koga who reasserts control by cutting one of his own men down for disobedience.

Now, we have all 3 PCs within speaking distance of each other, and more importantly, Nobu is within arm's reach of Koga.

That's when I had Tengu strike.  The Ikebana's agent started firing into the crowd, and the demon started using its taint ability on Koga.  Now, the crowd is a panic'd stampeding herd of terror (and the PCs don't know why -- they can't see the people dropping).

Somewhere in there, Kiko breaks from the group and heads back across the river (fuzzy on that), and Nobu is faced with a horrible choice -- to stay and try and get Koga, or protect his "sister".  He elects to stay.  His failed roll to push Koga to violence by "hitting him from behind" results in two things: 1.  Nobu heads for his sister, since his plan isn't working.  2. Koga does go apeshit, but not because of Nobu's actions -- the taint has taken hold, and the chaos has set into his soul.  He starts killing indescriminately.

And here's what's arguably the best moment of the evening.  As Nobu is heading across the bridge, he hears Kyuzu call Koga out:  "Koga, you're going to die on my sword this day.  Face me now, and die with your honour."

That's exactly what Nobu wants -- Koga dead.  I'm sitting there going "NO! you can't resolve his kicker!  HE has to do it!  FUCK FUCK FUCK!" and then it hits me (as I'm staring at Brendan's satisfied mug!).

"Hey Brendan," says I, "you realize that if he dies with honour, that doesn't do much to satiate Nobu's lust for vengeance."

Brendan's eyes widen, he gives me this little smirk of "you fucker", and then he grins,  "Yeah, you're right."   We then resolve to make the rest of resolving Nobu's kicker about "how do you get vengeance on a dead man?"  Did that feel fucking awesome?  You bet it did.

This part of the scene lasted all of a minute or two, but I felt it spoke volumes about Kyuzu. For me Kyuzu is a man obsessed with honour, because of his last Damyo's "Battlefield Accident". So when he calls out Koga, it's all about Kyuzu trying to regain that which was lost. The coolest image was after Kyuzu called Koga out. We rolled, I won the roll. So, Darcy had Koga stop for a moment, turn and then walk towards Kyuzu, Katana by his side and standing tall. Kyuzu then beheaded him with one clean swing. That's the image I liked, walking with honour to your certain death.

Quote from: Darcy Burgess
Nobu is now trying to comfort his sister when Seiko stirs the pot a bit -- no way is she letting this peasant riff-raff take care of "her child".  Kenji spots her winding up to lay some serious Special Damage (rot) beats down on little Nobu.  He screams at her from across the river to stop, and to back it up, punishes the demon for the full-bore 4 points that he can (which we rolled over as currency into his roll to actually stop her from hurting Nobu -- which he needed, since Seiko is a Power-12 beast!).  She eventually gives, and outwardly resumes the demure posture of an obedient wife, all the while glaring at Kenji from below her eyelids, with a cruel little smirk on her face.

We're winding down at this point -- I'm feeling spent (and I let the guys know that I'm running low on fuel), so we start wrapping up.  Kyuzu does a little investigating, and figures out the sniper business, and tries to track him down.

Nobu is skulking through the chaos, stealing Koga's head so that the murderer can't be buried intact.

Kenji is finishing his niceties with his host (at severe penalties, because of his failure to control a simple crowd!)

Kyuzu returns, and his "lord" demands to know why he isn't "Doing something about that abominable behaviour", gesturing at Nobu.

Play ends with Nobu bolting from the executioner. Wow.  What a rush.

Oh yeah, Nobu failed a Humanity roll as he looked over the chaos that he had wrought.

The Wrap-Up
Mostly revolved around "yeah.  that was good"  We chatted a bit about the experience system, and we decided that checks weren't in order.  Glenn pointed out that it was a great session, but that he didn't enjoy "talking about playing instead of playing".  That's something to watch out for.  Next session will probably start exactly where we left off -- in the moment of decision for Kyuzu -- does he draw his sword as he chases the little boy, or does he just chase him?

Again, had a great time playing. Can't wait till next session. I have an intriguing idea as to where I want to head with my part of the story.

Darcy, do you still want to weave in the current Demon/Aiko's daugher thing?

It's also interesting playing with Darcy, Brendan and Glen. Three people who I've only known for about a month and a half. I feel we are still trying to get to know one another through game play and chatting before hand, yet I find the gaming to be as fun as the gaming I do with my regular group. I'm enjoying the changed dynamic, it's nice to get to know new people and very cool to be able to finally play one of the many indie games I've bought in the past 2 years.

Tymen
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