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[Disaster!] Ronnies feedback

Started by Ron Edwards, November 06, 2005, 11:40:54 AM

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Ron Edwards


With some important changes, this game is completely ready for playtest and development toward publication. It's the strongest of the $25 Ronnies this time around. It shows a lot of experience with play and a lot of reflection. Have you read Legends of Alyria? See the publisher's forum here at the Forge, and my review.

The game currently needs revision for two things, both related.

1. During play, I suggest opening up more dialogue among the players about what sort of immediate situation might arise, scene by scene. I do think the GM's role should remain authoritative, but play should include a phase or activity which allows all the players to throw their input and ideas at the GM, and he or she can then build the upcoming situation.

2. I think the current plot structure is far too rigid, and should be permitted to develop at its own pace, and allow different player-characters to be in different phases or stages at the same time.

I don't have any comments or critiques about the basic rules of play. Your combination of decision-making, mechanics, and consequence for the characters is already in such good shape that all we can do is playtest and work from there. What impresses me the most is that you have very specific and effective emotional mechanics, but they dictate absolutely nothing about what the characters have to do in any given situation. A lot of people don't understand that and, when they put in emotional mechanics, automatically turn the characters into little pawns of the dice.

Here are some more comments which are less crucial than the above points, but if you'd like to develop the game for publication, I think these will help.

1. The game needs a setting, probably whatever setting you use for your playtesting. If the game works well, other people will adapt it to the settings they'd prefer without any trouble at all (and consider you a genius).

2. Remove the "style" portion of character creation. All protectors should be free to be strong, sneaky, or crafty as they see fit at any given moment.


Arturo G.

Hi Ron,

Sorry for taking so long to answer. I have been all the last week abroad. I read your comments the night before leaving with a lot of work to be done. No time to answer you properly.

I was not expecting such nice general comments. Thank you a lot. It really encourages me to continue.
BTW, I already read Legends of Alyria. Indeed it was your review which pointed me to it. As I stated in the credits page of Disaster!, I was somehow influenced by it (awesome game by the way). The community map idea is clearly inspired by it.

1. I like the idea about a previous stage for each scene for players input. I have been reading about this in a couple of threads after writting the game. I guess that I was expecting it to come naturally, but it is much better to make it part of the rules. I will surely include it.

2. I was having troubles with the scene structure. Originally I intended something with a clear rigid structure to force similar chances to fall in the death spiral for everyone. There were some other problems that worried me, especially players diverting responsibilities to other player characters who are around to avoid throwing the die, as it may mainly bring more pain. But let me add a couple of forgotten details here and there and it is solved. I think it will be much better. My last re-writting of the example of play was pointing me to it but you have forced me to really consider and solve the problem.

3. Setting. Correct! My former idea was to develop a clearly defined setting (the one coming from the original inspiration) and include an appendix with some indications for other possible scenarios. But I got too much involved with it as I was discovering more and more possible setting ideas while writting. I will follow your advise and I will focus in a defined setting. It will already presents plenty of opportunities for roleplaying.

4. I really liked the "style" to make characters different. I feel that the real power for defining the character attitude is in the relationships derived from the community map. But do you think we can skip the "style" without getting too similar characters at the beginning? Is it not helping to focus on the type of character you like to play?

I'm going to playtest the new version with the main changes as soon as possible.

Thanks again Ron!

Ron Edwards

Hi Arturo,

Different people will have different opinions about the issue of pre-defined character "style." For a game like yours, I tend to favor Color to define character differences in the beginning, although it may include some System choices too. That way, the real differences among characters will appear as consequences of their choices, rather than be set by the sheet. I have never seen a player fail to specify an initially-generalized character as "sneaky" or "combative" or whatever through choices during play. Unless mechanics-differences among starting characters are very important (which they are in some games), I think that people will generate their own styles/uniqueness per character without being forced to commit to it prior to play.

I apologize for forgetting about the Legends of Alyria reference in your game when I was writing my post.


Arturo G.

I see. Indeed I'm thinking that the game will benefit from a simple advise about choosing a profession/job or something related to the setting (color) and forget about a mechanical effect. In the community-map example I wrote jobs on the protector boxes instead of writting the "style", and it was highly focusing for the examples. It should indicate something.

I want also include an example of play during the first stages of the disaster (it was lost due to the time limitation). During this stage the protectors will not be together so much, but having separated scenes in which they will discover/define/investigate the nature of their relationships across the community-map. I think they will really define their characters on this stage.

Thank you so much,