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[MLwM] Unlimited Love?

Started by Robert Bohl, December 14, 2005, 03:19:54 PM

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Robert Bohl

What's to stop someone from requesting scene after scene of love overtures?  Why would anyone ever go back to the Master?
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Eero Tuovinen

Well, that's one of those big play-style questions right over there. Here's my answer when I'm GMing, but be aware that different people have wildly different answers.

Quitting the game: I allow minions to go out of the game if they really, really want to. That is, if the player succeeds in the appropriate conflicts against the other minions and his minion runs out of the town to be never seen again, I say good riddance. The player is effectively out of the game at that point, although he can maybe make a new character if the game's not too close to ending. The philosophy here: the players were supposed to make characters who are under the thumb of the Master (yes, I make it clear that this is their problem, not mine), so if the character simply isn't, he's not a proper part of this story and should get out. (This happens sometimes even with no fault of the player, when the story jumps in an unexpected way and it's revealed that the character really shouldn't be there.) The same thing happens if a player has to stop playing in the middle of the game for some reason.

How is the above relevant? If a player continuously restates his intention of not going back to the Master, I explain this bit of my rules interpretation to the group and discuss it until it's clear whether the player is saying that he wants his character out of the story or if he's just playing hard-ball. Sometimes it seems that a certain type of person is just being a piss-head, in which case just taking up his behavior will correct it. Sometimes the player is playing to the spirit of the game and his character just happens to be a little rebellious. Sometimes the continuous overture scenes are a signal of the player wanting out. You can't know without asking.

However, for those playing hard-ball: I have very simple and strict behavioral rules for my Masters, having nothing to do with the rules of the game and everything to do with Master pregoratives. They concern the number of sequential overtures as follows:
1st overture - the Master might mention it in negative light, or just put it on the tab of the minion, to be raised at an opportune moment.
2nd overture - the Master immediately sends another minion or two to get the recalcitant minion back, and will punish both the minion and the Connection horribly, unless the overtures were towards different Connections.
3rd overture - the very next scene of the minion, the Master bursts there himself with all the minions at hand, letting the minions kill any Connections horribly, while ordering the rebelling minion to perform some horrible punishment on his own self.

The above is possible because the Master can move quite fine, thank you, and always knows anything his minions do. So if a minion tries to avoid him or goes down in some hiding place, he has no trouble coming in and kicking minion ass. Note that all appropriate rolls are still rolled, so the minion might conseivably succeed in his Master-resisting roll. In this case the Master will continue trying his best in humiliating the rebel and killing his connections, until the rebel succumbs or gains enough Love to trigger endgame. Probably I've reminded the player several times about the escape option at that point, though.

The point of the above rules of mine is two-fold: first, there are players who shouldn't be playing MLwM. I've played the game a lot with complete strangers in less than optimal circumstances, and I like to give them a way out. Most of the time the game goes fine, but I've instituted this "escape latch" policy after meeting a couple of players who genuinely wanted to have nothing to do with the game, but were unsatisfied with just quitting without "saving" their minion. Second, the Master-behavior rules above are intented to make it more cost-effective to play along with the Master until you can stab him. Usually the most hard-ball players (meaning those who resist the Master at every opportunity, but play otherwise to the spirit of the game) will understand to fear the Master after he shows his abilities a couple of times. It's even happened to me that I've played with people who had earlier experience of the game, and they were completely shocked by the simple idea of the Master moving about. For some reason it's a common idea that the Master just sits around in his castle and waits for the minions to come back. Well, that kind of play won't work with me for long...

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Paul Czege

Hey Rob,

Excellent advice from Eero for if the situation arises. But there are some very good reasons not to worry much that it will.

If a group does Master and minion creation as described in the book, collaboratively, the minions are different in a very significant way from characters in a more traditional RPG: from the very start of the game they have an audience of other players who have an interest in them, who had a hand in determining the situational adversity they'd be facing, and who made a creative investment in the form of suggestions that shaped them. The game, in play, is about managing that audience interest. And I've yet to meet a player who failed to intuitively recognize and play the game with an awareness that the attention of others was focused on their actions. Forget being the one to kill the Master. The game is about having the interest of other players and playing with it. And repetitive actions, like requesting an overture every scene, are poison. They're boring. They quickly kill any interest others might have in the struggles of your character. Everyone recognizes this instinctively. And it's so rare in RPGs to have audience interest in your character, that in the games I've run I've never had someone risk jeopardizing it with uninteresting repetitive behaviors.

But Eero has more experience running the game for strangers than I do.

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Robert Bohl

Hm.  The system seems to discourage people from doing something besides just always going for overtures.  What do you think of the rule that one cannot have back-to-back overture scenes?  I think that is what Micheal Miller did in the Dreamation 2005 scenario I played in, and in my test game for running it in Dreamation 2006 I used that rule and it seemed to work pretty well.  They didn't HAVE to go back to the Master--they could engage in independant villany--but the upshot was going to be the same (an increase in Self-Loathing).
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Adam Dray

I've dealt with this in three different ways:

First, get the player's buy-in when they create the Master and their characters. Have each player justify why their minion does what he's told. These are crippled characters. They can't leave the Master because they're not strong enough. With the supernatural dials turned up, you can say that the Master has mind-control powers, but it's a lot more interesting to create a passive-aggressive codependent relationship between the Master and his minions. Make each minion need the Master for something: drugs, safety, emotional validation. Give the Master information with which to extort the minions. Encourage the player to create a connection to an important person in his life, like a parent. Make the minion so emotionally weak that he depends on the Master's soothing words to feel loved. Encourage the players to cripple their own minions so that their climb up can be all the better.

Second, kill off the character's connections if he won't behave. The Master brooks no disobedience. The Master will not tolerate the minion loving someone else more. The Master is petty and needy and jealous. He will kill your loved-ones if you spend too much time with them. If the player insists on spending scene after scene on Getting Love, the Master will grow enraged and send the other minions to kill those connections and drag the minion back, kicking and screaming (or unconscious), if necessary. Minion vs. minion violence! Yummy!

Last, aggressively frame each scene with the minion returning to the Master's desmesne. I got the impression from the rules that this was the standard way to play. Is it up to the player what kind of scene they get? I only allowed my players Connection scenes if they could Resist the Master. If they couldn't, they had to run the errand then return as soon as possible. Some players cleverly invented ways to get Love rolls out of the Master's errands anyway. I suppose a minion who resists Master could go off and do stuff on his own. But you can have the Master show up and give another order. Or send an order by message. "Dear Gunvald: Why are you spending so much time with that stupid little girl. Kill her now and return at once. --M."
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Michael S. Miller

Quote from: Adam Dray on December 14, 2005, 09:07:04 PM
Is it up to the player what kind of scene they get?

I've always played it that the players may request any scenes they want, but I will never grant them two Overture scenes back-to-back. Thus, the pattern that Rob observed at Dreamation. I tell the players outright they're only going to get 3 types of scenes: Command scenes, Overture scenes, and Violence/Villainy scenes, and no 2 Overtures in a row. I give them choices within that limited range, and the game just roars along.

Of course, I play very far along the "almost-a-board-game" spectrum.
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GB Steve

Play can request whatever scenes they like in my game but if they spend too much time with connections, the Master is likely to do something about it.

This usually starts with some obvious creature of the Master, or perhaps the Master himself, noticing what the PC is up to. If this isn't hint enough, the Master will send some other minion to deal with the recalcitrant servant. This could either be to inflict some kind of punishment or even to kill the offending minions' connections.

The response might be as brutal as Eero's but that would depend on the tone of the game and the nature of the group.

Victor Gijsbers

I've always let the players choose whatever they wanted. This has sometimes led to two Overture scenes in a row, but never to people sacrificing the daramtic interest of their characters in order to get more Love. So I really think there is no actual problem here.