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Author Topic: Why do wolves bite people?  (Read 11218 times)
joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« on: August 13, 2006, 10:30:24 PM »

Okay, so Clinton ran this Kick Ass game of The Princes' Kingdom on the Sunday night of Gencon.
But this cool, altered version that I'll talk about in a minute.

This game re-energized me, got me pumped up to play more... and was the best roleplaying experience I've ever had.
I'm going to run through the session, and halt myself along the way at points to let you know exactly why it kicked ass.

THE BASIS OF THE GAME

We are all princes (and princesses) of a kingdom called Islandia. We are young kids (5-12 years old) that our father has sent out into the world - to learn about life, help make the right choices for people, and earn our right to someday rule.

We are children, who are put in difficult situations and expected to help people.
And it fucking rocks, because we are so innocent... and the characters make everything so simple that the players all go, "Wow. It really is that simple. Why are they fighting?"

THE STARTING POINT

We found an uncharted island - a place that had somehow fallen off our maps. We weren't sure if it was part of our kingdom or not, so we decided to investigate. We all talked about that, and I think Elisabet was the first one to really act.

Quote
Elisabet
Age 8

WHAT ARE YOUR PRINCE'S STRONG QUALITIES?
I'm a prince.
Adults think I'm charming.
I can cast spells of the Green Magic.

WHAT ARE YOUR PRINCE'S TROUBLESOME QUALITIES?
I can't stand by and let people make the wrong decision.
Sometimes when I'm upset, I lose control of my magic.

WHAT STUFF DO YOU CARRY?
A rapier
An emerald cloak with an ancient tognue stitched into it.
A deck of Theleman cards.

She pulled out one of the cards from her deck, and it was an upside down Change Card. Which read as "Stasis".

My character, Andreu, suddenly had a bad feeling about the place.
He smelled danger.

Quote
Andreu
Age 6

WHAT ARE YOUR PRINCE'S STRONG QUALITIES?
I'm a prince.
I can turn into a red fox.
I can talk with animals.
I'm very cautious, and can smell danger.

WHAT ARE YOUR PRINCE'S TROUBLESOME QUALITIES?
I don't like being told what to do.

WHAT STUFF DO YOU CARRY?
An orange cloak.
A bronze dagger.
A whistle.

Before I continue on, I wanna point something out.
Look at how absolutely cool the qualities are.
"I can turn into a red fox" is just amazing.

So.... Elisabet divines that this place is in Stasis.
I smell that the place is entirely dangerous - however, there are screams from the woods and we feel it is our duty to traipse in and save the day.

We find a young girl, who has been savagely bitten, with a wolf hovering over her.
Seriously - we are a bunch of small children, and there is a menacing wolf attacking someone!

This is when Calvet first truly shines.

Quote
Calvet
Age 5

WHAT ARE YOUR PRINCE'S STRONG QUALITIES?
I'm a prince!
I'm really fast.
People have a hard time getting mad at me.
I might as well be made of rubber.
I can eat anything!

WHAT ARE YOUR PRINCE'S TROUBLESOME QUALITIES?
You can't hide anything from me.

STRONG RELATIONSHIPS...
My dog, Ponc

WHAT STUFF DO YOU CARRY?
A sling.
A bright blue cloak.
A silver magnifying glass I found.

So, Calvet totally jumps in to ward off the wolf.
He sicks his dog Ponc on the wolf, starts firing rocks from his sling, and acting really, really fast.

I think Calvet's stakes were, "I want to protect this girl!"

I decide that we don't want to attack the wolf at all - we want to have it help us understand what's going on.
I totally blow my whistle - halting everyone in their tracks, and then transform into a red fox and talk to the snarling wolf.

My stakes were "I want everyone to be friends."

I'm going to talk about how the mechanics worked and why I liked them, but first...
My stakes were "I want everyone to be friends"! How fucking cool is that?
The single coolest thing about this game is that you are innocent children. Things really ARE as simple as "I want the wolf and us and the girl to all get along and be happy."

I mean, deep down... that's what you want in any game. To simply befriend the problem.
Recognize that it isn't a problem, really.

The game creates profound situations.
It creates them by framing the world through a lens of innocence, curiousity, and adventure.

Anyways - that was our conflict.
I wanted the wolf to be our friend. Calvet wanted to save the girl. The wolf wanted to be fierce and dangerous.

We were playtesting a cool new version of TPK for Clinton - one he was specifically designing for developmentally challenged children, I believe.

It used this really cool 4-sided colour die - the colours were R,G,B,Y.
And it also used tokens - R,G,B,Y and white.

The way it worked was - you drew an amount of tokens equally to your age.
White tokens were automatic successes.

Involving a quality or relationship meant that you rolled a cool colour die. If it turned up Red, then all your Red tokens were now also successes. Rock.

So, in the first conflict, I had 6 tokens to start. Each piece of equipment you involve gives you an extra token.
I used my whistle, so I got 7 tokens.
Let's say they were white, white, yellow, green, green, red, blue.

I involve 3 traits, so I get to roll 3 Colour Dice.
Because my colour dice turn up yellow, green and green....
yellow tokens now count as a success, and green tokens count as two.

So, the first person slides some successes forward as their "bid".
The next player slides forward an amount of successes equal to at LEAST that amount.

...basically, its like Dogs bidding - except that seeing and raising are melded into a single action, and the tokens you bid forward STAY forward (ie, they don't get swept aside as soon as you've raised with them.)

Yeah.
It's 2:27am, and I am dead tired.
I'm going to tell the rest of the story, and talk more about why it rocked... when I get home in a day or two.
For now, to summarize:

a.) The Prince's Kingdom rocked my world.
b.) Playing children allowed us to see the world from a very innocent, black and white perspective which everyone dug.
c.) Playing a system dependant on colours instead of complicated numbers was totally simple and awesome.
d.) When you have traits like "I can turn into a red fox" and "I can eat anything!" you get really colourful, awesome gameplay.
e.) TPK gives you a chance to view real world threats in a simple, solution-oriented light - which I loved.

More to come.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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Posts: 2624


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« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2006, 06:58:25 AM »

Joe,

Thanks for posting this. It was one of my favorite games of the con, or favorite games of any time, really. Thanks to you, Meg, Emily, and Ben, it was a really light and fun experience that had a great deal of meaning behind it.

My favorite moment as a GM:

Ben (as Michaela): You can't help people by biting them!

Tamora the wolf-girl (slowly and seriously): Yes, I can.

That was really fun to say.

Thanks again, Joe. I can't wait to play with you again.

I will post more about the awesome educational tool version of TPK we played in a while.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Callan S.
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2006, 03:56:07 PM »

I think Calvet's stakes were, "I want to protect this girl!"

I decide that we don't want to attack the wolf at all - we want to have it help us understand what's going on.
I totally blow my whistle - halting everyone in their tracks, and then transform into a red fox and talk to the snarling wolf.

My stakes were "I want everyone to be friends."

I'm going to talk about how the mechanics worked and why I liked them, but first...
My stakes were "I want everyone to be friends"! How fucking cool is that?
The single coolest thing about this game is that you are innocent children. Things really ARE as simple as "I want the wolf and us and the girl to all get along and be happy."
I didn't quite get what profundity you meant, until you reminded me you were doing this from a child's perspective. I imagine from a child's perspective, to want to just protect the girl, or to just want everyone to be friends is (almost?) pure philanthropy, rather than an adults grizzled eye toward an effective community.

Do you think greed would be the next step to examine, or not? The greed that is driven by death, as in you can philanthropically want everyone to be friends, but when your dead on the ground beneath the wolf, the people who weren't so philothranic will live on while you and your ideals remain dead. The question of, how much philanthropy do you give up, in order for any to be passed on to future generations?

I'm just asking that because that was triggered in me from this bit of the account and a question that highly interests me. It might be entirely not apt for the game, but it sure interests me. It'd be horribly interesting, for instance, to see a character die rather than lessen his philanthropic ideal, even though that'd mean for the rest of time more greedy people would hold sway. What would that character think he's getting out of that? Does he want to get anything at all, since he's so philanthropic? And horribly, is that really viable? Sorry, rambling a bit - issues just spring forth for me.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Clinton R. Nixon
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Posts: 2624


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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2006, 06:50:05 PM »

Callan,

Death is super-rare in The Princes' Kingdom, especially in the variant we played. Your point was interesting, but it's not something that will be particularly explored in this game, as it's kid-oriented.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
eruditus
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Posts: 69


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« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2006, 04:10:40 AM »

Quote
It used this really cool 4-sided colour die - the colours were R,G,B,Y....

Was it this die?



My new game uses these.  I suppose I should post about it :)
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Don Corcoran, Game Whore
Current projects include The Burning Wheel, Artesia and Mortal Coil
"All Hail The Wheel!"
eruditus
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Posts: 69


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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2006, 04:21:47 AM »

Do you think greed would be the next step to examine, or not?

Yeah, I thought about this as well while reading it.  As Clinton mentioned, you really have to drive home and reward the innocence.  Many of us (especially me) are so jaded it's easy to have an "escalation of ugliness" where the princes have to discover that everyone is not as idealistic and they'd have to "wake up" to compete and be REALLY effective.  However, I think the innocence is too crucial to dismiss like that.  I see that being children and their hopes being reality is a bigger challenge than answering the hard, real questions.  As shown by Joe's enthusiasm, there is real value in playing out situations where the maintanence of that innocesence is the cornerstone to play.  This is something I have to be wary of while running this game.  I tend to run horror games and so I need to step away from my preferred genre as far as consequences go and really think outside the sociologist's box here.

While you were at GenCon, Clinton, I read my preorder PDF to keep me busy :)  I am going to run it tonight, I think.  Let's see if I can keep my inner cynic at bay.
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Don Corcoran, Game Whore
Current projects include The Burning Wheel, Artesia and Mortal Coil
"All Hail The Wheel!"
Clinton R. Nixon
Member

Posts: 2624


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« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2006, 05:21:50 AM »

Don,

It was not that die, although I want to know where you got it, because it's awesome and might work.

It was the "four-sided color blank die" found at http://www.koplowgames.com/page44.html.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Meguey
Member

Posts: 250

Meguey


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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2006, 07:32:48 AM »

I loved this game. I have kids this age, and it really captured the spirit of children.

Andreu (Joe) and Elisabet (I) really did great tag-team stuff.

My favorite moment of the game:
Andreu saying "Of course I'm not fighting the wolf. Fightng dangerous things is just dumb!"

A note on using colored 'dice' - you could use a spinner to pick the colors if you wanted to make it even more accessable to folks who have more of a board-game comfort-zone. This could also be flatter and more easily incorporated in a book for main-stream, non-RPG familiar markets.
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joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2006, 10:43:09 AM »

Colour spinner would be great, like Meg suggested...
Except that you use multiple dice in TPK, so you'd either need to restructure that or have multiple spinners?

So, favourite moments from the game:

Quote
Ben's character: You can't help people by biting them.
Clinton: Yes I can!

Quote
Emily's character: Well, what are some jobs wolves do?
Wolves: We cull the weak.
(pause)
(Andreu points at the hunter, who set out to kill the wolves originally)
Andreu: That's what Nikolai does, too.


Some notes on mechanics:

1.) Rolling 2 of the same die colour can mean a major swing in one direction or another.
If I have 3-4 green stones... then rolling 2 green dice will mean I own you at this test.

I think that if someone rolls multiple dice of one colour, that shouldn't mean that that coloured stone counts as double or triple successes.
That unbalances things too quickly, potentially.

2.) There weren't enough white stones.

Obviously, that was just an issue of uneven stone distribution/amounts. But I just wanted to flag that.

3.) I really, really, really appreciate that seeing/raising is a single action, and stones stay forward.
Less fiddly and easier to follow than Dogs mechanics.

4.) Colours are wonderful. I really like how you've used them. Bravo.
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Supplanter
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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2006, 10:50:44 AM »

Sounds cool! I totally want to see this new version. It might be mechanically more suited to my six-year-old than "regular" TPK.

I take it all the players in this game were adults?

Best,


Jim
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Unqualified Offerings - Looking Sideways at Your World
20' x 20' Room - Because Roleplaying Games Are Interesting
joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 569

Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2006, 11:11:22 AM »

Jim,

I was the youngest player, at eighteen.

The game was interesting when you look at the age dynamics in play.
I have a younger brother and a younger sister who are the same age as the princes.
Meguey has kids that are the same age as the princes.

It was interesting, because we all brought these slightly different perspectives on what being a kid meant.
The way I became a young child was wildly different than the way Ben became a young child.

So... yeah. Not only did we get to be kids, we got to see what people interpret "being a kid" as meaning.
Hella cool.
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Supplanter
Member

Posts: 258


WWW
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2006, 06:17:36 AM »

Joe, thanks for the info. Sounds like a cool game session. I'm really interested in the compare & contrast angle on this game - how adults play it vs. how kids do.

Best,


Jim
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Unqualified Offerings - Looking Sideways at Your World
20' x 20' Room - Because Roleplaying Games Are Interesting
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