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Author Topic: [Heroquest Genericized] Kung-fu and Sci-Fi Game in Toronto  (Read 1448 times)
epweissengruber
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Posts: 311

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« on: August 19, 2006, 02:05:11 AM »

Erik Weissengrube here.

I am opening a thread for discussion of the games I ran at the Toronto Roleplayers Alliance's "Fun Day"

The two games were
- Kung-fu Assault on Wizard's Stronghold (a riff on The Mountain Witch)
- Free Trader Issaries Calling
(a take on the HQ scenario "Well of Souls" but drawing on Ian Banks and the aliens from the boardgame "Twilight Imperium")

I am interested in discussing the following topics, but players may add their own:
1) The game experience itself
- what was the quality of social interaction at the table?
2) The quality of the scenarios
- did you enjoy them?
3) The rules
- how was my exposition of the rules?
- were the stripped down HQ rules appropriate to the scenarios?
- what did you like/dislike about the rules?
- what questions do you have about the rules?
- did they contribute to the quality of the game experience (the quality of social interaction)?

I look forward to your responses


Dr. E_Rock

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epweissengruber
Member

Posts: 311

I like games! and theory! and The Forge!


WWW
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2006, 03:08:35 AM »

Brief Note on Running Heroquest

- I am ignoring my own guidelines in my first post.  I will be laying out what I learned about my preferences for running HQ.
- These are not analyses of the rules; they are descriptions of my personal approach, one that others can learn from, steal from, or criticize.

Simplifying Simple Contests

- I don't like it when characters spend too much time counting up all possible factors that might influence a roll
- Many players don't enjoy having to scour the sheet thoroughly and adding up all possible bonuses.
- I get bored when the same abilities and augments are being used over and over again
- I like when we do free roleplay and players suggest augments and abilities that grow out of that
- I like detail when it's appropriate -- which means I have to use extended contests when I want scads of detail
- Sometimes, for climactic conflicts, it IS appropriate for players to milk details and apply it in one roll.  This is a statement of aesthetics and not a statement about the rules as they are or as they should be played.  It's pure metagame and aesthetics.
- When I was in Greg Stafford's game at a convention, we did simple contests with one roll and maybe 1 well-justified augment.  I want to get back to that style.

Resolving Conflicts
- 1 simple contest with definitive results; 1 simple contest with cloudy results turned into a major victory via hero points; a series of simple contests which results in the victory of 1 party over another: these were the the ways in which Situations of Conflict were resolved by Contests.
- Conflicts are what interest me the most, not the details of each Contest.  More focus on Conflicts, less on each discrete Contest, that's what I want
- A Conflict involves Agents undertaking Actions in a Space to obtain Stakes.  Any augments, personality traits, etc. must relate to the Conflict and its components

Conflict Procedure
  • Establish the Agents, their relationship to other Agents (bring in Relationships to present agents), the Action they undertake (main ability = verb, special equipment, assistance from others, augments = adjectives/adverbs).
  • Establish 1st ability and 1st augment
  • Other augments growing out of immediately proceding roleplay and/or scene framing - parsimony
  • If plans have been made, magic cast, equipment prepared before the conflict, allow that to be brought in.  But if no time for planning occurred, go with the Ability, an Augments, details arising out of publicly described Situation and let it rip.
  • In the preceding case, have characters tot up their totals individually, then get a group report/narration of all the factors coming into play.  Do NOT let the accumulation of these figures degenerate into an exercise in accounting.  Turn it into fuel for narration.

Simple Contest Notes
- a Conflict will require one, some, or many Simple Contests to resolve
- after Situation has been established, the principle of parsimony will hold
  • establish 1st Contest (Ability, Augment, Situationally specific modifiers, and Augments, etc.
  • 2nd and following contests: NEW main ability MUST be used.  Repetitive actions penalized -10, as per rules.
  • 2nd and following contests: NO repetition of previous combinations.  Repetitive combos penalized -10, as per rules
  • Situations may change, positioning, etc.: Let narrated results of Contests have knock-on effects in later Contests

Extended Contest Notes
- first of all, I need to get MORE of these in my games, including convention games
  • Establish Starting Ability, a relevant Augment, Situation-Specific Augments and modifiers
  • Starting Ability gives the AP pool
  • Repeated use of Starting Ability + Situation-Specific Augments good, but new combos of Ability + Relevant Augment must take place
  • New Abilities may/should be brought in as the Conflict progresses
  • The "penalize repetitions of combos" rule still holds

Higher Resistances
- I don't unleash conflicts that are threatening enough.  Here come the squads of tough soldiers augmenting a mighty leader.  4W4 and stuff like that.  Feel the pain.
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epweissengruber
Member

Posts: 311

I like games! and theory! and The Forge!


WWW
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2006, 07:24:34 AM »

An email from "Dave" Regarding the game


Hey Erik;

That was a fun game.  I hope you didn't think I didn't enjoy myself, what
with the bitching and all!  I know that, as a GM, the hardest thing to get
from players is critical stuff, and I feel that it's the most important!

One other thing I wanted to mention: with such aggressive scene framing, it
was hard to direct the story in the direction I wanted.  For example, the
love triangle between me, my lord, and the sister.

Good stuff now:

Great pace.
Wicked conflicts - I love how we were really pitted against each other.
Those moral choices that we had to make.  I felt torn many times, because I
had this "get rich and become famous" drive that totally conflicted with my
love for my lord.  In the end, it was sweet how I got to make that choice -
wait for my love or get unlimited power - and how I didn't get either was
kick ass!
How everything was driving towards that climax - the rising action, up and
up and up, until we had to make a final stand for what we wanted.
How the characters were complex with their conflicts with each other - it
would have been much simpler if I was on the 2nd son's side, because we
wanted the same thing, but because my goals conflicted with my lord's, it
was sweet.  And how the two sons couldn't do anything but come into conflict
with each other.  Sweeeeeet.

I'll post to your thread on the Forge soon, after I take some time to think
about things.

dave
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epweissengruber
Member

Posts: 311

I like games! and theory! and The Forge!


WWW
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2006, 12:26:50 PM »

New Heuristic for Using Heroquest as a Generic Conflict Resolution System

Premise
Conflict does not equal 1 Simple Contest
but a Conflict is nearly 100% congruent with an Extended Contest

Conflicts can be composed of a number of Simple Contests
[they can be one roll, but Simple Contests are NOT congruent with the Conflict.  A Conflict may have several simple contests in it]
- set stakes
- define situation
(planning, tools, rituals, etc. can provide bonuses that last the entire Conflict)
- 1st simple contest (ability + 1 agument + bonuses for clever use of situation)
- decision: do we want to pursue those stakes using new means or resolve the situtation here and now
- modification of situation
- 2nd (new ability + augment + bonus for cleverness), 3rd, etc.
- conflicts end when neither party wishes to continue pursuit of stakes

Conflicts can be played out using the flexibility of a single Extended Contests
- set stakes
- define situation
- define First Abilities & AP pools
(1st Ability + 1st Augment + Enduring Augments [planning, tools, rituals, etc. can provide bonuses that last the entire Conflict])
- 1st round
:: Parties use First Abilities
:: First Actor makes Bid and determines Success Level
[target may be penalized if First Actor is using an ability that puts target at disadvantage]
:: Next Actor makes Bid and determines Success Level
[former target may turn tables and put First actor at disadvantage using an ability that puts him/her at disadvantage]
- has situation been modified significantly?
:: Group Decision: do we want to pursue this Extended Contest, do some members want out, do we all want out
:: Individual Decision:
- 2nd round, 3rd round etc.
:: continues as above
: CONTINUE with 1st Ability but have NEW Augments
[e.g.: 1st Round: Argue+ Logical; 2nd Round: Argue + "Tricky Oratory"; 3rd Round: Argue + "Raging Fury"]
:  players may switch abilities and retain Enduring Augments
- The resolution of the Extended Contest and the resolution of the Conflict are the same thing.

Climactic Simple Contest
Running out of time and you want one climactic roll?  Here is how you do it!
- set stakes
- define situation
(planning, tools, rituals, etc. can provide bonuses that last the entire Conflict)
- have players generate a TN using EVERY bonus they think applicable to the situation
- have everyone give you the TN collectively
- each player describes all the psychological, physical, and material factors that his/her character is bringing to bear
- we resolve the simple contest (I like using Ron Edward's Dice Diagrams, where all the rolls come down simultaneously)
- based on what the dice tell us, we go around the table narrating the results of our actions
[encourage players to describe how they VERY NEARLY succeed in accomplishing their task, NOT how they whiffed it.  In other, words, the cool details they have contemplated, the suave plans they have described are not cancelled by the dice]
- this should resolve the Conflict.

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epweissengruber
Member

Posts: 311

I like games! and theory! and The Forge!


WWW
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2006, 08:24:21 AM »

An email from "Dave" Regarding the game


Hey Erik;

That was a fun game.  I hope you didn't think I didn't enjoy myself, what
with the bitching and all!  I know that, as a GM, the hardest thing to get
from players is critical stuff, and I feel that it's the most important!

One other thing I wanted to mention: with such aggressive scene framing, it
was hard to direct the story in the direction I wanted.  For example, the
love triangle between me, my lord, and the sister.

Good stuff now:

Great pace.
Wicked conflicts - I love how we were really pitted against each other.
Those moral choices that we had to make.  I felt torn many times, because I
had this "get rich and become famous" drive that totally conflicted with my
love for my lord.  In the end, it was sweet how I got to make that choice -
wait for my love or get unlimited power - and how I didn't get either was
kick ass!

How everything was driving towards that climax - the rising action, up and
up and up, until we had to make a final stand for what we wanted.
How the characters were complex with their conflicts with each other - it
would have been much simpler if I was on the 2nd son's side, because we
wanted the same thing, but because my goals conflicted with my lord's, it
was sweet.  And how the two sons couldn't do anything but come into conflict
with each other.  Sweeeeeet.

I'll post to your thread on the Forge soon, after I take some time to think
about things.

dave

Hey Dave,

Sorry I didn't respond to your initial post.

That was a fun game.  I hope you didn't think I didn't enjoy myself, what
with the bitching and all!



Discussion is not bitching.  After every performance, musicians and actors ask "how did it go?" or "what can I do next time."  So adult discussion is a quality bi-product of interesting play, not something to be avoided or a sign of failure.  The fact that we have something to discuss is an indication that things went well.

I have been sorting out the Intent, Initiation, Execution, and Effect mechanisms in Heroquest, and their intertwined effects in the real world (how a player announces an intent, sets it off, carries it out, cleans up consequences) and in the game world (the sequence of stuff that happens to the characters).  That was uppermost on my mind during play and I did learn a lot from the sessions that day.  (see above)

My mistake was this: I had thought about a possible sequence of events.  I wasn't consciously railroading, but it just shows techniques of preparation can result in acts of play that are incoherent with the actual play that has evolved between the players at the table.

Once I had a sequence of events -- instead of a field of forces -- my bangs pretty much begame railroading.  Now, that said, I still wanted to keep control of scene framing. 

In my Kung-Fu game I wasn't able to get the players into a space where they could actively frame the Dark Fate scenes.

So I have to make the nature of scene framing clear to my players AND to avoid techniques of preparation that don't go with the type of play I am attempting to establish at the table.


One other thing I wanted to mention: with such aggressive scene framing, it
was hard to direct the story in the direction I wanted.  For example, the
love triangle between me, my lord, and the sister.

I was a bit to heavy.  The rules allow the GM to frame the scene and have little implicit scene framing guidance.  I should have followed your lead.  Or given more explicit permission about how other players could frame scenes.  But even when I am not unconsciously railroading I drive the bangs pretty hard.

And how the two sons couldn't do anything but come into conflict
with each other.  Sweeeeeet.

Perhaps too loaded.  I think I will not let the players chose the role of either brother.  It seems to load things up too much.  To have them as flawed individuals putting pressure on the player characters ... that might be more interesting and avoid the railroading trap.

OR I could have a PC offer opportunities for compromise, instead of the straightforward "taking of sides" that I pushed so hard.

Sure the battle between the Rebel Alliance and the Vader/Palpatine/Sedious team is the big battle.  But I am more interested in the lower-ranking characters -- Luke, Han, and some Wookie.  The actions of these Lower Ranking characters make or break the big battle.

In future, I will run the space opera thing as a network of relationships.  Including the Von Neumans who wish to assimilate everything into an undifferentiated mass, and the Culture GSV's Artificial Intelligence unit, which wants to shake individuals from their religious, feudal, economic straightjackets -- if they wish to be so shaken.
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