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Author Topic: [Mortal Coil] A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...  (Read 2520 times)

Posts: 41

Bob Manning

« on: October 24, 2006, 07:14:40 AM »

   Last weekend I ran a one-shot of Mortal Coil for a few of my friends.  They’re gamers, but had never played Mortal Coil before.   It was my first time running it, but I had played in a demo and a one shot before.  Here’s the breakdown of the game, piece by piece.

Theme Document:

   Starting off, we decided to keep the game “Light” and “Flashy”.   Even before we picked a setting we wanted to keep things fairly bright, as opposed to the dark and gritty style.  Once we had that settled, we had to pick a setting.  We went through a few ideas at the beginning.  Early assumptions had the players starting with historical setting ideas until I explained to them that Mortal Coil could work with just about anything from historical to modern and even to futuristic Sci-Fi.  I said that it could probably even do Star Wars, and I could tell by the way their faces lit up that we had a winner.  We narrowed it down to playing in the Old Republic time period long before even the Knights of the Old Republic computer games and we were set.
   It all got easier from there.  Of course, magic was the force.  We determined that it was rare since very few people could learn to use it, but it was powerful and mysterious.  We went with a high magic setting, since we really wanted to be able to push the system and I wanted everyone to have plenty of magic tokens to spend.  Also, we wanted to have jedi in the in style of KotOR and the Clone Wars animated series.
   Next, we needed a situation.  One of the players said “I want to rescue a princess.”  Nobody had a problem with that, so we took that as our starting point.  We also set major conflicts in the game as Jedi vs. Sith, and the Light Side vs. the Dark Side of the force.  Then to wrap things up, we named a few villains to act as the opposition.  I pulled names from KotOR, using Sith lords that were entombed on Korriban in the time of that game.  This gave us Naga Sadow, and Ajunta Pall.

So, we now have a theme document:

Quote from: Theme Document
Tone:  Light, Flashy
Setting: Old Republic Star Wars
The Force: Rare, powerful, and mysterious
Magic Level: high
Situation: Rescue Princess, Jedi vs. Sith, Light vs. Dark
Villains: Naga Sadow and Ajunta Pall

Character Creation:

   The next step was to create characters.  Everyone came up with a concept quickly, and it didn’t take long at all for this step.  Even explaining the process for players new to the game, character creation took less than an hour from start to finish.  Here are our 3 Jedi PCs and 2 Sith Villains:

   As an aside, we also decided that lightsabers would count as a “magical item”.  I couldn’t find any rules for characters starting with them, so I created a rule allowing the player to sacrifice a magic token at character creation to have one.  All three PCs did.

Magical Aptitudes are designated by a *.

Jodo Konid, played by B.

Concept: Sith hunter
Character Type: Ancient
Passions: Hatred of the Sith – 3, Duty to keep the peace – 1, Duty to protect other Jedi - 1
Faculties:  Force – 3, Grace - 3, Will – 4, Wits – 3
Aptitudes: *Jedi – 5, *Sith – 3, Pilot – 2, Zealot – 3

   The idea here was to create a Jedi master that was known as a sith hunter.  In the past he had infiltrated the sith and learned their ways as an apprentice to Naga Sadow.  He also had battled Ajunta Pall in the past.  This tied him in with the villains and major conflicts of the game very strongly, and his passions would drive him to action in the game.

Dagmar, played by J.

Concept: Jedi diplomat
Character Type: Veteran
Passions: Duty to Maintain order and peace – 2, Fear of Chaos – 2, Duty to uphold Jedi interests – 1
Faculties:  Force – 2, Grace – 2, Will – 3, Wits – 4
Aptitudes: *Jedi – 3, Diplomat – 4, Loremaster – 2

   J wanted to play a Jedi Knight specializing in diplomacy.  Her passions weren’t directly against the sith, but would work fine to push her in this scenario.

Gorn, played by JC.

Concept: Ithorian Jedi and Life Warden
Character Type: Veteran
Passions: Love of all organic life – 2, Duty to obey the Jedi Council – 1, Fear of emotions – 1, Fear of Dark empty places (like space) – 1
Faculties: Force – 4, Grace – 2, Will – 3, Wits – 2
Aptitudes: *Jedi – 3, *Life Warden – 4, *Ithorian – 2

   JC wanted to create an Ithorian that was from an order of Ithorian force users with their own special abilities calling themselves Life Wardens.  We also set Ithorian as a magical aptitude so that they could be given special alien abilities in play.  In hindsight, I’m thinking that a character with no non-magical aptitudes is probably a bad idea.

Naga Sadow, NPC Villain.

Concept: Sith fleet commander
Character Type: Ancient
Passions: Love for Princess Aiua – 2, Hatred of Jedi – 2, Duty to lead the Sith – 1
Faculties: Force – 2, Grace – 3, Will – 4, Wits – 4
Aptitudes: *Sith – 5, Admiral – 4, Scientist – 3, Loremaster – 1

   I wrote up Naga as the mastermind behind the scenes, thought already dead by the Jedi at the beginning of the story.  I gave him the passion towards the princess to give him the motivation to begin the conflict spotlighted in this story.

Ajunta Pall, NPC Villain.

Concept: Sith Weapons master
Character Type: Ancient
Passions: Hatred of Weakness – 2, Fear of Jodo Konid (B’s PC) – 2, Duty to obey Naga Sadow – 1
Faculties: Force – 3, Grace – 5, Will – 3, Wits -2
Aptitudes: *Sith – 4, Warrior – 5, Pilot – 4

   Ajunta was written up to be the thug enforcer working for Naga.  I set him up to both be pushed to obey his master and to have ties to one of the PC’s.  Since Jodo was a known Sith hunter, I gave him a fear of Jodo.

   One last thing happened before we moved into the first scene.  B, Jodo’s player, sacrifices a magic token to create a magical fact about The Force.  “There is a finite amount of The Force available to users in the galaxy.”  This established the meaning underneath the conflict between the Jedi and the Sith.  There was only so much power to go around.  We further clarified it to mean that powerful force users counted as multiple lesser ones.  This didn’t have a big mechanical impact on our game, but it put a powerful statement into the background about the war between the Sith and the Jedi.  It’s too bad this was only a one shot, this would have been the start of a great campaign.

        I'm still working on typing up the notes on the actual scenes and the magical facts that were created in play.  I'll try to get them posted here later today or tonight.

Working on: Heartless Void - A Sorcerer Mini-Supplement (Started Here)

Posts: 41

Bob Manning

« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2006, 01:04:31 PM »

   Here's the second part.  I think the easiest way to do this is to break it down scene by scene and go through the game.

Scene 1:
   I started things off with a quick prologue scene to set things in motion.  There were no PCs involved, it was mostly a narration of Ajunta Pall boarding an Alderannian cruiser and kidnapping Princess Aiua.  At this point we established as a group that she was on her way to be married for diplomatic purposes, and if she had to be recovered to avert a war.  We didn’t go into much detail about her at this point, and she was never ‘on camera’.  There was just a sequence of Ajunta’s ship latching onto the cruiser in an asteroid field, then him killing a bunch of soldiers on board before taking off in his ship.  Then I narrated the captain getting off a message to Alderann before bombs left behind by Ajunta destroyed the ship.

Scene 2:
   This is where we introduced B’s character, Master Jodo Konid.  Again there were no conflicts to play out, it was just to introduce him and get him involved in the story.  It was a quick scene of him getting ready to take off in his ship from some planet that was apparently where his most recent mission had just ended.  He had a brief conversation where the council told him he was needed on a mission, and that two Knights were being sent to help him.  He was to meet them at a nearby starport.  The scene ended by showing his ship taking off, and the camera zooming out to show a blasted battlefield smoking in his wake. As Jedi go, Master Konid is a sledgehammer.

Scene 3:
   This scene was set in a bar on a space station.  We started with J’s character, Dagmar, speaking with senator Gris from Alderann on her holographic comlink, basically assuring him that the matter would be settled quickly.  JC has his character Gorn enter the bar and join Dagmar at her table, and had a brief conversation before Master Konid arrives.
As soon as B has Konid enter the scene, B sacrificed a magic token to declare that “Sith can sense other Sith.”  I added the price for the ability, giving it a Wits conflict trigger that instead lets them sense you if you fail.  Deciding that if he’s looking for Sith then there should be one around, I decided that Ajunta Pall was on the station, and ran the conflict between the two of them.  Ajunta won and became aware of Konid’s presence.
   There’s a bit of dialog between the PCs ending with Konid telling Dagmar that he will require a large military vessel for this mission, telling her to get one.  She called Senator Gris back and initiated a conflict against him to try and get the use of a ship.  Since she dropped Master Konid’s name in the roleplayed conversation, I allowed a helping test for him if he wanted to try and influence the outcome.  He did, but only broke even.  This conflict was resolved pretty slowly, since it was the first one of the game and I had to explain how it worked as we went.  It’s pretty simple though, and they caught on quickly.  The end result, after J calling on Dagmar’s duty to uphold the peace passion, was a complete success against Gris at a +4.  The Senator promised to send what aid he could.

Scene 4:
   This was a quick scene with no conflicts, where they board the ships sent by the Senator.  Since the margin of success was so high, I gave them a Battlestar style carrier with two escort cruisers.  This scene ended with them setting course for Korriban, a Sith stronghold and the most likely place to find the missing princess.

Scene 5:
   The core conflict of this scene was getting to the surface of Korriban.  B decided to do a hot landing in his ship while the cruisers and carrier provided cover and distraction against the fleet commanded by Naga.  I did this as a conflict between Konid and Naga, with a helping test first by Commander Sool (the carrier’s officer) against Naga.  If I had been smart at the time, I would have counted Dagmar’s margin of success against the Senator as a helping test for the Commander to reflect the quality of the forces they had.  Unfortunately, I only just thought of that.
The stakes of the main conflict weren’t whether or not the Jedi could reach the surface, since if they didn’t we weren’t really going anywhere.  Instead, it was whether or not they could make it down undetected.  Konid was ahead in the conflict after the reveal, but I used some of my power token pool to push it back to a tie.  In this case, we determined that Naga knew that they had landed, but didn’t know where they were.  B narrated them ditching Konid’s ship and letting it crash into the fortress as they jumped to the forest.
Several more powers were defined during this scene, including the power of Sith to coordinate forces under their command for a bonus (with a price penalizing them for other actions at the same time), and the ability of Jedi to survive falls from any height at the cost of a magic token spent.

Scene 6:
   Ever since the third scene when Ajunta had sensed Konid, I had been meaning to narrate to the players his ship following them.  I forgot, but they forgave me anyway when I brought him into play once they landed.  As they were planning their entry into the Sith fortress, I had Ajunta enter the scene and challenge Master Konid.  Konid sent the other two on to get the Princess while he faced Ajunta.
   We really pushed hard on the conflict system for this one.  Magic tokens were sacrificed to create new powers to use in the battle.  We started to have conflict rounds with action tokens being allocated to multiple actions and spending for reallocations after the reveal.  Ajunta had to allocate extra action tokens at the beginning to overcome his fear of Konid, causing him a disadvantage.  Harm came into play pretty heavily at this point too.  At the end of the brutal throwdown Master Konid had won, but Ajunta had escaped.  Neither came through unchanged.
   Master Konid had suffered a couple of wounds, but that was no big deal and B used magic tokens to create Jedi powers that could heal them.  The biggest thing was that he used his hatred passion twice during the fight, pushing it up to a 4 and causing him to drop his duty to keep the peace to 0.
   Ajunta only barely escaped.  He ended up losing almost all of his action tokens to wounds and fatigue during the battle, leaving him with only one for the final round.  This meant he only had one action left, going “all in” to use a Sith disappearing power that I created on the spot.  It required the action token since it had a conflict trigger.  He tied the conflict, which we decided meant that it worked, but not before Konid’s action was resolved against him.  It was an uncontested attack, resulting in a maiming.  I dropped Ajunta’s grace to a 4 permanently, and Konid got to collect his arm from the ground.  It wasn’t a big deal in a one shot, but I declared that after this, Ajunta was adding a new passion, a hatred of  Konid, at the cost of his duty to Naga Sadow.  Personally, I think a character with both a hate and a fear of the same thing is awesome.

Stay tuned for the last two scenes and the lists of magical facts established in play.

Working on: Heartless Void - A Sorcerer Mini-Supplement (Started Here)

Posts: 41

Bob Manning

« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2006, 10:02:00 AM »

Scene 7:
   Previously, JC had used a power token to establish the fact that there were giant redwood-like trees growing all around the area.  Now, he defined a power for Life Wardens that allowed them to reshape plant matter and used it to create a tunnel inside a giant root to get past Ajunta and move towards the Sith Fortress.  They enter through the hole created by Jodo’s crashing ship.  A few more magical facts were created here, one allowing Ithorians to bellow loud enough to deafen and disorient people, and one that allowed lightsabers to cut through anything.  The two Jedi then cut their way to where the princess was located.
   Up until this point, I had kept her off camera and her situation unclear.  I took this chance to remind the players of one of the things that power tokens can do is give a player the power to temporarily usurp some control away from the GM and narrate something into the game.  JC jumped on it and sacrificed a power token as they cut through the ceiling of the room holding the princess, narrating that she was obviously an unwilling prisoner and chained to a pedestal in the middle of the room.  What’s neat is that until that happened it could have gone a number of different ways.  Someone could have spent a token to declare that she was wearing Sith armor and wielding a red lightsaber, being trained as a disciple.  And actually, that would have been damned cool.  In this case though, they were sticking with the original premise, which was to rescue a princess, not battle her.
   Continuing on, Gorn uses the abilities already given to Jedi and lightsabers to cut the chains securing Aiua to the pedestal just before Naga Sadow entered the room.  Accusations and threats were exchanged until the main conflict came up.  Dagmar was going to try and distract Naga while Gorn used telekinesis to pull Princess Aiua up through the hole.  Dagmar made a helping test using her Wits and Diplomacy against Naga as a distraction.  She won and gave a bonus to Gorn’s test against Naga in the telekinetic struggle.  This was also the point where I gave Sith the same telekinetic power that Jedi had, and the players set the same price on it that Jedi had.
The conflict round consisted of 3 separate actions.  There was a Will vs Will test for the TK, and both Gorn and Naga made a Grace attack against the other.  Naga hurled his lightsaber at Gorn, while Gorn used the force to fling the severed pieces of chain at Naga.  At the time I had those count as independent and uncontested, but thinking of it now I probably should have given the player the option of having them be a versus test.  As it resolved Gorn won the test to pull Aiua out and wounded Naga, but Naga maimed Gorn in the process.  He chose to lower his Will faculty from the maiming, narrating it as permanent pain from the wound distracting him.
   Hurt but not out, Gorn used a clump of vines that he had been carrying since he entered the fortress as a barrier to hold back the Sith Lord.  Using one of the Life Warden powers JC had defined back in the third scene, he caused the vines to grow explosively and choke off his avenue of pursuit.

Scene 8:
   After everything we had a quick epilogue without any more conflicts to wrap things up.  Jodo stole Ajunta’s ship and picked up the rest of them from one of the giant trees that Gorn caused to rise far above the Sith stronghold.  They flew back to the Alderannian battleships and we ended there.

Working on: Heartless Void - A Sorcerer Mini-Supplement (Started Here)

Posts: 41

Bob Manning

« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2006, 11:39:59 AM »

Post mortem:

   Mostly, the game went pretty well.  I mentioned in a few of the scenes thing that I could have done better and mistakes I made.  One more big one that I realized later was that I allowed the Jedi Aptitude to be used in way normally reserved for non-magical aptitudes.  In this case, I was letting them use Jedi as a combat ability when fighting with their lightsabers even though there was no power on the Jedi Sheet allowing it.  Even if there had been, it would have required a price.  If I was to do it again, I’d make sure that the players understand that magical aptitudes are not the best choice for using in normal conflicts.

Magical Facts:

   Here are the lists of magical facts we established in play.  We did end up with a bunch with a cost requiring the spending of magic tokens, which I’m not sure is really the best way to go since the magic tokens are supposed to be a player resource instead of a character resource.
   I also think we should have had a general class of magical aptitudes called “Force Users”, with things like Jedi and Sith being subclasses that inherit the general abilities of force users and then get their own specifics.  That’s actually something that came out of a conversation about using Mortal Coil to do a Vampire: the Masquerade game.  That way you can group all the general traits of a type of aptitude together, then get into more detail in each subclass highlighting their differences.  After all, how many magic tokens should really have to be spent to make sure that none of the vampire clans can go into daylight?

The Force:
   There is a finite amount of force available to users in the galaxy.

   Jedi can focus on a single task for a +2 bonus, but cannot split for multiple actions that round.

   Jedi can survive falls from any height uninjured, but must spend a magic token to activate this for a scene.

   Jedi can sense sentient minds, but it requires a conflict to sense another force user.

   Jedi can read an opponent’s mind to know how he’s allocating his tokens before the reveal in a conflict.  The Jedi must spend an action token to do this.
   (I was a little worried that this one breaks the rules of Mortal Coil, but I decided to go with it and try it out.  It ended up not being too much of a problem, especially after the reallocation round.)

   Jedi can move things with telekinesis, but larger objects require more effort in the form of spent magic and action tokens.
   (This was left a bit more vague than I’d normally liked, but it got the point across for the purposes of the one-shot.)

   Jedi can heal their wounds (and recover the action tokens) by spending magic tokens on a 1 for 1 basis.

   Jedi can leap to any point that they can see, but they have to spend a magic token for anything further than 100’.

   Jedi can use the force to recover from fatigue by spending a magic token for every action token recovered.

   Jedi can enhance any faculty with a +2 bonus for a conflict round by spending a magic token during allocation.

   Jedi can run at superhuman speeds by spending a magic token.

   Jedi can speak mind to mind, but only if they are nearby.

   Sith can sense other Sith, but it triggers a wits conflict.  If the initiator fails, then he is sensed by the other instead.

   Sith can use the force to coordinate attacks by followers, giving a +2 bonus.  The Sith is at a -2 penalty for all other actions during the same scene.

   Sith can create illusionary foes in the minds of their enemies resulting in a -2 penalty for the scene.  This requires a Wits vs Will triggered conflict.

   Sith can use the force to vanish from the sight of others if they win a triggered Wits vs Will conflict.

   Sith can move things with telekinesis, but larger objects require more effort in the form of spent magic and action tokens.

Life Wardens:
   Life Wardens can heal any wounded life form, but he accepts a wound of one level less upon himself.

   Life wardens can control the growth of plants on an extraordinary scale, but they must spend an action token due to fatigue.

   Life Wardens can flawlessly navigate any life rich terrain, but completely lose their sense of direction in barren areas.

   Life Wardens can reshape plant matter, but must spend a magic token.

   Life Wardens can draw the life energy from non-sentient life forms to power force abilities to substitute for a magic or action token spent.  This harms the source, wounding stronger life forms and killing weaker ones.

   Ithorians can bellow with all four of their throats, causing deafness and disorientation to targets.  The strain results in a “scratched” level wound on the Ithorian.

   Lightsabers can cut through anything, but only trained force users can wield them without risking injury.  They take a wound if they fail a triggered grace conflict.
   (This rule is pretty weak and wasn’t well defined.  If this was going to keep going as a campaign, this would need revision in my opinion.)

Working on: Heartless Void - A Sorcerer Mini-Supplement (Started Here)
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