*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
June 22, 2017, 09:23:01 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 166 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Thou Art But A Warrior] I wish my game was this fun  (Read 6598 times)
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« on: April 30, 2007, 05:59:10 PM »

So Joshua, Emily, Alexis and I played Thou Art But A Warrior the other night.

For those of you who didn't keep up with Frank T's setting design contest, Thou Art But A Warrior is Anna Krieder's re-invisioning of Polaris during the fall of the Muslim city states in Iberia.  The protagonists are Muslim Knights doing their best to keep out Christian invaders while their society collapses from internal strife and economic instability.

It was really awesome.  We played Knights in Granada, which we said was the to the south (though we didn't know.)  We just did two knights because we wanted to play it through in one night.  (This is, by the way, the new way that you run Polaris as a one shot: Two players have Protagonists, the other two players are their Mistaken, moons as appropriate.  Works like a charm and done in three hours.)

This is mostly my letter to Anna, I'm happy to give answers to clear it up, though.

There's a lot of observations, and a couple of rules that need to change:

1) The feel is really different from Polaris.  The fact that we're
real humans in history means that the scale of the game is naturally
much smaller than in Polaris, more human, more personal.

2) The historical event triggers are awesome!  They really serve to
move play along.  I felt like, in Polaris, we're all tied up in our
personal relationships and thus cause the end of the world.  In
Warrior, it's more like we're distracted by our personal relationships
and so the world ends when we're not looking.

3) The built in conflicts of the setting are really super-juicy.  The
fact that the Muslims have been here 700 years is a big deal!

4) The thing during the Veteran transition where your faith is quite neatly and excellently shattered is awesome.

Okay, here's what was hitchy:

1) The funky arabic names for the Moons were hard to remember.  We
just used 'Full Moon' and 'New Moon.'  Having them on a character
sheet would help but consider words that mean something in English
like "Infidel."

2) The event triggers were really cool, but the fact that the *first*
character to 2 weariness triggers the near-apocolypse was bad.
Joshua's character was ahead of mine the entire game, and so not only
was he the focus of all the history, also after he went out it felt
like there wasn't a lot for my character to do.  The thing I'm
thinking about is to have it be the first character to 2 zeal, the
second character to 1 weariness, and the third character to 3
weariness for the triggers.

3) We played with "Man of Reason" like I talked with you about.  It
never came up, as all the supernatural elements of the game were in
the zeal->weariness transition scenes where it didn't matter, but
Joshua said it held him back from doing some over-the-top things in
the beginning of the game, which was really great for the game itself.
 See the smaller scale things.  So chew on that.

4) We used the code of conduct as an ad-hoc means of determining
experience checks, which was fine as a basis, but I really think that
there should be clearer experience guidelines than that.

Our (Alexis and mine) favorite scene in the game: Gradually over the course play, it becomes clear that the Emir of Granada is in league with the Christian hierarchy of the city.  For a while we think it just might be corruption, so we start eliminating his cronies, starting with the Bishop of the city.  Of course, this causes rioting (the population of the city is %90 Christian).  Joshua's guy realizes that it isn't corruption, though, it that the Emir is an apostate.  He goes to confront him, but the Emir slips out the back.

Meanwhile, my poor knight has been off quelling the riots.  Unable to pay the Emir's crippling taxes, he kicks a bunch of Christians out of the church that they sought refuge in and then systematically loots it for valuables.  (It was implied, never stated, that this was the church that his Christian beloved went to.)  Having just done some horrible, he's in a foul mood as he's returning home, when he runs into the Emir and guards sneaking off.

There's some awkward exchange, and then I draw steel and pull a cross out of his bag of loot.  "I've heard a rumor that there are secret Christians in the highest level of the city," I say.  "Spit on the cross."  The guards are trying to pull me off the Emir, but they stop and look at him.  He won't spit on it.  I and his guards stab him to death in the street, then I throw the cross on his bloody corpse and spit on it.

That was an awesome scene.

Best relationship: Tie between my deeply co-dependent and honorable relationship with my family's banker, a Jew whose family had lent money to my family for nearly 7 centuries, and Joshua's horribly awkward and unpleasant relationship with his slave girl, where they had no chemistry at all but kept feeling duty-bound to have sex with each other.

We really enjoyed ourselves!  Alexis and I are hoping to play again soon!
Logged

Emily Care
Member

Posts: 1126


WWW
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2007, 06:17:51 PM »

This is a great game. I really enjoyed playing even (or perhaps because) we played "two-handed", with only two of us having protagonists.  Alexis and I played the Infidel for Ben & Joshua's characters and we worked together to crank the pressure on the the two knights: by hitting them with taxes and sending them to war.  I loved the fact that we were setting up conflict across lines of politics and economics rather than magic and corruption.  The special events that happened helped to reinforce the in-the-world feeling that we had.  This also helped to make the few moments of sublime supernatural stand out even more: Joshua's knight has a vision while in prison, just before he becomes proclaimed the Emir (which was brilliant by the way, Alexis), and Ben's Knight has a Christian statue talk to him. Darn that I never got him to turn! Smiley

Thank you, Anna. This is a good, good thing. I look forward to being able to buy a copy someday.

best,
Em
Logged

Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2007, 09:01:46 AM »

Just throwing this out there as alternate moon names (although one should check and make sure that this isn't, uh, sacreligious)

Moon: Personal Relationships
Star: Formal Relationships
Logged

Frank Tarcikowski
Member

Posts: 277

Hamburg, Germany


WWW
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2007, 12:55:39 PM »

Cool! I was actually a bit sceptical upon reading Thou Art But a Warrior if it would create a distinct enough feel from vanilla Polaris, or if it would not rather end up being the same story with a changed imagery. After all, the Setting Challenge was about showing how thoughtful setting design can change the game being played. Reading this, it seems that my scepticism was unjustified. Rock on, Anna!

Frank
Logged

If you come across a post by a guest called Frank T, that was me. My former Forge account was destroyed in the Spam Wars. Collateral damage.
Solamasa
Member

Posts: 50


« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2007, 12:57:34 PM »

Logged
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2007, 01:02:16 PM »

My experience is that the conversion wasn't an issue at all, although it didn't happen to either of our characters.  There was real, palpable pressure from the Infidel and the world events to convert.  Politically and personally, it seems like a really good idea, particularly post Veteran transition, when you know the Allah wants the infidels to win.

As it happens, Joshua's dude died, and my dude just ... ended his story.  See, we sorta cheated on my ending, in a way that I've seen done with Polaris before.  Converting or dying would have been a relief for my character.  So, instead, he fought an army to a standstill, gave up in disgust, and went back to his family estate to live out the rest of his years in a ragged empty place, surrounded by infidels who were afraid to enter, writing poetry that no one was going to read, the last Muslim left in Iberia.

Conversion would have been easier.

I don't think that this is a problem with the game, BTW.  It's one of the hidden bits of Polaris which I don't talk about a lot, but are definitely there.

yrs--
--Ben
Logged

Anna Kreider
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2007, 06:29:47 PM »

This has been tremendously instructive. Thank you to all of you for giving such awesome feedback. I feel guilty about not having played my own game yet. Clearly that needs to be next, after we finish our current campaign!

~Anna
Logged
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2007, 11:11:43 AM »

Anna --  Do you have an questions or such for us?

yrs--
--Ben
Logged

Anna Kreider
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2007, 07:03:06 PM »

My apologies! I wanted to go through all my notes before I made a stab at asking questions. I should have specified that. Whoops. ^_^

Anyway. Yes! Questions I have! And lots of them. And they're still kind of disorganized. But here I go...

1) Character creation - how did that go? Was there enough background material provided to give the players a good idea for what they wanted in a character? Were there any themes that you struggled in coming up with aspects for? Did you feel like you had a good sense of your characters when you started play?

2) Did the game get off to a good start, or was there some initial struggle to get things going? Is there enough juicy bits to provide lots of conflict, or did you feel at all like you were digging for stuff? Also, what was the biggest source of conflict? Was it politics? Interpersonal relationships? Religion? Class?

3) I'm totally curious about the dhimmi (Christians/Jews). Did they factor in in any significant way? Or were they more incidental to the story? And if so was that because of other factors, or were they just uninteresting? (Oh, and was Ben's knight a dhimmi? Something was mentioned about crushing taxes?)

4) Is the smaller scope of the game problematic at all?

5) HUGELY IMPORTANT: Did the fact that Allah ultimately sides with the Christians lessen the weight of the Muslims as protagonists? The LAST thing I want to do is make a game about 'the Muslims got kicked out of Iberia because they're evil and God hates them'. It almost kept me from writing this in the first place, and I'm still very worried about this.

6) Character sheets - could I just rip off... er, be inspired by (heh) the original Polaris sheets? Or should something be added to the sheets to track the event triggers.

(Okay, I realize I'm cheating and combining multiple questions into one here...)

Oh, and totally not important to future revisions, but how did Joshua's guy die? (This doesn't affect the playtest, I'm just curious.)

Also, about maps, just a note here:

I recognize the need for a map. It's one of the pretty art things I wasn't going to worry about until I was done with the text editing. It didn't occur to me until you pointed out that a map is equally handy for playtesting. Doh. So I'll point people to the map I used on Wiki for other playtests, which is here if anyone is curious: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taifa. (Incidentally, you were correct. Granada is in the far south of Spain.)


Phew! That's all I have for now! Thank you again for playing, and sorry for any confusion my absent-mindedness might have caused.
Logged
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2007, 04:17:06 AM »

1) Character creation went just fine, although we were familiar with the period in a vague sort of way (Joshua and I both have jewish background, so we have some idea about the history of Spain just 'cause that's a thing.)  I think that the stuff in the book is mostly sufficient -- you might want something in there about Urban vs Rural Christian vs Jewish differences.  Joshua struggled a bit for his character concept but that's just a thing he does.

I feel like we had a stronger sense of who our characters were before we started play than I usually do when playing Polaris, but that's not a very strong sense at all.  I think that this is okay -- the first scenes are always foundational.

2) The game got out to a great start, thanks in no small part to collusion between our Mistakens.  The first scenes were my knight (who was poor, but whose family had been here 700 years), trying to get more money out of his family's banker so he could pay for his contribution to the Emir's armies, and Joshua's knight (who was rich), casually paying the proper amount and then talking with his father about killing the Emir.  The biggest source of conflict was the Christian vs  Muslim pressures, I think, although there was a good deal of internal problems as well.  Class figured in bigtime but was never a source of conflict.

I don't know if this sort of fund-raising from arab families is historically accurate, but it was fun.

3) The dhimmi were significant.  My knight had a Jewish banker and was in love with a Christian girl.  Her father was a big player, the bishop was a hinge on the corruption in the city, there were huge riots which we never quite managed to quell.  My beloved's father was a very creepy guy who clearly wanted me to convert to Christianity and help his conspiracy but never quite managed it.

4) No.  The one problem is that it seems like "escape to North Africa" kind of ends up ending the character's story without ending their life or their faith.  Maybe make that out-and-out illegal for knights?

5) Not a bit.  Actually, I think it was really positive: there's a stereotype of Muslims as martyrs who will cling to their faith and die for it.  Shattering the main characters' faith so horribly and completely will necessarily break down that stereotype and reveal them as people.

6)  Character sheets: yeah, using the polaris sheets would be fine.  I'd like to caution against using sheets that are too ornamented, particularly those that feature drawings in the Cosmos, as I've found those kinda sucky.
Logged

Anna Kreider
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2007, 12:41:08 PM »

I managed to get in a very short playtest at Nerdly on Sunday morning with myself, Nick Novitsky, Travis Farber, and my husband Kit. In light of how that went, I have a few new questions:

1) Did your group struggle at all framing scenes around the event triggers? How did you handle framing those scenes? Did everybody contribute suggestions for those scenes? Our group seemed to wrestle with that a little, and I'm not exactly sure if it was because we were trying to cram too much game into too little time or if it was because of some other factor.

2) Had the other players read the setting when you started play? Or were there some that hadn't? If the latter is the case, can you tell me how you presented it to the other players?

Thanks!

~Anna
Logged
Arturo G.
Member

Posts: 333


« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2007, 01:39:22 PM »

I've been disconnectd for a long time. And in the mean while someone made something that looks really interesting. And something focused in a setting we love, because is part of our history. In from Valladolid, in the center of Castilla, and I have family in Murcia, where I have been many times. Many years ago we used to play a couple of RQ adventures on the "reconquista", taking roles in both parts. But we completely lacked the ability to exploit the character's conflicts on those times. The power tragedy-feeling, and the striking mechanics of Polaris seem very adequate. I was only worry about the supernatural dial, but it seems by the playtesting report of Ben that it is already tuned.

Nowadays I'm far from Spain. Until the end of July I'm in Edinburgh. But I think I will easily find people to play a shot of this game when at home.

Is it centered around a specific period? I think the map in the Wiki is showing the territorial division much earlier than the real strifes that ended with the Taifa kingdoms. I'm not at all an expert in history. But I have read some books about the period, and I have been on many of the places involved. If you want some extra material, original photos, whatever, drop me a line.
Logged
Anna Kreider
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2007, 06:35:54 PM »

Arturo:

It isn't centered around a terribly specific period, which is why I plan on using a modified version of the generic Wiki map. There's about a one hundred fifty year window that the game takes place in.

If you're interested in playing the game, that would be fantastic. I would love to have some perspective for whom the history is a more personal thing. I have some editing to do after Ben's playtest, and my own recent one at Nerdly. But would you be interested if I sent you a playtest document?

At the very least, I will definitely take you up on your offer once I go back through and identify the weak points in my research.

Thank you!

~Anna
Logged
Arturo G.
Member

Posts: 333


« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2007, 05:52:19 AM »

Hi, Anna!

I have not seen the text, but for your comments I would say you have enough history roots and enough fictional elements to create an interesting situation.

I'm sending you my eMail to keep in contact.
Logged
Ben Lehman
Member

Posts: 2094

Blissed


WWW
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2007, 12:38:47 PM »

1) Did your group struggle at all framing scenes around the event triggers? How did you handle framing those scenes? Did everybody contribute suggestions for those scenes? Our group seemed to wrestle with that a little, and I'm not exactly sure if it was because we were trying to cram too much game into too little time or if it was because of some other factor.
We had an okay time of it.  We left it largely in the hands of the person whose responsibility it was the frame the scene, but everyone kicked in ideas.  Often, we found out that we had just had the specified trigger in a previous scene, in which case we just had another scene to highlight it.
Quote
2) Had the other players read the setting when you started play? Or were there some that hadn't? If the latter is the case, can you tell me how you presented it to the other players?
I gave a *very* brief historical overview, read "what matters in the end" and the code of conduct.  Everyone was pretty familiar with the basics of the history.

The one ahistorical thing is that it seemed like the whole reconquista happened in accelerated time -- in the beginning of the game, we were talking about fighting barbarians up north, and by the end of the game they were sieging Granada, but I think that's actually okay in the grand scheme of things.  It's more helpful in building sympathy for our characters, which seems to be the key in this game.

yrs--
--Ben
Logged

Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!