*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 21, 2019, 04:40:15 AM

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: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [One Can Have Her] The End of the Rope  (Read 6417 times)
Jonas Ferry
Member

Posts: 111


WWW
« on: August 31, 2007, 12:27:24 AM »

When I visited my old university for a re-exam I took the opportunity to play One Can Have Her, as a player and not game master. I recommend everyone with their own game to try it, as it's a lot easier to pay attention to what's actually going on in the game when you're not busy being the adversary of everyone.

I played with five other people, all prolific members of the Swedish Rollspel.nu forum community. Tobias, who illustrated the game, was the game master with me, Ronny, Martin, Svante, and Andreas as players. They meet regularly each week to play indie game, but I have only played with Tobias before.

Tobias took care of the pre-play talk on what kind of game it is (a film noir story game) and what's it about (men guilty of a crime that tries to reach their life goals, but have to sell each other out to reach them). I told myself beforehand I would lean back and just listen, but I still jumped in once or twice with corrections or elaborations. It would've been interesting to see what would've happened if I didn't, though.

The characters were all created from the lists in the book, except for the list of names. I prefer a new set of names for each game, to not confuse old characters with new. What's interesting is that from the same sets of noir archetypes, crimes and victims, life goals and relationships to the femme fatale, totally different characters and stories emerge. It's not surprising, of course, but it's still neat to see what different players do with the same building blocks.

The characters were:

Larry Clarke (me), an idealistic politician running for mayor. He was a former prosecutor who had murdered his first wife by poison because she was too low class for his picture of the perfect political couple. He wanted the power a position as mayor would grant. He knew the femme fatale from charity events. Clarke tried to have the corrupt chief of police fired while dating the femme fatale behind his wife's back, but the police was soon notified of the murder of his first wife. When he returned from a country trip with the femme fatale the police and media waited outside her house and arrested him. He spent the rest of his life in isolation in a white-collar prison. He still didn't rat on anyone.

Christopher Ross (Ronny), arrogant politician. He was also running for mayor of the city, and had blackmailed a famous actor with communist connections to get money for his campaign. His life goal was power though the mayorship and he knew the femme fatale through her politician father. Ross was the archetypical slimy deal maker who had his enemy murdered and ratted on his rival among others. When the police caught up with him he avoided responsibility by shooting himself in the study of his home.

Vernon Davidson (Martin), paranoid gangster. He had kidnapped a child for his boss, but released it before he recieved any money. He was on the run from both the police and his old gang. All he wanted was to lay his old life behind him and be able to live without constantly looking over the shoulder. The femme fatale was his neighbor. Davidson ran from his boss until he couldn't take running any more. He went directly to the headquarter and turned himself in. The boss laughed at his pleas for mercy, had his men take Davidson out back and... release him. He had to keep working the streets for the old gang.

Jeff Woxter (Svante), greedy government agent. He had taken bribes from the actor Christopher Ross was blackmailing to cover up the murder of the actor's girlfriend. His life goal was success in his profession, to rise in rank. He was the cousin of the femme fatale's mother. Woxter worked hard to take over the investigation of the dead girlfriend and managed to bury it. He still couldn't rise through the ranks and kept working as a no-name agent.

Richard McConnell (Andreas), an aggressive police, who had murdered his old police partner. He was close to retirement and wanted to open a bar and live a quiet life. He knew the femme fatale through work, since she had been married to the murdered partner. McConnell's modus operandi was to kill people by making it look like suicide. Both his partner and later the enemy of Ross was found hanged in hotel rooms. McConnell was captured by the police, but professed innocence to the end. The interrogation officer felt sorry for McConnell and left him alone in the fifth-floor interrogation room long enough for him to jump to his death.

While we waited Tobias created the femme fatale based on the player characters' relationships to her, and an enemy of each player character. He drew a big mind map with all relationships between the characters. You could already sense that five players is a bit much for a one-session game.

We quickly fell into a round robin approach to what scenes were played, with only a few scenes with more than one player character. It still felt like everyone was involved in each other's scenes, and I want to give credit the cross-playing rule for that. Each conflict another player is in gives you the chance to dump your low cards, so you always pay attention to see if you get a chance to get rid of them.

What was a bit problematic was that Tobias didn't apply much force on the player characters. It was the first thing he said at the after-game talk. When the game started he just asked us if anyone had something they wanted to do. Sure, all characters had. My character wanted to become mayor, but it felt like if I asked for a scene I would both set up the opposition and try to beat it. I realized that when I've played One Can Have Her before the game master have prepared the first scene for each player character. This is good practice, but currently not mentioned in the game. I'm thinking about including it as the final step of game master preparation, after the femme fatale and enemies have been created.

We basically had five separate stories that crossed each other at some point of the game. Ross hired McConnell to kill his enemy the actor. Clarke managed to get Ross to help him get the current chief of police to resign. Clarke wanted it because the chief was corrupt, but Ross did it as part of his political game. Davidson tried to get away from hired killers and was saved by the femme fatale who arrived with a handy gun to shoot the assassin. Woxter tried to throw the investigation of the actor's dead wife off track to avoid his bribes to become known.

The conflict when Clarke convinced Ross to get rid of the chief of police was interesting. When I playtested the game with Peter Nordstrand we had two conflicts in the same session that fell flat. Both involved goals that dictated the will of player characters. That version had, and the game still has, a safety mechanism that says that the opponent has to accept the aggressor's goal for the conflict. Peter convinced me to add a rule against goals that dictate player character decisions.

Certain conflicts were still hard. I, as a player, made people change goals of forcing player character decisions during this game, but then I had one myself without thinking about it. Clarke's goal was to get Ross to help him fire the chief of police, but that goal shouldn't have been allowed by the rules. The goal could've been to have Ross promise to help Clarke, or something. But it's a grey zone, when the goals control player character decision or not. To decide to make a promise is also a decision.

Another problematic conflict was when McConnell was being interrogated by the police. The goal of the interrogator was to have McConnell confess. But that's clearly a player character decision and should be in the player's hands. One way to handle interrogations without taking away player control is for the goal to be to find irrefutable evidence of player character guilt instead. That way the player can have his character lie or avoid the truth, but still be found guilty through something outside of the character's control.

Same thing with seduction conflicts. Should you be allowed to have the femme fatale seduce a player character by playing cards or should it be up to the player? Should she be able to force a player character to murder her husband by the conflict resolution system, or should she just be able to make him promise it?

I think a player should have the power to decide for his character, but that doesn't mean the character always succeeds. Is it a bad thing if the player character decides to not tell the police anything, but brakes down through conflict and does anyway? Or that the character decides to not fall for the femme fatale, but she seduces him anyway? Would it take away a player's ability to contribute to the shared story if those things were allowed in the game?

To end the report on a positive note I have to say that the game was a lot of fun. The other people thought so too! Five players was a bit much, especially for a one-session game, but it worked and the game didn't break down at all. I was very happy with the session, but I still want more of the good stuff. My thoughts on player character decisions wasn't a big part of the session, but something I've thought about outside of the game. I feel like I'm stuck and could use some fresh input.

- Jonas
Logged

One Can Have Her, film noir roleplaying in black and white.

Check out the indie RPG category at Wikipedia.
Ronny Hedin
Member

Posts: 15


WWW
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2007, 01:16:04 AM »

So, I played slimy politician Chris Ross. For the record, I am also somewhat of an outsider to this group when it comes to actual gaming (though less so than Jonas).

I will say that I quite enjoyed the game and am considering running it with my other gang if/when we have an odd night out for the regular game. If nothing else, it's a one-shot-game that lacks the gonzo tendencies such often have. :-)

I don't know that I have much constructive to add, though; most of everything I might have brought up, you already have. Most especially, stronger GM pressure would have been quite welcome; I can't really speak as to what needs to be in the rules that isn't already there as I have yet to read them, but it does sound like more how to-type advice may be a good idea.

The bit about forcing character decision does seem problematic; the fact that one would still want to leave the option open should the player agree makes it more so. I think it also seemed a few times like we were going through hoops to avoid it and in the end it felt instead very awkward and forced (such as with McConnels interrogation). Personally, I often enjoy having decisions forced on me from the outside, and would just as soon not have the restriction there in the first place. There is, I guess, the risk that someone ends up running through the story without making any decisions at all (not that that's necessarily genre-breaking...), but I would at least give it a shot and see if it works out.

There was some controversy towards the end with one character basically sitting with only a King on the hand (which means he loses the conflict for playing it unless against another player). Sure, feature-not-bug, but the problem I see here is the player has no incentive to start conflicts; he's going to lose any that the GM aggresses against him, but again, since the aggressor plays first card, there's still no need to play his own card, and thus a risk of dragging on and on... (Then again, I guess playing it to lose but end the story might be more appealing than facing a string of inevitable defeats, so maybe it isn't a problem after all.)
Logged

Ronny Hedin (thark)
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


WWW
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2007, 01:58:46 AM »

What does the game use, conflict resolution or task resolution?

Conflict resolution is, as I grok it, negotiated in terms of it's results. The problem with seduction is that no one really knows the extent of the condition and how far and wide it goes. But if your using conflict resolution, simply discuss what it means "Oh, she can demand he come to her any time or even skip days of work in a row, but if he had a funeral to go to he would resist that" "Yep, sounds good, okay, lets bust out the dice" and such like.

Same goes for telling the truth - negotiate whether a succesful resolution means he really tells the truth, or perhaps just some clue via a slip of the tongue. Your not playing out what it genuinely means to be seduced or intimidated, your bargaining out a deal.
Logged

Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2007, 07:02:07 AM »

Callan, with respect, your summary of conflict resolution is hair-raising. You're correct in raising the issue, but we really shouldn't use that summary in this thread. It's a misconception that was seized upon by a few people in 2004 or so, and widely spread through rapid-fire, uncritical talk. Conflict resolution is not about negotiating who gets to say what happens, or about pre-narrating the specific outcomes prior to a roll.

Jonas, I think that the issue can be solved by applying conflicts' outcomes only to the immediate situation. If a character is seduced, for instance, they succumb, but that doesn't mean their choices of action in the next scene are constrained in any way. I think it would be fun to have my character unwillingly seduced, or convinced to work for a mob boss, or to blackmail someone ... but then be able to act freely after that. A correlated point is that one cannot order or convince a character to do something later. You can get them to say they'll do it, and even perhaps to do so sincerely, but you can't actually get them to do it unless it's right here in the same scene.

How does that sound?

Best, Ron
Logged
Jonas Ferry
Member

Posts: 111


WWW
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2007, 11:12:39 AM »

Hello,

You all raise points I haven't considered. One Can Have Her uses conflict resolution and each conflict is, except for one situation, resolved for the rest of the story. What that means is that if someone tries to kill someone else and fails, they can't try that exact goal again. Same with seductions or breaking-and-entries. This keeps the story moving forward, with each new conflict attacking problems in new ways.

I somehow equated this with the idea that if someone is seduced in one scene they stay seduced the rest of the story. But what does that even mean? Does it mean that the seduced person will try to help the other at all costs? Or that if someone is successfully lied to they can never find out the truth? That's just strange!

By tying conflicts and their resolutions to the immediate situation, I think this will sort itself out. In the case of my character convincing Ronny's to help remove the chief of police, my success could mean one of:

    (a) We keep the scene going and I, as winner of the conflict, narrate how our characters find the chief of police and fire him.
    (b) Ronny's next scene is with the chief of police and the conflict in that scene is whether he gets rid of the chief or not, but only if that's something Ronny actually finds interesting.
    (c) At the start of Ronny's next scene someone (Ronny, the game master, me) narrates how the chief is fired or not, unless someone wants it to be a conflict, and Ronny plays whatever scene he wants to.

The point is that we immediately handle what happens, so I can't point to Ronny's character's promise three scenes back and have him do something now that he doesn't want to. If I really want to get rid of the chief, I will use option (a). If the important part for me is Ronny's character's promise I'll use (b) or (c), and let Ronny decide which one.

With seductions, or the forming of other bonds of alliances, I've seen them as new states that once entered can't be left. But that's neither practical, fun or how it works in film noir. Conflicts should focus on the short term. Seducing someone is something you do to gain something here and now. If you want to use an old seduction to motivate something in a later conflict, fine, but you can't enter into a safe state where you can depend on the seduced part's help later.

Ronny, thank you for reminding me of the discarding of cards thing. For people who haven't played the game, the way One Can Have Her works is that each player gets seven regular playing cards at the start of the game. These are spent in conflicts and there's no way to get more cards unless there's a ratting phase and the game continues. Most cards are good for the character, but some are potentially very bad. Kings played in a conflict mean that the designated enemy of the player character intervenes and resolves the conflict in the other side's favor. If it's a conflict between game master and a player it's the player character's enemy irregardless of who played the card. If it's a conflict between two player characters it's the other player character's enemy.

When you get the seven cards you get a sense of your character's chances. If all cards are low, he'll probably lose most of the conflicts and have a loser's story. If the cards are high he'll be more successful. If you get kings you can play them early to get rid of them, and have the enemy win an early victory you can try to avenge. Or you play them last, right before the ratting, to put your character in the right mood to rat on all and everyone else. Or you enter into a conflict with another player character and have them lose.

I did that in the conflict where my character convinced Ronny's to help him; I used a king to win the conflict. Andreas, who played McConnell being interrogated, saved a jack (meaning the conflict is interrupted by the police and left unresolved) and a king for last. He was the last player with cards, and you're not supposed to have a ratting phase unless all players are out of cards. People around the table agreed he should discard his cards instead of being forced to play them, and I let it slide.

Still, the point of having to play all cards is that you have to actually enter conflicts. Some conflicts you'll probably lose, but then you can negotiate goals that you're willing to lose. Cards potentially harmful for your own character has to be played with more care, that's all.

- Jonas
Logged

One Can Have Her, film noir roleplaying in black and white.

Check out the indie RPG category at Wikipedia.
Ronny Hedin
Member

Posts: 15


WWW
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2007, 11:33:01 AM »

Yes, certainly sounds good to me.

People around the table agreed he should discard his cards instead of being forced to play them, and I let it slide.

For the record (which, for the record, seems to be my current favorite phrase), I think this was mostly a case of agreeing to move forward and end the story rather than take the time to argue--in the heat of the moment, so to speak--about whether or not it was appropriate, discuss options, and so on and so forth.

Quite probably, and with the spirit on the game in mind, it would probably have been more appropriate for Andreas to have gone with it and let his character be dumped on.

Actually, the more I stop to think about the deeper and more interesting implications of the character's fate (in the shape of the hand of cards) being clear in advance become; the same thing applies to, say, low cards (which you will either need to play to lose conflict, or play first in a conflict you later intend to top with a higher card and thus leading to a shorter story in terms of number of conflicts). (Somewhat mitigated by the possibility of uninvited crossplay, which I used to try to "trade up" cards.) (Yes, I realize I'm belaboring the obvious; 'tis a habit.)

...so, I definitely need to play this again. :-)
Logged

Ronny Hedin (thark)
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2007, 11:43:28 AM »

Hi Jonas and Ronny,

One thing I forgot to mention in my post speaks directly to the (a) option that you wrote, Jonas. The person whose character is defeated always has the option to act upon that defeat permanently, if they choose. In other words, if I am playing a character in One Can Have Her, and some other character seduces mine in a dominating way - I can, if I want, play my character for the rest of the game as if under her thrall. Or, if I want, I can have him succumb for the moment and enter into the next scene with all of that issue being over and concluded. Either way is fine, or anything in between.

So that makes your option (a) quite easy, if the player loses. It's up to him to establish how permanent it is, as play proceeds, and if he chooses (a), his character is permanently affected. (To be clear: I am not talking about choosing right at that second, just after that roll, but as an ongoing process through later scenes.)

But it's a little trickier against NPCs: if the player wins, then option (a) means the NPC's role in the story is effectively concluded. This happened in our game, when a pushy film studio mogul was successfully blackmailed into silence about the player-character. I think that's OK too. Player-characters cannot permanently be taken out of play, or locked down behaviorally unless the player wants it that way. NPCs, on the other hand, can be knocked out of play (or at least out of that particular avenue of conflict) if that's what the player wants.

Does that seem workable?

Best, Ron
Logged
Ronny Hedin
Member

Posts: 15


WWW
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2007, 11:55:11 AM »

Addendum to my last post: To belabor further on the issue of the unwanted final hand, I think it was mostly an issue of not having realized the implications in advance.
Logged

Ronny Hedin (thark)
Anders
Member

Posts: 27


« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2007, 12:25:26 PM »

What Ron writes seem very reasonable to me.

This is how I've imagined situations of this kind based on my reading of the text, it's how I'd done when we played and what I will do when I play again.

Jonas & Ronny,

How clear were intent and goals on the players part when it came to these kind of conflicts? Could it be that you "got stuck" on these matters 'cause it was the obvious choice and "reasonable thing to do" rather than something you really wanted to see?
Logged

Anders Sveen
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


WWW
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2007, 04:27:30 PM »

Hi Ron,
One thing I forgot to mention in my post speaks directly to the (a) option that you wrote, Jonas. The person whose character is defeated always has the option to act upon that defeat permanently, if they choose. In other words, if I am playing a character in One Can Have Her, and some other character seduces mine in a dominating way - I can, if I want, play my character for the rest of the game as if under her thrall. Or, if I want, I can have him succumb for the moment and enter into the next scene with all of that issue being over and concluded. Either way is fine, or anything in between.

*snip*
Player-characters cannot permanently be taken out of play, or locked down behaviorally unless the player wants it that way.
*snip*
I haven't said differently from this, so we need to work out whats missing. What the player is willing to play it out for the rest of the game, he can say during the discussion - there's no practical difference whether he agrees to do it or just does it in and beyond the scene till the end of the game. Here I assumed people had some special interest/excitement for a seduction going on for the rest of the game (it now sounds more like a rules/procedure question though).

However, another approach is that the player will play out the seduction beyond the agreed scene, is because it's fodder for narrativism. At some point a situation may come up where he realises he must break free of this devil woman (or maybe that scene wont come up, which is interesting too) or perhaps a situation where he just finds himself falling even more madly in love with her. Or whatever his depiction tells him, upon hitting a situation.

With respect, I think re-stipulating that players cannot be locked down is a little defensive. A player who knows what he wants will not lock it down if he wants fodder for nar, during the discussion he wont agree to anything past the current one scene agreement. And a player who doesn't really understand he's going for narrativist material, he isn't going to be any further educated in how to meet his goals by this heavy underlining. In line with that, I think the name 'conflict resolution' perhaps isn't right for this use - it doesn't really educate one to that purpose.

As usual there might be a third approach (or more) I'm not thinking of here.


Hi Ronny,

Is the second approach interesting to compare against your game play? Though keep in mind its my description, it could just be more hair raising stuff! Smiley
Logged

Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2007, 06:23:27 PM »

Hi Callan,

Your post is unnecessarily defensive. I referred strictly to your written definition, which may not be a good indicator of your understanding. The rest of your post was my basis in making my points. Nothing in my post about actually playing was disagreeing with yours, so there is no need to look for differences or to state that there's no difference.

To continue with the issue at hand, I'm not sure if I've made myself clear about the options. One thing I'm not talking about is negotiating any aspect of the length of the seduction (for instance) then and there, either before the roll, or draw in this case, or immediately afterwards. There is no "agreement," no decision at that point. The guy gets seduced in that immediate scene, no question.

What he does after that is up to the player, ranging all the way from continuing to be affected by the seduction, to ignoring its effects completely. It's not a decision made in the scene when the seduction happens - it's an ongoing feature of playing the character, with having been seduced as a new factor in his history.

Best, Ron
Logged
Peter Nordstrand
Member

Posts: 501


WWW
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2007, 11:45:57 PM »

I follow this discussion with great interest. It is good that you talk about your game.

When I playtested the game with Peter Nordstrand we had two conflicts in the same session that fell flat. Both involved goals that dictated the will of player characters. That version had, and the game still has, a safety mechanism that says that the opponent has to accept the aggressor's goal for the conflict.

In your head perhaps. :-) We did not use it, or I would have vetoed my conflict immediately. I had never even heard of this rule before you mentioned it here at the Forge.
Logged
Jonas Ferry
Member

Posts: 111


WWW
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2007, 12:24:46 AM »

Hello, Peter!

In your head perhaps. :-) We did not use it, or I would have vetoed my conflict immediately. I had never even heard of this rule before you mentioned it here at the Forge.

I was sure I told you at the start of the session, but if I didn't that would explain a lot! I'm sure I didn't tell you when you most needed it, at the actual goal setting of the conflicts. When I say that the opponent has to agree to the aggressor's goal in the game text, I don't mean "agree with the aggressor or stop playing". I mean "If you don't agree with the aggressor's goal, say so. Try to rephrase it as a group, or switch opponent and aggressor and see if that helps". We should have negotiated the goal as a group, with input from all participants.

Following Ron's advice to limit the consequences to the current scene, with further consequences in later scenes the responsibility of the loser, would make it easier for the opponent to agree to the goal. It's good advice, and I'll use it consciously in future games of One Can Have Her. In our playtest, at the drive-in when the femme fatale wanted to convince your character to murder her father, I think you'd found it easier to agree to the goal if you knew what she wanted was your word, and that you'd be free to act in any way regarding her father later. Maybe you didn't even want your character to give her his word at that point, and then we should have found another goal.

Peter, you were very clear with not being happy with my character's goal in that conflict. I should've been more prepared to let go of my view of the scene and the characters, since you as opponent have all the rights to refuse goals.

- Jonas
Logged

One Can Have Her, film noir roleplaying in black and white.

Check out the indie RPG category at Wikipedia.
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!