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Author Topic: [DitV] Ninja Princess Usagi-chan Episode 2: Nani? Tears, Blood and Fur...  (Read 8001 times)
Filip Luszczyk
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« on: October 16, 2007, 02:26:24 PM »

We finished the second town of our Ninja Princess Usagi-chan game. It was split into three separate sessions and completing it took us well over ten hours of play in total. There was some player rotation this time.

In the first session, just like the last time, the players were Magda and Kamil. However, just after the game Jacek expressed his interest in creating a new character and joining in. Despite his initial difficulties with getting into the genre, he bought in thanks to reading the previous AP. (Well, well. These APs sometimes turn useful after all, it would seem.)

All three players took part in the second session. It was pretty short, and basically a single conflict consumed most of it. We probably weren't in the best mood for playing that day, and nothing really interesting happened – other than a rather pointless death of Kamil's character. This session left me with a kind of distaste, actually.

In the third and final session we played without Kamil, as he preferred to skip this one game. We closed the town, and the session generally speaking gave us quite a blast. A fun and satisfying finish, after all.

Since I'm writing this report rather detailed and it covers three sessions, I'll be posting it in parts. I'll start from Jacek's character creation (which occurred between the opening and the middle session), then summarize the town and relate the events, in order. Feel free to comment as I'm adding subsequent sections - it can take me a while before I post the last one.

If you're interested in the lessons learned first and foremost, simply wait till it's complete and scroll down to the final section of this report, where I include the conclusions.
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2007, 03:00:08 PM »

Satomi, Jacek's New Bunny Ninja Princess

Since Jacek managed to reconcile himself with his inner cuteness after all, he had two options – either to modify his previous character to better suit the already established tone of the game or to create a new one. We discussed it and he decided to start from scratch.

He created Satomi, an activist bunny ninja princess with world-saving ambitions. Complicated Community background with rather balanced Stats, but low on Heart (which I find strange now that I look at it – and I no longer remember whether he gave a reason). She's interested in welfare issues and convinced she always knows the best way to help people. Among her Traits, there's a fun The sword deals wounds and The time soothes them combo (I think both started at 1d8). She's a medium – her Traits include I have bad dreams that say... and The Gaze of Thousand Demons (a truth discerning technique), and there's a bound demon of truth that she can summon among her Relationships. Her other Relationships include the poor (2d4) and the aristocracy (1d10). She carries a long katana, a chakram, her mother's earing and a scarf of a poor woman. Her ninja transformation's activation phrase is Thruth above all things! which is pretty ironic, given that her battle garment is a white armor that symbolizes her self-delusions and protects her from an actual truth.

Satomi's initiation conflict was about convincing the minister of treasure that the poor of the Empire need a more effective government support. They discussed the matter while sightseeing in the capital city, carried in a palanquin. An amusing conflict, it included a lot of dialog, Raising with flashbacks to the minister's difficult childhood on the streets, and an escalation to non-violent combat by patting him in the head with a fan. Jacek didn't escalate to lethal, though, and despite being able to win, he gave up and Satomi wound up leaving the palanquin to help a homeless kid on her own (sharing her carrot cookies, heh). Jacek took I take things into my own hands 1d6 as the achievement and Efficient organization is the key to success as Fallout, after accepting some of the minister's points.

As in Magdalena's initiation, more dice on the GM's side created more room for interesting development. With the standard allotment of dice we wouldn't really have enough space for an expanded scene, I think.
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2007, 04:55:18 AM »

The Town

Creating this town took me more time than it really should, and I think I overdid it with the prep. I was a bit uninspired, though. First, I tried to work with character's hooks, but being halfway done I examined the big picture and decided the whole thing won't do. Then, I started from scratch, just coming up with a starting point and considering the natural way for the events to develop. But in the end, I wound up with way too much backstory. Also, the relations between important NPCs were somewhat complex.

The town was controlled by two groups of Yakuza, operating from two inns.

One of the groups was led by Sugihara, a wolf. He was a Godfather-ish figure who actually cared about the town and the people. Kimura, his brash and violent son, considered him a weak coward and wanted to take over the family business. He rebelled against his father after being severely scolded for his wanton violence one time too many.

The other group's boss was lady Morikawa – who loved Sugihara, but repressed these feelings. A cold and greedy vixen, she'd do anything for money and power. Morikawa had three daughters. The oldest, Oda, was loyal to the family. The middle daughter, Asakura, was an ambitious bitch, just waiting for an opportunity to stab her mother's and sisters' backs. The youngest, Mizuno, was basically a poor furry Cinderella – not being useful to her mother in any particular way, she was treated by her like she were a thing.

Morikawa planned to remove Sugihara out of the way. Towards this end, she offered him Mizuno's hand. The old wolf fell for the trick. However, Mizuno actually was secretly in love with his son, and soon after the formal engagement she run away, unable to bear the pain. Morikawa sent Oda and Asakura to find her and bring her back.

On her run, Mizuno wandered into a cave where she came across a forgotten cache of ancient magitek. Accidentally, she activated a cursed collar that took control over her body and transformed her. Covered in demonic magitek armor, she destroyed a part of the forest and heavily injured Oda. Then, she disappeared.

Asakura left her injured sister for certain death and returned to her mother, claiming that Oda followed Mizuno's trail. Morikawa had to delay the marriage, and it made Sugihara suspect an attempt to break their treaty. Tension between the gangs started to grow.

Meanwhile, Kimura was busy robbing travelers in the area. He met Mizuno in the forest, scared and still wearing the cursed collar. Hoping he would save her, the girl brought him to the cave. Inside, Kimura found a gauntlet that made it possible to control the wearer of the collar. He forced Mizuno to transform and used her to terrorize the area. Soon, rumors of the demon rampaging in the prefecture started to spread.

Eventually, Kimura returned to the town, claiming that he managed to fend off the monster. He gathered followers and started to work actively against both Yakuza groups.

Finally, Sugihara's loyal rabbit bodyguard, Suzuki, tried to reason with Kimura to reconcile him with the old wolf. However, Kimura used Mizuno against the rabbit. Suzuki fell to the river, severely wounded, to be found floating by the bunny ninja princesses.

If the bunnies didn't come, Suzuki would die from his injuries and so would Oda. Then, an all-out gang war would break out in the town. Eventually, Sugihara would kill Morikawa and he would be murdered by his own son in turn. Asakura would become Kimura's lover, drawn by his cruelty and power. Mizuno would spend the rest of her life as a slave, in her sister's shadow, forced to commit unspeakable crimes by the man she loved.
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2007, 10:19:32 AM »

The Opening Session

Just like the last time, I started the session with an intro, offering a glimpse of the events up to that point but providing no motives or other specifics. It came out rather longish – there definitely was too much backstory. Magda made some notes and they served as a useful reference later on. The intro was pretty helpful, I believe – I can imagine how long completing the town would take without it and how much pointless investigation and confusion it would involve. However, the whole thing could have been handled more efficiently.

Approaching the town to investigate the rumors, the bunnies came across Suzuki's body floating in the river. They took the rabbit out of the water, barely alive, tended his wounds and brought him to the inn near the town, following the wish he had made just before passing out. There, Suzuki's wife took care of him, blaming the demon for his state. Observing their children playing samurai, the bunnies learned about Kimura, seen by the kids as a hero.

On their way out, they met Sugihara, the landlord, coming back to his inn with a group of bodyguards. The wolf accused lady Morikawa of breaking their agreement and expressed his suspicions about her being responsible for Suzuki's injuries.

The bunnies went to the town, searching for Kimura. The inquired townspeople pictured the young wolf as a bandit he actually was and one woman related how he had mugged her husband, a peaceful merchant, in the past.

Soon, they met Kimura and his gang, on their way to some seedy business, and questioned him. He was arrogant, apparently not being impressed by them being princesses, and claimed to be a hero who had defeated the demon. Asked for a proof he was reluctant to show one, but finally agreed to take the bunnies to the battleground and reconstruct the events.

They wandered deep into the woods. There, in the destroyed part of the forest, he related the thrilling battle that had never really happened. A conflict ensued, with his control over the gang at stake. After a martial arts show off, he actually accused his own followers of being weak and useless cowards and abandoned them. The band dispersed as its former leader wandered away, ego tripping.

When the bunnies returned from the woods, they headed straight to lady Morikawa's inn (that we conveniently dubbed as The Inn On The Other Side of The Town, heh). What welcomed them was a bunch of rather suspicious patrons and obvious signs of some illicit activities, including the sounds of gambling coming from the back room. The princesses didn't react immediately and they questioned Asakura, who tried to mislead them and direct their suspicions at her mother.

Once Maromi (Kamil's character) began disturbing the customers, who in turn started leaving en masse, lady Morikawa came down. She issued some quick orders to her servants, who promptly covered all traces of unlawful business. The bunnies questioned her and she maintained that her enterprises was completely legitimate. However, Morikawa accused Sugihara of troubling the townspeople with his protection racket. The vixen claimed she had offered him Mizuno's hand to end the citizens' suffering, but when the girl had fallen ill he had resumed his wrongdoings. I stressed the fact that she actually had some problems remembering the name of her youngest daughter.

The princesses asked Morikawa to take them to Mizuno, but she was reluctant to do so, explaining that the sudden excitement could worsen her state. In the end, she had no choice but to do what the bunnies wanted. However, first she sent a servant to prepare Mizuno for the visit and then noticeably tried to gain some time, choosing a longer way than was needed to take the group to her room. There, a servant disguised for the vixen's absent daughter waited.

We played out a conflict with revealing the truth about Mizuno's disappearance at stake. To the player's surprise, Asakura sabotaged her mother's bluff and joined their side. The bunnies first tried to make the servant blow her cover by impressing her with their princessiness. After a while they got basically pushed out of the room by the “caring” mother. However, arguing with Morikawa they forced her to let them in again, only to see Asakura assisting the girl in dressing up back in her maid's uniform. (Maromi was shocked seeing the half-naked vixen. Ladies don't look like that, after all – they have clothes!)

The characters took some physical Fallout in the conflict, being pushed out and all. Yuan (Magda's character) actually wound up requiring first aid. We had a hard time deciding whether the risk of dead comes from the princess being terminally hurt in her finger or stomping on her own ear and falling down the stairs. I quickly gave up once Maromi bandaged Yuan's finger, but the whole situation was hilariously cute.

Once Morikawa told them the truth about Mizuno, the bunnies went to Sugihara to bring him the news about his bride. However, they found him in the middle of a discussion with Suzuki, who recuperated a bit, and Yuan immediately started questioning both. Somehow, the wolf's reaction to the news got completely diluted – a good sign that it was already getting late. Only after the session we noticed it, concluded it came out just too flat, and decided something had to be done about it. So, Sugihara didn't really believe Morikawa's story and later sent his spy to confirm Mizuno's disappearance.

Anyway, Suzuki related how he tried to reconcile Kimura with his father, but something hit him during their talk. He wasn't able to say whether it was the young wolf himself or maybe the demon, but mentioned hearing a loud sound just before a strong force had hit him. Sugihara declared that Kimura no longer had any rights to call himself his son and that he takes no responsibility for the youth's misdeeds. Accused for running a protection racket himself the wolf claimed he was always taking only as much as needed to actually protect the citizens, since local samurai were too indifferent and weak to do it. All of which was, in fact, true.

At this point, since it was getting late and it was obvious we had no chance to close the town in one session, we called it a day.
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2007, 05:08:53 PM »

The Middle Session

A number of irritating details overlapped during this session, but I think the main problem was that we started it too casually. There was no real enthusiasm that day – we've been pretty much in a “It's Sunday afternoon and we have nothing better to do, so let's roll with the bunnies!” mindset. There was even more loose tabletalk than in our average game and later some frustrating problems with Skype hit us. The session didn't last long, two hours or so maybe, as after the assignment of Fallout that lasted nearly half an hour I came to a conclusion that there was no sense to continue that day.

Jacek joined in this game, and Satomi had to be introduced. I initially planned to summarize the events up to that point first, but it kind of, well, slipped my mind. Now, Jacek had some ideas for the introduction, but he actually forgot to tell us about it. Did I mention our too casual mindset?

So, since Magda and Kamil wanted a scene with Kimura, I simply air-dropped Satomi into the game, describing how the bunnies noticed a shadowy figure sneaking on the rooftops, being explicit it was the new ninja bunny. There was some confusion, however, as Satomi didn't join the party like a well-mannered princess should. Instead, Jacek eagerly attempted to initiate an inter-player conflict right off the bat. Satomi stood in the group's way, dramatically declaring she won't let them kill Kimura. It seemed like a wild, blind swing of the sword – our general reaction was like “Uh... ok... say yes?” and it took us a while to explain nobody actually wanted to kill Kimura, yet. Never mind Jacek didn't know a single thing about Kimura thus far. The whole mess made it kind of difficult to relate the situation in character, obviously.

This is what I call a critically botched scene. Add this “I attack the DARKNESS!” moment on top of that, and you get the picture. Death by narrativism.

Anyway, once we managed to deal with the snafu and sort things out, loud sounds brought the bunnies' attention, and they spotted Kimura running into the night, just after tossing some poor guy out the window from a rather unsafe height. Kamil and Magda wanted to chase him, and initiated a conflict with his freedom at stake.

It was... chaotic, and it dragged for too long. The bunnies chased the young wolf over the rooftops for a while, then someone escalated, and a moment later Kimura was demolishing the neighborhood, using the gauntlet's power to call transformed Mizuno's sonic blasts from a distance. After one of the escalations, Satomi entered the conflict, but Jacek quickly gave up, having no real reason to push for the win (besides, I think he joined it only to tactically grab the dice for cutting his losses). However, the rest of us was pushing all out. I've been resolved not to let the bunnies capture Kimura at that point. Kamil and Magda were resolved to do it. Once both Maromi and Yuan ate some heavy lethal Fallout it was clear that someone will not make it alive – and it didn't feel quite right that bunny lives were being thrown for such a seemingly petty stake. Kamil eventually gave up, and Maromi disappeared under the debris. Magda desperately scavenged her sheet for additional dice and Yuan wound up throwing her family's memento in Kimura's face, scarring him terribly. But in the end, she gave up as well. Kimura escaped, leaving the decimated group in a ruined scenery.

Kamil, infamous for his crappy rolls, got 20 on his Fallout check, and decided to delay Maromi's death scene. Too bad – I really liked that character.

Yuan, who took much more Fallout, wound up requiring first aid, just like after most conflicts so far. Magda actually surprised me, choosing to remove her memento as long-term Fallout. I think she explained it wouldn't be appropriate for Yuan to have it after it was used as a projectile – which actually sounded anti-climactic to me. As I saw it, she basically crossed out Yuan's personal dramatic hook in a context that didn't really seem very relevant. Maybe there was no dramatic hook in the first place, though.

Satomi was completely unaffected, and Jacek was growing impatient as the conflict dragged without his active participation. I think he mentioned that despite its surprising development, the stake wasn't worth it and it seemed rather pointless to him overall. Also, we've been playing for over an hour and he had no good opportunity to do anything interesting yet.

The first aid conflict followed, as the princesses rushed to help their blood-coughing friend. Satomi banished the spirit of Yuan's suffering, to later adding its caught breath as a Belonging with experience Fallout. Kamil's Raises included Maromi bidding farewell to Yuan, putting her ninja scroll into her hands as a final gift and flashing back to her toad sensei's lesson that sometimes one needs to choose between life and death... and then, she vanished, saving her friend's life by giving away her own. Pure drama.

Kamil actually took Sometimes one needs to choose between life and death... as Maromi's final Fallout, once I reminded him that he gets to keep the dice for his new character. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to be moved by it all. Magda made an impression of being rather indifferent about her own character's first aid conflict and judging from the sounds of furious typing, something distracted her for a good part of it. Jacek in turn didn't even have time too invest in the characters and situation yet, and seemed too busy planning his Fallout to pay attention to Kamil's narration.

So, I find Maromi's death heartbreaking. Possibly, it was the most pointless character death I've ever seen in a game. It's not even about the fact that she died – overall, it was a very moving scene, I think. Although it didn't seem so to me immediately, now that I look at the big picture and consider the surrounding circumstances, it was dramatically fitting in a way. What actually breaks my heart is that it completely diluted and didn't impact the game as a whole in any particular way, cause nobody was paying attention at the moment.

Did I mention that we probably shouldn't have started playing with such a casual mindset? Soon after Maromi's death scene, additionally irritated by the connection problems, I suggested that we wrap things up and continue another day, when we'd be in a better mood for playing. I had a sense of distaste after this session, and it lasted for a few days.
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2007, 12:05:02 PM »

The Final Session

So, since Maromi was no longer with us anyway, Kamil decided to skip this session. Also, we've been pretty much set on completing the town this time, as it already dragged for too long. This time, we approached the game in a more appropriate mood, too, and it resulted in a much more satisfying experience. Garbage in, garbage out.

After the battle with Kimura, the bunnies went to Sugihara. They met the old wolf outside his inn, leading his people into the woods in search of Mizuno. The princesses wanted to join them, but Sugihara had some doubts as far as their prowess was concerned and didn't want to let them take the risk. They started a conflict with proving their value at stake, and proceeded to kick the hell out of poor Sugihara's bodyguards to demonstrate their point. It soon escalated to lethal, and finally I gave up so that the wolf could block Yuan's blow that would kill one of his bodyguards.

I think Magda took Everything can be turned into a weapon as Fallout after this conflict, but it could have been at some later point as well.

In the end, Sugihara got convinced to remain in the town and keep things safe there. The bunnies went to search for Mizuno on their own, accompanied only by Suzuki, who had recovered just enough not to let the young ladies risk alone.

In the woods, they came across Oda, in a terrible state, trying to crawl to the town with her remaining strength. In a far from coherent manner, she explained that Mizuno had changed somehow and attacked her. The bunnies sent Suzuki back to the town with Oda, and split. Satomi followed the two, trying to remain unseen, to ensure their safety and observe. Yuan wondered deeper into the woods in search of the cave.

Satomi and Oda returned to the town without surprises on their way, and the vixen was taken care of in Sugihara's inn. Jacek decided that Satomi will guard her room and observe, ninja style, from the shadows. At that point I narrated how the news of Oda's return reached The Inn On The Other Side of The Town,  and how Asakura departed to check up on her older sister, with a vial of poison hanging on her neck. And cut.

Meanwhile, Yuan had reached the cave and investigated the cache of forbidden magitek. While she was exploring the room, Mizuno entered and they stood face to face with uncertainty. And cut.

In the town, Asakura entered Oda's room, asked the maid to leave them alone and tried to poison her sister. However, Satomi suddenly appeared and stopped her. She demanded that the vixen confess the truth. A conflict about it ensued. Satomi started using her Gaze of Thousand Demons technique and summoning demons of truth. Let's just say that Jacek is a fan of Hellsing – surrounded by fluid shadows and hundreds of gazing eyes, Asakura panicked, but managed to push the bunny out the window in her adrenaline rush. In response, Jacek Raised by making Morikawa unexpectedly join the scene, demanding her daughter to explain herself, and I gave. Jacek took I'm too weak to protect others as Fallout. And cut.

In the cave, Magda initiated a conflict with removing Mizuno's collar at stake. Yuan initially tried to do it by force, but got painfully shocked by the discharge of dark energy. Then, Kimura appeared and ordered Mizuno to kill the bunny. The conflict escalated and Satomi joined in, supporting Yuan from afar through a psychic link. Jacek pictured his bunny standing inside a magical circle, in the back room of Morikawa's inn, clearly implying that the issue with vixens was resolved. Soon, as the situation in the cave was getting worse and worse, Satomi whispered something about her dreams of dying and called the demon of Yuan's suffering that she had bound a session before, to teleport herself into the fray. However, helping one another against Mizuno's sonic blasts, both players opened themselves for my Reversals and the bunnies got seriously hurt. Magda finally gave up and Satomi was left on her own.

Now, at that point Jacek decided to spend his available Relationship dice to give Satomi Relationship with Darkness. That is, Relationship with Demon in standard DitV terms. So much for being pure and cute, welcome to the Dark Side.

“I need more power!” shouted Satomi, down on her knees, and she sucked in the evil energy that powered the surrounding magitek. Then, she just told everyone that they had all wasted their lives, and cut their heads with a single slash. And in a fountain of blood, I gave.

Actually, it looked worse than it was, as Yuan was already out of the conflict and survived her Fallout check, and Kimura was technically just supporting Mizuno. The vixen got killed by the Fallout, though, and the wolf wound up with her head falling into his arms. And so, Mizuno got freed from the cursed collar. Permanently.

After he conflict, Jacek actually took I need more power! as Fallout, and Satomi was dying. Overflowing with the dark energy she drained, coughing black blood, Satomi asked Yuan to end her life while she still remained a bunny.

Magda initially concluded that Jacek gave her no choice and Yuan reluctantly proceeded to fulfill Satomi's wish. However, since she obviously didn't see all the options of possible development, we discussed them. In the end, Yuan attempted to save Satomi, and we moved to the first aid conflict.

Yuan literally fought with the dark power, as it tried to choke her possessed friend. She desperately struggled to catch that which was good in her as it flew away with Satomi's tears. And Yuan failed, and even though she managed to calm the dark power and save the princess's life, her friend was no longer the same bunny.

Exhausted, they staggered out of the cave and lay on the grass, watching the moon as Satomi breathed unevenly. At that point, since we still had time for about one conflict, I examined the list of NPCs and issues left to deal with, and pumped everything that remained into a single scene. Sugihara with his bodyguards approached the cave, just when Kimura was going out, with the collar on his own neck, holding Mizuno's head. Without much delay, they proceeded to kill each other.

We played out the final conflict with both Sugihara's and Kimura's lives at stake, to kill two birds with one stone so to say. There was a bit of confusion when it came to taking sides: in the end, Jacek wanted to save both and was supported by Suzuki, Magda wanted the death of Kimura and was supported by Sugihara and his remaining bodyguards, and that left me with Kimura, who wanted the death of his father. That way, we neatly included everyone who still had unresolved issues.

The conflict lasted for a while and resulted in quite a mess, basically leaving a nice crater in the countryside. Magda gave up pretty fast. Kimura killed Suzuki, who covered Sugihara with his own body, as Jacek Took the Blow at some point. Finally, Satomi exchanged some dramatic dialog with the young wolf, and offered him her own life, and hearing that I gave up.

Kimura declared that he already took enough lives by killing Suzuki and discarded the cursed artifacts. Unable to face his father, who grieved over his bride's and rabbit friend's deaths, the young wolf went away in shame (to later join Asakura, banished by her mother). The bunnies destroyed the artifacts, and the cave collapsed.

And with the end of the night, the bunnies moved on to the next town.
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JackTheOwner
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« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2007, 02:14:26 AM »

Quote

That scene was special, because I wanted her to tell the truth. I didn't wanted to do it by force, so I didn't scrach her. Finaly I gived up, so Filip made mistake here.

Quote
After the battle with Kimura, the bunnies went to Sugihara.
There was interesting disscuse about what we gonna do as a players. We (but a think that was my decison) decide to go to Sugihara beacause it our opinion it was the most interesting for now.

Quote
The conflict escalated and Satomi joined in, supporting Yuan from afar through a psychic link. Jacek pictured his bunny standing inside a magical circle, in the back room of Morikawa's inn, clearly implying that the issue with vixens was resolved. Soon, as the situation in the cave was getting worse and worse, Satomi whispered something about her dreams of dying and called the demon of Yuan's suffering that she had bound a session before, to teleport herself into the fray.
That was super, extra mega cool thing Cheesy Cheesy Cheesy
I tried to make it that anyway, it didnt happend by coincidence.

Quote
Yuan literally fought with the dark power, as it tried to choke her possessed friend. She desperately struggled to catch that which was good in her as it flew away with Satomi's tears. And Yuan failed, and even though she managed to calm the dark power and save the princess's life, her friend was no longer the same bunny.
It was so cute! She used her "I have fucking long ears 3k10 here" and make super sad face! Later she taked me outside to show me how world is beatiful (full moon, little animals like dear and squirrel) and Filip give-up I think.

Quote
We played out the final conflict with both Sugihara's and Kimura's lives at stake, to kill two birds with one stone so to say. There was a bit of confusion when it came to taking sides: in the end, Jacek wanted to save both and was supported by Suzuki, Magda wanted the death of Kimura and was supported by Sugihara and his remaining bodyguards, and that left me with Kimura, who wanted the death of his father. That way, we neatly included everyone who still had unresolved issues.
The conflic was good, but too complex. We tried to copltete all in one, but it wasn't cool, beacue if we separeted it on smaller part it could be more cool.

Quote
Kimura killed Suzuki, who covered Sugihara with his own body, as Jacek Took the Blow at some point.
I blocked this by escalation, and Suzuki taken blow (laser from his eyes?) that was suposed to kill me. He said something like "You was really princess".

Quote
Finally, Satomi exchanged some dramatic dialog with the young wolf, and offered him her own life, and hearing that I gave up.
It was cool^^, the best thing from this play.
For me it was the most dramatical thing, maybe not like in some movies, but because I was involved in such thing.
It was like:
Satomi: Stop killing, it is maddnes!
Kimura: Maddnes? You killed my Mizuno beast!
(I dont remember all of this but i have taked the blow and later MAgda helped me)
Satomi: If you dont listen me, try to hear voice of this pure maiden (We all was maidens I think, but I wasnt pure).
Somewhere after that I winned conflic. It was very very hard to not kill Kimura, but I did it Cheesy
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2007, 03:06:58 AM »

Quote
That scene was special, because I wanted her to tell the truth. I didn't wanted to do it by force, so I didn't scrach her. Finaly I gived up, so Filip made mistake here.

Oops, memory. Right, Asakura didn't confess the truth in the end, but I think I resolved the stakes so that Morikawa saw through her lies.

Quote
I blocked this by escalation, and Suzuki taken blow (laser from his eyes?) that was suposed to kill me. He said something like "You was really princess".

Uh, a laser from his eyes? Now this I don't recall Wink But there were some energy beams involved, I think.

Either way, that's another thing I didn't remember clearly. He did, in fact, try to cover Satomi and not Sugihara (who was technically out of conflict at that point, since Magda gave up first).

Quote
It was so cute! She used her "I have fucking long ears 3k10 here" and make super sad face! Later she taked me outside to show me how world is beatiful (full moon, little animals like dear and squirrel) and Filip give-up I think.

Bunny ears simply scream to be used as a medium for conveying emotions. But I recall it took Magda a while to get a good handle on this, as initially she tried to introduce the long ears Trait in a rather ineffective manner (usually for some cartoon-ish grabbing stuff with ears and the like that we vetoed most of the time). I think at some point she was convinced the Trait is rather useless. However, it is in fact pretty universal and can easily be applied in a meaningful way in just about any conflict.

Quote
The conflic was good, but too complex. We tried to copltete all in one, but it wasn't cool, beacue if we separeted it on smaller part it could be more cool.

Well, there was simply not enough time left, and continuing this town for one more session would be dragging it for just too long. I don't suppose we could have handled it better, and it all asked for at least one more conflict, I think.

As for the whole color and emulation stuff, in addition to the things we've discussed in private I have some overall conclusions about it. I'll post them soon.
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2007, 07:24:58 PM »

Conclusions

It was the first time a town took us so long to complete. The middle part was short and basically included only one longer scene, so calling it a full session is a bit of a misnomer – but there were three separate meetings nonetheless. I don't like splitting towns, as it's always connected with losing some of the immediate context. The town was definitely too complex to close it in one session, though, and at one point I was afraid I completely overdid it with the whole pile of issues. It wasn't so bad, fortunately.

The intro wasn't handled very well. However, seeing how things worked out this time gave me some ideas for doing things in a much more efficient manner. Some time ago, I've been wondering how the game would play if all the town info was open to the players from the start. Now, I'm thinking about something less radical, but potentially streamlining play a bit.
 
Next time, I'll probably provide the players with a list of all the important NPCs in the town, along with their general descriptions. Then I'll narrate a very short intro that will highlight only the major issue and its source, like I did the previous time, and roll with the town. The list should make for a convenient scene framing device. In our recent games it basically boiled down to picking the NPC the players wanted to interact with in the next scene anyway. So, once the players choose the NPC I'll reveal an additional piece of backstory about him or her, provided there's anything of note, and then frame the scene proper. This should make the overall situation clear enough for the group, without me frontloading it all at once.

One important lesson for me is to make sure twice that everyone is in the right mood for playing before starting the session, unless it's meant to be loose from the start. Otherwise, it's no good. The middle session was pretty much dissatisfying, and although a number of factors contributed to this – it's the casual stance that appears to have been the main culprit, however I think about it.

The attention deficit was a pain. As the GM, I've been engaged all the time, obviously, but the players seemed largely indifferent as far as pieces of fiction belonging to others were concerned and it felt like everyone was playing in his or her own private bubble. It peaked during the middle session, to the point of causing an actual problem, but we've been discussing this lately and it's not so uncommon in our games. To some extent, it might be because of our medium of play – even though it's the closest thing to playing face to face we can get, our Skype sessions still lack actual physical or even visual presence. However, I don't think it's the only factor, and neither the most difficult one – namely, I blame our gaming habits much more.

One of the reasons Kamil skipped the final session was that he wanted to leave Magda and Jacek more space for acting on their own. He suspected that he's been dominating these sessions too much and was curious to see how they would do without his participation. It's true that he's usually pushing in his chosen direction the most in the group. Magda was somewhat passive in our games so far, and although in the final session she showed more activity, I think Jacek still pretty much overshadowed her. His observation was that she tends to give up in strange moments, too, but I'm not sure what to think about it myself.

Jacek's performance was dramatic and fun and that's good and all, but, well, the problem is it felt a bit too much like a performance to me. I wonder how much of the way he played was the result of his genuine need and how much was rather an unconscious narrativist posturing. He's been reading the Forge and related sites a lot lately, and kind of soaked with all those new ideas, radically different from everything he knew before. The thing is, I think he might have problems with identifying what he actually wants from play himself and picking the right tools towards these ends. I can see a lot of experimentation in his play style, but sometimes he makes this impression of being imitative without real thought. He definitely looks for his own way, but at the same time it seems like he's a bit too attached to already treaded paths, regardless where they actually lead him.

In short, the way Jacek plays seems a bit chaotic to me. An example of this was his pushing straight into the inter-player conflict at the beginning of the middle session, before he had a chance to actually learn the context. Also, just after he bought Relationship with Darkness I remarked that technically the rules for Sorcerer's allow for adding Demonic Influence to the preferred side of the conflict, but not necessarily one's own. Hearing that, he instantly wanted to make use of it and give the dice to the opposition – and it threw me off balance, as I suddenly felt rather awkward trying to provide adversity to the player who basically shoots himself in the foot of his own will. There were some other moments when it seemed like he was doing his best to do it the indie way and the attempts felt somewhat forced.

On the other hand, there was this whole emulation thing – this seemed to me like a more natural thing for him to do, but it felt slightly tacked on rather than naturally flowing from the context of the fiction. Jacek admits that he inserted large chunks of Claymore into the final scenes, and since I didn't watch that anime yet I can't really assess how accurately was he following the source. Sometimes when I play with him it feels like he has things planned in advance in his head, and steadily works to insert this stuff into the fiction, never mind what actually happens around it. It reminds me of the PTA game from few months ago, when he had a specific ending for his character in mind from the middle of the show and was largely indifferent about what happened unless it would have undermined his preplanned Big Finale.

A while back Jacek declared his preference for one-shot sessions, and it seems he's generally after instant gratification in our games. Sometimes it feels to me like he's rushing a bit too fast, though. This might be one of the reasons why the whole Claymore stuff seemed a bit disconnected with the flow of events to me, as he's been trying to squeeze it all into the fiction, having our goal of closing the town in mind.

Also, recently Jacek commented that he's very strongly engaged by the mechanics. Basically, if the resolution offers tactical options, the moment the conflict starts he tends to switch entirely into board-gamey mode and disconnects from the context. He admits he had an easier time focusing on the fiction in PTA, where the system didn't offer him any mechanics to toy with (which is, at the same time, one of the reasons PTA feels somewhat bland to me as far as the resolution is concerned). In the bunny game, it was pretty noticeable during the middle session, e.g. when he jumped into the conflict only to quickly give up and grab the dice for cutting his losses. In the final session I've been stressing the need for meaningful narration and it appears it was keeping him from thinking pure numbers all the time, but there were moments when he seemed to slip into board-gamey mode again, trying to pile the dice from Traits with no thought of narration, and the like.

All in all, I'm wondering whether we actually can have a shared Creative Agenda in our group or whether we're playing in a general disconnect – and if so, whether things can even out eventually.

I think I'm pretty much in synch with Kamil most of the time as far as the direction of play goes. However, of all the players he puts the most stress on immediate conflict, without really considering its possible long-term implications, to the extent of being indifferent about the exploration past the current instance of resolution sometimes. He's definitely very proactive and pushes the game forward very strongly. Still, it's often pushing for conflict and confrontation without much care about the surrounding context of it. Also, he's not very focused on his own character (he declared his preference for playing catalysts that let him influence the NPCs around him), and is rather indifferent about color. For the rest of us both characters and color seem to be pretty important when it comes to buying into the game.

Jacek, as explained above, seems to stand on some crossroads at this point. I'm not sure how much of what he needs he actually gets in this group, but it's hard for me to tell what exactly it is that he needs in the first place.

Magda wasn't playing with us long enough for me to be able to say much about her. She certainly has some old gaming habits, and is quite passive as far as her general input into the game goes. The current PTA game we're playing together with Kamil, Producer-less, shows that even working from scratch we can build a general agreement on the direction of the game with some effort, and it seems we're slowly making some progress with her main stumbling blocks. Initially, I thought she might have a desire for gamist play, but taking into account some of her comments that's probably not the case and rather just a trace of her past gaming experiences. She often seems to have some serious concerns about internal consistency, but again, it might be simply a part of her habits. It's hard to say what exactly does she want from play and how does it fit with the group as a whole.

As for me, it's sometimes easier for me to pinpoint what I definitely don't want in the game than to precisely define my needs. One thing I definitely need are the rules that I can toy with, without having to cover the holes myself or to be too careful about not breaking them apart accidentally. I'm pretty analytic about systems, and I can easily cross out a game if I find that its rules don't make much sense game-wise. This removes most of the more “traditional” designs. Whether the games I currently play are perfectly suited for me is an entirely different matter – there are simply no better alternatives at the moment, however. All in all DitV is just about right in most respects, PTA is about one step of complexity and structure not enough.

Other than that, I generally tend to look for moments of tension, spontaneous developments of events and visually powerful color. Genre and character consistency are important to me, but I like general weirdness in these areas. I'm satisfied as long as the game and the group can provide me with a regular fix of it all, the specific way they are delivered be damned.

I like variety, so about a month is my standard burnout time as far as playing the same thing continuously is concerned. Consequently, I prefer it if all important in-fiction issues resolve in this span of time.

Also, I'm running games way too often, it seems. Whether I'm well cut for a GM in a typical sense of the word is a different matter. One of the reasons I completely ditched “traditional” games was that they've been putting just too much strain on me, and I prefer the responsibility for fun to be more evenly distributed. I like to have structure that naturally drives the session forward, rules that don't force me to decide most of the important stuff by fiat and clearly established lines of control. On the other hand, I often feel I'm still pushing things too much as the GM and it seems like as a player I can dominate the game even more than Kamil. When we play GM-less, like in the current PTA game, I often feel like I'm instinctively jumping into the GM role sometimes.

So, in this current group playing with Kamil supports most of my requirements regularly enough. When it comes to Jacek, it depends – sometimes it clicks, sometimes I feel we're not exactly on the same page. It's still hard for me to generalize about Magda. Our sessions certainly are satisfying most of the time, in general. What I'm wondering about, however, is how much of it is actually playing in our own private bubbles of fun.

Either way, not counting the middle session, I'm rather satisfied with this bunny game, overall. Currently, we're taking a break from DitV, but I hope to run another town in the future.
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2007, 03:12:45 AM »

Oh yes, and for the sake of completeness, some system notes. Apart from things that got mentioned in the report:

In the mod, I substituted Ceremony with acts of cuteness. It doesn't come up in play so often, however, and it seems it doesn't mesh with the tone we arrived at all that well. Most probably, this change proved needless - but I'm not sure whether we need any equivalent of Ceremony in these games in the first place.

I introduced dice cap of 7 for Stats, and 3 for the rest (with the exception of Relatonship with Darkness/Demon, which can be improved to 5d10). Seems to work nice, we had some more variety in the Fallout area than most of the time.

I fiddled with group NPC rules a bit, too. In each conflict, I pick the NPC that leads my side. Those who support him count as Belongings and are given the dice as such, and I'm simply rolling in 2d6 when the NPC enters the conflict. In case of groups of extras, I treat them as a single individual major NPC. As usually in case of such mechanics I had some trouble assessing the dice (I'm usually concerned about fairness of it a bit), but it's the same with adding Belongings. All in all, in these sessions I've been giving NPCs quite a lot of Belongings, compared to our usual games.

I wonder how much NPCs Traits really add to play. I had some fun fleshing out Proto-NPCs, as well as assigning them Fallout - but I'm not sure how does it look from the players' position, really. Possibly, it would be faster and otherwise no different if I had a more general budget of dice to roll into each conflict. I'm thinking about Afraid's old NPCs rules and considering assuming some four standard Traits for each NPC, for the sake of simplicity.

An interesting thing I noticed about Afraid's Escalation rules is that they often lead us to series of rapid escalations one after another, and then things calm down. I still haven't decided what to think about it.

We have this rule about keeping two best dice for any later conflict, after giving up or rolling short term Fallout. Since this town was quite long and involved many conflicts, we had quite a lot of nice resource build-ups. Although for Jacek it was apparently another thing that tempted him to switch into the board-gamey mode, I like how this rule works in general. I think the dice reserves helped to create the tension, as most of the time I had some pretty big dice set aside. Unfortunately, it seems to encourage taking part in conflicts that are otherwise unimportant for the player - and I'm not sure how to address this issue.

Also, Kamil ordered The Princess Kingdom recently. When I first heard of the game months ago, it didn't seem to me it offers anything Dogs couldn't, other than being meant for playing with children. However, looking at the reviews and the contents of the character sheet, it occurred to me that its version of the basic engine might actually be a better platform for a bunny game than Vanilla DitV. I'd probably split Age into three diferrent Arenas and I could add special techniques as a separate category of descriptors, ranked at d10s (maybe with some mechanical twist). But other than that, it seems nicely streamlined. I'm considering the purchase if only for the sake of tinkering.

And no, I'm not going to add even one more word to this report Wink
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FredGarber
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« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2007, 08:54:20 AM »

Filip, I think you did a great job of reporting on a very difficult set of sessions.  There's one problem in the middle section that jumped out at me:  A lot of effort went into a conflict with a pre-determined outcome.  Kimura was going to escape, regardless of what your players were going to do. 

Because of this, you were Forcing them to agree with your decision about the narrative (Kimura escapes to fight another day), while at the same time allowing them to believe that they could do something to change it.  I think that's why that bunny death was so flat, and the players disconnected: They were losing traits in a combat they couldn't really win.  If I need a villain to escape capture so they can appear later, then I don't risk them in combat.  Or you could have surrendered your pre-determine plots and let the bunnies unravel the town in their own way. 

You had a very complex town:  I counted seven opposing agendas (father, son, bodyguard, mother, and eldest, middle, youngest daughters).  What would it have changed if they had captured Kimura there? You would have lost your old-wolf / young-wolf showdown... but that's all, it seems to me.  Do you think that forcing the father/son confrontation was more or less Forced than the Hellsing and Claymore elements that Jacek Forced into the game?  That's just something to think about, not a judgement on GM style.

As a last note:
One of the things that seems to be lost in your game is that in most of the straight DITV APs I read, the Dogs are focused on cleaning the Sin out of the town.  Your bunnies seem to be getting lost in the complex politics between law and honor, Love and the Darkness.  The Dogs are always Righteous, by definition.  You seem to be allowing the bunnies to be fallible in their Judgements.  In your next session, I would make the towns simpler, and let the Bunnies' Judgement help build the long-term drama. 
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Redone
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« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2007, 10:43:28 AM »

The town, as Filip already said, was very complex. The notes I did during the intro were quite helpful. But all in all we managed to get it right, only Jacek had some problems first because he jumped in the middle of the session not knowing much about it. Fortunately, soon he was able to understand it all.

In our first session I was very passive, especially at the end. I had some ideas at the very beginnig but then I just was following Kamil's ideas. It was fun nevertheless.

Second session was a big misunderstanding. Starting from Jacek's apparition and ending on Maromi's dead. Everything could have been played better. I think problems with Skype were also the issue here. We spent some time trying to make it work good enough. The whole seesion was really about one conflict, one useless and stupid conflict. At the end I was disturbed by something else and wasn't even paying attention. As I later found out, Maromi's dead was really something. I regret I missed that and I'm very sorry guys that it happened that way. Next time if I had something to do, I would tell you.

But then we had the third session. Oh my, I loved this one. Playing with Jacek was really great, I think we two are getting on nicely. We split up in some point and it was a good idea. Those cuts of our scenes have been keeping us in suspension. After this game I have some very good feelings and I can't wait for our next bunny session.

Indie is still something very new for me. I feel good playing it and I like my team. We managed to overcome every problem so far so I think it will be good Smiley
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2007, 12:01:54 PM »

Fred,

The outcome of the conflict wasn't predetermined. I've been resolved to do whatever I could to make Kimura run away, but there would be no conflict in the first place if I didn't agree on a possibility that he can get caught.

Note that Kimura was effectively the Sorcerer, and this gave me quite a lot of resources. However, I've been pushed to the limit, dice-wise. Near the end of the conflict there was no way I could bring in any more dice without it being actually forced. Now, at this point only Magda was still in the conflict, and she was at a visible disadvantage. The funny thing is that Kamil gave up soon after soaking heavy lethal Fallout and regardless, Maromi died. However, he had loads of dice at the time - if he stayed till the end, they'd trample Kimura. If all three, Jacek included, pushed till the end, they'd win.

The problem, I think, is that it should have been pretty obvious that I won't give easily in this conflict. The stakes were clear and they could choose to push or not, depending on how strongly they wanted it. They played against themselves, however, pushing in a conflict that didn't matter as much. In my Raises I was asking whether they were ready to pay the price - and they agreed for the price despite not being ready.

Also, I think the awareness that if Kamil stayed in the conflict for just a little longer they'd win might be a factor in our general sense of pointlessness of Maromi's death at that moment. What's interesting, Kamil has just explained me that he gave up to leave Magda more space to act on her own and was waiting to see her choices made without his lead.

Another thing is that being generally uninspired that day, I've been at a loss when it came to possible developments of that situation. Not being sure how to deal with possible outcomes after the conflict, I decided to simply play to NPC's motivations (i.e. "not get caught"). So, it didn't feel to me like losing just one agenda - rather, I suddenly felt like this might be the final or second to final conflict, and I felt it was too soon for that.

In fact, I don't think Maromi's death scene was flat in itself now. However, it felt like that at the moment. Initially, I took it for the reason of the disconnect - but later, I've discovered that the disconnect was there in the first place, and was the source of the feeling. Note that for me, there was no real regret when I saw Kamil's Fallout result - I've been hoping for a moving death scene, though, and it seems I was the only one who was moved.

As for Jacek's emulation, I'm cool with Hellsing stuff - if it was PTA, I'd give him Fanmail for that one. In case of Claymore stuff, I can't fully relate to his input without knowing the anime. This might be the source of my issue here - it's hard for me to fully relate to his input and I can't appreciate emulation without knowing the source material. Also, after reading the conclusions Jacek explained to me that he had no intention of including Claymore stuff in the first place - he said it came out as a natural development for him and only later he realised that it was basically Claymore.

I'm not saying Jacek's input wasn't fun, too, cause it was. It just made me wonder how much of it flowed naturally from the context.

Quote
You seem to be allowing the bunnies to be fallible in their Judgements.

Hmm, could you elaborate on that? What suggests this? I'm not sure if I understand your issue well.

Magda,

This:

Quote
I had some ideas at the very beginnig but then I just was following Kamil's ideas. It was fun nevertheless.

And this:

Quote
But then we had the third session. Oh my, I loved this one. Playing with Jacek was really great, I think we two are getting on nicely.

It's interesting. Do you think you can elaborate on the reasons you were surrendering your ideas and following Kamil's lead but in Jacek's case, you had an easier time actually cooperating as players?

I wonder whether your relative age figures in this. (For the record: Kamil is closing thirty, I'm in my middle twenties, Magda is in her early twenties and Jacek has just finished high school.)
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Redone
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« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2007, 03:15:48 AM »

Well, I've been a bit misunderstood. I was following Kamil's ideas because I didn't have any better ones. Actually, I had no idea what to do Tongue It was also because of my mood then and I think I was tired. Nevertheless, you already know that I have difficulties in thniking "what now?" in general Wink

About the second question. I felt good playing with Jacek but only a bit better then when playing with Kamil. I really don't know why, but I'm almost sure it's not becuase of age. Maybe next session with Jacek will be total disaster :p I say that I like playing with Jacek but we only played once together, and we played with Kamil also once so far. Who knows what future holds Cheesy
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FredGarber
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« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2007, 12:24:13 PM »

Fred,
The problem, I think, is that it should have been pretty obvious that I won't give easily in this conflict. The stakes were clear and they could choose to push or not, depending on how strongly they wanted it. They played against themselves, however, pushing in a conflict that didn't matter as much. In my Raises I was asking whether they were ready to pay the price - and they agreed for the price despite not being ready.

OK.  I'm confused in my own feelings here. 
On one hand, it's a great help to me when the GM starts pulling lots of dice.  "Say Yes or Roll Dice" implies to me that I can, before the outcome of the first roll, have some sort of sense of what this conflict might cost me.  Example: My character, the piano player, picks a fight with the bouncer, BEFORE I know he's a bouncer.  I might, when I see the massive amount of Brawling skill being brought to this conflict, change my mind and relent. 

On the other hand, it weakens the story to give players that escape hatch.  My character, if he misreads the situation, doesn't know who's actually effective or not until the conflict dice are rolled, and should suffer the consequences of picking a fight with an unknown opponent.

I'm willing to rest on this, and say that internet communication sometimes brings a host of communication problems that are related to a lack of nonverbal signals.

Quote
Quote
You seem to be allowing the bunnies to be fallible in their Judgements.
Hmm, could you elaborate on that? What suggests this? I'm not sure if I understand your issue well.

I think it's more of a question for the players.  It seems, from reading the Actual Play reports, that there's a lot of "investigating the town."  To get all the jargon in my writing, they're running around looking for the Steel Railroad Tracks, even though there aren't any.  I know I had a lot of trouble converting from "What story hooks has the GM left for me to explore with my character" into "These story hooks the GM has given me: what story can I tell about my character with them?" 

Putting it into your genre terms, the Bunny Princesses seem to be merely exploring the Empire, and not following a mandate to bring these troubled towns back under the roof of the Empress's Law.

Of course, I could be wrong.  Not only am I not there, I am definitely fallible in my own Judgements Smiley

-Fred
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