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Author Topic: Sorcerer - Gothic Fantasy - Session #1  (Read 3754 times)
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« on: July 09, 2002, 08:43:48 AM »

Hello All,

Well, last night was the first session of my Sorcerer game.  It went GREAT!  First of all, I'd like to say that, as advertised, this game IS Intense.  I've seen people give the game flack for having such a pretentious statement on the cover but it ain't prententious when it's the truth.

Observations:

I started out calling this a Sorcerer & Sword game but I think the tone and nature of the game is definitely swinging back towards the core Sorcerer game.  I'm using many of the Sorcerer & Sword options and suggestions but the game has definitely lost a lot of the pulp feel I thought it would have.  

This bothers me not one iota.  The only REAL reason I conceived it as a Sorcerer & Sword game in the first place was that it was originally inspired by Ravenloft.  I was sitting there reading the Ravenloft setting and I thought to myself, "Wow, this would make a great Sorcerer game."  I sort of assumed that any such game would still play out in a similar manner with very determined heroes struggling against a Gothic world.  Sort of a Conan takes on Dracula feel.

I assumed this because I never in a million years thought I could get players to embrace and act in the OUTRAGESLY emotionally disturbed manner that befits the Gothic genre.  Boy, I was wrong.

Let's see, Karl is in the process of framing his son, his REAL son, for murder by preying on the town's superstitious and fearful nature.  Levant, the man with the undead bride, has already murdered one person to keep his demon's need sustained.  And Tich has forcibly taken the man that enslaved him and one of the Lord's daughters out into the woods that everyone is affraid to go into.

Needless to say, the game has ended up in a state I never imagined it would go.  This is a very exciting result.

At the very start of the game I gave each player a handout with a list facts that they would know concerning the NPCs and backstory just from living their normal lives.  One fear I had was that the players would treat these facts as 'plot hooks' and suddenly shift focus towards them.  This did not happen.  I was very pleased about that.

While the game was EXTREMELY exciting and rewarding to play, it exhausted me as a GM very quickly.  I asked to stop the session after only about two and a half hours of play.  Although, I felt like the exhaustion was similar to the kind of exhaustion one feels after working out.  I was exercising GMing skills and techniques I had either never used before or had lain dormant for a long time.

Concerning Humanity.  For those of you who may have not seen my other posts on this setting Humanity is defined as Emotional Sanity.  Over the course of the session there were about a half dozen or so Humanity checks made.  But one question did arrise that I hadn't considered before.  What actually counts as an 'action' when it comes to Humanity checks?  For example, Tich is in the process of toying with and mentally torturing the man who enslaved him.  I called for a Humanity check at the beginning this torturing process but now the game has moved onto an extended sequence of scenes all involving this toying process.  So, is there just one over all Humanity check for 'Torturing Torvak' or do we break it down, one check for draging Torvak out into the Woods everyone fears, one check for denying Torvak his chance for revenge, and so on and so on.

I think that covers the core of my thoughts on the experience.  Hope that was insightful.

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2002, 08:51:23 AM »

My only response can be:

Ahhhhhh!!

Followed by a slow, innocent smile.

Best,
Ron

P.S. Oops, one substantial comment to make. As far as the "graininess" of Humanity checks or gain rolls is concerned, I guess I have to say that it's a strict function of the group's sense of pacing. I suggest restricting Humanity rolls to definite changes of actions toward others, where "change" refers both to switching from (say) nice to nasty and to increasing or refining the (say) nastiness.
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jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2002, 12:15:04 PM »

Here's a bit of something interesting.  I have a LiveJournal account that I've been using mostly to just vent a lot of my periodic gaming angst and frustrations but I've also been using it to basically flesh out my thoughts concerning this scenario.  After today's post which is almost identical to the one I posted here, one of my friends posted this comment to it:

"So I have been reading your posts, and I find your approach to this game very interesting.

...

I find a strong analogy between Jazz and the way you are running this game, which I think, if the players are strong will really create a cool story."

This person is a non-gamer, well a non-RPGer, and I've never discussed an ounce of gaming theory with them before.  I found the independent conclusion very satisfying.

Jesse
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Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2002, 12:33:33 PM »

Hi everyone,

Since people know I hang here, I just wanna say, "thumbs up" on last night's game.

But, keeping in mind Ron's recomendation we get two sessions under our belt before doing any analyzing, I'll let that be it for now.

Is my guy gonna get away with venting his anger at his prodigal son by having the superstitious mob of villagers tear him apart for a murder he didn't commit? Will I have a change of heart?  Does my little-boy demon really love me as much as he seems to?  I really am looking foward to finding out!

Take care,
Christopher
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Christopher Kubasik
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Posts: 1153


« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2002, 05:53:18 PM »

Hi,

Actually Jesse, one question:

How many Bangs were there last night?

I figure Tich meeting the daughter on the steps, and the guy who arrived in the woods.  Maybe the lord visiting Karl.  Maybe the servent visiting Levant and offering his "services" in helping to hook him up with his lords wife.

But it dawned on me, reading the Jeffrey's posting of his actual play, when he mentioned Bangs -- I really wasn't aware of being Banged last night.  Hit me harder, next time, if you want to.

Take care,
Christopher
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2002, 07:46:36 PM »

Hello Christopher,

I have to admit that Bangs are one of my weaknesses.  The are two reasons for this.

1) As soon as I start thinking in terms of EVENTS, and then THIS happens type thinking, I start wanting them to go a certain way.  My inner railroad engineer still needs a good throttling every once and a while.

2) Outside of information based Bangs I'm still getting used to what's a quality bang and what's just a filler encounter.  That's what my Whither The Quest thread was all about.

For example, I'm already waffling about what to do to Tich, Torvak, and Elizabeth out in the woods there.  If I start next session with a pack of wild wolves coming down on them is that a good Bang?  or is that too random encounterish?  And if the key lies not in the fact that they are attacked but rather how I run the encounter (i.e. exactly how the attack affects the situation between the three) then how do I achieve the greatest effect?

Outside of that you pretty much nailed what the bangs were.  Although, meeting the daughter on the stairs of the tower was a bit of improv on my part.  I wanted to see if Tich's player was going for just revenge driven or real bastard.  It's now clear he's going for real bastard.

The Lord visiting you and making inquires about the murdered village girl was a preplaned bang because I knew that the thought that your son might be a murderer would have an interesting impact on that relationship regardless of whether you had chosen to accept or reject the return of your son.

So, yeah, given my style in general my early bangs tend to come in the form of information and I kind of wait to see how the players ACT on that information.  And then once there's some proactivity on the part of the players there's a much more forward event style reaction from me.

Things are still building at the moment.

Jesse
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Christopher Kubasik
Member

Posts: 1153


« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2002, 09:34:03 PM »

Hi Jesse,

Two things....

First, Tich is in a tricky place (story-wise) in part because Tich's player doesn't know what Tich wants -- and said exactly that as we walked to our cars... So, he's waffling a bit, and there's only so much you'll be able to do about that.

However, I think it's significant the clearest Bang in the game was, "a bit of improv on my part. I wanted to see if Tich's player was going for just revenge driven or real bastard. It's now clear he's going for real bastard. "

Note that you didn't have any preplanned nothing going on -- you wanted to find out what the character would do, which might be criteria you can use for building Bangs in the future.  Also, it was clear Humanity test along the line of the setting.

I really think you might think (worry?) less in terms of "story" for the Bangs, and approach them more with, "Geez, what if the ghost of Karl's wife showed up as the son was being dragged off to be burned?  What would Karl do?"  Like a kid playing with a doped up frog -- just to find out what would happen.

Take care,
Christopher
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"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield
Petter Sandelin
Member

Posts: 39


« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2002, 12:31:01 AM »

I really think you might think (worry?) less in terms of "story" for the Bangs, and approach them more with, "Geez, what if the ghost of Karl's wife showed up as the son was being dragged off to be burned? What would Karl do?" Like a kid playing with a doped up frog -- just to find out what would happen.

This is a very nice way to think about bangs.

Petter.
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Petter
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2002, 08:46:53 AM »

Hi Jesse,

I have a very basic question for you. Which NPC did you really, really enjoy playing? What happened in the scene in which that first became apparent to you?

Best,
Ron
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jburneko
Member

Posts: 1351


« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2002, 09:25:02 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

I have a very basic question for you. Which NPC did you really, really enjoy playing? What happened in the scene in which that first became apparent to you?


That's a very interesting question and a lot harder to answer than I thought.  This definitely relates to one of those GM muscles I'm not used to exercising.  I'm so used to NPCs serving some kind of game function that I'm not used to just sitting back and playing them out as real human beings or thematic characters.  It's suprisingly difficult to think in terms of 'ordinary' human goals and emotions such as simply being lonely and really having no other agenda outside of wishing for companionship.

So, I really enjoyed playing Karl's demon Brahm.  Right now, I'm playing Brahm as the stary-eyed eight year old who thinks the world of his 'father'.  He expresses extreme pleasure, delight and surprise at every gift Karl gives him.  When did I realize I enjoyed this?  When it gave me chills because inside I know it's so fake.  It's a demonic act.  To say such loving warm words and to feel so cold and hollow on the inside, is chilling.

I liked playing the Lady Rochelle Fenris but mostly because of a character quirk I gave her.  She enjoys mocking the behaviors of certain other characters by organizing chess pieces and making up suggestive stories about what's really going on, on the board.  I like the way she speaks in half-truths and subtle subtextual dialog.  I enjoy this because of the semi-paranoid effect it has on the players as they try and figure out what this woman is doing.  Is this a threat?  A plea for help?  Is she just insane?  

I think really those two stand out most clearly in my mind.  The others I thiink are still developing and I'm trying to circumvent several role-playing weaknesses on my part.  For example, Elizabeth, the kidnapped daughter, is a character I conceptually like a lot but right now I'm just playing her as whiny and weak which I don't like.  There's more to her than that but I don't know how to get that across.

Hope this answered your questions.

Jesse
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