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Author Topic: (Chthonian) Campaign Play  (Read 1841 times)
Zak Arntson
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« on: August 01, 2002, 06:00:08 PM »

Quote from: Bailywolf
Any thoughts on campaign structure? It seems brilliantly suited for one-shots....but what about something more long term? The TV model works pretty well (with source material abounding- Buffy, Angel, X-Files, Kolchack TNS, Melinium, The Others ect)- a group of characters (for whatever reason) have bizare, terrifying, and disturbing adventures every week, with certain threads which tie each "Season" together into a semi-coherent whole.

But campaign play calls into question such things as Advancement... any thoughts thereabouts?


Chthonian is designed to handle a specific scenario. There's the entire structure of Hook + Middle Stages (w/ Investigation & Mini-Bosses) + Final Stage (w/ Big Bad Boss). Threading them together shouldn't be too hard for that serial format.

As far as advancement goes, I haven't given it much thought. Rabidchyld asked about it, too, though so it tells me that people are going to think about it. My answer is simply to allow people to rewrite their Descriptors and juggle Skill Scores as they see fit.

I certainly don't want some kind of increase in effectiveness. A more skilled marksman is going to wind up shooting at tougher monsters, so it all balances out. The game isn't designed for an advancement = more effectiveness = tougher monsters to balance out the effectiveness style.

In fact, if a significant amount of time has progressed between adventures, make a whole new character so you can always go back and play as your younger, less experienced character.

I may be opinionated on this, but I'd love to hear alternate thoughts on Chthonian, its style of action/horror/occult/serial roleplaying and campaigns.
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Valamir
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2002, 07:44:36 PM »

Two words:  "Think Sequel"

Alot of the movies that inspired the game have sequels right?  Base your "campaign" around sequels.  Heck...it might not BE the characters who come back bigger and badder than ever...it might be the villains...

There might be a returning character or two...those characters may only be cameo appearances.  Maybe have something like RoS Insight that allows players to build a new character for the sequel.

In any event...campaign bad...sequels goooood.
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Bailywolf
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2002, 04:38:21 AM »

Well, the floating scores could be increased without hosing the basic dynamic all that much.  By slowly increasing Safety and Sanity, you make a character tougher, more stable, and able to burn more points w/o risking immediate pain... and you have to recover those Permenant losses somehow...

I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with an advancement system, so long as it enforces the game's core methods and themes and rewards actions in the spirit of the game...  One or two points of S&S per session seem in order...perhaps more if the characters are taking lots of Permenant damage.

Perhaps a currency system which draws advancement directly from the investigation/action/resolution scheme?  You Investigate, building a bank of Action Points.  In the Action phase, you can burn these to put the smack down on some unholy creature from beyond.  Perhaps then during the Action phase, another pool of points is generated which are used to determine advancement after the fact...  use them to buy off disorders (if they annoy you); heal damage; or at some steep ratio (like 5 to 1) improve S&S...  Could work, and it encourages a good investigation (to mak those Action points), and then it encourages as balls-out an action sequence as possible by rewarding successful action.  

Just riffing though... I don't seem to be batting that high on my suggestions this week...
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2002, 06:45:08 AM »

Hi there,

I'm thinking that "advancement" can work in Cthonian ... but not advancement of characters. Instead, think in terms of a reader's experience with a series of stories like Chambers' or Lovecraft's. Even if the stories are kind of disjointed and refer to different weird-ass Stuff Going On, the reader tends to put it all into a framework or unified-setting, on his own.

(This is how the Mythos was created - as a function of fandom and discussion of the stories, not as a foundation for writing them.)

So maybe the philosophy to apply is the construction of a Mythos within the course of a given series of Cthonian sessions. Characters can come and go (well, usually go, as in "go raving insane" or "go to hell"), but the knowledge gained lives on - either literally, in the form of notes or diaries or whatever, or more metaphysically, in the form of the content or nature of the threat to be encountered this time. This knowledge or framework becomes a metagame/rules issue of note, over time.

How this might work in terms of mechanics, I'm not saying. There are lots of interesting possibilities, some of which avoid character-effectiveness entirely.

Best,
Ron
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Blake Hutchins
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Posts: 614


« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2002, 09:19:18 AM »

Hey fellas,

I really like Ron's idea of continuity.  Makes sense, and it's an interesting challenge to set up an ongoing mystery regardless of the fate of the cast.

Best,

Blake
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Bailywolf
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2002, 10:01:11 AM »

Well, perhaps each player can keep a Journal.  The Journal can take any form from scribbeld notes to stories written based on the adventure to drawings (for the artisticly inclined).  The player earns Mythos points, and can invest them into the descriptions of the horrors his characters encounter.  If during a later adventure- even with different characters- that player sees a Parallel between a journal entry and the immediate situation, he can choose to burn the Mythos associated with that entry.  Once an entry has been used in three different stories (including the first) then it becomes Part of the Mythos of the game, and can't be burned for additional points.  Fresh new horrors must be added to the journal for the future.

Here is a possible example:

I am playing in this game Max Murdock (Suspended Cop- he fought junkies turned into fish-men by a strange green drug, and his boss gave him psychological leave when he told them about it).

Bleeding from the barbed spines of the man-rose outside, he stumbles into the greenhouse...huntched over a teracota pot in stained overalls is...the Gardener!  

"Why couldn't you stay away?  I warned you...warned you about the wrath of Xoxovos..."  

And the man...or not a man at all!  turns slowly, but wihtout moving his legs, twisting his torso a full 180...

"You must be tuaght to respect the Green King's will!"

Then his mouth hinges open, spliting at the corners as masses of slipery green vines squirm forth, tiny pink and purple flowers opening and closing like blinking eyes....



Max blazes away with his 9mm- to no effect!- and only manages to incenerate the gerdener by blowing up the greenhouse using the natural gas heating system.


Post adventure, the GM looks over our accomplishemnts and awards 3 Mythos points.

In my journal, I roughly sketch the Gardener spewing vines from his mouth, and write down "Xoxovos" and "The Green King" next to the sketch...adding little anatomical details for shits and giggles.  At the top of the page I write a "3" to indicate the number of Mythos points this represents.  I could have come up with three 1 page references, or 1 1 page reference, and 1 2 page reference, but I want this to be a major kick-up when I use it.


In a later story, I'm playing Silus Clelund (Good Old Boy Never Meaning No Harm).  The group encounters a crazed old moonshiner brewing up a true devil's brew... and when fighting his inbred goat-boys I need some extra kick...I thumb through my Journal, and declare I'm tapping "Xoxovos".  

I get 3 extra dice for the action, and the GM works this bit of Mythos into the story- the corn the devil's moonshine is brewed from grows in soil tainted by a fallen meterorite and cursed by demon worship in the 1700's...and the demon was Xoxovos...

I put a check on the top of this journal page indicating that it has been taped once.  One more tap and Xoxovox becomes a known quantity within the occult world of the game series, and no longer wirth the kick up.


You ever wonder why all those post-lovecraft Cuthulu Mythos stories always came out flat and sucky?  There you go...
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Zak Arntson
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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2002, 01:48:38 PM »

Bailywolf,
While a journal is a really cool idea, it's too much meta-game work for Chthonian. I may put this kind of neat idea in an appendix, or just leave it up for a possible Bailywolf minisup. While at another time in my life I would've grooved on writing journals and drawing and such, now I just need a good evening's worth of gory monsters and weird horror.

But! I really dig the idea of Players contributing to the mythos (I want to come up with a non-Lovecraftian word for "Mythos." Speaking of which, I may have to rename my game so as not to sound too much like CoC. But that's another thread). I may toy more with individual Author Stance stuff like this, possibly next time we play.

Which leads into Ron's post ...

---

Ron,
Man, you are awesomely awesome. Just when I think Chthonian's moving too far away from the Lovecraft, you mention one of the staples of that old weird fiction. The meat of a Serial vs. Campaign. Chthonian is definitely a Serial (like Valamir said, only "Sequel" is a little too laden with shared character and movie blockbuster implications).

As far as metagame stuff goes, I'm not sure how I would tie it in. It may just be a discussion on how to play (there will be a lot in the final Chthonian text on how to play/create scenarios/etc etc) using the Serial mindset.

Another option would be a shared resource among the Players. Descriptors that the Players create pre-/post-game on a single sheet, shared by all. Then you would increase Character effectiveness and Serial continuity by Burning these Serial Descriptors.

This could either be shared among the group or just by a single Player (who would share it between her various Characters).
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Bailywolf
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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2002, 02:41:09 PM »

Quote from: Zak Arntson
As far as metagame stuff goes, I'm not sure how I would tie it in. It may just be a discussion on how to play (there will be a lot in the final Chthonian text on how to play/create scenarios/etc etc) using the Serial mindset.

Another option would be a shared resource among the Players. Descriptors that the Players create pre-/post-game on a single sheet, shared by all. Then you would increase Character effectiveness and Serial continuity by Burning these Serial Descriptors.

This could either be shared among the group or just by a single Player (who would share it between her various Characters).



While I would love to write up a minisup for Cthonian, what you describe above (seriel descriptors) is basicly what I'm advocating...just kept in a different medium (whatever the player wants).  It allows the sort of occult name dropping Lovecraft indulged in...even if sometimes it was just red hearings.  

Another journal thing I forgot to mention is that players can swap journals if they want (and I imagine if they have similar point values)... getting a look at another madman's frenzied scribbled notes and all... introduces a bit of De Profundis (sp?) to the mix.  

But if you don't use the idea, I might just minisup it...


Oh, and while the word Mythos is associated strongly with Lovecraft (at least in geek circles), it just means the same thing as 'mythology'.  No infringment there.  

And I for one think Cthonian is entirely cool... if Pokthulu can fly...why not?
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Bailywolf
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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2002, 08:27:12 AM »

Any news?
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Zak Arntson
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2002, 09:30:05 AM »

Well, I'm gaming tonight with the new Skill changes. I may introduce the Serial descriptors for the whole group. I'm not sure how yet, though. I may just test the new Skills and explicit IIEE stuff.

I'll post the results in Actual Play and return to this thread with more thoughts on Serial gaming. Getting ready for a wedding (in Hawaii) is kicking my ass, so my output will be none until the middle of next week.

(anyone interested in a sneak preview of the Chthonian Playtest pdf, let me know via email. I'm not publically releasing it until I get the character sheets and demo adventure done, but I could send out the 350k file if you can't wait.)
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