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Author Topic: Question about Bangs, looking for opinions.  (Read 5023 times)
Ayrizale
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« on: August 23, 2002, 09:29:34 AM »

Hello,

I am about to get into running a new game and I would like to give Kickers/Bangs a try.  But I'm still not sure that I fully understand the difference between a good bang and a bad bang.  So I'm looking for opinions from people regarding the subject.

First question, how many bangs should I prepare ahead of time?  Right now, I've got about a dozen semi-generic bangs that I could drop into the story at any time and in any order, for the most part.  Should I aim for more, or do I have enough?  (Planning for a session of about 3 or 4 hours at most.)

Second question, in your experience with bangs, how much is too much information for a bang?  Some of the ones that I have written up are fairly generic (i.e., One of the PCs is targeted by a pick pocket.)  Others are quite a bit more detailed (i.e., There is a large explosion nearby which was caused by an agent of one of the PC's enemies sabotaging a deal between two other groups.)  The later contains quite a bit of setting and backstory linkage and even offers the opportunity for the players to gather evidence against one of their enemies.  It seems a fine line between initiating the action in the players and influencing the direction of their actions.  Most of what I have is a simple event, a large explosion, with more information at *my* disposal in case the PCs choose to investigate.

Anyway, as I said, I'm looking for opinions from people that have used bangs in the past.  Did they work for you?  If so, what level of detail and information did you put into them prior to play?  How many did you use in the average session?  (And I guess it would help to know how long the "average" session was for you.)

Thanks in advance,

Lael
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Uncle Dark
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« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2002, 10:07:53 AM »

Lael,

I generally plan two or three character-specific bangs per evening, and a few "generic" bangs, just in case.  Remember that a kicker is, effectively, the first bang for a character, and character-specific bangs should flow from the character's kicker (at least initially).

As a game goes on, the bangs will get less generic, as they become responses to what the characters have done.  For instance, in a Sorcerer game I ran recently, one bang involved meeting an NPC in the house of a murdered friend.  A later bang invovled that same NPC undoing the plans of the PCs because of how they treated him in the first bang.

As far as information goes, every bang should have some information attatched to it, but I don't think any bang should be a download.  Bangs get characters moving and players thinking.  Too much information leads to a sort of intellectual digestive torpor, where players stop acting for a bit while they process.

At the same time, bangs should be connected to the story.  Truly generic bangs, like your pickpocket example, just detract from the game, forcing players to expend effort on something unrelated.  An example of what I mean by a "generic" bang: I was running Everway, and the city was gearing up to a major festival.  A few bangs revolved around changes in the behavior of citizens related to the festival.

Hope some of that helps.

Lon
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2002, 10:08:58 AM »

Hi Lael,

In the past, when I developed some formalized ideas about Bangs, my sessions were between two and three hours. Now they're somewhat longer.

I think that a dozen Bangs is a fine number to go in with, along with the willingness (a) to alter them, (b) not to use them, and (c) to use them in nearly any order.

I do think you might consider the difference between a Bang and simply presenting perceptions/events. A Bang provides an instance for a decision, even if it's as simple as "fight or flee," and usually I'd recommend a slightly more nuanced decision. One option that should not be available in a Bang is "ignore it," which frankly, the pickpocket example might be (unless there's more there which you're not telling us).

Also, a Bang which "might provide information if they decide to follow up" ought to be pretty accessible to that followup. In other words, don't expect a complex chain of reasoning or association to occur in your players' heads in order for that followup to be rewarded. (One easy example to illustrate what I mean is that, whenever the characters in my superhero games capture a henchman, he spills his guts instantly - no interrogations necessary.)

I hope some of that helps ... Clinton and Jesse are really good Bang-dispensers, so if they chime in, whatever they say might be better and more helpful than I am.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2002, 10:47:16 AM »

As far as the information content of bangs, a mix seems good to me. Some Bangs are as little as: "Bob arrives." Others may be very complex indeed. The thing with the low info Bangs is that there is often a lot of unstated material. For example, if Bob had been thought dead by the group, and one of the character's was his wife, and had remarried since, this is a really powerful Bang. We all know why, but we don't have to write out why. It's encoded in the definition of Bob, and his wife, etc. If the PCs have no idea who Bob is, then it's not a bang, Bob is just color at the bar.

So you don't need a lot of information, but there should be considerable subtext to the Bang. The "why it's important to the characters" part.

Mike
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Ayrizale
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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2002, 10:57:03 AM »

Cool.  Thanks for all of the responses.  Now I need to go back over what I've written and take these ideas into account.

Thanks again,

Lael
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