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Author Topic: Storypunk: The Whole Shebang?  (Read 4893 times)
Jonathan Walton

Posts: 1309

« on: March 09, 2003, 11:18:07 AM »

Okay, I think I'm finally moving towards pulling all this together into one cohesive form.  If you want to look at the steps leading up to this (where Storypunk's been sketched out using systems like Torchbearer and Universalis), just search for "Storypunk" or it's earlier incarnation as "Quixote & Coyote."  However, this is the form it's currently taking, which is probably the one I'll end up publishing (some time this summer, hopefully).

I'm going to call the currency of the game "stones," but I might come up with a specific name for it later.  Suggestions are welcome.

Quote from: an earlier thread
Character Creation

You are... you.  The characters in Storypunk start out as merely being avatars of the players.  My character starts out being a bloke named Jonathan Walton, a Junior EAS Major at Oberlin College, etc.  However, this avatar distinction is important, because it's essential to the immersion of Storypunk (as opposed to the "everyone's-a-GM" play style of Universalis).

Characters are quantified in two distinct ways, by the Duties they have as part of the Troupe, and by the Themes they're trying to express with their own performances.

The Troupe

Together, all the character make up a Troupe of Troubadors.  A Troupe combines elements of the traditional party system with aspects of family and a buisness arrangement.  You don't necessarily have to like all the other members of your Troupe.  Imagine "The Real World," except without the pretentiousness.  Wait, nevermind.  The pretentiousness is there too...

In any case, the Troupe has banded together because it's the only way you all can get what you want: to travel through the infinite streams of Story, becoming personally involved in 1001 tales, each more fabulous than the last.  Like Roger Daltrey sings, you are "trying to find the answer to 50 million fables."


Within the Troupe, each character has a specific role to fill.  After all, when the Troupe commandeers a story, it takes a great deal of work to keep the story from collapsing completely, since hacking into it causes severe damage to the story itself.  There are many different kinds of Duties that characters could take on themselves, but they can be divided to several general categories:

 -- Administrator (Admin): This kind of Duty is mostly meta-story (though not meta-game, since it happens in-character) and involves organizing the Troubadors in order to make things work, facilitating discussions, resolving disputes, and the like.  Some Troupes have a Player King who handles all administrative functions (like an IC GM), but often these are split up into seperate responsibilties that various members share.

-- Genius Loci (Loki): A Loki takes on responsibilities relating to setting, place, environment, and the like.  While other Troubadors might be actors in the story, Lokis take over components of the story world itself, becomine castle walls, storms, gentle spring rain, and mountain ranges.  Again, this can be a unified position, or one split into components.

-- Protagonist (Protag): Protags are the prima donnas of the Storypunk work, always used to having all the attention focused on themselves.  While there are professional Protags, most Troupes have a rotating position that changes with each tale they hack into.  After all, the limelight can be blinding.

-- Supporting Role (Oscar): Oscars are the bread & butter of stories, lesser characters that support the Protag in one way or another, even by killing the role they've assumed.  In more non-traditional stories, there might not even be a Protag, just a bunch of Oscars that take turns having a brief stint in the sun.  Usually, every member of a Troupe has to pull Oscar Duty at some point, but most specilize in particular types, such as princesses, tragic companions, or little green men from Mars.

-- Nemesis: Nemeses are often more egocentric that professional Protags, but it's often part of their job description to cackle madly and make claims of world domination.  In all honesty, a Nemesis is just a particularly nasty sort of Protag who makes no effort to be heroic or shine in the spotlight.  Some Troupes have individuals who specialize in villainy, but just as often the Duty rotates through those who are willing to shoulder it.

-- Master of Disposable Goons (Ninja): Anytime a Troupe needs someone to represent a faceless mass of people, be it a mob, or a goblin horde, or a ninja clan, or an opposing army, or a room full of dancers, or anything else... they call on the resident Ninja.  Often this Duty is given to a single individual, but it can be divided, especially in Troupes where mass combat or complex social intrigue is the norm.

-- Tracker/Ender: These two are really just specialized Admins.  A Tracker is the one who paves the way to the next story the group assumes control of.  They "set the scene" as it were, with some intial description before Deployment happens and the Troupe assumes their Duties.  The Ender is the inverse, declaring when a particular tale has run its course, and signaling to the Tracker that it's time to find a new story.  Occasionally, this position is combined, but it is often split, sometimes into two rotating positions.

-- Understudy: What it sounds like.  Often times, important positions (or Troubadors with many critical Duties) will have one or two Understudies who can jump in and cover their Duties in case they get taken out in the middle of a story.

More Duty types may develop as I get the material ready for playtesting.  Suggestions are welcome.

NOTE: Some of the following material has been posted before, but has been heavily updated.  The rest is new.


Though your character starts out merely as an avatar of yourself, this changes over time, as the character takes on various Duties and becomes one with various elements of various stories.  After you've BEEN Hamlet, or Ahab, or Long John Silver, you're not quite the same person as you were before.  Eventually, your character becomes "you + every role you've ever been," in a hodge-podge of self and other.

How do you measure this?  By developing Themes that run throughout your work and the roles you've taken.  Some might be associated with your Duties (an Ender might choose "Tradgedy" for instance, and try to cut things off with a sufficiently sad but romantic conclusion), but that's not necessarily the case.  A Loki could just as easily pick a theme like "Rage" and introduce storms, earthquakes, and blood rains with frightening regularity.

Themes are rated by their strength on a scale of 1-7.  If a Theme manages to rise above 7, it becomes an Essential Theme, a permanent part of the Troubador's identity.  You can develop up to 7 Themes at a time, intending to turn them into Essential Themes or just playing around with them to see if they're interesting enough to pursue further.

For a Theme to be raised, it must be expressed in a given story to the satisfaction of at least a majority of the Troupe.  Then, the player can pay 3 stones to raise the Theme 1 level.  Likewise, if a character wants to start a new Theme, s/he should describe the new Theme to the Troupe, check for nodding heads and knowing smiles, and then pay 3 stones for the first level.

For merely 1 stone, characters are allowed to "sustain" Themes without actually raising them.  This doesn't require the other players approval, but the character must at least satisfy themselves, that they have supported the Theme in a given story.  Sustaining often takes place at the end of a given story, before the Tracker breaks new ground, because...

Themes that are not raised or sustained in a given story drop a level before the next tale begins.

The Currency System

Each player begins a specific story with 7 stones.  Seven seems to be the magic number of Storypunk.

Unlike Universalis, it costs nothing to create or control story elements.  Any player has the ability to control anything and everything in the story, automatically, and it is only the social contract set up by Duties that prevents massive chaos.  There is a standard rotation where each player is asked, in turn, if they want to provide something to the ongoing narrative (usually by fulfilling their Duty in some way, but they could break with that and do something else if they wanted, dealing with the bad feelings and fallout afterward).  Often times, players may be inclined to "pass" (which they can signal just by tapping on the table) to allow extended conversations/interactions to occur between story components and characters.  However, Protag's or other focus components should not assume that everyone is going to "tap out," and the rotation should always be followed, because it forces players to carefully choose their actions and words, and not to drag out things unnecessarily.

The stones come into play only during conflicts.  If St. George is trying to slay the dragon, for instance, or Merlin wants to make the rainstorm cease.  In this case, there are two different resolution methods that are suggested (to be chosen as the Troupe wills):

1. Open Bid: the players involved in the conflict take turns bidding stones until one player concedes or runs out of stones.

2. Blind Bid: the players involved secretly divide their stones between their two closed hands.  Then, on the count of 3, they open one to reveal a number of stones (including 0 stones).  In the case of a matching number, neither side gains a distinct advantage.

Using either method, the stones that were bid are combined and redistributed to the group, starting with the player directly following the winner and proceeding in the rotation, giving one stone to each player in order (including any involved in the conflict) until there are none left.

Then, play continues as normal.

Notice that players with 0 or small numbers of stones can always be beaten by those with large numbers, but that the stones keep changing hands in a way such that (hopefully, since I haven't playtested it yet) everyone will eventually get a chance to shine.

Two possibilities I'm considering:

a) Allowing Players to Bid on a Conflict that Doesn't Involve Them, choosing to support one side or another.

b) "FitM," though the only Fortune involved is in the uncertainty of Blind Bidding, and that's not really even Fortune in the traditional sense.  This would involved the combatants declaring what they wanted to have occur before the bidding began (which would better allow Option A, above, since others might have stake in a known possible outcome).

What This Means

Stones don't ever really get "spent" unless they're used for strengthening or sustaining Themes.  This means that as Themes get expressed in the story, the potential for conflict lessens as people have less stones to throw around.  Hopefully, this'll have the tendency to drive the stories towards resolution, at which point the Ender can call "cut" and move on.

Storypunk, in my mind, is intended to tell Children's-Book-length stories that take between 30-60 minutes.  A single session would consist of 3-10 of these stories, strung together by the Themes that they express.

In the "downtime" between stories, the Troupe will be encouraged to discuss the social contract and Duties.  What worked?  What didn't work?  What would you like to change?  Etc.  So the actual mechanics of interaction continually develop over the course of a single session.  In a long-term campaign, the Troupe could even get experimental, trying different kinds of Duty-arrangements to see what works best, what's the most fun, or what is the most appropriate for certain kinds of stories.

Basically, Storypunk is intended to be a game that develops as you play it.  Whether or not this actualy works... that's another issue.  I'm planning to try to playtest the game today at a local convention, and, assuming that happens, I may have some tweaks to add later this week.

In the meantime, I'm very interested in what people think about the viability and specific details about how this might play out.

Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 10459

« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2003, 06:37:20 AM »

How do you know when something is a conflict, and when it's just narration? If I am the Protag, and have the main character chase a crook across the street, is there some "Crossing the Street Conflict"? Even if it's empty? What if it's got lots of high speed traffic? How do we know?

Can anyone call something a Conclict? Or is there some position that does this? Or is there some mechanical means by which we know?


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Jonathan Walton

Posts: 1309

« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2003, 07:58:06 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
How do you know when something is a conflict, and when it's just narration?

Conflicts take place between story elements controlled by different players, and only when the players decide there is a conflict.  For example...

If I am the Protag, and have the main character chase a crook across the street, is there some "Crossing the Street Conflict"? Even if it's empty? What if it's got lots of high speed traffic? How do we know?

You ask the character who's playing the street.  If the Protag declares they're going to cross the street, there's only a conflict if A) the role of the street has been given to a specific character/player, and B) that player wants to make it difficult for the Protag to cross.  That's what a challange is.  There are no challanges if nobody wants to make a conflict of it.

Of course, it could be that, as soon as the street is mentioned, one player decides to take over the street and causing an 18-wheeler to come barrelling along, starting a conflict.  That's totally legit.  And then if the Protag wants to dodge, you have a conflict.  But if the Protag's player is fine with the Protag getting creamed by a truck, there's no conflict there either.  You only have conflicts when you try to resist the actions of another player/character.

On another note...

I did actually get to playtest the game yesterday and got a ton of great feedback from the players.  I'm going to post a thread up in Actual Play and link it to this thread, as soon as I find time to write it up.


Shreyas Sampat

Posts: 970

« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2003, 02:18:41 PM »

I really like this idea of Themes... but what do they do?

The way I read your description, it seems as if you've made the Themes into a way of 'keeping score', tracking what you've recently done.  This is cool, if that's what you intended.  

But... is it?  I have some thoughts, but I'll reserve them for until you clarify.

Jonathan Walton

Posts: 1309

« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2003, 06:26:45 PM »

Themes are probably going to undergo some serious revisions, thanks to some of the player input I got during and after my playtest game.  Y'know, I was going to start an Actual Play thread about the playtest, but I might as well just put the info here and then link to it.  That way we can focus on how to use the playtest to see what needs to be changed.  So here's how it went down:

The Playtest

So, all in all, I had 7 people participating in my playtest (including myself, because there's no GM), but Rafe came in late and Lee and Chloe left after the first half, so the number fluctuated a bit.  We only got to play through one story, which didn't really showcase the real cool thing about Storypunk (i.e. that it develops as you play it), but that's one of the problems I'm going to address below.

We decided that we wanted "evil fairy tales" as the genre for our set of stories and then brainstomed duties and themes based on the kinds of things we wanted to appear in them.

Here's what we got (name -- duties -- themes):

Chloe -- Talking Animals, Evil Siblings, The Mentor -- Love Conquers All, Betrayal
Lee -- Tracker, Familial Villains, Strange Coincidences -- Death of Victim, Traitorous Minions
Kim -- Protag 1, Seer/Mage, Ender -- "Spider-man Theme"
Joanna -- Non-Familial Villains, Sidekick, Castle -- Influence of Others, Confusion/Humor
Tom -- Protag 2, Magic Objects -- Good Over Evil, Simplicity
Rafe -- Proud Ruler (the King), Talking Animals -- Hubris
Jonathan -- Enchanted Forest, Victims, Minions, Admin -- Don't Mess With Magic, Treachery

You can see that some of them started out grokking the original concept of Themes more than others.  I think it may have been the way I explained it and the examples I gave.

Anyway, I pass out tokens, explain how conflicts are resolved, and the Lee starts us off.

The Story: Part 1

There's these two princes, one good, one bad.  The bad one is older and in line to inherit the throne.  The bad one is also the favorite of the boys' evil uncle, while the younger was the favorite of their father the king's late wife, sister to the evil uncle.

Lee did an amazing job setting us up and playing the evil uncle, but had a hard time letting the story go for others to play with.  I had to cut her off and say "Now you have to stop being the Tracker and let us ALL take control of the story together."  I did this as the Admin and not by challanging her with any tokens, which could have been another way to do it.

Lee (evil uncle) handed me (the minion) an umbrella to hold, so I gave it to Tom (protag 2, the good prince).  Angry, she (evil uncle) gave Chloe (evil sibling) a magic ring.  Tom (good prince) took the umbrella out into the garden (which Joanna, as the Castle, described) to ask Kim (the seer/gardener) about it.  She said it was a normal umbrella.

Later that night, I (minion) met secretly with Tom (good prince) to show him a secret passageway to the enchanted forest.  However, Lee interrupted by having the evil uncle appear in the secret passageway, carrying a freshly-picked basket of magic fungi.  Then, Rafe wanted to have the King appear as well, though Lee wanted him out of it, so we had our first conflict.  It got resolved when they both agreed that the King would just walk past, as if nothing much was the matter, though they bid tokens up to a stalemate (at 2 a piece) before they resolved things, so I redistributed those 4 stones.

Before heading back to bed, Lee (evil uncle) gives Tom (good prince) a bag of "healing herbs" to help with his father's obvious insomnia.  Tom takes them straight to Kim (the seer/gardener) who identifies them as poison.  Tom then takes them straight to Rafe (the King), who responds by having the guards (who we drafted Kim to play) seize the evil uncle and banish him to the enchanted forest.  Afterwards, Chloe (the evil prince), who was a fellow conspirator, uses the magic ring to zap at Tom (good prince) and Rafe (the king).  Kim (seer) causes the good prince's umbrella to fire a countering beam that negates the ring and turns the evil sibling into bronze.  We had another conflict her to figure out what happened to the evil sibling, but Chloe had to leave so we finally decided on bronzing him.

Angered by the death of the evil prince, Rafe (the king) banishes Tom (good prince) as well, but both Kim (seer) and I (minion) agree to accompany him into the enchanted forest.

Reflections on Part 1

After part 1, Chloe and Lee both had to leave, but their characters were dead and/or banished, so it was okay.  Rafe, who had arrived late, took on Chloe's "Talking Animals" Duty, since we knew we'd be finding some in the enchanted forest.

Overall, the story in part 1 flowed very well, but there were a couple of issues:

1. People Weren't Making Any Conflicts, which I suppose makes sense near the beginning of a story, but was a little disappointing.
2. Some People Didn't Add Much, like poor Joanna playing the Castle or Kim moonlighting as the Seer/Guards, and Tom, even though he was the protagonist, kept pretty quiet.

The Story: Part 2

I'll try to summerize the rest of the game, since I have a paper to write tonight.

Now, the scene needed to be re-set now that we were beginning the second part of our story, but our Tracker was gone.  So I stepped in, using my authority as the enchanted forest to describe the travelers arriving at the edge of the wood.

Soon enough, they heard cries of help coming from me (the helpless victim), in this case, a fairy maiden who was tied to a post with brambles and about to be eaten by a pack of giant blood-red wolves.  The travelers approached this scene and Rafe (as talking animals) got the wolves to growl at them tell them to go away.  Tom (good prince)  blasted one of the wolves with his umbrella and turned it into bronze.  Rafe then had the other wolves run away, saying that they were going to get Kazaa, the king of the forest.

They untied the fairy maiden, but then Rafe had Kazaa show up as this huge, hairy neanderthal who liked to eat people.  Rafe also claimed dibs on playing him because Kazaa was the "king" of the forest and therefor under his domain.  The travelers decided to run away, but Kazaa sicked the rest of the wolves on them.

At this point, I was wondering when our story was going to stop being silly and become dark, so I had the fairy maiden break off 8 of her fingers (all except the thumbs) and throw them behind her, so the wolves would chase after the scent and eat them instead of following the group.  People gave me disgusted frowns, but didn't challange it.

Joanna (who had taken over the minion, since it had become a sidekick) climbed a tree to try to escape Kazaa himself, but when Kazaa broke off some tree branches, the spirit of the enchanted forest (me) confronted him and ordered him to leave and return to the world of men.  So Kazaa took his wolves and left, going off to sack the kingdom.

The Story: Part 3

At this point, the group collectively decided that they wanted 10 years to pass.  So it did.  Rafe described Kazaa's rules over the kingdom, where he killed anyone he didn't like and ate a beautiful maiden every night.  I spent some tokens to alter his description by adding that, now, there were only 3 maidens left and it was time to Kazaa to collect one of them.

This led to a neat scene where the wolves come to find a mass of villagers gathered with pitchforks around the 3rd-to-last beautiful maiden in the kingdom.  The return to get Kazaa, who rides out in force, scares the villagers away, and prepares to eat the maiden right then and there. However, Joanna, who'd been pretty quiet, spends some tokens to have a dark wizard appear on the sidelines, who rains down lightning and kills all of Kazaa's wolves (which Rafe resists at first, but many of us spend tokens on Jo's side to kill off Kazaa's wolves, making him eventually give in).

The wizard convinced Kazaa to team up with him and go find more kingdoms to look and maidens to eat, but then Kazaa eats this maiden anyway before accompanying the wizard back to the castle.

Then I spend more tokens to have a day pass and for Kazaa to eat the 2nd-to-last maiden, so there was only one beautiful woman left in the entire kingdom.  Also, Kim or Joanna spent tokens to have the evil wizard use his magic powers to carve a path through the enchanted forest, so his armies could march on a neighboring kingdom.  In response, the enchanted forest called on the prince, seer, and minion/sidekick to stop this destruction.

Kim spent tokens to have the group have found a large, mysterious egg in the forest, which was about to hatch (she originally wanted a dragon, but the group outbid her and talked her down to a large egg).

To summerize further, the group gets to the castle, detemines that the evil wizard has the last maiden locked in (what else but) the tallest tower.  Tom (good prince) decides to climb up the outside of the castle with the minion and giant egg strapped to his back.  Kim (the seer) decides that she can levitate, and does so.  In the topmost room, someone spent points to make the princess there a cardboard cutout, not the real one.

At this point, the egg hatched, and there was a massive bidding war/argument over what should be inside.  My suggestion of "a Jabberwock" ended up trumping everyone else's.

After this conflict, Rafe spent tokens to have the king appear out of a secret passage, saying that he'd been hiding out ever since Kazaa's reign of terror started.  Rafe also decided that the real princess was in (where else but) the deepest dungeon and that Kazaa was about to eat her.  So, Tom (good prince) raced off to save her.

At this point, choas kinda ensued as our time was running out and various people started making suggestions about how the story should end, which had to be battled out with tokens.  After all the conversation, it still wasn't clear who had won or what the determined outcome was to be, so I just decided we'd take it a step at a time.

1. Tom (good prince) killed Rafe (Kazaa).
2. I (the last victim princess) turned out to be Me (2-fingered fairly maiden) indisguise, who'd some to help the good prince.
3. In the final battle, seer, king, and minion all died fighting the wizard (who, after much tokening, was revealed to be the evil uncle, though posessed by a demon).
4. Tom (good prince) killed Joanna (evil wizard), with the umbrella.
5. Rafe (as the Jabberwock?!) ended up killing Tom, to give the story a dark ending.  Rafe justified his control over the Jabberwock similar to his justification for Kazaa, that the Jabberwock was lord of the forest.

In the end, the enchanted forest reclaimed the tatter remnants of the mortal world, growing over the castle where the Jabberwock would rule over the dark enchanted creatures for the rest of eternity.

Kim, the ender, called "the end."

Reflections and Responses

Whew!  It was a long game.  We started around 7, Chloe and Lee left at 8, and we weren't done until 9:15!  And I was expecting stories to run 30min to an hour!  One idea me and Rafe had was to have specified time limits for stories, and the ender would automatically shut them off after 30-45 minutes, even if they weren't over.  You also wouldn't necessarily have to start at the very beginning, since the idea is that you are "hacking into" stories.  You could hack into the middle, play for 30 minutes, and then jump to another story, without finishing the first one.

Another problem with the open-endedness, people said, was that they had no idea where the story was going, which meant they had to have little bidding wars every now and then to determine the direction of things.  Several people suggested that a story framework be layed out in the beginning, something that could be later deviated from, but something that people could work off of.

Rafe suggested getting rid of Duties entirely, which was a major suggestion, but one I'm seriously considering.  He was put in several situations where he was supposed to talk to himself (like the relationship between Kazaa and his wolves) and he suggested having roles/duties on cards that could be passed off in the case that you wanted interaction between two of your roles.  As a replacement, you could have a Theme like "Kings" or "Minions," which would encourage you to take those roles repeatedly, instead of having assigned Duties persay.

As for Themes, we really didn't see their original use come into play, since we only got through a single story.  Some people (Chloe, Tom, Rafe, myself) did pay the 3 tokens to support Themes, but that only seemed to create a draught of tokens near the climax, when everyone wanted a piece of the action.

One thing we did determine is that the mechanics work best when people are constantly spending tokens instead of hoarding them.  I think Mike and Ralph have said similar things about Universalis in the past.

Also, the it wasn't fully clear to the players just what they had to spend tokens for.  Did making a suggestion require a token?  Did interrupting another player?  Did adding something to the general flow of narrative?  So I think those rules are going to be more specified as I make revisions.

But all in all, that was the playtest.  I look forward to hearing other people's reactions and responses.

Mark Johnson

Posts: 238

« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2003, 03:01:51 AM »

I really like the sound of Storypunk, but I do have one concern:

Are you sure that 30-60 minutes is sufficient for what you are doing?  I know a few games out there have been designed with that kind of time limit in mind (Soap jumps to mind).  But honestly most games that I have been in don't really get into gear until about an hour in.  Your style of play may differ enough that it is possible.


Are you satisfied with your duties terminology?  I would think if the terms more evoked a group of troubadors it would better capture the flavor you want to instill.  Director (admin),  prop master (loci),  extras (ninja)... etc.  I know... kind of pretensious, not very punk.  But fun.

Anyway, looking forward to seeing more!

Jonathan Walton

Posts: 1309

« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2003, 08:20:02 AM »

To answer some questions:

Quote from: four willows weeping
I really like this idea of Themes... but what do they do?

The way I read your description, it seems as if you've made the Themes into a way of 'keeping score', tracking what you've recently done.

Well, sorta.  The original concept behind Themes is that they'd serve as a sign of what individual players/characters wanted to get out of the entire experience.  Duties might be things you may or may not be happy with taking responbility for, but Themes were entirely of your own choosing.  By selecting certain Themes, you could almost make sure that the stories contained those things.

Also, the idea was for the Themes you supported to affect your character as the game progressed.  After a while, you would "become" your Themes, a creature of habit (since Themes are basically just habits of story).  I'd be really interested in any ideas you had for reinforcing these ideas, or any alternate interpretations you might have, because the existing system isn't really effective at what it's supposed to do.

Quote from: Mark Johnson
Are you sure that 30-60 minutes is sufficient for what you are doing? ...But honestly most games that I have been in don't really get into gear until about an hour in.

And, if you'll look back at the playtest, you'll see that was the case here as well.  It took a full hour for people to get used to the system and the flow of story.  However, I think that if, as Rafe suggested, we start a story by brainstorming a basic structure, it'll be easier to go in and play a 30-60 minute chunk of it.  The problem was, I think, having to build the story up from scratch without knowing where it was going.  If we eliminated the need to start at the very beginning and eliminated the feeling of complete open-endedness, I don't think 30-60 minutes is too short to get some serious narrative going.

Also, after people see very potential-filled stories cut off because of the time limit, it might encourage them to be quicker and more deliberate with the next one.  But we'll have to see, as I continue to playtest this thing.

Are you satisfied with your duties terminology?  I would think if the terms more evoked a group of troubadors it would better capture the flavor you want to instill.

Well, when I described the Duties to the playtesters, I used theatrical language (extras, supporting characters, leads, etc.), but when they wanted examples for extras, I brought up hordes of ninjas and they instantly connected with the idea, so...

As for finding the right flavor, I think literary terms might be even more appropriate that theatrical ones, but as long as I find a group of terms that's evocative and consistent, I think I'll be happy.


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