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Author Topic: Hmmm...how to run a demo  (Read 5450 times)
MonkeyWrench
Member

Posts: 160


« on: October 06, 2003, 02:46:44 PM »

I'll be running my first demo of a game in a couple of weeks and I was wondering if anyone has any pointers or tips for me.

It's been hard as hell finding people who want to play Riddle of Steel near where I live and so I decided to run a demo at my FLGS and see if anyone likes what they see. Hopefully I can find a few people interested in getting a game going. Unfortunatly I've run into a few hiccups....

1) How do you actually run a demo? Obviously TROS doesn't lend itself to modular type games and so how does one prepare for an adventure when he doesn't know the characters involved? pregens?

2) Does anyone have any examples of demos that either they themselves have ran or perhaps participated in?

Thanks.
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-Jim
Brian Leybourne
Member

Posts: 1793


« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2003, 03:04:02 PM »

There are quite a few older threads covering this if you have a search through the forum, but in a netshell I find the best way is:

* Closed scenario
* pre-gen characters
* lots of conflicting SA's
* An external conflict to get the blood pumping.

An example is the good old caravan scenario. The characters are guards, wagoneers, etc (pregen). They're miles from anywhere and have only themselves to rely on (closed scenario). Some of them hate each other, some of them may secretly love each others' wives and not know that the one whose wife they love knows about the affair. They may have religious differences. Etc etc (conflicting SA's). Finally, just as things are getting really heated and they're about to slaughter each other, a pack of bandits attacks the caravan (external conflict).

By the time the bandits (who seriously outnumber them) arrive, they'll have learned enough about SA's and how they work to fire off all the other not-conflicting with each other SA's that you have cleverly provided, and against the odd's they'll kick the bandit's butts. Curtain. Applause.

They'll love it.

I use basically this exact situation to start new campaigns, except I make sure the bandits kill them and then their actual campaign characters are friends, lovers, sons, etc of the slain caravaneers, gives them something to focus on right of the bat.

Have fun!

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
bleybourne@gmail.com

RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
MonkeyWrench
Member

Posts: 160


« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2003, 08:08:32 PM »

Brian -
I couldn't really find what I was looking for on the other threads, oh well....
I was going to fall back on the Caravan Guard scenario if I couldn't think of anything else. How has the Caravan scenario worked for you in the times you've used it?
 
I wanted to do something that involved a PC who is the target of an assassination and another PC who is the assassin. To keep them from killing each other they'd be close friends or something, maybe brothers. Other PC would be friends or relatives. I was hoping that after some intense roleplay they'd team up and find out who ordered the assassination. However I have the bad feeling it will end with the PCs all killing each other.
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-Jim
Brian Leybourne
Member

Posts: 1793


« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2003, 09:15:57 PM »

Who would hire an assassin to hill the assassin's brother or best friend though? :-)

Uh, well, I would have to say the caravan scenario has worked amazingly well for me, on the whole. The best one was one where I was determined to kill the characters off, but one of them Just. Wouldn't. Die. He used cover, concealment and really good tactics, and he redefined a couple of SA's on the fly (one of them passion for a girl the caravan was transporting), earned it up, sold it down to buy other stuff, earned it up again, etc. In the end, the dust settled and there was just this guy standing there, panting heavily (minus one hand, I think), with the bloody remains of his 3 companions and 16 bandits strewn around him.

He headed off to find a band of "Robin Hood" type outlaws he knew of (we decided) and the other players ended up making characters who he met in the outlaw camp and we carried on from there, with him keeping the pregen character. It was damn fricking cool.

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
bleybourne@gmail.com

RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2003, 11:21:08 AM »

Jake ran us through the Caravan demo at GenCon two years ago. Works amazingly well, IMO.

Interestingly, it's not because it's all that great a set up in specific terms - one could do as well in sort order with another set up. It's because the system ensures that the players will all collide in a fun way with what's going on.

So here's another set-up that follows Brian's general model. The characters are the important members of a Savaxen clan nestled in a deep fijord for the winter (closed scenario). Many have conflicting destinies, drives, and passions (have a PC/PC affair if there's a woman playing, or an open-mided guy) which comes to a head during the clan council meeting to determine next spring's raiding activity (Conflicting SAs). Just as family are considering drawing steel on each other, the clan from over the hill comes a viking for their cattle and women (external conflict).

See, it's not the particulars of the setup that are important. It's that you have characters who have problems with each other, who then have to make a decision to fight with or against their own side in the final conflict. The decisions made by the players relative to this are what make it garunteed fun.

BTW, this should take less than two hours, and maybe much less. Demo's should be punchy and short.

Mike
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bluegargantua
Member

Posts: 167


« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2003, 11:51:28 AM »

Quote from: Brian Leybourne

Uh, well, I would have to say the caravan scenario has worked amazingly well for me, on the whole. The best one was one where I was determined to kill the characters off, but one of them Just. Wouldn't. Die. He used cover, concealment and really good tactics, and he redefined a couple of SA's on the fly (one of them passion for a girl the caravan was transporting), earned it up, sold it down to buy other stuff, earned it up again, etc. In the end, the dust settled and there was just this guy standing there, panting heavily (minus one hand, I think), with the bloody remains of his 3 companions and 16 bandits strewn around him.


One of the things that I think would be very important in a demo of RoS is to give a clear picture of how useful and multi-functional SAs are.  The problem is that I don't have a clear understanding.  I belive Mr. Edwards has given a few examples on how players have manipulated SAs to incredible advantage (though buying up, selling, switching, etc.).

Can people point out threads with other really good examples of how SA's get used?  The rules suggest that it's easy to change the SA numbers, but I don't think they go far enough in explaining, "you can get SA's on the fly and use them on the fly and there's this neat feedback effect that you can really take advantage of to carve up the baddies".

Thanks
Tom
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Don't laugh, Larry would strike unseen from the shadows and Curly...well, Curly once toppled a dictatorship with the key from a Sardine tin.
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2003, 12:04:39 PM »

In the short run, there's nothing mysterious about it, Tom. You have SAs that give you dice in the situation. This makes you powerful. A pretty clear and easy to follow connection.

Longer term, depending on how the GM is with handing out SAs, you might want to buy down your SAs at some point in order to boost up some skills, and thence to have room to get more SA dice. By keeping the SAs related to the action when you buy them down to zero, you merely ensure that you'll regularly (perhaps always) have those extra dice.

There's no magic to it, just simply playing to the character's strengths.

Mike
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bluegargantua
Member

Posts: 167


« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2003, 06:11:49 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
In the short run, there's nothing mysterious about it, Tom. You have SAs that give you dice in the situation. This makes you powerful. A pretty clear and easy to follow connection.


I believe what gave me some confusion was how the SA's grow.  If, for example, you had a Drive "Kill Baron Zemo", I orginally thought that it would only grow if you killed/seriously injured Zemo.  Ron gave an example where just getting into a fight and taking swings was sufficient to cause an instant boost to that SA.  In my original understanding, only major achievements would cause the increase, but apprently much smaller efforts can yield improvement.

I understand how you can use the SA's, I was just a little fuzzy on how quickly you can rack 'em up and blow through 'em.

later
Tom
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The Three Stooges ran better black ops.

Don't laugh, Larry would strike unseen from the shadows and Curly...well, Curly once toppled a dictatorship with the key from a Sardine tin.
MonkeyWrench
Member

Posts: 160


« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2003, 09:43:08 PM »

Quote from: bluegargantua
I understand how you can use the SA's, I was just a little fuzzy on how quickly you can rack 'em up and blow through 'em.


I always thought that was up to the Seneschal. Some may like a game to progress rather quickly and so they will hand out SAs more frequently, others might not.

Of course pages 66-68 detail the conditions in which you always gain SAs.


Quote from: Brian Leybourne
Who would hire an assassin to hill the assassin's brother or best friend though? :-)


I'm not real sure. The setting I envisioned running the scenario in was a sort of Machivallian Italy or perhaps the Seat of the Empire. It seems there would be alot of opportunities for backstabbing, political maneuvering, and intique. Of course part of the problem is that the scenario hinges on the fact that the assassin doesn't know who he's hired to kill until the last minute, not very convincing or believable.

I think I may go with the Caravan Guard scenario and if I need to run a second game that day using the Dueling Bridge scenario to run some scorching duels.
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-Jim
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2003, 05:46:29 AM »

Quote
Quote from: MonkeyWrench
Quote from: bluegargantua
I understand how you can use the SA's, I was just a little fuzzy on how quickly you can rack 'em up and blow through 'em.


I always thought that was up to the Seneschal. Some may like a game to progress rather quickly and so they will hand out SAs more frequently, others might not.

Yeah, basically there are a lot of us here who advocate handing out SAs faster than the text would indicate. Less realistic in terms of speed of development, and tailored more towards drama. It takes the current engine and ups the horsepower a bit.

This is sometimes referred to as the candy approach. That is, the GM hands SAs out like candy constantly to players doing interesting things that involve their SAs. So, in the case of the Baron, just deciding to attack him is enough. That is, you'd still get the SA bonus for other conflicts with the Baron, but deciding to heighten the conflict could be worth an SA. This provides contrast between smaller and more intense conflicts, and encourages escallation (assuming that you work on that model - a GM can have whatever standards he likes).

It's interesting that in many games things take forever to develop, the idea being to keep the plot on a realistic pace. But often that's not very dramatic. Often it's just more fun to skip to the most interresting parts. In any case, you can use SA bonuses to reward a pace that you think is appropriate. So, in a game like TROS, where the option to go to combat is a dire one, rewards like this can both get a player to go into combat, and help them survive it.

This is so much cooler than other games that make combat easy to join, but don't have good reasons for characters to do so, and further have few tools to get players to adress anything other than combat. TROS makes combat a climactic and dramatic event. Much like the entertainment media that it emulates.

Mike
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MonkeyWrench
Member

Posts: 160


« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2003, 10:02:21 AM »

I like handing SAs out rather quickly myself. It makes for some great game sessions even though the overall "campaigns" don't usually last very long.

I also find that it's good to hand out SAs like candy if you're running a game and there is only one player. The game I'm running off and on now has just one player in it and his character is sort of a lone wolf/jack of all trades guy and he usually needs all the help he can get.
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-Jim
MonkeyWrench
Member

Posts: 160


« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2003, 02:16:44 PM »

I hate to double post like this, but I have another question.

When running the demo obviously I'm going to be dealing with alot of different roleplaying/gaming styles. So my question is how do I encourage internal conflict solely by having conflicting SAs?

My concern is that because it is a demo that some people will only be concerned with fighting and testing out the combat system. I'd rather not run a game where the players sit around and wait to be attacked. If thats the case I'll just run duels all day, but that sells the game short so to speak.

How do I envolve players who I don't know? Or am I worrying about something that probably won't be that big of a deal?
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-Jim
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