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Author Topic: Art-Deco Melodrama, part 2  (Read 23059 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: October 30, 2001, 07:07:00 AM »

All right then.

This post is about what I'd think (or DO think, really) about the characters prior to going into the first session. I will also post about my OWN work prior to play, both before the character creation and afterwards, but this will come later.

So, about the characters. (Creators, leave your egos at the door. This is the stuff I never show real players.)

Cyril's Price is invalid. This is "DNPC"-think from Champions, the idea that a person you care about is automatically going to be a hassle and distraction during play. It's especially obvious in that Cyril is supposed to love Jenny very much but not want to be with her. Pretty easy to jettison, eh?

It's not even a Price in rules terms, which by definition is a sphere of activity in which the character takes a 1-die penalty. At this point, I say, "Time to chat with the player and fix this mess."

Cyril has an excellent demon, with a great Need. No problems there. No problem with the Kicker either (mental note: "Tobias Hapgood").

Eroch has a great Price, a great demon Need, a great Kicker ... pretty much no problems, especially with that weird-ass building involved too. Cool. All this makes up nicely for the clean living + self-esteem + lone adept descriptors, which on their own are a tad boring.

I told Paul I'd like to set Pazuzu's Desire, and looking at the other demons (which are frankly quite mean and nasty), I decide to "soften" Pazuzu's unpleasant Need with a rather sympathetic desire for Knowledge.

Richie's Price is invalid as well: "Control emotions?" What's that? I've have to demand a sphere of activity that low emotional control DAMAGES. Richie's Kicker, also, is kind of hackneyed - old Dad Vader is back in town, apparently, and that story can usually only go one of two ways. Either I take pains to make the dad sympathetic after all (thus invalidating the player's whole character concept, which I won't do), or I resign myself to having an NPC who exists simply to be beaten up.

All three characters have a very similar problem - the players have treated sorcery per se as a bad Marvel power. "I was walking down the street, I got bonked on the head, and then discovered I had acquired super powers!" The Sorcerer equivalent is the mysterious stranger who teaches and then leaves (how convenient), and no "feel" or personal commitment between the character writeup and the material regarding Lore. The Lore section on the backs of the sheets would be suspiciously blank.

I'd have to talk to the players about that a bit. Eroch's architecture can be tied directly to his sorcery, if the player likes. Richie's coven, in particular, needs to be defined and set up in an interesting way (I have an idea about that ...)

Connections among the characters: Richie and Eroch get drugs from the same source. How does Cyril connect with either? Damn. Another thing to talk to the player about.

So NPCs include: Jenny, Tobias Hapgood, Chema de Pauvan, a German psychotherapist, Richie's mom (who the player has told me is still around), and Richie's dad (if indeed it's him).

Places of interest include Cyril's club and Eroch's building.

Okay, enough on that. Next post, all about me and my musings even before all this character stuff started. Then after THAT, I'll combine the two.

Best,
Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2001, 10:04:00 AM »

 This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-10-30 17:37 ]
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jburneko
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« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2001, 10:16:00 AM »

I'm posting this only for the sake of clearity.  I think you've mistaken Jenny, who is ASSOCIATED with the price for the price itself.  Cyril's Price is: Jumpy (-1 die penalty to all social rolls).  Jenny is just the most direct consequence of that.

Also what happened to to my demon being related to Tor's demon in the connections section?

Other than that I think your observations are interesting.  Especially the Superhero observation.  What exactly is your advice for getting around this problem?  It seems to be a natural consequence of those who like to play Solitary Adepts or Naifs.  The former are those who have long lost contact with other sorcerers and the later are Sorcerer's by accident.  And both of these are by far the most popular choices at least in my limited experience.

You mention the "shadowy master" who shows up and then disappears.  I bring this up because I'm genuinely curious and not because I'm trying to be defensive.  My original master background had been that the guy saved my life, introduced me to sorcerery and then just one day vanished without a trace.  You're reaction was that this was weak and now you claim here that it is convenient.  Originally I didn't see it that way.

Where my mind was going was a justification for Cyril's price: jumpy.  Okay, so this guys shows up out of no where, introduces Cyril to the dark arts and then just disappears.  But WHY?  And where did he go?  Is he still alive?  Worse, is he coming back?  It didn't feel convenient it felt creepy.  I was laying bare something for the GM to do their worst with.  Maybe my master was really somekind of demon?  Maybe my master was wanted by some other group of Sorcerers and will someday come after me.  Who knows?  It was something for the GM to play maliciously with.  Cliche, maybe, but not convenient.

This is compared with the revised version in which my master and I were both gamblers and eventually the town just got two small for the both of us and I just got up and left.  Sure, it's a little more proactive on my part and perhaps shows an insight into Cyril's character but the possibilities seem much more narrow.  The best we can hope for is that my former master would come looking for me for some reason.  But why should he?  He's a gambler and I'm no longer crowding his turff.  Good riddence.

So, really I don't see how the latter is better than the former.  Again, I'm just being curious, not defensive.

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2001, 01:46:00 PM »

Jesse,

We're talking about GM-thoughts that are not negotiated by players. They may be unfair, misinformed, not interpreting things right, or forgetting details. Since they are private (in reality), that's just the way it is.

For instance, in cutting & pasting everything about Cyril, I totally missed the Price itself. [You are right, it's valid.] Since I was UNAWARE that I'd missed it, it could not be corrected until I went to that player and said NICELY, "Hey, I didn't see the Price," when I'd be corrected. And that's how I'd handled it.

However, we're in my head now - and it's not fair to anyone in there, I'm not nice about things in there, and the way I scribble notes about what to do has not yet gone through a social filter that's going to get good results.

Same goes for the sorcerous mentor issue. I like the new Kicker better than the old one, and that counts for a lot. That doesn't mean, when I look at the correlated change in the sorcerery-mentor back-story, it is not going to aggravate me in some way.

The whole point is that it's a POSITIVE aggravation. The new Kicker is so good that it's totally worth it. So now I say, "H'm, how can I do this back-story justice, when it doesn't offer me certain things?" I've already had a good correction from the player (the Kicker). I don't want to ask again. It's now on ME, and if I don't let myself spew a few sparks about it, privately, then the creative challenge isn't going to yield anything.

Remember the point of this exercise. The hood is off. One of the things that goes on in there is a much less mediated, much less friendly, much less "keep things smooth" atmosphere. I know you're not being defensive - the answer to your curiosity is, "Now is the time when I am not being fair," in both the ancient and modern senses of the word.

A lot happens between this stage and the first run. Fairness (again, in both senses) comes back into things during that return-to-players phase.

Best,
Ron


[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-10-30 16:50 ]
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jburneko
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2001, 02:14:00 PM »

Hmmm... interesting.  I understand that we're taking a walk around inside your head (Ron Edwards RAW :smile:).  I was simply asking the tour guide some questions about what I was seeing.  But in some cases it seems you'd prefer if we held our questions until the end.  I'm cool with that.

Jesse
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2001, 02:51:00 PM »

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Paul Czege
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« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2001, 07:22:00 AM »

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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2001, 08:36:00 AM »

Hi Paul!

"In the book, what's Hilda's motive for killing Tony after
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2001, 09:38:00 AM »

Hi there,

This is my final prep post to show what I'd have ready for our initial run.

STUFF TO PUT ON A HANDOUT ABOUT THE SETTING
I am a handout fanatic. The first one might include ...

Lots of atmospheric cool stuff about the city

Material about the casino hotels, as well as about the big new insectoid building going up. This portion establishes for SURE that something very screwy is happening regarding Van Graysloke's shady real estate dealings.

Drugs have been dry for a while, but there's a new shipment coming in.

Some names: Martin Beck, along with a bunch of others like the mayor and so on. Perhaps individualize the sheets for this part, so that different players get different information and NPC lists.

Absolutely nothing topical - remember this is mid-20th-century as the movies would have us believe.

It might be fun to comb through some Call of Cthulhu or other game material to find pictures of the NPCs in the map. Maybe even some black-and-white period photos? If so, avoid known actors or celebrities.

THINKING ABOUT THE PLAYERS
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2001, 11:41:00 AM »

Paul - may be a worry wart and have a complex about whether what's he doing is OK, maybe descending into during-play monologues to psychologize his character without announcing an action

Whaaaaaaat!!! Okay...I'm totally pouting and not talking to you anymore.

Scott, defend me. Scott? Danielle, register for the Forge and defend me.

Dammit.

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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2001, 12:01:00 PM »

I'm gonna fire my bouncer. He was specifically told to strip the three principals' egos from them during this exercise, prior to their entry into my private head-space.

Comments on the scenario preparation? Please?

Best,
Ron
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2001, 12:19:00 PM »

Is this going to go into "...& Soul"? I'm a bit confused.
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
jburneko
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« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2001, 02:30:00 PM »

Well Ron, personally, I'm just oogling in awe.  To fully comprehend what I'm looking at I'm going to have to sit down and map it out for myself.  I'm not very good with verbal descriptions of relationship maps.  But off the cuff the best I can do is offer my initial thoughts.

1) Your bouncer has sufficiently de-egoized me.  But I do have one comment about your 'concerns' about me.  Did you determine the possible tendency for me to fall into 'investigative' mode from the character I created alone or because of what you know of me as a person?  I ask only because you're dead on. I even worry about my games falling into this mode when I *GM*.  

2) I have to go with Paul in that I'm amazed about the more abstract issues such as how sorcery is linked back in time.  I admit that I have NO IDEA how to bring these things into actual play and ANY elaboration on this would be welcome even if it just comes into the form of, "Well, if the players truly are interesting in authoring the story then I expect things like X, Y and Z to result from these elements."  What exactly DOES the Sorcerous Technicallity do story-wise other than just add color, flavor and uniformity?

3) I have to admit that most of my own relationship maps/backstory endevors suffer from what I've come to call the, "And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you medling kids!" syndrom.  That is, the backstory is COMPLETE, in that those who were involved in any crimes, injustices or moral attrocities have reached a point of stasis.  The darkness is in their past and they wish nothing more than to forget it ever happened.  But then some medling PC happens to start digging for whatever reason and unearthing this seething cess pool.  The idea being that these crimes, injustices and moral attrocities are lying their unresolved and it's up to the PC to decide what to do about it.  This unfortnately results in basically having NPCs that can do only one of two things: resort to violence and try to stop the PC from diging too deep or go into utter denile mode and try to lock the PC out.  Not very interesting.

So all this self absorbed rambling was to say I'm very impressed with your ability to slice a story very neatly in half.  You have just enough backstory to really understand what's going on but yet it's still in motion so that when the PCs arrive they're sucked up into a rushing river rather than stiring up a still pond.

4) Source material.  I'm impressed with both your ability to start with a kernal of someone else's idea and make it your own as well as your ability to drop the novel's plot.  For some reason this technique just doesn't work for me.  Not only do I seem to have a great deal of trouble altering some one else's work to fit my own needs, I have a great deal of trouble forgetting the actual events of the novel.  I feel arrogant messing with these things.  I read published novels with a sort of wide-eyed sense of wonder at how everything just fits so nicely into place and I end up having this feeling that if one single element is distrubed this carefully crafted masterpiece will crumble.  Something I should probably get over but impressive on your part none the less.

5) This is more of a side note but you make references to the "Cyberpunk Mode" and the "Cthulhu Mode".  I know the "Cthulhu Mode" but what's the "Cyberpunk Mode"?

I think that about summarizes it.  These are just the thoughts that go through my head as I read this.  Once I've gone over it all more carefully I think I'll have something slightly more constructive to say.

Jesse
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joshua neff
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« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2001, 02:43:00 PM »

I have to give a big "me, too!". I also have the tendency to run Scooby-esque stories (stuff I talked about up in Actual Play). Seeing the developmental process for the relationship map scenario was enlightening. I'm feeling a surge of creativity & freedom.
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--josh

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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2001, 02:46:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-10-31 12:38, Ron Edwards wrote:
STUFF TO PUT ON A HANDOUT ABOUT THE SETTING
I am a handout fanatic. The first one might include ...


A specific question on this one, that can be applied to the process in general:  How much time (effort?) are you going to spend putting these handouts together?  If not as an absolute number, maybe as a proportion of your overall prep time?

(Let me confess - Part of my agenda here at the Forge is to get more quality RPG time for less overall time invested/spent.  But this seems a valid question in the overall "how you prepare a game" consideration . . . )

Gordon
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