Hunting the Boar (Agon)

Started by Aaron, February 26, 2008, 10:05:25 PM

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We had our second session on sunday of Agon where our heroes finished off the quest to collect the tusks of the golden boar of Ion.
The session started with the character having traced the boar to a mountain cave but having to cross a raging river to get across.  I couldn't believe how long it took them to cross and even then two hung back as one of them made the attempt.  We rolled some dice, the river vs might, and Praxis crossed easily describing a cinematic toss of his hair once he reached the other side.
It was strange having a contest that all the players needed to be involved in done in such a manner.  The other two characters did then attempt to cross.  As it was really all the same contest I didn't reroll the contest, just used the first result and had them roll against that.  As Praxis was first across I gave him the bonus glory for rolling the highest and an extra one just cause the others approached the challenge as such wimps!

They moved on up the trail where they were ambushed by ghosts of the boars previous victims, that John H for that idea!  It went quite well the only problem being when including this encounter I knew that one of the characters didnt have sufficient divine favour to bless his weapon, they had plenty of opportunity for refreshment but I suspected, correctly, fom the outset that they wouldn't take one.  I let him roll against lore to know that singing a calming tune would make them vulnerable to normal weapons.
What I hadn't counted on was one of the characters who did have sufficient divine favour also making the lore roll and opting to go the musical path instead of using divine weapon.  I muck up the singing bit by making them do it every round, no glory awards for success but no impairment for failure.  Afterwards I realized I should have just done it like a normal contest.
They got past the ghosts but one of them took a couple of wounds and looked pretty sick.  Still they couldn't agree on a  refreshment.  Two of them needed it badly and the third not at all.  They are so reluctant to use oaths and simply couldnt agree.  I tired to make them have a contest between themselves for leadership but this stalled as well.
It was the third time in two sessions that this had happened and was obviously a problem.
So they didnt rest and went in after the boar.  Sure enough two of the heroes were nearly defeated.  They would help each other trading oaths during the combat for positioning even though one character did suggest it at one time.
The player that wouldnt take the rest break often won positioning and he kept moving his "allies" into not only disadvantageous positioning but actually dangerous!  One character had taken 5 wounds, one more and he is out, he was two space away from the boar but could strike it with his sword due to his reach bonus.  The boar was currently at a penalty to hit due to the distance.  The player who one positioning moved the character one space closer to the boar.  The net result being the boar could now more easily score a final blow!  I though this game play was bordering on destructive!  It didnt make it any harder for the character to hit the boar just more likely he was taken out!   this really didnt go down to well.
But they did manage to defeat the boar and finally took three refreshments to heal up.  They didnt now how to remove the tusks however so made a lore test to remember the old hermit who might be able to help.  By now it was getting later in the afternoon so I though one final battle and we call it done.
He sent them after the Brass Serpent in the next valley. This battle went fine as no one was hampered entering it and the character romped all over the beastie.  They used its fangs to cut the tusks form the boar and they were done.

We had some laughs in the session and at one point whilst trying to encourage them to challenge each other for leadership etc one of the character said to me "Im glad you not a player"  Not really the reaction I was after!
So it was a fun session.  The oaths are a real problem as is making a decision on who's lead to follow.  I've been looking at some alternate rules for oaths and dice on the forums and think I might have to introduce a more structured system to encourage them to use them.  With the decision making I might have to just say, right decide now or roll dice!!


John Harper

Hey Aaron,

Interesting AP. Thanks for sharing it.

It does sound like the players are very reluctant to engage with the core parts of the game (risk, oaths, rivalry, seeking glory). This may be because they're warming up to the game slowly, or it could be that they don't want to play this game -- but instead of saying that, they're choosing to rebel in-game. I can't diagnose it from here, but it's probably something to discuss before you play again. Agon pretty much does one thing, and if the players aren't interested in that thing, rules tweaks probably won't be enough to win them over.

Assuming they do want to play, here are some things to try:

Hold off on calling for rolls and instead say what your NPCs do, and what happens when the heroes take action. Encourage the players to take action to reverse the stuff you said, or stop NPC actions, or whatever -- which is when the contest roll happens. You then choose the ability used for the roll, based on what's happening in the fiction.

Like, let's take the river. You say the heroes come to a raging river that looks dangerous to cross. What do they do? They get to decide. Maybe they come up with another way to get to their destination. Or maybe they choose to cross anyway. Either way, there are consequences, and you introduce them.

"We scout around for a less dangerous crossing."
"Okay, that takes a while, when you get to the cave, it's already dark."
"What? No way! We run and get there quickly."
"Okay, that sounds like Athletics..."
"Plus I want to use my knowledge of the area for an advantage here."
"Okay, let's do an Advantage contest first... Lore sounds right."


"Pfff. It's just a river. We wade across."
"The water is too much for you! You're swept away downstream and dragged into an underwater cave."
"What? No way! We hang on to rocks and pull ourselves across."
"Okay, sounds like Might. Let's make it an Obstacle contest so you'll make it across but risk some harm from being bashed against rocks."

In each case, the players have choices for how to act and respond to changing circumstances. They can accept what you say, or push for a different outcome, which means a contest roll. Same goes for you as the Antagonist. When the heroes do something, you can accept it or resist, initiating a contest. The key thing is that the fictional actions taken lead to what the contest will be, rather than determining the mechanic first. So you generally want to avoid stuff like, "You come to a river. You have to cross it with an Athletics roll now."

As you can see, the examples above show the heroes acting as a group. "We do this" and "We do that." But it sounds like your players are having trouble agreeing on what to do as a group. This is exactly what the Orate contest for leadership is for -- to cut out a bunch of player debate and cut to the chase. They may not be happy with the outcome, but that's pretty much the point. When a hero is disgruntled about the leadership of the group, he can offer oaths in exchange for being the leader, or burn more resources to win the Orate contest.

The key, though, is that the hero character is the one that's disgruntled. Not the player. If the players are unhappy with the leadership system and don't want to engage with it, that's a different problem that you have to address outside the game.

Hope that helps.
Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!