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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 36 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [City of Brass] Through Drama and Despair  (Read 1364 times)
angelfromanotherpin
Member

Posts: 135


« on: April 27, 2008, 08:10:41 PM »

So, today a whole bunch of my friends got together for Greek Orthodox Easter, and I roped a bunch of them into playing City of Brass, the game of a doomed expedition into darkest Africa.  The game is supposed to run essentially GMless, but the rules pdf is... confusingly organized, so I stood aside as a neutral figure to resolve disputes and walk people through the system parts.

We had a full 6 people, so all the roles were taken.  No consensus on a leader could be found, so the first vote was held, and with no mechanism for verifying it, the Explorer's decree that the Official was Leader was essentially law.  The Official promptly named the Explorer as Companion.

I expected to see a much greater resentment towards the leader, who takes an adversarial narrative role and 'mooches' Score from the other players, but everyone took it pretty much in stride.  The first real discontent in the group came when the players used the vote at the end of Act 1 to promote the Explorer to Leader... and he named the Official as Companion.  The corruption inherent in the system bothered some of the players more than was probably warranted, and a short fight series broke out, demanding that a different Companion be picked.  The fight cost a lot of attributes, but the two-man oligarchy remained unmoved.

When the Explorer and Official traded off roles again at the end of Act 2, there was a fresh wave of discontent, and the Guide played the card that attempts to elect the player as the Leader.  Due to a drawn vote (3 for, 3 against), the status quo was maintained.  It was fairly obvious that the Naturalist was siding with the entrenched duo, and tensions rose.  Before Act 3 was over, a new series of fights resulted in the Guide and the Naturalist killing each other.  At this point, the player of the Guide had to leave, and so the player of the Naturalist took both Tormentor 'slots.'  He immediately set himself to maximum opposition to the group.

The two casualties were immediately carved up and eaten by the ravenous group, who struggled against the Tormentor's new control of the game and were highly depleted by the end of Act 3, when the vote unseated the Official, and the Explorer broke the cycle and named the Priest as Companion.  With the Tormentor's ability to redirect threats to the Leader, the position of Leader was now seen as a much worse place.

At this point, I could see no way for the group to pass the Act 4 challenges, and offered to skip Act 4 so the players could face the final test in the city itself rather than perishing anticlimactically in the desert.  The group unanimously (if with varying degrees of enthusiasm) rejected this plan, preferring to Step On Up.  Indeed, the loss of two of  their number, and the difficulty of the end of Act 3 had forged a cooperative spirit in the group, and they forged on, succeeding well beyond my expectations.  The only break in this cooperation was the last obstacle, the Blazing Sun, which the Leader abandoned the Official to.  Nevertheless, the Official beat it and rejoined the group for the final act!

The 'test of worthiness' was problematic, because it was felt that the penalty for calling 'J'accuse' was too small, and so it was called each time to keep people honest.

The Priest won the Score, and converted the dwellers in the City of Brass to Christendom.  The Explorer, who had sought wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, was driven mad with greed and gave himself a fatal rupture trying to haul away the brass he was convinced was gold.  The Doctor, who had sought to find an isolated population to test his theories upon, was dragged off to be a lab animal by the strangely sophisticated natives of the City.  The Official, who had sought to colonize the city and make a nation with his name on it, broke his neck falling down the stairs from top of the highest ziggurat he had climbed to survey his new domain.
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-My real name is Jules

"Now that we know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine how many angels are dancing, at a given time, on the head of a given pin?"
"What if angels from another pin engaged them in melee combat?"
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2008, 06:51:24 AM »

Hi Jules,

Yay, City of Brass!

Here are a couple of older threads from our game sessions: [City of Brass] No cannibalism yet and [City of Brass] Two cannibals, no Nobility.

I'm writing to ask about your use of cards during play. Our suggestions were as follows, intended to be taken as a single-unit suggestion:

Quote
1. Permit abilities to be used whenever they are positive, without specifying that they must be fully restored-from-zero first.

2. Players may ask for resources from others at any time, without the requirement that the score in question must have just been reduced.

3. The number of successes should always be the number of cards drawn by the Leader, without any cap (the existing two-times one).

How did you guys handle the cards regarding these issues?

Also, I agree with you about the Test of Worthiness, although I'm pretty sure that implementing the changes above would make it a lot more interesting. What do you think?

Best, Ron
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angelfromanotherpin
Member

Posts: 135


« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2008, 06:35:24 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
1. Permit abilities to be used whenever they are positive, without specifying that they must be fully restored-from-zero first.

2. Players may ask for resources from others at any time, without the requirement that the score in question must have just been reduced.

3. The number of successes should always be the number of cards drawn by the Leader, without any cap (the existing two-times one).

How did you guys handle the cards regarding these issues?

1. I completely missed the 'must be fully restored' clause, so we were playing without it. 
2. Players tended not to have hands of any size, so asking for resources was very rare anyway.  It helped that everyone who got cards bitched and moaned about how useless their hands were, which was probably bluff, but effective as such.
3. I think it's a plus that small risks (low QP challenges) which include only small chances of punishment also only allow small chances of reward.  I'm not sure what the upside is to making them a better deal than they are.

Quote
Also, I agree with you about the Test of Worthiness, although I'm pretty sure that implementing the changes above would make it a lot more interesting. What do you think?

I'm not sure how the proposed changes would interact with the Test of Worthiness at all.  Maybe you see something I don't.  The issue I see is that if even one player decides that they won't vote for anyone else anyway (and given that voting is the privilege to benefit another player, it's not a big sacrifice in Gamist terms), that one player can verify all the ToW results at no risk.  The penalty for mistakenly calling 'j'accuse!' in the ToW has to be more meaningful, given that the cheater is putting his character's life on the line.
Logged

-My real name is Jules

"Now that we know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, how do we determine how many angels are dancing, at a given time, on the head of a given pin?"
"What if angels from another pin engaged them in melee combat?"
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