[OctaNe] Almost there?

Started by gsoylent, September 17, 2008, 05:32:52 PM

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I've stripped as much of the background detail as possible from this Actual Play. This might make It might make the reading a little dry and not very OctaNe-like, but at least it will keep it short. The issue I had with the game, which I hope this account will illustrate, is a certain difficulty in breaking down the flow of the game into neat, discreet scenes and discreet conflicts resulting in a game that for large section just felt like free-forming.

In the opening sequence, the party are sneaking up on a guy who they noticed has been spying on their settlement for the past few days. After an initial moment of tension, party and spy settle down into a productive exchange of information. The party learn from the "spy" that there is a dangerous imposter within their community who has killed before and is likely to do so again. He is there to try and identify which member of the community is the impostor and take him back.

The scene ended with the players deciding to take it upon themselves to unmask the impostor. The scene worked well enough I guess, but as it never really lead up to any conflict there were no dice rolls, which means no narration rights for grabs or plot points earned.

The players then shift into ooc planning mode. I let this run for a while until I notice that, despite having already come up with half a dozen "viable" (by OctaNe standards) plans to unmask the impostor, they seem unable to commit to any one. That kind of worried me.

I interrupt the planning session with an explosion. I describe the loud boom and column of smoke coming from the settlement far below and then, with their assent, cut to them helping put out the fire. So there is a little bit of action, a little bit of talking to the NPCs from which the party get idea who the impostor might be (I had no idea myself who the impostors was at this stage either), but here is the thing, we along were just talking, describing stuff and generally going with the flow. Mentally I looking for ways to structure the scene more formally and bring conflicts to the fore, but it's just not happening.

Things get a bit better after that. The player finally commit rate hr cute plan to get the impostor to give himself up. We set up the scene  and then the player makes his stunt roll which succeeds and I can tell the player is quite pleased not just that his planned worked but that he got a say on how all the nuances of the plan worked. Following that the players decided to interrogate the impostor to find out if the guy he replaced is still alive and if so where to find him. Due to the hazard rating, the best party could get was partial narration rights, which resulted in a rather satisfactory final sequence for all.

All in all it wasn't a bad game, however I get the feeling I wasn't really playing OctaNe as intended.

Ron Edwards

I'll tell ya - I don't really enjoy playing octaNe. I think the text is a fabulous celebration of the source material. I'm not sure the game really flies, or perhaps, the way it flies isn't a way that I'm interested in.

Effectively, it's about who gets to say what happens. That ultimately doesn't interest me as a primary mechanic; it interests me as an integrated mechanic with things like the size of dice pools or the trade-off with another tactic.

So I'm either missing something, or the game isn't for me in a way that your experience seems not quite to have been for you.

Best, Ron

Ron Edwards

Ah! I knew there were some relevant resources from back in the day:
octaNe review
Forge review of octaNe (a discussion thread that followed the review)

Best, Ron


Point taken, I had read your review. I would say, as you mention, we've "drifted" into GM control = failure territory, which in many instance translates into Hazard rating getting upgraded. To be honest I think that is what the rulebook recommends doing, although, for such a small book, it's can be surprisingly contradictory and confusing.

We came to octaNe looking for a game flowed well and significantly empowered the players. Of late we've kind if been stuck in a rut between games in which the  GM carefully preps the adventure (as if anyone really had time do to that) and in which the party can't move on to the next chunk of the story until they guess what is on the GM's notes, and  games in which the GM mostly wings it, and in which the party can't move on to the next chunk of the story until the GM deems it dramatically appropriate. We muddle through and it's not a bad way of passing an evening among friends, but just feels as something is missing.

So we've been looking for another way to determine "when the party can move on to the next section of story" possibly giving the players a lot more say in what this next chunk actually consists of.

We tried a game called "Token Effort" by Greg Stolze with mixed results - the players were not to comfortable with the resource management aspect of the game. We had a lot of fun with a game system called Mythic but overall it was felt a little inelegant.

Overall we enjoyed octaNe, but the things that did worry me is how easily it slipped into free-form roleplaying which is a bit self-defeating as results in players not winning narration rights and not earning plot points.

So if anyone here has experience on how to bring octaNe scenes to some sort of decision points I'd be interested to hear from them.



Or to put my question in otehr terms, even if the game is mostly about passing the conch, you still need to get to a decision point, force a dice roll to pass the conch. And in the specifc game, that just did nto seems to happen very often. When it did it was good fun, but for the most part it was sort of like those games in which afterwads you boasted "And we did not touch the dice all night!"