*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
November 28, 2014, 04:16:08 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 29 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [IaWA]  (Read 1880 times)
Yokiboy
Member

Posts: 364


WWW
« on: November 14, 2008, 07:08:08 AM »

Hey,

I have a couple of questions for experienced In a Wicked Age... players.

1) How long does the Oracle part and creation of characters take you on average? That is, how long does it take before you actually dive in and play?

2) Have you found that you get faster with experience, or does it still take about the same time as your first few sessions?

3) Any tips for speeding up this process for the slow pokes around us (yup, that would be me and my group)?

4) Do you frequently have PC vs PC Best Interests in your games? (My own two chapters have sadly featured exclusively NPC vs PC Best Interests.)

5) What is your ratio of returning characters? Do you find that your players buy-in their characters in each chapter if they can, or is it mostly just the one returning PC?

TTFN,

Yoki
Logged

Yokiboy
Member

Posts: 364


WWW
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2008, 07:11:31 AM »

Darn... I meant to have a more descriptive subject, but can't edit it after the fact.
Logged

Brand_Robins
Member

Posts: 650


WWW
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2008, 12:37:22 PM »


1) Depends on the group, but usually less than 30 minutes. Some of the folks I play with a very high context, and so it takes longer, and some folks are pretty low context, and so we can go so fast that the GM is always scrambling and trying to get down NPC forms before everyone starts yelling at him.

2) It gets faster with experience, mostly around the defining and setting of best interests. Not hugely faster, mind you, but a little faster. (Mostly it gets better, rather than faster.)

3) I dunno, what's your current process look like?

4) We usually end up with PCs with best interests that obliquely oppose other PC best interests. Like, we don't have a lot of "I need to kill the head of the temple" where the head of the temple is a PC, but we do have "steal the holy scepter from the temple" where the head of the temple is a PC.

5) Depends a lot on the player. Mo, for example, has almost all of her characters return a lot. My characters almost never return. Coincidentally (ha) Mo only really starts to get big buy-in on a second or third recurrence of a character, where I often buy-in best with a new character I can ride hard and leave dead. Others in the group fall kinda evenly between. I have noticed a slight tendency for most of the folks that aren't me to make one or two of their characters "their PC" and to play other characters more like NPCs -- with some buy in, but not the same focus on their recurring characters.
Logged

- Brand Robins
Yokiboy
Member

Posts: 364


WWW
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2008, 12:37:36 PM »

Thanks for the reply Brand.

1) Depends on the group, but usually less than 30 minutes. Some of the folks I play with a very high context, and so it takes longer, and some folks are pretty low context, and so we can go so fast that the GM is always scrambling and trying to get down NPC forms before everyone starts yelling at him.
Okay, I think my problem, as IaWA GM, is that I'm the high context guy at our table. The start of our second Chapter had me at a total loss, I just couldn't get out of the starting gates before everyone else where done with their characters.

2) It gets faster with experience, mostly around the defining and setting of best interests. Not hugely faster, mind you, but a little faster. (Mostly it gets better, rather than faster.)
Better sounds good, and I can see why.

3) I dunno, what's your current process look like?
We follow the flow of the book. We start with chosing the Oracle, which goes quickly, then we define the four individual elements. I think this is where I actually start getting stressed out as GM, I can't write fast enough or something. The character brainstorming is great, but again, as GM I spend all my time writing and listing ideas that I'm sort of detached from the actual process.

Then when we select our characters, the players go first, and I'm left with whatever characters they seem connected to, or we as a group are interested in. I feel very confident with defining the Forms, takes seconds, and picking names, the description is basically just copied, but still takes a few moments to write down.

Now I seem to go fuss over the Particular Strengths, and as I try to record all of them along with cool descriptions, effects and the attached game bits, my stress starts mounting. I should probably just leave most of them blank, and make them up during play when or if needed.

Now sometime during the Particular Strengths process, my players complete their characters and want to get on with Best Interests. Now this throws me for a loop again. I have to put aside fussing over my NPCs, and be the first one to come up with two cool Best Interests for one of my NPCs, and both should be direct attacks at PCs, preferably in a Form where they're weak.

I think the reason I'm confused when we start describing Best Interests is that I hardly know who the PCs are at this point. I don't know what Forms they're best, or worst, at. Not knowing what they want yet, i.e. their Best Interests, I also feel like my first two Best Interests usually come out lame. Like, "He wants you dead" kind of lame.

4) We usually end up with PCs with best interests that obliquely oppose other PC best interests. Like, we don't have a lot of "I need to kill the head of the temple" where the head of the temple is a PC, but we do have "steal the holy scepter from the temple" where the head of the temple is a PC.
Sounds great! We don't even have that. We have three PCs that are in the same story, but only connected through the antagonists.

5) Depends a lot on the player. Mo, for example, has almost all of her characters return a lot. My characters almost never return. Coincidentally (ha) Mo only really starts to get big buy-in on a second or third recurrence of a character, where I often buy-in best with a new character I can ride hard and leave dead. Others in the group fall kinda evenly between. I have noticed a slight tendency for most of the folks that aren't me to make one or two of their characters "their PC" and to play other characters more like NPCs -- with some buy in, but not the same focus on their recurring characters.
Very interesting reply Brand. This is what excited me about the game (well, the S&S genre too). I have a player who loves to run PCs into the ground, and quickly loses interests and wants another one, while the other two players are more into slow build-ups and retaining their PCs.

Thanks again for the replies. I hope to hear from some more IaWA players eventually.
Logged

lumpley
Administrator
Member
*
Posts: 3656


WWW
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2008, 01:06:39 PM »

If particular strengths are slowing you down, just don't make any. Nothing says your npcs have to have particular strengths.

Once your players have created several particular strengths, you can start giving those to your npcs, if any of them really need one.

You can also make up a batch of commonsense "standard" particular strengths outside of play, if you want. I'd wait until you've gotten a couple of sessions in, so they're tonally appropriate.

But most importantly, don't hang yourself up. Not every npc needs a particular strength, and it's perfectly fine if NO npcs have one.

-Vincent

Logged
Brand_Robins
Member

Posts: 650


WWW
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2008, 05:22:28 PM »

I think the reason I'm confused when we start describing Best Interests is that I hardly know who the PCs are at this point. I don't know what Forms they're best, or worst, at. Not knowing what they want yet, i.e. their Best Interests, I also feel like my first two Best Interests usually come out lame. Like, "He wants you dead" kind of lame.

Vincent is cooler than me about Particular Strengths, so I won't repeat.

About this, it made me look a little more at what I do. When I make BIs for NPCs I often don't make a huge reference to Forms. I think it may tell you to in the book, but honestly, for me it doesn't help. I mean, I might be all like "oh, I need to hit his With Love and Directly cause he sucks there" -- but when it actually comes into play the scene is different than we thought it would be and the PC isn't resisting with With Love or Directly at all.

Instead, what I do is hit up the library of tropes and types stored in the back of my brain, and let my thinky-box find a generic type that kinda matches up against what the PCs are doing with their BIs. So if we've got a Conan type who is starting on BIs like "kill the king" and "find a second I can trust" then I'm going to need the scheming king (who will try to avoid letting Conan-type use his Directly With Violence, natch), a weakling prince who has great but untapped potential (will Conan-type trust him, or despise him?), another hard-case bandit who seems like a good second but is really a snake in the grass, and... yea.

Truth is a lot of my NPCs BIs tend to be a little generic, at least at first (or until they show up later as PCs or whatever). "Keep my throne" "prove my worth to my dad" "wench and drink" and such get used a lot. Many, many NPCs only become viable as dynamic characters once they've had a throw down or two with PCs. That way they get rounded out in play, and I just need the barest thumbnail to hand on during prep.
Logged

- Brand Robins
Yokiboy
Member

Posts: 364


WWW
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2008, 04:23:01 AM »

Truth is a lot of my NPCs BIs tend to be a little generic, at least at first (or until they show up later as PCs or whatever). "Keep my throne" "prove my worth to my dad" "wench and drink" and such get used a lot. Many, many NPCs only become viable as dynamic characters once they've had a throw down or two with PCs. That way they get rounded out in play, and I just need the barest thumbnail to hand on during prep.
Great advice guys, I especially like this part on Best Interests, but trust me, I'll be skipping Particular Strengths the next time I feel the least bit flustered.
Logged

GreatWolf
Member

Posts: 1157

designer of Dirty Secrets


WWW
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2008, 02:30:41 PM »

Now sometime during the Particular Strengths process, my players complete their characters and want to get on with Best Interests. Now this throws me for a loop again. I have to put aside fussing over my NPCs, and be the first one to come up with two cool Best Interests for one of my NPCs, and both should be direct attacks at PCs, preferably in a Form where they're weak.

I think the reason I'm confused when we start describing Best Interests is that I hardly know who the PCs are at this point. I don't know what Forms they're best, or worst, at. Not knowing what they want yet, i.e. their Best Interests, I also feel like my first two Best Interests usually come out lame. Like, "He wants you dead" kind of lame.

Generally speaking, I don't bother to challenge the PCs where they are weak, dice-wise. Just move with the fiction. Also, remember that Best Interests are about creating situation. So, when you say, "It's in so-and-so's Best Interest to do this thing", you don't need to justify it. Instead, you're making it so. So, you have the sorcerous queen and the barbarian hero, right? Now, you say, "It is in the Queen's Best Interest to fall in love with the Hero."

An important point about Best Interests: these are best understood as operating on the author level. The characters don't need to be aware of these things; you're just stating a fact about the situation that you just made up. It's now a true statement.

Additionally, you don't necessarily need to know the rationale behind the Best Interest yourself. Remember: a Best Interest is simply a true statement about the situation that you and your fellow players know.  Sometimes, just make up something crazy and then see what happens. When someone asks for justification, just shrug and say, "It is a wicked age...." Then, during play, see what happens when those weird loose ends start rubbing up against other things. Use them as inspiration to guide your actions in play. And see what happens.

Also, remember that straight-ahead obvious Best Interests are fine. To quote Play Unsafe, just "be obvious". "It is in the Queen's best interest to kill the Hero" is a totally valid Best Interest. Makes sense, it's simple, and everyone understands it.

Part of the key here is that each individual Chapter of IaWA doesn't have to bring the awesome. Some of them might seem ho-hum at the time. It's the synergy between Chapters that brings the awesome.

Check out this thread: The care and feeding of emergent campaigns We're kicking around some ideas inspired by my group's current run of IaWA. In particular, notice Ralph's comments about how IaWA is like Universalis play:

Quote
I think a campaign of IaWA (at least how we've played it) follows very closely the way a session of Universalis goes.  Initially there's lots of random stuff getting invented and thrown together and there's a joy in seeing all this stuff get jumbled up.  Then at some point people's inherent story-sense kicks in and it becomes natural to start taking all these disparate pieces and finding ways to tie them together.

This concept applies both in Chapter prep and in ongoing campaign play. You're early in your campaign, so you're still inventing random stuff. (Or, as I've called it elsewhere, "throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks".) This is fine! Just keep on making up stuff, but keep an eye open for elements that you "recognize". "Hey, I'll bet that old woman used to be the Queen!" or "Hey, I think the baby that they're smuggling out of the city is the Hero!"

That's when IaWA starts firing on all cylinders. You'll start seeing patterns in previous Chapters that were completely obscure at the time, but now make a heady sort of sense. There will be plenty of new revelations or (better yet) deeper understanding of past events. "That means that the Hero and the Queen were actually lovers! And the Queen is also the Hero's mother...and the Hero is the father!"

And why not, right? After all, it is a wicked age.

Hopefully this should reduce the pressure to have something amazingly cool right now. Just work with the system and watch for opportunities to reincorporate. Gradually, the larger picture will emerge.


Your
Logged

Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
producing Legends of Alyria, Dirty Secrets, A Flower for Mara
coming soon: Showdown
jburneko
Member

Posts: 1429


« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2008, 03:13:02 PM »

Seth speaks wisdom.  Of played entire games where I had characters do stuff that "just felt right" and I still don't know *why* they did that stuff.

More on the idea that Best Interests are at the author level.  It's entirely possible that the fiction ends up in a state such that the original Best Interests make no sense.  That's fine.  Don't write new Best Interests, just play from the current state of the fiction.

It's also entirely possible that a character never sees, realizes or has the opportunity to act on his Best Interests.  That's fine to.  Just play from the fiction.

Best Interests are jumping off points and indicators of end points.  But they aren't the plot.

Jesse
Logged
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5582


WWW
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2008, 03:21:54 PM »

Yeah, ditto all of the above.

When I think of best interests my thought process goes something like this:

1) Pick the obvious thing for the character to be doing.  In other words you have this situation created by the oracles, you have a character who is here...why?  Why is that character even in this place at this time.  That is an easy first Best Interest.  Often the answer is right in the Oracle itself for at least some of the characters.  If the oracle says a character is "seeking a marriage alliance with a desert cult"...then the easy BI is "It is in my best interest to obtain an alliance with a desert cult".  Or if you want to get all crazy with it...reverse the obvious "It is in my best interest to start a feud with the desert cult" (or more specifically the character representing the cult).  or even "It is in my best interest to marry the woman myself" if that character is in play.

2) Pick a thing that is clearly not in the best interests of one of the other characters, but is independent of their actual best interests.  This is a definite story generator because there's many ways you can go.  You can team up with the person who is at the other end of your target's Best Interest...the ole "enemy of my enemy" ploy.  Or you can help your target get his Best Interest on the grounds that the player might be willing to just give you yours as payment for your aid.  Or you can get your target to help you go for your other Best Interest with the promise of not pursuing the one targeted at them.  Lots of possibilities for ingame development.  

And you don't have to think to hard about it.  In our last game the "proprieter of the waystation" was a character.  He had best interests like "Trap the others in the waystation forever".  So I picked replacing him as proprieter of the waystation as mine.  Why?  Because I knew it would be something that character would wouldn't want to happen and as such it becomes immediate currency.  

As it happened this whole story line never went anywhere, which is another important note.  Don't be concerned if your Best Interests never leave the ground.  If it becomes necessary as GM to frame a scene, use the BIs to help you decide what to frame...frame a scene where one of your NPCs is going after one of their BI's at the expense of a PC.  Frame a scene where 2 PCs with opposing BIs (or just intersecting if your players are good with handling subtle opportunities) have the opportunity to pursue them.  After that, most scene framing will be obvious and you may never get to some BI that's floating out there.  That's fine, just leave it there and don't force it.

3) Play your Players.  Use your knowledge of your players to pick BIs that push their buttons.  If you know you have a player who has a thing about animals...give an NPC a Best Interest involving an animal that that player would be naturally inclined to be opposed to...even if their character wouldn't.  I picked "It is in Zahir's Best Interest to get Valkyr to fall in love with him" largely because I knew it would give Raquel something to stew about for many sessions.  


When it comes to Particular Strengths, I say go special effects all the way.  You know your characters are going to have some Best Interests...ask yourself how they are going to get them.  "How does this character approach Conflicts" or "What is this characters secret weapon / ace in the hole" are good questions.  As Play Unsafe recommends...be obvious.  The guy is a warlord?  Oh...so his Particular Strength is his Legion (or his big sword, or his ability to command...whatever we'd see this guy doing in a movie as his schtick...that's his PS).  Then just fill in the color...is it a potent Legion?  Is is Consequential damaging "with Violence" and "Self Preservation".  Is it "Far Reaching" (i.e. the warlord sends a messenger to forces all over the place).  It falls into place easily.  Valkyr was a general, Raquel decided she was the inspirational leader type of General and so gave her "Inspire Loyalty" as a particular strength.  Don't overlook what the oracle hands you.  The Oracle pegged Zahir as a "Self Important Master of Strategy"...ok...my particular strength..."Master Strategist".  We had a Fertility God...his Particular Strength  "Fertility Powers".  We had "a woman recently berift of love from a long line of sorceresses and poisoners"...her Particular Strength "Poison".  Zahir's brother was a character in one chapter, he was a Garrison Commander...you can guess his particular strength...

Personally, I'd rather have a particular strength I never use than not give an NPC a Particular Strength.  You want your NPCs to be fit challengers to the PCs and you have the luxury of not caring about getting on the Owe list, so you want the ability to pound dice at them where appropriate.  Just don't try too hard.  


Here's a fun trick with Particular Strengths from our play.  Two (or maybe it was three) sessions ago we did a back-in-time session which involved one of our existing characters (Valkyr as it turns out) as a younger version of herself.  Since you recreate your whole character when you introduce a new version, she was given a new Particular Strength different from the one she has as an adult (which opens up all the questions about how that transformation happened).  But here's the thing...the Particular Strength she took was "Loyalty" and she made it "Unique".  Which meant that at that particular moment in time, the only truly loyal person in the world was the young Valkyr.

That's pretty neat and says a ton about our setting all by itself...but here's the next neat bit.  Our most recent session was set back in the time where Valkyr was an adult.  As an adult she doesn't have "Loyalty" as a Particular Strength any more.  So operating on the theory that Unique means no more than one at-a-time, we decided that no one had a claim on the Loyalty PS in this time period...so I picked up "Loyalty" as a new Particular Strength for Zahir as my "level up" feature...establishing that at this time Zahir is the only truly loyal person in the world.  

So reusing existing PSes is really really cool.  Seth's gotten alot of mileage out of "Devouring Hunger" (or something like that)

Logged

Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!