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Author Topic: [Trollbabe] Keep on Rockin' in the Troll World  (Read 6466 times)
James_Nostack
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Posts: 726


« on: February 28, 2009, 10:35:59 AM »

Paul and Dave came over.  We ate some food, we drank some drinks, we talked about all'a you people on the Internet.  And then we broke out some old-fashioned Trollbabe action.  My main goal in this post is to highlight one or two unclear points of the old text, in the hopes that it's not too late to get a few of them clarified in the fresh-money tricked-out new version of the game. 

Couple of textual issues:
1.  The big problem with my brain occurs on Injury, on page 20.  I've read that a million times and it confuses me each time.  Amazingly it made perfect sense in play the other night, but that might be attributable to wine.  In any event, the first paragraph on page 20 is... dense, and might bear some more explication.

2.  I think the scenario creation rules could probably stand to be a little more robust.  I find that there's not quite enough guidance there to get to reliably juicy scenarios.  Meanwhile my friend Scott routinely overthinks the scenarios he comes up with, and I'm having a hard time trying to explain to him what's going wrong (which implies that it's not clear in my head, either).  Some advice on how to deal with a "turtling" Trollbabe would probably be helpful too. 

3.  Is there a point to distinguishing between the Stakes and the Consequences?

4.  I find the terminology of Roll, Series, etc. a little confusing.  A roll = series, a series = several rolls, therefore roll = rolls.  It makes sense when you take the time to sort it out, but it's disorienting when skimming through the text.

5.  Let's say there are several NPC's involved somehow in a conflict with the Trollbabe.  Can that player then create relationships to each of those NPC's based on that one conflict?  (I.e., looking for one person with the help of two others = three relationships?)

These are, of course, minor points and didn't significantly affect our enjoyment of the game, but I just wanted to flag them in the hopes that they might be tweaked.

We had a great time playing the game.  Trollbabe exists at this weird junction between the Muppet Show, Bakshi's Wizards, Tomoe Goezen, and the Brothers Grimm, which is a very fruitful place imaginatively.  Paul and Dave were very easy-going players and a lot of fun to game with. 

* Dave created "Ingrid Vorhild," the first Trollbabe I've seen with a surname.  Hand-Held Weapons, Troll Magic, Insightful.  Green hair down to her middle back, short horns angled forward.  Number 2 (obtained by rollind 1d10).  Ingrid was raised among humans and has never met a Troll.

* Paul created "Thora Seakind," skilled in Athletics, Human Magic, and Feisty.  Dirty blonde dreadlocks and ram's horns.  Number 8.  Thora was a foundling at sea, and was raised by Trolls.  She's never met a human.

Both players wanted to play in the Silent Forest, which (I decided) was the home of a Troll community, which I played as an otherworldly fairy-land Scandinavian thing.  I'll post the elementary relationship map here:

* Gantwood, a big scary dumb lonely feral troll
* Mollywort, a good girl Troll who cares about Gantwood
* Virresprocket, a Troll aristocrat who wants to wed Mollywort

Plus some lesser NPC's, like Timbuckle the Troll-child who is practicing how to spook animals, and Klaus the human prisoner.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2009, 12:32:27 PM »

Hi James,

I should probably clarify that the new rules text is not a re-write or a brush-up of the old text. It was all completely written from the blank page on up. Scenario creation, for instance, is now a whole chapter. A lot of your points read like recommendations regarding the existing text, which is essentially now all gone.

Therefore instead of going through your points one by one in full, I'll pull out the procedural questions and answer them directly. I'll definitely print out your points and compare them to the existing text, though, and I appreciate you contributing them here.

Quote
Some advice on how to deal with a "turtling" Trollbabe would probably be helpful too.

Huh - it's a highly personal thing. In some cases, aggressive framing means the player can settle comfortably into a more traditional, reactive form of play; in others, allowing for a relatively gentle and not particularly pushy pace to the story is better. The only problem is that each tactic is disastrous when applied to the wrong person.

Quote
Is there a point to distinguishing between the Stakes and the Consequences?

The way I'm now saying it is, the Stakes are a tangible "thing" (person, et cetera), and Consequences are events or outcomes. So conceivably, given a certain designated Stakes, you as GM still have many options concerning the kinds of Consequences will serve as your framing and intensity guide throughout play. A scenario defined by whether the girl will stay with the tribe or leave is very different from another defined by whether the same girl will live or die.

Quote
5. Let's say there are several NPC's involved somehow in a conflict with the Trollbabe. Can that player then create relationships to each of those NPC's based on that one conflict? (I.e., looking for one person with the help of two others = three relationships?)

The requirements for a Relationship are (1) for the NPC to have been involved somehow in a conflict, and (2) for the trollbabe to interact with him or her right afterwards. That means that you can only get one Relationship out of a conflict, because if you make one, then you can't fulfill requirement #2 for the second.

Now, if your trollbabe's Scale is high enough, you could have her sit down with several of the characters in a group and form a single Relationship with that group, but I don't think that's what you were asking about.

Quote
Trollbabe exists at this weird junction between the Muppet Show, Bakshi's Wizards, Tomoe Goezen, and the Brothers Grimm, which is a very fruitful place imaginatively.

I agree! That's a really good way to put it, although I suggest that the precise nature of that junction is just as much, or more, a product of your mind as reader and practitioner as it is of mine as author.

You did a fantastic prep decision for these two trollbabes: one's never met a human and one's never met a troll, so you toss them a troll tribe with a captive human. Perfect! I will definitely reference that.

Best, Ron
edited for format hassles - RE
« Last Edit: March 05, 2009, 12:37:18 PM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Paul T
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Posts: 383


« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2009, 02:59:46 PM »

I am the Paul in this game.

First of all, a big thanks to James--he put together a really great situation/scenario, and populated it with really charming, memorable NPCs. I was trying hard not to laugh (from appreciation) at his depiction of the characters through much of the game.

A few interesting notes:

It was the first time playing Trollbabe, for both Dave and I. We made characters by each rolling a d10. As his number was low, and mine was high, I think it inspired us to make our Trollbabes foils for one another. Dave's was a nature-loving, huge-hammer-carrying druid sort of Trollbabe, who, though she had never met Trolls, was an expert in Troll magic. My 'babe, having a very poor Magic roll, I decided must know some human magic--but only at a very basic, uncertain level, since she had only lived among Trolls and had never met a human. There were some other ways, too, in which our characters were kind of mirrors for each other, which I really enjoyed.

We played the second session (both were pretty short, so it felt more like one "regular" session to me, with the two halves being separated by a week of time) last night, and concluded the story quite nicely. I hope James will post about that, too!

Though we had some trouble with the mechanics (I'm still confused by how the "wounding" or conditions stack, and how bringing multiple conflict types into one conflict changes that), it was a really nice game. It's funny: te way it turned out, it was exactly what I always tried to do with D&D as a teenager.
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James_Nostack
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Posts: 726


« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2009, 07:08:09 PM »

Man, I'm ambivalent about the whole new rules text, because I think "first edition" Trollbabe kicks ass except for a few confusing parts of the text.  Also, I don't deserve any credit for the "antithetical Trollbabes" thing: that was entirely player-generated and caused me no end of confusion as a GM: I had to use Post-It notes with arrows to remind myself who was who.

I'm uncertain whether discussing the "classic rules" makes much sense, but here goes:

1.  Trollbabes with numbers close to either extreme appear to be at a very serious disadvantage in the game.  The GM can, if she were a total ass-wipe, declare a whole string of unfavorable conflicts, which would just pummel the player horribly.  Alternately, if the player declares a favorable conflict, the GM could always add the Social action type, screwing the player again.  (I'm not saying this would ever happen among non-ass-wipes, but the fact that it could happen at all is pretty weird.)

2.  Let's say in Conflict 1, a Trollbabe gets Incapacitated.  Some time passes, we frame a scene where she recovers back to Injured.  She then gets involved in Conflict 2, which features two different Action Types, and therefore she rolls two dice.  Both dice fail.  Does this mean that she's straight Incapacitated again?  Poor Paul kept running into this repeatedly in the game.  (I should mention that this was the nightmare scenario about Injury, I think, that fortunately never arose in our first session, but kept coming back to haunt me during our second session.  I felt a very strong need to hand-wave Thora's injuries away, in part because it would spare me from having to parse the text, and to be nice to Paul.  It seems there's something very close to a death-spiral there.)

3. It looks like an extremely clever and socially attentive player could run rings around a GM, first by initiating conflicts (which looks like it's a key skill in the game as it allows players some Director-level stance over the scenario), and then by clever use of Goals, would never need to spend re-rolls until a real emergency.  She runs the risk of being repeatedly being discommoded in conflict after confict, but because she never re-rolls she doesn't get clobbered.  Meanwhile she can narrate failure to avoid severe problems - and who knows, maybe she'd win.  This appeared to be Dave's approach with "Ingrid"--I don't think he spent a re-roll the entire game, and he was clever enough about avoiding conflicts or stating his Goal so that losing the conflict was usually a pretty mild occurrence.  This is in contrast to Paul, who kept going for re-rolls and getting hammered.  Snagging re-rolls is a fun thing, mechanically and narratively--but it looks like it's not "optimal" play to the extent such thoughts apply to the game of Trollbabe.

4.  What happens if two Trollbabes team up to take on one villain (having complementary but different Goals)?  I ended up running this as two Conflicts in series, rather than in parallel, but I wasn't sure if there's a preferred approach.

Surprisingly for me, I do have some "theoretical generalizations" or whatever they are, about our experience of play, but it's late and I'm tired.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2009, 07:55:50 PM »

Hi James and Paul,

Since we're in the limbo between first-version and new-version rules, I should clarify the points for purposes of your game. I'm going to assume that it's OK with you guys to adopt some of the new rules concepts; after all, I wrote them in order to bring the game into yet better play-procedures, and I think it's probably more constructive to learn and use them than it is to try to band-aid or mess about with the older versions.

Also, James, I'll be interested in those generalizations.

Quote
1.  Trollbabes with numbers close to either extreme appear to be at a very serious disadvantage in the game.  The GM can, if she were a total ass-wipe, declare a whole string of unfavorable conflicts, which would just pummel the player horribly.  Alternately, if the player declares a favorable conflict, the GM could always add the Social action type, screwing the player again.  (I'm not saying this would ever happen among non-ass-wipes, but the fact that it could happen at all is pretty weird.)

Not as bad as you might think. The GM and player are equal when it comes to conflict declaration within a scene, so potential to see that fear expressed in play is pretty minimal compared with most games. I recommend completely ignoring the multiple Action Type rules; those are absent from the new rules and tended to cause trouble with conflict goals.

Quote
2.  Let's say in Conflict 1, a Trollbabe gets Incapacitated.  Some time passes, we frame a scene where she recovers back to Injured.  She then gets involved in Conflict 2, which features two different Action Types, and therefore she rolls two dice.  Both dice fail.  Does this mean that she's straight Incapacitated again?  Poor Paul kept running into this repeatedly in the game.  (I should mention that this was the nightmare scenario about Injury, I think, that fortunately never arose in our first session, but kept coming back to haunt me during our second session.  I felt a very strong need to hand-wave Thora's injuries away, in part because it would spare me from having to parse the text, and to be nice to Paul.  It seems there's something very close to a death-spiral there.)

Well, we can reduce the noise of the problem by sticking with one Action Type. Another way to do it is simply to recover back to full capacity, which is a lot easier in the new rules too.

And finally, the new rules treat Injured as injured, period. In other words, taking another injury while injured doesn't bump the character to incapacitated - she's just now injured twice, that's all, and the rules-status of injured remains unchanged. She begins the conflict closer to incapacitation than she would if uninjured, but the initial failed roll merely hurts her again with no rules-effect beyond later narrational concerns; it doesn't pop her to incapacitated right away.

Quote
3. It looks like an extremely clever and socially attentive player could run rings around a GM, first by initiating conflicts (which looks like it's a key skill in the game as it allows players some Director-level stance over the scenario), and then by clever use of Goals, would never need to spend re-rolls until a real emergency.  She runs the risk of being repeatedly being discommoded in conflict after confict, but because she never re-rolls she doesn't get clobbered.  Meanwhile she can narrate failure to avoid severe problems - and who knows, maybe she'd win.  This appeared to be Dave's approach with "Ingrid"--I don't think he spent a re-roll the entire game, and he was clever enough about avoiding conflicts or stating his Goal so that losing the conflict was usually a pretty mild occurrence.  This is in contrast to Paul, who kept going for re-rolls and getting hammered.  Snagging re-rolls is a fun thing, mechanically and narratively--but it looks like it's not "optimal" play to the extent such thoughts apply to the game of Trollbabe.

How is this running rings around a GM? You're assuming the GM wants the trollbabe to get into conflicts and take damage, which is bad Trollbabe GMing because it's play-before-play.

Let's clarify something: you're failing to do something here. You're failing to work with the conflicts that the trollbabe keeps losing. Accepting the failure and not re-rolling means she loses in whatever conflict of interest has come up. That means she gets physically pushed around, psychologically victimized, socially marginalized, physically restrained in freedom of movement, and above all, nothing she wants happens.

You need to make those lost conflicts stick, narratively. They need to have consequences for the trollbabe and consequences for the Stakes.

Quote
4.  What happens if two Trollbabes team up to take on one villain (having complementary but different Goals)?  I ended up running this as two Conflicts in series, rather than in parallel, but I wasn't sure if there's a preferred approach.

That's a complex and carefully-outlined topic in the new rules. For now, you're probably best off sticking with the parallel conflicts like you're doing, but to make this work, make sure the goals are orthogonal - in other words, both might succeed, both might fail, and either/or in both directions. Also, a new-rules thing you can try is to have the second trollbabe to announce (or get announced into) the conflict be constrained by the Pace of the first.

Best, Ron
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angelfromanotherpin
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Posts: 135


« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2009, 06:28:18 AM »

I just want to say that I find it hilarious that each of your Trollbabes specializes in the magic of the species they've never interacted with.  In my experience, most players see the two-choice species-specific Magic specialization as the indicator of which of the two peoples they are more familiar with.
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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?"
Paul T
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Posts: 383


« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2009, 10:49:29 AM »

While keeping in mind that I really enjoyed this game, I did experience some frustration on the mechanics level (again, not enough to ruin the game for me, but I did go home scratching my head about it afterwards).

I think Dave experienced some of that, too. We both had Trollbabes with extreme Numbers (2 and 8). This meant that we were pretty effective in a conflict suited to our strengths. However, when a conflict came up that was NOT suited to our strengths, things looked very grim, and I felt completely unsure about how to handle that.

For instance, my Trollbabe had great Fighting odds, right? Her number was an 8. But her Social and Magic were pretty awful--and Dave's Social roll was a 1 in 10.

However, I did not see my character as a violent Trollbabe at all. And the scenario (essentially, the best outcome would be to reunite two lovers and create peace between two villages) is not one that seems like it could or should be solved with a fight.

Having gone all the way to Incapacitated in my very first conflict, I found myself in situations were I constantly faced potential Social or Magic conflicts.

Having no real recourse to rerolls (or more than one, or two at most, being Incapacitated or Injured), it was tempting to just avoid conflict altogether. Win 2 out 3 when your odds are 20% per roll? Pretty unlikely. For Dave, Social conflicts were 10%--almost inconceivable to see a victory, unless you're only rolling once.

What it led to is that we always tried to bring a second conflict mode into every conflict. James let us do so, and things came off well in the end, even though they felt awkward mechanically.

I'm left wondering whether that feeling of helplessness was due to some misunderstanding of the mechanics on my part, misguided play, the consequence of having extreme Trollbabe Numbers, or something else altogether.

It's worth noting, I think, that it never became a social issue among the players. To me, it felt like we (all three) were all enjoying the game. Conversely, we (again, all three) were all concerned about how we could get anything other than a total death spiral as a conclusion to the story. James, as the GM, particularly had a worried look on his face when it seemed like his role was to push a Social conflict onto a Trollbabe with such a low chance of success.

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James_Nostack
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« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2009, 11:36:16 AM »

I just want to say that I find it hilarious that each of your Trollbabes specializes in the magic of the species they've never interacted with.  In my experience, most players see the two-choice species-specific Magic specialization as the indicator of which of the two peoples they are more familiar with.

I'm not kidding about using Post-It notes to remind me which Trollbabe was which.  During the first session, I made Dave point to his (human) ears and made Paul mime little horns, to remind me.  At the start of the second session, I nearly insisted on swapping the Trollbabe's magic-types to avoid losing my mind.

Paul, the good news is that a Trollbabe can shift her Number between adventures, so you're not completely screwed.  But I think you guys were in for some hard times.  I understand why Ron made social rolls to be the smaller of the two ranges: if it's the larger, you end up with these super-competent trollbabes and there's a strong incentive to pick an extreme Number.  But if it's the smaller of the two ranges, then there's more incentive to pick a Number between 4-6, which means that you still fail pretty often but at least have a fighting chance in every Conflict.

I actually have a lot to say about Trollbabe, but I'll save some of it for a little bit later.
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Paul T
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« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2009, 11:44:16 AM »

James,

Looking forward to hearing more.

Just for the record, I'm totally down with "Social range is the smaller of the two". That makes sense to me on every level, from a designer's standpoint.
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Paul T
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Posts: 383


« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2009, 01:43:26 PM »

One more note:

James,

You know what you described in Judd's Dogs thread? I totally felt that, too, and it took the wind out of the game a bit.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2009, 02:08:48 PM »

Hi Paul,

Clearly something was not fun for you. You've danced around it in every post so far and I'm getting a little tired of trying to read between the "We really had fun but" parts.

What was it? Spit it out, please. Remember, this isn't like any other site. The content supercedes the conversation. I really want you to say what you mean; there are no social consequences or points to be scored or lost.

Best, Ron
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Paul T
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Posts: 383


« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2009, 06:19:19 PM »

Ron,

I wanted to make sure I didn't come across as being too negative (this being the Internet), so I tried to mention now and then that the game was fun. It seems I overdid it--now you seem to be saying "the lady doth protest too much". :)

However, I meant exactly what I said. I had a great time, really enjoyed the game.

What I didn't like is exactly what is being discussed, here and in Judd's Dogs thread: there was a point where it seemed like success was so difficult that we all ended up softballing a little. James felt he had to pull his punches, and Dave and I (or maybe just me--I shouldn't put words in his mouth) weren't sure how to push our characters' agendas. It wasn't disastrous or unpleasant, but it felt a little like walking on thin ice. Like we were tiptoeing a bit in order to avoid a potentially seriously unfun situation.
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James_Nostack
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Posts: 726


« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2009, 07:26:16 PM »

Hmm.  I'm worried this conversation is heading backwards.  Paul's issues don't make sense without understanding the context (both fictional and mechanical) in which they arose.  Explaining the fictional context requires me to explain my scenario & GM'ing, which first requires some explanation about my prep, which gets me back into "big picture" observations about one of Trollbabe's unstated design priorities. 

Sigh.  That's going to take time.  Let me start on the design issue.

An All-Too-Common Trollbabe Conversation

A lot of conversations about Trollbabe begin with the phrase, "It's actually a really good game!"  By which I mean: gamers love to roll their eyes at the title and, to some extent, the premise.  I've seen a lot of conversations on the Adept Press Forum that go sort of like this:

Dude - "Hey, I like the rules of Trollbabe, but not the, y'know... Trollbaby part of it. So I'm thinking, like, half-vampires!  Or Hellboy!  Or... like, yeah totally Half-Micronaut/Half-ROM Spaceknight!"

Ron - "(nearly chokes on his own bile) What are you doing?!  Trollbabes are part of Trollbabe.  That's why I call it 'Trollbabe.'  That choice of color is totally non-incidental.  I can't stop you from doing whatever you're going to do, but I want to.  It's a key design element."

Dude - "But... but... I mean... Trollbabes, Ron?  Seriously?"

Ron - "Yeah seriously!  People see a title like Trollbabe, they can't stay away!  It's like they have to play it.  I sense great insecurity in you.  Stop fretting over what some hypothetical person might think."

Dude - "Ain't nothing hypothetical: I left it lying around one time, and my girlfriend gave me a sarcastic look.  And I'm like, 'No, actually, it's a great game...'"

(This conversation obviously only exists in my mind as a distillation of many internet threads about Trollbabe.)

The Death of Daydreamer Fantasy
What's really going on here is a disconnect among fans of fantasy fiction who remember 1970's pop culture and those who do not.  "Fantasy," as it existed in the early 1970's, bears almost no relation to the label as it's used today.  We have, as a culture, lost something--and lost it so thoroughly that anyone who came of age in the early 1980's or afterward probably has no clue it ever existed. 

Bear with me for a second as I invent some distinctions within fantasy fiction.  Perhaps most familiar to readers today is High Fantasy--epic quests and myth cycles in the style of Tolkien or Dunsany.  Far less well represented on modern bookshelves, Sword & Sorcery fantasy: Conan, Fafhrd, those guys.  You've also got Weird Fantasy, now largely forgotten: A. Merrit & William Hodgson, for example; this shades a little bit into Lovecraft territory too. 

But, for a brief time from the mid-1960's to the mid-1970's, there was also the sub-niche of Daydreamer Fantasy.  By the late 60's, college kids had gotten tangled up with Tolkien and fairy tales, and tied this stuff into their revolt against notions of Progress and Industry.  Major works of Daydreamer Fantasy include the works of Vaughn Bode, Richard & Wendy Pini's Elfquest stuff, Ralph Bakshi's Wizards, a smidgen of R. Crumb's work, the art of Jim Holloway, some of the art of Erol Otus (though it's more properly part of the Weird Fantasy tradition).  Musically, maybe some of the "fantasy songs" by Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix.

It was underground fantasy, largely uncommercialized: 'zine stuff at best, enjoyed by dweeby comics geeks, wifty stoner chicks, and heavy metal motorheads.  It was, for a while, a distinct strand of early 70's youth culture.

And then it pretty much got lost completely.  You can still see strands of it: The Muppet Show; some of the character designs in the Star Wars films (the Jabba Palace stuff, Dagobah, and the Ewoks especially).  James West, of course, rocks this stuff so hard.  But by and large, Daydreamer Fantasy got eaten alive by the twin forces of commercialization and the fanboys' desire to concrete-ize everything. 

Trollbabe is proudly and unapologetically carrying on the tradition of Daydreamer Fantasy, almost single-handedly.  We joke about these "hippie RPG's" of ours, but in an important way Trollbabe really is a Hippie RPG. 


It is difficult to explain how completely this sub-genre has been scrubbed from our cultural memory.  So you've got . . . gamers of a certain vintage, like Ron, saying, "See?  'Trollbabe,' get it? (gestures at something which no longer exists)"  And anyone born after, say, 1974 saying, "What are you talking about?"  The bitching about the name is a symptom of this cultural impoverishment, because "Trollbabe" is an absolutely pitch-perfect name for a work in this tradition.

I want to connect this broad sociological comment to the specifics of our play, but I need to get some sleep.

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David Berg
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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2009, 09:23:21 PM »

Re: "softballing":

The characters' situation was such that losing conflicts generally meant being sidetracked off the quest, which was to get to the big number one issue in the game and address it.  If Paul's character Thora gets captured by humans, now we have to play some more scenes before we can get to the confrontation in the dell with Virashprocket to resolve the game's main issue, the fate of Gentwood.  In our goal of addressing the main issue in limited time, we really didn't want Thora to be captured.  As such, James and Paul totally forgot that Thora was at Incapacitated (or maybe just Injured?) going into the conflict with the humans.  I remembered, but didn't point it out.  Afterward, I think there was some vague, "Oh, wait, wasn't Thora all messed up?" talk, but no one wanted to revise what had already been introduced into the SIS.  Other similar instances of willful ignorance + fudging followed. 

This "uh, whatever, let's start from this box on the flow chart, that's friendlier" attitude was enabled by some minor confusion over injury levels (which aren't recorded on character sheets), starting position on the conflict flow chart (w.r.t. injury), and movement along the flow chart in multi-attribute conflicts (i.e. using multiple dice per roll).  We spent a few minutes trying to figure these things out, but when that wasn't sufficient for us to grasp everything, we weren't inclined to keep at it due to our ticking clock.

Hopefully that helps clear up some facts. 

As for overall takeaways from the experience:
- These glitches didn't bother me much; I felt like if it had been important for us to solve them, we would have.
- I really enjoyed the way we all felt prompted to fill in a lot of thematic and aesthetic prompts/blanks with our own spins on game color.  Trolls as Midsummer Night's Dream fairies and troll magic vs human magic as animal-communing vs. clockwork... making that stuff up rocked.  I'll happily elaborate if this thread goes in that direction.

Ps,
-Dave (/David/whatever)
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here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development
James_Nostack
Member

Posts: 726


« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2009, 05:27:12 AM »

My recollection of rules-fudging is that it only happened once, when we were mid-way through a Conflict and I realized I'd goofed up the injuries, and decided, "Ah screw that, we'll remember it next time."

Deep Prep
As Paul, Dave, and almost everyone who's played Trollbabe attests, one of the most pleasing aspects of play comes from all the incidental color that gets thrown into the game.  This isn't accidental: Trollbabe exists as kind of an empty space for painting all kinds of trippy groovy fantasy colors, as befits a Daydreamer Fantasy style of play. 

So, as a general principle, I wanted to do something interesting and fun with the trolls.  The art and text of Trollbabe give the impression that trolls are basically these hairy, horned dudes who are into shamanism and who occasionally eat things they shouldn't eat.  Frankly, this does little for me, imaginatively.  So I hit up Wikipedia's Scandinavian Folklore page, including the nifty links at the bottom of the page, and browsed around until I got inspired.  Scandinavian / Teutonic myth is a deep part of the cultural heritage of the English-speaking world, but one that seldom gets a lot of attention. 

Contrary to the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, in actual folklore there's little distinction between trolls, fairies, goblins, pixies, brownies, sylphs, ogres, etc - so I decided that the word "troll" in Trollbabe encompassed all of these things, a catch-all for the charming-and-monstrous critters of Fairy-Land.  And this is cool, because in folk-tales Fairy-Land only exists as a counter-part or foil to human communities, a sort of critique or antithesis of whatever human value is under discussion.  So functionally it's no different than the way trolls work in Trollbabe's implied setting, but it's a little more fun for me personally.

I should stress that none of this prep was intended to function as a bestiary, sociology, world-history of Fairy-Land, or any of that shit.  Instead: this is the stuff that the Daydreamer Fantasy guys were turning on to.  It's more of a feeling or a state of mind.

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