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Author Topic: [Poison'd] Ambitions of longer-term play  (Read 1737 times)
watergoesred
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Posts: 12


« on: April 26, 2009, 08:42:15 PM »

Is Poison'd really only good for a session or two? Sure it's fun to play some awful brutes, but when we played it soon started to feel there was nothing else to it. The starting situation was fun but there really didn't seem to be much driving play. Is it really just the ambitions of individual pirates and the search for booty? Is there any advice for framing longer term conflicts, slower burns, multi-stage quests? I get a feeling this is supposed to emerge out of play, out of the cruel fates, out of the ambitions, but it didn't really happen in our game. We had a bunch of fine and varied fortress and ship fights. We the dagger defeated. We had shore leave, debauchery and even Hell break loose. But then things grinded to a halt. Must the life (and roleplay) of a pirate always be short lived?

O and a rule question: can ambition go up? As I understand the rules, the ambition stat inexorably grinds down from a pirate's initial number of ambitions. Every failed ambition takes the stat down one. But what if a pirate gets a new ambition, coming out of what happens in the narrative, like Cabin boy Tristan wanting revenge on Salty Pedro after suffering humiliation at the hands of Pedro below decks? That is, can one new ambition = increase ambition stat by one? Will this break anything?
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oli
Graham W
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Posts: 449


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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2009, 08:44:12 AM »

Yes, that's the rule. When you take a new Ambition, add 1 to Ambition. In our games, Ambition goes relentlessly up, not down.

As for the unsatisfyingness, I'll have a think. Three things that spring to mind are:

1. The longer-term stuff tends to involve grudges, rather than longer quests. It's almost always at the players' instigation. You hunt down the Admiral who scuppered your last ship. Or you hunt down his daughter and ruin her. That sort of thing. And those grudge quests lead to other consequences

2. It's an orgy of brutish violence, but it's not mindless evil. The pirates must be real people, doing the things they do for reasons. They're probably not good reasons - they steal stuff because they want it and bugger the cabin boy because they're lonely - but they're not mindless monsters.

3. As the game goes on, hunting prizes at sea becomes more meaningful. You're not just hunting someone because they're rich. You're hunting them because they gave you a scar and you want revenge.

Graham
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watergoesred
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2009, 03:17:15 PM »

Cheers Graham. Cool. I must of missed the Ambition rule somehow, at least consciously.

And thanks for the thoughts on improving play. I've been thinking about stuff I could do, as GM, to enrich play, like:
- keep closer track of ambitions so they can be weaved in appropriately
- actually create the characters listed in PCs' ambitions, either myself or let the players themselves create them
- actually map coast lines, islands and ports
- have a list of prepared bangs (not ships or fortress, more situations and people).
- create an escalating situation in on the larger scale of the setting: like the Seven Years' War or something

When I played, I did no prep but I'm wondering now if a little preparation, even just a few paragraphs, might situate the game play better and help drive longer term play.
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oli
agony
Member

Posts: 96


« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2009, 10:02:05 AM »

You mention prepping the characters implied by the PC's ambitions; I just wanted to throw in that I had the PC's define these characters by suggesting they reference them in Flashbacks where they could gain X's. 

No prep for you, player investment, and it pushes play forward.
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You can call me Charles
Graham W
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Posts: 449


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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2009, 04:48:06 AM »

Hey, watergoesred? Here's some things that I think, but the most important one is the one about Bangs. Fourth one down.

- keep closer track of ambitions so they can be weaved in appropriately

Yes, absolutely. But the players should do this. Basically, you go "Right, you're on shore leave. Anyone want to do anything?" and everyone goes "Yes, I want to [pursue my ambition]."

- actually create the characters listed in PCs' ambitions, either myself or let the players themselves create them

Totally! That's absolutely crucial.

Also, cheat things so that those characters are nearby. "So, you know you want to be revenged on Admiral Stone? Let's say he's in town. It's his daughter's engagement party, at a mansion up on the hill."

- actually map coast lines, islands and ports

Definitely. That's a wonderful thing to do.

- have a list of prepared bangs (not ships or fortress, more situations and people).

You know the Dark Fates? They're your bangs. Seriously. The Storm; Debauchery; Want; Urgency; all the rest, too. They'll provoke the characters into doing stuff.

Use them in conjunction with the Ambitions. If one of your pirates is in love with Abigail, put her on a ship they're pursuing, and then link that ship to Debauchery. Then sit back and watch fur fly.

- create an escalating situation in on the larger scale of the setting: like the Seven Years' War or something

This is fascinating. I've never thought of this. It could be really good.

Here's a general thing: you sound as though you want to run the game, as GM, giving the players things to do. When I run Poison'd, I'm merely facilitating. Sure, I make sure they've got time to use their ambitions; sure, I throw Dark Fates in. But, essentially, I'm relying on (and provoking) the players to pursue whatever they want to do.

Graham
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watergoesred
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2009, 03:23:35 AM »

Thanks Charles and Graham. This is all good stuff.
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oli
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