[Bliss Stage] Men and girls

Started by Ron Edwards, March 24, 2010, 10:26:52 PM

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Ron Edwards

Go ahead and post! The color of our game was well worth considering.

Best, Ron

Frank Tarcikowski

On the technical side, Skype should be able to handle three persons. Teamspeak 3 or Ventrilo are better, but require a server. I played a few times over voicechat, it's... possible.

- Frank
BARBAREN! - The Ultimate Macho Role Playing Game - finally available in English

Nev the Deranged

Hm. I just downloaded TeamSpeak to use with Love (if I ever get around to having time to play it).
I'll try to post more on Sunday, I am hella busy getting things ready for Chicago's branch of World Pillow Fight Day tomorrow... hopefully I won't get arrested this year.

Nev the Deranged

Pillow Fight Day went off without a hitch! I feel validated as a responsible adult.

So, the next thing I remember from the game was Ron's interlude scene with John coming to find Gina, cleaning up the rooms the younger kids share, making beds and tidying. John was apologetic, and asked if he could help. Gina had to remind him how to make beds. They talked.

As the judge of this interlude, it was my job to decide whether Ron/Gina earned Trust or Intimacy in this scene. I was convinced it was Trust up until the point at which Gina casually referred to the others as "kids" in such a way that made it clear that she didn't think of herself as one of them- the obvious corollary being that she DID think of herself as an adult- specifically, a fellow adult to John. Then, even though there was no sexuality implied at all, there was no doubt from anybody at the table that it was Intimacy.

Ron may remember the details more clearly than I, or if anybody has anything to add, go ahead. I wanted to post this little scene just to keep the thread alive, I'm not sure when I'll have time to write up Gina's elaborate mission and its critically important aftermath.

Ron Edwards


You got the scene right, and I'll round it out with the specific content that John was asking specifically about Ann, the Anchor that I also happened to play in the earlier Mission scene.

I should clarify some content from that scene too - which is that as a player, I was having a hard time seeing what John did that was of any use. "Ring ring," goes the alarm, we go into the mission room, there's John standing there saying "Something's out there, we don't know what it is or where it is, we have to find out and stop it!" I mean, fucking duh, right? Even more so when we find out (again as players) that our alarms are totally non-informative.

In the actual course of long-term play, I assume the adult character is given a little more bite and concrete depth regarding the team's actual effectiveness at what it does, i.e., resistance. And I don't mean this as a slam on how Ben played John, because I assume that in a one-shot almost-demonstration run, there isn't much room for such things. Plus, quite a lot of the best play sharpens up characters and general content through repeated play, and often one has to feel one's way through, like trying on clothes. That's all fine with me. But from the standpoint of playing Ann in the moment, and given that her clothes were feeling better on me every minute as we played, it worked well for me to have her totally shut John out of the whole mission interaction. Yes, he's the adult, yes, she and all the other kids clustered around him, yes, in some way he provided organization and focus for this resistance effort of ours ... but now it's mission time. It's me and Tess, at war, damn it. John was not part of her scene and I had her snarl-snap "Shut up!" at him as he maundered on about what the alarms weren't telling us.

So that's what Ben had John talk to Gina about. And Dave has it right, Gina totally took the fellow-adult side of things. She told John that Ann is a child, that it costs a grown-up nothing to let a child score points if she has to. I liked the intimacy being defined as working at the cross-corners of the bed as we fitted its sheets.

This also helped me "get" Gina better, in that, although her rules-template is the Carefree Hedonist, that doesn't mean she's a ditz, or a cartoon slut with only one thing on her mind all the time. And also implied the scary thing, which is that she hasn't slept with John not because she doesn't want to, or wouldn't ... but because it hasn't occurred to her yet. It still hadn't by the close of our final scene. But yikes, you know?

Best, Ron

Nev the Deranged

Okay, finally I have some time to post the last mission scene. Which technically was Ron's scene, so I don't know why he didn't just post it his damnself, except he's probably busy as hell too. Anyway, hopefully I'll remember enough to make it worthwhile and Ron and Ben can fill in the gaps and/or put things back in the proper order. Apologies in advance.

So. I remember the klaxons going off and Gina rushing in to find the creche room in a panic. Something unprecedented is happening, and nobody knows what the hell to make of it. The thixotropic suspension media (which is to say, the goo) that fills the creche is displaying odd behavior, moving of its own accord, and forming fractal patterns on its surface. I didn't think of it at the time, but I bet it looked something like that ferroliquid stuff from all those youtube videos.

Anyway, Gina gets in, Leslie kisses her for good luck, and suddenly she's fractal diving (which I used to spend hours doing as a kid with relatively unsophisticated software, but is probably much easier now) down, down, down into an endlessly repeating pattern, faster and faster the colors cycle until, in complete silence, the view before her shatters like a stained glass window, rainbow shards everywhere. The shards slow, as if moving through syrup, until they come to a stop. Then each shard melts into a perfect sphere of swirling colors, like translucent soap bubbles.

Gina forms her armor, which takes the form of a huge, sinister praying mantis, chitin so green it's almost black. I commented, out of character, "If Leslie only knew how Gina's psyche represents her..." (remember that in Bliss Stage, the pilot's armor is formed from their relationship with their anchor). Gina wants to know what's going on with all the unusual imagery, so she draws on... someone else (I totally forget who) to manifest two antennae from her helmet/forehead. These are not mantis antennae, though, they are broad, featherlike moth antennae, with a million hypersensitive fronds all quivering in the myriad breezes of incoming data. The readings are odd... they tell her that each bubble contains an entity of some kind, something different from the usual light-monads that animate the blue humanoid constructs.

Then, each scintillating bubble of color forms into a mech of its own. We didn't really specify, but I imagined them as generally humanoid, more colorful than either Gina or Tess' armors, probably looking a lot like Gundams, in the Federation or Wing veins. I'm not super clear on at what point/under what circumstances, but Gina figures out that these mecha are piloted by humans, like her. And that she recognizes one of them. It's her mother.

The mecha surround Gina, forming a circle around her... a circle with one space conspicuously open. An invitation?

My memory is now dumping a bunch of stuff I'd forgotten on me, so I'm gonna pause and collate that before continuing. Ron, Ben, Tim, please feel free to jump in with details I've missed that may further job my recollections.

Ron Edwards

This scene led me to question certain procedural features of Bliss Stage, or at least to question my understanding of them, or Ben's use of them. My preconception was that the aliens were presented and acted out by the GM, but there was no deeper story or content to them that the GM was supposed to fill in, or that we were to look forward to being filled-in by the GM. So that's one issue right there.

Then there's the issue of the specific content. Ben mentioned that in nearly every Bliss Stage game he's played, the parents show up somehow. Whereas my own expectations included a strong break with the past, in that the parents were damned well gone, and play would concern itself with the world known by the characters, period. Nor did I have any particular interest in developing what the aliens were or what they wanted.

Clearly, all of this has to do with the fact that we did not discuss Hopes before beginning play. I reacted to the presence of the parents pretty much like, "Awwww, shit, this is going to be about that?

OK, in practice, it wasn't a problem, because I deliberately shifted my understanding, at least for purposes of playing this game at this time, to include the GM deepening the content of the aliens and what they are, what the Bliss is, what that has to do with the dreamworld, and everything else. Regarding the parental content, I shifted this as well from being about my personal notions of what is in the story, to being about Gina herself and how I'd played her so far. I basically hit Actor Stance pretty hard, on purpose, dealing with play as it was being presented and not trying to manage or control it beyond my character's reactions and actions. So it worked out fine. But I think you can see why I had Gina basically shrug and eventually, after some fighting and faking them out by pretending to join the circle, drive her insectoid mecha's spiked foreleg into the opponent, impaling it and its occupant, her mother.

Plus omitting to mention any such thing to Leslie or John, upon returning to wakefulness.

I do want to arrive at a more concrete understanding of just how much content the GM is supposed to introduce or deepen concerning the aliens, beyond their appearance and immediately-literal actions in the dreamworld. I am further confirmed as well that specifying the Hopes is absolutely key, as well as ticking off in my mind that for me, what is not taken as a Hope should not itself become a central node of decision-making during play, although I certainly wouldn't disallow anything being included as Color.

Best, Ron

Ben Lehman

I'm very sorry that I'm unable to keep participating in this thread right now -- I'm in a serious crunch time in school and not able to muster up the time or concentration.
I will try to come back to it once I have space to breathe. That will be in May sometime.

Ron Edwards

Whenever you can, Ben. There's no need to rush it and I won't jump to any conclusions about my questions just because you haven't fired off an instant answer. I'll look forward to your thoughts.

Best, Ron

Nev the Deranged

Ben, it'll probably be May before I get around to posting the rest of it anyway. No worries.

Nev the Deranged

FWIW, Ron, I set up the other ANIMa pilots without any preconceptions about who they would be- they could have been another group of refugees, another set of aliens at odds with the first ones, or a trick of some kind. I was just running with whatever seemed cool at the time. Ben brought in the parents angle, and I was kind of surprised, but then not surprised. The tension that brought up between Gina and Leslie (which was apparently based on real creative tension, which is cool) was an interesting dynamic, and it emerged through all of us riffing off one another, which I thought was neat.

Ron Edwards

Hi Dave,

Yes, it was clear to me that the parents' presence was Ben's doing, although to quibble, I think you guys kind of blended the rules distinction between "Anchor player describes environment, GM describes aliens."

Also, I want to stress that in functional, fun gaming terms, I had no beef at all with the content. I'm describing some of my internal psychological ping-ponging that led to my current rules questions (and illustrates some of the adjustments that can go on during play of any kind), but I don't in any way mean that I wasn't enjoying and appreciating what we did.

Best, Ron

Nev the Deranged

I actually was not clear on the distinction, so I was just kind of going with whatever came to mind, and trusting Ben to interject if I stepped on his turf (which I think he did at least once). Honestly, I'm not sure how you could cleanly divide the environment and the adversaries, they seem inextricably tied. Or at least it seems cool if they are. Hm. I guess it could be done, with plenty of trust between players.