*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 31, 2014, 05:14:43 PM

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: 39 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Help With Hero's Banner  (Read 2550 times)
Lorthyne
Member

Posts: 4


« on: October 25, 2010, 10:25:23 PM »

Hello all!

 I'm new to The Forge, although I've been playing and loving RPG's and indie RPGs for several years now.

I've recently acquired a copy of Tim Kopang's excellent Hero's Banner (http://tckroleplaying.com/herosbanner/), and have run one game and played in another that has taken us two full sessions to get about halfway through. We're all loving the game (including two players who are having their first-ever experience roleplaying with this game), but we've had a few kinks in the game that we're trying to work out. I'm wondering if anyone with more experience with Hero's Banner than myself could lend some advice.

I truly LOVE how Hero's Banner is set up to great these incredible, conflicted characters and play them to their fullest in a single session. I'm used to creating characters, having several sessions within a campaign to figure out who they rally are and what they're trying to accomplish, and then allowing those special, magical moments of role-play to be brought out. Hero's Banner is one of the few games I've played that has granted me a sense of completeness and attachment to my characters from the opening scene.

However, we've found that some of the coolest role-playing moments in the game don't actually lead to conflicts, which means passion scores don't increase, and the results of the scene aren't reflected mechanically at all. For example, in a recent game, my character Dorin had a Hero Influence inspired by a legendary dragon-slayer, and wanted to achieve similar fame and glory through slaying a mythical monster. His Conscience influence involved marrying a particular woman, Irina. Another player's character (I forget the character name) was the brother of Irina, and had a Blood influence goal of arranging a good marriage for his sister (i.e., someone safer than thrill-seeking, risker-taking Dorin). We had decided that prior to our play session, a brother of Irina and the other PC had been a friend of Dorin's, and had been killed in an unsuccessful attempt to slay a monstrous bird while Dorin escaped with his life. We had an incredible scene in which the issues between Dorin and the other PC were finally confronted, with the other PC railing on Dorin for the death of the brother and the taking of Irina's virginity (which had happened during play) , and Dorin expressing his own guilt and sorrow for these events while still feeling somewhat justified in that both Irina and the dead brother were willing participants in their respective events. The narrative power of the scene was awesome, but we never really got to a point where we could call for a conflict. Did we miss something, or is that just part of how the system works?

Ideas and suggestions would be much appreciated. I'm also wondering if anyone knows of where I could get an audio recording of an actual play session of Hero's Banner. I tend to learn how specific games and systems ebb and flow best when I can experience it firsthand, and actual play recordings are a way of accomplishing that for those who don't know anyone else who has played the game before.

Thanks!
Logged
Chris_Chinn
Member

Posts: 280


« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2010, 07:35:54 AM »

Hi Lorthyne,

Sometimes you have a scene without a conflict - this happens in other games, like Primetime Adventures.  One thing that you can do, is that those kinds of scenes usually set up for later conflicts- the players have expressed where they stand, and now you can start laying out what that means for them and challenging it.

Chris
Logged
Tim C Koppang
Member

Posts: 393


WWW
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2010, 09:23:10 PM »

Lorthyne,

First of all, welcome to the Forge, and thanks for the kind words.  I really appreciate that.

To get to the heart of your question, let me first start by saying that all scenes do not need to end with an actual conflict.  If everyone is roleplaying their characters, and you just don't see anything that looks like a conflict, that's ok.  I suggest simply ending the scene, and moving on.  As Chris suggests, powerful scenes without a mechanical conflict can often lead to powerful conflicts later on in the game.  No need to force a conflict into every scene.

Now, that said, Hero's Banner can be a pretty intense experience, and the mechanics do encourage lots of conflict -- and the desire for lots of Passion checks.  In all honesty, if you're the GM, you probably should be shooting for a conflict in every scene.  If it just doesn't happen, fine.  But when you are framing the scene, I suggest looking over the characters that are going to be involved, and really hitting their Influences and Connections hard.  It sounds like you're doing all that.  The emotional background of the scene you described with Dorin, Irina, and the other PC is sky-high!  So I'm wondering about a couple things:

1.  What did Dorin and the other PC hope to get out of the confrontation?  Were they just exchanging heated words?  Or was there something else at stake?  Was one character attempting to manipulate or influence the other?  Was Dorin trying to win the brother's approval, to remove at least one roadblock on the way to marrying Irina?  All of this could lead to a potential conflict.  As the GM, you might think about pushing these issues harder, either through your NPC, Irina, or through direct suggestion to the players.

2.  What was Irina doing during this blow-up?  Obviously, her relationship with both characters is complicated and full of dramatic potential.  Unless she's totally passive, I think she could be a powerful catalyst.

Otherwise, it sounds as if the scene was more about resolving some of the hard feelings between the two PCs more than it was about brewing up additional conflict.  In Hero's Banner, you have to remember that Passion is all about what happens when a character is faced with failure and an overwhelming desire to stand up and fight.  Everything should be hard fought and capital I, Important.  If a character is just resolving his issues, well, then everything is going his way.  Not much to get passionate (in Hero's Banner terms) about there.

I hope this helps, and I'd really like to hear more about your game!

- Tim

P.S.  As far as I know, there are no recorded HB games.  Anyone out there want to prove me wrong?
Logged

Lorthyne
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2010, 01:03:50 PM »

Thanks for your input, Tim (can I call you Tim?)

We actually completed our game of Hero's Banner this last weekend, although it took three separate sessions to do so (mostly because all of us talk a lot and tend to get distracted), and it was a very satisfying conclusion. Ioan was the name of the other PC (Irina's brother), just to set that straight. I'll give you a rundown of the whole game, because you mentioned you were interested.

Our first round of Hero's Banner was set primarily in the southern kingdom of Prodan (sp?), and one the player characters by the name of Jeroboam ended up choosing his Conscience influence to create religious peace, and in his narration he became a sort of prophet figure, creating a religious movement very similar to the Protestant Reformation in the southern, western, and eastern kingdoms, eventually to be martyred in his preaching in the northern kingdom of Uran. We decided to set the next game in Uran, coinciding with Jeroboam's arrival there. My character, Dorin, was the second son of the influential Renado family in Uran, with a Hero influence of finding glory in battle through slaying a mythical creature, a Blood influence of succeeding his father and elder brother Gaius as the head of house in order to protect his brother Gaius from their father's physical and emotional abuses, and a Conscience Influence of marrying the woman of his dreams, Irina.. Another PC, Ioan, was Irina's brother, and was a follower of The Way, Jeroboam's reformation of the Church of the Cross. Ioan desired to find transcendent peace through his religious worship in following his hero Jeroboam, arrange a safe, secure marriage for his sister Irina (which didn't include Dorin as an option, at least to begin with), and as a Conscience influence to find "real," more tangible peace in terms of political stability. Ravian was the adopted son of a powerful but sterile noble in Uran, and chose his father as his Hero influence, wanting to take over the family legacy. Ravian's Blood influence came from his birth family, the Whitevines, who was a powerful noble family in the southern kingdom until the shift in powers begun by Jeroboam led to their extinction. Ravian desired to reclaim the honor of his birth family by killing Jeroboam. Ravian's conscience influence is too complex to explain fully here, but it involved personal redemption and acquisition of power through "old magic" and blood oaths with the "old gods". The final PC, Belainia Blackheart, was the black sheep of a family of ruthless political assassins. She desired to follow her father's philanthropic influence and donate all of her family's possessions to the poor(Hero), to follow her family's dream of overthrowing the king (Blood), and to avenge her father's murder by killing her mother and three brothers(Conscience).

Other connections we forged between the PC's included that the brother of Irina and Ioan went with Dorin on a beast-slaying quest and did not return, so Ioan and Dorin started out on bad footing. Ravian began pursuing Irina as a love interest as well, leading to an interesting love triangle between two PC's and an NPC, and we also worked in a developing romance between Bellaina and Dorin's brother Gaius.

The game opened with Dorin attempting to protect his older brother Gaius from being physically beaten by their father. He failed rather miserably, which resulted in both of them receiving the beating. Ravian and Ioan had a very public debate about the merits and shortcomings of The Way during the feast that welcomed Jeroboam into the city, which led to Irina being falsely informed by her brother Ioan that Dorin had been beaten and most likely killed. Irina rushed to Dorin's home (actually having been taken there by none other than Ravian), and not finding him there, found Dorin at his personal training ground, venting his frustration at his inability to protect his brother. There, the emotionally and physically battered couple sought comfort in each other, culminating in a sexual encounter that both strengthened and compromised their relationship, all while Ravian looked on. Meanwhile, Bellaina battled against her mother's manipulations and befriended a kitchen servant whom she discovered to have been his father's mistress. The servant was being forced to spy on Bellaina by Bellaina' mother, the leverage being that Bellaina's mother had possession of the child of the servant and Bellaina's father, threatening to take the child's life. Ravian is approached by dark forces promising him power to kill Jeroboam if he brings them the dead body of one of Jeroboam's followers. Ravian refuses to commit either way.

Irina approaches her brother Ioan about her sexual compromise with Dorin, and is spurned by her angry brother for the act. Dorin and Ioan the have their previously-mentioned encounter in the woods, which began with Ioan accusing Dorin of ruining her family (specifically, Irina), and ended with Dorin apologizing for the death of Ioan's brother. Rather than reconciling, both individuals came away more incensed with the other. Eventually, the religious tension erupts in the city of Uran when Jeroboam's parade to celebrate the introduction of the peaceful new order known as The Way into Uran ironically devolves into mob violence between the two religious groups, with Ioan being an instigator, having drawn a sword in an attempt to protect Jeroboam's life, compromising the very belief system he was defending with the act. As the fighting erupts in front of the main cathedral for the Old Church, inside the cathedral Bellaina's benevolent uncle (and connection to her Blood influence) encourages her to find some way to stop the conflict, which counsel she chooses to ignore. Simultaneously in the cathedral, Gaius, seeking for acceptance, is contemplating following his father's orders to join the priesthood of the Church, while Dorin attempts to persuade him play a part in their father's machinations. Having failed to do so (i.e., initial failure and a decision not to push), Dorin sees that Gaius himself has become an obstacle in his own protection, and Dorin turns to political maneuverings to displace his father and brother, trying to remove his brother from the line of succession (without bloodshed, of course) against his will. Irina makes an appearance in the mob riots, showing up purely out of spite towards her brother, and is heavily wounded in the fighting. Dorin and Ravian actually work together to save Irina's life, but Ravian suffers a breakdown in the process, going into a bloody rage and cutting down people in order to carve a path for Dorin to pull her out on horseback. Bellaina, in turn, helps to sneak Gaius safely out of the cathedral and past the rioting.

Irina has sustained heavy injuries and has developed an infection. Dorin leaves, frustrated with his inability to help both the woman he loves and his elder brother. Dorin eventually returns home, taking out this frustration on his father, beating him fonearly to death and assuming a more dominant role in the family. While Ioan sits at his sister's bedside, he has an encounter with a connection of his named Owana in which she shifts from being his religious advisor (connection for Hero Influence) to potential lover (connection for Conscience influence). Ravian obtains magical power to save Irina's life but by sheer force of will is able to weasel out of the prerequisite of killing Jeroboam first, promising to do so later. Jeroboam has made an enemy of the king, and Dorin is approached by the king's emissary, asked to move against Ioan's house, who are the strongest supporters of Jeroboam. In a moment of conflict and opportunity, Bellaina murders her mother, bringing her that much closer to her goal. Ravian heals Irina using the old magic, and after he steps out to inform the family, Dorin makes his move, having chosen to to abduct Irina both for her own safety and to use her as leverage against her own house, a plan that Irina herself agrees to. They are confronted by Ravian during their escape, who chooses to side with them in their plan to protect Irina. During this exchange, Ravian threatens to kill Dorin if anything happens to Irina, and Dorin counters with a promise to give up his own life to Ravian if such a thing happens.

Jeroboam is arrested by the king for causing civil unrest. Soon after, Dorin arranges a meeting with the leaders of his family, attempting to persuade them to take a side against Ioan's house in the civil war that is about to erupt, while his father wants to retain the long alliance they have held. During the meeting, Dorin is able to persuade the rest of the house to follow his plan and that his father is unstable and tyrannical, which results in the removal of Dorin's father from house leadership and the (sadly) call of Gaius as the oldest son to assume the role and lead the charge. Still hopeful that the terrified Gaius can be removed, Dorin proceeds with his plan, determined to keep him alive in the coming conflict. Ioan helps Jeroboam to escape his confinement.

The war between the nobles houses and the Church against the common populace, Ioan's house, and the Way begins. Jeroboam, horrified with the conflict, rushes to the city wall to preach peace to both sides, which is exactly how his character was narrated as dying in our previous game. Irina is also spotted near Jeroboam on the wall as Ravian notices the large siege weapon pointed towards him. All of our final conflicts came to a head at this point. Ravian had the choice of firing the weapon and killing both Jeroboam and Irina or in finding his own redemption in saving Irina's life (the siege weapon was going to be fired anyway). Ioan rushed up on the wall, and was faced with choosing to save Owana, Jeroboam, or Irina. Dorin's brother Gaius was seized in the conflict by Bellaina's brothers, and Dorin had to choose between saving Irina on the wall or Gaius on the ground. Bellaina had to choose between saving Gaius's life and thus following her father's dream or helping to overthrow the king and establish her family in a more powerful position. In the end, Jeroboam was killed (he had to die regardless, as that had been previously established), Ravian choose to seek his own redemption by saving Irina, Bellaina went after her brothers and saved Gaius, and Ioan jumped in front of the projectiles, protecting both Ravian and Ioan and securing a good marriage for his sister, eventually crawling back to his lover's arms, embracing them while he died.

In the end narration, Dorin found himself unable to protect either Irina or Gaius, and as such voluntarily gives up his claim on both Irina and the house leadership. In an attempt at suicide, he pursues again the monstrous bird that killed Ioan and Irina's brother and kills it, obtaining the glory of monster-slaying for himself in a most bittersweet fashion. He becomes renowned as the greatest beast-hunter of all time, as he wanders the land seeking out these creatures and his own death, only to slay each one and die miserable of old age. Ravian marries Irina, raising the child of Dorin and Irina as his own and eventually overthrowing the king and taking his place. As king, Ravian erects statues to commemorate Dorin, Ioan, and Jeroboam, at which point he ultimately betrays his magical oath, the consequences of which kill him. Gaius and Bellaina are married, and Gaius is able to support the weight of leadership until Bellaina, his strength, dies in childbirth. House Renado eventually crumbles under Gaius's weak leadership, and Gaius is executed for treason.
Logged
Lorthyne
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2010, 01:11:29 PM »

Phew, wall of text. Now I can reply to you questions, Tim.

1 - In that confrontation, I think Dorin was looking to finally apologize for the hurt he had caused Ioan and his family, while Ioan wanted to ream Dorin for doing just that. Dorin wanted a bit of reconciliation, while Ioan wanted further dissociation. From your description, it seems like we could have made a conflict out of whether or not Dorin is able to obtain some level of forgiveness from Ioan.

2 - Irina wasn't present during the confrontation, but I think she definitely sided with Dorin on this one

The other problem we encountered was that it was difficult to find opportunities for Ioan to make dice rolls and have a shot at increasing passion. Most of his conflicts were very internal (transcendent peace vs temporal peace), and we didn't like the idea of Ioan rolling a conflict to see whether he could convince himself one way of the other, as that idea takes away the choice of the player. Those choices, to me, at least, are the whole point of playing Hero's Banner in the first place.
Logged
Tim C Koppang
Member

Posts: 393


WWW
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2010, 02:33:54 PM »

Lorthyne,

Wow!  Now I wish I had a recording of your session.  It sounds like you all really went at the game with gusto, and I love it.  I especially like, among other things, how you made use of the character, Jeroboam, from episode to episode.  Even though your group knew how Jeroboam would end up, you still included him as in important NPC in the second story (and continued to develop him).

Were you GMing?  Running four characters, from personal experience, can be quite exhausting.  Heroís Banner puts a lot of weight on the GMís shoulders.  While setting scenes and playing NPCs doesnít seem like it should be a lot of work, keeping track of an ever more intricate plot almost always ends up tiring me out.  For obvious reasons, keeping track of less PCs takes some of the load off.  Frequent breaks can also come in handy.  Did you manage all right?

Your final scenes make the whole game sound like a grand blood opera.  Everyone was trying to decide who to sacrifice themselves for.  Obviously, most of the characters survived the battle, but there wasnít a happy ending in sight.  For some reason, I particularly like the lone beast hunter ending.  How tragic.  Still, I could see how future generations might really end up worshipping Dorin.

The way in which you were able to integrate a religious conflict in the game also sounds fascinating.  I have some additional comments on Ioan in this regard (see below), but, in general, Iíve never really made religion the centerpiece of any of my HB games before.  I think inventing a competing religion was a great way to tackle the issue, especially because Iím sure the two religions werenít actually all that different from an outsiderís perspective.  The real conflict is within the different characters who treat their religious differences as truly life and death.  Thatís some great material for HB characters.

---

Now for your specific questions:

1.  Youíve seemed to answer your own question here.  I agree that, if you were looking for a conflict between Dorin and Ioan, there was plenty to choose from.  Seeking forgiveness would be a good choice for example.  I also think that, given your description of the scene in the larger context of the story, you handled it quite well.  The two characters effectively stalemated.  If you wanted to involve the resolution mechanic, you probably would have gotten a more lopsided outcome.

2.  This one is a bit trickier.  A few internal conflicts are ok once in a while, but, I agree with you, itís best to use the resolution system for external conflicts.  And thatís really how I have to answer your question.  Letís look at Ioanís goals:

Quote
Ioan desired to find transcendent peace through his religious worship in following his hero Jeroboam, arrange a safe, secure marriage for his sister Irina (which didn't include Dorin as an option, at least to begin with), and as a Conscience influence to find "real," more tangible peace in terms of political stability.

Given your descriptions, Iíd say that Ioan certainly had powerful influences and goals.  He must have gotten himself into at least a few situations where he was pushing towards these things, yes?  Only his first goal seems to be particularly internal, but even there you had an influential NPC, Jeroboam, who seemed to be very involved in politics and willing to push Ioan into action.  Just because Ioan was religious doesnít mean that he should sit around meditating all the time.

Also, did Ioanís player seem engaged with the fiction?  If there wasnít a turtling problem, then Iíd say that you really have to look at using the NPCs that were closest to Ioan to get him into the action.  When in doubt, force the PC into a situation where he has to act (a fight, a physically threatened sibling, a religious riot, etc.).  Then it becomes less about what the PC should think about or decide in the long term, and more about: ďAct NOW!Ē  If you can get the ball rolling, then follow-up conflicts should present themselves.

Thatís not to say that Ioan shouldnít have time to think, but, as you found, it probably doesnít make for a very conflict-heavy story.

- Tim

P.S.  Yes, of course you can call me Tim.  No need to even ask.
Logged

Lorthyne
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2010, 11:17:24 AM »

Tim,

I actually ran the first game in which Jeroboam was a PC. However, I decided I wanted to play in the next round, and so I ended up playing Dorin, while another member of the group did the GMing. I also felt that his "lone beast hunter ending," to use your words, was particularly fitting, as I ended up dropping that influence to 0 very early in the game and focused on the other two influences, and his eventual failure at accomplishing both of those led to the decision to pursue the almost-forgotten fantasy of his childhood.

To answer your other question, Ioan's player was very much involved in the story and events of the game. I thought you might appreciate knowing that this game of Hero's Banner was the first tabletop role-playing experience for both Ravian's and Ioan's players, and it was a phenomenal success. Granted, Ravian's player is a theater major, and Ioan's an English literature major, so they have significant background in other storytelling methods.

I'm happy to say that Hero's Banner won over a few new converts to our cause.

I have another question, though. How do you feel dice rolls and player decisions for their character should interact? Take the same situation discussed earlier, with the conflict between Dorin and Ioan. Let's say we had decided to make a conflict about whether Dorin could convince Ioan to forgive him, but Ioan's player doesn't feel like Ioan could ever get over the damage Dorin has dealt to his family? I know in the Hero's Banner book you discuss player vs player conflicts, and how it should be possible for both players to succeed or fail at their respective attempts.

Let's say that Dorin succeeds in his roll to convince Ioan to forgive him. The only way I can think of to resolve this would be that in this moment, Dorin is able to convince Ioan that forgiveness is the only reasonable response, even though Ioan hates the idea. This may later lead to Ioan becoming even more incensed at Dorin than he was previously, angry that he no longer has logical ground to stand on for his emotional response. Of course, the trick would be to find a solution that all of the players are happy with.

What do you think about that?
Logged
Tim C Koppang
Member

Posts: 393


WWW
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2010, 02:43:34 PM »

Lorthyne,

A theater major and an English major!  Sounds like my kind of people.  Excellent.  And Iím very happy to hear that they, as new roleplayers, enjoyed themselves so much.  It really does sound like a successful session.

To answer your question, I want to first correct a misconception you may have about PC vs. PC conflicts.  They should only happen when the characters are directly opposed to one another.  So if the conflict is about Dorin extracting forgiveness out of Ioan (which Ioan is resisting), then a victory for Dorin means he gets his forgiveness.  If Ioan wins, then he denies Dorin the satisfaction.  And thatís that.

In the book, when I say that the PCs may want to revise their goals to avoid inter-player conflict, I mean avoid the conflict altogether.  If you have a situation where both players are trying to do something truly orthogonal to each other, then I suggest resolving both conflicts independently, as normal checks, one right after the other.

In the situation you describe, there is certainly a PC vs. PC conflict.  Roll the dice.  Winner takes all.  If Ioan comes to regret buckling to Dorin in later scenes, thatís fine.  However, a loss for Ioan is a loss.  Donít undercut the consequences or let Ioan wiggle out of the result.  Ioan would really forgive Dorin.
Logged

Tim C Koppang
Member

Posts: 393


WWW
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2010, 02:58:44 PM »

To get to the heart of your question, let me first start by saying that all scenes do not need to end with an actual conflict.
...
Now, that said, Hero's Banner can be a pretty intense experience, and the mechanics do encourage lots of conflict -- and the desire for lots of Passion checks.  In all honesty, if you're the GM, you probably should be shooting for a conflict in every scene.

It's been pointed out to me by someone who's name happens to start with Ron Edwards, that the two statements above are contradictory, and possibly confusing.  When I went and checked the HB book on conflicts, I also found to my amazement that my my first statement above directly contradicts the rules of the game.  On page 49, I wrote:

Quote
Each scene needs to climax with a conflict and therefore a conflict check. Without conflicts that challenge the players to choose among their influences, there is no game. The gm needs to set scenes that are on the brink of erupting into conflict, but most of the time it will be up to the players to push the scene over that brink. Players cannot sit back and passively wait for the story to come to them. They have to actively involve their characters in the story, making the story their own as much as anyone else at the table.

Whoops!  That's why I write these things down.

So let me be clear.  Every scene should build to and end with a conflict.  The GM's job is to frame loaded scenes built around what the PCs care most about.  The player's job is to play his character in such a way that he goes looking for a conflict.

Now, as a slight cop-out, I will say that you should not unnecessarily prolong a scene that is failing to deliver.  If that's the case, have a little out-of-character chat and decide what needs to change in the scene to make it work.  Introduce another NPC into the action.  Frame to a different location.  In other words, figure out why the player isn't engaging and correct the problem.  Chatting with the player is a better solution that just hitting the abort button and moving to a different player.  You don't want to cheat anyone out of their opportunity to hit their passion score.

Does that help?
Logged

Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 17707


WWW
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2010, 06:40:58 AM »

As an interested party and booster of the game, I suggest letting some scenes end without conflicts. These would include when:

1. Some useful and satisfying interaction has occurred and has apparently concluded without generating a conflict

2. Nothing useful or satisfying seems to be emerging, in which case I also suggest finding something colorful to say like "The autumn leaves swirl in a wind-driven column, making a brief tapestry of brown, orange, and gold in the air," and closing it fast

As I see it, doing both of these when needed actually facilitates the generation of the most powerful and relevant conflicts the game can deliver.

Best, Ron
Logged
Tzuriel27
Registree

Posts: 1


« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2010, 10:45:15 AM »

Hey, all.  I'm actually the GM who ran this particular game.  Sorry, I'm late to the party, but Lorthyne informed me of this thread a couple days back and those couple days have been my personal foray into hell.  So, I've been rather busy.

But, back to the game.  The problem we'd been having here was not building to a conflict - every scene except the pivotal one described, when Ioan confronts Dorin, had built quite naturally to a conflict, and ended satisfactorily.  The trick of the matter was, at this point, Ioan had not raised his passion score at all, due to his player choosing not to push after initial failures, as she felt he wouldn't push these things.  He also succeeded straight out a couple times, if I remember correctly.  Then comes the confrontation.

To get fully what's happening in this scene, I'll start from the very beginning.  Ioan is at home, doing homey things, when his sister approaches him and literally breaks down before him, confessing to her indiscretion.  Without rolling for conflict, as no external one had presented itself, Ioan immediately effectively abandons his sister for the time being, declaring that he can't even look at her and no longer cares for her.  Obviously he does, but you can already see here a major shift in influences, without a requisite passion check to reflect that in the numbers.  Ioan then goes to Dorin's home and confronts him, verbally.  He informs Dorin of the deep hatred he bears him, and just cuts him to pieces.  All of this, phenomenal roleplaying.  Dorin then, very quietly, apologizes for killing Ioan's brother and goes on to explain the circumstances surrounding the brother's death, which Dorin takes responsibility for.  At the end of the scene, Ioan declares his sister effectively disowned and that he no longer cares what happens to either of them.  This scene was, to me, the highlight of the session, if not the game.

However, of course, there was no conflict.  We resolved the obvious fact that both Dorin and Ioan had changed their influences by, in game terms, assuming they both failed, pushed, and failed again at whatever they wanted, as the scene was ultimately unsatisfactory to either character, and had them roll passion checks accordingly.  The reason why I never pushed for a conflict, though there were several that presented themselves (can Dorin secure Ioan's forgiveness?  can Ioan learn the circumstances regarding his brothers death?  can Dorin use this as leverage to actually gain favor in receiving Irina's hand? etc), was simply because it was two PCs, making these decisions themselves.  They were doing everything Hero's Banner is about, but just without dice rolls.  Were one of them an NPC, a conflict certainly would've been called.  But I let the scene play out because it was brilliant without needing dice, and I didn't want to interrupt the flow of the roleplaying with annoying rules.  I'm sure you understand.  I really can't see how calling for a conflict, in this instance, would have made for a better storytelling experience.

Let me say real fast that in no way am I criticizing your game, Tim.  It's an excellent system, and highlights what I think is most compelling about roleplaying games at all.  In fact, though the next game I plan on running does not use your system, I will incorporate having the players pick out three ultimately contradictory goals for the characters, and play through the decisions they make in light of that.  As Lorthyne said, your game gave us three new players who all enjoyed themselves immensely, and Lorthyne and I obviously did too.

So, praise finished, here comes some criticism.  I'm sure I won't offend, as nothing here is offensive, but if I do, I apologize.  I agree entirely with Ron, that not every scene needs to have a conflict.  I think most should have a conflict, and definitely did my best to drive to that point in my game, but that not all need have one.  I found it an unnecessary burden, actually.  There were times I wanted to just play out a quite scene, letting a player sit with his character.  Think about classics in TV and film, where there's a scene in which nothing happens, but the character is open to you as the viewer and you see into his/her soul.  Those moments are immensely satisfying to me, both in a roleplaying game and in other art.  So there were times I felt compelled to not have such a scene because of the driving need for a conflict, which I think made it just a little bit less of a satisfying experience for me, and perhaps for the players as well.  That being said, it could be I'm just not being creative enough, and not seeing a quiet conflict where there is one.  But I think it's important not to drive that conflict too much.  Even the most crazy, fast-paced thriller needs a quiet moment.

I think a possible way to improve Hero's Banner, already an excellent game, would be to allow a mechanic to raise passion scores in light of the character simply making a decision, instead of failing initially in a conflict and deciding to push.  It might be a good idea to insert a paragraph that simply says when a character chooses one influence over another in light of what's going on in the game, the player automatically rolls a passion check and adjusts his scores accordingly.  Obviously, the breakdown rule would not apply here.  I'm sure you have some ideas along these lines, but that's a suggestion based on how we did it.

All of this is, of course, in the light that we had an excellent game, and everyone left satisfied with the ending.  These are simply some minor troubles that I had, as GM, with an otherwise excellent system.  I think many of the issues we had had more to do with our group and game than the system however.  For instance, Bellaina's player wasn't planning on playing but decided to when listening to the other players describe their characters, which they had been working on for the last couple hours.  In consequence, she existed really independently from the other characters, not concerned, for instance, with the religious conflict at all, nor as deeply tied to them as they were to each other.  We also kind of threw her character together to get playing since it was getting late, and I think we had some trouble there.  But I do think the suggestions above are valid, so do with them what you will.  Anyway, I want to finish this missive by saying that your game gave us an excellent roleplaying experience, and I truly appreciate that.  As said before, I will probably use your influence set up, sans mechanics, in almost all, if not all, of my future games, cause it makes for brilliant roleplaying.
Logged
Tim C Koppang
Member

Posts: 393


WWW
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2010, 03:19:30 PM »

Tzuriel27,

Thank you for your comments, both positive and critical.  As I said above, I am very happy that everyone had such a great time with the game.  Itís certainly no surprise to me that Heroís Banner is less than perfect.  Rest assured, I am not offended.  In fact, Iím happy even to talk about the gameís faults.

Your description helps me to see exactly what the difficulty was.  To paraphrase, itís not that you were having trouble creating conflicts, but rather that Ioanís player couldnít seem to raise his passion score Ė even if it seemed appropriate in game.  Does that sound like a fair summary?

This is an issue that Iíve run into myself in a few games.  It most commonly comes up when the player keeps rolling successes.  But thatís an easy fix.  Just frame conflicts around the characterís lowest-rated influence score.  If probability holds, failure will result eventually.

Your situation is a little different, though.  I have some specific suggestions that I'd like to get into, but, unfortunately, I'm a bit short on time right now.  I'll post again tomorrow.

- Tim
Logged

Tim C Koppang
Member

Posts: 393


WWW
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2010, 08:35:30 AM »

Now to address your specific situation.

First, as to the scene in question, given your description, I can see how not calling for a conflict could have been a fine choice.  Iíve played in a few Heroís Banner games, especially in time-constrained convention settings, where conflicts have seemed forced Ė where we were trying to get to any sort of conflict as quick as possible just to keep the game moving along.  In a convention game, thatís not necessarily a bad thing, but it does end up feeling unsatisfactory in regular play.  I much prefer to let conflicts arise naturally out of intense moments of play.  Not all conflicts need to be huge world-changing events (sometimes small-scale personal conflicts can be very poignant), but conflicts should at least feel important to the character as issue.

Ultimately, I wasnít at your table.  Whether or not there was a conflict worth rolling dice over was up to everyone present to decide.  When in doubt, I usually lean towards rolling, but thatís my personal play style.  Especially in Heroís Banner, where the meat of the game is centered around conflict checks, you might consider letting the dice guide your play a bit more often, even for seemingly minor conflicts.

Second, calling for passion checks outside of a conflict isnít something Iíve ever been satisfied with.  Iíve done it myself, especially way back when I was play-testing the game.  It can work, but I think when everyone knows that itís an option, there is less of an incentive to push a failure or to frame up powerful potential conflicts.  I canít really recommend it as a general rule.  The fact that you knew that both Dorin and Ioan had shifted their priorities is good, and certainly something that happens throughout Heroís Banner play inside and outside of conflicts.

I agree that it is sometimes frustrating to not be able to raise your characterís passion score, especially when you keep rolling initial successes.  This is probably a flaw in the game.  What I might recommend as a sort of compromise is allowing players to rearrange their existing scores following any conflict or particularly powerful scene.  This way you can represent shifting priorities even if overall passion doesnít go up.

Third, Iím not really sure why Ioanís player didnít want to push her initial failures.  Iím not saying that thereís anything wrong with not pushing.  After all, not every conflict is that important to a player.  But of course the game wonít move forward unless you push a good number of failures.  In my personal experience, Iíve found that most player want to push because they really want to see their passion scores go up.  If this is a problem in future games, you might try changing up the type of conflicts to encourage pushing as a more obvious choice.  When players arenít pushing, itís usually an indication that the conflicts need to be a bit more intense or focused on their specific goals.

Finally, I like playing Heroís Banner with lots of conflicts, even if those conflicts are minor from time to time.  The game, as originally designed, was really focused on moving through a new set of characters each session.  Requiring a conflict each scene was a way of ensuring a quick pace.  All that said, if you have the time or simply want to slow things down, then, yes, by all means donít worry about putting a conflict into each scene.  As you can tell from my original post above, Iíve been relaxing this requirement in my own play.  Artificial or forced conflicts are no fun, and it is desirable to have quiet moments in between all of the intensity.
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!