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Author Topic: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto  (Read 13651 times)
Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #30 on: January 26, 2011, 07:59:13 AM »

There is a big FATE community and lots of discussion on the various boards.  The designers all have active internet presences.

I am hoping my FATE notes are of interest to designers working with FATE-esqe traits and/or trait bidding/rewarding mechanics.

Diaspora has a very satisfying "I'm not deprotagonizing your PC, I'm saying at this moment he or she is flummoxed/outgunned/lust-besotted/out of ammo" approach.  And it bolts Compels into the resolution mechanic, and not just in the scene framing, free roleplay parts of the game.

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jburneko
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« Reply #31 on: January 26, 2011, 01:44:04 PM »

Hey,

I wanted to chime in and say that I think Ron has asked the $64,000 dollar question about Compels.  Its an issue I've thought about a lot because I'm currently running a semi-long form Dresden campaign.  What I've found in play is that FATE is very much an echo chamber of a system.  It basically enables the play group to express whatever they want to express without offering any "opinions" of its own.  *I'm* approaching the material with the arrogance of "I can do better."  I'm not sure I can say the same for (all) my players.

In practice we've had a lot of ups and downs with Compels.  What I've noticed is that in *practice* Compels go through a two tier approval process, not one like the game would apply.  The first tier is wholly group based.  Someone offers a Compel and it hits the table with an obvious OOOOOO of excitement or a rather grand Thud.  In the case of the grand Thud the Compels are usually withdrawn or reformulated *without the expenditure* of a FATE a point.  In the case of the excited OOOOOs the Compel has achieved group legitimacy and if it is bought off with a FATE point then that usually translates into a bit of fiction when the character shakes off or struggles through whatever the Compel was about.

I've found that to be a microcosm of FATE itself.  There's a lot of permission and approval seeking built into the system.  Maneuvers is another example.  It's actually extremely difficult to take advantage of your own Maneuvers.  Doing a Maneuver eats up a whole action and since degree of success has no impact on action order everything that was going to happen is going to happen before your turn comes up again to capitalizing on your Maneuver.  "Selling" the impact of your fictional contribution is very dependent on someone else picking up the result of the Maneuver and acting on it, either by Tagging it for a bonus or compelling it in some manner.  As GM I've taken to self-compelling my NPCs when a PC does Maneuvers like "Sand In Eyes".  It nets me a FATE point for that NPC and makes it feel like the Maneuver counts for something beyond having to wait for the whole initiative cycle to come around again.

I had an interesting conversation with our resident FATE-fan Morgan.  Morgan's FATE games are EXTREMELY popular at our local conventions.  Morgan is basically one giant Color machine.  He has a collection of FATE scenarios that are basically tributes to his own childhood.  He has a Thundar The Barbarian scenario.  He has a G.I. Joe scenario.  He has a John Carter of Mars scenario.  Note: He doesn't use those "canons" but instead creates original material that is probably best described as pastiche with a unique spin.  However, these scenarios run purely on enthusiasm for the color.  They are pretty devoid of anything resembling a Narrativist Premise in Big Model terms.

Anyway, Morgan was talking about a Dresden scenario he'd like to work up about an underground Changeling rock-band.  He was lamenting though that he felt like he didn't have the skills to really push that concept as hard he'd like to make it work.  We joked that after he made up the characters he wanted he'd turn it over to me and I'd twist it around to give it the emotional edge it needed.  But then we realized that after I did that, that we'd need our friend Colin to run it because he's better than either of us at working the really painful Compels.  Colin and Morgan are a really interesting compare and contrast point on this issue.  It's no surprise that Morgan's "go to" game is FATE and that while Colin enjoys and is good at running FATE games, his "go to" game is Burning Wheel.

Jesse

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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #32 on: January 27, 2011, 08:49:37 AM »

The FATE community has been having discussion on compels:


Some want to remove GM-side compels
http://www.vsca.ca/halfjack/?p=479

Some are assigning compels to different participants for different areas of the fiction
(frex: The World's compels are GM-side only, Internal compels can be proposed but can be denied by PC's player for free, Supernatural compels are GM-proposed/player pays to deny)
http://ryanmacklin.com/2011/01/internal-vs-world-compels/

Some want to avoid compelling altogether
* This is what I gather from the comments surrounding "Strands of FATE"

I like Leonard Balsera's approach for narrative compels :
http://lcdarkwood.livejournal.com/3824.html

Quote
Aspect is Greedy.

1.) A crime boss offers you money to sell out your friends.
2.) You sell out your friends for the money.
3.) As a result of this, your home base gets destroyed. (And probably, your friends are pissed at you, but they're PCs too, so that's for them to decide.)

or

1.) A crime boss offers you money to sell out your friends.
2.) You want the money, so you give him false information.
3.) As a result of this, he discovers the deception and puts a price on your head so large every bounty hunter within 1,000 miles wants to kill you.

That is working well.

But the mechanics need some linkage back to the fiction.

To pick up Jesse's metaphor: FATE can be an echo chamber.  People are throwing things out into the shared imaginative space.  The FATE point economy could serve as a reward system to encourage reincorporation of those elements into an evolving world.  Players compelling their own aspects are asserting particular parts of their PC's persona, emphasizing some and letting others slip away.  Players compelling other PC's (to empower or to challenge) and are offering feedback, providing an environmental constraint on expression of certain PC aspects.  GMs are doing that across the board.  Players offering OOOOOhs are creating an environment in which certain behaviours and traits will find further expression or go extinct.  The dead silence when a lame compel is offered assists the development of that environment.  The City, as created, puts hard limits on the way the environment can change, and these hard limits, if reinforced through Fate Points and Compels, will affect the evolution of individual PCs.

The FP economy might work best if input were coming from all decision makers, and pressure on PCs could come from other PCs' players and from the GM.

Reciprocal rewards could produce a kind of Nash equilibrium between all involved parties.  The evolution of such and equilibrium would probably come about faster if the FATE point economy were flowing through many decisions makers, not just under the monopoly of the GM or the temporary duopolies formed by 1GM/1 PC interactions.

In concrete terms: if were are all improvising, it would be nice if we could all be on alert and integrate functional suggestions into recurring figures, and which every iteration of chorus we could prove that we were all listening to what the other folks kicked in last time and bring it up again, so that our unfolding improvisation builds up an integral unity instead of being just a bunch of random echoes.

(P.S.  There is always a place for a free form freak out, but you can always be Miles Davis instead of Ornette Coleman)
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #33 on: January 27, 2011, 10:52:35 AM »

Jesse, your APs for Actual People Actual Play, and those from The Walking Eye, were what pushed me to get both Dresden Books.

From the outside it looks as if you picked up on the game's GM-ing advice.  In one podcast you talk about how your previous experience in creating mystery scenarios just didn't work out for Dresden.  But when you began working with an Aspect-centred mode of prep, the game rolled along better.

Listening to that learning process really taught me to keep my old habits out of DFRPG scenario prep.

Hooking up compels to this mode of prep would bring a kind of coherence and dynamism to the kind of FATE I "feel" is possible but am only beginning to see.*

* Which is not the "skill-based game with a few bennies tossed in and a few player-defined abilities and gear generic RPG" that seems to be the default
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jburneko
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« Reply #34 on: January 27, 2011, 12:13:55 PM »

Erik,

For clarity, I didn't *quite* prep a truly old-school clue-chain style mystery.  My roots are in that style of play and I feel like my current Dresden play is harkening back to that in that I find myself having to generate A LOT of material whole cloth for each and every scenario.  My prep (and usage of that prep) looks a lot more like a Dogs in the Vineyard scenario or a Sorcerer game (if you're familiar with either of those).  The problem is that I don't have any of the tools those games give me.

My problem is that despite all the advice I find Aspects to be anemic in terms of scenario prep.  Here's an example.  One of my players has this Aspect: "I hate you almost as much as I hate Vampires."  Which according to the advice suggests I should place the player in situations that features people the character hates and Vampires preferably placing them at odds with one another.  The problem is that character generation produces no such people of significance to the character.  I have to guess at it.  At best I can come up with cartoony "bad guys" that are universally dis-likable and mix them up with Vampires some how.

The one Aspect in Dresden that you'd think would be the "meatiest" is the Trouble aspect.  The problem with the Trouble Aspect (in addition to the general lack of concretes mentioned above) is that it isn't intended to be a right here, right now crisis point for the character.  In other words, Trouble is NOT intended to be the thing "at stake" at the heart of any given scenario such that the player would basically have to re-write his Trouble from scenario-to-scenario as each one fully and completely resolve the Trouble one way or another.  Instead Trouble is supposed to be the thing that makes dealing with whatever really is "at stake" in the scenario in a clean and simple manner.  Trouble is a persistent, maybe-someday-it-will-be-resolved, which again puts in the position of having to constantly "angle" the PCs Trouble towards the heart of whatever I've made up whole cloth is really "at stake" in the scenario.

If you're listening to AP, AP regularly this is the primary reason we play other things between Dresden scenarios.  It takes me the better part of a month to let a really good scenario "brew" in my brain until I can fine tune it.

Jesse

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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #35 on: January 27, 2011, 12:36:16 PM »

My problem is that despite all the advice I find Aspects to be anemic in terms of scenario prep ...

The one Aspect in Dresden that you'd think would be the "meatiest" is the Trouble aspect.  The problem with the Trouble Aspect (in addition to the general lack of concretes mentioned above) is that it isn't intended to be a right here, right now crisis point for the character.  In other words, Trouble is NOT intended to be the thing "at stake" at the heart of any given scenario such that the player would basically have to re-write his Trouble from scenario-to-scenario as each one fully and completely resolve the Trouble one way or another. ...

If you're listening to AP, AP regularly this is the primary reason we play other things between Dresden scenarios.  It takes me the better part of a month to let a really good scenario "brew" in my brain until I can fine tune it.

Concerning Aspects:
Aspects as such may be a little aenemic.  Perhaps it is only their repeated appearance over a series of sessions which integrates them into the fiction and really ties character to world and and story?  But the game does seem to depend on the quality of a setting's constituent aspects.

Concerning Trouble:
That is "good" to know.  It means that I shouldn't press on Trouble as hard as I thought I could.  It's bad in that if I can't press on it hard, that is a strong driver that I thought could provide immediate drama put out of commission.

Concerning AP, AP's Use of the Game:
Month between sessions?  I have been thinking of how to run games where the world and the unfolding story are consistent but where the playgroup meets only intermittently.  I have my open Freemarket running as a series of 1-shots, a Sorcerer One-Sheet that I HOPE to bring back to the folks who generated it, and this Dresden created for a very particular playgroup.  Maybe DFRPG is the "pick-up" game I hoped to get from SoTC.

And, perhaps the Actual Play postings in this Forum could start to take into account the dynamics of different cycles of play, relative frequency and spacing between sessions of play, and other long-term dynamics of RPG games.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #36 on: January 27, 2011, 12:45:08 PM »

Trouble appears to be synonymous with the Melodramatic Hook from Feng Shui, practically verbatim - itself a formalized version of how some groups applied Dependent Non-Player Character or other situational disadvantages in Champions.

Best, Ron
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jburneko
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Posts: 1429


« Reply #37 on: January 27, 2011, 02:28:08 PM »

Trouble appears to be synonymous with the Melodramatic Hook from Feng Shui, practically verbatim - itself a formalized version of how some groups applied Dependent Non-Player Character or other situational disadvantages in Champions.

Maybe.  Keeping in mind that the game is rooted in episodic semi-serialized fiction I would suggest that at best Trouble is supposed to work like I imagine Issues in PtA working if you were NOT playing in an HBO or FX mode.  Assuming a highly episodic, threat-of-the-week structure an Issue could be viewed as something to be positioned relative to that threat.  It develops, it waxes and wanes, it experiences micro-resolutions relative to the current threat but it never, you know, RESOLVES except perhaps after many, many, many seasons.  Maybe not even until the whole show's finale.

Jesse
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #38 on: January 28, 2011, 07:49:58 AM »

Trouble appears to be synonymous with the Melodramatic Hook from Feng Shui, practically verbatim - itself a formalized version of how some groups applied Dependent Non-Player Character or other situational disadvantages in Champions.

That sound like the DNA for Trouble.  The DNPCs or (I think?) Enemies appeared with different frequencies according to how big a contribution they made to the point value of the character (I had 1st ed. boxed set Champions).  So there was probability X that such an such an enemy would show up at bring its point-determined powers to bear against you.

Feng Shui stripped out that statistical/strategical aspect and made that trouble/distraction a part of the fiction, in a formal way but tied to GM choice and not dice outcomes.

I was pressing on Trouble to give me drama.  That just does not work.  I can't do story now with compels.  My players are acting out different sides of their aspects, or the contradictions between their aspects to see what happens.  Characters grab guns or pilfer maps not so much to create drama but as avenues to explore.  I offer them Fate Points to direct them down a decision path that will bring them complications in addition to current problems.  I am getting FP buy-offs only about 15% of the time.  These decisions to compel, to accept the compel, to deny the compel, all seem to revolve around the who wants to explore what when.
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #39 on: January 28, 2011, 08:22:05 AM »

...  the game is rooted in episodic semi-serialized fiction ... at best Trouble is supposed to work like I imagine Issues in PtA working if you were NOT playing in an HBO or FX mode.  Assuming a highly episodic, threat-of-the-week structure, an Issue could be viewed as something to be positioned relative to that threat.  .

One of the appeals of the City Creation process is that it gives me a finite set of elements to pull from to make an episodic threat-of-the week structure but keep a sense of coherence to the fiction.  My improvisations and scenario creation are constrained by the range of possible agents.  It also gives me a sense of direction lacking in the exploration games I have been in, and the complete lack of which makes sandbox games unendurable for me.

When most of the threats have made an appearance, we might well be done.  More of the threats will be revealed but I won't pull any jerky wild cards out.  (No "The guy you thought was a White Court Vampire ---- was just pretending!" crap).
The nature of the threats will be explored.
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #40 on: January 28, 2011, 06:54:03 PM »

Fred Hicks offered a way to link compels to the Conflict mechanics way back in March 2010.

http://www.vsca.ca/halfjack/?p=479#comment-804

Quote
I’d suggest that the correct tactical play compel is not “I make you lose an action”; it’s “I reduce your list of options.” So I could see a compel taking away the ability to move, or to block, or to attack, or to maneuver in a highly tactical set-up, where you’re using Fate as your engine for something boardgame/wargame-like; and I’d regard that as more like the good compels, because they don’t eliminate the ability to do anything, they limit the choices of what to do … which could force someone to change up their tactics. That’s a more interesting story, there, than “and then they were paralyzed”. But rooted to the spot, fighting for their lives? Forced to abandon the attack and try for a tactical retreat? That’s got me.

If only it had been integrated into the Dresden book!

I would add that a rule-governed extension of compels to the Conflict mechanics makes for a lot of good back and forth detail that complements the Aspect invoking strategy.  In addition to Aspects I invoke with my Fate Points to obtain +2, I can now pay a FP and limit an opponent's actions -- a complementary rather than a simple reversal of one kind of spend.
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #41 on: January 29, 2011, 01:38:47 PM »


Still doing aggressive scene framing, softened with FP.  I am compelling things.  Will take the wheel off of the accelerator in future and put it on players to propose starting scenes, etc.

I am managing 3 story streams
* hexmaster dealing with a weird client
* wizard/shapeshifter being trailed by goons
* empath dealing with a work supervisee being subject to weird influences

Crosses, weaves, and openings allow me to bring these together.  These three simple techniques are keeping the action going even if an overall direction is not being pursued.

Examples of compels affecting the fiction.
* Hexmaster confronted with his "Gotta finish the job" Aspect when his client starts shrieking at him.  Buys off the compel and hot foots it outta there.
* He abandons the client to a squad of baddies working with the new mayor and feels bad.  Now he accepts a suggested "Gotta finish the job" compel and comes up with a way to save weird client from the bads -- pull the fire alarm.  (Nice old school RPG problem solving)
* His "Dammit!  I am TRYING to be a good Muslim" aspect compelled by his new mentor to try to help the client he kind of abandoned.
* The empath, Hannah, continues to get involved with a supervisee even though I compelled her "Easily Underestimated" Aspect and suggested that her mean supervisor would berate her and think her actions foolish and outside of her competence.  She took the FP.
* My powerful Caribbean spirit, a "Duppy" harassed the supervisee and there was a bit of a showdown and he pulled out of the conceded and was banished, earning some FPs in the process.

The players kept coming up with creative solutions to challenges that didn't require too many FP spends.  Usually they took my compels but made a few buy-offs to insist that THIS time they were going to push past any temptations or liabilities, or habits, but that at some other time they might not.

My actions with the Duppy were motivated by the FP mechanic.  As an inhuman monster it has NO FP for compelling other players, invoking its own aspects, making declarations, etc.  As powerful as it is, its full force as a supernatural being feeding off of guilt, striking viewers with terror, etc., will really be felt if players have obvious courses of action forbidden or ruled out during the Conflict mechanic.  And for that I have to earn FP for that particular bad.
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #42 on: February 27, 2011, 07:31:56 AM »

Urg.

We were delayed for a week.

And when I came back I just wanted to tie up the adventure.

So the players used their FP to do some fancy declarations, like our Streetkid/Borrower paying to steal a firearm off of another PC.  (Good example of using FP to obviate a die roll).

They are starting to put aspects on other characters and exploit them or leaving them for others to exploit.  Cool!

They are using Assess actions to set up scenes.  They found a White Court Vampire on the verge of activating her powers with her first lethal feeding.  Her father and 2 other WCVs were performing some ancient Etruscan ritual while her 1st lethal mating took place.  The PCs set up some good Assess moves, some cool maneuvers. 

But there was a big of kluge.  Or murk.  I narrated the WCV's triumphant transformation into a killer.  But I had totally misheard what one of the players had said her PC was doing.  So I had to pull back and take the action 180 degree into a "PC's come in at the last moment and save the day" (not in a "pull the punches" kind of way" but in a mechanically-faithful and dramatic kind of way).

Here is what I wrote in a later e-mail:

"Thank you for a very enjoyable session last night.

Your clever/destructive plans were, as usual, most effective.

There are 2 areas where my performance was off
* I wasn't listening closely enough to J___ [player] and Locke's [the PC's] action to prevent the vampire transformation was cut short (a character who has been prevented from making meaningful action is said to be "deprotagonized"). That was easily fixed before things had gone too far.
* I introduced a SECOND supernatural threat right after I had been dealt with. That was dirty pool. The Fate Point economy is pretty dependable: players will amass FP through clever role play and taking in-character risks. That pile of FP will almost always be spend to resolve a major threat. Introducing a second major threat RIGHT AFTER a big blow up will catch players flat footed.
* My excuse is that I run a lot of one-shots and often feel compelled to hype up the drama and bring things to forced conclusions.

I will try to set up a more open scenario for Round 3.

Hope you all had fun."

The players seemed a little put off by the extreme effectiveness of the Duppy.  But given the 3 FP I had earned for this NPC by compelling its aspects, its first punch was bound to be a big one.

And when J____ suffered a massive failure and was without FP, I felt a little bad when she had to concede.  I kept trying to soften the blow but she was ready to have her character split the scene in fear.

I suppose it is because this is a new group I don't want any player to feel left out.  I thought I was past that novice GM "keep everyone happy" mentality.
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #43 on: March 11, 2011, 09:31:45 AM »

Last night's session alowed me to clear my thoughts about chance and games:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php?topic=31269.msg285064#msg285064
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #44 on: March 14, 2011, 06:43:26 AM »

Diaspora has a very satisfying "I'm not deprotagonizing your PC, I'm saying at this moment he or she is flummoxed/outgunned/lust-besotted/out of ammo" approach.  And it bolts Compels into the resolution mechanic, and not just in the scene framing, free roleplay parts of the game.

I am overgeneralizing the Diaspora compel rules.  The "you lose your action" compel is available only in the combat minigame.  The social conflict minigame has a great mechanic for forcing a player to "move" closer to or farther from a currently held position, and provides a very satisfying way to represent social conflicts visually.
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