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Author Topic: [Realization Dawning] Ronnies feedback  (Read 1680 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: February 17, 2011, 03:28:27 AM »

Realization Dawning by Gregor Hutton, as a Ronnies entry, was clearly a snapshot taken in the middle of a design process. Enough is there for me to see where it's going and what it's getting at, and what I see of that, I do like, but it's by no means together enough, in that version, for anyone to attempt to play.

I don't know if this comment will be helpful or just weird, but with any game with a strong Universalis or post-Universalis influence, particularly if Annalise is involved, I get the same impression as from many movies directed by Ridley Scott - the air always seems to be filled with flakes or motes or thingies drifting and swirling around. When it works, it creates this astonishing atmosphere and a feeling that everything is happening in a powerful medium of some kind; and when it doesn't, it's just a bunch of floaty shit blowing all over. That's what I want to know about this game, whether it can do this very effect right.

Speaking of Annalise, I presented and wrote about a diagram for that game in [Annalise] Pompeii and the Cult of Blood, which may be useful to people reading this, because I suspect Realization Dawning has at least part of its origins in that thread.

Anyway, my comments about the game are restricted to the Ronnies text, which is perhaps now left behind in the design process ([Realization Dawning] Questions and Missing Pieces, oh and the Mood Meter), but maybe I can still be helpful, or so I hope.

All right, let's get into the economy of fictional items (Components in Universalis terms, here, Elements) and game-money, in this case, Motes. To forestall brain-exploding, let's set the number of players at three.

The GM sets out up to three Leitmotifs to start. They are currently Moteless. Let's say he sets out three.

Each player sets out a character and uses all three Leitmotifs in doing so. Now each character has four Motes and each Leitmotif has three. 9By contrast, if it goes entirely the other way and no player uses any of the Leitmotifs, and in this case, each character has one Mote and that's it. Let's stay with the "rich" example for present purposes though.)

Flash-forward for a moment: in the first case, if Midnight comes when two Leitmotifs have more Motes than the number of players, then look, it's Midnight already. I think that threshold needs raising.

Anyway, back to the Prologue, which is just ending. Now, in Approaching Midnight, Leitmotifs go off like fireworks. Intensive detective work on the document (Jesus, Gregor, what you put me through!) yielded the following ways to make and use Leitmotifs, People, and Places, and their consequences.

1. If a player does anything concerning a character's Desire (which is a thing on the table like everything else), including inventing it, then both player and GM gain a Mote, the former to the Desire itself and the latter to a Person or Place (which may exist or is newly invented). This can happen a lot.

2. Either player or GM may simply invent a Person or Place, once per scene - for the player, this is in addition to the option in #1. If it's the player, he gets a Mote on his character; if it's the GM, he moves a Mote to the new thing from a Leitmotif.

3. If anyone uses an existing Leitmotif, they get a Mote - if the GM, it goes to the Leitmotif; if the player, it goes to the character. This can happen a lot.

4. Anyone can invent a new Leitmotif, once per scene - if the GM, it gets a Mote; if the player, the character gets a Mote.

5. If a player does anything concerning a Person or Place, the player gains a Mote (to the character?) and the GM gets a Mote on that element. This can happen a lot.

6. Conflicts are resolved using a very simple Mote bid, at most.

So before Midnight, what I'm seeing is a veritable forest of Motes, much like my coffee table looked like halfway through Annalise. Again, the Midnight cutoff is going to have to be a lot higher than what's written, but now, let say whatever it is, it arrives.

The rules are fragmentary from Midnight onwards. Player can no longer use Leitmotifs (meaning, get Motes?), but can they still make them? Can the GM?

For conflicts, the opponents gather Motes from relevant elements. Can they get Motes from the same ones? Say it's taking place in a bar, and the bar element has four Motes on it. Can we each get one? What if there's only one - who gets it? Also, is the character involved always a relevant element? Do you have to take a Mote from every relevant element, and if so, then won't the GM and player always end up with the same number of dice, assuming each element has at least two?

Resolve the dice Sorcerer-wise. If the player wins, they get Motes equal to the degree of success ... these go on the character, I presume? The options for when the GM wins are interesting. It seems to be either the GM gets to keep his Motes only if he lets the player(s) win, and otherwise they get the Motes. But I can't tell how you resolve it when the GM chooses to win and the players choose to win, at the same time.

So during this phase, elements lose Motes, and characters may gain some of those. The net economy loses Motes, though.

After that, the text breaks down. There's one more rules change at Dawn, after which more conflicts occur. This text is confusing because it presents rules as if they were newly established, but which were already established for After Midnight. Anyway, the one new thing seems to be that players can gain control over People and Places. I think it ends when all the Leitmotifs are empty, and then you see whether Desires get met and who's an angel.

All right, now for the hard part: does it work? Is all the Mote-pushing a good thing, or are we just moving shit around while we talk, which is boring, or worse, talking insofar as we're allowed to push shit around?

My concern is that it seems to me that you want to get Motes through winning or losing conflicts, insofar as you want your character to be an angel, but that obviously is greatly affected by how often the GM chooses to win (i.e. succeed) on a winning roll. But as far as I can tell, doing things about your Desires just bleeds them down, even if you win "in the fiction." The Desires seem doomed, and it seems counter-intuitive to me that striving toward them and winning rolls tanks them in the endgame. Same goes for doing things to and for People and Places, at least as far as the After Midnight rules are concerned; the Early Morning rules allow (somehow) for gaining control over their epilogues.

The above paragraph is critical. There's a rules-procedure which throws a monkey-wrench into the angel-or-not issue, and there's something wrong or off in screwing your Desires et cetera over when you're succeeding in achieving them. I am actually pretty sympathetic to entries with missing sections, as long as their brief descriptions make sense, so the incompleteness of this entry wasn't actually an impediment to getting an award. But these two rules issues have tripped me up royally.

Best, Ron
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2011, 10:28:35 AM »

Thanks for the feedback, Ron. Apologies for putting you through the great rules hunt -- it's all over the place in the Ronnies entry. And some bits flat out contradict others. Or things like the rerolls get mentioned once and never again.

I strongly wish that it will create an atmospheric cloud swirling in the air, but it's going to take a lot of work and tinkering.

The good news is that I'm almost done updating (and heavily re-ordering) it into a playtesting document. Maybe I'll get it finished tonight.

I guess one of my aims was to have a Uni/Annalise type of game that I could run as a GM, rather than one where everyone had to take on GMly stuff (that was on my mind from my trip to Ireland at the end of January). I also found I wanted the game to have distinct phases of play (and here I'll say that a direct influence was It Was a Mutual Decision) and more emo immersion for players than the "top down" authoring that I had in Remember Tomorrow.

So, I'm hoping the playtest doc will get a group through the Prologue, the Approaching Midnight phase and into the After Midnight phase. At the moment I can't see far enough beyond that myself to really know what the Early Morning will look like or what rules it will need.

One thing I'm feeling is that a Player having Motes on a Character and some (or just a single?) Desires isn't enough in the After Midnight phase. I'm thinking that here Characters will need to be using Motes off People and Places, and using Leitmotifs, somehow.

Anyway, once I get something that can be playtested I'll pass it around. 1km1kt looks as good a place as any.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2011, 07:32:40 PM »

Hi Gregor,

Uni/Annalise with a GM + distinct phases + emo immersion = tremendous, excellent, exciting. You're sort of in My Life with Master zone with this, only with that Ridley Scott currency thing going on. I get it, and I think this could really be a fine game. Here are my thoughts.

1. Too many transitions and play phases, which is leading you to struggle for phase identity when you don't have anything to do with it. I see the functional sets as:

EVENING - prologue - this isn't really play but meaningful prep-and-entry
BEFORE MIDNIGHT - play - then the Midnight criteria hit
AFTER MIDNIGHT - play - then the Dawn criteria hit
MORNING - conclusion - this isn't really play although system features may be involved

The whole after-midnight early-morning distinction is driving you nuts and I think you might not need it. But if you really want three phases of play, then I suggest a "stroke of midnight" phase which covers very little in-game time, but may take a while in play (and is play, not just blather) and has a great deal to do with back-story, emotions, revelations, and similar, such that priorities may be greatly transformed.

2. So, I was thinking that the big trouble is Leitmotifs. You apparently love them. Me, I think they're only OK - good for necessary starters, like Tenets in Universalis. Two things come to mind. First, that they don't need to proliferate as much as the current rules have them doing. Perhaps the minor twist we brought to our Annalise game, in which our Claims were strange little details and phrases and actions, not people and places, might be the textual concept for things that might proliferate in play. Here's my description from [Annalise] In which there is neither Annalise nor a vampire:

Quote
Regarding Claims, I'm making lots, using them as they appear, and freeing them to Float pretty quickly. I tend not to keep and boost them. Our Claims in action, after two sessions, included: "Just shut up, stop talking" "Greasy gross hand" "Friendly plumber" "Tears on her face" "This fuckin' town" "'Real' drinks" "Homeless guy on bench" "Another beer out of the fridge" "His mom loves him" "Man totally out of place" "I'm not trying to be a jerk here" "Big dreams" "They're gonna send me back to Iraq" "Bobbi's cat" "Blood down the tracks" "Ed" "I'm gonna regret this" "'Whatever'" "Surrounded by bodies" "Yearbook" "I hate the cops." Special mention goes to "Vomits EVERYWHERE" which has been utilized regarding all three player-characters' actions at one point or another.

If you know the game text, then you've probably already spotted that we've diverged a bit from the instructions regarding Claims' content. They're almost all motifs of customizable dialogue and imagery, with hardly any agency-ownership. So the "tears" could be on any female character's face for any reason, or the "greasy gross hand" could be anyone's hand with any number of sources of any kind of grease, or it could be any mom, or any number of reasons or persons involved in repeating a particular line of dialogue. I don't know why it developed that way, but it creates a unity of tone and kind of a symphony of strong motifs which is working well for us.

Second, that their role as a "Mote item" (what'd you call that ... element) is fine before midnight, and I'm even thinking that they should really bulk up. And then after that, I think they should just get used up and discarded. "Yeah, OK, we did the rain thing. We get it. And it's still raining, but now our attention is on people, decisions, visions, and hopes." They might even be neutral banks fo Motes at that point, no "narrate more rain" to them at all. So I'm seeing things differently from you - I do think Characters and Desires should be the privileged items once midnight is past.

3. I am having some trouble understanding the distinction between achieving Desires through rolls vs. an upbeat ending for the character. I do grasp that one can get what one wants and still not be happy,* but having that last bit be dictated right at the ending-endy-end seems inorganic and cosmetic to me. Am I merely missing a system feature which says, win conflicts about your Desires and get Motes on them that way? I dunno if the current system allows for that - it seems to me that you are losing all your Motes in order to roll and almost certainly only get some of them back at best. And wouldn't the safest tactic be turtling and not entering conflicts about your Desires, just keeping their Motes untouched?

Best, Ron

* Cerebus, Church & State. Read it if you haven't.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2011, 04:43:54 AM »

Oh yeah - if you want to stay with the "morning" theme being more central, then I suggest shifting my scheme of transitions forward in time:

Start at midnight. Your first set of Leitmotif-heavy rules would then be for "After Midnight."
Then what you called Midnight in the rules would become Dawn. So the two major phases of play would be After Midnight and Morning.

So the whole game, with the exception of the Prologue at midnight, would occur in the morning, technically ("after meridian").

Best, Ron
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2011, 09:55:19 AM »

Thanks for the feedback Ron. It's spooky because over the weekend I got rid of the Early Morning phase of play as you've written above. And now reading your latest post I do prefer the phases "After Midnight" and "Morning". I think "Before Midnight" will be the name of the prologue.

I've currently pencilled in "Complications" as things that the Characters can own, in addition to Desires. I'm figuring that players will be happy to spend Motes off Complications (to get rid of the Complication) while holding on to the ones on their Desires (or only using them frugally for extra dice).

So, Leitmotifs are like the GM's version of the Complications to be brought in, stacked with Motes and then spent.

Joe Prince is working tonight so I don't have to go to Glasgow. I'll finish off the playtesting doc roughly and upload it tomorrow. I'll try to give it a run out soon, probably when I'm in Ireland at Itzacon in 3 weeks from now.
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