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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 30 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Lord of the Rings] Oh, CODA!?!  (Read 5695 times)
Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2011, 04:04:24 AM »

Thanks, Jay. I'll have a think about this and get back to you. And if anyone else has a view then I'm happy to read them too.

My initial feeling is that I feel I can revel in the world of Middle-earth while stepping on up (the LOTR board game and the War of the Ring game from the 70s do this for me, I think), or while addressing a premise (I'm working on a game of my own that I hope will do this) or while pursuing the right to dream. But the murk, or lack of an agenda, in the CODA game at all seriously messes with the ability to play it coherently as written. And I feel that does cause a disconnect in play and enjoyment of Middle-earth because the colour gets compromised by the rules.

I feel that Conor's and my goodwill allowed us to avoid bits of the rules as written as the table (which is at the social contract level) to enjoy the game.

Of the three approaches, I think this CODA rules-set is closest to a gamey approach. There are definitely levers and pulleys that favour one thing over another as they are "better" than others. But it cuts the feet out from under the challenge when some of the best choices run counter to the colour and it tries to dilute it with ideas of "story" for XP and so on. (And the "story" strongly seems to be, on reflection, the GM's pre-prepared one, and not events and decisions emerging from play.)

Steve is hopefully playing his Elf this Sunday and I'm willing to give it another shot with my Dunedain. I like my character and I love the setting, and we all do want to play a game in Middle Earth.

Gregor
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contracycle
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Posts: 2984


« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2011, 05:29:07 AM »

Just as a note I guess, I'm somewhat unclear what it is that you are having difficulty with in terms of the LOTR source material.  I would have thought, frex, that long healing times would be quite appropriate, and that it's converse, the very rapid healing times in most fantasy games, are very un-LOTR-like.  As for character death... well, to me LOTR never had a feeling of plot-immunised characters or death at significant moments.  I would say rather that the manner of Boromir's death was heroic, and this redeemed him from the stigma of his previous ambitions. In that sense it's only a significant moment after the event, when intepreted retrospectively.  My overall impression runs the other way, in that the fellowship were essentially "normal" people on the run from the overwhelming power of the Nazgul.  In this respect the way that D&D frex levels you to a point where orcs become cannon fodder was also something I found disenchanting.

Anyway, I don't really know what I would have made of this system becuase I know no more about it than what you have said here, but to me the trend of making characters "heroic" in the sense of being more powerful is contrary to LOTR-as-I-see-it, FWIW.
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Caldis
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Posts: 392


« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2011, 11:20:09 AM »


I've heard that arguement about Boromir before and I just cant buy it as a legitimate call on Lord of the Rings.  Sure characters are not heroic but they certainly dont die randomly or even when logic would dictate they should.

Hobbits get trapped by Old Man Willow, fortuitously Tom Bombadil shows up to help them.  Ringwraiths attack Frodo on Weathertop, Aragorn scares them off with a torch.  Merry gets crushed under a Troll at the end but still lives.  Pippin faces the Witch-King and lives.  This isnt a world governed by mathematics but one ruled by story-logic.
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contracycle
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« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2011, 02:40:05 AM »

Well, you could say much the same about nearly any work of fiction.  It's very rare to have major characters killed off, and narrow escapes are the order of the day.  Sure these narratives are deliberately structured, but what is significant about any moment except for the things that happen in it?  Surely it is the fact that Boromir is a major character that makes his death important; there is no abstract importance attached to the moment which makes it legitimate.  Could have happened in chapter 1 or 20 or 50.
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http://www.arrestblair.org/

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Caldis
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Posts: 392


« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2011, 10:10:09 AM »


I dont think so.  He had a part to play in the bigger story and his death before that happened would have made him a minor character.

There are a lot of places where he could have died, like say the watcher at the gates of Moria could have grabbed him and pulled him under or a random Orc could have stabbed him in the mine.  If I made a character with a big back story like Boromir's where I'm trying to save my country from impending doom and I get dropped by some random orc somewhere before the story has really begun I'd be underwhelmed with the game.  He had a part to play in the bigger story and his trying to take the ring from Frodo was a huge galvinizing event that set the course for the rest of the books.  He couldnt have died before that occurred.

I'll agree that charaters shouldnt feel superhuman and be fighting through hordes of monsters left and right but they were constantly getting in dangerous situations.   I dont think the way that it sounds like Coda handles this matches well, nor does the idea of having the characters go "adventuring" without any purpose that the GM seemed to be assuming.  It seems antithetical to the idea of characters being important people with important things to do.  Granted this is intended as a prelude so it may just be a starting point, maybe the wounded traveller lead to a story point but I'd prefer the characters to be created with a purpose.   The idea of fighting multiple enemies in a straight up fight doesnt seem quite right either and thats where the the "adventuring" idea might be conflicting with the themes from the books.  Gaming is rife with the ideas that you get in a battle and fight to the end or until you defeat all your enemies but it doesnt really seem appropriate, running away or using lore to turn the battle to your advantage, or having a mysterious wander show up to turn the tide seems like a better solution.

As for healing being slow that's true to the book but what I dont think is true is wounds that hamper a character that arent a significant plot point.  Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas fight all through the battle of Helms deep without a scratch being mentioned.  Tracking hit points or penalties to actions based on wounds seems wrong, you're either fully functional or out of action.   

I played a bunch of MERP/Rolemaster back in the mid to late 80's and it sounds like this implementation isnt a big jump forward.  I dont think MERP talked much about story, just kind of assumed it was going on.

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Callan S.
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« Reply #20 on: March 20, 2011, 02:55:11 PM »

I'd like to outline a cognitive element to this. I'll quote an author I like
Quote
Iíve spilled more than a few gallons of electronic ink over the years suggesting that much of fantasyís appeal lies in the way provides readers the kinds of worlds that humans are prone to cook up in the absence of science, worlds adapted to our psychology, rather than vice versa. Scriptural worlds.

Chew that over a second time - worlds that are adapted to our psychology, not the other way around. Like if you think a small rock would fall slower than a watermelon, then in your fantasy world that is how you depict it/it is the case, because your fantasy world is adapted to the quirks of your psychology. That fantasy world is actually an expression of those quirks.

That's story logic. Scriptural worlds.

I'd almost call it the very foundation of simulationism.

The thing with rules - rules that don't magically change at someones whim - is that they do not adapt to your psychology. Actually, you have to adapt your psychology to the rules (side note: When someones fiddling around with the rules every five seconds, granted this isn't adapting to rules, it's adapting to someone elses whim).

So there is always going to be a clash if you expect a world that adapts to your psychology, but your using rules. Thus the good old GM advice where if the rules don't make 'good story', GM Herbie throws 'em out!

Side note: I'm pretty much describing fiction first Vs rules first as well, here.
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2011, 07:15:20 AM »

Hello Again

Conor and I were playing again at the weekend and he's been re-reading the book closely again since the last game (in light of this thread). My Dunedain has now been trying to find missing children, taken by the Men of the Ettenmoors I think, from a nearby village.

We are still bashing our heads against the rules as written in the book and we've made some judgement calls on healing, but we had a stroke of luck. Alan was watching us play and wondered what we were doing. When we said we were playing the CODA version he kindly pointed us to John Kim's site. I wish we'd seen that before playing! John's review chimes very closely with our experience of the book, and is a good summary of how we've found it.

Anyway, I'd rather the thread didn't fall into a debate over the demise of Boromir. And given John's review and our experience of the rules so far I'm not sure where we take it next. We're wandering into the territory of making up rulings as we go along, or trying to incorporate the extensive errata.

I'll hopefully be able to update this thread later this week with the AP from the game on Sunday.
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #22 on: April 03, 2011, 03:26:33 PM »

As a follow-up Steve has now created his Noldor Elf. So we have some magic in the game and another arrogant holier-than-thou character. Character creation was a swamp again, but we were able to get through it.

I really liked that Steve's elf (from Lorien) is looking for his lost sister, much as the villagers are looking for their lost children. It gave a resonant theme to play.

Anyway, the magic Steve's elf has access to has been interesting. I think Steve has been wearied every time he's cast a spell in game. He's got three spells, two of which he's used (Healing and some sort of Inimidate/Impress thing) and one that we haven't seen yet but want to... (Flame of Arnor? a sort of flaming howitzer of death with a range of 200 feet).

Magical healing is really strong and on tap (Steve just has to rest for an hour to get un-wearied) and it's at complete odds with our attempts at either natural or skill-aided healing, which are poor and hard to achieve.

More later on when I've had time to compose something. Steve might drop in with his thoughts too. He's got the book now to mull over magic.
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Anders Gabrielsson
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Posts: 100


« Reply #23 on: June 09, 2011, 12:35:19 AM »

On the question of healing: are there any passages in the book about people recovering from non-supernatural injuries? There's Frodo at Rivendell after he's been stabbed by the Nazgul and exposed to their black breath, and Frodo and Sam after they get back from Mordor which isn't so much about injuries... anything else?

I'm asking because my impression (coloured by the movies and based on reading the books many, many years ago) is that when peole get hurt they spend weeks upon weeks resting to get better, but I'm not sure if that's accurate.
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pawsplay
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« Reply #24 on: July 05, 2011, 03:20:46 PM »

I guess this game is consigned to the dustbin of history now, but clearly it can't have been playtested before publishing. Some of the stuff was such a roadblock that it must have been handwaved by the GM in any playtesting that did go on.

After they told Steve Long that they weren't able to secure permission to use any of the Simarillion material or any of the old MERP material (now owned by the Tolkien estate), the main book was pretty much finished with bitter tears.

Character creation shows that they clearly made heavy revisions, and they failed to reconcile all the changes to the system.

Loremasters are like Magicians who hate themselves. This is one of those games that says, "We don't really care about balance. So kiss our ass."
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