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Author Topic: Lamentations of the Flame Princess: my job as GM  (Read 6300 times)
Roger
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« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2011, 02:26:37 PM »

3rd, to make the safe, conventional life - settling in a place to work a job - under no circumstances a source of XP (this is by the rules), but more, to make it appalling and horrible, unthinkable to a person of imagination and spirit.

Could you talk a bit about what you did to fulfill this role?  That sounds like something that would be fun to hear about.
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happysmellyfish
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« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2011, 02:27:45 PM »

I'm about to start running an OSRIC campaign, embracing the sandbox concept wholeheartedly. One thing I'm uncertain about is the treasure economy, and basically how much freedom I should have in generating rewards.

Vincent - what would have happened if the party had taken your spider bait, and traipsed out to the treasure? After the (probable) fight, would it have been a random amount of coinage? Would it just be that monster's lair? Or something else?

I don't want to mess up the tight economy - although maybe I'm over thinking it. Even so, I have absolutely 0 D&D experience, so anything you can shed on this would be helpful.
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Marshall Burns
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« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2011, 02:32:26 PM »

3rd, to make the safe, conventional life - settling in a place to work a job - under no circumstances a source of XP (this is by the rules), but more, to make it appalling and horrible, unthinkable to a person of imagination and spirit.

Could you talk a bit about what you did to fulfill this role?  That sounds like something that would be fun to hear about.


I'm interested in this as well. I've been working on a game with a similar structure, and the solution I arrived at was to make all PCs, by definition, people who for one reason or another can't or won't fill a functional role in mainstream society. At worst you're a sociopathic psycho killer, and at best you're, like, a farmer who has had it up to HERE with trying to make a living with a farm and so has abandoned it to seek his fortune. All of them are unhinged in some shape, form, or fashion.
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stefoid
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« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2011, 02:37:25 PM »

Uh. No seriously guys, I disclaim responsibility for the game's pacing. Advice for how I can better pace the game, or worries about how the game's pacing might go poorly, are plain misplaced. It's not my job!

My job does include setting and holding standards for when we roll dice and use other rules, and those standards do affect the game's pacing, but I'm not taking pacing into account as I set and hold them. Frank's right: the game's narrative comes out of play, a result or even a byproduct. It's not a concern of play. Same as for football or Chess or any other normal game. It feels weird, but I'm pretty sure that'll go away with familiarity. No fixing required.

Frank, yeah, I came up with the spider on the spot. I've primed myself really well - it's just me doing my Vance impersonation. Thanks!

-Vincent

Vincent,  on what basis do you decide that rolling dice is appropriate?  Also, who chooses the next scene and if/when you do that, on what basis do you do it?

thanks
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Georgios Panagiotidis
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« Reply #19 on: November 09, 2011, 03:18:02 PM »

I figure that if what I'm saying entertains me, my enthusiasm will rub off on everyone else, and I won't have to make myself nuts trying to guess what they want. And if it doesn't, well, at least I've had fun! Their having fun is their lookout.

That's pretty much where I am right now, both as a player and as GM. All I can do is drive towards the things that make the game exciting for me and hope that the others are willing and able to riff off of that and spin it towards something that excites them, too. Crazy southern accents are one way of getting there. ;)

But especially when it comes to one-shot games with people I haven't really played with before (at a con for example), I've also found myself forced to pick up the slack. Especially as the GM. I've met quite a few people who - for one reason or another - aren't used to pushing the game forward themselves (be it in terms of plot, theme or style). So I sometimes take it on myself to set a course. I guess you could call some of it pacing, but I link it closer to direction or even form.

Given your comments how the dice control the pacing in your game, does that make things refreshingly unpredictable or frustratingly uneven? I've played and run fantasy-style games which were vaguely comparable to what you're describing here, and I've had both experiences. Our Warhammer games were unpredictable in the most entertaining and exciting sense of the word, but our few stabs at D&D just made the whole experience very draining.

What do you think makes the dice-based pacing work for you?
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Five tons of flax!
I started a theory blog in German. Whatever will I think of next?
Moreno R.
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Posts: 547


« Reply #20 on: November 09, 2011, 10:39:54 PM »

Re: the pacing of D&D / LotFP:
I agree with Vincent about this. There is a clear correlation between "playing well" in D&D and having less risk, and therefore less tension, less drama, less pacing. Given a menace or trap prepped by the GM, and given that the GM shouldn't try to kill all the party all the time with overpowered opponents, if you attack it right in the face with no thought or carefulness or planning, you get a "dramatic battle" where if you are unlucky with dice, your character die.
So, if you plan well, fight on a terrain chosen and prepared by you, use movement rates, the area of spells and coordination to minimize the risk and maximize the damage (in a work: if you play well) you get a very mundane and short battle, with small risks, and big rewards (the treasure is the same, but you didn't waste what you already had in a desperate fight).

I know some GMs that didn't like this, and every time they started to ask for absurd rolls, making everything insanely difficult, playing monsters as if they already did know our plans, etc. It was really aggravating, and the principal result was that the players stopped caring. Why try to think a strategy, if it will inevitably fail?

But there is something that did leap at me in your post, Vincent. you said that you improvised the big  talking spiders at the moment. This mean that (1) they were not in your preparation from the game, and (2) they were not already written up with stats?

They were the result of a random encounter roll? (LotFP has them?) or did you choose to put them there? If you did choose to put them there, and it wasn't for the pacing of the game, what was the reason? Did you stat them quickly at the table or did you play them only as "color" and no real threat? If you did stat them, how did you choose their HP and attack values? Did they were poisonous?

From these question follow another one, based on a characteristic that make the preparation of a D&D game a very time consuming task, if you don't cut corners.  The monsters and npcs are to be statted in detail (or not if you want, but this is the sweet call of illusionism: little by little I stopped making all that work and began to "wing it", and after a while all the fights were bogus). How much preparation did you do for these two sessions?

I am asking because this thread (and the previous one) are reminding me of my old AD&D games, and I am trying to remember the different factors that pushed toward illusionism.  For many people the principal one is the inverse relationship that playing well has to pacing. One of my friends began to railroad the game to have "more exciting stories" but that ruined the game so much that I never wanted to play like him.  Other factors are the one I already cited, the work needed to prepare a session (and when I work to create an adventure, I want the player to play it. Not a single statted monster or drawn dungeon has to go to waste!), the PCs mortality (losing a 1st level character because of a bad roll is one thing, but when a character has been played for two years you have a big pressure to fudge rolls to avoid killing him), and the way even the most complete preparation is always missing some npc or place where the PC go. And so the GM start to improvise more and more...

How do you address these problems in the game?

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Ciao,
Moreno.

(Excuse my errors, English is not my native language. I'm Italian.)
lumpley
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« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2011, 01:28:02 PM »

Let's see!

Roger and Marshall, about making the safe life unthinkable: So far the PCs have had two brushes with the safe, sensible life of settling down and doing a job.

The first, in the colony stockade: one of the founding fathers of the colony stepped up before the newcomers, including the PCs, and announced that for men of able body there was a variety of work available. They could dig wells, fell trees, shift boulders, saw planks, or dredge clay. For women and children, they could weed, pick and sow, or they could clean houses and laundry. The work would be fulfilling, in that it would leave them little time or energy left for dissatisfaction! In return, they'd be entitled to a stipend of colony scrip sufficient to their needs - provided that their needs did not exceed a cot in the men's, women's, or children's bunkhouse, as appropriate, and two meals of boiled grain and salted rabe per day - plus a least-share of the colony company's annual increase. For children half a least-share.

The PCs unanimously decided not to take him up on it.

The second, in the trappers' camp: two of the PCs, Leike and Brom, undertook to repay the camp for its hospitality by labor. Two trappers, Able Pauvel and Able Anders, took them and dressed them in astringent stinkweed-saturated cowls, to keep off the giant leeches, and gave them a leather bag of poisoned offal. Their job was to wade through the giant leech infested swamps to the mucky islands where large weasels (wolverines, approximately) made their dens, to leave poisoned offal for them to eat. If they found any dead from the last baiting, they were to carry them back. Leike, being very small, the trappers encouraged to wedge her way into the wolverines' dens and leave the poisoned offal deep inside, where the young were more likely to find and eat it.

Leike did no such thing. The first den they came to, a wolverine rushed out, biting Brom and knocking him sprawling. He subdued it with sleep magic and they carried it back. They resigned the job at once.

In short: nobody in this world is entitled to safe and fulfilling employment. To settle down in this world means to submit to terrible exploitation and the worst working conditions I can dream up!

-Vincent
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David Berg
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Posts: 997


« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2011, 04:14:26 PM »

Ha ha ha!  I was going to ask you if you would have been better off just establishing "regular jobs suck" before char-gen and using that as an assumption during play, so you wouldn't need to spend effort confirming it.  But that confirming sounds hella fun.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2011, 06:39:22 PM »

It'll sound off kilter, but in the warhammer quest board game, if you stayed in town too long, you just auto retired. Basically an auto kill for the character. That an encounters where either you leave now for the next dungeon or retire. Curious the number of women that wanted to marry our grubby character, but that's random town encounters for ya.

Actually what comes to mind as a funny mechanic would be a disgust meter. Your character tries to live the civilian life, but things just disgust them. When your disgust meter goes up, you get bonuses in combat or such (but the meter goes down over time). So, get disgusted for awhile, then back into the dungeons.

Otherwise apart from the no XP rule, it sounds like an application of very traditional force, to force a certain character choice? Essentially to get over a procedural leak in the system, eg "What if the players just decide to grow cabbages forever?" or suchlike. The warhammer quest example is one kind of plug for that leak (actually come to think of it my disgust meter isn't a plug either, it's only an encouragement to go to adventure).
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lumpley
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« Reply #24 on: November 14, 2011, 07:38:58 PM »

Happysmellyfish, about how much treasure: I have no idea! Or rather - I have the game's price lists to guide me. If they'd gone and recovered the spider-monster's spoils, I'd've just judged by eyeball, like, what it's spoils would likely be, then gone to the book to figure out their value. Throw in a hook or clue too, by whim, most likely.

As it happens, this spider-monster really did have arrowheads (which count as money) and a silver cross, but it didn't have any gold. We all knew it was lying about the gold. The well where it was stashing its spoils might have been something interesting, though.

Anyway, my personal judgment of what a monster's spoils are likely to be is what guides it for me in this game. It's not my job to worry about how quickly or slowly the PCs are advancing, just to sometimes give them an opportunity to recover treasure. If they want more treasure than I'm offering, it's on them to come up with a plan.

-Vincent
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rabindranath72
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Posts: 26


« Reply #25 on: November 15, 2011, 06:29:29 AM »

I'm about to start running an OSRIC campaign, embracing the sandbox concept wholeheartedly. One thing I'm uncertain about is the treasure economy, and basically how much freedom I should have in generating rewards.

Vincent - what would have happened if the party had taken your spider bait, and traipsed out to the treasure? After the (probable) fight, would it have been a random amount of coinage? Would it just be that monster's lair? Or something else?

I don't want to mess up the tight economy - although maybe I'm over thinking it. Even so, I have absolutely 0 D&D experience, so anything you can shed on this would be helpful.
Just go with the treasure tables and random rolling, and you can't go wrong. The tables are designed for a certain level of treasure in the campaign, which in turn is tied to the difficulties of the challenges via monster and dungeon level. I am not sure that the OSRIC tables mimic exactly the AD&D distributions, but knowing the authors, I suppose they are quite close.

Cheers,
Antonio
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lumpley
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« Reply #26 on: November 15, 2011, 08:16:12 AM »

Stefoid, on when to roll and how I choose scenes: Oh, it's all logistical, not dramatic. We roll for the outcomes of uncertain actions, dramatically significant or not, dramatically satisfying or not. Same with scenes. I can maybe go into this, but it's complicated, and we'll need to find a good starting place first.

I hope that "oh, it's all logistical, not dramatic" answers your question. Does it?

Moreno, on prepping encounters: In Lamentations, statting up a monster at the table is trivially easy. I suppose I could stat them up in advance, but there's no reason to, the result will be the same.

I have a random encounter table prepped, yes - well, it's a capricious encounter table. It's a list of monsters they're likely to encounter in this monster-infested wilderness, in rough order of most common to least common. I chose the spider-monsters from it by whim.

-Vincent
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stefoid
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« Reply #27 on: November 15, 2011, 12:06:24 PM »

Stefoid, on when to roll and how I choose scenes: Oh, it's all logistical, not dramatic. We roll for the outcomes of uncertain actions, dramatically significant or not, dramatically satisfying or not. Same with scenes. I can maybe go into this, but it's complicated, and we'll need to find a good starting place first.

I hope that "oh, it's all logistical, not dramatic" answers your question. Does it?

yep, ta.
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David Berg
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« Reply #28 on: November 15, 2011, 01:53:49 PM »

Re: logistics and scenes, is it a case of, "If Vincent deems a situation logistically relevant, we play a scene about it; logistically irrelevant stuff does not beget scenes"?
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here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development
Teataine
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By hook or by crook.


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« Reply #29 on: November 23, 2011, 06:14:37 AM »

David, I can't say for Vincent's game specifically, but for this kind of (o)D&D play, scenes are largely dictated by dice rolls (and resource management), too.

If the players decide to go out in the wilderness, you roll for a random encounter for (say) each day of travel. If the roll dictates there's an encounter, that's a scene, otherwise we move on, lightly describing the journey.

If you're hexcrawling, there's a roll to see if you're lost. If you're lost and realize it, that's a scene otherwise we move on.

If you run out of food that's a scene, you decide to hunt or whatever, and we roll to see if you catch anything.

If there's any scene-setting, it's done by the players. I believe concrete scenes are initiated by player action. You might be sailing on a ship, doing a totally uneventful journey, that could be ended with a sentence of narration from the GM, except the players decide to break into the captain's cabin.

It is, from a gameplay standpoint, pure logistics, as Vincent says. But I'm just now reading through the Dying Earth novels (particularly Eyes of the Overworld and Cugel's saga) and it's also incredible how strongly the result resembles its literary inspiration. Vance might write off a few days of travel with a simple sentence if the journey is uneventful, but if something crosses Cugel's path or Cugel decides to do something out of the ordinary, then we get a "scene".


I'm currently running Pathfinder in the same way and it's a lot harder to pull it off, because of how much bulkier the mechanics are. In LotFP you can stat up a spider monster by giving it AC, HP and an attack bonus and you're done, whereas in PF that hardly suffices. I've developed my own tools to handle this issue which technically means I'm cheating in the opposite sense to what Vincent mentioned. To control pacing in LotFP would be cheating, to achieve this hands-off oldschool play in Pathfinder is cheating.

Callan S. wrote:
Essentially to get over a procedural leak in the system, eg "What if the players just decide to grow cabbages forever?" or suchlike.

It might appear as a leak, but I think it comes pretty naturally that "we're not here to grow cabbages" is part of the social contract. In short, when you agree to play D&D, you've agreed to play a game about treasure hunting monster killers. I mean, if I decide to play in Apocalypse World a guy who drives off into the sunset in the ten seconds of of play and refuse to make a new character, is that a procedural leak? Or if I decide I want to play a weasel-employed traitor in Mouse Guard, and attack Gwendolyn during the briefing? I'm not "playing along", I'm not playing the game we agreed to play, so we better revise our agreement.

It would be trivial to add a rule to most editions of D&D that says: "If your character decides to retire from the life of adventuring, that character leaves play as a PC. Make a new character." But do we really need it?
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Gregor Vuga
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