*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 03, 2021, 12:53:45 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 257 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Comments on Criminal Element  (Read 4257 times)
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« on: April 17, 2003, 10:10:23 AM »

Hi there,

I love this game. I shall demonstrate it with this character I just made up:

Mikey Lazaros
Concept: charming scumbag, Motive: the corrupter
Knack - Everybody's Huckleberry: has an eye for anyone's Vice, a Karnak of the soul
Vice - Emotional sadist, can't let a victim alone
Traits - Glib Bastard 3, Good Shot 2, Security Know-How 2, Seduce 1, Look Good 1, Resilient 1

I'm thinking a slighter, somewhat giggly Mickey Rourke type. Not a nice character. The background involves stooling for the FBI and some porn industry connections. This is the kind of character you don't mind seeing get blown away after he's screwed up the plan very thoroughly halfway through the story, usually due to his own machinations backfiring on him.

Now for some system and design feedback.

SCENARIO PREP
This game would suffer badly, I think, if preparation followed the old-style route of "Everyone make up their characters and show up, and I'll run you through my scenario." Similarly, I think a certain amount of looseness and potential chaos is important too, so that full-on over-structuring "how it goes" and "make up anyone you like as long as it's like X, Y, and Z for my scenario" would be a bad idea too.

Therefore I'll create a bastard hybrid of Alyria's storymapping and Scattershot's Genre Expectations to see if we can stay within the sort of GNS framework that CE presents.

1. The group as a whole decides on the subset of Criminal-Element source material they most want to go for - farce, like Lock Stock Etc? frantic opera, like Reservoir Dogs? Hard-core deception and revelation, like The Usual Suspects? No need to set things in too much detail, just getting an idea for how many bullets will be cutting the air per unit time, and whether the whinny-laughing psycho character would be crucial or annoying.

2. Character creation. I think it's totally customizable whether this is done among the members of the group or separately. Not a big deal (which is not the case for many games).

3. Invent the Caper, which is what all the characters are up to.

3a) What's the prize? What kind of heat can we expect? What's the risky bit? These are not evocative example-phrases, but three specific and distinct requirements of the Caper - as understood by all the player-characters. This step may be wholly GM-driven (e.g. in a handout) or wholly player-driven or anything in between. Note that some, all, or none of the Caper as understood by the player-characters may actually be the case. Various NPCs may be included in the Caper as written at this point, which of course makes them known to the player-characters at least by reputation.

3b) This step is a group thing. Designate at least one player-character the Idea Man for the Caper (there may be more than one such character). Optionally designate at least one player-character as the Necessary Evil (there may be more than one). Everyone else is designated a Soldier. These set up a social hierarchy or rather, tensions, among the members of the group, relative to the Caper.

3c) Finally, and this is solely a player step (and may be secret, whatever), pick who your character's "for" relative to this Caper. It might be another player-character, it might be the player-character himself or herself, or it might be an NPC (either already in the game-prep or made up for this purpose alone). This might have nothing to do with Motive, or it might have everything to do with it, or whatever, player's choice.

I consider Criminal Element mainly to operate in terms of GM-driven plot events, especially in scene framing, so the scope of play (how many sessions e.g. per Caper), the depth of the content, the number and significance of the twists, and any revelations, are all pretty much his baby during play. But creating the Caper as I've outlined above eliminates any hassles about "fitting" player-characters to "the story," which counts among the vaguest and most useless advice available in role-playing texts.

RULES AND RESOLUTION
Damage - not having seen your intended changes to the damage/violence system, Michael, here's my suggestion: have characters start with 3 Light Wounds, 2 Serious Wounds, and 1 Mortal Wound, instead of 3:3:3. Permit the extras as indicated for appropriate Traits. This nicely sets up the likelihood of being taken down with a shotgun blast without altering other features of the system.

Collapse - if the Caper notion is used, the whole point of a Collapse is that it endangers the Caper's success. In other words, a personality flaw is only a flaw if it fucks up the grab for the prize. Without that, it's just Color or at best a plot twist.

THAT'S IT!
Did I mention that I love this game? I intend to play and review it as soon as possible.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Le Joueur
Member

Posts: 1367


WWW
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2003, 01:56:19 PM »

I'm really gratified for the mention of Genre Expectations.  That would be the "...farce, like Lock Stock Etc? Frantic opera, like Reservoir Dogs? Hard-core deception and revelation, like The Usual Suspects" and the "idea for how many bullets will be cutting the air per unit time, and whether the whinny-laughing psycho character would be crucial or annoying," right?  It'd also include "the sort of GNS framework that CE presents" and 'how the Caper ought to go' based on the source material.

Anyway, the real reason I'm here is to ask if it's just an accident that your scenario prep sounds a lot like Chalk Outlines?  (I think a cross-polination might create some awesome 'practices' mongrels.)

Just Curious,

Fang Langford
Logged

Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
ADGBoss
Member

Posts: 384


WWW
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2003, 05:03:26 AM »

Ron,

I am curious, would the game work for analogues of What to do in Denver when Yoru Dead? and /or Two Days in the Valley?

Sean
Logged

Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2003, 06:05:14 AM »

Hi Fang,

Yeah, those phrases are all included in my use of your term Genre Expectations. I want to stress that your term is far more explicit, specific, and useful than most casual uses of the term "genre" (which I criticize in my essay).

Sean, I think that both of those movies are just fine for the game, but as written at the moment it'd take a hell of a lot of GM fiat before, during, and between play sessions. The rules right now pretty much just handle being shot or not. The potential is there for hard-core emotional manipulation and loyalty-crises, but I really want to encourage Michael not to rely on "GM waves magic genre-wand" instructions.

Best,
Ron
Logged
MPOSullivan
Member

Posts: 149


WWW
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2003, 10:06:43 PM »

wow, i'm away for a couple of days and i come back to this?  wow!  i'm touched guys!  ;-)

thank you so much for seeing the potential in the game.  it really has become a "heartbreaker" game of mine and encapsulates alot of what i like to do as a GM and really the environment in which i grew up.  

my intent for the game is to create some sort of framework for establishing the "caper", but i wan't able to figure out how to do this.  the ideas that you suggest Ron are excellent and i would love to hear how well you implement them in your game, seeing as how i still haven't had the chance to playtest the bastard myself.  

i also love the genre conventions stuff that you've got, an angle i didn't even think of until you brought it up and now seems so damned obvious.  i'm still a little wet behind the ears i guess.  how would you guys suggest tackling such a thing?  just an open discussion with the GM or a worksheet type thing.

I think i'm going to have to write a chapter that shows how a campain of CE is built, showing capers and the like and selectables like genre subset.

to anser the questions about 2 days in the valley and things to do in denver... it's my intent to make the game as accessable to all genres of crime fiction as possible.  i loved both movies and i would feel like i wasn't doing my job to make it possible for those types of things to happen.  

good fix on the damage system.  tell me if it works and it'll find its way into the book.  or maybe even a variable health system to reflect the genre you've selected?

and good call on the collapse as well.  it makes much more sense within that framework.

okay, i've been up  for a good twenty something hours and i need sleep.  i've just gotta say again, while in my sleepy stupor, thank you much for te support Ron, it's heartwarming.  and any reviews yo can supply will definetly be of great assistance.

laters!

   -m
Logged

Michael P. O'Sullivan
--------------------------------------------
Criminal Element
Desperate People, Desperate Deeds
available at Fullmotor Productions
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2003, 06:12:21 AM »

Hi Michael,

Just because I was excited about my game prep, I rented and watched both Sexy Beast and Killing Zoe, neither of which I'd seen.

They present a great contrast for some of the possible range of the game. In Sexy Beast, neither explicit violence nor the caper itself are center-stage. What matters is the emotional tension among the concerned individuals, some of whom are not even "the guys." If you use the terms I provided above, we're talking about the "who are you for" issue more than anything else; and in game-mechanics terms, the ability simply to generate fear, in order to dominate another person during a conversation, is the key one.

In Killing Zoe, a lot more of the story is based on the way the caper goes, moment by moment, and who flakes out, whose agenda takes over, and who gets killed or maimed when. It's still about the personalities, yes, but I'm talking about what gets "attention" and what kind of events the story is built from. The "who are you for" issue is raised and decided in about five seconds; it's key, but occupies very little screen time in comparison with Sexy Beast.

Oh, by the way - big recommendation: the more I think about it, the more important it seems to me that a Collapse isn't a Collapse unless the Caper is endangered.  

I also think it's worth considering when such movies are less satisfying, and why - I'd put both Heat and Heist in the category of movies that seem to have all the right elements but fall down in terms of, well, being any good. If you agree with me, or rather, regardless of these specific movies, if you can come up with any movies that seem to fall down for you, why do you think that is?

Best,
Ron
Logged
MPOSullivan
Member

Posts: 149


WWW
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2003, 10:27:22 PM »

i can really only think of a couple off hand that kind of fall down for me, as you put it.  Rounders is one of them.  Automatically cinched me with the gambling premise, but there was just something about the movie that didn't fall into place properly.  not a bad one, mind you, but it had sooo much potential.
  sleepers is another one from this group. once again, great damned potential, but it was missing a little bit of that soul that makes all great crime movies.  i tihnk the second half was just kind of breezed through, rather than giving the characters time to be adults.  also, more minnie driver damn it.
  Heat was, i think, a great movie, but i'm just a goon for anything michael mann does, so that's that.  i know people say that pacino was too much, but i just love the damned guy.  hell, i own devil's advocate on dvd for him.  
  i can say the same thing for Heist.  I'm a huge fan of Mamet's work (Glengary Glen Ross, Edmund, State and Main, etc.).  his character's always have this fantastic cadence to the way they speak.  i appreciate the film for that alone.  it's biggest problem though is really getting involved with the characters.  they're almost all cyphers with no established past, something that can be a problem.  Have to love the Hackman in it though.
  that's all i've got for now.  beddy-time.  i should have a big update on CE over the next two days.  i also have a new cover which is much better than the old and character sheets.  if anybody wants a character sheet, email me and i'll hoom 'em up with the PDF.  

laters,

    -m
Logged

Michael P. O'Sullivan
--------------------------------------------
Criminal Element
Desperate People, Desperate Deeds
available at Fullmotor Productions
MPOSullivan
Member

Posts: 149


WWW
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2003, 10:43:12 PM »

oh, yeah, forgot to ask.  could someone post a link to the discussions of genre expectation that you guys were having?  sounds like it would be of great help.

laters,

    -m
Logged

Michael P. O'Sullivan
--------------------------------------------
Criminal Element
Desperate People, Desperate Deeds
available at Fullmotor Productions
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!