The Forge Forums

General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Erik Weissengruber on January 07, 2011, 10:04:55 AM



Title: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 07, 2011, 10:04:55 AM
Opening up a thread about the Dresden Files game I am running and am setting in Toronto.

Heavy on the supernatural, but with low-powered PCs.  Promises to be a challenge for the characters and for me to run.

I have had mixed results in the FATE games I have run before.

In these posts I hope to address

  • Group setting creation
  • Driving scenarios with Aspects from setting creation
  • Working with Compells

What I really want to do is employ the setting/scenario/Compelling mechanics AS WRITTEN and examine their efficacy.

Moreover, there is a Social Contract angle I want to follow: I am running what will be a series of linked one-shots, essentially.  I have to keep my sessions short and occasional because of family and work commitments.  Perhaps the creative group buy-in delivered by setting creation will be enough to provide the binding threads that I can't put together with regular and extensive gaming sessions.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Phil K. on January 07, 2011, 01:34:49 PM
Erik,

I just moved my Friday night gaming group into a Dresden Files game from D&D 4E. There have been a few problems I've experienced, mostly due to creative agenda issues. I've got a group of six players, four of which had not read the Dresden Files when we sat down to do character creation. I think the lack of setting/color familiarity may have thrown of character creation and player buy-in a bit. The choice to switch games was mine, in a purely autocratic fashion I'm not entirely proud of. I was getting burnt out on D&D and wanted a change. Didn't get everyone on board beforehand. Rookie mistake, one I should have avoided.

Anyway, what I'm saying is I think it would be beneficial to a DFRPG game (or any game based on licensed material) for the players to all be familiar with and bought into the setting already.

Getting used to compels and having enemies tag aspects have been the hardest things for me to get used to. I look forward to hearing how your experiences go.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 07, 2011, 06:32:52 PM
Socially
 -- I have done some short series and some one offs of various games with the people in question.  It's not as if I was trying to push a group in a direction.  It was more of a "hey, we've hung out a few times ... ya wanna help me design a Dresden Setting?"
-- That means, on one level: "Hey, let's play the game of setting creation."
-- On another, it means: "Hey, if this works out well, we could get a series of games going."

Color-ly
-- Like me, they had kinda heard of the Dresden world and game, had peeped at a few of the comics, but not much deeper than that.
-- We didn't begin with questions like "imagine if the White Council were trying to recruit Toronto's wizards."  I started with "hey, what do you guys think of what's been going on in Toronto recently?"  Then we talked up the Dresdenverse in very vague terms, but then moved on to brainstorming along the lines of "what kind of weird or spooky stuff have you imagined happening in Toronto?"  I have these decks of kiddie cards, one of fairies and one of monsters.  We consulted them as oracles: each player picked a fairy and a monster and imagined how the creature they grabbed would end up in the Toronto landscape.  Still have no idea about what to do with the Phoenix (at least Toronto has Persians, Chinese, and Europeans so you have three cultural zones that love that there flaming bird).  And now I have to actually try do do something cool with Unicorns!

Aspects
-- I have had little series of games start and then derail because people didn't like the kind of colour other players were introducing.  And SotC, Starblazer Adventures, DFRPG and other FATE games do not put the GM in position to keep a tight lid on those things. 

More to come.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Phil K. on January 10, 2011, 08:23:38 AM
Erik,

Sorry if the previous post came off as accusatory; I wasn't implying that you were railroading a group into a new game, just trying to share my mistake.

I think having everyone invested to the same degree, with the same goal, is a good place to start. At least part of the problem I've encountered has arisen from the varying levels of buy-in to the source material/setting.

The monster and fairy cards sound interesting. Unicorns in the Dresden Files have been portrayed as much darker than in typical fantasy. I'd have to go back and check "Summer Knight" but I believe it was described as a large, powerful horse of dark coloring with a razor edged, spiraled horn. It was portrayed as one of the enforcers for the summer court of faerie. Definitely not your sign of purity and chastity from typical fantasy. Don't know if that helps at all.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 10, 2011, 05:40:50 PM
No, no, no your tone was very civil and straightforward.  No probs there!

I was simply trying to say I am in the middle of forming a new creative group.  The challenges there are MUCH different from shifting the practices of an existing, functioning group.

I was just trying to get some common Colour.  We had talked about some serious real-life feelings about Toronto.  There is no WAY I could make Toronto seem as gritty as Chicago or East St. Louis or Baltimore.  So a bit of the light fantastical was another way to go -- the books themselves have some goofy fey behaviour in them.

And on Unicorns as something fierce and intimidating: part of the challenge is to bring in some of that feeling of unease that accompanies the fairy realm as you get it in ancient ballads like "Tam Lin."

Can the use of Aspects and focus on Milestones and character advancement bring that into being?  We shall see as we shall see.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 18, 2011, 08:59:35 AM
The book has a procedure for creating scenarios out of character Aspects.

I designed such a scenario, but one of the players pulled out of the next session.  Hence, a redesign is in order.

The AP report will take into account what it is like to rework an already created scenario in accordance with the book's guidelines.

I will post both the original prep notes and the modified ones.

(can't do it yet 'cause of fear of spoilage)


Title: The Temptation to Back Away from Aspects
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 19, 2011, 08:09:32 AM
The scenario creation guides in DFRPG revolve around Aspects

One suggested procedure is to:
* Gather together the Aspects from the character sheets, and from the city creation documents (High Level concepts, Locations, and Faces [Major NPCs]
* Select a variable amount depending on the length of scenario you want to create (a short one, like the one I have in mind is to have 2 to 3 character Aspects and 2 to 3 City Aspects)
* Pair the Aspects in relationships marked by potential Co-operation or Tension
* Add NPCs or create hooks that exacerbate Tension or encourage Co-operation

I have hooked up that procedure with some advice about play scattered through the rulebook:

* Exacerbate Tension or encourage co-operation by introducing NPCs, framing scenes, or using Compels

Compels are when you suggest immediate, short-term, or long-term complications that a Character could suffer because of one of his or her Aspects.  The reward for accepting this complication is a Fate point.  The Compel can be resisted by paying a Fate point and -- my house rule -- contributing a fiction-consistent reason why THIS time your character resisted going with his or her established personality traits.

I followed the procedure and came up with a 4-character set-up featuring 2 NPCs from the character creation process.

And then 1 player dropped out.

I spent a little time thinking how I could move things around to keep the NPCs in play and to keep some of the hooks I had in mind.

And then I stopped.

This time out I had committed myself to see how an Aspect-centred game worked.  None of the reviews or APs that I have followed document how well or how poorly and Aspect-centred game worked.

The temptation was to keep my GM situations and characters in place while thinking of ways to shoehorn the players into it.

It all felt a little to like my early ways of designing scenarios and so I scrapped the initial set up and will go for something tailor made to the 3-character Aspect set.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Paiku on January 19, 2011, 05:31:00 PM
Hi Erik,

what a coincidence, our group has just decided that our next-next game will be a Dresden Files game based in Toronto.  I haven't read the rules yet, and we're probably 2+ months away from starting, but I'll be watching this thread with interest!

For inspiration, one of our group recommended googling "urban spelunking in toronto".  I did just now... very interesting.

Good luck with the game,
-John


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 20, 2011, 10:01:07 AM
Toronto is low on the violent crime.  But, like all of Canada, we have weak laws for prosecuting criminal organizations and we have poor nation-wide banking and securities regulation.  That means we have criminal syndicates for moving drugs, stolen cars, people trafficking, cybercrime, but no real flashy street-level violence.  None of my players jumped at that.

The process of city creation really brings out what your players find neat about the city in questions.  So our City Sheet has none of the touristy stuff, just places that have lodged themselves in my players' memory.

FREX: One player had a cell phone snap of a bizzare tree from the Toronto Islands: One half was a verdant green and the other half was skeletal.  So the Half-Tree is a Face for the Toronto Islands locale.  UC College is a gothic, gargoyle-encrusted college and is believed to be haunted.  That ended up on our city sheet.  Ryerson Theatre School is housed in a former teaching hospital and some of the blood gutters from dissection rooms are still visible.

Our players have direct (and shared) experience with these places.  The challenge is to take that resonant colour and hook it into Aspects that are strong enough to become the driving gears of the game.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 20, 2011, 09:05:20 PM
NARRATIVE

Opening colour scene: a hulking man comes out of a City Hall meeting.  He has vowed to keep street kids away from a new subway line on Queen Street, he is priming himself for violence, and his transformation into something more than human is done in a risky way (the NPC is compelling some aspects to get some Fate points)

Up, above the streets of Kensington Market, a rhizome of shacks, racks, hammocks, and lofts is spreading.  It is the nebulous headquarters of the Fleet of Feet, a loose aggregation of minor talents and sneak thieves who are the couriers, messengers, and go-betweens of Toronto's occult underground.

One of the PCs -- Locke, a streetkid/Borrower -- gets a call from a wannabe who wants to join the organization.  He can pass the membership test: bring a piece of filched magical gear from some dangerous locale.  She is unimpressed until one of her personality traits compels her to at least check out what the kid has to offer.

Across town two pals from a Toronto RPG group are trying to organize a weekend game. Simultaneously, both are hit by some kind of electrical hex from their phones.  This is payback for Ben's Spirit Battle (again a compelled Aspect) and Sam's "Looking for a client who won't kill me" (the being punishing Ben is also punishing Sam for helping Ben).  Sam's Lore saves him, but Ben is knocked out cold.

[this was a bit of a pro-forma exercise in showing how accepting Fate points for compels can come with consequences as well as a way of softening all the GM fiat-ing I was doing]

Back in Kensington, Locke rounds a corner into an alleyway and sees the kid who contacted him in the hands of a hulking thug who is beating the kid to death with fists the size of hams.  A quick intimidation and Locke agrees to step away from the alley way with a promise -- an oath, no less -- that the tough guy will let the kid live after tough guy has completed a search.  Locke, backed by some members of the Fleet of Feet (she has them as an Aspect, but I forgot to levy the Fate Point for Locke's player declaring a bit about the fiction) goes back into the alley.  All the kid has is a lighter, some loose change, and a poster advertising a reunion of the punk band Stark Naked and the Fleshtones.  The three drag the kid to St. Michael's Hospital after Locke writes a note telling the kid not to bother trying to get into the Fleet.

Sam -- a ritualist specializing in overcoming the hexes that spell slingers put on technology -- traps the fetch that has been sent to sabotage his phone and bikes over to Ben's house.  The two of them try to figure out what is going on and to deal with the hexing that is coming their way.  They question the fetch who is bound by oaths not to reveal certain information.  But they get a rough description of the figure responsible for their troubles and who has been butting in on their phone lines leaving cryptic warnings about "not respecting his domain."  Sam puts a ward on Ben's phone against any who would try to hex it -- and the mysterious "Psychopomp" who has been hexing them gets burned.

[Sam's ritual, aided by Ben, does exceptionally well on the roll to control the magic, so I added a 7-shift sting to the first person who dared try to hex the phone.  The Psychopomp's hex was reversed and intensified so he had to take an Extreme consequence]

Over in Kensington, Locke is contacted by a mysterious spectre who asks her to aid him in finding out which supernaturally gifted person took out his messenger, the streetkid beaten in the alleyway.  The spectre holds out the promise of a future supernatural favour if Locke can identify the person who did the beating.  Locke keeps mum about the fact that her meddling with the poster triggered the magic that the spectre had embedded into it and initiated a massive explosion at the hospital as a consequence.  She takes the spectre's offer.

[Locke's player refused when I compelled her "Leaves no job left undone" Aspect but jumped at the in-fiction offer made by the spectre she later learns is the Psychopomp]

Locke enlists her pals Sam and Ben in the investigation of the kid's beating.  Locke uses her power to shrink small and at the crime scene she discovers one of the kid's teeth and part of a police-issued and Sam checks out a scannable parking ticket.  These help Ben's Investigation roll.  (The players' Assess rolls set up some free Tags for Ben and he made out well).  Ben is certain that both were deposited in the alley mud at the same time and establish a direct link between the kid and whoever beat him -- either a cop, or a guy with a lot of parking tickets.

That evening the trio check out the gig.  But they have to bypass a construction site for a new subway line on Queen street.  Which happens to be guarded by the dude who unleashed the beatdown on the streetkid.   They are briefly caught up in the anti-subway protest and catch a glimpse of an old bank building on whose side their is a freeze of a 19th century figure who looks a lot like the spectre that visited Locke and who fits the description pieced together by Sam and Ben.  Locke shrinks and hides in Sam's hexing hoodie and they get close to the cop and get his name and number.

They rock out.

After the gig they think of summoning the shade of the streetkid but the presence of the cops dissuades them.  They make for the Fleet's headquarters but the police are looking for anyone with information about the streetkid's death and the explosion at St. Michaels.  The trio then head to the University of Toronto and take shelter in one of the campus's student activity centres.  They assist Ben in a spell which allows them a brief visit by the shade who informs them of his killer's true name -- the officer at the demo having put on a false one -- and they then contact the Psychopomp.

He accepts their gift of the name, admits his own foolishness in persisting in his persecution of Ben and Sam.

I soft pedaled the compels.  Locke refused one of mine but I did not levy the Fate point.  Getting through the mechanics of spellcasting and learning how to shape the fiction with Aspect created through Assess or Maneuver, never mind learning about the consequences of initiating or suffering an Attack, was more than enough.

Sticking with the Aspects and tying every piece of improvised NPC action to Aspects brought about consistency to the unfolding fiction.  I am not sure if it supplied drama.  The players are all friends and bring a lot of smart ass humour to the game.  But their wisecracks to my would-be demigod spectre were in Harry Dresden's spirit.  Everyone had fun.

But I think the players got a sense of how fragile their PCs are.  They can do incredible stuff like trap gremlins in paper or part the wall between living and dead.  But 2 of the 3 both lost conflicts (they didn't know about the Conceding option) and suffered Mild consequences.  One -- the spellcaster -- too 2 Mild consequences and a Moderate due to drawing too much power for his spells.  And some of those consequences linger a long time.

I think any drama will come from the unfolding medium and long-term impact of taking Consequences and dealing with the small-c consequences brought about by accepting my compels.

I did not use the option of compelling characters to accept automatic failures.  That kind of hardball will come in later sessions.


Title: On Scenario Creation
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 21, 2011, 09:10:38 AM
The Actual People, Actual Play podcasts on DFRPG raised some points about scenario creation.

At one point in the series, the GM notes that his attempt to create a trail of clues occult mystery was less than satisfying.  He set up a mystery but used some compels to get the PCs on track and with 1 simple Research declaration a big mystery was solved.  The players complain that this compel took us out of the atmosphere of mystery, and the GM himself said that creating a trail of clues mystery scenario just didn't seem to work:

Episode 36 The Dresden Files RPG: It's a Mab Mab Mab World
http://apap.libsyn.com/episode-36-the-dresden-files-rpg-it-s-a-mab-mab-mab-world

In later episodes the GM talks about creating a scenario simply by putting laying out NPC motivations, goals, personality traits.  And then compelling the NPCs and choosing their actions based on that.  Working from the overlap between PC and NPC aspects seems to have produced more satisfying play than establishing a set of causally linked clues with an implied sequence of discoveries:

Episode 41 The Dresden Files RPG: From Dusk Til A Fistful of Dollars
http://apap.libsyn.com/episode-41-the-dresden-files-rpg-from-dusk-til-a-fistful-of-dollars



Title: NPCs and Aspects
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 21, 2011, 09:44:16 AM
Locke has the Aspect "Network of the Unwashed (the Fleet of Feet)"

Her player also talked about bringing two of them along to assisst investigations.

That Aspect was one I wanted to focus on in the scenario.  But when the player did not use the Aspect as a simple bonus to a Skill roll, or an Assess/Block/Maneuver/Attack, I was unsure what to do.

Looking back, it was one more area where I should have stuck to the Fate point mechanic
* want that amorphous network to aid a roll, pony up 1 FP
* want to have them in a scene, 1 FP each, for EVERY scene in which you want them to have mechanical efficacy

1st Impulse: Come up with some "GM controlls the backstory and the introduction of NPCs" b.s. reason why they would not want to be there, to cover up the fact that I wanted to have a 1 PC-1 supernatural bad NPC scene.

2nd Impulse: Let them come along but rig the scenes so that the 2 assisting guys could not really do very much
(a.k.a. "passive agressive Illusionist cop-out")

Better Solution.  "Right, you want Briggs and Mayor to be there in the confrontation?  O.k. 1 FP each to make the Aspect Declarations "Briggs is there" and "Mayor is there."   For now, they will function as Aspects.  If I get around to statting them up, be prepared for them to complicate your life.

Brining as many decisions as possible into the "Fate Point -- Compel -- Aspect" mechanics is the better way to go.

I used to play FATE with an emphasis on the Skills, and tried to devise scenarios around the Skills characters had picked. 

The engine of the game is, I now think, the Aspect/FATE Point economy, with that FP currency connecting decisions about the fiction, scene setting, character efficacy, and task resolution.  Backstory is going to stay my GM preserve, but will be firmly within the City Creation parameters set up by the group.  Scene framing and NPC behaviour has to be open to currency-powered input from players and sometimes the players have to be open to currency-powered GM input into their NPCs.



Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 21, 2011, 12:35:50 PM
Sorry ...

GM input into their PC's.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 22, 2011, 06:42:03 AM
To cap this off

My agenda was to explore
    * Group setting creation
    * Driving scenarios with Aspects from setting creation
    * Working with Compels

Point 2 has been talked about.

I can't talk about Point 3 until I step up and play a little harder with the "accept my Compel and get FP / deny the Compel but pay and FP" mechanic.  My Compels will have to be more dramatic and fictionally meaningful to justify putting pressure on players' FP bank.  The Aspects of City Creation and the NPCs set the parameters of the fiction so if I am Compelling to make Occult Toronto seem real, those Compels should originate from consideration of those Aspects.

Point 1 has been covered in reviews and podcasts.  Making cities is FUN!  It gets the group on the same page.  I had a set of 30+ NPC names and attitudes as a result.  Some of the Aspects on the characters and on the city aren't as "Fuego!" as those in the rulebook.  Take time to review and rephrase character and City aspects in the first couple of sessions.

Aspect writing gets better with practice, as do writing Beliefs and Instincts in the Burning Games.

The game continues but sessions writeups will be logged elsewhere.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 23, 2011, 08:19:54 PM
The Aspects of City Creation and the NPCs set the parameters of the fiction so if I am Compelling to make Occult Toronto seem real, those Compels should originate from consideration of those Aspects.

I have decided to channel FPs from my infinite GM bank in very particular kinds of compells"
* use them to maintain consistency of fiction (i.e. "Building is on fire" will limit options unless players stump up FP to defy the odds)
* use them to test players' Aspects (If a PC has the Aspect "Greedy" and chooses to take some money to sell out his 2 wizard pals, I will compel that Aspect with a suggestion of the terrible consequences that will befall a person important to all of them.  You want to avoid that consequence, buy off the compel.)

I will channel FPs from finite pools assigned to various NPCs to
* compel PCs to further that particular NPC's agenda (a person arguing with a PC might use that PC's "Easily intimidated" Aspect to make the PC unable to do a direct Social attack that round)
* declare an aspect to further that NPC's agenda

To have my supernatural baddies actually bank up Fate points, I will produce Colour and Interstitial scenes where I compel their Aspects.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 23, 2011, 08:35:14 PM
Diaspora does not shy away from in-your face compels.  It is really smart in that it limits the effects of any 1 compel.  A FP spend can cause another character to a) not act or b) move a zone.  The genius of that game is the way it tells players to create spatial arrangements for fictional possibilities and gives good examples of how to draw those arrangements. 

Compels can come hard and fast because their use in the mini-games is very circumscribed.

I want to see GM compels work in creating long-term consequences (or their avoidance through the sacrifice of FP) and ensuring consistent and compelling Cities for that long-term, and consistent can compelling scenes in the short-term (i.e. in one scene).

I want NPCs to be able to limit PC options through the expenditure of their resources, not to have my infinite pool of FP stymie or obviate every roll the PCs try to make.  That way douchebaggery lies.

Sometimes it makes sense for an NPC a mysterious enchanted being to lay down a couple of Aspects on a PC through Declarations, or for a PC with the "Hot for leather-clad Vampires" to be unable to move away this round.  But such immediate challenges to PC efficacy should come from a clearly-defined agent with limited capability to decrease that efficacy.  And I get the feeling that permitting NPCs to prevent one OPTION for action (Attack, Block, Maneuver, Assess/Declare) will sit more comfortably with my players than imposing a blanket "you do nothing for this round 'cause my Vamp is so mesmerizing".


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 23, 2011, 08:41:58 PM
Hi Erik,

I have a quick system question. Let's say that a given circumstance of Fate Point economy hits a critical point for a player. In other words, he or she cannot buy off a Compel, or if it's possible, only at a price of not having Fate Points necessary for doing some other thing, or at the price of having to fail a particular thing, and in each case, "the thing" is pretty important to the character and player.

What's the downside for the character? In mechanics terms, fiction terms, or both. I'm thinking of things that are more drastic than merely limiting options as you describe in your last post. I'm talking about tragic breakpoints in a character's personal saga, climaxes of stories, that sort of thing.

And if there is such a downside, then as you see it, is this a situation to be avoided, such that the GM manages things to be pressured enough to be dramatic but without true point-based crisis; or is it a situation that could well come about and is as desirable as any other way the system could go?

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Compels Corrections
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 24, 2011, 05:54:23 AM
Diaspora does not shy away from in-your face compels.  It is really smart in that it limits the effects of any 1 compel.  A FP spend can cause another character to a) not act or b) move a zone. 

Change that to "not act."  But in Diaspora that means, specifically, "assumes the worst possible roll on Fate dice -- -4 -- and proceed from there. 

So my houserule "Forbid one course of action" and accept another alternative: "compel character to not act/auto fail -- give them an automatic -4 and go from there"

Sometimes it makes sense for an NPC a mysterious enchanted being to lay down a couple of Aspects on a PC through Declarations, or for a PC with the "Hot for leather-clad Vampires" to be unable to move away this round.  But such immediate challenges to PC efficacy should come from a clearly-defined agent with limited capability to decrease that efficacy.  And I get the feeling that permitting NPCs to prevent one OPTION for action (Attack, Block, Maneuver, Assess/Declare) will sit more comfortably with my players than imposing a blanket "you do nothing for this round 'cause my Vamp is so mesmerizing".

The Vamp could now, under the augmented compel rule,
a) declare MOVE impossible (rule out 1 course of action)
b) but a blanket "you are riveted in place by this death goddess" and have that mean an autofail/-4 equivalent

I can play hardball now.  But without the temptation to act like a Ty Cobb.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 24, 2011, 05:58:38 AM
Hi Erik,
Let's say that a given circumstance of Fate Point economy hits a critical point for a player ... he or she cannot buy off a Compel.

What's the downside for the character? In:
* mechanics terms
* fiction terms
* both.

I'm thinking of things that are more drastic than merely limiting options as you describe in your last post. I'm talking about tragic breakpoints in a character's personal saga, climaxes of stories, that sort of thing.

... if there is such a downside, then as you see it:
* is this a situation to be avoided, such that the GM manages things to be pressured enough to be dramatic but
* is it a situation that could well come about and is as desirable as any other way the system could go?

I had time to parse the question but not formulate response.  Will get to it later today.l


Title: Re: [No FP to buy off compel.
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 24, 2011, 09:56:42 AM
Let's think of this situation:
-PC's sister is about to be "turned" and made a vampire
-The Vamp "turning" he is a woman who has seduced and captivated PC before PC knew she was Red Court
-I am without any Fate Points
-The Vamp compels my "Hot for leather-clad Vampires" Aspect.
-PC wants to do something to save the sister

Here are the 3 points of departure:
1) The GM, through the Vamp, compels PC's "Leather-clad Vampires are HOT" Aspect.
2) Another Player compels the PC's Aspect
3) The Player compells his/her own Aspect

1) The GM, through the Vamp, compels PC's "Leather-clad Vampires are HOT" Aspect.
* mechanics:
-PC MUST accept the compel as presented.  The PC now has a FATE point to resist further compels.  But here and now PC will either have to accept a restriction on a course of action or broad loss of efficacy.
-Restriction: The PC has a bowl of Holy Water but Vamp forbids an Attack, and carries out the final suck.  PC could try a Move to get away, a Maneuver such as knock over a precious vial of alchemical fluid and place a "Distracted" Aspect on the Vamp (which someone else could tag for a free +2), or some kind of Block (I throw up my "Shield" spell between the Vamp and my sis).  These could all delay the final suck and allow either the PC or other players to work on the Vamp.  But if the PC is alone, the Vamp stands a good chance of finishing the sucking.
-Auto-Failure: Anything I do will start from the premise that I failed my roll in the worst possible way (-4).  So if I have superb Guns (+5) my attack will be a net 1 (Average).  The Vamp might get a defense roll or not (depending on skills) but my hit was very weak, and even with a Weapon: 2 and some bonus for the Holy Water (+3?), I would only be doing 6 Stress, which the Vamp could easily shrug off and complete her final suck.
* fiction
-Restrictions create interesting blocks and
-Either way, my sister is a Vampire.  Sure, I have a 1 measly FP to help me in subsequent actions but that is small compensation.  The PC has been forced into a tragedy by a GM who knew quite clearly that the PC had no more FP.  A bit of a downside.  But then again, FP spending decisions were made earlier.  The PC was operating in a dangerous world and that there are casualties.  It seems like a fitting end. 
* both
The GM made a decision within the ambit of the rules and according to the fiction established during play so the player will have to accept it.  I am not sure if I would do this as a GM.

2) Another Player compels the PC's Aspect
* mechanics
-same as above
* fiction
-Let us say that a straight laced PC2 has been berating PC1 for his/her dalliances with Vamps and other weirdies.
-PC2's player decides that PC1 will suffer the consequences of his Aspect.
-The PC would say things like "My God, look where your moral degradation has led us," or "this is what you get for messing with evil."  As a character, PC2 is totally opposed to the Vamp's aims, but the player is making a tragedy happen.
* both
-This example is a logical possibility and an elaboration of the clearly stated rule "players may compel other players' PCs."  But in none of the FATE games I own have I ever seen this extreme case of a player using the compel mechanic to frustrate another player's desire to see the fiction unfold in a certain way.  I have never had a FATE game go this way and a move like this could really tear at a group's Social Contract.  Play advice usually has the GM responsible for major consequences of giving into a compel and never explores how Player vs Player compels might work.

3) The Player compels his/her own Aspect
* mechanics
-The same as 1) and 2).  The player draws attention to the Aspect on his own sheet and before any rolls says "OMIGAWD!  Sis is about to be turned but I am so lust-besotted that I simply cannot act" and gives him/herself an "auto failure."  He/she is now 1 FP richer (players are encouraged to "Self-Compel" to gain FP).  That FP must be spent in some FUTURE conflict, so it can't be used right now.
* fiction
-We now have a picture of a flawed PC whose unsavoury appetites have led to his sister's demise.  Makes for a good story.
* both
-I prefer this to 1) where the GM was creating a tragedy.  The implementation of the Compel mechanic resulted in a great bit of story and gave an FP depleted player an edge in some important action later in the scenario.

In practice, I have never seen circumstances this extreme come up in FATE play.  Some folks in my Spirit of the Century and Starblazer Adventure games did express the sentiment that the games seemed a little superficial and that nothing was really at stake despite all the sound and fury and exploding biplanes and battles with deathbots.  So if there is going to be real in-your face tragedy or drama or the real possibility for surprising new situations to arise through the mechanics and currency, rather than just GM fiat and razzle dazzle with laser sharks and zombie dinosaurs, the Compels have to be deployed with close attention to FP scarcity and with the aim of producing drama.

The default mode of FATE play is to focus on skills with FP acting as +2 bonuses or re-rolls.  Most players hoard FP to keep getting those bounuses when they need them.  As a result, there is little chance of their rolls on behalf of their PCs going awry.  Some groups and players really get into creating Aspects and tagging them for team attacks or to prepare or tough challenges.  I have yet to see much discussion of Actual Play moments where Compels and scarce FP combined for some tough, dramatic, and consequential decisions.







Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 24, 2011, 10:09:51 AM
And if there is such a downside, then as you see it, is this a situation to be avoided, such that the GM manages things to be pressured enough to be dramatic but without true point-based crisis; or is it a situation that could well come about and is as desirable as any other way the system could go?

Phew.

Diaspora has it's mini-games which can be played without GM.  It fully entertains the possibility of point-based crisis for compels.  A compel can cause you to fail to grab a fallen sacred icon, refrain from making a bold move in a negotiation, not repair an engine on the verge of blowing up, or breaking through the line of alien Stormtroopers to liberate the besiged palace.

As a GM or player I would use that rules system without fear and use point-based crises to make cool stuff happen.

The texts of DFRPG, SoTC, and Starblazer Adventures never address point-based crises although the systems permit the possibility.  It is logically possible that Point-based crises might arise by accident, or be created by any player, including the GM.  The Compel is a loaded gun, out in the open, but it's in the corner of the room and obscured by a decorative vase.  None of these texts gets you ready for when the GM, or, god forbid, one of the players, picks it up and points it at someone.

I don't know when and if I will. 


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 24, 2011, 10:52:08 AM
Curses, you lack of edit function.

Let's think of this situation:
-PC's sister is about to be "turned" and made a vampire
-The Vamp "turning" is a woman who has seduced and captivated PC before PC knew she was Red Court
-PC is without any Fate Points
-The Vamp compels PC's "Hot for leather-clad Vampires" Aspect.
-PC wants to do something to save the sister

Here are the 3 points of departure:
1) The GM, through the Vamp, compels PC's "Leather-clad Vampires are HOT" Aspect.
2) Another Player compels the PC's Aspect
3) The Player compells his/her own Aspect


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Correction on Diaspora reference
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 24, 2011, 07:32:46 PM
Quote
So my houserule "Forbid one course of action" can [edit] accept another alternative: "compel character to not act/auto fail -- give them an automatic -4 and go from there"

I misremembered the Diaspora rule.  The "auto -4" for a Compel applies only in the space combat mini-game.  A number is needed for certain resolution steps, so -4 and NO impact from skills or rolls, which means that Aspects could be tagged.

With that in mind, let's revisit this case:
Quote
-Auto-Failure: Anything I do will start from the premise that I failed my roll in the worst possible way (-4).  So if I have superb Fists (+5), and a stunt that allows me to use Fists to throw objects as improvised missiles [edit], my attack will be a net 1 (Average).  The Vamp might get a defense roll or not (depending on skills) but my hit was very weak, and even with some bonus for the Holy Water (+3?), I would only be doing 4 Stress, which the Vamp would likely [edit] shrug off and complete her final suck.

IF I used the Diaspora "Compel = make target lose turn," this calculation would never be made.  The GM's Compel would leave the player standing there slack jawed while the Vamp feeds away.

IF I were to use the Diaspora "Compel = "auto -4 roll" in a more general way than it is in that game, the result would look like this:

* -4 instead of dice roll
* No effect from Superb Fists
* Holy Water DOES help for the +3
* and I am stuck at -1

The only way I could even scratch the Vamp in this latter case would be if I had placed some Aspects on her earlier in the scene but had not tagged them yet, Aspects like:

* "She underestimates me"
* "Her back is turned for me"

I go toss my Holy Water, despite the Compel, and these Aspects swing in for a 1-time invocation, with no Fate Point charge, and get +4 to my attack.  My clever set up earlier in the scene put aside some bonuses that came in handy when I had 0 FP left to resist the Vamp's Compel.

But after all that effort I only put a 3-Stress hit on the Vamp.

The "-4 roll but you can still make an effort" approach would allow a clever player to stay effective even in a point-based crisis.  This would require some real subtle manipulation of the system by that player.  And I don't think many people pick up Dresden Files with the expectation that they will have to do crafty system jiu-jitsu to get satisfying story results.

I am pretty sure my players didn't sign up for my game with that expectation.

So I am going in circles: wondering if I should use the hardcore Compels foregrounded in Diaspora (and in the background of the FATE system as such), work with the "auto -4" hack, allow a Compel to forbid ONE of the courses of action build into the resolution mechanic (Attack, Block, Maneuver, Declare, Assess), a mixture of two of those elements, or an avoidance of all of them.

Thoughts?


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 24, 2011, 07:52:05 PM
Lots.

One set of thoughts concerns players' differing expectations and enjoyment. For instance, in the group of people I play with the most, all four of us would eat up the ass-whipping outcomes you're describing with spoons. I've spent FPs on other stuff that really mattered, and the price I pay for those priorities is to stand there like a Pez dispenser while the vampire feeds? Fucking A yes! Whereas you're talking about players who are coming in with vastly different standards for what a player-character is for.

Clearly I am not talking about "good" vs. "bad" play, but instead, exactly what I said: different expectations and enjoyment. For us, a GM who shied away from applying such mechanics would be softballing us as players, not in a strategic try-to-not-to-lose sense, but in the vastly more annoying sense of cushioning our characters from consequences.

There's likely some GNS involved here - are we coming in to do what The Dresden Files does, or what we, as people, think something like it ought to do, as opposed to what it is? Are we here to celebrate the source material (albeit stressing it slightly by playing "our guys" in novel setups), or to use the same starting points to do what we might, arrogantly, consider (much) better?

Another set of thoughts concerns the interesting and extremely clear distinction you're drawing among applications of the FATE mechanics. In some ways, this goes all the way back to the core difficulty in playing Fred's 24-hour game, Pace. Are or are not the initial "failures" consequential in plot terms, whether in comparison to the eventual successes or on their own? If the answer is "they aren't," then the early failures are enjoyable color for what predictably and smoothly turns out to be a success story. If it's "they are," then the story become a rather dark, unpredictable foray into the price of success.

To summarize at this point, Diaspora looks like one end of the spectrum, and possibly Spirit of the Century looks like the other, with basic FATE leaning toward the latter primarily through lack of emphasis. I am perhaps too strong with my own preferences to comment neutrally. When you write,

Quote
Some folks in my Spirit of the Century and Starblazer Adventure games did express the sentiment that the games seemed a little superficial and that nothing was really at stake despite all the sound and fury and exploding biplanes and battles with deathbots.  So if there is going to be real in-your face tragedy or drama or the real possibility for surprising new situations to arise through the mechanics and currency, rather than just GM fiat and razzle dazzle with laser sharks and zombie dinosaurs, the Compels have to be deployed with close attention to FP scarcity and with the aim of producing drama.

... it makes me sigh in profound relief that I own neither book, and leads me to consider picking up Diaspora with great interest. But this view of mine is highly personal, offered as such. More analytically, I think some attention should be leveled toward FATE regarding its incoherence in Creative Agenda terms, and the predictable (and striking) lack of enthusiasm I have observed about playing it, after people get over their excitement about having purchased shiny books.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Ron Edwards on January 24, 2011, 08:11:58 PM
Whoops, I was interrupted at a key moment. My interest in Agenda-Coherence in FATE is an aside. My intended conclusion was to ask you, Erik, where you think your current players stand in this distinction. It seems to me that your implied decision - how hard do I use these rules - is best made by considering the group's collective interests, enthusiasms, and modes of enjoying play.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 25, 2011, 04:47:27 AM
Erik, where you think your current players stand in this distinction. It seems to me that your implied decision - how hard do I use these rules - is best made by considering the group's collective interests, enthusiasms, and modes of enjoying play.

Not just considering: talking about it is necessary.

Before we go on I will lay out the Compel options.

The source material has some pretty fierce Compels: Harry's fae patron completely immobilizes him during a meeting at his office and can do this because of a number of unfulfilled promises he has made her.  Wizards are subject to a number of compels on their behaviour and, unlike mortals, have little or no FP at the start of a game to resist them.

I will see what kind of response I get.  The current PCs have fairly high refresh.  I would like to seem them deal with the payoff between greater magical power and greater exposure to compels.  No magical power without a price. (Say, somebody should write a game about that).


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 25, 2011, 04:55:49 AM
More analytically, I think some attention should be leveled toward FATE regarding its incoherence in Creative Agenda terms, and the predictable (and striking) lack of enthusiasm I have observed about playing it, after people get over their excitement about having purchased shiny books.

A pal of mine ran a long-running extra pulpy "Terry and the Pirates" SotC game.  No idea what he actually DID but I suspect it was the right balance of challenging opponents, intrigue tailored to PC Aspects and player interests, and just-tough-enough use of Compels.  (This is a guy who has also made a functional hack of Weapons of the Gods!)

I get the feeling that there are best practices out there that keep FATE games going.  The Dresden book has tons of good advice along these lines.  I just appreciated Diaspora's clarity about what a compel can do and why.  That game evokes old Traveler experiences and offers the sub-systems as games that can be played on their own without GMs.  So it has to have clear definitions of what exactly a compel does.

Maybe there could be a "dials" or "levers" feature in FATE games, where we set how hard we want everyone's compels to be.  The players and GM could have different settings.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 25, 2011, 06:36:02 PM
Here is me hammering out an agenda in order to define my use of Compels in this game

- we gathered to have fun in a fictional world we like (Dresedenverse), in a real place we inhabit (Toronto), and to have gonzo supernatural stuff happen
- we made this city and would like to explore as much of it as possible
- we want to know what happens next and to have scenes of cool colour
- challenges are enjoyable 'cause they tell us about this cool place and the gonzo supernatural stuff in it
- one of the things that happens in this place is that bad ass opponents put heavy whammies on us: we need to feel the whammy but be allowed to make our way around it so that we can explore some more
- the book says: Compels LIMIT a course of action but do not dictate what a PC does in response
- bring that advice down to the level of resolution: an in-conflict compel (from an NPC's pool and reflecting that NPC's goals or from the GM maintaining long term fiction integrity of the city, or the short-term fictional integrity of a scene, or just highlighting PC Aspects) can FORBID one of the TYPES of actions (Move, Assess, Declare, Attack, Block) but will not shut down ALL action.

Or the players might say "bring it one" and we start dishing out hardcore Compels at each other.  But even in that case, we are just upping the intensity of the implicit agenda, not changing it.  Our Occult Toronto could be a place where all characters (PCs and NPCs) are capable of delivering and taking serious whammies to get what they want.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Drifting
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on January 26, 2011, 06:02:09 AM
http://www.faterpg.com/2011/the-core-of-fate-core/

Here is what Fred Hicks says about compel.

"A compel is a decision to set aside the dice and focus on the dictates of drama instead."

I can see how the FP system works before were are in a Conflict.  But what happens when someone busts out a compel in the middle of a Conflict?  The dice are rolling, we are now in dice land. 

I may be drifting my FATE but FATE contains a serious self-contradiction.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Frank Tarcikowski on January 26, 2011, 06:43:17 AM
Iíve been wondering for some time why there wasnít any substantial discussion of FATE at the Forge. So, Erik, thanks for bringing this on the table. Itís a little early for me personally because I havenít had a chance to play FATE yet, and have only read Free Fate (and forgot half of how it works). I definitely find this interesting and important and I hope I can pick up on it later.

- Frank


Title: Re: [DFRPG] FATE talk
Post by: Erik Weissengruber 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.



Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: jburneko 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



Title: Re: [DFRPG] FATE discussions
Post by: Erik Weissengruber 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)


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Aspects Work in Scenario Creation, Let's Bring In Fate Points
Post by: Erik Weissengruber 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


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: jburneko 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



Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber 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.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Ron Edwards 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


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: jburneko 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


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber 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.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber 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.


Title: oops, scooped
Post by: Erik Weissengruber 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
Iíd suggest that the correct tactical play compel is not ďI make you lose an actionĒ; itís ďI reduce your list of options.Ē 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 youíre using Fate as your engine for something boardgame/wargame-like; and Iíd regard that as more like the good compels, because they donít eliminate the ability to do anything, they limit the choices of what to do Ö which could force someone to change up their tactics. Thatís a more interesting story, there, than ďand then they were paralyzedĒ. But rooted to the spot, fighting for their lives? Forced to abandon the attack and try for a tactical retreat? Thatís 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.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto Session #2
Post by: Erik Weissengruber 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.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto Session #3
Post by: Erik Weissengruber 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.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber 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


Title: Re: [DFRPG] FATE talk
Post by: Erik Weissengruber 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.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto @ The intersection of Karma/Fortune/and Drama
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on March 14, 2011, 07:13:58 AM
Last week's session illustrated the interaction between the resolution mechanics, and their ties to the Dresden setting.

Player uses Rapport to win a photo of missing girl from the mother who is concerned.  This was gained with a dice roll.  Moreover, it provided a tag "long hair hanging down" applicable to the missing girl.

My description of a girl with hear down was extemporized Color.

When the players homed in on the missing person, I decided that the girl was indeed wearing her hair down.  She was much older now and her loose hair was her way of declaring that she was a "freeer" or "more natural" person.  It just seemed to fit.  Perhaps FATE being an "echo chamber" or player inputs had something to do with this non-causal echo of a descriptive tag from one part of the session in a later.

2nd Player later tags that aspect to get a bouns on a Stealth roll to climb up said girl's hair and try to talk her out of her weird allegiance to a bunch of goblins.

Weird girl flees from goblins only to end up on a bridge that was the domain of a Troll who likes to eat naughty girls [did not catch Freudian slip until too late!].  The Stealth maven was carried along with the running of the girl and ended up, by the logic of cauality, near both the troll and the girl.

The Dresden setting and the rules meet in one important domain: the absolute restrictions imposed on Fey and magical characters.  In keeping with fairytales, fey operate according to very strict rules.  When I made up the rule "when you give into a goblin's invitation to wickedness, you are turned into one" it provided a certain tension to the rescue.  The girl had to be convinced or otherwise prevented from completing that third act.  And by improvising that bit of goblin lore I put myself in the position of then having to think up a 3rd act for the goblins to propose.  Shooting one of the PCs was a perfect act for that situation.

The idea of an iron-clad rule not subject to Fortune came up again with the Troll.  I phrased the rule as "when a child's parents curse her, she is the troll's legitimate prey, and no fey or Unseelie-accord following magician can interfere."  I believe that I meant to say "parent" but the players called me on the specific letter of the law I had enunciated and pointed out that the girl's mother had confessed great love for her child.  The troll could not claim immunity under the accords and was then open for a whupping.

The DFRPG bolts the setting's logic into the rule framework.  The players applied that rule Karmically and compelled (in the common meaning of the verb) the NPCs behaviour.

When I suggested that the troll's powers were greatly enhanced by being on his home bridge and the snotty bugger dared the PCs to approach him, one of the PCs took him at his word.  Literally.  When we resolved that I had, in essence, said that no-one could take the girl from him so long as he was on the bridge, the 3rd PC then contrived a spell to vault the goon off of the brigde.  He was compelled by the power of his words to release her (and by the presence of the valley's werewolf wardens).

The in-game convention of introducing beings who must be true to their words, absolutely, allows the robust application of Karma in a fictionally-appropriate manner.

If the phrase "good role-playing" means attention to the fiction and all of its logical and causal relationships, this was a night of good role-playing.  Perhaps "good role-playing" just means applying fully the Karma, Fortune, and Drama mechanisms embedded in the game itself, in addition to committing to the consistency of the unfolding fiction.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Roger on March 14, 2011, 09:52:43 AM
Sounds like something straight out of a DF book, so that's good to hear.

Any interesting Compels of PC Aspects?


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto: Barring the Devices
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on March 14, 2011, 10:29:07 AM
In a previous session, 1 of our players commented that she liked the system but wasn't sure if she knew all of its bits.

So I decided to set up a teaching session where all of the game options would be laid out, including GM-side decisions.  So I was exposing the rules-guided GM prep I have been doing.

The one thing we didn't get to was using compels to limit other characters' courses of action.

The overal result: a greater awareness of the Aspects at play but no direct compels of those City Sheet Aspects.  (Fer instance: the "Nature Rules Here" Aspect for the Toronto ravines was quoted or rephrased by both GM and players.  But beyond that "echo chamber" effect, I don't know how inspiring or motivating they were.

And the end of the session, a Minor Milestone had been reached.  The "Nature Rules Aspect" had been transformed from a Threat to a Theme (and checked off on the city management sheet).

1 thing I did was to pass cards representing the fundamental steps of preparation that I had made.  And here they are

1) High Level Decision Making

City-Wide Theme/Threat

IDEA
Toronto was smug and self-satisfied but now there is a lot of anger, apprehension, and uncertainty
ASPECT
"The city that works worked" [a take on one of the city's nicknames]
FACES
Name: McCoy, McCoy, Mc Coy
Concept: Hive-mind law firm, part of the mayor's new order
Name: Black Circle
Concept: Anarchist trouble makers

Aside from representatives of McCoy, McCoy, and McCoy menaced a PC but the idea or feeling never really made a concrete appearance.  Towards the end, I had to improvise a motivation for the werewolves offering a deal to heal up one of the NPCs.  So, let us assume that the people pushing to make Toronto "work" they way they want were ticking off the wolfies.  The injured PC was told to bring the wolfies the head of a Toronto cop, part of the new order being put into effect by Mc3, who had been getting up in their face.  So: when trying to create a coherent fiction, I drew upon the content of the Aspect but I can't think of any aspect where it drove play.

2) Scenario's Setting

City Locations

NAME
Parks and forests all along the Don & Humber valleys' river systems.
IDEA
Nature took this place in an explosion of violence and has no intention of giving it back.
ASPECT
"Nature Rules Here"
DESCRIPTION
Hurricane floods ripped through the city 60 years ago.  The city never resumed development down here -- until now.  Some parts are very neat and orderly, some are abandoned 19thc. buildings and businesses, some are heavily wooded.
THEME OR THREAT?
Set up as a Threat, but chaged to Theme as a result of players' activities
FACES
Name: Mr and Mrs. Hunter
Concept: Werewolf guardians.  But at the end of the session it was resolved that they were no immediate threat to Toronto's mortals.

3) Relevant Characters from the City Sheet

NAME
Mr. and Ms. Hunter
ARE THE FACE OF
The ravines
WITH THE HIGH CONCEPT
Werewolf wardes of the ravines' fey & monsters
AND WITH THE MOTIVATION
"Keep this place free for us to run wild"
WITH THESE RELATIONSHIPS
* Cart (a homeless guy roaming the Toronto Islands and sometimes the ravines)
* The Fey discontent

Sigh.  I keep making up new monsters instead of drawing from the bank of NPCs generated in city creation.  Must stop.

4) Scenario Notes

The rules ask GMs to set up a network of tension.  This wasn't quite the same as a relationship map.  Did players try to bring their play in line with this diagram?  I dunno.  Was this attempt at No-Illusion play actually enforce some kinda "go with the GM" illusionism?

http://occulttorontodresdenfiles.wikia.com/index.php?title=Occult_Toronto_Wiki&image=Scenario3-jpg

And given the rules-instructorly intention I did not play up the tension.  But what is the "tension"?  Are players supposed to know that they are expected to play up some tension?



Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on March 14, 2011, 10:30:44 AM
Sounds like something straight out of a DF book, so that's good to hear.

Any interesting Compels of PC Aspects?


It's a direct ripoff of one of the short stories.

This was a teaching session.  I just said, "Look, you are an "Overhelper" which explains why are on the lip of this valley.  Here is your Fate Point."


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto & FATE's Strengths
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on March 28, 2011, 08:26:17 AM
Last Wednesday I ran DFRPG without prep, having thought that we were trying another game that day.

The diagram relating the various Aspects to each other allowed me to improvise a session rather handily.

And the reiteration of last session's key aspects helped provide continuity to our campaign, despite the 2 week hiatus.

Again, the compells were largely of the "Hey, here is an aspect I am using for tonight's complications" "Oh K, I won't pay to deny it" type.  The use of Fate Points seems to formalize the commonly accepted contract for play: GM will propose ideas and players are expected to go along with them without complaining.

But the city-creation prep gave me deep background and the diagram of linked aspects gave me conduits through which I could channel some challenges towards the players.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Roger on March 28, 2011, 10:42:12 AM
My take on the whole 'network of tension' thing is, to quote the relevant passage from the rules, "a pretty big potential conflict of interest."

I'm not sure I see that in your Occult Toronto diagram, but there's probably a lot more wrapped up in those terse Aspects than I know about.

I'm glad to hear that DF works as a "lots of setting prep up-front, minimal adventure prep afterwards" sort of system; I imagine that's what they were aiming for.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on March 30, 2011, 08:02:35 AM
Really good Aspects require as much thought as Burning Wheel/Empires' Beliefs.  And you need, what, 7 of them for Dresden.  As it was a new group for me and I just wanted to get playing, I didn't go over Aspects with a fine-toothed comb.  But some rewriting might be in order.

The Milestones guidelines suggest that rewriting an Aspect is one thing to do to mark a minor achievement.  I should use those moments as an organic way of clarifying Aspects.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto: Like a Hurricane
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on April 07, 2011, 10:57:20 AM
Gearing up to end the series.

Yes, FATE is a good adjunct to a "winging-it" style.

But I want a final go at prep in the recommened mode.

To give it more tension I am going to lift two practices out of Apocalypse World
* PC-NPC-PC triangles
* Love Letters

In the past I would try to bring Theme Aspects to the fore by having NPCs approach players with conflicting demands.  Too many lines of force and NPCs to manage effectively, for me, and it cluttered up the SIS.

The PC-NPC-PC triangles will reduce the number of NPCs cluttering up the place and (hopefully) engage more inter-PC action in relationship to those themes.

It's been weeks.  I am thinking of writing the PCs little love letters with Fate Points inside them to put them in the middle of a Theme/Threat charged situation, with NPCs in the course of acting against them to earn their FPs.

After establishing a strong situation, I will let the actions unfold organically but come hard and fast with NPC-originating compells and use FP to make the fiction palpable and consistent.



Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on April 11, 2011, 11:13:40 PM
My take on the whole 'network of tension' thing is, to quote the relevant passage from the rules, "a pretty big potential conflict of interest."

I'm not sure I see that in your Occult Toronto diagram, but there's probably a lot more wrapped up in those terse Aspects than I know about.

Since there weren't a lot of readily apparent conflicts of interest in the Aspects I had to back off from the book's recommended scenario creation procedure.

I instead took this one:

http://occulttorontodresdenfiles.wikia.com/wiki/Wild_Hunt

"I began with creating PC-NPC-PC triangles in which NPCs pursued goals that put PCs into opposing or at least orthagonal relationships with each other.

Then I recorded the aspects relevant to those potential points of tension.

The count-down clocks allow me to keep track of what the NPC has done to further his or her agenda and what to do next. (Thanks Apocalypse World).

No course of action on the part of the PC is expected or required for the NPCs to start carrying out their agendas.

It is designed as the spur to a series of sessions, not as an agenda to be completed in any singe one."

So: points of tension FIRST then related/motivating/explanatory Aspects on both PC and NPC sides.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on April 13, 2011, 04:47:04 AM
Occult mysteries are often held out as the Objective or the subject matter of DFRPG.

But the rules do not really address the creation of mysteries or structuring investigations (unlike the rules texts of Call of Cthulhu or Trail of same, or recent Forge threads).

The prep I have done for this upcoming series solidifies the threats of the city and gives the various NPCs and factions encountered by the players definite agendas.

It is not as if the investigation is the Object.  Clue hunting, shadowing, evidence gathering, etc. are steps PCs must take to defend their own lives and deal with their persistent troubles, etc.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on April 15, 2011, 12:32:20 PM
The game has developed its own momentum and I dont' see the need to clutter up this forum with lots of "this happened, then this happened" posts.  A fuller write up can be found here: http://occulttorontodresdenfiles.wikia.com/wiki/Wild_Hunt#Session_1

But, pursuant to the orignal agenda, re:

"* Group setting creation
* Driving scenarios with Aspects from setting creation
* Working with Compells

What I really want to do is employ the setting/scenario/Compelling mechanics AS WRITTEN and examine their efficacy.

Moreover, there is a Social Contract angle I want to follow: I am running what will be a series of linked one-shots, essentially.  I have to keep my sessions short and occasional because of family and work commitments.  Perhaps the creative group buy-in delivered by setting creation will be enough to provide the binding threads that I can't put together with regular and extensive gaming sessions."

* Group Setting Creation
- The mosque was underused.  Because the player who contributed it used to wonder what lay in the vaults of this former bank, he has invested it with a lot of significance.  I peopled it with some opposition but the setting and the essence of the conflict were player contributed.  More evidence of the power of this mode of creation.

* Driving scenarios with Aspects from setting creation
- I don't follow the same steps as the book but I cover the same areas: now I have a large relationship map with 7 NPC aspects linking up with 8 PC aspects, which should lead to multi-session plan and justify some major milestones in the campaign (and setting up the possibility of substantial character advancement)

* Working with Compells
- Usually I would do Burning Empire or WEG Star Wars-style "cut scenes" to tip the hands of my NPCs and thereby obtain Fate Points for them.  The "Love Letters" to the PCs took the place of that.  It got play going right away and accomplished the goal of giving the supernaturals some Fate to play with.
- Players are now using the Fate currency with no prompting from myself, piling up Aspects, cool consequences, etc.
- Once they start pursuing their own agendas I will try to stymie/complicate their plots with serious Compells.  Or I might not -- I am still balking at hitting the players with serious whammies.  Right now I wanted the action to start and the players to feel what is going on and did not want momentum broken.


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on April 19, 2011, 04:58:06 AM
The Fate Point mechanic serves to integrated character generated traits with the rest of the game in a satisfying way.

Ben must have tagged 4 of them in the run up to casting a demanding spell.  But because those traits had to be activated by paying with a limited currency, he can't keep doing this again and again.  In the 1st ed. of Heroquest, there were frequent interminable augment hunts for each and every Ability that might make a difference in the conflict resolution.  Now, 1 ability can be modified by 1 augment and that's it.  The aim is to come up with interesting combinations and the hard limit on the number of related abilities enforces that.

Some kind of limit to how, when, or how often a trait can be evoked to resolve a contest should accompany general injunctions to "work with the fiction" or "make sure that the traits are logically applicable to this circumstance."


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on May 06, 2011, 07:52:35 AM
The latest session brought up an interesting cross-session aspect of the Aspects in Fate.

In the previous session, a heavy was trying to assess a character and to manipulate aspects of her personality.
The player resisted this action.  The Aspect was "Nobody sees that I am O.K." and the character resists when people do pry into her business. 

I chose to put pressure on that Aspect because I simply did not know what it meant.

The player then concocted an elaborate ruse.  She and her allies pulled the heavy's mate into a stereotypical "late night spooky occult noir meeting."  It reminded me of the behaviour in earlier threads where players seem to take pleasure in elaborate disguises and misdirection soley for the purpose of proving how clever or manipulative they can be.  But there was a fictional thrust to the ruse: they wanted the werewolves and other supernaturals to stop their constant manipulations and deceptions.  This realization came as I tried to frame the contest as a social conflict that would inflict some kind of Aspect on the wolfwere woman. 

It was productive to turn the players' lord-knows-what-motivated-it resistance to the way the supernaturals (and the GM) pressured them into mechanical resolution and mechanically significant consequences.  The resolution produced a change in the NPCs' motivations and her whole approach to the players' characters.

And the player was still acting in response to the initial pressure on her "No One Sees I'm OK Aspect" a session later, and manipulating the Consequence Aspect placed during that earlier session.

The Aspect/Consequence mechanic provides coherence between sessions in a way that is hard to find in any 1 simple conflict or contested roll.


Title: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto Last Session
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on June 19, 2011, 04:39:15 PM
Last Session Blow

This was designed to bring the campaign to a close.  I didn't have any of the original questions in the back of my mind as I played.  I had some retrospective comments.

Too much too soon. Always try to compress too much into the closing session.

Events

*Sam: "Gets the job done" Aspect: Way at the start of this story arc, Sam was helping Martine Chisud to protect the city's ghost. Now, her nemesis, spin doctor Oscar Tennenbaum, approaches Sam with an offer: protect the city from what the cultists are doing and get a huge financial reward. Tennenbaum is aligned with the City Aspect "Toronto, the City that Worksed" and has come to realize the forces that he and Quint have unleashed by letting McCoy/McCoy/and McCoy work their occult mojo on behalf of the Quint Nation. Sam takes the job and the Compel's implied consequences.

* Locke: "Network of the Unwashed" Aspect gets Locke a visit from Cart, a homeless geriatric who wanders Toronto's valleys and the Toronto Islands with his little cart. The Fey have a gift that they wish secreted in the valley. It turns out to be a Phoenix waiting to arise from its slumber. Towards the end of the session, it explodes from its hiding place and wreaks firery vengeance on Mayor Quint and his developer buddies who are celebrating a new business deal on May 1st right at the Brickworks. They are consumed in a firery blaze. Also, a few Anarcho Punk types protesting it. The long term consequences are that Locke's Network is going to be mistrusted by a the occult factions in Toronto [sorry I didn't make it clear durning the compell introduction, Ms. Snyder]. Opening scene has Locke perusing an old map of Toronto -- a speculative map of what the city could look sketched out before Fort York was built.

* Hannah: "Observant" Aspect puzzled me. How do I make this a difficulty instead of a strength. Well, the incarnate voice of the Ravine approaches Hannah with an offering to make her as observant of nature as she is of human emotions. Perhaps a vision of dandilions orgasmically releasing their seed into the air isn't the right way to do it. She is offered the chance to "observe" the King of the Wild Hunt and compose a report of his dread deads to the mortals of Toronto. Hannah turns down the compel [and as it was a real stretch I didn't extract the fate point -- really it was a metaphoric reach NOT a challenge to the Aspect]. Hannah uses the news to get the heroes on the move to prepare for May 1 hijinx.

* Ben: The ghost of Lt. Phillipots -- who composed the first Toronto map at the behest of Lord Simcoe -- stares over Ben's shoulder as Ben looks at a reproduction of the original, (a magically potent item now hidden in the Danforth Mosque). The ghosts need Locke to give back the portion of power lent to her by the leader of Toronto's ghosts. Ben sees possible tension. He also notes that Mayor Quint's new subway lines are running right along magically potent lines of old Toronto -- under the valley floor where the old road to Kingston used to run. He also observes that the new lines of the subway are the first roads to be inscribed IN the valleys in about 200 years and represent a kind of magicall grid which will bring the Don Valley into the orderly grid of downtown Toronto, when it has been outside of it for as long as there has been a Toronto map (the Don and its delta were not crisscrossed with projected streets on the Phillipots map). The cultists backing the new mayor's development scheme are creating a trap for the Goblin King/Jaegermeister/Herne the Hunter/Boss dog of the Wild Hunt. The werewolves and others have been trying to prevent it. Ben finds a way to use the the implications of the map for his own purposes.

* Sam comes up with the plan. He takes the utopic map of Toronto -- a map of "no place" and a map of a "good place" -- and has the crew place Aspects on it to help in a magical ritual: Sam's aim is to create a barrier that will prevent the Wild Hunt from sweeping down into Toronto proper, thus frustrating both the valley creatures who want him to run wild and the cultists who want to tame him and use him to police their new grid. Ben places a "New Harbour" Aspect on the mouth of the Don (I had visions of fey ships sailing over from the Islands, but we didn't specify it further); Sam adds "for wizards" to the map's title "Town and Settlement"; Locke circles the spatial location of the current Kensington Market on part of the utopic map that was to be a green "commons" around the administrative centre of the city, and labels it "for humans"; Hannah refrains from marking up the map.

* The crew pull the classic Red Harvest/Yojimbo/Fist Full of Dollars move of setting the riled-up factions against each other. First they dump the cart [which contains the Phoenix] next to the brick works. They accomplish this by getting Lt. Brazeau (my take on Dresden's monster hunting cop) to pull a distraction that draws Arkham and his half-ogre motorcycle cops away from the Brickworks (a flaming ambulance will do that). After an ambush by Arkham's ogre brother George, the crew back off.

* They then sit perched up on the Dairy Queen in East York, the one overlooking the Don Valley Parkway, and watch the unfolding chaos which has been weeks in the making. Sam calls on Harley Arkham to meet him at a place -- the place where the werewolves are preparing a ritual welcome for the Wild Hunt. Arkham owes Sam a fey promise and cannot refuse. The half-ogres and the werewolves go nuts on each other, with Mr. Hunter going for Arkham's head (which Sam had long ago promised to deliver), the cops unloading their weapons and slaying the werewolves. Then the "heroes" call in Brazeau with a tip about Arkham's involvement in the gunfire taking place. She rushes in and both she and Arkham are killed in the ensuing gunfire. Given a bloody slaughter involving civilians and cops vs. cops, the key ritual spot in the Valley is unavailable to our heroes due to the RCMP, Toronto Police, EMTs, and media rushing in. [All this was mediated using Fate Point currency: I just rotated through each NPC and paid an FP every time I declared a fact in their benefit. Arkham was able to beat Hunter (who never would concede), but Lt. Brazeau did the best of all due to the fact she was always conceding to the heroes in the social challenges she and Hannah engaged in. I figured Brazeau would spend her advantages helping her mates and ensuring the demise of the bads ahead of her own safety. And I wanted the "heroes" to see the consequences of their scheming.]

* The team does an adapted ritual: under the CN Rail bridge futher up the valley, Sam invoked a Ward massive enough to stop the Huntsman's advance. To do this he needs the help of 2 local wizards -- a Wagner-hating Rabbi from Kensington Market's Minsker Shul and a Sanskrit-spouting mythology buff from the U of T (the Germano-Celtic Wild Hunt being a knock off of an Indo-European myth associated with the figure of Lord Shiva in Hinduism, dontcha know). Tariq the mentor gets the call but does not respond. Ritual works, with the Rabbi exhausted and the Sanskrit nerd convulsing on the ground, babbling.

* The Wilde Hunt stops at the bridge. It's master can't continue on his path but is ravenous with hunger. "Where is my promised sacrifice?" On cue, McCoy/McCoy/Martine straggle through the storm towards the barrier with Lilian Paolilo in their grip. They are going to try to use her as bait to manipulate the Huntsman in some way, possibly to distract him while they feed on his energy or direct them against their enemies (I didn't know and didn't have time to figure out -- I was Crossing one set of NPCs with an NPC from another part of the City and providing an opening for the characters to put down their DQ Blizzards and DO something).

* Heroes act heroically and rush down to save the day. M/M/M have a number of banked up FP from earlier concessions. And their rote spells frustrate Ben's attempts to zap them. But while they are occupied by the wizards, Locke manages to call on the Psychopomp. She uses the portion of power he has lent her to free him from his prison, which happens to be the very crystal that M/M/M have at the centre of their cult. P-pomp rushes across the barrier to take on the beast who has sworn to flood the river and destroy what he can. P-pomp is no match for the Huntsman, but the Huntsman shows "mercy": he gives the ghost a 13-count lead because such a magical foe would make fine sport. As the Hunt runs back North up the Don Valley, M/M/M turn their attention on the heroes. Who are mostly out of Fate Points, hurt, and exhausted. At this point, Tariq shows up.

* Yeah, the wizard mentor saved the day. Well, not really. The heroes' manipulations set the stage for Walpurgisnacht's mayhem. And I brought out a conflict from earlier in the campaign: Tariq did not want to get involved because he was under the Sword of Damocles for messing with magic from beyond the Outer Gates. And M/M/M were manipulating an interdimensional being which Tariq himself might have losed into our dimension. But Sam's persuading was effective. Sam opened The Sight to an overwhelming vision of Tariq's terrifying implementation of Outer Gates magic, a vision so strong as to render him speechless and immobile. He could do or say nothing while Tariq threw down his ceremonial Warden sword and departed with the words "I have just signed my own death warrant." Consequences, Sam, consequences.

Comments

* Moments of GM fiat were there, but my excuse was that we were ending the session.

* When Locke and the guys were ambushed as they placed the cart I came up with some fast talking BS about how she couldn't transform into miniature form in time, blah blah blah. Next time I will follow the wisdom of the ages and "Say 'Yes' or Roll the Dice."

* Even when doing lose narration (like the multiple NPC group stand-offs) I tried to relate everything to currency (FP) or mechanics [Sam, the rating of the vision you are facing was WAY beyond your capacity to resist it -- I was starting it at Legendary and you had no FP. Still, "Say 'Yes' or ...". At least I let you know why Tariq was doing what he was doing and he DID leave Saladin's Scimitar in your hands. If an non-Muslim like Locke tries to pick it up, she or her will learn a valuable lesson about infringing on waqaf.]

* A good Dresden-y Goetterdaemerung. But, really, the Phoenix was a bit much. Still, it was part of the City Sheet and we hadn't seen it so far. No chance to use the Unicorn. The cart was a McGuffin designed to see your response to the "Network of the Unwashed" compel. I did have to figure out how the Autum Court out on the Island were going to wreck the Mayor's party.


Title: Links to City Sheets and Character Sheets
Post by: Erik Weissengruber on July 04, 2011, 11:16:19 AM
Here are the big documents from setting creation that guided our play:

* http://occulttorontodresdenfiles.wikia.com/wiki/The_City:_High_Level
* http://occulttorontodresdenfiles.wikia.com/wiki/The_City:_Places
* http://occulttorontodresdenfiles.wikia.com/wiki/The_City:_Faces


Here are scans of the character sheets (Hannah's is missing):

* http://occulttorontodresdenfiles.wikia.com/wiki/Ben
* http://occulttorontodresdenfiles.wikia.com/wiki/Locke
* http://occulttorontodresdenfiles.wikia.com/wiki/Sam


Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
Post by: Josh Porter on August 22, 2011, 11:35:10 AM

    • Working with Compells

    What I really want to do is employ the setting/scenario/Compelling mechanics AS WRITTEN and examine their efficacy.
    I am running a DFRPG game set in Portland, and I must say that compels are the most difficult aspect (no pun) of the game for me to use effectively.  It may be that my players have such nebulous aspects that compels don't spring to mind, but I have my doubts.  I forget about compels until there is something I feel would be fun in the moment, but then I can't find an applicable aspect to compel.

    "I want you to fall off the fence instead of rolling for it.  Could 'Pawn Ascending' work for that?  You are 'ascending' the fence, but you fall because you are merely a pawn in the grand scheme of things?"

    Therein lies the difficulty of compels to me.  I can't decide if it's poorly-chosen aspects or my GMing that is making it hard to use effectively.
     


    Title: Re: [DFRPG] Occult Toronto
    Post by: Erik Weissengruber on September 13, 2011, 11:46:56 AM
    >>>  I am running a DFRPG game set in Portland, and I must say that compels are the most difficult aspect (no pun) of the game for me to use effectively.  It may be that my players have such nebulous aspects that compels don't spring to mind, but I have my doubts.  I forget about compels until there is something I feel would be fun in the moment, but then I can't find an applicable aspect to compel.

    The scenario creation mechanics allow you to kind of set up what aspects will show up.  I tried to set up NPCs keyed to or involved with the selected aspects.  If I come back to the game, I will approach each Aspect with challenges in mind like "And what's that about?" or "Are you still sure about that?" or "Are you STILL sure about this?"

    I will keep hammering on players to make sure that they have Aspects that I am interested in.


    >>>  "I want you to fall off the fence instead of rolling for it.  Could 'Pawn Ascending' work for that?  You are 'ascending' the fence, but you fall because you are merely a pawn in the grand scheme of things?"

    I should follow the book more closely in future: if there is an Aspect for which I cannot see a positive interpretation, a negative interpretation, and a potential compel, I will ask for a rewrite.

    Therein lies the difficulty of compels to me.  I can't decide if it's poorly-chosen aspects or my GMing that is making it hard to use effectively.