GM Prep for a Game of Trollbabe

Started by ejh, August 28, 2008, 01:08:26 AM

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Somebody confirm that I understand this correctly: you as a GM do not prep for games of trollbabe, cause you don't even know where they're going to happen before they begin.  You can scribble down some ideas and see if they happen to fit in with what your players want, but if they don't, think on your feet!

You do not make a relationship map, you do not get together with the players and think up Kickers, you do not do ANY of that shit, however glorious it is for other games; you just show up with open ears and mind awake.

Apologies if this is something hopelessly obvious.  I just had the strange experience of reading through Trollbabe for the first time in a couple years and everything in it seeming totally crystal clear, straightforward, and easy to grasp.  :)


I have never prep-ed a Trollbabe game but my understanding is that the GM needs to set the Stakes which in Trollbabe is something VERY different than in Dogs in the Vineyard or Primetime Adventures.  The Stakes in a Trollbabe game is something the NPCs all have a vested interest in.  The adventure is over when the Stakes meet their final fate.



Oh yes, but I think the GM sets the stakes after the player tells him where the trollbabe is and where she's going. :)

Ron Edwards

Hiya Ed,

You're not quite right.

Unless you are very skilled at whipping three-or-four person relationship maps on the fly, make a few. A dad, his brother, the daughter, and the dad's new wife. The grandfather, his age-old rival, the grandson, and the memory of the dead woman between the rivals. Even something totally normal: the man, his wife, and her best friend. Just have a few sketches of such things around. Keep them simple and don't invent a wad of detailed crap to go with them. Don't even assign them human vs. troll.

Think also of problems a community might face. The text is pretty good in listing them.

Then people make up their characters, and choose where they're going. You take the locations and, very intuitively, without any suffering or strain, pop one of those little maps into each location. Let your imagination fly free and establish, for your game of Trollbabe, what the Blood Gate (for instance) is actually like. Imagine the people and/or trolls there, whether living there or passing through or whatever. The little relationship map applies among them.

Most especially: go back to the problems a community faces, and now imagine something concrete in this place which is the basis of contention among two or more characters. Property, romance, authority, anything, but illustrated in this particular place by something real: a person, location, or thing.

At this point, if you're doing it right and not suffering in some sort of Must Be Awesome 'Cause It's Indie bullshit way, you should be easily visualizing oneto three of the important characters. Grab names for them.

Then stop. You're done prepping. Trust yourself to role-playing either named or unnamed characters as you need to when the time comes. Describe to each player what his or her trollbabe sees and ask what she does.

Best, Ron

Ron Edwards

Forgot to add this: [Forge Midwest] Trollbabe - player choices and a question for Ron. In it, I outline my exact steps and notes for a game.

Best, Ron


Thanks Ron and Jesse.

As is often the case with this sort of thing, I went back to look at the part of the rules where I remembered specifically reading that you come up with Stakes only after the player designates a location, and no such part of the rules actually turned out to exist. :)

Thanks for the pointers on what you can prep and what you cant!  In the end I guess I'm not that surprised to find out that the kind of prep you'd do for Sorcerer or for Pool isn't in fact out of place in Trollbabe either.

(Now that I see that link to the Forge Midwest thread -- I think I at least skimmed that thread that back when it was posted, stowing "I didn't prep for this particular game," in my mind, and when I read the rules just now, projected my memory of that specific incident into the rules as a generalization.)

Ron Edwards

Yeah, but my point was that I did prep for the game during the course of the table-group prep. I followed every one of the steps in the rules.

Best, Ron


ah... the vague months-old memories that I projected onto the text conflated "after making the characters but before play begins" with "as play begins."  Stupid months old memories!  Begone, banished by the power of fresh attentive reading!