*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 15, 2022, 05:53:01 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13299 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 48 - most online ever: 843 (October 22, 2020, 11:18:00 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Trollbabe] First play, two trollbabes at Otun's Belch  (Read 5020 times)
Christian
Member

Posts: 13


« on: February 21, 2009, 03:40:40 PM »

Hello,

I GMed my first Trollbabe game the other day. To sum up the experience : it was great but left me wanting advice.
Now the detailed version.

Premiminary notes
English is not my native language, I’ll do my best to be as clear as possible, but well, you know what I mean !
I wrote this AP report in order to have comments and answers from experienced Trollbabe players, feel free to show me where I made errors or suboptimal moves. I hope too that maybe this post could be useful for GM wishing to try Trollbabe, as an experience sharing, although there are lots of great posts here already.

We were three : JP, his wife Nath and me. We all have been roleplaying (as GM and players) since a long time (about 25 years). I recently discovered narrativist games as I was looking for low prep games. I stumbled upon InSpectres, Trollbabe, PTA, MLWM, In a Wicked Age and others. All those new concepts and that Story Now thing did light a bulb (euphemism) and I was craving to play them. I wanted to try Trollbabe with JP and Nath, because I just loved what I read and I knew the celtic/nordic feel would appeal to them, plus they are open minded. Until now we played mostly simulationist games, but as many GMs I experienced freeform (or almost freeform) play. The thing is freeform is rather inconsistent (for me) and I supposed narr games would ensure consistency, plus I like rules and structure (in a game).

Ok. First, the characters :
JP played Darna, number 4, remote and troll magic impressions, red headed, ranger/druid outfit (short cut mine) and a staff.
Nath played Than, number 6, perky and human magic impressions, white/blue hair, black ornate leather outfit, axe and an engraved stone pendant (troll object) which was the only object she wore when she was found in a village as a kid.
They chose Otun’s Belch as common destination.

My prep :
+ A map of the surroundings, with a big lake with an island in the middle, and a geyser on the island (Otun’s Belch). The Island is in fact linked to the shore by a land belt with menacing rocks, the Bloodstones. A forest lies north of the lake.
Inhabitants : on the island dwells a troll tribe. On the north shore, on the edge of the forest is a human village of hunters/fishers with celtic trappings.
+ Situation : lone savage trolls randomly attack the villagers.
+ NPC :
- Herold, chief of the villagers. Wants to eradicate the troll menace.
- Freigha : Herold’s daughter, wants to be a warrior, against her father’s will.
- Rulain : young hunter. Lost his love to a troll. Wants to kill trolls.
- Turun : old troll hermit. Lives near the geyser. Befriended Otun, the geyser spirit in a strange way. Former chief of the troll tribe. Feels useless. Resentful at his son Gurghan, the current chief. Possesses a pendant like the one Than wears, protecting him from Otun.
- Gurghan : troll tribe chief. Wants Turun to stop messing with Otun.
- Shassan : old female troll shaman. Wants Turun (former lover) to come back to the village.
- Otun : geyser spirit. Materializes sometimes. Possesses trolls to feel things, but possession madden them.
+ Stakes : Turun lives or die.
+ List of names.

As it was our first game of Trollbabe (and first narr game in general), we agreed to stop and discuss when necessary to help each others with rules and concepts, to comment as we saw fit, to share insights in general, etc.
The game lasted 3 hours, with maybe 1 hour of talking about the game and 2 hours of actual play.
Now, that look very serious and all, but we all had a great time. To be fair the game was not perfect (I’ll get to that), but we really had fun.

The game :

The trollbabes stumbled upon the human village. Contact was lukewarm, and Than was attacked foolishly by Rulain. They then talked to Herold, who told them of the situation (from his limited point of view) and who invited them to go troll hunting. They declined but stayed overnight.

Ok, the attack was a kind of test of conflict rules (but was in-game relevant). We were not at ease with Goals and narration, afterward they said that they first felt that they had “too much” freedom! Here, the Goal stated was along “I want to subdue him”. We thought later that this was maybe a poor choice of a Goal and that something like “I want to impress the chief” (with Social Action Type choice) would have been better. We later understood how the Conflict mechanics, especially Goal / narration, were indeed tools to generate story, through incentive of significant events, changing/growing characters, etc.
Also, we didn’t think about it at the moment but we realized (also too late) that the scenes at the village were perfect for taking relations...
All this first part was a bit bland, I think for three reasons. First, we were learning the trades. We were discovering not only the rules but also their potential. Also, I think I didn’t push the NPC on the PC strongly enough, or more precisely, maybe I didn’t made the PC pivotal enough (but how?) I don’t know. And also I didn’t played the villagers likable enough.

Then they requested a scene at the Bloodstones and I added Freigha to the team (in my framing). Here Darna magically focused on a flying crow to see what awaited them on the island. I launched a conflict in the form of a shadow bird trying to stop her. JP asked for “I want to see what’s on the island” as a Goal. He succeeded without re-rolls, so I narrated how the shadow bird  grabbed the crow, flew with him a bit (enough for Darna to catch a glimpse), and then proceeded to make her go back, whispering “don’t come back” to her. (It was Shassan, who didn’t know who was the intruder).
At this point we were feeling more at ease with conflicts as we saw that only Goals and intentions were binding, thus orthogonal outcomes were possible, and that screams “be creative”. We realized also that there are tactics, but not in the usual place.
There was also a mere rule question here : when the Conflict has begun, Action type is fixed for all the PCs in the conflict (and I don’t use multi action). Also, magic cannot be used in emergency. Here Nath joined the Conflict. So considering these two rules I decided that she had to make a magic roll, but that she couldn’t describe magic actions. So she could throw stones, but that was a magic conflict. We struggled a bit with that but eventually that made sense. There was a similar situation at the end and we didn’t even stop, all fitted naturally.

After that there was another moment of bulb understanding. They were hesitating to request a scene so I told them : “look, if you don’t ask, I frame you at night tied up near a roaring fire with the troll tribe doing the war dance around you (mosh time)!” (of course I wouldn’t have). Then we understood how scene framing combined with player requests was a powerful tool of story pushing, and I realized what Ron meant in the rules when he says “the players do the work for me” !

After that they were attacked by a possessed troll. Outcome : Nath takes him as a sidekick ! (Yeah I guess this is stock business but we were all yepee). Shared roleplaying is fun!

I snip some scenes with the troll tribe.

Darna went to the geyser and met the old Turun who went ranting about his son.
That makes me think of another funny thing : PC were rarely separated. I told them that they didn’t have to be always together (that party thing), that they had not to leave the room, that they could join scenes whenever they wanted (almost), but some habits are hard to break. Well, that was not a real problem, but I think a mix of shared and separated scenes must be more cinematic.

The final scene at the geyser was great. First there was a scene where Freigha attacked Shassan in a fury. JP had Darna interposed with Goal “I want to calm her”, but failed. So he narrated how Freigha was hysteric and Darna could do nothing to calm her down and thus resolved to tie her up, threw her sword away and left her screaming and crying !
After that Shassan summoned Otun (in hope that whatever happening would make Turun come back) and Otun tried to possess Than. Nath asked for a Magic Conflict with the Goal “I want to know what he does”. JP (Darna) joined the conflict with “I want Otun to stop possessing people”. What happened was interesting. Than succeeded, but Darna failed. JP re-rolled with “a found item” and as Darna was lying on the ground suffocating she grappled Freigha’s sword. Then JP re-rolled and succeeded.
So I narrated that Than, as Otun was trying to possess her, had visions of possessions, trolls madnesses, murders, etc. Then she ended being possessed. Just after that Darna, using Freigha’s sword imbued with the hatred of Freigha, impaired Otun’s lust to possess. But Darna was already possessed ! (end of my narration). Then Than berserkly turned to Turun. At this moment they both noticed each other’s stone pendant. Turun recoiled and fell, transfixed, knowing he would not be protected, and Than slaughtered him with his axe, in front of a horrified Shassan.
That last bit of scene flowed so naturally that I didn’t call for any Conflict on Turun’s death. I mean I didn’t even think about it.


Ok ! All in all, it was a very interesting game for the various reasons I already mentioned. In fact I was a bit anxious at start, but things went rather nicely. The most important thing is that this AP let us realize how powerful and efficient these rules are. Of course it was a bit awkward at times, but I know now that we can play an engaging game within 3 hours, including prep.
This game wasn’t top notch though (especially the first part). A revealing fact is that there was only one re-roll in all the game, in the last scene. I suppose it’s because most conflicts were not gripping enough, in the sense that I certainly didn’t threw enough hard decisions or dilemmas on them, I don’t know. (There was also a high success/failure ratio in the rolls). The whole situation appeared as a dilemma to them though, as they realized there was no “bad guy”, just people with issues and desires. That being said I find it difficult to assault the PCs with continuously substantial conflicts. Do you have any techniques or tricks to share ?
Also I had a hard time to treat the PCs as pivotal or significant to everyone (NPCs). It seemed awkward to me (in situation) that everyone wanted the trollbabes for something.

As a conclusion, we all had a great time and wish to go on with the game.

Thank you for having read this long post, feel free to comment/correct me/give advice, and thank you Ron for your help and for this wonderful game.

Christian
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 17707


WWW
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2009, 12:15:32 PM »

Hi Christian,

I might use your preparation material as a teaching guide for the game. Otun's Belch is a geyser! Who would have thought it ...

You were absolutely right about the Goal in the first conflict. In the new rules text, I explain the relationship between Action Type and Goal in detail. One of the most important points is that you can't accomplish anything socially by fighting. Fighting hurts, subdues, and kills other people, and if doing that solves the situation, then it works well. But if you want to impress the chieftain or make it clear to the tribe that you're not hostile, and the young hot-head is shaking his spear in your face, then announce a Social conflict and describe thrashing the youngster during Fair and Clear.

Your self-criticisms of the first scene seem too harsh to me. You played it the way you played it, and in Trollbabe, never base GM decisions upon looking ahead or thinking about what will make a better story later. That kind of "make it good for later" GMing can be completely abandoned, and frankly, good riddance. You can GM your characters as viscerally and in-the-moment as the other participants are playing their trollbabes. In this, Trollbabe is a lot like Sorcerer.

Quote
... when the Conflict has begun, Action type is fixed for all the PCs in the conflict (and I don’t use multi action). Also, magic cannot be used in emergency. Here Nath joined the Conflict. So considering these two rules I decided that she had to make a magic roll, but that she couldn’t describe magic actions. So she could throw stones, but that was a magic conflict. We struggled a bit with that but eventually that made sense. There was a similar situation at the end and we didn’t even stop, all fitted naturally.

This confuses me a little bit, but I think the solution lies in what Nath's goal was. When you say "joined the conflict," do you mean, had the same goal as the first trollbabe? Because you should treat the two conflicts entirely independently - there's no such thing as "help the other trollbabe win her conflict," in rules terms, although that can be what is happening in the trollbabe's mind and also can be factored into narration without a problem. Unless I'm misunderstanding the example, the second trollbabe's Goal would have been simply fighting the crow. The current rules don't explain any of this, but in the new write-up, I devote a lot of space to all the ways that multiple trollbabes may participate in conflicts.

Remember that you can always frame the trollbabes into separate scenes.

Remember as well that forcing significance isn't necessary. I don't think there's much advice I can give you about making NPCs into rich-conflict, provocative generators of rich conflicts, because given what you've posted, it seems to me that you will get much better at it with repeated play, at your own way and at your own pace.

Best, Ron
Logged
chance.thirteen
Member

Posts: 211


« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2009, 12:48:39 PM »

I would just like to compliment this excellent description of play and associated thought processes.

And your English is far more eloquent than mine.
Logged
Christian
Member

Posts: 13


« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2009, 04:48:32 AM »

Thank you for your answers and comments.

Ron, I think I played the NPC quite like you say, the "don't make it good for later" advice is useful. Play in the moment (well, Story Now).
As for the use of my prep, I can only say that it would be with pleasure, go ahead.
What helped me here is my Adventure Prep Cheat Sheet... I need to revise it, but I like that I just have to litteraly "fill in the blanks"...

This confuses me a little bit, but I think the solution lies in what Nath's goal was. When you say "joined the conflict," do you mean, had the same goal as the first trollbabe? Because you should treat the two conflicts entirely independently - there's no such thing as "help the other trollbabe win her conflict," in rules terms, although that can be what is happening in the trollbabe's mind and also can be factored into narration without a problem. Unless I'm misunderstanding the example, the second trollbabe's Goal would have been simply fighting the crow. The current rules don't explain any of this, but in the new write-up, I devote a lot of space to all the ways that multiple trollbabes may participate in conflicts.

I think I got confused with Conflict rules with multiple trollbabes.
Nath goal was to make the shadow-bird go away.
It went this way :
JP : I use magic to see what's on the island
Me : Conflict! There's a shadow bird attacking you.
Nath : I attack (magically) the shadow-bird

At this point I didn't quite know how to rule it, my thoughts were (1):
- the conflict as begun, so the score to use is fixed to Magic (for JP and for Nath)
- but there is no snap magic
- so Nath can throw stones or whatever, but rolls Magic (why not, the opponent is magical after all)
But I think something's wrong in my reasoning here.

Maybe the solution is (2):
- the conflict has begun but Nath can initiate her own conflict, Fight or Social, happening at the same time, I just overinterpreted the rules for Conflicts here (the fixed score thing)

Or (3):
- Ok go ahead, roll Magic and use Magic, you didn't start the use of Magic so this is legal (regard the no-snap-magic rule)

What is/are the correct answers, (1)/(2)/(3) ?

Thank you,

Christian
Logged
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!