[Homage to Ninshubar] Ronnies feedback

Started by Ron Edwards, April 14, 2011, 04:28:22 PM

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Ron Edwards

Ben Lehman's Homage to Ninshubar wins a Ronny! The terms are right there on target, and it's instructive to consider the listed references. I think as it currently stands it's not as socially ambitious as Steal Away Jordan or SAJ or Poison'd, but that a distinctive depth might be found or focused through setting work. Or maybe I'm wrong and perhaps the magic as written is sufficient.

I don't have a hell of a lot of comments.

1. Setting needs to be a really big deal in play. For one thing, rules and regulations and mores concerning slaves are really different at different times and places. I'm not necessarily advocating a fixed setting, but wouldn't mind if there were one. Even a few guiding principles would be very useful. For another thing, the outside threats the Master copes with are a huge deal in terms of judging and grappling with the slave characters' roles as slaves. Do they (or the players actually) consider that the Master has valid reasons for battling an actual threat, for instance? The nuances of the enslaved person's obedience take on critical and distinct shapes in such a situation. And since it's possible in later play for this feature of the setting to be a person's sole responsibility, I think it matters a lot.

2. I think the Master should have one Ambition at a time, setting its value some other way; if he gets it, he gets a new one with increased value

3. Regarding resolution, ties are going be frequent. As it happens, I don't like the rules for ties very much

4. I'm still parsing the relationship between achieving Goals and Beauty score. It seems that as you resolve Goals, you drop in Beauty, but if you get your Goals as you go, your Beauty won't bottom out. But, what if it goes pretty low and then, as it turns out, your number of checked goals becomes higher? I think that can happen. If so, does it increase?

5. It's written to be either a Twosie or more-than-two players game. I'm thinking that Twosie vs. non-Twosie play will be quite different, so I want to try it with varying numbers of players to see. Minor question: if you have several player-characters, and one finishes out, so now you have "new GM" and "outside threat player," what happens when a second person finishes his or her character and doesn't want to make a new one? Does this bump the Master role to the newcomer, so now there are two outside threat players?

The more I look at it, the more I like all the magic! I might post some more on the details as we discuss the game in this thread.

I shall rant about "free reign" now. This disgusting neologism is the child of (in order) ignorance, imitation, and stupidity. The correct term is "free rein," based on the image of a rider on horseback who allows the reins to go slack, permitting the horse to choose its own path. I do not ordinarily correct people on this or similar issues because there's not much point. However, Ben, I am doing it now because I know you hold yourself to the high standard of professional writing rather than merely wallowing in what everyone else does on the internet.

Best, Ron

Ben Lehman

I can't believe I made that error! :(

Re: Setting. I probably need to nail some stuff down, but I'm enjoying the freefloatingness of the setting right now. I've been playing in my head with a lot of different times and places, and it's been very exciting and productive. We'll see how it ends up.

Why do you think that the Master needs one Ambition at a time? I'm not necessarily opposed to it but I can't understand it.

If you don't like ties, substituting d10s will pretty much take care of that. I don't really mind if one were to do that.

A reduction in Beauty never causes you to drop below your number of accomplished goals. But accomplishing a goal (barring use of Ana magic) never adds to your Beauty. So if I have:

I will bear the Master's child √
I will be married √
I will kill the Master
I will obtain status over other Slaves

And a beauty of 2.

And you obtain status over other slaves, your beauty is still 2.

If two players finish out in the same session, I think that they can cooperate on playing the Master. Note that this does mean it's the last session of the game. Also note that when a player takes over the role of the Master that doesn't mean that they become the GM. The GM still controls the environment, says the responses of actions, etc. The only difference is that now the Master is played as a PC.

Oh there's an issue in the magic. All of the spells which give bonuses to rolls or a new thing to roll for should last until you fail in that roll. I mentioned this on some of these but not others.

Thanks for the feedback and the award.


Ron Edwards


Looks like I posted without realizing I never finished the line-item about the ties. My concern about the rule is that it throws really consequential outcome decision-making into a person's lap - to the extent that the ordinary relationship for Fortune-to-fiction in a game like this is wholly turned into Plot Authority based solely on preference. That's just really different and requires a different mind-set, to the extent that I can't imagine shifting back and forth during a session. Basically, instead of two nifty ephemeral aspects of the resolution Technique, I'm looking at playing one game when we don't have ties and playing another one when we do.

About the Master and Ambition, I am thinking about playing a Master and enjoying a single Ambition at a time, coping with it from many different directions, and seeing the other players have to adapt to those developments, creating a cool moving refraction from that single point of tension. That seems like a lot more fun than playing a Master who's - as it seems to me - continually distracted by all this different shit he wants to do all the time. I want whole light to flow into a kaleidoscope, not the results of another kaleidoscope.

Best, Ron

Ben Lehman

Hey, so I'm coming back to this game after being instigated into it by Tazio.

In hindsight, I agree with you that the tie thing is a problem. I still like that sometimes there is a mixed result, though. My present solution: use d10s. This makes ties less likely while keeping them a thing. In fact, try it this way: use d10s. If the tie is an even number, you succeed in what you're doing but to no advantage. If the tie is an odd number, you fail in what you're doing but gain some advantage. That keeps the conflicted result but makes it less common and makes the decision making less arbitrary.

I'm also thinking I'm going to cut the list of potential ambitions, like, in half. I still think that there's value to having more than one of them active in a given session, but I think that the list is just too long. I also think that, like, the GM advice section will be like "pick an ambition, pursue it vigorously, unless a golden opportunity comes up, don't get distracted." I dunno. I'm waffly about this.


Ben Lehman

I just made a few tweaks and made a slightly more nicely-laid-out version of the game text. It's available here.

If anyone in NYC, northern Italy, or western mass wants to test this with me during my trip over the next few weeks, let me know.

Ron Edwards

Ben, I have one question: on the fourth page, the text says, "To play the game, you must create a master." Who is the "you" in that sentence?

Best, Ron

Ben Lehman

Good question.

I imagine that the sketch of the Master is going to be made when we start the initial context of the game ("Okay, so we're going to do this like Spartacus, so our master is a lannister in republican Rome"), by whoever brings that context to the table.

The choices in Master creation are made by the GM, though.