Character Sheets for 086b Version (BigBadCon 2016)
I always enjoy giving out the designs for the character sheets, especially when I throw new neat things into them. I think it probably reflects a lot on my methodology in how many games I just create new powers for without worrying about a system to back them up… or it just says a lot about my Amber DRPG upbringing.
In this case, the “system” worked in that you rolled some dice and the success or failure was noted, although it was weighted towards success. Having played “Earthdawn: Age of Legend” previous to and J. Aegard’s “Monster Draft” after it, I saw a very familiar methodology in it… but it leads to two options, and I’ve got my dislike of each for different reasons:
- The GM determines what happens based on the “failure” or “success” with or without additional benefits, delayed or not.
- The Player has to control the narrative long enough to come up with what they think “failure” or “success” indicates.
I’m trying to shake it off, but I think those two options are the impetus for a number of schisms I’ve seen (and don’t care to name.) It comes right against this block in my mind that insinuates elegance only in expectation, like having an option for every response. If I have an option for every roll, I don’t actually need to administrate – a computer could GM. At the same time, we get that whole wargamer vibe – I end up building more of a step-by-step than an adventure or game.
And what’s really wrong with it? I would have said the game was basically a success. Not as a playtest (I didn’t do any kind of post-discussion, or really rules questions) but the play of it worked because once having decided success or failure, we collaboratively agreed on the events that followed (with a little kept in my head.) I did hear a few concerns about assumptions (including the comment that it was “Assumptions: The Game”) but that comes down to my issues with running – again, I’m more evocative than prescriptive.
It’s the “Cuba rule” with me. “Sure, it sounds like the story is in the haunted house1, but if you say, ‘No way,’ I’ve got story in the bend of the river as much as the obvious plant.” If you think Cuba’s beautiful this time of year, sure, let’s go to Cuba. It’s not sandbox, it’s more illusion of choice – the story is about the PCs, so of course it’s going to follow them, right? And yes, I have the whole core of the game in my head, but everything they needed to know was on those sheets… and in the game description.
And my other problem with running games – I’m an intuitive. Seriously – Myers-Brigg being ridiculous, I still score almost pure intuition as my method of examining the world. (This revelation has caused no end of amusement to my family – “She doesn’t actually listen to you, she just presumes she knows what you’re saying,” has some truth to it.) So I build games where characters have the ability to perceive knowledge passively, not always relevant but if you’re a fox spirit who can see spirits, you’re going to see the spirit taking over the child.
One of the things I introduced in the text was the idea of divine presence as “Grace,” a term I assume I borrowed from “Supernatural” (realized belatedly) but makes sense in the context here, too. It implies a measure of power. (Literally a measure, a measuring tool.) The Monk in-game (although not noted in character sheet) had his portion of His Most Ardent and Glorious Self’s power break the usual rules (open doors no one else could open as there was no power to them) and such. (“It made sense at the time” is one of the problems with the way I run – I don’t feel like I’m inconsistent, but again, it’s intuition-based running, and if you aren’t making the same leaps I am and riding aboard the same trains of thought it might look random.)
Add this to my way of thinking and having to translate to words, and I should just retire from gaming2. Oh well, I do it for my three fans. Oh, and someday I really ought to run a horror game.
The game itself went where it would, and everyone except the poor Ambassador reached their goals. The person playing Luscious Lucille (https://twitter.com/alexisspeaking is who I think it was … not 100% sure – maybe I shouldn’t have accidentally thrown away my notes when packing) I think stole the game. It was hard, I loved everyone’s portrayal of their randomly-chosen characters. The recognition that when the Huli Jing smiled something bad was happening, and yet when it was serious something really bad was happening… the Monk scooping up a young girl with a demon prince residing in combination with her soul and just carrying her through the hallways of horrors. The Ambassador claiming the observatory deck as property of Sleeper IV (with its very rough scraping away of a Darkover serial number) and of course, the way it ends as a comic book, with the slowly eroding sphere of god-vacuum floating on the deck…
So, I can at least say I had a good time, and my players seemed to, so while I might have left them confused, at least I left them smiling.