Sunday, January 08, 2006

Ending stuff is good!

This Friday something rare happened, as I played the planned final session in a RPG chronicle. This is rare because most chronicles I have participated in have ended in a much less satisfactory way. They are fun for a while but not having a set ending they sooner or later turns into nothing as people move or the general interest wanes. More often than not this is discovered to late to give everything a proper ending. The next session is planned to be "sometime soon" but this point in time never arrives.

The chronicle, named Utmark (Outlying land), was set in the Fading Suns universe with some use of the rule system from the Swedish game Skymningshem. The characters was part of an expedition examining an abandoned space station. The style of the game changed a bit as we played, having its ups and downs. This made me very aware of my preferences as a player, rather than a game master. This will be a great help both when choosing games to participate in and when designing my own chronicles.

- I do not like dungeon crawling at all, even (or maybe especially) when there is no rules or combat involved. The second session had a detailed exploration of the station. The exciting parts was drowned out by hours of choosing between the right or left door.

- I sometimes like to roll dice. It was a bit weird to realize that I was asking about or requesting a dice roll more often than many of the other players. I have always seen myself as primarily a free former, but in many situations I found that a dice role gave certain strategic actions a bit more weight, or that what was going to be a very long discussion with an NPC might better be decided by a roll. Note that most sessions only had around ten rolls, so this is in contrast to using no rules at all. A conflict resolution system would be entirely out of the question.

- Player secrets are unimportant. In most cases when one character has a secret from another we handle it with sending notes or talking with the GM in private. In this case nearly everything was open, even thou there was a lot of scheming. The immersion gets a little bit trickier but in no way impossible, and you win a lot getting to experience the full story as a player. Splitting the group for longer times have always been a cause for loss of interest among the players not in focus.

- Music can be done right. I've never managed to use music in a good way. I usually put it on in the background with it sometimes reinforcing the theme and sometimes ruining it. Trying to change track for different parts of the game have never worked as I wanted. Kristoffer (the GM) made really good use of music by only playing it in certain parts of the story, and leaving it off for most of the time. I observe and hopefully learn.

- Immersion is still king! As much as I liked the other parts of the game, the situations where I really go the chance to feel my character was the most enjoyable. Setting these scenes up with other types of play might actually make is even better but no immersion is like no orgasm...

As Kristoffer will most likely read this I grab the opportunity to thank him for a good chronicle!

8 Comments:

Blogger Sven Holmström said...

I joined only two meetngs I think, both which I enjoyed. I actually talked to Kristoffer over skype about the chronicle today and wondered why the play turned out so different from how we usually play.

I mean, we have done so much worse so many times! And Kristoffer has GM:d worse (although it was vert long since he GM:d last).

Two things very different from how we usually have played in traditional play (as this one still is):

1. Very little player secrets (my charatcer held a secret for one session, with the revealing of that secret as a focal point of the session)

2. A lot of play not in group, but more free play on own agendas at isolised location. A lot of cuts between different locations with actions taking place simultaniously.

3. The subcharacter really had important parts in the game and became *people*.

First: I think that we, mainly through Jonas Karlsson, have been influenced by part of the Forge thinking.

Second: You usually bash Forge, But they have one meme I want to to ponder once more: One should know what kind of play one like and be very careful to not how this emerge. This is of course what you do in this good post, but I would like to know more in detail why the play turned out as it did.

When Kristoffer started this I didn't have very high hopes, but then the play was very open and interesting.

As you mention maybe the most important thing to learn was 'no player secrets'. I have heard it both from The Jeepsters and Forge people, but only patly believed them. Of course I still think that players secrets can be a god driving force in certain cases. But one should have a really good reason for every player secret.

And one thing that you don't mention: the TV-series like scenecutting technique.

Because: The worst thing that ever happened to roleplaying was the group of adventurers. Can there be anything more boring to play than a a group of people always at the same spot, always with common enimies. Like one creature with a set of weapons.

This extremely silly structure often follows into more 'advanced' games, like freeform and everything. Stupid.

I think Kristoffer just happened to destroy that structure by giving everone good reasons to have things to strive for and non-players to talk to.

"- I sometimes like to roll dice"

allah, allah

I should start writing on Tärningsidioten. We all know which character you would play.

1:51 AM  
Blogger Sven Holmström said...

The interesting thing is that Kristoffer really likes dungeon crawl and was kind of surprised that you didn't like it.

When talkning to him today he said that I hoped to be able to do som nice dungeon crawling now when I'm in Istanbul and you ini Stockholm.

For me it's like, now I have the chance to open this old, nearly healed wound on the inside of my thigh, that will be nice.

But he's earns three times as much as me, so he is probably right somehow.

1:59 AM  
Anonymous Kristoffer Sjöö said...

Thanks for the nice comments, guys. But don't forget that the players did a great deal of the work making this a fun campaign, too.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Björn Olsson said...

Ending a chronicle was a new experience and a quite nice one.
I have always championed the very long, unending chronicles, but since they generally ends anyway (sometimes quite quickly too) in not so satisfying ways the clear end and limited time of this one was far better.
An hour or two extra in the end for wrapping things up would have been very nice.

Thanks for a great chronicle!

12:44 PM  
Blogger Jonas Barkå said...

On the TV-series like structure and scene cuts:

From my perspective we didn't get very much of either one of those. In fact, I belive how we actually played differed greatly from what we decided to do before starting.

On spitting the group I still think the majority of the time should have the characters in one spot, as it creates more communication between them. In the last session we often had radio communication instead and that works as well. Maybe one of the good things about playing SF.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Sven Holmström said...

I think you are right regarding the play differed a lot from what we thought from the beginning.

But we sure had that TV-series thing going on: A lot of characters. Everyone had both somethoing private and something in the whole plot. And we had the cuts between different locations.

And I think you are wrong regarding locations. In the few sessions I joined I think it was very good that we had several ongoing separate locations. In general I think everyone in one location is the best, but we seem to have a hgard time handling that.

I think the reason to why every character had so much freedom and could make own impact was due to this scene-cutting.

Perhaps the play differed much in later sessions.

What I think: It's not good that we don't have better control over what type of game we play. It must be a goal that one can say "I want to this and this" and then really try that type of game.

There are intersting group dynamics here. When we play something that is blatantly nontraditional, as larp, Swedish freeform or our on Johnny Bode then we seem to be able to do this. But as soon as we do something close to traditional it seems that we can just everytime hope that we will do what we really want.

We have done a lot of good play in Orpheus, but I don't feel that we have a good control.

The Werewolf campaign was always enjoyable and you really tried to do some things very consiously with every session. That's good and we should do that more. More social contract talk and more focus onexcactly how we want the dice to be used in every session.

Is the werewolf campaign dead officially?

6:29 PM  
Blogger Jonas Barkå said...

"The next session is planned to be "sometime soon" but this point in time never arrives."

It is more or less dead as it will be hard to get everyone together again and if I do I would prefer to play something else. But this "something else" could very well be Werewolf.

My current plan for "campaign play" is to use the WoD: Chicago book as a base and play short chronicles that may or may not connect to each other. Each of them should try to focus very hard on a specific style of play. The most difficult question, with me moving, is finding player for this project.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Sven Holmström said...

Freeform. Diskbänksrealism, satanism och farmors kakor.

That's the future of roleplaying. You are moving to Stockholm. Yeah, it should be really hard find players in the capital of the country with the highest rpg players/capita quota in the world!

It's good to play with new people.

5:20 PM  

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