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 Post subject: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 6:40 am 
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Hi Guys

I just want to say I have been following along with all the threads on Grettir's narrative style and I am fascinated. I just wondered Grettir if you could maybe comment on the Kickers, which ones you spiked and any bangs you have used so far and why. I would find it really helpful to have some commentary on what you are doing as GM.

Also guys you have come up with an absolutely awesome setting an characters....

The usually silent audience.

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 Post subject: Re: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:32 am 
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Thanks for the flowers, Valthalion, I’m sure that all of us are appreciating them.

First of all, if the principles of this kind of gaming interest you, you might want to read the (rather long) threads where we discussed them at length. In chronological order, they are to be found here, here, here and finally here. They are a bit old, but I’m sure that nobody on these boards would mind if you wanted to revive them, if you want to critize or ask for clarification on some point.

Concerning the Kickers it is rather important to note something I have not yet talked about – after the Kicker, it is not the player who acts, but the referee. This is to prevent the player from already working out his character’s response to a Kicker way ahead; he will of course now the general tendency, but it is better not to let a player already plan the story.

Taking the immediate initiative to reply to a Kicker away from the player is not the same as Spiking a Kicker, which would be turning up the heat generated by the Kicker.

Specifically, in this game, I have not outright Spiked any Kicker. Let’s look at them in turn:

Itzcoatl’s Kicker generated – just – sufficient heat for the character, the moment I decided that Layanna has most definitely seen Itzcoatls steal an arifact from the God. As the Kicker acknowledged this possibility right from the start, I don’t consider this Spiking.
And I used the appearance of the Servitors to take the initiative of action immediately after the Kicker itself had happened; I created a situation to which Itzcoatl had to react, disallowing any plans higgins might have had.

Ghost Jaguar’s Kicker generated a lot of heat for the character anyhow, so no twist was needed. I only made the need for immediate action more pressing by introducing the pending return of Itzcoatl and Ghost Jaguar’s knowledge that Itzcoatl intended to send him into the jungle right away, which would make it very difficult to address the concern of his
daughter being abducted. This, again, was done to disrupt any plans Crow Caller might have already laid out for reacting to the Kicker.

Punchau’s Kicker does also generate enough heat, but was maybe dealt with by me more shoddily than the previous two. No good way to disrupt Hector’s possibly already prepared reply to the Kicker came to my mind, so I merely made it more pressing by introducing a time constraint – there’s only one other person apart from Palaluca in the holding cells, and he’s going to be sacrificed today; soon, it’ll be Palaluca.

There have been no Bangs so far, though I’ve got a few prepared. :twisted:

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 Post subject: Re: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:36 pm 
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First of all, is anybody reading this and interested in it? If so, please say it – I wouldn’t want to type for nothing.

Continuing to comment on the game:

Pac Utal’s Kicker was prety strong stuff anyhow, so it definitely needed no Spiking. My own input to the scene was largely the emphasis the revelation placed on Itzcoatl as having been present when the God died. This was of course to offer a hook to Ian to follow up if he wanted to, to tie the characters together. For the same reason I clearly hinted at a connection between Palaluca and An-Ara and thus indirectly between Punchau and Pac Utal. The new legal practice in Ozomatli threatens Pac Utal past and beyond the poisoning storyline, and the menace to An-Ara is going to come back and increase the pressure on Pac.

Punchau has had the pressure on him also increased, by the revelation that Palaluca would likely be sacrificed today. This could probably be called the game’s first Bang, and one obligingly handed me by higgins. I would have thought that Punchau would maybe try to seek out Itzcoatl first, but Hector chose to have Punchau act right away, and the failure of the attempt to knock out Qaran was just beautiful – it forced Punchau to go all the way and murder his friend. Now he’s committed all the way.

Ghost Jaguar has not yet had much happening, but I have woven his and Itzcoatl’s storylines more closely together – it’s clear that Ghost Jaguar is to steal the Shoatli. I have a clear idea how the priest Camasoz can know of the Shoatli, but I am perfectly willing to drop this idea and replace it with another if a better one presents itself during upcoming play

Pac Utal has been extremely lucky – fulfilling his Drive immediately. The entire episode was a superior example of good interplay between referee and player in fleshing out world and story. The entire “League of Artisans” was introduced by Ian, in no more than a mention in his character’s Drive, and Ian introduced also the trade delegation – that was Director Stance. I chose to weave the two together and provide a sketchy first idea of what this “League of Artisans” actually was, and Ian took this up and completed it. A new facet was added quickly, easily, and unobtrusively.

About those godstone swords – I have considered demanding a Drama point for them, but desisted. They have not yet impacted the story, merely provided colour; the moment they become important, Ian will have to spend a Drama point for having these powerful weapons.

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 Post subject: Re: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 8:44 pm 
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Grettir wrote:
Punchau has had the pressure on him also increased, by the revelation that Palaluca would likely be sacrificed today. This could probably be called the game’s first Bang, and one obligingly handed me by higgins.
Again, I just loved how you wove that in. :) I have to admit that it wasn't intentional on my part.

Grettir wrote:
Ghost Jaguar has not yet had much happening, but I have woven his and Itzcoatl’s storylines more closely together – it’s clear that Ghost Jaguar is to steal the Shoatli. I have a clear idea how the priest Camasoz can know of the Shoatli, but I am perfectly willing to drop this idea and replace it with another if a better one presents itself during upcoming play
I also like how this seems to be turning out. Especially the way Itzcoatl will immediately realise who the culprit was. Who else would be nuts (and skilled) enough to meddle with the poisonous snakes than the guy that provides them (and has access to the chambers (and was suspiciously missing earlier in the day))? :twisted:

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 Post subject: Re: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 3:05 pm 
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Hi All,

A brilliant collaboration. 8-) I did not comment, because I was not taking part. But I have read most of the setting material.

Grettir, I am always intereted.

Simon Burling.

PS I hope that the characters like maize.


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 Post subject: Re: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2009 7:03 pm 
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Some more reflection, to wind down a busy day of posting.

Itzcoatl has had a Bang in the revelation that his rival Layanna knows about his artefact-theft, something the character has previously only suspected. I’m quite glad with how Layanna is turning out – her rolls set her up as a crafty intriguer and worthy opponent for Itzcoatl.

Pac Utal has also been "Banged", but not so much through a device of my sole making but rather through the interplay between myself and Hector. Still, I've had this possible Bang in mind while playing out Punchau's story, as finding an escaped sacrifice victim and a traitor to the priests in his house and his sister in with them can certainly be considered a Bang for Pac Utal.

Punchau’s storyline has been advanced quite a bit, but without any Bangs, even though I had some in mind for him. As it turned out, the character’s Bad Temper Flaw was enough to put pressure on him. Like I said, I always see Flaws as explicit invitations by the player to challenge the character exactly there; I’ve as of yet probably been a bit shoddy with the others, though.

Ghost Jaguar has seen a lot of action with a life-threatening scene brought about by his own blundering. The entire Shoatli-search-scene has turned out completely different than I had tought. By myself, I would have played it less dramatically, more cloak-and-dagger type, but Crow Caller used very strong Director Stance to cast it very differently – in fact his use of Director Stance went farther than is usual in my games, where a player would normally just inform me that he would like “some kind of confrontation with guards” while searching the room and leave me to frame the actual scene. Still, it’s ok the way it has been played.

This does also demonstrate one of the beauties of this kind of gaming style for the referee – he is constantly surprised by the way the story develops, much more so than in conventional gaming, where he is more often than not able to guess what will happen next. In our game, I have not only been surprised by Crow Caller’s choice not to play Ghost Jaguar’s treason as a secret but as instead as something that becomes known to Itzcoatl right away, but also by Punchau meeting with Pac Utal so early on – I couldn’t have forseen either. And then a recent player choice has also spun a storyline in a completely different direction than set up by me, but this has not yet surfaced (but will very soon), and I’ll talk about that then…

And of course – thanks for liking what we are doing, simon burling. Nice to have you on the sidelines, feel free to comment and kibbitz to your heart’s content.

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 Post subject: Re: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:28 am 
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Well, I knew my bad temper would bite me in the proverbial, but I hadn't expected it to happen so soon. But yeah, I agree with Michael that a flaw is an invite for trouble.


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 Post subject: Re: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:46 am 
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Thanks a lot for the commentary I'm just really enjoying it. I'd really like to try it myself, but my current groups has 8 players and I think it might be a bit unwieldy (well a lot un wieldy) Thanks again for your excellent commentary..

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 Post subject: Re: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 9:53 am 
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Valthalion wrote:
Thanks a lot for the commentary I'm just really enjoying it. I'd really like to try it myself, but my current groups has 8 players and I think it might be a bit unwieldy (well a lot un wieldy).

My pleasure. And yes, eight participants is in my opinion a lot too much for everyboy to have a decent input. I like playing with two to four players best.

Hector wrote:
Well, I knew my bad temper would bite me in the proverbial, but I hadn't expected it to happen so soon. But yeah, I agree with Michael that a flaw is an invite for trouble.

Well, there is of course the school to approach flaws inspired by point-buy character generation, where it is tempting to pile on a lot of flaws that won’t hurt that particular type of character. I don’t allow that in my games, and I tell players beforehand that every flaw will count. If a player absolutely has to make up a paraplegic character, he must not expect me to spare him the physical fight for his life…

Now for some more analysis...

Well, I think it should by now have become pretty obvious what’s going on behind the scenes with Layanna, Itzcoatl, Ghost Jaguar and Camasoz.
Layanna has somehow learned that a close associate of her rival Itzcoatl has a decided vulnerability – his family. She has stashed this knowledge away as a ressource to use against Itzcoatl at some later date. When she saw Itzcoatl steal something from the God, she acted immediately. She despatched her frontman Camasoz to scare Ghost Jaguar’s wife in a way that would ensure that she would immediately run to her husband (such an opportunity was deliberately afforded her) and that would bring her husband running back to Camasoz. Camasoz duped Ghost Jaguar into procuring the Shoatli for him. To give Ghost Jaguar ample opportunity to search Itzcoatl’s apartment, Layanna delayed her rival after the clave, threatening him and driving an unreasonable hard bargain whenever it seemed that their negotiation would come to an early conclusion. She didn’t expect Ghost Jaguar to be able to procure the Shoatli right away, but if he did and Itzcoatl agreed to share it with Layanna and was then unable to deliver, it would place Itzcoatl only more firmly under in Layanna’s power.

And that was when the stupid Descended git ruined everything.

Trying to be clever, Ghost Jaguar attempted to lay a wrong track – not knowing that he was inadvertently actually laying the exactly right track. When he told Camasoz about that “cunning plan” of his, the priest was understandably shaken to the core – Layanna had taken such good care to obscure her involvement, using him, her most secret follower, and the Descended points the finger at her by pure misfortune. Camasoz realized instantly that this would come back to haunt his mistress, and probably also him. But he gathered himself together quickly; first the artefact, and everything else would be seen to later.

That was when Ghost Jaguar suddenly sensed a trap and killed Camasoz.

And Camasoz has indeed laid a trap. A temple warrior, a close associate of Layanna, has lain in waiting to kill Ghost Jaguar once he had handed over the Shoatli and Camasoz had withdrawn a safe distance from the slave. Ghost Jaguar’s body was then to be silently removed, suggesting that he has flown the temple with the stolen Shoatli and severing any possible connection between Layanna and Ghost Jaguar. Those who have followed the story will realize that this plan hasn’t quite worked out…

To preclude any easy healing of the rift between Itzcoatl and Ghost Jaguar I have resorted to mining Ghost Jaguar’s reckless searching of Itzcoatl’s rooms; Ghost Jaguar has destroyed something of great financial and sentimental value to the high priest, and he has desecrated the ash urns of Itzcoatl’s parents in searching them for the Shoatli. Will Itzcoatl be able to forgive that?

At this junction the Servitors re-enter the scene. This is to bring Pac Utal’s Kicker back into focus, and it will lead up to a Bang that will effect several characters. More soon.

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 Post subject: Re: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:12 am 
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Grettir wrote:
Well, there is of course the school to approach flaws inspired by point-buy character generation, where it is tempting to pile on a lot of flaws that won’t hurt that particular type of character.


This just serves to illustrate the bias people apply to the Point Generator, and then we wonder why no-one likes it...

Piling on Flaws isn't really possible under the Point Buy rules, there is a Maximum of 4 Flaws AND Gifts.

Even in groups that lift or shift this limiter, piling on Flaws is never "tempting" because they "won't hurt that particula type of character", one could just as easily say it is Tempting to sink a Priority pick of F into Flaws and then choose Flaws that don't hurt the PC. It's nonsense, the system used to "pile on Flaws" has no bearing on whether the Flaws do or do not "hurt" the PC. This is handled entirely by the way groups play Flaws.

In my own group, Flaws are FLAWS. And that is exactly why they are so "tempting" to take. Anti-heroes, are IMO much more fun to play than Heroes, and the more tragically flawed the better.

As you can see in my What WOULD you like to play thread, I have given a demo of how I would create a Greek Hero. Flaws are completely central to the Character Concept, this is simply not possible with Priority Pick, just one example of why I think PP is very harmful to games.

Gifts and Flaws do so much to enrich Characters, and in my opinion are Central to the Game (right after SA's and the Combat System).

*Shrugz* each to their own tho' I guess.

Quote:
I don’t allow that in my games, and I tell players beforehand that every flaw will count. If a player absolutely has to make up a paraplegic character, he must not expect me to spare him the physical fight for his life…


Again just a quick word form the Point Buy bench, every Flaw in a Point Buy Game Will count too, IF that is the way the group plays, I see no reason to differentiate between the Character Creation systems.

Quote:
Now for some more analysis...

Well, I think it should by now have become pretty obvious what’s going on behind the scenes with Layanna, Itzcoatl, Ghost Jaguar and Camasoz.
Layanna has somehow learned that a close associate of her rival Itzcoatl has a decided vulnerability – his family. She has stashed this knowledge away as a ressource to use against Itzcoatl at some later date. When she saw Itzcoatl steal something from the God, she acted immediately. She despatched her frontman Camasoz to scare Ghost Jaguar’s wife in a way that would ensure that she would immediately run to her husband (such an opportunity was deliberately afforded her) and that would bring her husband running back to Camasoz. Camasoz duped Ghost Jaguar into procuring the Shoatli for him. To give Ghost Jaguar ample opportunity to search Itzcoatl’s apartment, Layanna delayed her rival after the clave, threatening him and driving an unreasonable hard bargain whenever it seemed that their negotiation would come to an early conclusion. She didn’t expect Ghost Jaguar to be able to procure the Shoatli right away, but if he did and Itzcoatl agreed to share it with Layanna and was then unable to deliver, it would place Itzcoatl only more firmly under in Layanna’s power.

And that was when the stupid Descended git ruined everything.

Trying to be clever, Ghost Jaguar attempted to lay a wrong track – not knowing that he was inadvertently actually laying the exactly right track. When he told Camasoz about that “cunning plan” of his, the priest was understandably shaken to the core – Layanna had taken such good care to obscure her involvement, using him, her most secret follower, and the Descended points the finger at her by pure misfortune. Camasoz realized instantly that this would come back to haunt his mistress, and probably also him. But he gathered himself together quickly; first the artefact, and everything else would be seen to later.

That was when Ghost Jaguar suddenly sensed a trap and killed Camasoz.

And Camasoz has indeed laid a trap. A temple warrior, a close associate of Layanna, has lain in waiting to kill Ghost Jaguar once he had handed over the Shoatli and Camasoz had withdrawn a safe distance from the slave. Ghost Jaguar’s body was then to be silently removed, suggesting that he has flown the temple with the stolen Shoatli and severing any possible connection between Layanna and Ghost Jaguar. Those who have followed the story will realize that this plan hasn’t quite worked out…

To preclude any easy healing of the rift between Itzcoatl and Ghost Jaguar I have resorted to mining Ghost Jaguar’s reckless searching of Itzcoatl’s rooms; Ghost Jaguar has destroyed something of great financial and sentimental value to the high priest, and he has desecrated the ash urns of Itzcoatl’s parents in searching them for the Shoatli. Will Itzcoatl be able to forgive that?

At this junction the Servitors re-enter the scene. This is to bring Pac Utal’s Kicker back into focus, and it will lead up to a Bang that will effect several characters. More soon.


:D

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 Post subject: Re: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:51 am 
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Crow Caller wrote:
Grettir wrote:
Well, there is of course the school to approach flaws inspired by point-buy character generation, where it is tempting to pile on a lot of flaws that won’t hurt that particular type of character.


This just serves to illustrate the bias people apply to the Point Generator, and then we wonder why no-one likes it...

Ah, I haven’t been thinking of the point buy from The Companion; my mind was dwelling on GURPS, which I have played for many years.

The problem with the approach of GURPS and similar advantage/disadvantage buying systems is that they are not really as balanced as they claim to be. With them, every advantage/disadvantage has a fixed cost, and while that may well be true in real ife, it just isn’t in a story.
Take two characters from X-Men, Professor Xavier and Wolverine. Professor Xavier has the “paraplegic” disadvantage, but in reality it isn’t a disadvantage for him at all – the character is not only not designed for physical action, let alone combat, but he is also an incredibly powerful psychokinetic who can move things, imcluding himself, by the power of his mind alone; the character is hardly handicapped by being a paraplegic.
Now take the “paraplegic” disadvantage and apply it on top of the Wolverine character and you’ve really got yourself a debiliating disadvantage.

Another example would be the priest of the goddess of peace with the “pacifism” disadvantage – now what the f***?!? That’s no disadvantage. Give the same disadvantage to the the priest of the god of war and we’re talkin’!

So that’s what I was referring to here. My issue with the point buy system, though I haven't been thinking about it when writing the previous post, is another one – unlike the priority pick system, which will always yield characters with very pronounced weak and strong sides to them, the point buy system allows you theoretically to build characters without either. Such well-rounded characters have less dramatic potential, and therefore I reject point buy for the vast majority of players.

But that’s not really the topic of this thread anymore.

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 Post subject: Re: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:53 pm 
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Let's continue about flaws in here: viewtopic.php?f=30&t=292 :)

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 Post subject: Re: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 3:37 am 
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Grettir wrote:

At this junction the Servitors re-enter the scene. This is to bring Pac Utal’s Kicker back into focus, and it will lead up to a Bang that will effect several characters. More soon.


Some questions:
1. When you play at the table do you narrate the story like the threads we see?
2. When you play at the table anyone can influence one player's focus time, right?
3. You have constructed a bang that will influence several players, that seems desireable to me. Should the characters stories move toward each others if possible?
4. I assume you have a relationship map. Is it necessary to bring all the characters into contact with all the others?

Cheers foryour explanations. Looks like I might be trying this with 6. I'll have to come up with a way of joining some of them into a group I think.

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 Post subject: Re: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 6:21 am 
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Valthalion wrote:
Some questions:

And none easily answered. :D

Valthalion wrote:
1. When you play at the table do you narrate the story like the threads we see?

Basically yes. There is one major difference, though, a constraint I found placed on me/us by online play: To have the story move along more fluidly, what I write in one piece is more than I would say in one piece. Around the table, it is much more the usual back-and-forth, and players who have no characters involved in the current scene do also speak up, encouraging, cheering, suggesting.

With players familiar with that style it is also more frequently them and not me who call for some roll, but the scope of the rolls is very similar online and tabletop. I try for the outcome of every single check to have a lot of impact and either gain the character something substantial, tangible or else hurt him in some way that matters. In online play, and with players unfamiliar with this style, I have set the “stakes” of every roll myself (as for instance in Pac Utal’s negotiation with Maz Cipac where I had laid out how, depending on the outcome of the contest, Pac Utal might either fully achieve his object or in the worst case give away his bartering chip basically for free), but with my usual group, this can be the object of some counteroffer of stakes (“can my character not loose this instead if he fails?”) or minor haggling.

Valthalion wrote:
2. When you play at the table anyone can influence one player's focus time, right?

Do you mean that anybody can use Director Stance and/or Drama Points to influence another’s character’s scene or call for having the focus switched to his own character?

If the former the answer would be no, we don’t allow direct influence, but suggestions are fine. As characters are so often not together and players thus “reduced” to being spectators for quite some lenth of time, I consider it important that players are interested in each others’ characters and stories – generating this interest is another reason for doing character creation communally and encouraging suggestions to each other’s character concept. If your buddy’s character leaves you cold, you don’t want to watch his story.

If you meant the latter, the answer would be that I usually try to go around the table frm player to player and try to give everbody equal focus time. This doesn’t always quite work out and there will often be spans of the story when some players’ characters are mor active and thus more in the limelight than others’, but it often evens out in the long run.

What I try to do, though, is having short scenes – it’s one thing being spectator of another character for short stretches or for hours on end. That’s another reason why I like to keep the actual “role”-playing, the acting out of your character’s personality through lots and lots of in-character dialogue, to a minimum. I know that some players love this aspect of gaming, but it just doesn't work well with my style. A player may love taking half an hour to act out his character’s interactions with the scullery woman, but watching this is quite a bore for those players who are not involved.

Valthalion wrote:
3. You have constructed a bang that will influence several players, that seems desireable to me. Should the characters stories move toward each others if possible?

I would say yes, but don’t force it. Normally, if you and your group have meshed the backstories of your characters, their paths will interesect soon anyhow, all that’s needed is a bit of ordering hand.

Look at how Ghost Jaguar and Itzcoatl have become antagonists – the point of conact (Camasoz requesting the theft of the Shoatli) was concerted by me, but that could have gone either way; Ghost Jaguar might just as well have tried to tell Itzcoatl about the offer and ally with him. Or take Pc Utal and Punchau – I established Palaluca as point of contact by making her a friend and indeed accomplice as mound monkey of Pac Utal’s sister; they have become temporary allies. And now, wih Pac Utal’s brother P’Tarn having just been seized by the Servitors, it seems likely that Pac Utal will finally be drawn into the events surounding the God’s death, especially if Itzcoatl should turn out as knowing his line of business as poisoner…

Finding junctions where you can link one character into another character’s story is usually not difficult, provided that NPCs have been created for them who can serve as links. That’s the main reason why I demand that players create a few NPC sketches of friends, relations, loved ones, rivals or enemies for their characters.

Valthalion wrote:
4. I assume you have a relationship map. Is it necessary to bring all the characters into contact with all the others?

Absolutely not. I have played games where no PC was initially linked to any other PC but where their paths did cross anyhow. The relationship map is nothing but a snapshot of one tension-filled moment in the existence of a basically very dynamic pattern of interrelations, and both the tension inherent in it and the combined actions of the PCs will change the face of the relationship map very quickly. As a referee you merely need to be on the lookout for opening opportunities in the pattern of the map – opportunities to bring the PCs into contact or to fire a Bang; often, one turns out to be closely linked to the other.

Look for instance at how Itzcoatl learned that the Shoatli has been stolen by Ghost Jaguar and that Ghost Jaguar has done this at Layanna’s bidding. Now that was a Bang for the character, even if I myself did merely set it up and not fire it myself. The Bang did not only modify the relation between Itzcoatl and Layanna, but it did more importantly also change the relation between Itzcoatl and Ghost Jaguar. Previously, the two PCs had been loosely linked – a master and servant link might seem strong, but from a story perspective it’s actually weak, as it is infused with little emotional content and thus dramatic potential for both protagonists; they are free to wander off and engage themselves elsewhere. Only once Ghost Jaguar had severed the real-world bond of servitude and stabbed Itzcoatl potentially fatally into the back (if Layanna actually gets the Shoati, Itzcoatl would be undone, and he knows it), the dramatic bond between the characters has become truly strong – enmity is a strong bond. The characters are at each other’s throats, and unless something as yet unforseen happens, one of them will have to give… :twisted:

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 Post subject: Re: Peanut Gallery
PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:19 am 
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Continuing to comment...

The multi-player Bang I am setting up is the capture of P’tarn by the Servitors; soon now they will act, and that will affect several PCs.

In the meantime, this capture has set off players driving each other’s characters hard with what could be called player-authored Bangs. The appearance of Itzcoatl at Pac Utal’s house was of course a Bang for Punchau, who feels trapped. Depending on how the negotiation between Pac Utal and Itzcoatl is going to go and wether Hector shows up again soon or not, I might make a Bad Temper roll for Punchau to see wether the strain is too much for him and he does something stupid…

Itzcoatl telling Pac Utal that he knows about his poisoner business was of course a player-authored Bang for Pac Utal, no matter wether Pac thinks that Itzcoatl is only bluffing or not.

While these two Bangs for Punchau and Pac Utal were indirectly set-up and planned by me, the Bang Ian visited upon Itzcoatl wasn’t – learning that Pac Utal and Layanna are in league has to be a black day for poor Itzcoatl, who must feel as if he is losing the ground under his feet. Definitely a Bang here, and a great one, too.

This is incidentally an illustration of why I love this style of gaming so much even from a referee-perspective. Even the referee has no way of telling even roughly into what direction the story is going to develop, and he is entertained no less than his players. Who would have been able to foretell the pattern that is emerging in the game?

That leaves us with Ghost Jaguar. He’s also just experienced a very vicious Bang, this time executed solely by myself – he’s learned that his wife and child are in the power of Layanna. Now he’s caught between the fronts, entagled in a net that seems to slowly strangle him. I feel that’s only fitting for a (mere) Descended being caught up in priests’ intrigues.

Alo, a word on the relation of Ghost Jaguar to Itzcoatl and Layanna. After Ghost Jaguar had killed Camasoz, Crow Caller tried to come to terms with Itzcoatl. His attempt was doomed anyhow, as I had already established for myself that there was a warrior henchman of Layanna in waiting, but I admit that even if that hadn’t been the case I would have tried to come up with a means to thwart Ghost Jaguar coming to terms with Itzcoatl so easily.

For once, locking yourself in and waiting for help to arrive may of course be very reasonable and realistic, but it is kinda lame in story-terms. Writers know this, and that’s why one does so often see protagonists take matters in their own hands when we, the spectators, wonder why they don’t just call the police. Often, them not calling the police seems weak and illogical, and I’m glad that I had a plausible reason for Ghost Jaguar’s attempt to do so fail – the slave he had sent was intercepted by the warrior in waiting, and once Ghost Jaguar had dealt with him, he must have realized that by now, he was being searched for all over the temple – turning himself in now, that late, would not have appeared like repentance and a genuine offer of an alliance, but merely an act of desperation. That avenue was now quite closed for Ghost Jaguar.

And I closed it further, this time from Itzcoatl’s side, by playing on the havoc wrought by Ghost Jaguar with Itzcoatl’s possessions. The hasty and terror-stricken way in which Crow Calle had Ghost Jaguar search the quarter were a suitable vessel for that; I merely had to imagine how mad I would be if my apartment was searched in such a way, which might well also cause damage that couldn’t easily be mended – or at all.

The reason I did this has to do with theory on writing theatrical plays I once read – it held that you have to set up a conflict and then prevent the enemies from just walking out of it; they have to be locked together in something called te “crucible”. They can be allowed to resolve their conflict in some kind of compromise, but not easily so – that’s lame. I’ve endeavoured to lock Ghost Jaguar and Itzcoatl together in a crucible.

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My real name is Michael; use it, if you like.


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