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Subject: A question about choice in Magic Realm rss

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Trystan
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Hi, I'm new to Magic Realm and had a question about how much you play the game and how much the game plays you.

Having read through a few of the different manuals/tutorials and trying a bit on realmspeak I'm starting to get to grips with how it all works, how each character is unique and plays differently and it's certainly an impressive game. However, I can't escape the feeling that the game is playing me a bit.

It feels like if I choose a particular character, then I have to discover (and follow) that characters script. If I deviate, the game lets me know I'm not playing by their script properly by killing me.

I'm sure this is down to inexperience but I really just wanted to know if anyone else felt the same and how much freedom I can expect for a given character once I do become more proficient. It'd be a shame if getting to know a character made them less interesting for future plays because they had been solved (at least as far as they can be in a game with random elements).
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Al Ross
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Yes... and no.

Remember the basis of Magic Realm is bringing a RPG to a board game, and then creating a playable world within that aspect.

Therefore a Dwarf, just like a dwarf in a RPG has certain advantages and disadvantages due to body size and shape, and therefore has chits that indicate that, forcing a certain tactical framework to play that character best. Dwarves work best in caves, so the Short Legs can provide the incentive to go to caves. The GM and the rules of the RPG does similar things in both play and in character creation, for example boosting constitution and perhaps weakening, say, dexterity, and having weaponry that favor certain races or classes over others (example: clerics with cudgels).

I would say a newcomer to MR should "work the script" in early plays in order to have a better chance to gain winning requirements; in other words, don't weaken a character by playing against type early on. It's hard enough to win with the advantages given (for newer players). This can seem "scripted" but is an design attempt to remain within the theme. Others see it as creating an interesting narrative, and make use of the odd results within each game that come outside of the "script" to tell a tale. Advanced play allows for better understanding and interesting variations, very much like chess play and understanding a musical instrument.
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Peter Walsh
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I think there are games where you are definitely "playing the script" to some extent. At the same time the game creates opportunities to radically deviate from the starting limitations of your character.

A brawny fighter, like the Berserker or the White Knight can become a Dragon taming dabbler in the magical arts if he discovers the Dragonfang Necklace and a source of purple magic (Dragon Essence, an Enchanted Mountain tile, day 21 in the Realm.) A relatively puny character like the Elf or Woods Girl who typically skulk around the Realm sniping with a light bow can become a fearsome warrior by securing a medium bow, or gaining some magical strength. One of my favorite solo games saw the Elf find the Gloves of Strength, the Bane sword, and the Tremendous Warhorse. The only denizens of the Realm he didn't contemplate slaying for their fame/notoriety and the contents of their pockets were the Knights of the Order.

What you may find problematic is that in a solo game much of this boils down to luck. Part of what makes the multiplayer game a better experience is the opportunity to forge alliances with other players that reduce some of the luck dependent factors of the game.
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Jay Richardson
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Trystan Lancaster wrote:
It feels like if I choose a particular character, then I have to discover (and follow) that characters script. If I deviate, the game lets me know I'm not playing by their script properly by killing me.

I agree with the comments posted above by Al and Peter. Each character has certain strategies that they will try to follow because they are known to work well (once you have enough experience to have learned them), so that could be considered "scripting" to some extent. But the layout of the map, and the treasures/spells that you find, can radically change how your character has to play the game.

For example, a common strategy for the Witch is to use the Absorb Essence spell to absorb a Tremendous armored monster. It's a lot of fun to do, but it can get repetitive after you've done it enough times. But in some games the Witch won't be able to find a suitable T monster to absorb... so then she has to try something different and her game can become a lot more interesting as a result!

And, of course, playing with multiple live opponents (all of whom can influence your game in many ways even if they never come near to your character) is much more interesting than just running around the map with a single solitaire character.

Trystan Lancaster wrote:
I'm sure this is down to inexperience but I really just wanted to know if anyone else felt the same and how much freedom I can expect for a given character once I do become more proficient. It'd be a shame if getting to know a character made them less interesting for future plays because they had been solved (at least as far as they can be in a game with random elements).

It is actually possible to "burn out" on the game, although this hasn't happened to very many players and it generally requires playing a huge number of games. You can read about how & why my old Magic Realm group burned out on the game here:

Character-Based Victory Conditions
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/32751/character-based-vi...

One suggestion for avoiding repetitive, scripted play – should that ever become a serious problem for you – is to use the Book of Quests variant that our group developed:

Book of Quests 3rd Edition
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/772783/book-of-quests-3r...

Many of the individual quests in the variant may appear highly scripted themselves, but it's really interesting to see all the unique ways that different players can find to complete a quest.

To give just one quick example of how the Book of Quests can improve the game: when we were playing the regular game, our group concluded that the Wizard absolutely, positively must take Fiery Blast as one of his two starting spells. We tried very hard, over the course of many games, to find a way to win with a Wizard without a Fiery Blast... and never even came close. But, with the Book of Quests, the Wizard can play games where he wouldn't even consider taking Fiery Blast. The character hasn't changed – he's still the same Wizard that we all know and love – but giving the Wizard a wider array of goals to choose from means that he can now use a wider range of spells effectively, and thus he becomes a more interesting character to play than he is in the basic game.
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Trystan
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Thanks all for your replies, I figured it would be as you say that the interesting times come from when the game keeps throwing unexpected events at you, though I hadn't considered the effect of other player characters as I'm learning mainly to be able to play solo. Once I know what I'm doing more I might try playing as two characters to try out a realm where there's goings on in more than one tile at a time.

Also I guess part of my concern/observation comes a bit from dying early often and having played a bit more it feels like the first week in particular you need to play it safe and to your characters strengths but once you get some toys the options open up a bit.

Not totally on the topic but also many thanks Jay, I'm new to the game but just after a quick glance at the materials available it's clear that you've done an enormous amount of work in making this game approachable to people like me who are curious but don't know anyone else who already knows how to play. I'd probably not be as far into my Magic Realm journey as I am if it wasn't for your Book of Learning which not only explains how to do things but more importantly to a beginner why you might want to.
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Al Ross
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trystanosaurus wrote:

Also I guess part of my concern/observation comes a bit from dying early often and having played a bit more it feels like the first week in particular you need to play it safe and to your characters strengths but once you get some toys the options open up a bit.


You are not the first to run into this concern; especially when attempting self learning this game, which has several unique design concepts and some deterministic elements, combat in particular. Death in MR comes easy, especially to the inexperienced. The amount of player aids available on BGG are based on the general observation that the best way to learn this game is with a mentor; and if one doesn't have a FTF opponent with experience, an online aid is next best.

Also as Pete noted, allies, items and treasures can have a gigantic effect on optimal play.

I recommend you observe a online game of realmspeak for some useful ideas on character interaction and combat; some of which is not obvious without actual play.
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Steve Schacher

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Let me try to explain my thinking on this using a different analogy.

It's not the game that is "scripting" you, it's the genre.

Let's take racing games as an example. You can play a NASCAR game, an Indy car game, a Formula One game, or a Fast and Furious game. In each case, you are controlling a different type of car, with different strengths and weaknesses, with optional improvements in tires, brakes, or speed, and racing on different kinds of maps (left-turn ovals, road courses, street races, etc.)

Regardless of car and course, if all you did was put the pedal to the metal and took off racing, you would spin out at the first curve and crash out of the race. You would be forced to brake, slow down, downshift, whatever, to keep alive.

Did the game "script" you to do that, or was it just necessary and proper behavior for the genre that expects you to do that or die?

It's the same thing in Magic Realm. You can't just suit up and head out into the mountains looking for loot without care, and then say that the game "scripted" you to have to hide, to be alert, or hire friendlies in order to survive.

It's the genre that expects you be wary and cautious.

Steve
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John "Omega" Williams
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srschacher wrote:
Did the game "script" you to do that, or was it just necessary and proper behavior for the genre that expects you to do that or die?

It's the same thing in Magic Realm. You can't just suit up and head out into the mountains looking for loot without care, and then say that the game "scripted" you to have to hide, to be alert, or hire friendlies in order to survive.

It's the genre that expects you be wary and cautious.

Steve


Not so much that as the game rewards intelligent play over reckless play.

You can still leap into the thick of it right off. But chances are you are going to get wiped out.

It is simmilar to RPGs where the player starts off weak and builds up from there. At first even little things can end your adventure. But if you work cautiously you can survive long enough to get some oomph to your actions and THEN you can start to be more reckless and see what happens. Or keep playing it intelligently and see how far you get.
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Chris Magoun
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I think another thing to understand is that the nature of the regular combat rules make the outcome of a lot of fights pretty cut and dry, and I feel that adds to the "scripted" feeling. Though I would not suggest it until you have a handle on the game, the optional stumble and fumble rules make combat a bit more random, but more importantly, improve the options of many of the lighter characters of the realm.
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