Brian M
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After a bit of hesitation, and taking the time to clarify several rules so I would be very clear on how to play this, I gave Story Realms a try last night, playing the downloadable intro adventure.

I had printed most of the demo materials (I skipped the map and only printed one or two pags of the rules), but I only printed one character sheet since we'd only be using one. Lisa had already picked the Stormchaser (based only on the names).

I found good stand in dice to use; the regular dice would be played by Magic dice from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer board game, which are yellow with the correct number of bright yellow "bursts" on them to use in place of the skill dice.

The many bags of pente stones we have around provided tokens for Oomph and the various trackers.

It was just myself and Lisa playing, and we're both adults. This is not really optimal for Story Realms, but threads here on BGG had assured me it should work fine.

Lisa did get into the spirit by deciding her character was a young girl and gleefully playing the part of an energentic, headstrong and courageous kid.

As I mentioned, Lisa picked the Stormchaser.

She picked the 'WILD' talent, and decided that the Daredevil kit looked fun.

We both liked the colorful character sheet, and the special abilities seem interesting and fun.

===== WARNING: THIS HAS SPOILERS! =====
===== ADDITIONAL WARNING: This has lots of commentary on the game and only a small amount of "story". If you just want to read story that comes out of the game, head for a different session report.

Scene 1

Scene 1A just introduces the players to entering the game world. I think most gamer players will want to change this up a bit, though I mostly described it "as is" for the time being.

The game provides lots of blocks of text to read to describe scenes. However, I found I did often need to modify the descriptions a bit as they were confusingly written. For example:

"In the mist, you see a girl. The roof of the cabin is smahed in. Giant hands reach down."

Leads me to think: Wait, what cabin? The roof of the cabin we're in? I didn't know we were in a cabin. Is she in a cabin? Is the roof being smashed in or was it already smashed in? It's also not clear that this isn't just happening in the same room as the characters. (It's actually just a vision).

Compare to:
"An image appears out of the mist; a girl in a cabin. Suddenly, the roof of the cabin is smashed in and giant hands reach down toward her."

I felt like I had to tweak descriptions like this several times during the game.



In Scene 1B, the Big 'Un Kaiya asks for help - her daughter has been kidnapped by a giant.

Lisa was, naturally, eager to rush off and help, and just exchanged a few words with them, asking which way they went.

This felt a little awkward; the scene calls for various rolls based on certain actions, but I really wasn't sure how to apply them. Lisa wasn't specifically trying to calm down Kaiya in any way - should I still have her roll to get the info from Kaiya? Having a roll for a normal conversation with a person who wants your help seems a bit odd to me!

Scene 2

So, Lisa rushed off to help, shoryly arriving at the perilous Fire Gem Falls.

Ask suggested, I read the bits in "Explaining the Story Challenge to the Players", but didn't go into detail about how exactly the rules worked.

Lisa glanced at her kit, and with barely two moments hesitation declared "I grab my glider and leap off the cliff and glide down! Whee!"

 


Uh oh.

I have her make a skill check, which comes up very good. However, according to the scene, players need 6 progress points to get down. If they try early, they make a skill check needing successes equal to 1+the amount of progress they are short, or they fail. They get down on a fail, but get beat up and loose Oomph in the process.

As a first check, she'd need 56 successes. The roll wasn't that good.
EDIT: Oops! It was 6 successess needed. She got 4.

So here I've got a player taking a perfectly reasonable, totally in character action, getting a good roll, and being supposed to completely fail the scene as a result. This just seems very wrong to me.

I jammed up. A lot. I really wasn't sure how to handle this.

After some puzzling, I noted the bit that says that even if they find a way to fly down, it should just count as 1 success.

Ok...so I explain that she starts taking off, and has to veer away as flames burst from the waterfall.

So, she says she'll simply go away from the waterfall to glide down.

This also makes a lot of sense, and the scene mentions adding 1 progress if the players do that, but that they'll need to pick up the tracks at the bottom.

This still leaves us 4 progress short.

We're both stuck.

She just wants to get down there. Flying down still seems reasonable. Should I be trying to come up with other random challenges, which I don't really have any ideas for? Should she just fail the challenge?

We almost just picked up the game and quit at this point.

Finally I decided to rewind a bit and made the challenges part of zooming down; so rather than avoiding the fire she dodged past it. I had her make one roll to avoid some of the flame, and then gave her a roll to go for the remaining successes and get down.

After succeeding, Lisa described how she flew loops and spins to dodge the fire. "Hey, look at me! Oh...sigh. Why is there never anybody around to see it when I do something neat?"
Then she nearly jumped back into the air when a surprised voice behind her announced "But, there was somehere here to see little poppin!"

== INTERMISSION: Ok, here's why I put the two player warning in the title.

If you'd had, say, four players (plus one storyteller), you'd likely get both "clues" in the first scene, and you'd likely need just a little more than one "action" per player to get down the falls. So each player would just come up with about one thing to do.

With one player, that one player needs to come up with 5 or 6 things to do.

That's a lot of things.

That is, in my opinion, too many things. (In fact, I kinda think it may often be too many things even with more players...)

It's also considerably more likely that, with just one player, they can come up with a way (like the glider) that really seems like it SHOULD just short circuit the scene.

== BACK TO THE SHOW

She and Gurbin set off into Thunderdrum forest, hot on the trail of the giant. (We were a little confused about the 'giant' - aren't Gurbin and family pretty much 'giants'? )

Scene 3


They spotted Blunderbore the giant and his horde of hobs trying to drag off Twilla, and rushed to the rescue.

It was only after I read the first bit of flavor text that I realized it didn't make sense, since Blunderbore shouldn't have seen Lisa thanks to her cloak of mists. Oops. blush
I corrected mostly, indicating that he was talking to Gurbin.

Lisa first, noticing that the hobs stayed in the shadows, grabbed fireworks out of her kit and launched a barrage of them to brigthen the place up, thereby sending hobs fleeing in screeching dismay.

Second turn. "Umm...it's kind of boring, but why wouldn't I just do the same thing again?"

She didn't do the same thing again, but the question was a valid one!

She did use her grappling hook to pull down a tangle of branches and let sunlight stream in from above to try to slow down the hobs, and then used the sunlight to find one of the dark doors that hobs were streaming though.

She had called on the power of lightning rod early, and grabbed a branch set on fire by the lightning to set fire to the bushes right around a dark door to keep the hobs free while she shut it, bt since they promptly pushed it open again, she decided that path wasn't worthwhile.

Eventually she made in even bigger hole in the branches overhead, set off all the rest of her fireworks in a big display of light, and dragged Twilla into the patch of light she had made while the hobs were scattering in terror.

== INTERMISSION 2:
Ok, this worked better than scene 2, but it did drag a bit, and it was hard for Lisa to keep coming up with ideas. Just too many actions for one player.

With more players, some players could have been getting Twilla safe while others looked for and closed dark doors, and they could have played off each other's actions to have more help building the scene.

I also found it hard to keep the bad guy's "turns" interesting when they got pretty repetitive.

In retrospect, I should have had the forest get annoying with being set on fire and having branches broken, but I didn't notice the relevant comments on the Thunderdrum Forest card until after it was too late.

I strongly suggest doing something to cut down how long this scene takes if playing with only one player. Again, I feel like it might get a little long even with more.

== Back to the Show

With Twilla in the sun and awake, the remaining hobs fled and Lisa reunited Twilla with her family.

== ROLL CREDITS

I really wanted to like this. We went in with high enthusiasm and high hopes. Sadly, this didn't go very well.

I think a big part of that was that it's just not quite right for just two players. Two players is hard; you've got only one storyteller and one player to put all the creativity and energy into the game. The player doesn't have friends to talk to and bounce ideas off of and overcome jams with.

Partly, I feel like the mechanics got in the way of play a lot. We kept having to struggle to figure out how to make what seemed like the natural progress of the narrative match up with the trackers, and it wasn't working well - especially in the waterfall scene.

In the fight in the forest, we had to start each turn remembering to roll for the Fire status, then for the random Storm effect, than to look up what the effect she'd just rolled actually meant. Then usually we'd need to remember at some point to apply the status effect. All the while I'd be trying to figure out how to make the threat events match up (and be interesting) with what was going on.

I'm really kind of bummed. The art and production look lovely, and we kind of want to try this with more players to see if it goes better. But I'm not sure I want to convince people to try a game that didn't go well for me!

I felt like there was enough structure to get in the way, but not enough to make the game interesting. Or, perhaps another way of saying it, it felt too structured for an RPG, but not structured enough for a board game.

Plus sides:

* Nice art.
* Interesting character choices.
* Equipment kits help inspire creative ideas.
* Core rules are simple to play.
* Simple for the storyteller to run when considered mechanically.

Down sides:
* Mechanics get in the way of the story.
* Demands a lot of creativity from everyone to make the game interesting, but doesn't reward it.
* Mechanics considered on their own aren't interesting.
* Rules imply positional elements that clash with the light, freeform style everything else encourages.
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Seth Trammell
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I will be interested to hear the designers' response to this one... I'm excited about this game, but all of your concerns seem really valid, especially considering I've got no experience with GMing and tweaking adventures...
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Dann May
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Some well written and considered pondering there... thanks for taking the time to post it.

My approach to the game is that the basic system of trackers are mostly a neat way to measure the amount of story expected in each scene. To me anyway the progress points are a way of informing the storyteller that they need to throw up more obstacles in to flesh the scene out, so ultimately the game and story has a certain dramatic arc to it, so each scene has its due of action. More of a story guide, than a story generator. I basically play it like a regular RPG, and get as imaginative as I want, but use the trackers as a guide to keep the story moving forward at a pace that gives some space for play, but also builds to the next scene and the end of the game.

I reckon your idea with the flames shooting out and the dodging around was a very apt solution and suited her character, but I can see how the pausing to ponder the meaning of the progress points would have taken some of the wind out of your sails. Do you think having a list of ideas that you could glance down for inspiration would have been helpful? Or as you say just being more familiar with things like the Rift Lore card? I think awkward moments aside, you did a pretty good job of making something interesting of it considering your single hero pulled the glider out of the bag at the top of the cliff! laugh When putting the kits together it crossed our mind, but not with one player. Still there is always something that can be done to spin the tale out as you proved.

I think each individual story and how it is constructed will make such a difference to the experience. I think that's where the real game lies, in dreaming up 3 part stories that rise to a dramatic climax in an hour. This sample story was definitely designed with more of a conference type playtest situation in mind with more players, so I'd think stories will play differently with different numbers of people, some may even be designed for one hero. I think because they can be so compact and as more of the world Lore is there to support them, the possibility for a lot of different stories is there so I think I find that the most interesting part of the project.
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Laszlo Stadler
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I think the storyteller has the rights and also should sometimes stop the action and ask questions.

When Lisa wanted to jump down, you should have told her: "Ok, but why do you want to jump down? Do you know what's down there? Are you sure that's the direction you want to go? Keep in mind that there's no coming back from there."
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Serge Gagnon
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Hello StormKnight, thanks for the well written session report.

Hmmmm... a couple of missed opportunities for the waterfall scene:

- flying the glider (take off skill check, flying skill check, landing skill check, observational skill checks, etc)

- weather conditions

- those darn pesky gulls (or any other flying creature that could be sent by Blunderbore to distract, what's to say he did not notice a gliding Poppins trying to come and save the day)

- detouring from the falls would take time (somehow penalize by instead of -3 ooomph. for example, balance it by let's say -2 ooomph and because your late, disaster track goes up one)

Just a couple of quick examples. I would constructively criticize that if you feel the mechanics get in the way, create ways in using them (as per the detouring example). The trackers are exactly that: Trackers (not charts that need to be followed to the letter). They're a tool to help create a sense mechanically where the players are at but it's up to story teller to interpret the actions results and their effect on the progression.

The rules and scene keys provide great info and guidelines but don't let them limit your own creativity to create the story. That's the huge different between being a Dungeon Master and a Story teller.

I guess it's easy to mention stuff like this after the fact to throw in stuff like this (fully aware about being stuck with ideas at the time during the game) but the more we learn about the realm, the more material we will have to work with. Remember, this is just an intro setting.

Maybe try it again with a different 'group' and see what happens. I know that if the player takes another kit or hero, it would give a different story. Just remember the idea is to have fun with it, even if you don't achieve the goal set by the adventure.

Just 2 cents worth. Hope you have a great day!
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Brian M
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Quote:
en Lisa wanted to jump down, you should have told her: "Ok, but why do you want to jump down? Do you know what's down there? Are you sure that's the direction you want to go? Keep in mind that there's no coming back from there."

Why? Because that's the way the giant went. Of course you don't know what's down there - that's why you go down to find out. And it's certainly not impossible to find your way out of a canyon!

Check out the Stormchaser card:
Stormchasers are dauntless thrillseekers that can run straight into the heart of danger and come out unscathed...


So we have a Wild Stormchaser. An impetuous, excitement loving girl who's just been given a hang glider and a cliff.

I'd expect her to jump off even if she had no reason at all to go down there!!

The action was perfectly in keeping with the character, and was a perfectly reasonable action to deal with the situation.

Quote:
Hmmmm... a couple of missed opportunities for the waterfall scene:

- flying the glider (take off skill check, flying skill check, landing skill check, observational skill checks, etc)

Does making a series of basically identical skill rolls without much player input and the same outcomes for each sound like all that much fun to you? It doesn't to me.

Quote:
The rules and scene keys provide great info and guidelines but don't let them limit your own creativity to create the story. That's the huge different between being a Dungeon Master and a Story teller.

I'm not making any sense out of your "DM/Storyteller" comment. A GM (DM is very D&D specific) helps come up with the story based on the players actions. A Storyteller, apparently, tries to force the story to fit into some arbitrary game tracker. I'd rather be doing the former.*

* EDIT: The irritation in this comment is directed more at the "you just aren't creative enough to play this game" attitude than at the game itself.
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Jay Shaffstall
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I'm interested to see the official responses here, but thought I'd chime in. My daughter would have done the same thing as Lisa.

Keep in mind that failing the scene doesn't mean losing the adventure. In this particular case, the penalty is some lost Oomph (described as the buffeting by the flames and wind). She didn't put the effort into preparing, which was perfectly in character. Thrill seekers are probably used to getting banged up.

She still gets to the bottom and encounters Gurbin, though, no further rolls needed. Bypassing cliff preparation is perfectly reasonable, it just carries a price.

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Brian M
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Keep in mind that failing the scene doesn't mean losing the adventure.

So, you think it sounds like fun and a good game to have a character have a good idea, that's in character, makes good use of her skills and gear, and has a good roll, result in the worst possible failure on par with taking totally inappropriate actions and failing every check?
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Jay Shaffstall
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StormKnight wrote:
So, you think it sounds like fun and a good game to have a character have a good idea, that's in character, makes good use of her skills and gear, and has a good roll, result in the worst possible failure on par with taking totally inappropriate actions and failing every check?


Why does losing Oomph while getting down the cliff equate to failure?

Yes, it sounds like a fun time for the thrill seeker to leap off the edge of the cliff, accumulate some burns and scrapes on the way down, and get there before everyone else (assuming there is anyone else). That's how thrill seekers have fun.

I do understand that you're comparing a roll-with-successes-in-it to a roll-with-failures-in-it and seeing those both having the same results. The scenario is a bit ambiguous in this regard, but I'd have ruled that a failed glider roll did not mean she gets down with damage, but that she fails to get down (is blown back by the winds, has to retreat from the fire, etc).

Edit: Reread the scenario, there is some ambiguity in what a successful roll does versus a failed roll

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Brian M
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Quote:
Why does losing Oomph while getting down the cliff equate to failure?

Failure at getting down the cliff equates to lost Oomph. That's what the scene says. That's why the lost oomph was suggested in the first place.
You can't "fail to get down the cliff". The worst possible thing that can happen is you lose oomph.

Quote:
Yes, it sounds like a fun time for the thrill seeker to leap off the edge of the cliff, accumulate some burns and scrapes on the way down, and get there before everyone else (assuming there is anyone else). That's how thrill seekers have fun.

If there was anyone else, the entire issue would likely never have come up. Sure, she can fly down - and get one success for the group - but that still leaves everyone else up top. Perhaps she can spot some dangers while flying around and may want to remain airborne to warn the others.
 
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Hi folks, I've seen a couple comments saying "I'd like to see what the designers say" but it's our policy not to comment on session reports/reviews. We want people to be able to read and respond to the views expressed by the author without our perspective interfering or derailing the thread.

I read every single post, and am more than happy to answer any questions or discuss stuff further in another thread, but feel that when people take the time and effort to play and write about their experiences with the game, they deserve "the floor" as it were

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Jay Shaffstall
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I do understand the point about if there were more characters there, her flying would be part of the group success. Some sort of scaling of points needed based on the number of players would probably make a lot of sense.

You should always feel free to adjust the scenario based on the number of players. The same way you'd adjust a D&D scenario if there were just a single PC rather than a party.

I still see Story Realms as more of an RPG than a board game, and would tend to run it like one. Adjusting targets as needed to keep the game fun and engaging.





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Brent Warner
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It does sound like having just one player will put more pressure on both the Storyteller and the player to keep the story interesting. I definitely agree that her decision to just jump off the cliff was in character, and I think you made the right call in going with it. But I think there's something to the idea that you didn't have to consider that the end of the challenge. Maybe she gets blown off course a bit and now needs to find her way back to the waterfall. Maybe she falls into the river and had to get out. Ultimately, its not about "punishing a bad decision", its about giving enough time to the scene for it to feel like she really accomplished something. The player isn't going to feel like its unfair that they aren't allowed to immediately conquer the challenge, they want to have obstacles to overcome!

I also think you shouldn't be so worried about making her lose some oomph being a penalty or being equivalent to losing. If it fits the story, go with it. Being too worried about the players experiencing any "undeserved" setbacks could lead to them never having the fun of triumphing despite being in a challenging situation.

I'm not sure what the best way is to handle the problem you experienced with feeling like you were just repeating actions in part 3. I expect that would be a recurring theme with a single player, so it might be necessary to do a bit of planning ahead of time about some creative things that the bad guys can try during that stage. If you have the bad guys try to do something novel part way through, I think the player will naturally react to that and be inspired with new ideas to stop them. Hopefully that will help the story to feel like it is building to a conclusion and not just dragging on.
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Roger Brandon
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I agree with Brent. If you play with the idea that anything less than total success is failure, then rpg's aren't for you. The excitement builds from finding that you may have jumped from the frying pan, into the fire. As long as your character doesn't die, it's all good.
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Laszlo Stadler
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StormKnight wrote:
Quote:
en Lisa wanted to jump down, you should have told her: "Ok, but why do you want to jump down? Do you know what's down there? Are you sure that's the direction you want to go? Keep in mind that there's no coming back from there."

Why? Because that's the way the giant went. Of course you don't know what's down there - that's why you go down to find out. And it's certainly not impossible to find your way out of a canyon!


* EDIT: The irritation in this comment is directed more at the "you just aren't creative enough to play this game" attitude than at the game itself.


There are different GMing styles and some might not agree with me but I simply think what you describe is a bad game master/storry teller. I don't want to offend you but that's how I see it. DMing is a skill that someone has to learn.

And regarding playing in character. People (characters) have to learn. After a while they will learn that they have to force themselves to think before acting. Well at least after some bad jumps. Otherwise they'll just die.

There are two kind of thrillseekers. Dead ones and ones that learnt to have a look before jumping.
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Jay Shaffstall
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stadi wrote:
[q="StormKnight"]There are two kind of thrillseekers. Dead ones and ones that learnt to have a look before jumping.


That's only true for some genres. In other genres the thrill seekers who leap before looking get along just fine. That comes down to the agreement between the GM and players as to what sort of experience they want to have.
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Laszlo Stadler
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jshaffstall wrote:
stadi wrote:
[q="StormKnight"]There are two kind of thrillseekers. Dead ones and ones that learnt to have a look before jumping.


That's only true for some genres. In other genres the thrill seekers who leap before looking get along just fine. That comes down to the agreement between the GM and players as to what sort of experience they want to have.


Allright, but if this is the case, the GM should automatically consider this and have options when they do this.
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Lisa Bjornseth
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stadi wrote:

There are different GMing styles and some might not agree with me but I simply think what you describe is a bad game master/storry teller. I don't want to offend you but that's how I see it. DMing is a skill that someone has to learn.

And regarding playing in character. People (characters) have to learn. After a while they will learn that they have to force themselves to think before acting. Well at least after some bad jumps. Otherwise they'll just die.

There are two kind of thrillseekers. Dead ones and ones that learnt to have a look before jumping.


Actually, Brian is one of the best or the best GM I have ever had. Of course, different people prefer different GMing styles...
I did not know how the game system worked at this point, so I was just playing the character. I said I was going to get down by gliding. The game said if you try to get down before getting the required number on the track, you fail and take some Oompf. It felt like the action I took should lead to success (assuming a reasonable roll), but the system dictated that it had to lead to failure. Either that or that it gave me one success and I still needed to come up with five more things to do and make five more rolls.

I think the basic problem was that the adventure was not well suited for a single character. Needing to spend 6 turns (assuming you always succeed) doing 'stuff that will help' before attempting to get down will get very boring very quickly (at least for me). I just can't even think of 6 different things to try to do (so maybe its my fault ). If I had known what the system was like, I think it just would have irritated me that what I wanted to do and what I thought the character would do (jump off and glide down), is not what I could do. I had to spend 6 turns looking for a good launch spot, judging wind conditions, choosing a landing site down below, dodging hot spouting rocks (I guess that could be after jumping). The system is not necessarily bad. It is not quite to my taste and that adventure does not work well with one character.
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Brian M
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Hi folks, I've seen a couple comments saying "I'd like to see what the designers say" but it's our policy not to comment on session reports/reviews.

This is probably very wise


Quote:
I agree with Brent. If you play with the idea that anything less than total success is failure, then rpg's aren't for you.

For those of you that have may not read the scenario - this is not assuming that "anything less than total success is failure". This is assuming that FAILURE is failure. The only reason people have suggested the 'lose 3 oomph' is that is the FAILURE result for the scene.

Ok, some opinions on how I think an RPG should be handled:

Characters in RPGs should certainly experience setbacks and even failures - as a result of bad ideas and bad rolls (and setbacks as a result of major plot elements).

Characters should not suffer failures as a result of good plans combined with good rolls.

Deciding to pound the players (and, by the way, 3 oomph is a HUGE pounding!) because they happened to thwart an obstacle in way you didn't want? That's just being a jerk.

Quote:
Dead ones and ones that learnt to have a look before jumping.

In Call of Cthulhu, maybe. If you think Story Realms is like that...well, I think you're off base! And anybody handing you a pre-made Call of Cthulhu character who is a "reckless thrillseeker" had better have a pretty good idea of what's going to happen and how that won't mess up the game!

Also, I know that some people play RPGs as "you can't see the brick wall in front of you unless you ask about it". I don't do that. I don't see any advantage to hiding info that would be available at a casual glance or quick check.

There's really nothing "hidden" in this scene, aside from Twilla's jacket - which is not directly relevant to getting over the falls. So, while mechanically "looking around" would add a success, it wouldn't change the narrative in any meaningful way.

Quote:
Allright, but if this is the case, the GM should automatically consider this and have options when they do this.

In any other RPG, I have a perfectly valid option - they get where they are going just fine!

If I'm designing a game for a known group of characters, I won't expect an obstacle to be much of a challenge if the players have the abilities to shortcut it. However, if I'm running a pre-designed game, I don't see why I should punish a character for having the right skills for the task. If anything, it's a chance for them to make good use out of that cool ability!

You've accused me of bad GMing. Well, maybe that's not totally wrong - for this game. Unfortuantely, it's going against everything I've learned about good GMing in every RPG I've ever played.

I am a firm believer that a good GM should:

* Pace a scene. Extend the scene if everyone is having fun and wants to interact with it more, cut it short if players are "done" with it.

* Be very flexible with player ideas. If a player comes up with something that's reasonably plausible, I should do my best to support it. I want to encourage player creativity, not restrict it! I don't want to make an RPG into a text adventure, where they have to type in just the phrase to succeed.

The "armchair" GMs here have been tossing off "oh, you should have added in...", but despite people having hours or days to think it over (rather than SECONDS as is the case when you are actually playing!) all we've got is:

A) Make more checks to get down. Which is what we did end up with, but it felt like a very bad solution. There's not much for player input or narrative to go with it. It's just more rolls for the sake or rolling. Why bother? This is something I would never do in a normal RPG.

B) Bad weather. The read story bits describe bright sunlight, and the picture shows clear blue skies. And weather is something you will notice well before you decide to go hang gliding! This just doesn't make any sense.

C) Blunderbore having minions waiting. That's a drastic change for a game I was trying to run as close to how it was written as possible. If Blunderbore had bird minions (as suggested), that has huge, far ranging consequences for the entire rest of a campaign that I don't know anything about. That sounds like a very bad idea to me.

The problem here is, as I mentioned, very simply that the mechanics were getting in the way of the story. We both would have been perfectly fine with her just flying down on the glider. The mechanics said we weren't supposed to stop with that, but didn't provide enough mechanical support to make extending the scene interesting unless we could provide the narrative to back it up.

Part of this problem seems to be a simple lack of scaling. Think about it. You'll need from 4-6 successes to "pass" this scene.

If you have 4 PCs, each player gets to do roughly one "thing", maybe a little more.

If you have a full group of 6 PCs, odds are much higher they will have gotten the 2 free succeses in the info scene, and only need 4 now. 2 players won't even get to do anything in the scene!

With only one PC, one player has to do all 5-6 things.

Those are some very big differences!

At a casual thought, for this scene I'd say tweaking the number of successes by 1 per player under/over 4 might not be a bad idea. So with 1 player, just require 3 successes. With 6 players, require 8. I'd think this would put the amount of input everyone does at a more balanced level.
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Triu Greykith
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StormKnight wrote:
2 players won't even get to do anything in the scene!

I don't understand this comment.

Page 18 of Storyteller’s Guide wrote:
During scenes, the players and the Storyteller take turns. The players go first. All players take their turn together. They can discuss their plans as a team or each player can decide individually what action to take.
... All players should have a chance to take an action before you start to apply hits and describe the results.
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Anthony Martins
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StormKnight wrote:


Characters in RPGs should certainly experience setbacks and even failures - as a result of bad ideas and bad rolls (and setbacks as a result of major plot elements).

Characters should not suffer failures as a result of good plans combined with good rolls.


I realize that I'm now going to sound like a bizarre space alien, but I'm actually okay with this.

If I move my brain from reality-simulation RPG-World to tale-spinning Story-Game-World, this is okay; but it only works if the players of the game are on the same page.

In RPG-World, what you said totally makes sense.

In Story-Games-World, the players sit down knowing the rules. They understand that in this given scene, 6 progress worth of doing stuff needs to happen before they can go down the cliff safely. The purpose of this is to make the cliff scene not go by so fast. (Same purpose as high Hit Points, they just make people not slay things in one roll). Knowing that, they'll continue to survey the situation until the progress trackers moves to where it's supposed to be, or they'll suffer the consequences.

I think it's only asinine if the players don't understand the game they are playing.

There's a whole camp of people making RPGs that think in this entirely different way. It's hard to summarize and not completely sidetrack the thread, but you can explore

here, http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forge/index.php
here, http://www.story-games.com/forums/
and to some extent, here, http://www.indiepressrevolution.com/xcart/

to get a feel for it.
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Brian M
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Quote:
In Story-Games-World, the players sit down knowing the rules. They understand that in this given scene, 6 progress worth of doing stuff needs to happen before they can go down the cliff safely. The purpose of this is to make the cliff scene not go by so fast. (Same purpose as high Hit Points, they just make people not slay things in one roll). Knowing that, they'll continue to survey the situation until the progress trackers moves to where it's supposed to be, or they'll suffer the consequences.

Yes, I mentioned this in another thread that this might be a better way to approach the scene. It might play much better if everyone gets the mechanics and are just aiming to tell a story. Of course, if everyone understands the mechanics in scene 2, the mechanics become pointless in terms of actually figuring out whether you succeed, since the players know they can just keep trying until they get all the successes. But I suppose the idea is that you are aiming for an interesting story, so you won't do that...so then if success or failure is really all just based on whether the players decide they succeed or fail, why are we bothering with the mechanics? Hmm....
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Brent Warner
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StormKnight wrote:
so then if success or failure is really all just based on whether the players decide they succeed or fail, why are we bothering with the mechanics? Hmm....


I see the mechanics as being a guide. They help the players to know that they are making progress even if they haven't achieved the goal yet, and they help the storyteller to know about how much time to give the scene in order to have reasonable pacing.

That being said, I think the golden-rule of being a GM is definitely "Do what's fun". If the players clearly want the scene to be over with, find a way to wrap it up (with or without penalty, whichever makes more sense for the group you are playing with). On the other hand, if the players are having fun and clearly want to continue a scene, go with that too, potentially offering them some reward in the future for going "above and beyond".

Which gets me to thinking, if you're an experienced GM playing with experienced players, it might make a lot of sense to hide the progress tracker (or even all trackers) and just use them as a storyteller reference. This gives you more control over how the scene plays out, and might help players feel more suspense, while still giving you the tools to help the story play out quickly and dramatically.
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Mike P
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bwarner34 wrote:
Which gets me to thinking, if you're an experienced GM playing with experienced players, it might make a lot of sense to hide the progress tracker (or even all trackers) and just use them as a storyteller reference.

The first time that I ran the Den being able to see the Disaster track (and realizing that they'd completely ignored the fact that the hobs were hauling off Twila) was a huge dramatic thing for my players. They'd focused entirely on trying to get to her and not on figuring out how the hobs kept managing to pile into the area through the Dark Doors, no matter how many clues I gave them. This led to them trying to haul Twila out past some of the Doors! The metagame knowledge that even though the Progress track was going in the right direction the Disaster track was still ticking up (while they fought to keep her on top of the Whizbanger's body-carrying Chug) really increased the tension. Personally, I would never hide a tracker I was actually using. If I want things to be ambiguous for them I won't tell them how far the tracker needs to go before something happens.
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Tracy Baker
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I don't understand this slavish devotion to the progress track.

You know you're playing with one player, which obviously isn't something that the scenario was designed for, yet you refuse to bend the rules in any way to accommodate the situation, expecting that one set of rules should scale to any number of players?

This may be a problem with the demo kit, as the story should scale, and the designers should provide some suggestions as to how to do that (maybe one person only needs three successes to move on). On the other hand, anyone who has played an RPG should know that you have to tweak things if you're playing outside the parameters of whatever pre-baked scenario you're running, and I'm kind of surprised you decided to demand that six successes were necessary or the game just couldn't proceed.

I played with my two kids, and things went almost precisely as you described. One of them was a Wild Stormchaser with the kit that has the glider, and he immediately decided to jump off the cliff. I warned him that he was leaving his brother alone at the top to fend for himself, but he went for it anyway, without doing any preliminary exploration.

Players should be punished for not doing any recon before attempting a stunt like that, and the scenario provided a perfect way to do it. The boulders shoot flame, so his glider got torched and he fell into the river (I didn't let him use it for the rest of the session). He still made one progress for finding out the hard way that the boulders did that, and spent a few turns using his grappling hook to try to get back onshore (which didn't go too well since he rolled zero successes twice in a row).

Meanwhile his brother started looking around. He found the piece of the jacket, and wanted to fashion it into a hang glider and jump off a spot away from the waterfall, but I told him there were too many trees along the edge of the cliff to get a running start at it. So instead he made it into a parachute (it's a piece of a giant's jacket, after all), and jumped from the side. I let him get down, but he lost oomph on a hard landing (the rules may have defined it as a failure, but I played it up as a minor success and praised his creativity. Just because something is printed doesn't make it true). His brother explored some more and found the path, and by that time they had enough successes between the two of them that he made it down with no trouble (well, not no trouble because I made him make a move roll for it, and he rolled zero successes again, so he tripped halfway down and lost some oomph).

If only one of them had been playing, I never would have made them get six successes to figure out a way down (in fact, I only made them get five). Three sounds reasonable. Maybe more, maybe less. It's not a specific number that matters, it's telling a story that keeps everyone engaged.

While it may seem artificial to force players to make X amount of progress before proceeding to the next phase, bear in mind that it gives both the players and the Story Teller something to do. If someone just glides off the cliff right when they get there, that's not a very interesting story, and the Story Teller has had zero participation in the game. Both sides have to do some work or you'll breeze through these stories in about two minutes. The same thing happens in RPGs all the time, where overpowered characters must be thwarted by a clever GM who doesn't let them just breeze through everything. And in this game, nothing really terrible ever happens. Losing oomph isn't a big deal. At all. It's hard to get down to zero, and even if you do you're still in the game rolling one die with a 50/50 chance of success.

I can't imagine playing this game without making judgment calls or wanting to make things challenging for the players as a Story Teller. No wonder you had a terrible time.

I do agree that the Story Teller has some semi-useful materials in the demo kit. The designers need to do a much better job of setting up the scenario so that the Story Teller knows what's going on and also knows what information to keep from the players until they do something to obtain it. I genuinely hope that all of the materials are just drafts and will get a lot of polish between now and print time to clarify things, remove redundancies, and ensure that the Story Teller doesn't have to do a ton of prep to overcome vagaries and rules contradictions.
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