Experimenting with new RPG

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Veracity
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Experimenting with new RPG

Postby Veracity » Fri Jun 23, 2017 11:39 am

So... We are running scripted episodes from the TV series using part of the TV show chars.

What are others' impressions of this new game?

I really liked the TV series. But I never aspired to role playing chars from TV shows or movies. Even as a youth, I didn't dress up as Star Wars chars nor go to conventions.

This is what I got from the game last night:

The majority of the party was supposed to be arrested because they had to be sent to the mines. They had to be sent to the mines because they are supposed to commandeer the shuttle or hide aboard it when it leaves from the mines. Or, they were supposed to be sent to the mines because they are supposed to meet the mine foreman - because they are supposed to get a sub-quest to rescue his daughter, after which they are supposed to commandeer the shuttle, etc.

Kaylee was supposed to get the same information as the others got in the bar - by rolling to charm various reticent NPCs. Then Kaylee was supposed to see her companions being taken to the jail or mines. Then Kaylee was supposed to go back to the ship. There, she was supposed to overhear the goons talking about sabotaging the ship. Then, she was supposed to sneak into the ship and where she was supposed to repair the damage.

After that, I imagine Kaylee is supposed to take the ship into orbit once she gets a message from her friends that they are on the shuttle. Then Kaylee will be supposed to intercept the shuttle and do some dice rolling for Serenity to avoid being stopped and boarded by the bad guys.

Then, we will get the ore to the lady who hired us. And perhaps we are also supposed to do some disrupting of the ruling persons on the planet.

It's all written already. We can sometimes have an asset to help us roll and there will be "complications" in how the NPCs react which may or may not amuse us as players. But it's 90% "supposed to do." I don't enjoy that.

How long is our experiential play period before we decide if we want to continue?

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Hazen
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Re: Experimenting with new RPG

Postby Hazen » Fri Jun 23, 2017 1:03 pm

I wouldn't assume that everything in the episode is predetermined. In hindsight, it's clear that we'd get captured, but that was because the mine security forces were taking any strangers off the street and into the mine, but Kaylee avoided that, not because she was "supposed to", but because she decided to go off on her own. The encounters we succeed in, could have been failures, and that would have changed the course of events.

We're all struggling with this new game system, but it's too early to past judgement. I think it'll be interesting to read though this episode in the book once we've completed it - then we'll get a better idea of what the possibilities were.

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Brianna Sollandry
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Re: Experimenting with new RPG

Postby Brianna Sollandry » Fri Jun 23, 2017 2:33 pm

I completely missed all the "was supposed to do" aspect of the scenario you claim was present.
In fact, I would be astonished if there is a single predetermined path.

I'm curious: do you believe that in D&D adventures you've participated in that you "were supposed to" follow a particular path in order to accomplish a task your party has taken on? (Actually, I think you do believe that; there are quite a few adventures I've DMed in which you used exactly that language: you were "supposed to" trust such-and-such and NPC or were "supposed to" react to a clue in such-and-such a way. I also believe that some players believe that they are "supposed to" fight any creature they encounter.)

Perhaps this is a problem with all RPGs: you see an adventure, envision how it might play out, and, therefore, the party "is supposed to" to make it work that way?

In this particular scenario, I think it is likely that if the party chooses to go into town and interact with the natives, they will end up getting conscripted to be miners. But, you know, we discussed after the game - after you had signed off - that a different mix of characters might have done other things. If we had Inara - or a similarly social character - there could have been an excuse to visit the mansion. Or we could have tried some sort of remote reconnaissance. Or any number of other alternative actions.

But, having been captured, regarding what we are "supposed to do" in the mines, you listed multiple alternatives. Which one are we "supposed to do"?

You said that Kaylee "is supposed to" take off with the ship. I would shocked were that to be the case, since it seems to be wildly out of character.

Color me confused.

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Re: Experimenting with new RPG

Postby Seston Tempiri » Sat Jun 24, 2017 5:04 pm

The arrest was the only bit of railroading I noticed last night, and it was the same type you'd see in any RPG module: overwhelming odds.

The rest seemed largely back and forths along failures and successes, though we're still learning how to construct and explain those outcomes. I didn't really see much of an outcome difference versus a D&D game, but I'm open to more explanation of how you saw that playing out.

Pre-rolled characters are also a bit clumsy as we force ourselves into expectations, but I think we'd have new characters if we stuck with the game. I do suspect it remains more about learning curve than system mechanics at this point, but that doesn't mean we won't find the system mechanics too burdensome in the long run.

My early opinion is that I like that it remains a rule-centric system that attempts to foreground narrative elements. I've frequently found story-first systems to anarchic and I'm hopeful this system has found a decent balance, but I'm not certain yet.

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Re: Experimenting with new RPG

Postby Veracity » Sat Jun 24, 2017 6:58 pm

I did not feel like I had any real options in the last game. I felt totally unempowered to help my fellows and the townspeople. I am not having fun. I should be allowed to have an opinion as a friend among fellow friends. And I should even be allowed to day, "Gee, interesting RPG, but not for me." No one has the right to tell anyone how they have to feel or how they have to perceive things.

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Veracity
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Re: Experimenting with new RPG

Postby Veracity » Sat Jun 24, 2017 6:59 pm

Note: it was NOT "game mechanics" (such as ways of adding dice rolls) that I perceived as being the most not fun part of the game.

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Re: Experimenting with new RPG

Postby Veracity » Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:01 pm

I especially dislike fellow players voting on the type of jinxes against each other during the game to "help out the DM." I really wanted to shut down skype then and there and walk out.

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Re: Experimenting with new RPG

Postby Yoshi » Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:44 pm

1. This is not a canned episode from the series, but it is a way to learn the game. The fact that the characters are from the series is only a convenience: they're pre-rolled and (at least somewhat) familiar. But it is true that a lot of the action is guided; but that's no different from any other D&D game we've played in the past 30 years. What matters is how you interact.
2. Kaylee chose to separate herself. Nothing was "supposed to" about that. Having a character free to roam is great! But not essential.
3. Given that, she had some opportunities to scout and learn things, that unfortunately she did not avail herself of, at least not without a lot of prompting. Oh well. But since she's free, maybe she can do more scouting! What's the deal at du Bujac's manor? How would Remember be freed?? Or if she wants to take the ship into orbit, fine, but then how will she communicate with the rest of the crew?
4. Since the ship was going to be impounded anyway, who better to free it?! You were the ideal choice!!!
5. Since you clearly did not really understand the rules, I tried to help you formulate dice pools. I was trying to help you think about what it means to formulate a dice pool, how the skills and distinctions and assets and plot points work, how you could maybe create a (suitable) asset on the fly. It was absolutely not my intention to railroad you. Even after you've read and understood the rules, surely suggestions wouldn't be unwelcome.
6. I'm not at all sure what you mean about "voting on jinxes". It's not a vote---it's a way for everyone to participate in the story. You---especially--should be participating too. The game changes based on Complications; they're an integral part of the game. See, for example, the last paragraph of p. 245, and the second-last paragraph on p. 266 ("Though you could probably come up with a result on your own, most times your players will help you yank the rug out from under them"). I'm explicitly and intentionally trying to involve you (all)!

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Re: Experimenting with new RPG

Postby Brianna Sollandry » Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:26 pm

Veracity wrote:I did not feel like I had any real options in the last game. I felt totally unempowered to help my fellows and the townspeople.

I'm sorry your imagination wasn't wide enough. I can't remember any D&D episode where we waltzed into a situation and Made Things Right immediately. This seems exactly the same. We waltzed in, discovered that there were things beyond our control, and did not accomplish everything we would have liked to accomplish.

I am not having fun.

Sorry to hear that! Unfortunately, your conclusion that you are not having fun BECAUSE you are being railroaded into a pre-determined script is not shared by, literally, anyone else playing this scenario.

There is no "pre-determined script". This is NOT a game system in which "plot overrides player decisions". As Seston pointed out, this is very much a rule-based system which allows players to affect how the rules operate on the game in order to advance the Drama inherent in the scenario.

I should be allowed to have an opinion as a friend among fellow friends.

Of course! And, fortunately, none of your friends are shutting you down.

And I should even be allowed to day, "Gee, interesting RPG, but not for me."

You are welcome to say that, although you have not yet said that. Of course, we will try to work with you to try to understand why you feel that way. So far, all _I_ have heard from you seems to be derived from a complete lack of understanding of how the game works.

I'm not sure why that is.

No one has the right to tell anyone how they have to feel or how they have to perceive things.

Paranoid, much?

I completely agree. Fortunately nobody has (yet) said or implied anything of the sort regarding you or anybody else.

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Re: Experimenting with new RPG

Postby Seston Tempiri » Sun Jun 25, 2017 1:00 am

I doubt the heighten antagonism from either side is going to improve the quality of this discussion. It might be best to decide if we want to work through this issue or simply air grievances. I understand airing grievances and it can be emotionally satisfying, but it is different than working through the issues around the game.

Veracity, are you willing to explain how you might have felt more empowered? Certainly, it's only worth playing a game if people are having fun.

The game may not be everyone's cup of tea and that's fine. That said, what I'm hearing are system frustrations, both frustrations with how the system is designed and issues understanding the system. I'll say that Veracity' s description of what happened is not what I experienced and I suspect that may well be a combination of mechanics and perhaps being in the physical spaces as the GM.

By way of example, complications(jinxes) are simply a group narrative device. Understanding how they work and how the are meant to be a collaborative story-telling device is crucial to the mechanical design of this RPG--as I understand it. It's certainly new for me as well and I'm not claiming a definitive interpretation at this stage, but I feel rather solid about this read.

Veracity, maybe it would be more clear to us where the frustrations lie (mechanics, narrative, play style) if we understood what specific choices you felt you weren't able to make. Was it solely the shopkeeper informing the magistrate? Was it that you felt you didn't have enough say in that complication? Was it the nature of the complication?

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Re: Experimenting with new RPG

Postby Veracity » Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:19 am

From Caelesti:

I doubt the heighten antagonism from either side is going to improve the quality of this discussion.

Well stated! .. and one never knows how many straws short that poor camel is to breaking.

From MY point of view, I have one of those narrow imaginations (and bad memories) that some feel sorry about. Though I did watch the Firefly show (and Serenity movie), I recall very little of it, and NONE of the story. So, for me, I find bound roles particularly difficult, as I have no clue what Simon has said (in shows / movies) or might say now. Y'all seem to be doing very well there .. I'm better at playing toons.

The D&D world, for new players, tends to be very simple. First level characters have only a few weapons and skills to worry about. Plus, the world tends to be somewhat familiar. So, as a starting character, I would expect to be able to ride a horse, fight a goblin, find a place to eat & drink, etc. In this sci-fi world, I'd have no clue if I could fly a ship solo, fight an alien, or what have you. To me, it feels like we're starting out with mid-level characters and playing in an unfamilar world .. or rather THAT with severe memory loss.

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Trying to parse it out

Postby Veracity » Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:28 am

Veracity, are you willing to explain how you might have felt more empowered?

I thought I had been trying to do that. But I guess I have not been doing that very well.

Certainly, it's only worth playing a game if people are having fun.

I'm not having fun and I seem to be a drag on others who are having fun (which is not everyone else) because I don't have the same enthusiasm. It might be best for all if I skip this world for a while.

The game may not be everyone's cup of tea and that's fine. That said, what I'm hearing are system frustrations, both frustrations with how the system is designed and issues understanding the system. I'll say that Veracity' s description of what happened is not what I experienced and I suspect that may well be a combination of mechanics and perhaps being in the physical spaces as the GM.

I may have simply been too tired and distracted to make a good show of it last game. I know I did have fun the previous game and I did think I was cathing onto the rules at that time. This time, what I thought I had learned at the last game didn't seem to serve me. I did appreciate that the GM was trying to explain patiently while learning some things himself. I continue to be hurt by snide remarks by the GM of Firefly. He and I are both impatient people in our own ways and we conflict. I don't recall that being a problem when we all gamed locally, though. I only recall it becoming a problem when we went to a system where a couple of us are remote - but most of you are together in person (in non delayed electronics time).

By way of example, complications(jinxes) are simply a group narrative device. Understanding how they work and how the are meant to be a collaborative story-telling device is crucial to the mechanical design of this RPG--as I understand it. It's certainly new for me as well and I'm not claiming a definitive interpretation at this stage, but I feel rather solid about this read.

I am a professional writer and story-teller. Yeah, you would think this would be my fav RPG for that reason. However, I find that I can't role-play a character, taking that character's hope and goals and desires into myself, and then want to help the GM find ways of twarting my character "for fun" or "for the sake of creating a story together." I am too torn.

In "normal DnD" (if there really is such a thing) I, at least, have a sense of our party against the bad guys. It is not part of our job to help find ways for the bad guys to thwart us or "create complications" for us. If I were writing a screenplay I would have to get into the mind of each character in turn and create complications for everyone for the sake of the plot. That would be my Job. But I don't game on Thurs nights as a job.

Veracity, maybe it would be more clear to us where the frustrations lie (mechanics, narrative, play style) if we understood what specific choices you felt you weren't able to make.

When we gamed this RPG the first night, I was eager to accumulate "plot complication" points so I could have fun adding little plot points thing to thwart the bad guys. Then, this last game, I seemed be told that only the GM gets to do and, in fact, we, the players, are expected the help the GM do bad things to us. Whereas, we, the PCs, can only use points to get a d+ dice roll or to "add an asset" during an interaction. That, right there, made me feel unempowered.

I can help the bad guys be badder and make thing worse for me and my party with clever little plot complications... But for myself and my friends, all I can do is get higher die that might roll a higher number or have a larger rocks to throw at something. Others many enjoy that or really find it a fun challenge. I find it frustrating and it feels unfair.

Was it solely the shopkeeper informing the magistrate?

Mal said Kaylee should take some money from the ship's til and go out to the shops and see if she could gather information. That's why Kaylee "went off on her own." The shop keeper turned away and wouldn't engage in conversation with Kaylee, even when she was asking about buying things. So my conclusion as a player was that it would be too diffcult to alter the attitude of the shop keep such that I'd be able to get information out of him.

So I went to the shrine - where I thought people would be grieving and would want to talk. The guy there was a little more forth coming, but the way he was lecturng me about not making waves - it seemed like he would call the authorities if I pressed further.

Then I thought maybe I'd dress more like a local and pretend I had a relative in the jail and see if I could get a name from someone locked up - whom I could go to find the local resistance - as it seemed like there should be a local resistance if people are being regularly arrested and regularly dying in the mines. The GM was snide to be about Kaylee going anywhere near the jail. The GM was snide to me that I didn't press the person at the shrine more. That kept giving me the impression the episode was scripted and I as off script - and so annoying the GM. So that was unpleasant.

Then I saw that my companions had been arrested. There were too many "authorities" for me to take on by myself and my PC is not a fighter. Plus it's not likely, with the rules, that one PC is going to be able to sway several, on her own, with dice rolling for being persuasive. So I went to the doctor's office, thinking maybe the DR would have treated lots of innocent people who died and so would be sympathetic and not want more people abused. But I rolled a 1, and, from my POV, the GM asked my fellow players to help find a way to thwart me so that I would not be able to help anyone or do anything effectively. I was pretty fed up by then. And being (what felt like) lectured about how that's part of the intent and fun of the game only pissed me off more.

By then, I said, fine I will just go back to the ship, not because I was looking forward to being able to do anything helpful there, but because I figured that there just wasn't anything helpful I was going to be able to do - so I might as well sit it out. When I said, "I'm heading back to the ship, the GM, "good, that's what you should do." Again, this made me feel like the episode was tightly scripted and I was expected to find out what I am supposed to do and then do it.

So, I get to the ship and overhear that it has been sabotaged and, since the GM told me going to the ship was what I was supposed to do, and since the GM made a big point of the remaining guard being bored and easy to sneak past... I came to the conclusion that, as part of the script, I was supposed to sneak past.

Different people respond differently. To me, it was too much "supposed to do." And I was constantly frustrately that everything felt stacked against me such that I couldn't do anything to help my companions get out of trouble.

Was it that you felt you didn't have enough say in that complication?

Sure, I have say in the complication - I can suggest all kinds of ways the bad guys can thwart me. I don't find that fun. For people who find that fun - great. Have fun. This RPG is for you.

Was it the nature of the complication?

Per my current understanding of the rules... The only complications I am allowed to contribute to are the ones that are against myself and my companions. The only assets I am allowed to contribute to are the ones I have enough points to introduce as something to help me with a dice roll when I'm trying to fight or persuade someone. I don't find either fun.

That's the best way I can explain it for now. I will need to step away for a while.

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Re: Experimenting with new RPG

Postby Brianna Sollandry » Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:35 am

Veracity wrote:From Caelesti:

Why didn't Caelesti post this? *puzzled*

Caelesti wrote:...one never knows how many straws short that poor camel is to breaking.

One doesn't. For example, you probably didn't realize that I would feel insulted by your post, which would therefore break MY camel - but I did and it did.

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Re: Experimenting with new RPG

Postby Veracity » Sun Jun 25, 2017 2:33 pm

Caelesti's player is at my house this weekend without his computer. I suggested he log out as V and login as C, but he was already having some frustration using my Mac (as he is used to PC). And he just wanted to post. So he used my login as I was already logged in.


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