Thursday, April 23, 2009

Let's Talk

Well, I'd like to talk to Insiders and Outsiders about the campaign so far. How did that whole scene (adventure?) go? Did people feel railroaded? Did people feel completely helpless?

I've read places where the complaint is that the players are always the "centre of attention." I thought it might be interesting to have something huge and shattering, where the players were pretty much outclassed but still doing what they could. Sort of like playing the Xander role in Buffy. You know you can't kill the monster, but you're involved and helpful.

And there was some experience that came out of it.

Particularly Outsiders. Comments, please. Sometimes I wonder if anyone reads this blog except the players.


Anshelm Helbelinc said...

I seriously have enjoyed reading and participating in every scene of the game so far...even when we were stumbling about without a clue as to how to proceed (Tiberius, I will never doubt your instinct again...).

As far as us not being the center of attention, not an issue to me. We're first level; it makes sense that Hornung would be the one to take on the demon, while we played out our little stories on the periphery. Gave the whole thing an added sense of realism.

Alexis said...

Well, Hornung and half the town.

I figure that in a town of 3,900 in a dense-population area, there would be something like 220 leveled persons, who by my calculation would average 5th level. Given that two dozen of them ought to be name level or better, it would take something truly dangerous to flatten the town.

Want to know something else funny? According to my mass = hit points system, the giant had somewhere between 8,000 and 14,000 h.p.

Ryan said...

Kazimir here. The hood is off for this post.

At no point did I feel railroaded aside from the compulsion, but I don’t begrudge you that. We were in need of a little shove.

Personally, I like the idea that we aren't the only game in town, with monsters patiently scaling up to match our level. I like a campaign where we can't simply kill everything we come across. I like occasionally being scared of a monster instead of gleefully charging in for xp and gold. I know some players would be angry because they were “upstaged” by an NPC. I only find this type of thing to be a problem if the high level NPC follows the party around solving their problems for them or acting as a surrogate character for the GM, and this was not the case.

The game has been fascinating thus far. Your world is very immersive and, as Anshelm stated, I enjoyed even the scenes where we were somewhat lacking in direction because I was enjoying the experience of simply playing.

Alexis said...


Ah, the "compulsion." But you insisted on going to the Cathedral. I warned you twice, and had for the whole event been giving descriptions about lightning and green/blue fire from there. So when you insisted on going anyway...

And yes, I know about the "upstaged by NPCs argument." I don't know where that comes from, except that too many players out there think they're a fucking hero. Hah hah. I love sneaking that point in.

I don't see the difference between players happening to witness battles going on between NPCs and blissfully existing in a world where the roads are maintained and the city walls erected by NPCs.

Joseph said...

I've enjoyed the game immensely these past few months. I certainly didn't feel railroaded. I did feel helpless, though, in spades. I eagerly await the next part of the campaign. The aftermath, if you will.

Alexis said...

Yes, Joseph, there is one. And it follows the story line without a break.

Anonymous said...

Well. Where the holy hell do I begin?

Did I feel helpless? Yea, at first because I wasn't sure what was going to happen and then when nothing did, I thought it was a mystery. "Find Alexis's quest". *laugh*

I flat out had no clue how to proceed with Herr Meyer. That was a clusterfuck in my head of the highest order. I still have no idea what to think about him, aside from wondering why the skulks wanted him alive (I have several paranoid possibilities). When we stumbled back, and I had that talk with the doppelganger I realized that this was bigger than we were and that we were along for the ride. Strangely, I didn't feel railroaded because the freaking thing wasn't about us, even though I provided the key (blood). So I had my hands full just surviving to try and tell Hornung to save our asses - which we didn't need to do in the end, but that didn't matter to me. I liked it.

Then, earlier this week, I started going back and reading your old Tao posts. The one where you say exactly what players have the freedom to do, mustard trading was your example - IIRC, then the final pieces dropped in place.

Now I have a better idea of how to be in your world. We're just 4 guys in a city on "Earth" and we're doing our thing, which isn't the center of the universe. It's like being a grain of sand in the sandbox. I've got a better idea of how to play in your game which means the frustration is gone. The mystery is solved only because I know that the world turns without little Delfig making a decision, but Delfig's decisions can have an impact if he sticks his nose in the right/wrong place. Mustard trading, yannow.

I'll say it again, I'm in awe of your economic system. I know that the niche world of RPGs might not be interested in that sort of simulation, but there's a lot of money spent in industry on that kind of thought/programming/process - and you did it in Excel? I feel for you. That's geek masochism of a high order there. I hate VBA with a passion.

I know one thing. Tomorrow is going to be fun because I... ah... want to get the hell outta Dachau. I'm a dead man once the Friar talks to Hornung.

Ragnorakk said...

Though I firebombed out early on (:) sorry) I've followed this and thought it was totally cool. Didn't feel railroaded,
didn't seem like there was an imbalance in PC action vs all of the other things that happen in the world. I did really enjoy playing early on, and the frantic-ness at the beginning I do not think was due to anything you did or did not do.
Looking forward to it's continuance!

Carl said...

You know I read your blog and didn't play in your game this time around. Don't be ridiculous. :-)

It has been an interesting read, but without being directly involved with the game it's tough to wade through 100 posts on a thread. Early on it was painful to watch your players thrash around trying to find their bearings.

Your style is very descriptive, and your writing background shows through very clearly. I enjoy the realism you inject into the game and it has a very open-world feel.

I intend to go back and read the whole game from start to finish. When I do, I'll post another comment to this thread.

Alexis said...


Are you suggesting that I should produce an "annotated version?"

Ben Brooks said...

I read the musings, but not any of the campaign stuff. I don't really know why, just not my thing.

I still check in every other day though. Your thoughts on the game and metagame are very interesting. Much more so than most of the really "rah, rah" roleplaying boosters.

Kodos said...

Outsider here. I've been greatly enjoying the campaign as a bystander. Some thoughts:
I found the death of poor Ells quite entertaining, actually. It reminded me of my own experiences where players have suddenly gone NPC-kill-crazy. In my case I think it was a combination of player uncertainty about the motives of the GM in general, and player mistrust in the too-conveniently-provided NPC in particular, and player trepidation at suddenly having more freedom in the campaign than they had had before ("when-in-doubt-stab-something" syndrome). Something similar here?
Also on the players side, I found the nonchalant strolling into the nest of slugs in Mizer's house highly entertaining (though I wonder if that was the result of playing at work? which I could never muster the presence of mind to do). It seemed like the players appreciated having something to react to, so the gate really kicked the game up a notch, though I look forward to seeing the characters take a more active role in choosing their own destiny.
The one part that was disconcerting to me was the setup. Supposedly the characters had been in Dachau for two months, but had developed no contacts, had no idea how the town was run or who the Merchant Guild or Mages Guild were, and had given no thought to the eventual need for a source of income. Maybe the idea was to avoid the cliche of "you have just entered a new town"? But the effect was much the same.
I hope none of the above sounds too negative as I am very appreciative of the efforts of both players and GM! Thanks to all and especially Alexis for many memorable situations and images.