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TOPIC: My group’s PAs — Feed­back welcome

My group’s PAs — Feed­back wel­come 4 years 10 months ago #3489

  • Aghori
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Hello again,

we fin­ished char­ac­ter cre­ation yes­ter­day. And although not every­thing is decided, we now agreed on most of the PAs. As the whole con­cept is new to us, I would be grate­ful to have some feed­back. The PCs are not named yet and the play­ers haven’t dis­trib­uted the 7 points between the PAs. We only decided about what paths to fol­low. The four PCs have one thing in com­mon: They are far away from their homes liv­ing in a north­ern land of mer­chants and vikings. There they’re tied to one of the great clans (their com­mon PA).

Char­ac­ter One:
Gen­eral descrip­tion: He’s a nomad from a desert land (think of Tuareg). He’s the son of a noble fam­ily who ruled the tribe. A beau­ti­ful witch man­aged to gain con­trol over the tribe, killing some of the oppo­si­tion and dri­ving the PC to for­eign lands. She laid a curse on him (sor­cery pick F) and he is now hunted by assas­sins and demons alike.
PA1 (the com­mu­nal one): Pay back a blood debt to the clan for sav­ing his life
PA2: Hate magic and magic users
PA3: Win back the lead­er­ship over the tribe
PA4: Find lost sis­ter

Char­ac­ter 2:
Gen­eral descrip­tion: One day this PC was found drift­ing in the sea. He had lots of wounds and was nearly dead. When he recov­ered all his mem­ory was lost. He doesn’t know who he is, from where he came, or what hap­pened to him. He dis­cov­ered some inter­est­ing skills though, he knows a long dead lan­guage, can deci­pher codes and seems to be as cruel as intim­i­dat­ing.
PA1 (the com­mu­nal one): loy­alty to the clan for sav­ing him and nurs­ing him back to life
PA2: Find out who I am
PA3: Get rich
PA4: not decided yet

Char­ac­ter 3:
Gen­eral descrip­tion: A dark skinned sav­age from a mys­te­ri­ous land some­where to the south in the deep jun­gels of Anzelo­ria. His peo­ple were killed or cap­tured by slavers. He man­aged to escape and found him­self on board of a ship of pirates. He stayed and because of his immense brawn and though­ness quickly rose among their ranks. Years later the cap­tain, who became a close friend, was killed by pow­er­ful ene­mies. The PC nar­rowly escaped. He came to the north pos­ing as an ordi­nary sea­man. Again he rose because of his power and skills and became the first offi­cer on the last ship of the great clan. This ship was sunken by the blood ene­mies of the clan. The PC was the only sur­vivor.
PA1 (the com­mu­nal one): Hate the rival clan
PA2: Revenge for the death of his pirate cap­tain
PA3: Learn more about his long lost peo­ple
PA4: Not decided yet, but some short term goal, maybe: Get the maiden XY into his bed

Char­ac­ter 4:
Gen­eral descrip­tion: He’s a good look­ing man from the rich south­ern islands (think a mix­ture of ancient Greece and the Ital­ian city states). His fam­ily was wealthy and he was in charge of a trade ship that plied the ocean. The PC is clever and knows how to defend him­self. But he has some very bad habits (Assets pick F): He is a gam­bler, drinker and can’t resist women. So one day he lost the ship to a for­eign cap­tain in a game of dice. He was cast out of the fam­ily.
PA1 (the com­mu­nal one): Revenge on the for­eign cap­tain (who hap­pens to be from the rival clan)
PA2: Win back his honor and the accep­tance of his fam­ily
PA3: Get your own ship (and lots of money)
PA4: Not decided yet.

That’s my crew. What do you think?
Regards,
R.
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My group’s PAs — Feed­back wel­come 4 years 10 months ago #3490

  • Allan
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Real quick as I am at work.
Hate the Rival Clan, I can’t see that work­ing for you. Its more an emo­tion. What does he want to do/​happen to the rival clan. Ask your self, how do you game that. Encounter the rival clan and turn a cold shoul­der on them… What does the player want to have hap­pen?
Sure some PA’s (maybe all) can be emo­tion dri­ven, but you need an idea of what the player is look­ing to explore.

Just my 2c.
Will have a bet­ter look later.

Allan
Mourn for us oppressed in fear
Chained and shack­led we are bound
Free­dom choked in dread we live
Since Tyrant was enthroned
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My group’s PAs — Feed­back wel­come 4 years 10 months ago #3492

  • Michael
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Aghori, I think that for first-​timers new to the con­cept, your crew did insanely well! I am relly proud of you all, you used PAs very clev­erly and also got the hang of tying the group together by use of one sim­i­lar PA. I don’t think I ever saw first-​timers do bet­ter! :cheer:

Now for some detailed com­ments:

Aghori wrote:
Char­ac­ter One:
PA3: Win back the lead­er­ship over the tribe
PA4: Find lost sister

Espe­cially the PA 3 has too lit­tle con­nec­tion to the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion of the PC. I can’t see this PA com­ing up often in play set in a land far from the home of the tribe. I would sug­gest rephras­ing it into some­thing that comes up more often, like “Atain a posi­tion from which to regain lead­er­ship of my tribe”. With that, any­thing that brings the char­ac­ter in a posi­tion of influ­ence and power or gain him resources which he could later use to launch his cam­paign to win back the lead­er­ship would engage his PA.

PA 4 may be sim­i­larly dif­fi­cult to engage, but it need not be changed — if you watch it closely. It will be your respon­si­bil­ity as a ref­eree to, within a few ses­sions, dan­gle some story hook before the player’s nose to engage this PA. Maybe he learns that his sis­ter has fled to or been sold in slav­ery to a nearby land, or he heras about some­body who has allegedly met his sis­ter, etc. You need to actively engage this PA.

Aghori wrote:
Char­ac­ter 2:PA3: Get rich

Absolutely ok, but very slightly lame. I’d advise offer­ing the player, dur­ing the first few ses­sions, oppor­tu­ni­ties for other things he and his PC might set their minds on and actu­ally point­ing them out. “Does that warrior-​maiden inter­est you? Would your guy like to pur­sue win­ning her affec­tion?” Some­thing like that, proac­tively. That will also demon­strate to the oth­ers that they can and are actu­ally sup­posed to frome time to time change their PAs to engage with some ele­ment you are pre­sent­ing them with.

Aghori wrote:
Char­ac­ter 3:PA2: Revenge for the death of his pirate cap­tain
PA3: Learn more about his long lost people

Sim­i­lar things as for Char­ac­ter 1 apply — the PAs may not be com­pletely suit­able for play in the gen­eral locale of the set­ting where the group is cur­rently located. You will need to address this quickly, before the char­ac­ter wan­ders off else­where. It needs to become appar­ent quickly that at least the first stages of the or towards the revenge can be exacted locally, and also that at least some tid­bits of infor­ma­tion about his peo­ple can be pur­sued locally. This can at first actu­ally be a red her­ring — the PC might learn that some­body in the area looks just like he does. Try­ing to seek out this per­son will engage the PA, even if it turns out that the other guy isn’t from Anzlo­ria at all.

Aghori wrote:
Char­ac­ter 4:
PA2: Win back his honor and the accep­tance of his family

As with 1 and 3 this might be prob­lem­atic to pur­sue locally, espe­cially the lat­ter part. I see two easy solu­tions:
Make it implic­itly under­stood that estab­lish­ing him as an even more suc­cess­ful and wealth­ier trad­ing cap­atain as he was before is the way to go, any­thing that engages the PA to get a ship of his own will also engage this PA — anf hav­ing two over­lap­ping PAs is ok.
Drop the sec­ond part and make it into just “Regain his honor”. In that case the focus would be slightly dif­fer­ent. The PC would feel ashamed what he has come to and would first seek to regain his dig­nity and sense of self-​worth. Such a PA would engage when­ever he does the hard but right and dig­ni­fied thing — and could later on eas­ily be changed into “Rgain the accep­tance of his fam­ily”.

All in all excep­tion­ally well done, all of you! :)

Aghori wrote:
Anzelo­ria

Hah, Harn, cool! So your guys are stranded in Ivinia, I pre­sume?

Allan wrote:
Hate the Rival Clan, I can’t see that work­ing for you. Its more an emo­tion. What does he want to do/​happen to the rival clan.

Yes, you are basi­cylly right, but I don’t see it so very bleakly. “Bring down the rival clan” or some­thing like that is of course bet­ter, as it spells out the goal more clearly as soemthing to pur­sue actively, but if the under­stand­ing is that the PC does not just sit around and have dark thoughts about the clan but is actu­ally going to act upon his hatred, there is no effec­tive dif­fer­ence between the ways it is worded. Though a more proac­tive word­ing is of course preferable!
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
Last Edit: 4 years 10 months ago by Michael.
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My group’s PAs — Feed­back wel­come 4 years 10 months ago #3494

  • Aghori
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Thank you both for the feed­back. And thank you, Michael, for the praise. I will tell my play­ers about it.

Michael wrote:
Aghori wrote:
Char­ac­ter One:
PA3: Win back the lead­er­ship over the tribe
PA4: Find lost sister

Espe­cially the PA 3 has too lit­tle con­nec­tion to the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion of the PC. I can’t see this PA com­ing up often in play set in a land far from the home of the tribe. I would sug­gest rephras­ing it into some­thing that comes up more often, like “Atain a posi­tion from which to regain lead­er­ship of my tribe”. With that, any­thing that brings the char­ac­ter in a posi­tion of influ­ence and power or gain him resources which he could later use to launch his cam­paign to win back the lead­er­ship would engage his PA.

I had that sus­pi­cion, too. The prob­lem was, all of my play­ers — used to the nar­row scope of Hârn — wanted some­thing more exotic. And their PAs devel­oped from that. As you dis­cov­ered, more than one player has a PA that comes from his back­ground in far away lands — and I was won­der­ing, how to bring that all up in our game. It will be a game of sea­far­ing so they might see their land again, but it could take time.
I will sug­gest a change to the player. Maybe we can do some­thing directly in con­nec­tion to the which. Like: Bring her down and free your tribe. And then he learns that in order to bring her down he must attain cer­tain items…


Michael wrote:
PA 4 may be sim­i­larly dif­fi­cult to engage, but it need not be changed — if you watch it closely. It will be your respon­si­bil­ity as a ref­eree to, within a few ses­sions, dan­gle some story hook before the player’s nose to engage this PA. Maybe he learns that his sis­ter has fled to or been sold in slav­ery to a nearby land, or he heras about some­body who has allegedly met his sis­ter, etc. You need to actively engage this PA.
Yes, that was my plan. She will not be too far away — and this PA shall be played out quickly.


Michael wrote:
Aghori wrote:
Char­ac­ter 2:PA3: Get rich

Absolutely ok, but very slightly lame. I’d advise offer­ing the player, dur­ing the first few ses­sions, oppor­tu­ni­ties for other things he and his PC might set their minds on and actu­ally point­ing them out. “Does that warrior-​maiden inter­est you? Would your guy like to pur­sue win­ning her affec­tion?” Some­thing like that, proac­tively. That will also demon­strate to the oth­ers that they can and are actu­ally sup­posed to frome time to time change their PAs to engage with some ele­ment you are pre­sent­ing them with.
Sigh, I knew it was lame. But this char­ac­ter with­out back­ground was a hard nut.


Michael wrote:
Aghori wrote:
Char­ac­ter 3:PA2: Revenge for the death of his pirate cap­tain
PA3: Learn more about his long lost people

Sim­i­lar things as for Char­ac­ter 1 apply — the PAs may not be com­pletely suit­able for play in the gen­eral locale of the set­ting where the group is cur­rently located. You will need to address this quickly, before the char­ac­ter wan­ders off else­where. It needs to become appar­ent quickly that at least the first stages of the or towards the revenge can be exacted locally, and also that at least some tid­bits of infor­ma­tion about his peo­ple can be pur­sued locally. This can at first actu­ally be a red her­ring — the PC might learn that some­body in the area looks just like he does. Try­ing to seek out this per­son will engage the PA, even if it turns out that the other guy isn’t from Anzlo­ria at all.

Engage­ment of PA 2 is already planed for one of the first ses­sions — as you sug­gested. They will find a pirate island, where the leader is an old buddy of the one who killed the cap­tain. PA3 is again tough, I know. The red her­ring is a cool idea.


Michael wrote:
Aghori wrote:
Char­ac­ter 4:
PA2: Win back his honor and the accep­tance of his family

As with 1 and 3 this might be prob­lem­atic to pur­sue locally, espe­cially the lat­ter part. I see two easy solu­tions:
Make it implic­itly under­stood that estab­lish­ing him as an even more suc­cess­ful and wealth­ier trad­ing cap­atain as he was before is the way to go, any­thing that engages the PA to get a ship of his own will also engage this PA — anf hav­ing two over­lap­ping PAs is ok.
Drop the sec­ond part and make it into just “Regain his honor”. In that case the focus would be slightly dif­fer­ent. The PC would feel ashamed what he has come to and would first seek to regain his dig­nity and sense of self-​worth. Such a PA would engage when­ever he does the hard but right and dig­ni­fied thing — and could later on eas­ily be changed into “Rgain the accep­tance of his family”.

Yes, same prob­lem. We were able to con­vince the player not to have three over­lap­ping PAs (gain ship, win back your honor, become rich and pow­er­ful). But the two were impor­tant to him. I sug­gest the change you sug­gested and skip the fam­ily for later. Sounds good to me.


Michael wrote:
Aghori wrote:
Anzelo­ria
Hah, Harn, cool! So your guys are stranded in Ivinia, I presume?
Good guess, we are in Chelemby, a trad­ing and sea­far­ing state with Ivinan ori­gin. But the will soon dis­cover for­eign shores, I think.


Allan wrote:
Hate the Rival Clan, I can’t see that work­ing for you. Its more an emo­tion. What does he want to do/​happen to the rival clan.

We will fine­tune the word­ing as Michael sug­gested. It clearly is the aim of the PA to bring down the clan. The two clans have a blood feud going on, so that should not be a prob­lem.

Thanks again,
R.
Last Edit: 4 years 10 months ago by Aghori.
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My group’s PAs — Feed­back wel­come 4 years 10 months ago #3496

  • Allan
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Get Rich; think — Trea­sure Map. There are some excel­lent pub­lished Trea­sure Map books on the mar­ket. Keep it bro­ken. The map leads to this spot, its not the trea­sure, but its the next clue.
In the end all the other play­ers are going to need loot to adven­ture, so they maybe thank­ing this player in the future for his half baked crazy get rich quick schemes.
Fun stuff.

Also had a prob­lem with design­ing up to long dis­tance (to far away) PA’s in the begin­ning. We soon realised that he needed some­thing more imme­di­ate.

Be care­ful rap­ing up the — Find lost Sis­ter — to quick, as that may not be what the player is expect­ing.

Allan
Mourn for us oppressed in fear
Chained and shack­led we are bound
Free­dom choked in dread we live
Since Tyrant was enthroned
Last Edit: 4 years 10 months ago by Allan.
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My group’s PAs — Feed­back wel­come 4 years 10 months ago #3497

  • Michael
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Aghori wrote:
The prob­lem was, all of my play­ers — used to the nar­row scope of Hârn — wanted some­thing more exotic.

I’d say that the exoti­cism is actu­ally good if your play­ers are already used to Harn, because it is very dif­fer­ent to how groups for gam­ing in the world of Lythia are nor­mally com­posed. The exotic back­ground might help remind every­body that this is not going to be your nor­mal cam­paign of Harn, and such a reminder is use­ful. You and your play­ers will have to keep in mind that, while PCs on Harn are usu­ally only slightly out­stand­ing, we are here deal­ing with vastly out­stand­ing pro­tag­o­nists, and act accord­ingly.

That you plan on a lot of travel for the group is also good to make a change. A strenght of Harn is how real the place feels, how detailed it is. Here you have the chance to for­get about this strenght and really explore all those exotic places not yet detailed in the pub­li­ca­tions. You just mustn’t shy back from that. A few ses­sions here, then a few ses­sions a thou­sand miles away. I advise you once again look at our advice on how to deal with travel on p185f and then embrace it, for a really dif­fer­ent game set in Lythia.

Aghori wrote:
The red her­ring is a cool idea.

As obvi­ous as it is it is also eas­ily over­looked. If a player tells you – via PAs – that he is inter­ested in adven­tures about some­thing, not every adven­ture where this some­thing comes up needs to actu­ally bring the char­ac­ter closer to his goal. As long as that some­thing comes up and the char­ac­ter can act accord­ing to the PA, every­body is doing just fine. The ref­eree is doing his job, the player is see­ing the theme addressed he wants to have addressed, and the char­ac­ter can strug­gle in accor­dance with his goals. It doesn’t mat­ter if in the end the character’s efforts haven’t got­ten him any­where. It’s only a prob­lem if those efforts are never get­ting him any­where, if all the avenues he pur­sues come up against a wall – that will likely frus­trate player and char­ac­ter alike. But a red her­ring now and then is just fine.
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
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My group’s PAs — Feed­back wel­come 4 years 10 months ago #3500

  • Allan
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Aghori, I sent you a PM, noth­ing very excit­ing just curi­ous.

Also I would be inter­ested in your Harn con­ver­sion to Blade, if you have the time and incli­na­tion to share.
I was lean­ing heav­ily to doing Blade in Harn orig­i­nally.

Allan
Mourn for us oppressed in fear
Chained and shack­led we are bound
Free­dom choked in dread we live
Since Tyrant was enthroned
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My group’s PAs — Feed­back wel­come 4 years 10 months ago #3503

  • Aghori
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Michael wrote:
Aghori wrote:
The prob­lem was, all of my play­ers — used to the nar­row scope of Hârn — wanted some­thing more exotic.

I’d say that the exoti­cism is actu­ally good if your play­ers are already used to Harn, because it is very dif­fer­ent to how groups for gam­ing in the world of Lythia are nor­mally com­posed. The exotic back­ground might help remind every­body that this is not going to be your nor­mal cam­paign of Harn, and such a reminder is use­ful. You and your play­ers will have to keep in mind that, while PCs on Harn are usu­ally only slightly out­stand­ing, we are here deal­ing with vastly out­stand­ing pro­tag­o­nists, and act accordingly.

To be hon­est, I’m a bit con­cerned about that. Hav­ing one or two out­stand­ing PCs is fine to me. But four of them seems a lot of power in one group. More­over they are all strong indi­vid­u­als, so keep­ing them together will be a hard job for me. I keep com­par­ing the game to the sto­ries of Conan or Imaro. These are vastly out­stand­ing heros — but they are the only ones in their sto­ries (most of the time).


Michael wrote:
That you plan on a lot of travel for the group is also good to make a change. A strenght of Harn is how real the place feels, how detailed it is. Here you have the chance to for­get about this strenght and really explore all those exotic places not yet detailed in the pub­li­ca­tions. You just mustn’t shy back from that. A few ses­sions here, then a few ses­sions a thou­sand miles away. I advise you once again look at our advice on how to deal with travel on p185f and then embrace it, for a really dif­fer­ent game set in Lythia.

When I first read page 185, I thought: bad idea. Because trav­el­ing was so impor­tant in our games. I like play­ing voy­ages. But when I think back, we wasted a lot of time with it. And only few encoun­ters really engaged the play­ers. In our last game another GM gave us the task to travel up a river into the wild land of bar­bar­ians. If you only count the inter­est­ing parts, we could have done it in one evening. We wasted four. I think, I’ll embrace travel the Blade way: Skip the bor­ing part, only stop for encoun­ters with a hook. In that way, we will hope­fully man­age to travel to var­i­ous parts of Lythia.

Regards,
R.
Last Edit: 4 years 10 months ago by Aghori.
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My group’s PAs — Feed­back wel­come 4 years 10 months ago #3504

  • Allan
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Hah, the travel thing, reminds me of my last short ill fated D&D player to try Blade.
They were set­ting out from X to Y. I had noth­ing en-​route that needed doing, so I just stated that they got there.
After he scrapped his jaw of the floor, and started splut­ter­ing some­thing about — ran­dom encoun­ters, detailed itin­er­ary etc.
I just had to state a cou­ple of times that, nope the travel was unevent­ful and you are now at Y.

The super group just needs to be threat­ened with a super vil­lian, to make then want strength in num­bers. Hit them with this at the start. Just an idea of the top of my head.

Allan
Mourn for us oppressed in fear
Chained and shack­led we are bound
Free­dom choked in dread we live
Since Tyrant was enthroned
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My group’s PAs — Feed­back wel­come 4 years 10 months ago #3506

  • Michael
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Allan wrote:
(…) I just stated that they got there.
After he scrapped his jaw of the floor, and started splut­ter­ing some­thing about — ran­dom encoun­ters, detailed itin­er­ary etc.

Hah, that’s a good one! :lol:

Even though it is actu­ally rather sad, show­ing as it does how the preva­lent sys­tems edu­cate peo­ple what gam­ing should be like — a string of mostly ran­dom and thus mean­ing­less chal­lenges…

Aghori wrote:
Hav­ing one or two out­stand­ing PCs is fine to me. But four of them seems a lot of power in one group. More­over they are all strong indi­vid­u­als, so keep­ing them together will be a hard job for me. I keep com­par­ing the game to the sto­ries of Conan or Imaro. These are vastly out­stand­ing heros — but they are the only ones in their sto­ries (most of the time).

I have stated repeat­edly that Phil and I designed Blade with the adult gamer in mind, who usu­ally isn’t in the happy sit­u­a­tion any­more where he ca assem­ble half a dozen pals once every week, but who can rather only scrape together one or two friends twice a month or so. This did also sug­gest Sword & Sor­cery to us, as in this genre, as you observe so rightly, we are mostly deal­ing with one or two (Fafhrd and Gray Mouser, Elak and Lycon) pro­tag­o­nists. So you are indeed fac­ing a bit of a chal­lenge.

My advice is to be com­pletely open about it ask your play­ers to help you, via their PAs. Tell them what out­stand­ing indi­vid­u­als their char­ac­ters are, that it is highly unusual to find so many guys of their cal­i­bre gath­ered in one place and stick­ing together, and that this might put you in a posi­tion where you would have to stretch sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief in an uncom­fort­able way. Tell them that you will need their help to keep their stay­ing together from feel­ing awk­ward, and that their PAs are the solu­tion. Remind them that PAs should be things their char­ac­ters feel strongly about, but need not be the things they feel most strongly about. Remind them that if, for exam­ple, the player of char­ac­ter 3 finds that he has, for the time being, has had quite enough adven­tures look­ing for clues about his peo­ple, he should change the accord­ing PA, as this is not tan­ta­mount to the char­ac­ter not want­ing to find out about them any­more. Remind them that PAs are sup­posed to change and encour­age them to use this to latch on to story hooks you dan­gle before their noses — but to just their choice of story hooks, not any and all of them. When you intro­duce such a story hook, be proac­tive and just ask the appro­pri­ate player whether this is inter­est­ing enough for him to change one of his PAs. Ini­ti­ate and guide the group dis­cussing any such change, remind­ing them that you will need their help in keep­ing the group of pow­er­ful indi­vid­u­als together.

Not only should that do the trick, it should also keep every­body very aware of the role of PAs — and that they fre­quently aren’t iden­ti­cal to what is most impor­tant to a char­ac­ter, which can be easy to for­get for new­bies.

Aghori wrote:
I like play­ing voy­ages. But when I think back, we wasted a lot of time with it. And only few encoun­ters really engaged the play­ers. In our last game another GM gave us the task to travel up a river into the wild land of bar­bar­ians. If you only count the inter­est­ing parts, we could have done it in one evening. We wasted four. I think, I’ll embrace travel the Blade way: Skip the bor­ing part, only stop for encoun­ters with a hook.

Yes! That’s the way to do it! Again, Blade is designed with the adult gamer in mind, who can’t game every week, who hasn’t got time to waste on things not hap­pen­ing. So if a journey’s rea­son for exist­ing is just or almost exclu­sively get­ting to that other place a few sen­tences of nar­ra­tion will do the trick, even less if it is a route the char­ac­ters are already famil­iar with.
Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-​colored sun
Of secret worlds incred­i­ble, and take
Their trail­ing skies for vest­ment when I soar.

Clark Ash­ton Smith, The Hashish Eater or The Apoc­a­lypse of Evil
Last Edit: 4 years 10 months ago by Michael.
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