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Ah, serendipity! Shortly after posting this, I learned of a game that does something like what I was just proposing. Dirty Secrets by Seth Ben-Ezra is a noir detective fiction game in which the players simultaneously construct a mystery and work to solve it. I haven’t read the game yet, but here’s what I’ve been able to gather from reading AP’s:

In a game of Dirty Secrets, there is one PC (the investigator), and all the other players perform different aspects of the traditional GM’s role: adjudicate rules, create adversity, play an NPC, etc.. Not only that, but the roles rotate throughout the game, including the role of PC. As play progresses, GM-aspect players are laying down clues and creating plot twists for others to integrate. The game is finished when one player (it may have to be the one playing the PC) proposes a solution to the mystery, and either proves it with the available evidence, or can force a confession. Before that final scene, nobody knows “who dunnit.”

I still want to work on that game idea that I started to sketch out in the previous post; but I can’t wait to read Dirty Secrets.

-J

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At first, I thought that preparing an adventure meant writing out an entire module, just like the published ones, before play began.  So I used to do that.

Then, I learned that I only needed to prepare ahead as much as we were likely to need in the next session of play.  So I used to do that.  And I believed that, once the adventure was finished, my notes should look just like a published module.

I still prepare only one session ahead.  But now I have given up the idea that my notes have to be sorted into the same chapter headings as are used in published modules (Background Info, Encounters, NPCs and Monsters, for example).  The material that I prepare for the next session is likely to be all that I need for the next session, so there’s no need for me to divide it up and file it amongst everything that has come before,  And if I need to refer later to something from a previous session, it’s all there in my prep in chronological order.  Human memory works chronologically, so it turns out to be very easy to find things.

—————-

Wow, 2 years since my last post.  What I’m up to: I’m running Trail of Cthulhu for my main gaming group.  But of course, we’re not playing it straight — we story-gamified it.  The scenario was developed from material generated during character generation.  New York City, 1933, corruption, Deep Ones (fish people), ancient artifacts, some weird fertility cult in Central Park… We’re 4 sessions in, and it’s a LOT of fun.

-J

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As the GM, what you need in your hands for the next session is a list of Bangs and a pile of “Assets” (NPCs, monsters, demons, locations and items).  Here’s how you get there.

1. Review Player-Characters’ actions in the previous session.  What do you think they’ll do next?

  • List any new Assets you will need to support what the players (probably) want to do.
    Just list them for now.
  • Think up some more Bangs that you can use to add pressure to their current situations and plans.
    • List any new Assets that you’ll need to support those Bangs.

2. Think about each important NPC in turn (including PCs’ demons). (more…)

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Our first session of play was last night and it was – pretty great!

I was a bit more apprehensive than enthusiastic, because I didn’t feel like I had enough bangs prepared, I hadn’t decided yet why Mike’s character’s son had been kidnapped ten years ago and where he was now (re: Mike’s backstory and kicker), and I hadn’t quite figured out the best way to bring the story from a throne-room intrigue to a world-roaming adventure story.

But despite all that, it was a fun session because I have great players :).  Everyone really got into their roles.  I was especially impressed with how well Pete and Ry embraced the “Melnibonean-ness” of their characters, casually discussing execution and dismemberment of family members while seeking the most appropriate way to respond to infidelity and other betrayals! (not gratuitously, but to highlight the contrast with the characters-of-conscience in the story; this juxtaposition will be an ongoing theme in this particular game).  And Mike more-or-less allowed himself to be captured and labelled a spy, because it would be good for the ensuing story! (more…)

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Okay I got the relationship map sorted out — and it’s HUGE.  Right now it’s actually on four different pieces of paper, and I’m not sure that I’m going to bother transcribing it all onto one (poster-sized) sheet; it would probably be too unwieldy anyway.  We’ve got:

  • inter-personal relations (good and bad)
  • inter- noble-house relations (good and bad)
  • several schemes in progress

This is going to be great fun.

Now I’m statting up (stat’ing up?) NPCs, demons and other critters and items.  LOTS of them.  They’re each half a page, to save table space (let me know if you want me to post my character sheet templates).

Then I’ve got to make up some Bangs (which should be easy, given all these ambitious NPCs and their clear motivations!), and detail some locations.

44 hours til game time!

When this is all over, I plan to polish up a bunch of this material and put it into the next revision of the Dictionary of Elric.  But first: the kick-assing’est game of Sorcerer & Sword, ever.

-J

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The planning session went great.  The players came with the seeds of character concepts, and we jammed on each others ideas.  I had also prepared a list of questions that I wanted each player to answer about their character — I’ll post it later, some were from Sorcerer, some were setting-specific — and that spurred more conversation.

I especially loved it when the players proposed things to each other like “hey, can we say that our characters are brothers / I’m in love with your daughter / your uncle just knocked up my wife?”  These guys practically built their own tangled relationship map without any help from me!

Which is also the problem I’m now facing.   (more…)

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Lord Radric of Hekhem’a

He roams the young kingdoms to prove that Melnibonéans are still masters there. With his personal demon and small entourage of heavies, he goes where he will, expecting royal treatment, making outrageous demands, and severely punishing anyone who fails to comply. Leaves a trail of traumatized women and dead men. Twice yearly he returns to Melniboné – ostensibly for his children’s birthdays – to boast of his exploits, his power to subjugate, and his cruelty. 40s, meaty build, black goatee and shoulder-length black hair in oiled curls. His interest in Hekhem’a family affairs is limited.

Radric carries a demonic sword (object demon) named Grayfang, the Wolfblade. The hilt sports a red gem worked into an eye motif surrounded by silver etched to resemble fur. Its abilities include Hold, Boost (Stamina) and Perception (scent). It Desires alpha-male behaviour of its wielder.

(Edited 2011-Feb-21 — to move Radric to House Hekhem’a.  -J.)

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Prince Nuzan of Lormyr

Prince Nuzan takes no interest in affairs of state. His father’s careful style of management doesn’t hold a candle to Nuzan’s current passion, horse racing. In a country where chivalry and etiquette are the norm, he barges about like a Vilmirian pirate-lord with a rash, muttering thinly veiled insults at all but his own fairweather drinking companions. Those who are privy to the size of Nuzan’s growing debts are concerned for the safety of the nation’s treasury.

Lormyr was once the centre of a brief human republic that spanned the Southern continent. Ruling from the river city of Iosaz, plump King Fadan guides Lormyr with a cautious hand; but his sons are far more ambitious, and are anxious to take advantage of Melniboné’s decline.

 

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Duke Mirolorm Hekhem’a

Melnibonéan courtier and patriarch of the Hekhem’a family. Slight man with long wavy brown hair worn parted in the middle, and a sharply trimmed goatee. Favours leather vests and billowy shirts, riding boots, and is never without his sabre and elbow-length fencing gloves. His dueling skills are legendary. House Hekhem’a holds the taxation rights to Vilmir. Duke Mirolorm proudly proclaims that his house has not allowed Vilmir to miss paying the tithe in three centuries. He is impatient with others’ failure to bring their territories to heel.

House Hekhem’a keeps Vilmir in an iron grip, the young kingdom is rarely free of Melnibonean oversight. The laxity of other houses, and the freedom it accords Vilmir’s neighbours, is a growing inconvenience for Mirolorm. Vilmir too grows more insolent every year. Mirolorm petitions the emperor to give him the whole Eastern continent, in return for which he guarantees that all taxes will be paid, and on time.

(Edited 2011-Feb-21 — changed Mirolorm to House Hekhem’a. -J.)

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Duke Daikoon Kleodas’a

Patriarch of the Kleodas’a family. Elderly fellow who favours simple black robes and a priest-like deportment. Short white hair and very pointy ears. Speaks with a voice like a creaking door. Since the emperor’s withdrawal from society, Daikoon has taken to interjecting ominous oracles into every conversation, as if he knows more than he is telling. Maybe he does. Daikoon is one of the strongest proponents of re-summoning the Demon Lords.

The secretive Kleodas’as are the self-appointed loremasters of Chaos. The emperors may be the high priests of Chaos, responsible for maintaining the pacts with the Demon Lords, but their minds are most often on earthly matters. The Kleodas’as are dedicated scholars of Chaos: its demons, its legends, its prophesies, and the history of its interactions with mortals. Val’demarna, the tower of house Kleodas’a, is one of the oldest in Imrryr, and the contents of its private library are the subject of much speculation. Emperors consult with the Kleodas’as on cosmic matters.

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