2006-05-09 : T equals ... approximately zero, right?

Afraid: Characters
Afraid: Scenes
Afraid: Resolution
Afraid: NPCs
Afraid: Monsters

So, that's that, for now.

Judd, be sure to check out the combo of first aid conflicts and nonhuman NPCs. I'm pretty psyched.

Now it's back to work on AG&G! Yay!

1. On 2006-05-09, Avram said:

When you escalate on your challenge: [...] It's an opportunity for others to join the conflict.

What? Huh? Holy crap!


2. On 2006-05-09, Vincent said:


Important caveat here.


3. On 2006-05-09, anon. said:

Is this going to be turned into a real paper-published game someday Vincent? I certainly hope so!


4. On 2006-05-09, Warren said:

Oops, that was me.


5. On 2006-05-09, Vincent said:

Sure is.


6. On 2006-05-09, Sydney Freedberg said:

I love this. It's a beautiful refinement of [i]Dogs[/i], not just a setting hack.

In particular, I love the sophistication of stakes, in that (a) the generic "let's negotiate possible outcomes, then roll between them" is forbidden, (b) it's entirely possible that you change your mind about what you want to do with the stakes between declaring them and winning them, thanks to the back-and-forth of conflict (this is rather a strong point of [i]Capes[/i], in my experience), and (c) specific changes in characters' internal and external states are marked "you must make a conflict to change this" (something [i]Capes[/i] does very little and that I've missed in it).


you can name the stakes implicitly by only speculating how you might resolve them. "If I win, he chops your head off with his axe," for instance - what I'm really saying is that your head is at stake.

Also: "the monster has made the slave a promise that she's not going to fulfill. Name it. The monster has given the slave something that the slave does not want. Name it." That's beautiful.


7. On 2006-05-09, Vincent said:

Thanks, Sydney.

If you go back and read Dogs about stakes, I think you'll find that I wobbled around between this formulation and the "declare your outcome" formulation.


8. On 2006-05-09, Warren said:

Oh, and one thing I really love about this is the scene-framing system and circumstances. That, more than any other part of the system, I think, makes me want to play this.


9. On 2006-05-09, chris moore said:

So, do all scenes have to start out with one of those circumstances?


10. On 2006-05-09, Vincent said:

When you start a scene for a character, look at the character sheet. Some of the circumstances are true, some are false. Make the scene accordingly.


11. On 2006-05-09, Avram said:

Y'know what I think I'd want to do?

Make a little stand for each player, with the four Circumstances listed. Stick paper clips on the true ones, so everybody can see at a glance what Circumstances everyone's in. (Those triangular plastic clips so they're easy to see.)


direct link

This reminds...
WMW of Something I'm working on...

This makes...
AG go "In fact,..."*
WMW go "Stand-ups cool, but"*

*click in for more

12. On 2006-05-10, Kirk said:

I'm going to run this past my group (finally, I have a real RPG group!) and see what they think.


13. On 2006-05-10, Pound Fool said:

Vaxalon was asking for ideas of what we could do once we were done being Jedi, and I was going to push for a one-off of Puppies. Now I might want to make an argument for this instead.


14. On 2006-05-10, Kaare Berg said:

The real beauty for me is the npcs.

The whole: this is really important to me, this is within my area of expertice, and so forth. Nothing new, but more clearly stated and IMO a must have for all games from now on.

I mean who gives what Aragorn's carry capacity is, what is important is how effective that NPC is at these four things.

We are go for this thursday and sunday. Can't wait.


15. On 2006-05-10, Vincent said:

This reminds WMW of something he's working on.

Holy crap dude!


direct link

This reminds...
WMW of How and why

This makes...
WMW go "Needs some polish yet"*
SF go "Wow! Don't polish much!"*
AD go "Ourobouros!!"
BL go "His Bliss Stage sheet is orgasmically good"
JC go "Wow."*
WMW go "FYI, NPCs and Monsters are up now"*

*click in for more

16. On 2006-05-10, Piers said:

So setup. I'm assuming it works this way:

1. Players make characters.

2.  GM goes away and makes the monster.

3.  Gm looks at the characters' sheet and chooses a relationship from one of the Attached or Entangled characters, and makes that the first victim.

4. Go!

It's step three, that I wanted to check on.


17. On 2006-05-10, Vincent said:

The opposite:

1. GM makes the monster, including one victim.

2. Players make characters.

3. Any attached or entangled characters, the GM says, "okay, here's the victim. Do you: love her for her patience? Love her despite her patience? See her every day? Depend on her for hope, strength or happiness? etc."

Any investigator characters, the GM says, "okay, here's the victim. What's your professional interest in her?"

There'll be a similar thing for veteran characters, but about human breakdown not about this first victim, but the required underlying text didn't make it into the playtest docs.

4. Go!


18. On 2006-05-10, Vincent said:

Oh and I should say - 3 overlaps 2 substantially. You should introduce the victim before the players assign relationship dice, in particular.


19. On 2006-05-10, Piers said:

Right.  Makes sense.  Indeed, it is very like AG&G set-up.  It was the overlap between 2 and 3, either way, that was confusing me.


20. On 2006-05-10, Vincent said:


21. On 2006-05-11, Adam B said:

With the first aid conflicts and nonhuman opponents thing, I'm kind of wondering whether you see First Aid conflicts escalating more than once—- totally you can start out doing medical (physical) stuff, and escalate to talking, or vice versa, but I'm not sure how the other arenas come in there.

Also, presumably there's a whole web of other NPCs involved in the situation—- do they get made up as part of inventing the victim before the players get in on the action at all (the whole 'someone loves the victim' stuff), or slotted in to fill only those slots in the victim creation process that don't get filled by PCs (so somewhere between your step 3 and 4 above), or made up by the GM on the fly?


22. On 2006-05-12, John Harper said:

Reading this stuff gives me the leopard-look. There's a long, slow, growl happening here.


23. On 2006-05-12, Vincent said:

The "leopard-look," it's a good thing or a bad thing?


24. On 2006-05-12, John Harper said:

A VERY good thing. It's the look a leopard gives a gazelle. Hunger and desire.


25. On 2006-05-13, Ben Lehman said:

It depends on if you're the leopard or the gazelle.


26. On 2006-05-13, Jenskot said:

Hi Vincent,

Awesome game! I have 3 groups primed and interested in playing. Now I just have to get my ass into gear! Working on Monster, Victims, Slave, and Acolytes now. I have a few questions:

1. What is the mechanical effect of the "In Trouble" circumstance? How are you at a disadvantage? Does it restrict the conflict's stakes? For example, your survival can only be at stake if you "In Trouble".

2. Can the GM or Player forcibly apply, change, or remove a trait, relationship, and/or bond via their stakes? Similar to how you can alter circumstances via stakes.

Thanks so much,


27. On 2006-05-13, Vincent said:

John, good questions.

1. The real purpose of in trouble is so that you the GM can say things like this: "Okay, new scene for Charlotte. Charlotte, you're pressing yourself face-first into the wall of the subway tunnel. The train's roaring just inches from your back, it's deafening, but it's the only thing between you and the hellhounds. You're screaming but you haven't really noticed that yet. What do you do?"

And Charlotte's player's like, "subway? Hellhounds? CRAP."

You aren't allowed to frame the character into an impossible situation if she's not in trouble, but if she is, you are.

2. No. Maybe. Probably not. If you try it out for me, tell me how it goes.


direct link

This makes...
AG go "Relationship to earlier narrative"*

*click in for more

28. On 2006-05-13, Vincent said:

Mm, I should say: if a character's not in trouble, you aren't allowed to frame her into an impossible situation, but if she is in trouble, you're required to.


29. On 2006-05-14, Vincent said:

AG: Are you encouraging GMs to skip over intervening narrative? If Charlotte wasn't anywhere near subway or hellhounds last scene, who's job is it to stitch the two scenes together?

Not encouraging, insisting. The intervening narrative is as unnecessary here as it would be in a movie.

That's the hardline answer. Just do it, stop screwing around with where the character walks and what subway stop and how many tokens did she buy.

But that's not the whole answer.

The hellhounds will be written on the GM's monster writeup, of course. The GM can totally spring them on the players without any warning at all, whenever she likes; maybe she's even been saving them for just this "in trouble" opportunity. But they'll never be extemporaneous.

And reread what the text says about being lost:

When you frame a scene, ask the character's player where the character goes. If the character's not lost, frame the scene there or in transit; if the character is lost, frame the scene accordingly.

So being in trouble, it'll never be without context. Lost and in trouble or not lost but in trouble, right? The character's in the subway because she's lost and wound up in the subway, or because she's not lost and wound up in the subway. Either way, you've established a relationship with the earlier narrative.


direct link

This reminds...
Judd of Afraid AP

This makes...
AG go "Ah! Understanding dawns!"

30. On 2006-05-14, Avram said:

Is it OK to frame a scene so that an Unprepared character lacks access to equipment listed on her character sheet? ("Uh oh, the string's snapped on your big excellent crossbow!") I figure it should be, since an Alone character lacks access to Relationships.


31. On 2006-05-14, Vincent said:

You figure exactly right!


32. On 2006-05-14, Charles Perez said:

So, what's the required underlying text for how veteran characters get their start - that is, what about the human breakdown that gets them started?


direct link

This makes...
APS go "As I read it..."*

*click in for more

33. On 2006-05-16, Mikael said:

Any guidelines on the order of framing scenes for the characters? Just GM skill and what makes sense in the situation?

I am also interested in the NPC creation procedure/order question (#21, above).


34. On 2006-05-16, Frank T said:

Hi Vincent,

I'm intrigued. Is there some sort of introduction somewhere, with stuff like a little setting, color, elaboration on the premise of the game, and such?



35. On 2006-05-16, Vincent said:

Frank: nope, there isn't. There will be sooner or later, of course, but not yet.


36. On 2006-05-20, Duke said:

Hey, Vincent. First time writer-inner.

I'mma test this thing asap. Curious about:

As GM, I see it as a duty to keep things as off-balance for the PCs as possible, and a lot of this is keeping circumstances true. The way I see it (an no, I haven't tested it yet) a sort of "circumstance creep" is in the rules: less true circumstances>more dice at hand for characters>better chance of experience fallout/winning circumstance-removing stakes>removal of true circumstances; OR more true circumstances>less dice at hand for characters>better chance of long-term+ fallout>addition of circumstances. Both sort of positive feedback cycles.

If I'm not seeing this right (likely) what am I missing? I know that players/GMs can use discretion when adding/removing circumstances, but. . .

If I am seeing this right, is this how it's supposed to be? Some PCs creep down to death (reflection fallout's great!) and some PCs rise to heroics leading to the ability to disempower/kill the monster/cronies? I can see this—it's pretty much how a horror movie goes. At the same time, as a GM I want to keep the PCs in trouble. Can there be GM-only experience fallout allowing me to add a circumstance (or something to keep it more of a negative feedback cycle)?

Can't wait to try!


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