In this post I will explain how I have prepared and do prepare for this game. The premise is that three mages (number may change still) are banished from the city of Carcassonne and they will build something resembling a settlement and probably get involved in the local politics (such as who banished them and why) and then there’s the issue of Catharism and the Catholic church and potentially upcoming crusade. Year 1200 + few more.
Chris Owens, a messianic leader of a hedonistic cult, whose tenets of faith are pretty much diametrically opposed to both the Catharism and Christianity of that age; venerates Rex Mundi (the Demiurge) whom Cathars believe to be the evil creator of the physical world. They believe that Rex Mundi was created bythe true God (along with other heavenly beings) and tried to do the same, hence creating humanity, but being imperfect made the world an evil place it is; very gnostic of them. Chris has perpetual wounds that will not heal and entered the other world in a tower full of all vices that were not enough for him.
Philippe, an experienced soldier who was kindly asked to leve his mercenary company due to issues of witchcraft; he feels no pain and originally entered the other world by being almost killed, or maybe even completely killed. Can see dead people. Can also make people dead.
The third character was once a doctor but failed healing a key patient, whose relatives took their revenge by stabbing his eyes with sharp objects; hence, blindness. Afterwards he was a beggar for quite some time, whom local monastery kept alive by offering shelter at night. One night tehre was an unearthly wind and he followed it; there he bargained a gift of scrying for the mere price of his name.
They were driven away from Carcassonne and mostly by accident banded together (community is everything; a single champion is nothing, at least so the conventional wisdom goes). Chris, being well-connected, knew one of the local vine producers and arranged for some shelter for the night.
We’ll start actually playing later today.
I fear that the rules allow for too easy success; if that becomes an issue, I’ll negotiate to alter them. People have been giving each other tokens which is a definite plus. For the Finnish audience: Nappuloita, in reference to “älä paina nappulaa”, which references the “child pornography” censorship.
My players may want to stop reading now. There will be potential and actual spoilers. Read the rest of this entry »
As mentioned before, I’m playing in freeformish Nobilis game right now.
The GM started it as an investigation: One character’s (Wilhelm-something else Bönn, the power of meanings) daughter (Catherine Blake or something similar) is gone. So, we naturally engaged this in the problem-solving mode so typical of roleplayers. There was investigation and random playing around.
After game the GM told that it was not his intention for the entire game to be investigative. I offered some cryptic and nigh-impossible to understand advice, as I tend to do when I have not thought something through yet and am trying to do so for the first time. Hence, this blog post will be about what I as a player intend to do to make the game better and the GM’s job easier and what I would do if I were the GM.
As a player
The GM really wants us to be active players, I assume. Unfortunately my character is not the most suited for, say, relationships (what with being one mind, thousand years old, in several bodies at once), though such would at least be very interesting. Well, if the GM happens to throw something suitable at me I might grab it. Maybe. I’m not good at playing that sort of stuff, but one learns by fumbling. So, assuming the GM won’t throw any suitable NPCs at me, what can and will I do? My character is the Illuminati in that I have a fair deal of influence in politics. I might start playing around with that, though it would feel somewhat directionless.
In play one character of mine was fired. Petty revenge? Why not. That’ll give me something to do and will further make the character different from what I usually play, which is strictly a bonus.
I’ll need some ways of engaging the other player characters, too. Particularly mister human-animal-shapeshifter-were[animal, like skunk], and power of animals, seems somewhat marginal, though a man-eating wereskunk in Paris will be fun if the GM does not get soft. Cleaning that up might be fun (or impossible, as it happens). As for the German theologist, power of meaning, mayhaps something related to his former wife whom he declared to mean nothing to him (and being the power of meaning, actually did it so).
As a GM
Game mastering is something of a challenge when the characters are very powerful. An approach that will not work in the long run is just challenging them with more and more powerful enemies; it becomes boring, predictable, and shatters anything like suspension of disbelief or setting consistency. So, the trick is to make players choose between two good things or two bad things (or just two things they care about) such that a clearly right solution does not exist. In Nobilis there’s Lord Entropy who likes to destroy nobles who kill someone or fall in love and has both the power and the authority to do it. Hence love is inherently an interesting subject for nobles, as is killing. Offering opportunities for both is a good idea; trying to force either is generally not. Certainly I would offer sympathetic and despicable characters and develop them further should the players show interest.
As for this particular game and these particular characters: Well, my character is a tough one. Apologies for that. I’ll try to get him properly involved myself. Bönn is already pretty busy, with the daughter gone, some connections to the daughter’s mother potentially existing, and there being the fanatically devoted fan/daughter’s suitor about. So, nothing particular to do there. The power of animals could be easily involved by his general habit of releasing animals and animal-rights activists from wherever they are kept against their will, though that would be simple problem-solving and hence not very interesting, at least for long. Maybe someone captures one of its anchors/pets, like the hydra or the gryphon or the Nessie or the Bigfoot or… Or better yet, maybe someone provokes one of them to start rampaging in the old-fashioned way.
To sum it up, as a GM I would present interesting characters and see if players fixate on some and keep them busy by minor inconveniences and mysteries so as to keep the game moving.
Again, everyone present, as is proper.
Negotiation between the elves and the lizardfolk, with dragons also participating. Of lizardfolk the leader of the plains-dweller, called Garithyx, is quite ready and willing to slay the puny elves; others are not as eager, and neither are dragons (except Zaphádoranon). Garithyx and almost of its warriors are in full war-paint, with red and white markings on their bodies and faces.
Elves arrive at the meeting place; they have roughly hundred warriors who stay farther, and three figures of some value who, accompanied by two bodyguards, come close. Of lizardfolk there is each leader present and a single guard or other cohort for support. And there are the dragons.
There is an honest attempt at negotiation, but one of the elves starts softly singing, working some magic as observed by Hafnir, and Vulcanus responds by his own draconic singing. Everyone is tense and negotiations really do not work out. The elf actually has more powerful magic than Vulcanus, which is a feat in and of itself, but it comes to little as the dragons resist the consciousness-shattering arcane forces, as do almost all of the lizardfolk army. Then there is war. The elven negotiators and their guards are quickly slain and sheets of icy formed by Isla’s breath and ice manipulation make arrows useless. A melee ensues with many dead on both sides and that particular elven army defeated. The other one destroys the village of plains-dwelling lizarfolk and there are griffons that assault the island. Dragons take a portion of the army to retrieve those on the island (freesing one gryphon drives the others away). Finally everyone is in the caves. There is a brief siege but then the elven forces are noted as wanting and the lizardfolk break out. Elves retreat to their island.
All is well, until the large elven invasion fleet arrives, but that is another game at another time.
I am reasonably happy with this game. I had one notable goal besides the obvious (a good game): To train game mastering for characters that have varied and powerful senses. I’d call this a mediocre success in that I only once forgot one of them, but they were not very prominent during the latest third of the game.
I did not succeed at using the rules properly. This can be explained by two factors: The conflicts were zoomed in too much for this resolution system to work and I had too fixed notions of how everything works to leave it to dice. I think I’ll leave more to dice in the mage game, just to practice running a game with heavy emphasis on dice results.