Saturday, February 21, 2015

Worlds in Peril Podcast Episode 1: First Timers

Show notes:

In Part 1:

1. Chit-Chat - What's New at Samjoko Publishing:

  • Adam - Reading: Digging into old Dragon magazines and the Savage Sword of Conan, among others, for inspiration. Working on: Working on: an as-yet-unnamed hex crawl, cities as  adventures in themselves, creating a sense of danger even when behind the walls of a city.
  • Jason - Reading: Powers (the comic book). Spider-VerseBackground characters becoming main characters. Mixing genres. Working on: Avalon City, a supplement for Worlds in Peril and the campaign setting for superheroes Jason's been running for close to two decades.
  • Kyle - Reading: Gibson's Neuromancer, Dark Matter (Science fiction from the African Diaspora), Ghost in the Shell and other Japanese cyberpunk like Serial Experiments Lain, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, etc. Working on: a game that draws on main cyberpunk elements, but in different, completely new (Africa) and optimistic (bringing 'authentic' culture and art back to the world) and with different gameplay than typical cyberpunk (PCs play people that are salvaged from cyberspace a la Matrix, and begin a life of delving back into cyberspace and the ruins of the world to find and bring back authentic culture (all art and media is produced by machines). Aims to keep players as fish-out-of-water, new to and always learning about the setting, while having an anchor of knowing your culture and it being what you have of value to the people in the setting as some people fear it, and some people fetishize old 21st century culture from North America and other countries destroyed during The Collapse. Also dealing with religion having not only survived, but prospered, what Lagos and Johannesburg might look like in such a future.

2. First-Time Players

  • Adam - Just roleplaying yourself, everyone wants superpowers, think of how you would react, what may drive you as a hero if you were bitten by that radioactive spider?
  • Jason - Roleplaying a character you already know from your favorite comic or fiction.
  • Kyle - Using the mechanics of the game to determine background and extrapolating from there.

Tips for playing in the AW engine specifically and in WiP

  1. Having your Drive picked out so you have a goal to work towards.
  2. Using Bonds and not being afraid to burn them.
  3. Making sure to react and seize opportunities to do stuff in downtime.
  4. Asking and answering questions.
  5. Don’t worry about something is a move or not, just do what you want to do and worry about whether it triggers a move in the fiction later (the EIC, at the very least) will help with that.

3. First-Time GMs

  • Adam - Personal stories, the PCs after that first Master Plan. Keeping players engaged by tailoring the dangers to their characters. Giving each PC time to shine and a reason to be invested in the story. Help their bonds come alive, particularly as it relates to the other players. Why do you hang around with this sorry lot? Duty? They can’t get it done without your skill? What angle will you shoot for?
  • Jason - Creating campaigns from villains and organizations first via worldbuilding first. Figuring out what drives them, what goals they need to get what they want, and how to put the PCs in between them and their goals. Maybe developing a nemesis, etc, but only after you’ve got the characters together, etc.
  • Kyle - Good starting storyline is an invasion. Means you can get the players reacting, you can start bringing the whole world to life. Easy way to get heroes to join up at the scene of the first phase of stuff you’ve got in store for them. As you go along, with showcasing how politics work, the army, and kind of introduce that motif that there’s always a ton of stuff going on, so you have to choose what you need to do, what’s important to you. If the world is in danger you’re going to worry about your family and those close to you, so we’ll naturally be able to slip in some Bonds questions by asking the players who they’re thinking or worried about, maybe even do some flashbacks. A Master Plan should have various phases, with ideas of where to go from both success and failure from each one (move into talking about phases at the bottom of the doc).

Tips for playing in the AW engine specifically and in WiP

  1. Have a general idea with stages in the plan, an idea of what would happen if the PCs weren’t there to get in the way, then be prepared for them to get in the way, reevaluate each time.
  2. Good to have some villains and mooks prepared so you have something to throw at them whenever you need to, but in a pinch just choose a number of Conditions equal to how many players there are and have some general ideas of cool things they can do, and off you go.
  3. Ask questions all the time. If a player asks a question and it’s not defined yet, turn it back on them and ask the players what they want from that.
  4. Making moves - Because of the dice is the obvious one, but also all the time to drive the fiction. If there isn’t stuff to react to, then players will probably use that chance to engage in downtime - healing, recovering Bonds, checking in on loved ones, etc, which is fine if that’s what you want. When it’s not in downtime, there should be stuff for them to react to often. Soft moves are things that happen in the fiction they have agency to engage and react to. Hard moves are things that happen that they have no control over, and are usually because of ignoring a soft move (ignoring or having to choose between stuff going on in the fiction), or because of a die roll that that isn’t a 10+.
  5. Imposing Conditions and the balance act between Minor (deal with or could get worse), Moderate (penalty to certain things - real injuries) and Critical (on the road to death).
  6. Know your players Origins, Drives and Powers. It will just make everything easier - for fights and enemies you can scale difficulty easier, you can come up with characters that intersect their lives in other ways, and put them in the way of the PCs goals’ as well.

In Part 2:

Adam and Jason introduce their characters and I ask a few questions to set us up for the gaming next week.

Jason's character, Starheart, followed by Adam's character, The Specter.

(Intro music by Marc Minier)
Part 1 and Part 2: