Playtest - Through the Ansible

edited August 2007 in Out-Of-Game
Through the Ansible is an experimental PBP game I'm writing. The rules are in the other thread by the same name. For the purposes of this playtest, I think three players is sufficient, with an expected limit of six posts (and therefore about three weeks of play time).

I understand that this is a pretty unusual game, so if no-one's interested, it's no big deal to me. But if you'd like to give it a try, please feel welcome to let me know.


  • edited 9:43AM
    I am curious to see how this develops. I've played in a few Lexicon games so I can help you compare and contrast your game to it. I'm in.
  • edited 9:43AM
    Like I said in the previous threads: I'm in. What kind of posting pace were you thinking?
  • edited 9:43AM
    Probably only a couple of posts a week. Keep it slow. It means we've all got a chance to respond to something if we want to. Given that each player is only going to be posting a maximum of six times, it seems unreasonable to rush things.

    Looks like we're good to go! I'll change this thread to an "Out-of-Game" thread, and we can post character ideas here. I've thought that it would be cool to have a more formal character creation method, but right now we all just describe our characters in a paragraph or two, focussing on the values and beliefs of their home-culture.
  • edited 9:43AM
    Would you mind going first on the character idea, Simon? I've read the Left Hand of Darkness but other than that have no frame of reference for the kind of characters that would fit the game.
  • edited 9:43AM
    Heh, sorry, really busy.

    Sure, no problem. I'll get on that tomorrow.
  • edited 9:43AM
    Ok, in doing this, I realised that it's actually really hard to make a character without being able to reference any mechanics or set questions or anything. CLearly the game needs some character creation mechanics, even if only as a a spur for creativity. Any ideas for this? Anyhow, here's the character

    Dr Hewett Arot

    Dr Arot (pronounced like "Arrow") is a scientist from the Erd system, three planets that form a loose confederation of hundereds of city-states, each run by a large oligarchy. As a noble's son, Hewett was expected to follow a career from an early age, and was guided into the sciences. He grew up studying biology, alien morphology, and physiology. His people prize knowledge of physical processes, and have developed a martial-arts like system of body development based on their extensive knowledge of their physiology. Due to the practice of this art, Dr Arot looks like an incredibly well muscled human, though extremely tall and limber. He has dark, reddish brown skin, and light body hair all over his body. As he matured, Hewett's interest in alien physiology, and even alien psychology, grew to the extent that he was no longer comfortable in the laboratory-palace of his home state. He joined the ekumen to further pursue his study. He has found it difficult to adjust to the ekeumen's way of understanding other cultures, as he finds it difficult to distinguish between physical and mental processes, as so many other humans seem to do. This, coupled with the extrodinary privilege of his upbringing means he is often baffled by others' ways of understanding things. He is most happy when he can study something in isolation, take something apart to see how it works.
  • edited 9:43AM
    Then you name two keywords, right?

    For future chargens: maybe we want the keyword list first (so our characters riff off that), but otherwise a simple questionaire could do a whole lot, especially if it gave a few "either X or Y" choices that a character wouldn't have otherwise considered.

    I'll try to post mine in a few days.
  • edited 9:43AM
    Shoot! Yes, I was supposed to post two keywords. They are:

    Bone and Superior
  • edited 9:43AM
    Simon, how's this?

    Citizen Shann Vesper

    Vesper was born into modest yet respectable roots on the planet Kesseau - her mother being a 4th-grade labor chief - but her innate talents would quickly take her elsewhere. As tests revealed her aptitude for math and pattern recognition, she was granted a scholarship to enter schools for the sciences. By her sixteenth year, she was well on her way to a prominent role in Industrial Economics, where she quickly became known for her unorthodox and idiosyncratic views.

    Her interest in self-organizing economics and commerce theory made joining with the Ekumen a logical choice; the opportunity to see other worlds in the midst of their independent socioeconomic evolution was too great to pass up. However, she could not make the trip until she had reached 27 years of age, at which point her service to Kessau was considered complete and she was granted license to leave her world.

    Keywords: debt and conditioning
  • edited 9:43AM
    Bob Miller

    Objectivity is a key virtue for the social scientists on the planet Vulpana. However, they found it very difficult to keep their objectivity through the many years required to become a properly trained social scientist. By the time a qualified explorer was trained, hir head was filled with so many preconceived notions that any findings sent back were immediately suspect. So a conference of the greatest minds in the field was assembled and they hit upon a workable solution. Their explorers would be picked from the ranks of the dullest laborers. Not being educated enough to have preconceived notions about such high social science, they could then be assured of unbiased data.

    Until a month ago, Bob Miller was a maintenance man in an apartment building primarily responsible for keeping plumbing and electrical systems functioning smoothly. In his spare time, he watches Zero-G Rugby and drinks fermented vegetable extracts. He joined the explorer corps because "it was like a vacation only he got paid". His goals for the mission are to "make new friends and find out how they do stuff". Rumor has it that a second conference of social scientists is already being planned.

    Keywords: sports and infrastructure
  • edited 9:43AM
    Ok, those look cool. Rich, I think I see what you're doing with Bob, but I'm not sure. What issues do you see him bringing up in play? It kind of feels like, played a certain way, he could end up sort of sidestepping anything that comes up. Also, my impression of the ekumen is that they train their mobiles pretty extensively before sending them to a new world, and that they're not particularly interested in objectivity. How do you see that fitting with your character (of course, you don't really have to assume anything about the ekumen, since it's existed for many thousands of years, and has changed extensively over that time, such that you can pretty much give it any point of view you like).

    At some point, someone can make a first post. It seems a bit daunting, since it will be defining so much of the game all in one go, but I'm pretty keen for it to not be me who does it. Does someone else feel like stepping up?
  • edited 9:43AM
    Really, Simon? In what way do you see him able to sidestep anything? I merely wanted to offer an alternate viewpoint to both of yours namely that of an uneducated but reasonably intelligent being. The Ekumen as a whole may not be interested in objectivity but the planet Vulpana is and they have used their influence within the Ekumen to sanction this experiment. Both of your characters are the control subjects as classicly trained explorers. Bob is the experiment. Cool with both of you?
  • edited 9:43AM
    I guess I'm seeing him as kind of able to adopt a "don't know, don't care" attitude, should you wish to play him that way. Hearing you talk about it more though, I can see that he's bringing his own issues to the game as much as anyone else.

    I suppose I'm just a bit wary of characters that are written to work in the opposite direction to the others, but that's mostly based on bad experiences with other players in other games. I can see this working well here. I should probably stop being such a control freak :)
  • edited 9:43AM
    If your game cannot handle such a character then you have learned that you need to build that into your character creation rules. If it can handle it, then you know not to worry. :D
  • edited 9:43AM
    Yeah, that's a very good point. What do you think? I guess we'll see when we're playing if there are any "must have" traits for a character.
  • edited August 2007
    I'm game for Rich's character (and I'm willing to make that first post once I've got time) but I guess I'll share my thought: I like having a non-explorer Mobile come up, but I can't hear the tone of the character from over the internet. So are we on the same page on the tone of the game? On my first read it looks like it's coming from a humorous tone; whereas with my character I could see dry-ish humor or irony working, but not humor on the Hitchhiker's Guide end of the spectrum, if that makes sense.

    Rich, if you can see where your guy is going in sync with the tone of our posts, then that's good enough for me and I'm ready to go.

    (FWIW I think this part - trying to hash out our genre expectations basically - is a good part of any game. Please don't take any of my comments as negative here - I'm just trying to take that step of expectation-matching to the PbP realm.)
  • edited 9:43AM
    Good call Dev.

    On an unrelated note, it seems like we've all chosen keywords that more-or-less directly relate to our characters. That's not part of the game rules, but I wonder if it should be? Is there an elegant way of doing that?
  • edited 9:43AM
    I will not be playing Bob for slapstick comedy. I will be playing him for situational irony. However, your comment does bring up an interesting point. If our characters are coming from radically different worlds with the expectation that each unique viewpoint brings useful information for the Ekumen, then is it a requirement that the players write in a similar tone? Does one player writing entries for the Hitchhiker's Guide while another writes for the Encyclopedia Galatica break the game or show its depth? I'm not sure as to the answer and suspect it depends on the players involved more than the rules of the game. Unless of course the core of the game is to recreate Le Guin style story and analysis, in which case that limitation in character creation should self-limit the problem.

    On the keywords relating to the characters, I was wondering if it might work better if the keywords referred specifically to the other characters in the game. The character blurb seems to do a good job of stating what the player wants to explore. The keywords could then be chosen after the character blurbs are written to show what Player A would like to see Player B and C interact with. For example, Shann is interested with Economic Models and so I pick the keyword war because I'd like to see how she'd look at that through an economists eyes. Just some thoughts.
  • Hey guys. I am new to this site and to pbp, but i was wondering if it was too late to join this playtest. It seems like there is a bit of a hiccup in getting started, so I thought if, just for this first attempt, you could all decide to be on the same planet at the same time. It might make things easier. Just an idea though, I don't want to step on anyone's toes. Also, Simon, you mentioned you originally had 1500 words on this game written somewhere. I would like to see that if you have a link or something. Not having read the books, I feel a little lost as far as examples go. Thanks.
  • Hey Ben! Yeah, I see no problem with that. Just go ahead and make a character. I'll see about getting the full rules of the game written up somewhere. I do have them somewhere, so it shouldn't be too hard. There've been a few revisions since then, which I can include.

    I'm glad you want to get involved!
  • Did I say I was gonna go first? I guess I still was going to, but... really, anyone should just jump in once they're ready.
  • edited September 2007
    Elder Lorel Hamnan

    Elder Hamnan comes from the planet Faryoun, a planet covered by 90% water and a small archipelago. Despite this, the Faryoun people are a highly technological and peaceful race, with no war or internal conflict to speak of in over 30,000 years. They are governed by an elected council of 113 Elders. Knowing they have limited space and resources, the Faryoun practice very strict population control. They also conduct very thorough aptitude tests on everyone before assigning them jobs.

    The Faryoun people are very accepting of their government’s control. They practice a religion based on the ocean, both are called Waa-lan, which promotes behaving like water: accepting what comes and taking the easiest path. Nearly everyone follows Waa-lan, which they demonstrate by placing a small, woven basket into any body of water once a year. This basket generally has a small gift inside, which is considered very improper to discuss. This is the only religious holiday on Faryoun and the only day when no one works.

    Elder Hamnan is a retired government leader who joined the Ekumen because of an in interest in foreign cultures. Like all Faryoun, he is short (about 1.5 meters) and thin. Age has made his whiskers droop and hair gray, but his eyes and mind are still sharp. He lost his right leg to a parasite while studying another planet, but it was replaced with a very lifelike robotic leg. Although the leg works even better than his old one, since then he has always carried a cane and favored the leg.

    Elder Hamnan is a kind, old gentleman who is largely concerned with the quality of his life. For him, visiting other places, meeting new people, and eating fine food are the chief goals for the remaining years of his life.

    Festival and Execution
  • That's really cool Ben! I look forward to where this game goes! I'm pretty much done on a more complete version of the rules, and I should have it up somewhere soon.
  • I put up some more comprehensive rules of the game here. Due to my dodgy html skills it's a bit wobbly, but it should get the job done.
  • edited September 2007
    For reference: StoryGames Names.
  • Okay, got my first in-game post. Here we go?
  • That's really cool, Dev. Quite a bit to work with. Good call on the names project link as well. I often skim through that thing in serch of inspiration. I'm really excited to see where this goes!
  • The names project thing is awesome. The Lulu copy I have is priceless for play sessions.
  • I think we'll go with just the keywords. I think the game does need another mechanic, but I'm not sure what that is yet.
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