In a Wicked Age

edited October 2007 in Pitch
Anyone interested in trying out In a Wicked Age, here? I'm kind of interested to see if the game mechanics translate well to PbP.

Just to make sure we're on the same page:
• wiki going over the rules
• current situation generator


  • I've been aching to try this game.
    Count me in. (i've signed up for loads of pbp games lately, but I think I can swing just one more....)
  • Hott! I SO want to play this. I don't want to end up overcommitted to games though. I'll see if there's much interest here, and if you need another player, I'm happy to oblige.
  • Awesome. Well, that's adequate for a game, at least ... we'll see who else is interested.
  • Nobody else, yet. Want to just get on with it? It's probably best to do a small game, so it doesn't get too complicated while we're still getting used to things ... and we can always kick a GM character over to someone, if someone ends up interested.

    I'm happy to take on the GM duties, such as they are. I should have enough time to handle multiple characters, within reason, and I've played the game before (just the once, and we screwed up on a couple of the rules, but still).
  • Ok cool. Although I'd have to say that often it take more than a day for everyone to check the page, so there's a good chance some more folk are interested who just haven't checked in recently. If it's cool for them to jump in later, that's fine by me. Can you run through the format of the game for us, so we get an idea what we'll be doing? I've read an AP report, but I'd like to know what you're planning for PBP.
  • I'm game to try it. The AP's of games so far are pretty cool (I admit my judgment influenced by the one that brings in Dictionary of Mu which I adore), though what the PBP version would look like is a good question.
  • Really, I was thinking that with the stages of running an oracle and naming characters, there'd be time for more people to wander in, before character building really starts. I don't have a problem with giving it another day or so, though ... there's hardly a rush.

    We can do the situation generator without any particular alterations - just pick one of the four oracles and run it. Or, run the four oracles and pick the result we like best. Then the standard process of naming characters, picking characters, building characters. Nothing fancy there.

    I'm not totally sure of how to run it, PbP, really. That's mainly why I suggested trying it. (c: My thoughts, being very open to ideas, would be:

    • The basic dice mechanic should translate reasonably well. I'm a little concerned that conflict resolution could end up being a little cumbersome, since the process does have an unusual number of steps, but there isn't a technical barrier, at any rate. (All those steps are fairly necessary - conflicts would be way too lethal if it was more 'sudden death'.)

    • Conflict negotiation can happen right in the IC threads ... at least, that's what I'd suggest. Normally, I prefer to keep IC fairly IC, but negotiating is a big part of the game, enough that I'd fold it into the story.

    • It sounds like we'll have enough characters in play that we'll likely have multiple scenes going on at the same time. I think that would mean multiple threads? So far, it looks like this site's been all one-thread games, but I don't know how well that would work for us.

    I'm admittedly not at my sharpest just this moment, so I might be missing an obstacle - anything in mind? In a lot of ways, I'm of the mind to just go, and see what problems might arise through play, but that's just my rather-haphazard way of dealing with things.

    I pitched this elsewhere, a little bit ago, but I cancelled at the time. Most of what I said there was for people who'd be less familiar with the idea of the game, but there might be something in there useful/interesting: link.

    Got an AP report in there, too.
  • Interestingly, if there were only 3 main characters, the game could be run in a single thread, since you can't have a scene unless there are at least two main characters in it.
  • Hmm. If there's a lot of negotiation involved, it might require some special attention. Negotiation can be a nightmare over PBP, since back and forth can take so long. I'm pretty keen to keep the number of players down for the same reason. Is there a way to streamline or formalise the negotiation process?

    Can you run us through the basic conflict resolution so we know what we're dealing with?
  • edited October 2007
    Negotiation is, actually, optional. The dice tell you how badly you've lost or won (or how badly you're losing or winning), and you can either negotiate a consequence or go with the mechanical 'damage' effect. That's actually fairly important, since it's behind a lot of the game's kick ... if you've lost a conflict, you can try to get your opponent to accept a plot twist (in his favor), rather than just take the damage.

    Example ... I'll do a fight, since those are easy. Easily-stated consequences.

    You have a battlefield with only two main characters on it: Alcander and Acacia. They lead their respective armies, and those armies are rendered as Masteries that give each commander an extra d8 to 'defend yourself' checks. With those bonus dice included:

    Alcander 'defends himself' with Guts: d12, d6, d8
    Acacia 'defends herself' with Art: d10, d8, d8

    Now, in theory, this is the first chance for negotiation. Alcander could say, "Hey, how about you win this battle, temporarily scattering my forces, but - during the rout - I slip into the city and kill your king?"

    Or something. There's only a dice conflict if the relevant players actually disagree on what should happen. Hm. Now I'm thinking it might be best to have negotiation take place OOC. This would be pretty chunky in IC threads.

    But no, Acacia isn't down with that. She might be, if she just thought it was cool, or she might press that his army is destroyed, removing that Mastery. But she isn't, and she doesn't. So they need to determine who the challenger is. They both roll 'defend yourself', since that's what they're doing:

    Acacia: 10, 5, 3
    Alcander: 8, 6, 4

    Acacia's highest die is a 10, while Alcander's is an 8. Acacia is the challenger, doing pretty well (rolled the max she could roll). In theory, at this point, Acacia declares her intent. For us, it'd probably be smarter to declare intent while rolling in the first place, to cut back the number of necessary posts.

    Acacia: "I'm going to hunt you down and personally impale you on my god-given spear, you barbarian son-of-a-bitch."

    There you go. Then the defender (Alcander) rolls again, rolling against Acacia's 10.

    Alcander: 4, 4, 1

    Holy crap, there goes Alcander. Acacia's target number is double Alcander's best roll. That means that she wins (Alcander is now impaled, and she may narrate that in as much detail as she likes). Plus, Alcander takes damage - one of his stats will drop 2 die sizes. Say his Guts goes from (d12, d6) to (d12, —) or (d10, d4) or (d8, d6).

    Now, he's not dead (unless that stat dropped all the way to nothing), but he is impaled. Might be left for dead, might be taken prisoner (to be held for the executioner's block), might be something else'd. That's up to narration and, possibly, negotiation.

    Let's pretend he rolled better.

    Alcander: 12, 5, 4

    Much better. Alcander has beaten Acacia's target number. Now his 12 is Acacia's target number, and he gets to declare his intent, as well as narrating his avoidance of her intent ("The tides of the battle separate us, and - their leadership weak and womanly - your army is unable to keep my berserkers at bay. Soon, your precious city is in flames!"). And Acacia rolls to see if she can block that.

    It can, theoretically, go back and forth like this, but note that the target number keeps getting higher, so it's increasingly unlikely that someone will successfully defend.

    So, what if Alcander had not been doubled, but he still rolled lower than Acacia's 10? That's where it gets interesting ...

    Alcander: 7, 2, 2

    Alcander is losing, but he has not lost. First, this means he gets added to the bottom of the 'We Owe' list, which is a very good thing. But beyond that, he can do one of two things: give the conflict, or carry it on. If he gives, Acacia wins and he gets impaled. However, he does not take damage (in the 'losing two die sizes' sense). This is a good time to negotiate, also ... he might say: "I'll give the conflict to you if you leave me for dead."

    But maybe he figures he can still win, or maybe she wants to push it. They (you'll love this) roll again. But this time, Acacia adds an advantage die ... an extra d6 that is actually added to whatever her highest die is:

    Acacia: 6, 1, 1, 4
    Alcander: 6, 3, 1

    Without the advantage die, Alcander would have won (6,3 vs 6,1). With it, Acacia has a 10 (6+4), and wins. And that's it - she impales him handily, and he takes damage (loses two die sizes). If he'd rolled an 11 or 12 on his d12, he'd have become the challenger, as above, and tried to burn the city.

    If he'd wanted, he could have burned that instance on the 'We Owe' list to get an advantage die of his own, evening out the conflict. However, he wants to save that for later. Possibly much later - you can call on the 'We Owe' list even if you're in the next game, playing a completely different character. The list has other handy features, as well.

    And there's one additional key point of negotiation - the most important one, really. That 'take damage, losing two die sizes' is merely a baseline. If Alcander got hit with that, he and Acacia could negotiate an alternative penalty ... maybe he gets impaled, left for dead, and his army is completely destroyed. So he doesn't get that Mastery any more.

    Or his army is so impressed by Acacia's battle prowess (impalings are fairly impressive) that they actually join her side, and she steals that Mastery. Or some join up while others head for the hills and later rally, and both Acacia and Alcander later have access to the 'Berserker Warriors' Mastery.

    In any case, either of the participants can decide that, no, they will stick with the die damage. Maybe Acacia thinks Alcander's trying to weasel out of real consequences, or Alcander thinks Acacia is being unreasonably demanding with penalties. Or Acacia just wants to hammer down Alcander's dice a little.

    You see, probably, why I think the system will slow down in PbP. However, I'm sort of timid about tampering:

    • In the case of negotiation, that really is one of the neater aspects of the game. It means that, even when you've lost, you have the opportunity to come up with some cool twist that your opponent likes enough to spare you the 'real' damage.

    • In the case of the number of actual steps in the conflict ... well, that might be a problem. But I don't think it's a good idea to cut back and make it sudden death. Your average character can't take too many hits of dice damage, and the system as written gives you chances to fold or to negotiate your way out of damage. Each new roll is a chance to look down and say, "I'm probably not going to win this. Want to work something out?"

    In defense of it, though, I think it might yet work out in this environment. Even with all the steps and negotiation, this game dispatches with conflicts fairly quickly, since it deals with conflicts as whole cloth ... the only time it goes to 'exchanges' is when the opponents keep beating each other's target numbers and taking the 'challenger' label. And, as mentioned, those episodes tend to be short, since they drive up the target number quickly.

    It might work out that we get to a conflict, go through everything that that entails, and still come out of it having committed relatively little time, simply because that set of rolls defines the entirety of the conflict.
  • If a defender actually ties the challenger, down to the last die, the defender avoids the challenge and you just do a new round. That doesn't happen often, though, particularly when Masteries are in play.
  • Actually, about negotiating for an alternative to dice damage ... I didn't really highlight the strength of that. My examples were all about fiddling with Masteries, which is well and good but still tied to the character sheet.

    Maybe Alcander, impaled and looking at dice damage, says: "Huh. I'm impaled. Well ... driven down onto my knees before you, run through my side by your spear, I realize that, though I am not yet mortally wounded, I have been bested by a woman! I stare in shock for a moment, my warriors stopping in the midst of battle, waiting for me to rise again ... but then, processing it the only way I know how, I kneel in the mud and offer, immediately, to abandon my many wives, marry you, and put my clan to the aid of your city."

    And maybe Acacia thinks, then twists the spear a little and tells him to take damage to his 'endure duress'. But still, there's the opportunity for the loser to dramatically twist the story, even though he's the loser. And, really, he's encouraged to do so, since that's the way he avoids taking dice damage, thereby staying in the story longer.
  • Hmm, ok. I've just got through the rules wiki. Here are a couple things I'd jchange right off the bat. I'd change every instance of "turns" into "first in, first served", just to save time. Then there's the negtiation stuff. What with time zones and things, one sequence of suggesting consequences and either accepting or declining and suggesting an alternative could take days, during which time no one else can post, pending the outcome of the conflict. Even without negotiation, we're going to be taking weeks to resolve a conflict. How much do you think it would cripple the game if the loser always decides the consequences of losing?

    I'm up for playing this, but we should be aware that it's going to take a long time. I'd be wary of more than three players for this reason.

    Valvorik, I'm happy to step down in your favour, or we could switch in and out. How about you play the first round, and I'll jump in the second? By that stage we might be ready for four players, or someone else might want a break. I'd like to stay involved in the OOC discussion though.
  • edited October 2007
    Simon, that's very cool of you. Wouldn't want to step out completely as you have the mechanics worked out above (what we really need is to get Ryan Stoughton into this, he has a knack of taking any set of game instructions for resolving something and making pretty flow charts that are so easy to follow - you can see his ones for Universalis over at Forge).

    So the "half in/half out" to get things rolling would be fine.

    Some time limits on stages of things converting a "loss of < half" to either (a) suck it up (and hang in) or (b) Give would make sense. I would like to play as close to the system as possible to actually be testing it and providing some value back to world as well.


    PS, linked from another thread (Hans) in Storygames there is this "annotated" version of wiki rules with posts where Vincent elaborated things etc. filled in:
  • edited October 2007
    Even without negotiation, we're going to be taking weeks to resolve a conflict.
    Eh? How so? Or, how slow is posting here, usually? The steps aren't that bad:

    • Freeposting ... a conflict occurs. Whomever declares the conflict declares intent and rolls to determine challenger.

    • Other participant rolls to determine same, also declaring intent. If it turns out he's defending, he then rolls again, determines if he's defended/been doubled/losing, posts accordingly. If he's losing, he decides whether he wants to give or not. If he doesn't, he rolls again.

    • OR: He was challenging, and the first person does the above.

    • IF someone is losing, and decided to roll again, the other person rolls again also.

    Four steps at most, unless it goes into volleys of successful defends, but those are unlikely to have much endurance, as mentioned.

    I would say that, if it becomes a problem, we could try trimming steps or setting time limits to produce a more PbP-optimized version, but that we should start with the relatively unadulterated rules, first.
    How much do you think it would cripple the game if the loser always decides the consequences of losing?
    That does kind of remove any impetus the loser might have had to go hard on himself. If he could suggest a consequence for approval/veto by the victor, it'd make more sense. I'd be more inclined to go with the normal negotiation rules, first, and see if they become a problem. Particularly as negotiation is IC play - you're offering possible narratives. Doesn't need to be a chore.

    Remember also that you're almost never going to have a scene in which there're X number of main characters, but only two of them are in a conflict. In general, if you're physically present, you have an angle on the narrative and you should be in on the conflict. So there's not so much an issue of someone sitting off to the side waiting for the conflict to end. Narration itself might just slow down play, but I'd like to see it in action before I call that a bad thing.
    I'd change every instance of "turns" into "first in, first served", just to save time.
    Are you talking about multiple-character conflicts? That seems problematic ... why'd you roll high, if it doesn't affect whether you get to be challenger or not?

    You might be talking about character selection as well, and I can't say I care about that. In the absence of an order 'around the table', first come is as good a way of establishing a pecking order as any.
    I'm up for playing this, but we should be aware that it's going to take a long time. I'd be wary of more than three players for this reason.
    I'm not sure I'd agree that it'll take all that long a time. Conflicts might seem cumbersome, but compare it to most other systems. A game of DitV, or tMW, or Polaris ... certainly, or anything of the d20, Storyteller, round-by-round model. They all require as many or, probably, more exchanges. Don't Rest Your Head is the only game I can think of, right off the bat, that would conclude a conflict more quickly. I'm sure there're others.

    Plus, the game's absolute focus on the main characters makes things go far faster. You're focused on conflicts between the characters, so everything else just gets skimmed and summarized. The AP I posted at the link, up above, only took an hour and a half of real time ... things work differently in PbP, of course, but the same factors that accelerate narrative at the table should still apply.

    And I guess I don't entirely agree with limiting to three players. Or, rather, only three characters, which I think is what you're getting at. In that case, each scene is either all three characters, or it's two characters with the third left in the dark. If you're all alone, you can't really have a scene, because there's nothing 'there', really, in game terms. Without anybody to oppose your narrative, so you're just kind of writing a fic, or something.

    Always best to have another character or so out there, so that the third guy doesn't get left out in those instances, waiting to arrive back in the limelight. Though that could just mean that the GM has multiple characters and is willing to let those characters drop out of sight when they're not needed. So, two players and a GM, with the GM wielding a couple of characters to prod the plot with, if we were going to go for the functional minimum.

    Or it could be that we just accept it when our characters aren't onscreen. Work toward getting them back onscreen, but accept that at PBP speeds, it might be a while (if we're in the middle of a conflict, or something like that that you can't really horn in on). I don't really suggest that - it's more of a tabletop technique - but it could be done.
  • Whatever the case, we have a set of players. Which of the oracles do y'all want to use?

    'Blood and Sex' tends to be about sex, romance, killings, religion, and pastoral scenes.

    'God-Kings of War' tends to contain fortresses, leaders, armies, battles, and the occasional powerful magical object or entity.

    'The Unquiet Past' focuses on bizarre supernatural stuff crossed with relatively ordinary people and mystic types.

    'The Nest of Vipers' tends to be fairly urban, dealing with people getting betrayed, going into hiding, or engaging in various forms of skulduggery. There's less in the way of supernatural elements, but they are in there.

    I'd most go for God-Kings of War or The Nest of Vipers. How about you?
  • edited October 2007
    No strong preferences, Unquiet Past appeals to me most, God-Kings of War least, okay with Nest of Vipers or Blood and Sex.

    One question, does the presumed setting flow from characters (e.g., if I describe character as a crack shot with musket, well okay, there are muskets) or do we set some parameters other than in play? I'm fine to be "all in play, negotiate what someone finds iffy."

    I agree about playing unadulterated, the only thing I can see being an issue might not ~ the negotiations phase, where it's consequences or loss if that's an issue we can go to "best and final offers" etc.

  • edited October 2007
    So, you taking any more players? I'd be interested in trying it out.
  • I sort of see the content of conflict resolution almost as being the game, so even if it takes a time to resolve it that's a good thing-- it just means a bunch of game is being played.

    All of those Oracles sound cool. Nest of Vipers piques my interest the most, though that doesn't mean the others are lame.
  • edited October 2007
    Garvey - it would be best to keep the number of characters low, maybe, but I don't mind another person.

    I think a basic idea of the setting is good, but there's no need to go for detail. Maybe just a couple sentences of thumbnail. I remember one AP report in which things got really confused, really fast because the GM and the players were on totally different pages, in that regard. But generally, I think, setting should come from the characters and the actual play.
  • edited October 2007
    I had a thought, on the subject of negotiation ... why not take a page from Polaris? No need to do the full-on formal phrases of Polaris, but we could use a similar sort of arrangement when we want to negotiate, keeping it in the IC thread. Something like:
    Alcander's just been impaled by Acacia, taking dice damage by default. He writes:

    What if, driven down onto my knees before you, run through my side by your spear, I realize that, though I am not yet mortally wounded, I have been bested by a woman! I stare in shock for a moment, my warriors stopping in the midst of battle, waiting for me to rise again ... but then, processing it the only way I know how, I kneel in the mud and offer, immediately, to abandon my many wives, marry you, and put my clan to the aid of your city.

    Acacia thinks, says:

    Only if your interest is genuine and your dedication lasting.

    Alcander says:

    Never mind. What if my army is broken, never again rising against the cities of the civilized peoples.


    And some of your men, finding themselves stranded in the fields and folds of civilization, surrender and ultimately pledge themselves to me.


    Might make the negotiation process more solidly 'play'.
  • That's a really good idea. Clarity of intent is a really good way to make the negotiation go faster, and also feel more like "play". Your terms are good, too. I think resticting the winner to "only if" "and" and "ok" is a really good idea too.

    For oracles, I'm with Valvorik on not being into "God-Kings of War", and liking "Unquiet Past". I think if I were playing at home, I'd do "Blood and Sex" but maybe it's a bit intense for PBP?
  • Dial up a few combinations yourself, if you want a taste of what an oracle might give. I wouldn't consider Blood and Sex particularly problematic.

    It sounds like God-Kings is right out. There're a couple of strong votes for Vipers, and a couple of strong votes for Unquiet Past. Blood and Sex, so far, is weakest of the remaining three. Want to put in a bid, Garvey?
  • After fiddling with the oracle for a while, I think that I'm coming around to Nest of Vipers. "Unquiet Past" grabs me more, straight off the bat, but Nest of Vipers threw up more situations that seemed immediately playable.
  • edited October 2007
    Sounds like we're getting there. Nest of Vipers is okay by me. I would give whoever is GMing a bit more weight not because GM's "rule" but because he's (sounds like we're all he's) got to be grabbed by the story etc. to "bring it" to his role.

    Do we want to "wikify" any of our "house rules". Ensuring clarity over "accepting", "rejecting" etc. sounds good. Also establish the formal procedure for when we're rolling dice, such as we post the dice we're rolling and are on honour system not to mouse over (that's a very cool little thing the board has going there) another's until we should see them in game.

    I'm for getting to the play sooner and working out procedures as we need them.

  • #DiceRoller( 2d6 )
  • Yup. The dice seem pretty good.

    So house rules:

    • Incorporate negotiation into the IC thread, using basic 'conflict phrases' to indicate negotiation. If there's a challenger, that person can only augment, accept, or deny the proposal of the defender - not suggest.

    • Post your dice, using the on-board rolling system, and don't peek when you oughtn't be.

    • Declare your initial intent when doing the initial 'see who the challenger is' roll, just to move things along more smoothly.

    • Anything else? I can think of some things we might want to keep an eye on, in play, but nothing that needs to be stated now. I'm forgetful, though.

    One thing I suggest is to tweak the rule about dice damage. As written, you can only take damage to your 'endure duress' (injury) and 'exert yourself' (exhaustion) endeavors. I suggest that you can take damage to anything that makes sense for that conflict. If you were shamed before the community, maybe you lose from 'assert yourself' or 'influence others'. That kind of thing.

    It leapt out as an odd rule when I was playing it tabletop, since there are some situations where it simply doesn't make sense for your damage to be limited to being 'injured or exhausted'.

    If someone wants to slap this stuff into a wiki, that'd be fine.

    Sounds like Nest of Vipers is doing pretty well, but we'll see what Garvey says. I'm the GM, but I don't have an especially strong preference - I could do Unquiet Past without a problem.
  • I like all the oracles. Nest of Vipers seems like its full of situation, so I'd give it a thumbs up.
  • edited October 2007
    Nest of Vipers, then:
    • A fallen-in mansion, where by night ghosts and devils meet.
    • A fur-trapper, simple but good-natured, and his daughter.
    • A conjurer who needs blood to entice his uncouth spirits.
    • An innkeeper who murders and robs his wealthy guests.
    I see, stated and implied:

    • the ghosts and devils (or their leader)
    • a fur-trapper
    • the fur-trapper's daughter
    • a conjurer
    • uncouth spirits (or their leader)
    • an innkeeper
    • a wealthy guest at the inn

    These could be conflated into fewer characters (uncouth spirits = ghosts and devils), and they don't all have to be main characters - could be Masteries or 'events', for instance.
  • edited October 2007
    Re rules, I hadn't spotted the issue of conflicts such as "endeavour - influence others" vs "endeavour - asserting myself", with the potential of "exhausting" as opposed to "injuring" (either being able to subtract dice) and whether they are meant to or not. Subject to others weighing in, that seems fine that they do (it would be 'exhaust' not injure in that case).

    Yes, I agree with integrating the "uncouth spirits" with either "ghosts" or "devils" as what the sorcerer entices (whoever gets dibs on sorcerer gets to decide which, whether player or GM), ties the situation together a bit. I think 'weaving together' is useful.

    I suggest adding noting that ghosts and devils can be individualized as characters (a particular ghost, a particular devil).

    I would leave it to whoever creates a character (GM or Player) out of such to create "leader of" or "one of" and if latter not have them made a "follower". If all are left GM characters, GM can decide. If a player creates a ghost character and doesn't do so as "follower" a leader cannot be created later.

    Further "networking" to tie together, I suggest:

    • ghosts of those slain by the innkeeper (also may be individualized), that manifest at the mansion
    • kin of a wealthy guest slain by innkeeper (could turn out to be the self-same wealthy guest)

    Oh, and a bit of a comment on the "generator", I suggest reading all the gender-indicating pronouns as non-binding until character created. It could be "her daughter", "her uncouth spirits", "her guests" ~ once again the controller of character decides. The list posted doesn't note gender for these characters and I'm saying "right on".

    When do we move from pitch-thread to "IC-Thread"? Suggest once the "list" above finalized.

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