Origins Experience

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Origins Experience

Postby joecrak » Mon Jun 20, 2016 4:50 pm

Hey, so I played in this Living campaign for the first time this past Wednesday in Episodes 7 and 9, so here are some of my thoughts on it.

Some of the things that nagged at me over the following weekend were the allowing extra players than the slot was scheduled for. I understand the logic of wanting to get more players to play, and not turning anyone away, and the thinking that a great GM can handle that, and every player will still get equal spotlight, but for me, It didn't feel that way. It felt like sometimes, some of the players were overlooked, or unheard.

In Episode 7, We open up with a cool carriage ride action sequence. Half the players didn't get to do anything, because of the sheer amount of players at the table.

It also tells me that I should never bother preregistering for the events, because more players will just be taken anyway. This problem, might just be my own personal problem, because I think the game works best at a table of 4-5 players max, and I ended up at a table of 8 and 9 players. Some games work great with a number of players that big, but a heavy mechanic table top game like 7th Sea never felt like one of those games. Like, when we, the players, were just bantering off one another, it was great sometimes, but then when we had to get back to the mission/story, some of the bantering died down.

The flip side of restricting the total amount of people that play, ends up being that less people get to play, which is sad for anyone that was really excited to play, or continue their story, but I just feel there has to be a balance.


The NPC interactions. Being new to this living campaign it seemed as if there was a high importance placed on some of the NPC's we interacted with, I was even told "Oh yeah, this guy is clearly better than you" despite playing a character that is over-confident. It gave me the feeling of something like "If the NPC's are so great and important, then why are we here?" I play the game to be a swashbuckling hero, in neither scenario did I feel very much like that.

Episode 7 I watched a player surrender to the inquisition, and they were very excited to roleplay the scene where they convince the Inquisition of their devout ways, but then an NPC came along, rescued them, and brought them back to the party.

Later in Episode 7, the climax was us the heroes, in the middle of a field, while some zombies were chasing us, and we had to activate some weird syrneth experiments, but first we had to open some flowers? But then the flowers just opened up on their own anyway. And we killed the Zombies with an orbital laser. No big grand fight, no witty repartee, just we narrate offing the zombies, and go back to town.

Episode 9, we encountered what we were told was the worst case scenario. This led to us falling down a hole, Walking through a cave, turning around and walking back, and then waiting for an NPC that had fallen to their death earlier, showing up with the key to let us out of the cave. Then when a player declared a blood feud on the evil Bishop NPC, and tried to kill him, another player said something along the lines of "You can't do that." before the rest of the inquisition members coughed and made it apparent that they would defend the man that left them to their own presumable death.

I don't know what the better case scenarios were, I don't know if we were supposed to find the key out of the cave earlier, all I know is that I was left feeling pretty depressed about what I sat through. Early on I felt like a cool proactive character, trying to rescue kidnapped victims, but after the building collapse, it felt very reactive.

Did I choose the two least swashbuckling episodes to play in?

Another moment that was off putting was when the GM and two players had some great back and forth, but It seemed to stem from the fact that they played in many of the previous episodes, and they knew more than the first time players knew.

For that problem, maybe some slots could be offered that are specifically for first time players to the living campaign?

The final thing I'm not a fan of is one of the rules written in the book, and that's the whole "You're starting Drama Dice convert to XP if unused". I would beg you to get rid of this, It encourages people to not take risks, because they are "Throwing away XP" It Also hampers anyone playing a Glamour Mage, as they have to spend Drama Dice to do their magic. It's the most commonly house ruled rule for a reason. Variations are a plenty, my preferred variation is Any additional earned Drama dice also equal 1 xp. That way players are encouraged to be more dramatic, and risk taking. If it doesn't change, oh well, no big.


I'm sorry that I'm coming off like a whiner baby, but this forum specifically asks for examples of things that make us question coming back. My experience was exactly one of those, I was super excited to meet the forum people, and chat with them, and every body I talked too seemed like great people, but alas the game just didn't sing for me in the right way.
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Re: Origins Experience

Postby salamanca » Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:10 pm

1- yes, you picked the two least swashy sessions to date.

2- group size is a personal preference issue. I understand your side of it and we will work on capping things around 8 but I am never going to close the door at 6 because that's my preferred range.

3- we have a finite number of GMs and a finite number of slots to run games. We will likely add one slot for retired games but with our schedule it's as likely to fall on Saturday evening as anything. But every living campaign hits a point where things have to stop being run for schedule reasons.

4- I had a blast running for your character.

5- the XP issue. We took the starting XP as a balance. Gain more than that, there is no reason to save it. But once you get around our GM team a while you realize that the more that gets spent, the more we start handing out. There are very few adventures where the party ends up not getting enough to have their initial XP total sitting there at the end of the session.

6- the whole murder the villain thing. This campaign is titled HEROES of Altamira for a reason. If your character is stooping to that level, you need to rethink it. The good guys drag them into town for justice. (And that statement is why episode 7 is my least favorite)
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Re: Origins Experience

Postby joecrak » Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:29 pm

Thanks for reading, and saying you had a blast running for me. And I totally get the whole, "We are playing Heroes part." I agree completely. I would have loved to have seen a duel or something between the two, I just think at that point, I was so torn apart internally that I didn't care if he died.

So out of curiosity, for the episode you ran for me, was there a path of the story where we don't all fall down the hole? And How does that normally play out?

I probably should have stuck it out and tried episode 10, Command Performance, which was one of the ones I was most looking forward too, but I didn't want to risk leaving upset again.
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Re: Origins Experience

Postby Black Jack Rackham » Tue Jun 21, 2016 12:59 am

Dave hit most of the points, I'll just add a few things.

1) Choice to prereg - at Origins we have the luxury of having a few more GMs (at GC for example, there are only Ken and I as full-time GMs, as opposed to Dave, Me, and Ken at Origins). So it's less important there than elsewhere. And I agree with you, 8 is about all we should have at the table.

2) Just a note to you, I have never written an NPC that is more capable than the heroes. You are correct, you ARE the heroes of this story, and the NPCs will fail if you don't rescue them. That said, there are a few who are capable in a very limited way of exceeding hero capabilities (for example, Prof. Villalobos is probably better at Math than most heroes) but they should utterly fail in every other way (because this is your story). I am hoping that was the case in this situation, though I don't know the specifics.

3) As for new folks joining in, I understand completely that you felt overwhelmed by backstory that you weren't part of. The balance here is whether to continue to offer, say, Episodes 1&2 throughout the life of the campaign, knowing that you'll have to jump from the very beginning to the middle or end adventures unaware of all that began, vs starting in the middle and moving from there.

NOTE: what we've done as a 'middle ground' is to write up summaries of all the retired events, complete with the names of important NPCs and their headshots so you know who we're talking about, and make them available on the main site (under Episode Listing)

3) The XP from initial DD has always bugged me too. My plan was to use RAW until we hit the second half of the campaign then I will switch it to a generic 7xp and your initial don't turn into XP.

4) Yup you were right to post here. I don't want anyone walking away from our games thinking that we're an insular group not willing to listen to outside feedback (and make changes if warranted).

Lastly I'd like to say, sorry your experience wasn't to your liking. I hope though, that you will give us another try. Either by playing one of the Flashback adventures (low level retired adventures that will probably begin next year) or by trying one of the more swashbuckling newer adventures (I think you will like 10*), or even by stopping by at GenCon (if you happen to be going).

Oh and on a personal note, sorry I missed you. I kept looking for you to give you the 7th Sea books I brought. So at a minimum stop in and introduce yourself (so I can connect your screen name with you).

Mark

*maybe the summaries in the Episode Listing will help give you a better feel for the campaign
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Re: Origins Experience

Postby joecrak » Tue Jun 21, 2016 7:11 am

Thanks for that all.

And I totally blanked while there about the books I wanted, it wasn't til I got home I was like "damming, the books!"
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Re: Origins Experience

Postby Lady Grace » Tue Jun 21, 2016 9:22 am

Yeah, I will say that both Mark and Dave are very open to discussion. If you ever find yourself overwhelmed or have troubles or concerns with not being heard or feeling badgered/triggered by others at the table, please talk to them. They don't bite!
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Re: Origins Experience

Postby joecrak » Tue Jun 21, 2016 10:39 am

Yea, thanks y'all. Gencon is something i cant afford and OGC, is just approaching too fast.

I'll give it another go and hope at origins next year my gming/hosting duties for Games on Demand don't interfere with the more swashbuckly episodes I want to try.

I wish I had talked to the gms post game privately, who knows how the weekend would have turned out.

As for the episode summaries, I definitely read the descriptions of the episodes I signed up for, but only glazed over past episode summaries.

Episode 7s description still made the zombies feel like they came out of left field.

One great moment was when one player was being a creeper to a character, many piped in to tell him he was starting to be gross.
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Re: Origins Experience

Postby Sister Sonya » Tue Jun 21, 2016 11:20 am

joecrak wrote: It felt like sometimes, some of the players were overlooked, or unheard.

Many RPG game systems have their own dynamics. There is something about 7th Sea that has players open their mouths and start rolling dice without thinking of the situation- or that there are other players at the table too! But this can happen with five players or with ten. Mark and Dave are quite good at handling players, if each have their own way of doing so. :)

If there is a shortage of GMs at a time slot for the number of player characters present to play, one obvious solution is for players to be given a few ideas to investigate, organize, and carry off, which they could do with just a bit of guidance from a GM who might float from table to table. This would allow for much more character interaction, which doesn't happen much otherwise unless players ask other players for help at their Personal Agenda.

So, this wouldn't be a solution for all players. But, it would permit players who want to do more role playing than roll dice.
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Re: Origins Experience

Postby salamanca » Tue Jun 21, 2016 12:48 pm

I"m gonna break a few of our rules here.

The worst case scenario is the scenario. We are telling you certain things to put you on a certain mindset.

The social combinations of characters at that table was a nightmare combination of people with a tendency to look out for nobody but themselves as characters and I knew that going in and it's the reason the extras were seated as a balance.

This being a living campaign, future adventures are determined by majority outcome of events. I know bases on the events already run for that session that the NPC in question will survive. But I have the option of letting the player kill him.

Killing that NPC opens some major issues: do the players join in, stand by and do nothing or try and stop him. Nobody stepped up to do that. Then it becomes a matter of the injured NPC witnesses to the killing of a NPC that could not move.

By all logic, those witnesses talk when they get home. Reputation losses would range from negative 5-10. A wanted background involving the Inquisition would be applied. Every player at that table would have no aid in the city until it was resolved during probably 2 personal agenda sessions and NONE of you would have been participating in 60% of episode 10.

Seems like a pretty harsh punishment so a guy can get over somebody taking his sword.
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