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Map & Key Escort/Smuggling Adventures or Scores and Scene Bangs

A Scene Bang is the technique of introducing events into the game which make a thematically-significant or at least evocative choice necessary for a player. The term is taken from the rules of Sorcerer and its also the used in the backstory scene in Dogs in the Vineyard character creation.

This weekend, I ran an Escort Adventure for my group that is playtesting a Dungeon World/Blades in the Dark game I've been working on. I'm planning on using it for my subsequent session of Blades in the Dark where the Crew (a group of Smugglers) are resolving the 2nd part of a Split Score (Theft of weapons/munitions and then smuggling them to an apartment to hand over to a agents of the Ministry and Sparkwrights).

Procedurally, this effectively how it works:

1) Either (a) use an existing map (this is what will be done in my Blades game) or (b) make a map with the group for the location that is to be navigated for the Escort Adventure/Smuggling Score.

2) Pick and trace a route on the map from the starting location and trace it to the target location.

3) Just like you would with a dungeon, you're going to collectively stock the route and adjacent areas (in case, as a downstream effect of adverse Complication/Consequence pile-up, the group decides to reroute) with obstacles. These obstacles will be thematically-significant or at least evocative choices for the players (see "Bang" at the top). These aren't going to be granular up front, but rather they will be pithy statements that will guide the GM in obstacle/situation framing as the Escort Adventure/Smuggling Score interacts with them along the route.

Examples of these in Blades in the Dark would be under the Entanglements section:

a) Gang Trouble
b) The Usual Suspects
c) The Unquiet Dead
d) Show of Force
e) Demonic Notice

Another way to handle this would be Vice Purveyor locations that "carrot in" PCs thematically (they'll get xp), encouraging them to complicate their lives for advancement/boon (similar to the way Devil's Bargains work). For instance:

a) Luxury/Pleasure House
b) Gambling/Stupor Den
c) Weird/Faith/Obligation

Yet another way to derive inspiration for these obstacles is via Torchbearer's Twists section on 129-131. I'm not going to go through the list but something like "the water is a lot deeper than you thought" is a fantastic Obstacle that would likely be titled Environment/Topography Hazard (because it needs to be open-ended). This is also a great place to look for Complications broadly (I always have this section of TB open when I'm running Dungeon World, Apocalypse World, Blades, 4e Skill Challenges, Mouse Guard and other like games). I highly recommend that.

4) Torchbearer scales the difficulty of Adventures/Delves based on # of Problems/Obstacles. This is how I handle Blades Scores as well though its proportionately much lower than TB's handling. What I typically do in Blades Scores is I handle it as Payoff tier + 2 stock Problems/Obstacles For instance, Payoff t1 Scores (2 coin: A minor job; several full purses) would be 3 stock Problems/Obstacles while Payoff t5 Scores (10+ coin: A major score; impressive loot) would typically be 7 stock Problems/Obstacles. Now that isn't the total # of Problems/Obstacles that will actually be faced in the Adventure/Score, because the game of "Spinning Plates" inherent to the resolution mechanics engine will ensue and dynamically change this (Complications and Clocks going off causing an increase to the total # of Problems/Obstacles and/or their type/kind, meanwhile decisively defeating Clocks or Team PC fundamentally changing the situation due to some combination of skillful assessment and deployment of a bold gambit which changes the available move-space for Team PC + resolution going right will reduce the total # of Problems/Obstacles).




Obviously, this all resolves when either (a) the PCs achieve the Win Con of the Adventure/Score (getting to the target destination and doing whatever is meant to be done there; eg dropping off the goods/personnel) or (b) things go absolutely tits-up and the Escort/Smuggling Adventure/Score has to be abandoned.


So. Yeah. Just figured I would share this operationalizing of an approach to technique/design of a "not dungeon" scenario that has yielded expectant results. Its low cognitive overhead/prep for the GM using "Bang Technology" ensures the Problem/Obstacle space is thematically-relevant or evocatively-attendant to player interest. GM plays the Problems/Obstacles (the antagonism) hard (just like in Sorcerer or Dogs) in attempt to push back against Team PCs goal(s). Players try to resolve the obstacle course skillfully as Complications invariably ensue (fundamentally changing the situation with a fair chance for a "reroute" paradigm to occur), requiring the management of the Spinning Plates game to the proverbial "Finish Line" (or not).
 

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That isn't smuggling, its just plain theft.

Smuggling is the movement of untaxed goods or contraband across a border, normally a national border.
 

That isn't smuggling, its just plain theft.

Smuggling is the movement of untaxed goods or contraband across a border, normally a national border.

In Blades in the Dark parlance it’s a Transport Score (carry cargo or people through danger; detail = route and means). The Crew are Smugglers. They’re transporting prototype weapons that were stolen from state-sponsored engineers. Part of the obstacle course is “get this stuff off the street because it’s going to be used to spark a revolution” with the other part being “don’t get caught by the military or coppers so the fact that the Minister agent had these items stolen on their watch doesn’t come to light within the government (CYA beaurocracy).”

Are you interested in discussing the fundamentals of the post (how system and technique converge to make the trope work)?
 

In Blades in the Dark parlance it’s a Transport Score (carry cargo or people through danger; detail = route and means). The Crew are Smugglers. They’re transporting prototype weapons that were stolen from state-sponsored engineers. Part of the obstacle course is “get this stuff off the street because it’s going to be used to spark a revolution” with the other part being “don’t get caught by the military or coppers so the fact that the Minister agent had these items stolen on their watch doesn’t come to light within the government (CYA beaurocracy).”

Are you interested in discussing the fundamentals of the post (how system and technique converge to make the trope work)?

I was. Smuggling is a specific term used to convey a specific meaning. It doesn't change because a core book suggests it should.

They're selling the weapons to a buyer, so how does that prevent a revolution?
Why would weapon development cause a revolution? It is a constant in every known civilization.
And most importantly, why would stealing prototypes impact a nation's ability to manufacture? Standard multi-layer off-site data back-up should make the theft meaningless.
And why are they hauling bulk contraband into residential areas? They don't have warehouses, storage units, junkyards, or rural areas for hand-offs?
Why are they letting the buyer choose the hand-off point for a criminal transaction? That isn't bright.

The scenario described doesn't work on any level. Worse, its clueless layout is a clear indicator of hardcore railroading, forcing the PCs to perform pointless actions in an illogical order. It is a bad C movie script, not an RPG adventure. You need to put the PCs into a situation (by their own choice), and then let them choose their fate. If they're clever, its good gaming; if they're stupid, often that's even better gaming.

You need a set-up that allows the players to choose their own destiny. OK, stealing tech examples for pay, either corporate or national spying, is a very weak cliché, but not impossible to sell.

Now you have the contractee, Buyer A, detail rep known to PCs, motivation, etc.

Toss in Buyer B, puts out word that he'll pay 50% more, detail known reputation.

Add Contact C, who will pay X amount to have a tech spend an hour with the gear and the data on who the PCs sell it to.

One of A, B, C is planning a fatal double-cross if the PCs are careless in their setting up a meeting point.

And then afterwards, those of A, B, and C who did not get what they wanted holds a grudge.
 

You’re doing a lot of things here that have no place:

a) You're focusing on an irrelevant detail and trying to turn the thread into that. This isn't a thread about scripts or scenario design or railroading or anything of the like. This is a thread about operationalizing Smuggling Scores or Transport Adventures in other Forged in the Dark engine games. Do you understand what the lead post was about? Have you ever played Blades in the Dark or any other Forged in the Dark system?

b) Worse than just focusing on an irrelevant detail and trying to turn the thread into that, you’re actually not even correct there. You've manufactured an assumption about the Score and then extrapolated from there. This isn't a theft and then selling to a fence. This is the Crew in my present Blades game looking for a Score in the Information Gathering phase of play, turning down a revolution-starting Score that would have led to a giant cluster-eff in one of the wards of the city (their Hunting Grounds ward). Then they used that gathered intel to consult one of their member's Friend's (a character sheet asset) to reorient the potential Score and save their Hunting Grounds from a clustereff; get the prototype weapons (that their rival gang stole) off the street and back to the Ministry/Sparkwrights, but also assuring their transport of these goods isn't found out by Military/Bluecoat personnel (because that would get the Ministry/Sparkwright personnel who is hiring them to get these goods back in trouble for incompetence in allowing the prototype weaponry to be stolen). This will also harm the rival Gang (they lose Hold...which is a mechanical effect in Blades).

But again, none of this is here nor there. Its not even an aside to the point of the thread. Its fundamentally a distraction.

The idea that there is (or even could be) any kind of railroading here is...I don't even know what it is to be honest with you. Its so far removed from reality (and so far removed from the point of the thread...which isn't about the scenario in question but about systematizing Transport/Escort/Smuggling conflicts and allowing players to have some say in the type/kind of obstacles to be faced along the way).

So...again...do you have any experience playing Forged in the Dark games or similar games that systematize the Transport/Escort/Smuggling conflict? If yes, lets talk about that and specifically how I'm doing so in my games and how you might do so in your games.

If you don't have that experience/interest and/or you want to talk about the fluff that underwrites scenarios...do that elsewhere. This is not the place for that. This is about systematization, design, and related techniques (particularly Scene Bangs...see the very first sentence in the lead post) as they pertain to Transport/Escort/Smuggling conflicts.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I was. Smuggling is a specific term used to convey a specific meaning. It doesn't change because a core book suggests it should.

They're selling the weapons to a buyer, so how does that prevent a revolution?
Why would weapon development cause a revolution? It is a constant in every known civilization.
And most importantly, why would stealing prototypes impact a nation's ability to manufacture? Standard multi-layer off-site data back-up should make the theft meaningless.
And why are they hauling bulk contraband into residential areas? They don't have warehouses, storage units, junkyards, or rural areas for hand-offs?
Why are they letting the buyer choose the hand-off point for a criminal transaction? That isn't bright.

The scenario described doesn't work on any level. Worse, its clueless layout is a clear indicator of hardcore railroading, forcing the PCs to perform pointless actions in an illogical order. It is a bad C movie script, not an RPG adventure. You need to put the PCs into a situation (by their own choice), and then let them choose their fate. If they're clever, its good gaming; if they're stupid, often that's even better gaming.

You need a set-up that allows the players to choose their own destiny. OK, stealing tech examples for pay, either corporate or national spying, is a very weak cliché, but not impossible to sell.

Now you have the contractee, Buyer A, detail rep known to PCs, motivation, etc.

Toss in Buyer B, puts out word that he'll pay 50% more, detail known reputation.

Add Contact C, who will pay X amount to have a tech spend an hour with the gear and the data on who the PCs sell it to.

One of A, B, C is planning a fatal double-cross if the PCs are careless in their setting up a meeting point.

And then afterwards, those of A, B, and C who did not get what they wanted holds a grudge.
Well, I'm a player in this game, and what you're saying here is so far off the mark that it's not even wrong. @Manbearcat gave a quick thumbnail sketch to set up discussing the actual technique being used and is asking for feedback on the technique. You're critiquing the thumbnail sketch from a veritable mountain of bad assumptions, and then offering story advice, not discussing the technique. Blades in the Dark won't support any of the advice you've given -- it just doesn't play that way. It's also extremely far from a railroad. I get where you might be coming from here -- you're reading this as a story the GM enforced and there's only the one, but that's entirely backwards. What Mabearcat is relating is what has happened, and how he plans to adjudicate the rest. The story wasn't forced on the players in any way -- it's more like we pushed the story on the GM.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
So, to better explain the backstory of this setup, here's the skinny.

Our crew is a bunch of smugglers. We specialize in moving items around the city clandestinely. Unfortunately, due to some past interactions and that fact that one of our team is a big softy about helping out the less fortunate (what about us, Tika?), we ended up kinda helping a worker's uprising in our home neighborhood, Coalridge. So, there's a union, the workers, and the Lost (think underclass Robin Hoods) and they're up against the managers and they're hired muscle, Ulf Ironborn's gang. In addition, the cops (Bluecoats) are out in force and they're just gonna side with the manager class in general, so they're almost allied against the workers. We had some run ins with Ulf's goons before, and so we were already in a sticky spot, but the situation was winding up fast and we talked about how we could do something about it (thanks, again, Tika). Mechanically, I noted that if we pissed off Ulf's crew again, we'd very likely go to war with them, so I recommended taking an action against Ulf that would reduce that gang's Hold on their Tier from Strong to Weak. This aids us because, if you go to war, all participant's Hold is automatically degraded by one step, which would put Ulf's crew on the same tier as us (this is mechanically important). So we talked about it and came up with the idea of stealing Ulf's armory and giving it to the workers or their allies. Me and another player went to talk to our usual contact for such things to set up a meet with the Lost to see if they wanted any part of it, or rather, if they would pay us to do it. The third member of the crew went to scout the location of the armory.

We met with the rep from the Lost, and she was died in the wool crazy-cakes diehard lunatic ideologue. She wanted the weapons, specifically the explosives, to be used to blow up a meeting of the mangers and "really show them we mean business." I hard noped this contract (the other players were on the fence, but this hit my backstory in an interesting way), so we went looking to see who else might be interested. The third member of the crew had contact in the Ministry, and that's when it got established that the weapons in Ulf's armory had been stolen from a Sparkwrigth/Ministry collaboration effort to develop new kinds of weapons and that they had, so far, kept the loss quiet. Gotta love Duskvol politics! We made a deal to sell the weapons back to the Ministry for a pretty penny, but now moving them was really going to be interesting because any notice from the Bluecoats or the military would mean the Ministry would lose face and the deal was off, leaving us in the wind. Luckily, we specialize in clandestine movement of illegal goods around the city! This was the GM adding a complication to due to the result on a gather info check demanding one, and putting it squarely within the crews' interests. So, now we headed off to steal the weapons (which when smashingly well, in terms of BitD, which means we barely made it out of there), and now we have to move them around the city.

Normally, Blades works by framing a problem and then snowballing from there. If that problem is solved, the scene shifts to the next one. This works great, but I very excited to try @Manbearcat's approach to this, where there's a maps (with blanks) and some of these threats are listed. Since we know the city, we should be able to know what general risks exist on the route, and this give us some ability to choose which problems we'll face. It's still Blades, though, so nothing will go to plan (until it does!), so this is more like "there's orcs on the plains, goblins in the woods with a rumor of a green dragon as well, and drow in the underground passages, which way do you want to go?" Only, using Blades' framework, this is really all of the prep you need to do. We'll sit down at the next session and establish were these problems are along the route, and then see how well we get past them. If we do so successfully, we'll get paid out and Ulf will be on the warpath with us, but we'll have weakend him enough that it'll help the workers and mean we're on an even footing with him. If we fail, well, we've stolen the weapons, so Ulf will still be weakened, but we'll have earned the anger of some powerful people and will have to figure out what to do with very hot (on multiple levels) mechandise.
 

Just figured I'd upload the map from last night's play so folks could get an idea of what this looks like.

  • The Green Star is the route starting point.
  • The Red Star is the route endpoint.
  • The Red Line is the initially chosen route.
  • The Green Line is the reroute after contact with the Conflagration obstacle.
  • There were 4 sites already on the map > GM + Players round-robbin to put subsequent thematic/evocative Obstacles/Problems on the map > play ensues once map is sufficiently fleshed out.
 

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GMMichael

Guide of Modos
A Scene Bang is the technique of introducing events into the game which make a thematically-significant or at least evocative choice necessary for a player. The term is taken from the rules of Sorcerer and its also the used in the backstory scene in Dogs in the Vineyard character creation. . .

3) Just like you would with a dungeon, you're going to collectively stock the route and adjacent areas (in case, as a downstream effect of adverse Complication/Consequence pile-up, the group decides to reroute) with obstacles. These obstacles will be thematically-significant or at least evocative choices for the players (see "Bang" at the top). These aren't going to be granular up front, but rather they will be pithy statements that will guide the GM in obstacle/situation framing as the Escort Adventure/Smuggling Score interacts with them along the route. . .

a) Luxury/Pleasure House
b) Gambling/Stupor Den
c) Weird/Faith/Obligation

Its low cognitive overhead/prep for the GM using "Bang Technology" ensures the Problem/Obstacle space is thematically-relevant or evocatively-attendant to player interest.
How does a Scene Bang differ from Good Adventure Writing? If you're not following the theme or giving the PCs evocative choices to make, aren't you just boring your players?

Low cognitive overhead to me is answering questions instead of raising them. If I wrote "weird/faith/obligation" on my map, I'd be pretty curious as to what I was thinking when I wrote it.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
It's not the bang, the the use of them in a functional, operational way to help frame and stock non-dungeon adventures, which in many instances suffer from a lack of planned weight compared to dungeon crawls or other things that rely primarily on monster encounters. D&D, for example, has nothing to say about obstacles in terms of encounter design or encounters design (at least nothing useful).
 

How does a Scene Bang differ from Good Adventure Writing? If you're not following the theme or giving the PCs evocative choices to make, aren't you just boring your players?

It differs in a few key ways:

1) In Story Now games that feature scene-based resolution, there is no such thing as "the Adventure" or "the plot." There is a structure to play whereby provocatively framed scenes are resolved by player <> GM <> system interaction which have both immediate and downstream effects which feed into the framing of the next scene; rinse/repeat. Through that snowballing process you'll have a play experience where, as a retrospective, you'll be able to say "ah yeah, that was the Adventure/plot." But there is vanishingly small amount of "Story Before" in this alchemy.

2) Good Adventure writing is absolutely writing that gives the PCs evocative choices to make. However, the difference of a "Bang" (outside of what I outlined in 1) is that there is no deft game of Telephone being played here. There is no interpretive element. We're going straight to the players and giving them authority to provide the inciting incident or the provocative framing of the situation/scene that is to be resolved. The GM's job is then to (a) lead a functional, efficient, structured conversation that propels play, (b) play that opposition to the absolute hilt, (c) manage/render Complications/Costs and Failures (with Successes being "the player gets what they want") in accordance with the rules/agenda/principles and action resolution mechanics of the particular system involved, (d) with the whole of it leading to an evolving gamestate and fiction until all questions about the scene are resolved.
Low cognitive overhead to me is answering questions instead of raising them. If I wrote "weird/faith/obligation" on my map, I'd be pretty curious as to what I was thinking when I wrote it.

You use whatever pithy shorthand works for you for provocative, yet capable of being dynamically interpreted, obstacles/problems. You don't want the equivalent of a module box text info dump because that fails the "capable of being dynamically interpreted" litmus test. You want something that provokes the GM's creativity, hews to genre logic, and then you trust the GM to effectively render the obstacle/complication in accords with the system parameters (agenda, principles, structure, action resolution mechanics, authority distribution).

If pithy, provocative descriptors doesn't do the necessary work for you, then you develop some other methodological shorthand (that reduces cognitive workload, keeps table handling time down, yet stokes GM creativity).
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
In other words, players create their own problems, and the Scene Bang is how the GM keeps them both on-track and busy. Is that about right?
 

In other words, players create their own problems, and the Scene Bang is how the GM keeps them both on-track and busy. Is that about right?

No.

1) A Bang is just what it says in the lead post. It’s player direct input into what their opposition will be in a scene.

2) There is no “on track” and there is no “busy” beyond the typical PCs face obstacles > players declare moves for their PCs to overcome the obstacles > we roll dice and the situation changes (rinse/repeat).

3) The GM’s job is to:

* frame each situation as the PCs encounter obstacles/problems on the map >

* play the opposition to the hilt >

* follow the rules/procedures for action resolution and create complications as the system says they should arise and continuously change the situation until the obstacle is overcome >

* rinse/repeat as you follow the PCs’ route (see the red line in the above map) and reroute if that happens at some point along the way (see the green line on the map) until the PCs make it to their destination and the conflict is over…or the PCs fail or abandon their efforts.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I very much enjoyed the session, and here are my thoughts on it:

The Obstacles/Problem generation was fun, and kept at a pretty high level. Taking turns, we'd establish a location on the map, then a kind of problem with maybe a few details, if needed. Like, I established that the park below the precinct house was a location for Gang Trouble, and we established that this gang was going to be the Grey Cloak -- ex-cops drummed out for being too brutal (which is saying something in Blades) and who have banded together to form a nasty gang of toughs. I like the juxtaposition of them being so close to their former compatriots.

However, the exact nature of the obstacle was not established -- where the Grey Cloaks running a toll for passing by the park? Were they strongarm stealing from passers-by? Don't know, that was to be establish by the GM as part of the scene framing when or if we got to that location.

What I loved most about this was the ability to choose a route -- while some of the obstacles were things that couldn't be predicted, most of them were, and it felt like it really centered our characters' knowledge of the city. This neighborhood really felt alive and familiar (which was cool because our hunting grounds are there).

Now, on to things I think might improve/provide a different experience. In keeping with the goal of very low overhead, I think I might try out the following:

When placing markers on the map, I'd maybe suggest not attaching the encounters directly to the markers. Get a list of encounters during generation, and then put the markers on the map, but only associate an encounter to the marker when it's encountered. I think this lets things be slightly more of a surprise. I'd then let the gather information rolls fix some of the encounters to a location -- like scouting the route? Say we, as players, pick out a route, and then make some checks on each (fortune style) to fix encounters -- a 1-3 would be a high challenge encounter (risky-desperate position or low effect, maybe a higher tier or large scope?), 4-5 would be a risky, and a 6 would be a controlled, or risky but we pick the encounter. A critical would flip the obstacle to a boon, maybe? This could be determined in play, merging the scouting into the score? Dunno, just some thinking I had during and after the session. I think this keeps the overhead low, stays very close to your original idea, and maybe adds some additional points of interest?

Of course, that said, I would be happy and excited to continue using the tested approach for any and all future transports. Very fun session!
 

@Ovinomancer

Great post. Probably not too much of a surprise, your proposed amendments to the procedure are 100 % exactly what I was thinking as well. Seriously, like exactly the same.

So they’ll be site based things on the map (that are already on the map) like The Veil nightclub. But procedurally the rest would be as you’ve written above.

I think we should give those changes a spin next Transport Score.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
@Ovinomancer

Great post. Probably not too much of a surprise, your proposed amendments to the procedure are 100 % exactly what I was thinking as well. Seriously, like exactly the same.

So they’ll be site based things on the map (that are already on the map) like The Veil nightclub. But procedurally the rest would be as you’ve written above.

I think we should give those changes a spin next Transport Score.
I'd say I'm excited, but it's really a mix of trepidation and anticipation colliding and spinning out new exotic excitement particles.
 



pemerton

Legend
I can't contribute anything on BitD/FitD techniques. But I can comment on the below:

How does a Scene Bang differ from Good Adventure Writing? If you're not following the theme or giving the PCs evocative choices to make, aren't you just boring your players?

Low cognitive overhead to me is answering questions instead of raising them. If I wrote "weird/faith/obligation" on my map, I'd be pretty curious as to what I was thinking when I wrote it.
In other words, players create their own problems, and the Scene Bang is how the GM keeps them both on-track and busy. Is that about right?
This is confused.

As far as I'm aware, Ron Edwards coined the term "bang" in the context of RPGing. Here's one account he's offered:

So let's talk about Narrativist [= "story now"] protagonism and how it's established, starting with the adversity. . . .​
Bangs are those moments when the characters realize they have a problem right now and have to get moving to deal with it. It can be as simple as a hellacious demon crashing through the skylight and attacking the characters or as subtle as the voice of the long-dead murder victim answering when they call the number they found in the new murder victim's pockets. . . .​
It is the GM's job to present and, for lack of a better word, drive Bangs, in the sense of driving a nail or driving something home. . . .​
Bangs are not represented by many of the fight scenes or clues in traditional role-playing. Throwing mad hyenas at the player-characters is not a Bang if the only result of the fight is to wander into the next room. Nor is a clue a Bang at all if all it does is show where the next clue may be found. A real Bang gives the player options and requires his or her decision about how to handle it, which in turn reveals and develops the player-character as a hero. . . .​
Bangs [means] Introducing events into the game which make a thematically-significant or at least evocative choice necessary for a player. The term is taken from the rules of Sorcerer.​

There is nothing distinctive to a Bang that it be authored by the players; Edwards calls a particular sort of player-authored Bang a Kicker (see the same essay I've just quoted from - in short, a Kicker is a Bang authored by the player as part of character creation, which the GM is obliged to incorporate into the opening situation and which propels the character into the action), but @Manbearcat is using a more generalised technique - with its basis in the PbtA technique of ask provocative questions and build on the answers.

But whether a Bang is established by players or GM or by both in some structured fashion (see eg @Ovinomancer's suggestions to Manbearcat on revising the methods they used), it is certainly not about keeping the players (or PCs) on track nor about answering questions in advance of play. The whole idea of a Bang is to oblige the players to make a significant choice that will (i) reveal something about their characters, and maybe lead or provoke them into change, and (ii) will establish what happens next. Part of establishing what happens next might include fleshing out the details of some weird faith or obligation.

That notion of what happens next, and the attendant fictional details, being up for grabs is sometimes foreign to RPGers who are used to play which basically consists of the players working through a sequence of events that the GM has already made up. But it's pretty fundamental to the sort of game @Manbearcat is talking about.
 

I can't contribute anything on BitD/FitD techniques. But I can comment on the below:



This is confused.

As far as I'm aware, Ron Edwards coined the term "bang" in the context of RPGing. Here's one account he's offered:

So let's talk about Narrativist [= "story now"] protagonism and how it's established, starting with the adversity. . . .​
Bangs are those moments when the characters realize they have a problem right now and have to get moving to deal with it. It can be as simple as a hellacious demon crashing through the skylight and attacking the characters or as subtle as the voice of the long-dead murder victim answering when they call the number they found in the new murder victim's pockets. . . .​
It is the GM's job to present and, for lack of a better word, drive Bangs, in the sense of driving a nail or driving something home. . . .​
Bangs are not represented by many of the fight scenes or clues in traditional role-playing. Throwing mad hyenas at the player-characters is not a Bang if the only result of the fight is to wander into the next room. Nor is a clue a Bang at all if all it does is show where the next clue may be found. A real Bang gives the player options and requires his or her decision about how to handle it, which in turn reveals and develops the player-character as a hero. . . .​
Bangs [means] Introducing events into the game which make a thematically-significant or at least evocative choice necessary for a player. The term is taken from the rules of Sorcerer.​

There is nothing distinctive to a Bang that it be authored by the players; Edwards calls a particular sort of player-authored Bang a Kicker (see the same essay I've just quoted from - in short, a Kicker is a Bang authored by the player as part of character creation, which the GM is obliged to incorporate into the opening situation and which propels the character into the action), but @Manbearcat is using a more generalised technique - with its basis in the PbtA technique of ask provocative questions and build on the answers.

But whether a Bang is established by players or GM or by both in some structured fashion (see eg @Ovinomancer's suggestions to Manbearcat on revising the methods they used), it is certainly not about keeping the players (or PCs) on track nor about answering questions in advance of play. The whole idea of a Bang is to oblige the players to make a significant choice that will (i) reveal something about their characters, and maybe lead or provoke them into change, and (ii) will establish what happens next. Part of establishing what happens next might include fleshing out the details of some weird faith or obligation.

That notion of what happens next, and the attendant fictional details, being up for grabs is sometimes foreign to RPGers who are used to play which basically consists of the players working through a sequence of events that the GM has already made up. But it's pretty fundamental to the sort of game @Manbearcat is talking about.

Yessir.

As you mention above, this isn't a full-blown Kicker like Dogs backstory scene at character creation, but it does have discrete player-authorship (each player gets a say) along with GM-authorship (I get my say)...so its a sort of suis generis deployment of Bang tech (kindred to Dungeon World map-making at the beginning of play, but more potent, focused, and immediate...so kind of like Dogs Kicker meets DW map-making).

If it would help people understand further what was done here and how it facilitated play, I could excerpt the session in deeper detail than has done thus far. My guess is you (pemerton) could pretty easily extrapolate the inputs and outputs of the affair, but given the confusion that we've already seen, it may be the case that anyone looking at this still has no idea how this actually facilitated play (and what kind).
 

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