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

pemerton

Legend
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).
I'd say that what might be more worthwhile is posting again after the revisions that you and @Ovinomancer have canvassed are tried. Given some of the strange replies this thread has already generated, I honestly don't think it's worth trying to spell out the session details to try and respond to them or other potential misunderstandings.

My question - non-rhetorical - would be what does it add to play to have some of these Bangs/obstacles spelled out in advance of play?

One answer was this:
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.

<snip>

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).
Besides the feeling of immersion (for lack of a better word) resulting from this process, were there other effects on play. Eg did it make it easier for the players, or did it change the method of approach, that they already knew in advance the sorts of obstacles they were likely to confront, and having the possibility of "managing" them via choice of route on the map?
 
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@pemerton , I obviously have the design impetus behind it, but I'll give @Ovinomancer the afternoon to reply to you on the cognitive overhead (control over thematic focus and the skilled play aspects) it introduced upon play. My guess is that our answers will be the same, but I'd rather the player give their thoughts.

If he doesn't put an answer out there by this evening, I'll respond then.

I will say two things; (a) the route being an important Score detail (the other being means) needs a map to do its best work in my opinion and (b) the proposed revisions (which were in my own mind same as Ovinomancers) do a lot of work in answering the question.
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I'd say that what might be more worthwhile is posting again after the revisions that you and @Ovinomancer have canvassed are tried. Given some of the strange replies this thread has already generated, I honestly don't think it's worth trying to spell out the session details to try and respond to them or other potential misunderstandings.

My question - non-rhetorical - would be what does it add to play to have some of these Bangs/obstacles spelled out in advance of play?

One answer was this:

Besides the feeling of immersion (for lack of a better word) resulting from this process, were there other effects on play. Eg did it make it easier for the players, or did it change the method of approach, that they already knew in advance the sorts of obstacles they were likely to confront, and having the possibility of "managing" them via choice of route on the map?
It did not make it easier, but it did provide an idea of how close to finishing we are. Blades scores are usually not clear on how close to completion you are outside of the fiction told (advancing towards the objective). The route map, though, made this easier explicit without negotiation or discussion between participants. I liked this for the transport style scores, where the route taken is the important detail. But, knowing that we had X obstacles before us on a given path didn't really mean we'd face X obstacles. Due to the snowballing of checks, an obstacle could, quite quickly, become much more than bargained for. For example, the Conflagration obstacle caught fallout from the Veil obstacle and was increased in scale, making it more than we wanted to deal with at that point in the score, so we rerouted, hoping for better luck with the other obstacles. We got that with the Bluecoat raid, but the Detour obstacle went poorly and we had another decision point to bypass and reroute. We chose to push through because the reroute looked much worse, and we managed to pull it off with some good play and some luck.

I think this option to choose to take a different path was very nice, and added quite a lot to the score. You can always attempt to redirect a score in Blades, but this was explicit and understandable, and put the reroute much more on the table as an option. Which, I think, really goes to support the conceit of the transport score. If this was run as a normal score, it works fine, but the map and key style approach really makes the city more integral to the play and puts the play on a slightly different footing for the fiction that aligns well with the intent of the score.
 

pemerton

Legend
@Ovinomancer, @Manbearcat

I think I could probably construct the answer to this next question from what's been posted, but given my patchy knowledge of BitD I thought I'd just ask it!

In scene resolution, a recurrent need on the GM side is to introduce new complications that build on what was already established, but push it further than otherwise would have been done (had the check not failed, or come up 7-9 in PbtA terms, or whatever). This, in turn, needs there to be a certain degree of non-pinned-downedness to the fiction, from which these new complications can then be spun out.

How did pinning down the routes and the obstacles shape this? Eg is there still scope to notice an alley (say, that the PCs can escape down or that assailants spring out of)?

I hope this question makes sense!
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
@Ovinomancer, @Manbearcat

I think I could probably construct the answer to this next question from what's been posted, but given my patchy knowledge of BitD I thought I'd just ask it!

In scene resolution, a recurrent need on the GM side is to introduce new complications that build on what was already established, but push it further than otherwise would have been done (had the check not failed, or come up 7-9 in PbtA terms, or whatever). This, in turn, needs there to be a certain degree of non-pinned-downedness to the fiction, from which these new complications can then be spun out.

How did pinning down the routes and the obstacles shape this? Eg is there still scope to notice an alley (say, that the PCs can escape down or that assailants spring out of)?

I hope this question makes sense!
Certainly. The maps used (posted upthread by MBC) have a good bit of detail, but nowhere near the alley level. It's more at the block level, but still much more detailed than the maps in the BitD rulebook. As such, it's like moving from then 10,000 meter view down to the 1,000 meter view, but still not 100% detailed. So, yes, there's still lots of room for alleyways, metaphorically speaking.
 

pemerton

Legend
Certainly. The maps used (posted upthread by MBC) have a good bit of detail, but nowhere near the alley level. It's more at the block level, but still much more detailed than the maps in the BitD rulebook. As such, it's like moving from then 10,000 meter view down to the 1,000 meter view, but still not 100% detailed. So, yes, there's still lots of room for alleyways, metaphorically speaking.
Thanks. And a follow-up question (which relates to your "not easier" reply upthread):

Am I right to think that by making choices on the map you (the players) are in some sense getting to exercise some control over the sorts of obstacles you might confront and might avoid? But you're not getting to shape the "mathematical" (for lack of a better adjective) difficulty?
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Thanks. And a follow-up question (which relates to your "not easier" reply upthread):

Am I right to think that by making choices on the map you (the players) are in some sense getting to exercise some control over the sorts of obstacles you might confront and might avoid? But you're not getting to shape the "mathematical" (for lack of a better adjective) difficulty?
Bingo. Since our crew specializes in transport missions, I think this feels very right in play. One of the things I like about testing out this approach is that it wasn't something we, the players (can't speak to MBC's plans) were not at all considering when we created our crew or characters. But, it fits very nicely with what we did, which, to be honest, wasn't being especially creative or daring with our fiction. We run a smuggling crew, and our "cover" is a carriage for hire. So we do legit business, even though anyone connected in the least can figure out we're a criminal gang (we haven't purchased the Crew ability to have a fully legit front business). So, fictionally, our gang runs the city daily as cabbies, so it makes perfect sense we'd have a decent idea of where the trouble spots are, especially in our primary stomping grounds.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Oh, hey, @Manbearcat. Just thought of this. You know how the neighborhoods have the dot matrix for the different feels -- wealth, safety and security, criminal influence, and occult influence? Maybe, for a given neighborhood, use that to determine how many obstacles of each kind should be there? Like Nightmarket is 3 Wealth, 3 Safety and Security, 2 Criminal influence, and 1 Occult. So, at a minimum, the list of encounters needs to have 3 things tied into wealth, 3 tied into safety and security, 2 tied to criminal influence, and 1 tied to Occult before you can add another of any? I'm going to think more on this -- not solid by any means -- but wanted to put the bug in your ear early.
 

Oh, hey, @Manbearcat. Just thought of this. You know how the neighborhoods have the dot matrix for the different feels -- wealth, safety and security, criminal influence, and occult influence? Maybe, for a given neighborhood, use that to determine how many obstacles of each kind should be there? Like Nightmarket is 3 Wealth, 3 Safety and Security, 2 Criminal influence, and 1 Occult. So, at a minimum, the list of encounters needs to have 3 things tied into wealth, 3 tied into safety and security, 2 tied to criminal influence, and 1 tied to Occult before you can add another of any? I'm going to think more on this -- not solid by any means -- but wanted to put the bug in your ear early.

Using their input is a fantastic idea, but I'm thinking of using them in a different manner (because I want the # of obstacles to be faced to be reflective of the primary Tier of the antagonism in the score - eg punching above your belt by 2 Tiers - and the prospective Payoff added together...so a max 10 Payoff Score at Tier or Tier +1 would be 7 Obs but vs a Tier +2 would be 5 Obs).

This is how I'm thinking of iterating upon what we did last week on a subsequent Transport Score, so tell me what you think:

1) We have the map of the ward to be transited.

2) We circle the persistent sites of interest on there (eg The Veil, the Precinct, the Park, the Racetrack, the Drug Den, the Pleasure House).

3) We develop a constellation of circles for the rest of the map which reflects Obstacles yet to be given life (they'll be given life once we encounter them).

4) We do exactly like we did last week; round-robin naming prospective Obstacles to be faced (this is the Kicker part of the Bang). But we'll bin them under a Ward Trait (eg Safety and Security). We'll add a 5th Trait "Calamity" and give it a dot value for a Fortune Roll.

5) When you guys actually encounter one of those circles (and that could be your Lurk scouting ahead or the actual carriage encountering it or seeing some calamity from afar), I'll roll Fortune Dice for the aforementioned Traits of the ward (this is its intended creation). Once, I've got a winner, I'll pick from the list that we created in the round robin and frame the Obstacle.


Make sense?

Sound good?
 

Bingo. Since our crew specializes in transport missions, I think this feels very right in play. One of the things I like about testing out this approach is that it wasn't something we, the players (can't speak to MBC's plans) were not at all considering when we created our crew or characters. But, it fits very nicely with what we did, which, to be honest, wasn't being especially creative or daring with our fiction. We run a smuggling crew, and our "cover" is a carriage for hire. So we do legit business, even though anyone connected in the least can figure out we're a criminal gang (we haven't purchased the Crew ability to have a fully legit front business). So, fictionally, our gang runs the city daily as cabbies, so it makes perfect sense we'd have a decent idea of where the trouble spots are, especially in our primary stomping grounds.

I didn't have any plans. I used this method in my Blades/DW hack playtest.

However the reason I did it is because I've been thinking about it for a good long while (Journey Skill Challenges in 4e...Journey Conflicts in Mouse Guard and Torchbearer...there are components of this in The Perilous Wilds for Dungeon World when you Journey...Transport Scores in an old Blades game with Smugglers as Crew). When it comes to Journey/Transport Adventures/Scores, there are some components that can be elided but will also absolutely enhance or stress (creating a different experience) components of play:

* Picking the route (which means there is a menu of routes to choose from and its a consequential decision-point).

* Obstacle management because (a) you know the place and/or (b) scouting and evading potential problems via getting the drop on it, skirting it, deceiving it, or outright rerouting.

* Being able to choose your Obstacles/manage your "complication-space" based on thematic relevance (as one would do with a player-authored Kicker/Bang)...which is basically what Devil's Bargains are.

Every other Blades Score works great in the typical Story Now spontaneous generation of obstacles and move the fiction along until Win Con/Loss Con/Abandon Score (precisely how Skill Challenges work in 4e and Conflicts in Mouse Guard). However, the physical route component and consequential player's decision-points based around (i) familiarity with the area (or not) and (ii) navigation of a multivariate menu of sequential Obstacles is missing.

And...honestly, I feel that is for the worst. Because my sense is it:

* Aids habitation for folks that shouldn't be estranged with the area and its perils/areas of interests.

* Amplifies the skillful play aspect (by bringing in an aspect - route based decision-points and all that goes into it - that is really crucial to Transport/Journey conflicts).


So, @pemerton , that is my personal answer to your above question.

EDIT - to put this another way...there is a healthy signature of the Wandering Monster Clock to this whole thing.
 
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