kihou: (Dr. Morden clone #187)
One interesting thing about storyline quests in Chuubo's is that they provide worldbuilding in a way that's not present in most RPGs. I feel like most RPGs worldbuild in two main ways: directly, by telling you facts about the world of the game, and indirectly, by the traits, capabilities, and abilities of characters and how they interact. A related concept is "how you should play the game", feel and genre (or WTF's Insight), which similarly has explicit text ("this is a game about fighting monsters") and implicit "these are the things that the mechanics highlight or reward". Chuubo's XP actions, while different in focus than most RPGs, are in this category, mechanical rewards for focusing on certain things in the same way that D&D rewards you for killing monsters or Urban Shadows rewards you for interacting with factions. Chuubo's storyline quests, while similar-seeming at first, have a level of specificity that's different from most games and contributes to worldbuilding and game feel in a unique way.

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kihou: (Dr. Morden clone #187)

So, in doing character creation for my incipient Chuubo's campaign, I noticed that, unlike most systems, Chuubo's has quite a few ways to state "freeform" facts about your character. (Borrowing some of the perl nature, perhaps?) And it also came up some how much Sam is still into Wisher, Theurgist, Fatalist, which is always a fun way to look at game truths. So, through that lens, I present: the qualities of the gifts of your Chuubo's character. Read more... )

kihou: (Journaling at Stonehenge)
This is the foreshadowed Hitherby Dragons playlist, which has a fair amount of existential stuff but also magical realism and stuff that just makes me think of specific characters.
  • 7 Stones, Lindsay Mac. This might have been the genesis for this playlist, because it seems like the sort of thing Liril or one the other Nephilim might do in appropriate circumstances.
  • In The Shade Of Angels, Eugene Friesen
  • Don't Be Afraid, The Paper Raincoat. This one also has the "simple action with supernatural effect" deal that I like.
  • Angel, Girlyman. "Somewhere in my bones I start to break, somewhere in my dreams I'm still awake…"
  • Suzie Q Sailaway, Resonance covering Self
  • When Sheila Dances, Homunculus
  • Bones Live Forever, Megan Slankard. I guess I found this song because Alex Wong linked to it.
  • Skeletons, Alexander Wolfe. For some reason, I'm really emotionally attached to the concept (from Guardians of the Castle, the rulesless "RPG" I played back in elementary school with Andrew Hopkins) that you can combine bones from various skeletons to make more elaborate creatures. This contributes to my love of "Skeletons decide to die by throwing bones away."
  • Wait For Me, Anais Mitchell. Hadestown definitely has the Hitherby nature.
  • Journey Through the Waste, A Soundtrack for the Wheel of Time
  • Blank Maps, Cold Specks. "Every map is blank."
  • I Will Free Myself, Dar Williams. I definitely wanted one of her "In The Time Of Gods" songs here. "I Am The One Who Will Remember Everything" and "You Will Ride With Me Tonight" were also contenders.
  • Our Lady Of The Underground, Anais Mitchell. Love so much, very evocative. Hey, if I write a LARP based on this song, it won't technically be Jenna fanfiction…
  • Julie-O, Turtle Island String Quartet
  • St. Peter's Bones, Girlyman. <3
  • Rough Cut, The Paper Raincoat
  • Quick, Eddie From Ohio. You could probably say something interesting about μ identifying with Jane from Hitherby.
  • The Sea, Tomas Dvorak
  • Never Heard Nothing, Joe Iconis
  • Last Song, Jason Webley
kihou: (Dr. Morden clone #187)
So, a related concept to "saying yes" is how you model world truth. This is sorta related to how canon is often said to work for book series or tv shows. Basically, things that aren't shown or stated definitively "on-screen" are in an indeterminate state. Did someone get caught in an explosion or fall off a cliff, but they didn't die on-screen? They could easily come back, but until they're shown definitively to be alive or dead, they're in a state of superposition where they're neither.

In a traditional D&D-style perspective on GMing, while character sheets and rulebooks have a lot of authority on the visible or known universe rules and state, the GM's the authority on the unknown universe state. They probably know who's alive, who's dead, and where things are, though they could change their minds if they wanted to, since no one would know. (I guess technically dice have some authority on the unknown universe state, when they're used for random encounters and such.) The GM might add stuff based on player suggestions, but the ball's always in their court, and mostly they're creating an illusion that the setting's all predetermined, that the reality is the model of the world in the GM's mind.

The thing is, the players have a model of the world, too. Even traditional games tend to do some of this implicitly; asking "Is there somewhere I could buy a sword in this town?" is probably more likely to get you a weapon shop than "What shops are in this town?", depending on the GM and how heavily they've pre-specified stuff. And this implicitly gets used in a lot of "say yes" situations, still focused on player actions: if the player says "can I break a chair leg to get a wooden stake?" and you say yes, then you've let the player define several things about the scene (that there's a chair, that it's made of wood, that it's possible to break the leg without a roll, that a broken chair leg is usable as a wooden stake). Some games also use it more directly, such as declarations in Fate (which I guess got sorta nerfed in Fate Core?) or various question-based things in Apocalypse World.

Chuubo's gets into this some, with XP and quest actions. If someone's trying to use a slice of life action, say, they might say "can we have a scene where we're sitting on a bench overlooking the ocean and eating grapes?", which adds different bits of their world model to the game then you'd likely get otherwise. Quests often have specific scene elements that they motivate players to introduce, which has a similar feel; while in some sense they're adding Jenna world model to game more than player world model (if you're using quests from the book), they're open-ended enough that they'll likely add player world state as well, and quite possibly spark them to elaborate their world state in the process.

Dogs in the Vineyard has an interesting take on a different side of the world model. In D&D-style games, the GM is often the authority on character alignment/what the gods think of things. In Dogs in the Vineyard, while rules and moral judgements are a key part of play, the GM isn't in the position of judging, and the state of each PC's soul is up to the player. (Which reminds me a bit of the "death of the GM" thing in LARP-writing, where you can't tell someone they're playing their character wrong despite whatever intentions you had writing the sheet.)

You could imagine a more collaborative, "say yes" perspective to the game canon where stuff that hasn't been determined through play is in an uncertain state that everyone has access to. Some forum roleplays and such do this to an extent. I haven't encountered a tabletop system that goes "all the way" there; Chuubo's seems like it could be pretty close with some rules for players taking turns playing NPCs/antagonists (and a group of players that's all sufficiently confident about describing things). I'd be interested to see how something like that, or a rotating-GM setup, would work in practice.

EDIT: On the last point, I forgot about some of the indie games I have but have never played that are very heavily on the "collaborative storytelling" side of things: Universalis and Microscope. They effectively have everyone as the GM, which is sorta the direction I was going, but I feel like not having PCs would probably be a very different from what I think of as a tabletop RPG. There's also Becoming, which effectively has one PC and ~3 GMs.
kihou: (Default)
I’ve got two “existential” playlists going. This one is basically ones that didn’t fit my other playlist, which is inspired specifically by Hitherby Dragons.
  • Breathe (2 AM), Anna Nalick. I bought this specifically to listen to when writing my vaguely existential X-game “The NPCs Are Dead”, which ended up not actually being that interesting. I’m sure everyone’s at the edge of their seats for “Waiting For Packet Handout”/“Waiting for the GMs”, though.
  • It All Depends, The Paper Raincoat
  • Lemonade, We're About 9. I find this one super-evocative.
  • Words Fail You, Kris Delmhorst
  • Bowling In The Hills, Eddie From Ohio. I'm up and down about Eddie From Ohio but I really like some of their songs. This one's not my favorite, but felt appropriate.
  • Rule Number One, Nate Borofsky
  • Strange Conversation, Kris Delmhorst
  • The Hardest Thing to Prove, We're About 9. So much love. This was on my Afterlife playlist, but it's cool enough to go again.
  • Lying In My Grave, Tylan
  • Ghost Boy, Coyote Grace
  • Galileo, The Chorallaries of MIT (covering Indigo Girls). No link for this version, and I had the original in some other playlist recently.
  • Simile Song, Eddie From Ohio
  • One True Thing, Tylan
  • The Blessings, Dar Williams. Yeah, this has too much overlap with my Σ playlist. I started it first, though, and also whatever.
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's, Rockapella covering Deep Blue Something. Except the link is to the original, because I couldn't find the version I have and also the video's good.
  • Closer to Fine, Indigo Girls
  • Live With This, We're About 9. Yeah, there's a lot of overlap.
  • Everything's Easy, Girlyman
  • This Must Be The Place, Miles Fisher covering Talking Heads

Saying Yes

Mar. 3rd, 2016 06:56 pm
kihou: (Dr. Morden clone #187)
There's an oft-quoted maxim in Dogs in the Vineyard to "say yes or roll the dice" (and the concept has been stated in other ways elsewhere). The idea is whenever a player tries to do something, you either have it just happen or have them roll for it, but you don't say "you can't". This may be obvious, but I was recently thinking about how this doesn't hold up when pushed to extremes, or more precisely when different people have incompatible concepts for the game.

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kihou: (Dr. Morden clone #187)
I've been thinking about, if I were putting together a full system for Librarians Errant (aka Battle Librarians of Gnosi), what it would look like. I've thought about it both in powered-by-the-apocalypse terms and Chuubo's terms (which makes sense, as those are the main systems I'm manic about these days). And in thinking about how I'd express something in either system, I came to realize how the systems feel different to me. They're both systems with a focus on narrative, to large extent. But Apocalypse World feels more focused on choices within limits, whereas Chuubo's is more on open-ended creativity. And this division reminds me on distinctions in Guild LARPs.

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kihou: (Journaling at Stonehenge)

Intercon happened! It was fun! I deliberately went for games that seemed different from what I've played before and high-concept, which led to me playing no "secrets and powers" games this time around. It was cool to push the boundaries of LARP from different angles.

Friday Night: The Inversion of Me and My Room

Really well-done. The most surreal experience I've had in a LARP, and I highly recommend playing it when it runs in the future (with the caveat that it's intense and people with concerns might want to chat with the GM about content). An amnesia/scenes LARP with very evocative prop conventions and a very interesting progression. It'll be running again various places, and people should play it!

Also, it had character packets in a folded booklet, instead of separate pieces of paper. It worked really well for this setup, because some pages were closed with stickers for you to open at the appropriate time, but I'm sorta manic about this idea in general as being easier to deal with and not requiring manilla envelopes.

Saturday Morning: Darkness Visible

Very interesting. Alternated between scenes of Milton's life and scenes from Darkness Visible, Milton's great poem. Different from other LARPs I've played, most notably because the outcome of each scene was predetermined from history or the poem, so the play was more about interpreting or understanding than deciding. (I think someone used the term "fateplay".) It was also the first game I've played where I've gotten to use meta-techniques as a player, which was interesting, though I feel like it was sufficiently on-rails that meta techniques were a bit less interesting then they could've been in an open-ended game. But the LARP presented Milton's life, circumstances, and work in a really engaging way, highlighting parallels and really making you think about things in a way beyond reading about them. Very literary in feel; definitely glad I played despite not knowing anything about Paradise Lost when I signed up (and not getting very far in when I tried reading it before Intercon).

Saturday Afternoon: two runs of Wishing Well

It went really well! People seemed to have a good time, it was zany and random, and it seemed to be just about the right length. It achieved our goal as a light, silly, cooperative short game.

Saturday Early Evening: The Road Not Taken

Small turnout, but I was still glad to get a chance to play it. (Basic premise is that everyone takes turns being a person in a realistic situation making a tough decision, and everyone else is voices in their head representing parts of their personality or simulated versions of people involved.) Some of the decisions got pretty heavy and there was some very strong roleplaying. Because of the small turnout, we mostly doubled up on voice roles, which was interesting and fun but probably created a bit of a different experience. With a full cast, though, I'd worry about less-assertive players having trouble getting enough time to speak.

Saturday Late Evening: running Persona: Too Late

Definitely more interesting and better set up than when I ran it two years ago. Still has some balance issues, and I messed up time management, causing some players to have to leave for a midnight game before endgame resolved. I think I'm in a good position to polish it for the Guild run in April, though.

Sunday Morning: Cats Like Food

It was a very Sunday morning game. Not much plot, spend an hour and a half roleplaying a cat. Not my normal sort of thing, but it was fun.

kihou: (Journaling at Stonehenge)
  • Follow The White Rabbit, Jennah Bell
  • Elements, Lindsey Stirling. Because the elemental attacks personas use clearly need a song. Also the music video is badass.
  • Reach Out to the Truth -Inst version-, Shoji Meguro. Earlier versions had even more songs from Persona 4, but I tried to cut it down.
  • その影 (The Shadow), Susumu Hirasawa (from Paprika)
  • The Demon Power, Joe Hisaishi (from Princess Mononoke). Arguably this only made the cut because it's very short, but it seems thematically appropriate.
  • Son Of A Gun, Joe Iconis
  • I Stopped Listening, We're About 9. Don't seem to be able to find a link for it. I was trying to come up a song the right type of fighting/unhealthy relationship that didn't seem too much specifically romantic/a breakup song. I guess this is probably still talking about a romantic relationship, but it still has a good feel.
  • Lost, Zoë Keating
  • Hopeless Wanderer, Mumford & Sons
  • Hiding from Shadows, Ari Pulkkinen. Title was too perfect to pass up.
  • Long Past Gone, Jami Sieber. Thematically appropriate and also from Braid, a very well-done time-travel video game.
  • We were so wrong!, Besides
  • The Bad Ending, from CHRONOTORIOUS. I like the conceit that Persona: Too Late starts at the bad ending to a video game. Also, Chrono Trigger's my other favorite time-travel video game.
  • Creeping Death, Apocalyptica covering Metallica
  • The Shadows Theme, from Planescape Torment. This one's also a bit gratuitous, but I'm all over Planescape Torment, so why not. I guess there are some related themes.
  • Searching Through Time, Hejira. I'm not actually all that into this song, but it won "most apropos time-travel-related title".
  • Over the Top Fight Scene, The Filmographers
  • I'll Face Myself -Battle-, Shoji Meguro
  • Nothing Else Matters, Resonance covering Metallica
  • Blood Test, Kris Delmhorst. Probably doesn't really make sense, but I like the idea of a blood test to distinguish figments or impostors from reality and it sorta makes sense with personas being masks and such.
P.S. That Resonance version of Ghost I mentioned a while back? They never got back to me, but apparently their old CDs are available online due to bad AFS permissions, so yay? So you can listen to it via stuff.
kihou: (Journaling at Stonehenge)
This is my response to Zan's playlist that had a premise I somehow can't find in my email, but was basically about explaining your identity. I made mine my normal length instead of the more restricted thing she had to do, and I guess it sorta ended up being more of a musical scrapbook than the direction hers went.
  • Quick, Eddie from Ohio. These first few are for my various canonical alters. This one's for μ. I've actually got a handful for her, but this one felt best.
  • Mamma, Cut Me Deeper!, Joe Iconis. This one's for Blood. It's not completely right, but can't beat the feel
  • Longing of the Wind, from CHRONOTORIOUS (based on Chrono Trigger). Naut was hard, and I didn't end up coming up with any options that weren't instrumentals. This one has a good feel and is from a game that both seems relevant and has "Chrono" in the name. (Bonus nostalgia playing Chrono Trigger on the Shinkansen going to visit Mika.)
  • Live With This, We're About 9. Nonny was also hard, but this one seems good and reasonably positive. Also, I really like it.
  • When I Was a Boy, Dar Williams. I'm not sure I have any songs that really feel genderqueer the way I am, but this seems closer than the more trans songs I have. You could say it's for Xiomara.
  • Voices In My Head, Joe Iconis. I like this a lot, even if it's a little plotty for a playlist. You could look at it as for the Committee or as a transition from the first part to "meaningful songs".
  • Always With Me, from Spirited Away. Even though I canonically say that Nausicaä's my favorite, Spirited Away had more of an impact on me, tied in with Area Studies and also my concept of "gravity"/meaning.
  • Do You Want To Build A Snowman?, from Frozen. Unsurprisingly.
  • I Hope You Dance, Lee Ann Womack. Hey, I've still got the sign on my wall. Had a big impact on me from Alpha to Undergrad.
  • The 59th Street Bridge Song, Simon and Garfunkel. Hey, I played it in Science Olympiad on that thing with Flint. Those quarter note triplets! Also, mindfulness or whatever.
  • Sea Fever, Kris Delmhorst. Some of these I guess are just my canonical favorites, songs that feel meaningful but it's hard to explain exactly why.
  • Galileo, Indigo Girls
  • 天体観測 (Tentai Kansoku), BUMP OF CHICKEN
  • The Blessings, Dar Williams
  • Speechless, Girlyman
  • Who Will Sing Me Lullabies?, Kate Rusby. This one is probably the one I'm least able to explain. My inability to explain this song ties in with a particular memory with Sarah, though. ^_^
  • When Sheila Dances, Homunculus. Jenny Goldman's death had a pretty big impact on me despite my not knowing her all that well. This song's tangled up on that, but also quite powerful itself.
  • Only Trees, Natalia Zukerman. I care a lot about trees.
  • I Choose Me, Kate Klim. I really like songs that subvert listener expectations, and I also like the concept that sometimes it's good to put yourself first.
  • Code Monkey, Jonathan Coulton. It's clearly descriptive of my day to day life. ^_^ Also, that time I got all emotional explaining to Mom about the Code Monkey Dance.
Now, for my next trick, I need to actually figure out the tune for my Sassy Jazz Song.

New Year's

Dec. 31st, 2015 08:02 pm
kihou: (Journaling at Stonehenge)
This is what I have for a New Year's Playlist. It has some overlap with Zan's, but I'm not going to care this time.
  • Famous Blue Raincoat, Jonathan Coulton (covering Leonard Cohen, of course)
  • Year's End, from a Winter's Solstice Reunion
  • Pretty Good Year, The Chorallaries of MIT (covering Tori Amos). The best link I could find is to some compilation CD, it's track 17.
  • Happy New Year from Rent, I guess. I really like it, but it's a bit plotty for a playlist.
  • New Year, Raining Jane. I heard a Winterbloom cover of this and fell in love with it. "All I know for certain is nothing's meant to last." The Winterbloom version doesn't seem to be anywhere, but the original is also great.
  • Paralytic States, Against Me! I'm actually pretty into Against Me!, which suggests that I should listen to more punkier stuff or something. Or that I should catch them when they're in town in February.
  • Starting Over, We're About Nine
  • January, The Paper Raincoat


Dec. 22nd, 2015 08:48 pm
kihou: (Journaling at Stonehenge)
In response to Zan's Human Resilience playlist, I finished up a playlist on a similar theme.
kihou: (Journaling at Stonehenge)
Zan posted some, so here's some holiday songs that weren't on my Agnosticalia CD, in no particular organization.
kihou: (Dr. Morden clone #187)
Recently, I joined a 13th Age campaign. It's basically a simplified D&D with more of a focus on story elements. (Apparently, combat is very close to 4th Edition D&D without a grid and maybe some fiddlier dice-detail caring.) There were two things that particularly stood out to me as interesting.

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kihou: (Dr. Morden clone #187)
The difference with Jenna's system that I didn't get into is the probabilities behind the Yahtzee-esque dice mechanic.

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kihou: (Dr. Morden clone #187)
So, after my last post, I started to wonder, if XP actions and Apocalypse moves are playing in a similar space, if you could add Apocalypse move-style dice mechanics to Chuubo's XP actions. The conclusion I came to is "not really".

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kihou: (Dr. Morden clone #187)
One thing I was thinking about, playing Chuubo's, was how XP actions play a similar role to Apocalypse World moves in setting genre.

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kihou: (Journaling at Stonehenge)
Sarah's got a new Patreon to crowdfund her making free-to-the-public materials to teach kids about nature in the city. Y'all should check it out!

Support Sarah Tuttle creating resources for helping city kids connect to nature
kihou: (New hair)
I just talked about HGing my first Chuubo’s game on Sunday. This post is not really about that. It’s about my ridiculous manic PDF hackery to prepare materials for it.

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kihou: (Dr. Morden clone #187)
So, I just played the Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-granting Engine RPG Halloween Special, as a marathon one-shot. (We only got through one-third of the quest space.) It was a lot of fun; people got really into their characters and there was lots of laughter and silliness. Mechanically, it seemed like there was a big much to keep track of but it worked well overall.

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