Thursday, June 14, 2018

Joining the Narrative Bourgeois

For the past month or so, I've been doing a short weekly commute to my hometown to run All of Their Strengths, a delightful little indie game meant to emulate stories of badass supernatural hybrids in the vein (ha!) of Blade, Underworld, and Devil May Cry.

This game is incredibly narrative driven, to the point where the players don't really roll dice. (Well, they do, but not for things their characters are doing.) The game is based on an economy of described actions, described counters, and dice that the GM essentially wagers against the players.

Aside from an awkward and failed attempt at running Fate Core two years ago, I've never run a narrative-based game before. Rather, I've never run a game whose mechanics were narrative-driven, rather than the narrative arising out of the game play. It had some rough spots, but I did find my legs.

The main problem, aside from some vagueness in the rules as written, was getting into the proper mindset. This group of players, hailing from a mostly Pathfinder background, I had trouble accepting that NPCs don't have stats. (Unless their are Dooms, in which case they have only two stats, Danger and Dread, and goddamn if that alliteration didn't make it difficult for me to mentally keep track of which stat did what.) For one thing, our traditionally-minded-mindset had us thinking of Dooms in terms of things that must be defeated by removing dice, dice being somewhat analogous to hit points or health or whatever. This is wrong. Any un-thwarted action in this game succeeds. You can, in fact, kill an elder vampire with a UV grenade (they're a thing in AoTS, just roll with it) if the GM doesn't thwart that action. No hit points, no Fortitude, just narrative logic.

I had brief aspirations of trying to convert this into a more traditional roleplaying game via Fudge, but in the end, I've come to enjoy the system...even if it is a little rough.

The scenario was based on the idea for the one I'm running at KantCon in about a month. (Yessssss!) I'll have to condense it, as I only have a four hour time slot as opposed to 4-5 weekly gaming sessions, but I feel like the tires have been kicked thoroughly enough that I've got a handle on this game.

There's a lot of improv... the system actually doesn't work well with a lot of prep. Hey, I used to do impromptu speaking competitively...right up my alley.

So... who's the OSR Gatekeeper these days? I need to know who to surrender my OSR Membership Card to now that I've sullied myself.

6 comments:

  1. Sounds pretty interesting. I haven't actually played in a non-freeform game that uses narrative like this - unless Everyone is John counts, but I'm still not sure what category that game falls into, if any.

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    1. Never heard of it.
      AoTS is definitely not free form, although the rules manage to clock in around 35 pages. All the rest of the book is dedicated to detailing the various types of supernatural creatures you can bastardize to create your dope-ass hybrid.

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  2. I don't know about gatekeepers, but as the doorman of Castle Inverness said to Macduff, "I pray you, remember the porter!" (I recommend Fullers London Porter, it blows Old Tadcaster right out of the water.)

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    1. I think I had a bottle of John Courage once.

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    2. Isn't that a pale ale? Kind of the opposite of porter!

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    3. I'm an uncultured swine, so I have no idea.

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