Thursday, 15 November 2018

Lag: the End

Begin with the end in mind, right? Here is a section on how to wrap up a campaign of Lag.

Finishing a game

As the game progresses through scenes, each character’s Arc will be explored through their Mission and Calls Home. Throughout this process the characters’ time zones will move from Home to local time, with an accompanying shift in Lag.

Character Arcs conclude in one of two ways:

  1. Going Home. The character returns to their point of origin, either willingly or not.
  2. Stay behind. The character could become naturalised, they could move on instead of going home, they could die, or they could abscond.

Which conclusion happens may be well signposted during play, or it may be a surprise. But one character will always Go Home, and one always Stays Behind.

(simple version)

The game enters its final stage when at least one character’s personal Time Zone equalises with Local Time (i.e. minimum local Lag, and maximum Lag for Calls Home). At that point the character may have two further scenes of their choice. One scene must resolve their Mission, and the other can either resolve their connection Home, or bid farewell to one or more PCs in a Hotel Encounter. After the second scene, they will take their Avatar off the time zone track and place it on the Going Home tile, and narrate their exit.

Following the first character’s exit, all other players must then resolve their Arcs within two scenes of the first character’s scene as before. The last character to conclude must Stay, and the other characters get a free choice.

(alternative version)

There are two Exit Cards on the table: one for Going Home and another for Staying. The first character to end their Arc picks whichever card they want and narrates what happens after they leave the Hotel.

The second character must take the other remaining card on the table; so if the first character Stays, they Go Home.
We now have two players holding Exit Cards. They may intrude on the remaining player’s final scenes as themselves, as NPCs, even as characters from Home by spending Drama Tokens as usual; and just like the other Dramatic Scenes this character wants some concession from the leaving character. If the leaving character grants the concession they accept the card and narrate their exit accordingly. If they refuse they must take the other card from the other player, who narrates that character’s exit and hands their card over.

Once the leaving character’s player has accepted a card they may use it in play in the same way.

(remarks)

I think I prefer the second option because it’s in keeping with the token economy of Dramasystem; but it’s reliant on leaving characters holding excess drama tokens on their exit for it to work. Playtesting needed.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Lag

This is a role-playing game about displacement, jet lag and home sickness. The characters are strangers staying in a luxury hotel in a foreign country.

During play the characters will discover the world outside their hotel life, have meaningful discussions in the hotel bar, and difficult conversations with whoever it is on the other end of the call home.

Lag

All of the characters suffer from Lag, the difference between their personal time zone, the time zone they left and local time. As the game progresses the characters will move away from their home time zone as they adjust to local time.

Scenes

During the game the players explore each character’s arc in three kinds of scenes:

Mission scenes explore the character’s reason for being here, and will involve their local contacts (to be played by other players). These will be connected with their Archetype (see below).

Calls home scenes explore the character’s ties back home. These connections may be personal (e.g. family, lovers) or professional (e.g. Head Office).

Hotel encounter scenes with other characters in the hotel. Chance encounters in the elevator, the bar, waiting outside the hotel for the morning taxi.

Archetypes

The Celebrity

This Archetype is all about connecting with fans and the public. Their Mission is to entertain, promote something or otherwise use their face and media presence for commercial gain.

The Corporate

This character is here to work with other members of their organisation. They may be discussing strategy, dividing spoils, or electing a leader. The character may well have to defend their territory from rivals.

The Entourage

They’re here simply as a hanger-on to someone else. They may be a child, a lover, or a freeloader. Their mission will be to make the best of their situation and not become bored.

The Entrepreneur

This person is here to buy or sell. Their wares could be rare, illegal or highly valuable; whatever the reason they need to be here to make the deal in person.

The Exile

This character is running from something. Maybe they’re a fugitive from justice, perhaps they’re a disgraced VIP, or they could be a refugee from a war zone.

The Hatchet

This character is a troubleshooter is here to fix a problem that relies on their expertise. This may involve a technical problem, political situation, or silencing someone. Expect hard decisions and not making any friends.

The Pilgrim

The Pilgrim is here to find something. It could be a reconciliation with a lost child or lover. It could be treasure, knowledge, or spiritual enlightenment. It could be inspiration for their next masterpiece.

The Player

This character is a criminal intent on theft of something from an individual or organisation. It could be a heist, a confidence trick, or state or industrial espionage.

Back Home

Examples of people you have left back home:

Domestic

The Domestic connection indicates a family member, dependent or lover. This relationship hinges on personal obligation and conversations will hinge on emotional connections such as family obligations, the status of a relationship, or guilt at being here and not at home to take care of the other person.

Head Office

This is someone with a position of power over the character. Obviously this could be a company boss, but equally it could be a crime boss, a family patriarch or matriarch, or even a client. In each case the conversation will hinge around business obligations, and the cost of the character’s inaction (both threats on the person and what failure means for the character’s organisation).

Nemesis

The last category is someone who poses a real threat to the character. They could be a rival who is eyeing up your territory, a cop who is convinced of your guilt, or a blackmailer who is trying to force you to do something.

The city state

The city-state is a peculiar mixture of ostentatious new wealth and conservative attitudes. It’s eager to court foreign business, and the city centre is a luxurious tourist hotspot and temple to capitalism with outstanding hotels for business guests and a dazzling array of restaurants and retail outlets to tempt passing travellers on an overnight layover. But outside this centre the state rules the population with draconian laws, overcrowding is severe and the gap between rich and poor is vast.

Systems

My first go-to system is Dramasystem and specifically Malandros for the dramatic vs. procedural scenes. In this example the Procedural scenes will probably fit with the character’s personal Mission, and the Dramatic ones will work with Hotel encounters and Calls Home.

PbtA is the alternative, which could work with the usual setup (follow the characters around for the first session) but might require careful consideration of the various Fronts.

Also, playbooks.

Inspiration

Mostly inspired by working for weeks on end in Singapore with an 8 hour time difference from home.

Film examples

RPG examples: Over The Edge (obviously).

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Cow sighted

Been quiet here and on the podcast for various reasons; the main one is I’ve been pouring my creative energies into getting ready for Concrete Cow 18.5 on the 15th September. I’m offering 2 games: in the morning I’ll be running StormHack (that’s Stormbringer meets Whitehack) with the classic Chaosium scenario “Stolen Moments” from the 4th edition Perils of the Young Kingdoms.

Getting ready for that has been relatively straightforward to the afternoon offering, where I’m hoping to run Grand Tableau (aka hipster Everway). I made a fortune deck using Lenormand cards (Pixie’s Astounding Lenormand, to be precise). I’m quite pleased at how it turned out…

First, slip the card into a standard MtG style card sleeve (I do this to protect the original Lenormand cards in case I want them back in the future). Then get some backing card, approximately tarot-sized. We mount the sleeved card onto the larger card with the card meaning below it, like this:

Then slip that whole thing inside a second card sleeve that’s sized for larger cards (I think the sleeves are made by FFG and designed for games like Dixit).

There we go… and the final touch, put the 36 cards inside a nice wooden box.

Quite pleased with this effort, and not a bad way to spend an evening while watching Iron Fist season 2 with one eye. Hopefully I’ll get takers on Saturday.

(the scenario is The Death Hand Of Saint No-One, which is actually a Continuum scenario — we’ll see how it turns out exchanging time travellers for urban magicians)

Monday, 20 August 2018

Pomp

Resurrected my On-One Il Pompino (v2 in Trigger’s Mum’s Bathroom Blue). This was my commuting bike for a 25 mile round trip for about 5 years.

Nitto Noodle bars, 48cm

Halo Aerorage wheel rear and a Mavic Cosmos front (from my first ever upgrade wheelset)

Nitto stem, fizik bar tape, Shimano Br-R550 cantilever brakes

Currently running 47t chainring and 16t/18t cogs and 16t freewheel, which I’m running now. 47×16 is a bit high for inclines and starting off, but actually pretty good on the flat (and the drivetrain is pretty efficient without derailleurs and a good chainline). I’ve got a lot of geared stuff in my parts box but running single/fixed is like coming home.

Friday, 10 August 2018