Author Topic: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)  (Read 504571 times)

metalwhisper

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #195 on: March 19, 2012, 01:57:33 PM »
Hey Caleb, thanks for sharing your workflow for creating rpg sessions with the rest of us. I've been thinking of gamemastering Eclipse Phase quite a bit lately, and have been mining RPPR for advice and suggestions. Did the same thing for Call of Cthulhu a while back and it really helped. I see EP as an even bigger challenge than CoC, given the complexity of the setting (as mind numbingly cool as it is), so these insights are really useful.
Anyway, keep up the good work. That goes for the rest of RPPR as well. You guys rock.

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Caleb - How much time writing and preparing do you do for each Know Evil session?

Ummm...I like flowcharts a lot. Like...A LOT. So I design a Prezi with the plot hooks for a tier of the campaign, complete with arrows connecting interrelated adventures. I also animate the presentation to show what order the PC's tackled the previous tier's  plothooks so I don't forget. Each tier takes me about 4-5 hours to plan out that way.

I use the Prezi to keep the big picture in my head. At the end of each session or group of sessions, I ask the guys what plothook they want to hit next.  They decide, and then that's the scenario I write up.

Past that, there is a ton of variation. At this point, I've run a session-and-a-half based off a single drawing I made on a bit of scrap-paper while my kids were taking a test. I've also run single sessions that ate through 21 pages of typed material (single spaced). If I average up my page-count, it seems like I'm wringing a play session out of every 7 pages of typed material.

I'm know I'm doing a lot more work than necessary. I'll often write pages and pages of setting description just for my own edification; most of it never gets mentioned in the game. Or I'll spend an hour stating out a path to the objective that I'm fairly certain no one in the group will ever select. I think I do this because RPG stuff is a form of procrastination I never really feel guilty about ("It's not for ME; it's for the PLAYERS!"). It also might be the way I've chosen to play the game; I probably wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it.

Sorry, I'm getting off on a tangent....For an EP scenario, 10 pages or so of material is a good size for a single, self-contained scenario of 3-4 hours.  The setting is pretty dense and encourages realism (they aren't going to get a quest from a Tavern/ why rescue the princess when we can restore from backup?/ etc) so including some of the Act I and II stuff that gets cut in most RPG's means the actual writing requires a bit more work. Ten pages will give your PC's enough setting description to give them room to play, some investigative footwork, and an encounter or two. Anything more than that and you are probably looking at a two-parter.

I write on my day off and try to do two or three sessions worth of stuff at a shot. That takes me...4-5 hours? So I guess I do a little under 2 hours of work per session. There are a lot of resources out there to speed things up. NPC files are fucking essential; I would not GM without that PDF. Sunward is the best supplement so far (though Gatecrashing will always hold a place in my part) because it gives the best idea of how the factions interact. And go on the EP forums because there is a ton of stuff you can steal and plug in.

I'm finding that things are getting easier the further we get along, but then again, I'm consciously trying to improvise more and plan less. In a campaign, established PC's can pull a lot of the narrative weight once they get their legs under them. I did a shit-ton of planning up front for the Luna finale, but I'd say the last 6-7 hours of gameplay were entirely player-driven. The Earth tier is starting with a pregen setting (The Stars Our Destination) where we are just taking care of player subplots. So I suspect things get less labour intensive the longer you play, but I'm not sure. Once I relax myself into writing and running a game I'm not proud of, I guess I'll have found my equilibrium.

Sorry...I rambled on. IN SUMMATION: I'm the new guy, but I know what works for me. Ross could probably give you better idea of how much work should go into a single session.

Anyway, thanks for the interest Salkovich!
« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 03:49:29 PM by metalwhisper »

Cthuluzord

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #196 on: March 25, 2012, 03:43:11 PM »
For those interested, I'm running four games at GenCon this year for ArcDream. I don't know when they'll be scheduled exactly, but I'll post the descriptions here. The three using Nemesis are the horror adventures Ean and I will be releasing in the kickstarter that will go up in a few months. I'll also be running "The Dangers of Fraternization" again, the same A Dirty World scenario I ran last year.

Bryson Springs
 
System: Nemesis
Number of players: 6 players
 
In June of 1935, the Dust Bowl still plagued the American Southwest, a third of all people were out of work, and the government’s path to recovery was far from certain. Amidst this Great Depression, the Bryson Springs Ranch suffered a hardship altogether more extraordinary. People were dying in the migrant workers’ shantytown, dying in horrific, mind-boggling ways.
 
Players take the roles of strangers, cast about by the hard times and drawn into the nightmare that is Bryson Springs. They must band together to confront the things which stalk the desert night, hunting the downtrodden for their dark and blasphemous god.
 
The Red Tower

System: Nemesis
Number of players: 6 players

1931, Chicago: Capone’s reign has ended, and it remains to be seen how much of Chicago’s corrupt infrastructure will be dragged down with him. As two-bit criminals scramble to establish themselves in the power vacuum, the exposed corruption presents an opportunity for muckraking socialists to provoke the downtrodden into revolution. Meanwhile, the government must intervene to stop the commies and audit the more legitimate business holdings listed in Capone’s infamous ledger. Despite their cross purposes, each faction finds itself stymied by an unknown forces. The mobsters are missing a Capo who was never swept up in the raids. A socialist reporter has never returned from his undercover assignment. The government has to contend with a huge factory which, according to records, shouldn’t exist.
 
What mysteries does the Red Tower hold? Can the players put their social differences aside long enough to survive the supernatural cancer secretly festering in the heart of Chicago’s meat-packing district?
 
The Fall Without End

System: Nemesis
Number of players: 6 players

1931, Alaska: As America comes to grips with the real cost of Black Tuesday, the government becomes desperate to find distractions for an increasingly rebellious population stirred by endless woes. As proven by Charles Lindbergh, the people love nothing more than heroes capable of great deeds, and the government is willing to buy itself some at any price. Alaska’s Mount McKinley, the third tallest in the world, is the setting for the publicity stunt, and players will take the role of the brave explorers risking their lives for the photo op.
 
But the mountain is far older than any human civilization and home to terrors far worse than any economic recession. As players struggle up the infamous Wickersham Wall, will they be able to survive the combined onslaught of the elements, gravity, and vertiginous horrors from another reality?

The Dangers of Fraternization

System: A Dirty World
Number of Players: 4-6

Berlin, 1946. The once mighty city lies in ruins, controlled jointly by powers that are Allies in name only. Identical mother-infant
murders take place on either side of the Russian-American border, and now a third newborn has gone missing. Soviet NKVD and the U.S. Army military police launch a joint effort to find the killer, centered around a burlesque club that’s a hot spot for the resurgent German underworld. In danger of losing their investment, the crime bosses of Berlin suddenly find themselves as eager to find the murderer as their occupiers. Can this hasty alliance find justice, or will it implode under the weight of national intrigue, old grudges and human greed?
« Last Edit: March 25, 2012, 03:47:32 PM by Cthuluzord »

crawlkill

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #197 on: March 28, 2012, 07:09:01 PM »
so how hard will it be to blackjack Ross, borrowsteal his shit and get Bryson Springs 2.0 recorded? I wanna go back to Otiss! I don't even know how to visualize Dangers of Frat sans Thad.

Capitalocracy

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #198 on: March 28, 2012, 11:35:40 PM »
Wickersham Wall? WTF?  :o

So I'd never heard of that, but that's my name, so I had to look it up. Turns out it's named after a guy who failed to climb it. We must be related.

Cthuluzord

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #199 on: March 29, 2012, 12:03:32 AM »
In terms of dates, the Wickersham wall thing works out for the story. They found out his summit likely failed around the time I needed the game set. A team successful made a summit in 1932, I believe. So I figured I'd have the PC's fail to climb it one more time, for more...exotic reasons.

Tadanori Oyama

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #200 on: April 06, 2012, 01:42:21 PM »
Hey, you remember that anecdote about Eclipse Phase from the podcast episodes? When the players refused to work with that neo-raven because he was a violent person? I know that the Wild Talents game here was before that in real time (I think anyway) but did you see that same thing happening during the game, cus I found it pretty funny.

beej

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #201 on: April 12, 2012, 11:09:42 PM »
Hey Caleb, have you read anything by Bulgakov.  I just reread The Master and Margarita and it made me think of you and your games.  Behemoth in particular. 
"Old R'lyeh Brewery. Enjoy a cold one on the Great Old One!"

Cthuluzord

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #202 on: April 13, 2012, 05:18:00 PM »
I haven't read hardly any russian literature, sadly. Dostoevsky and that's it. I need to get on that. Can I ask what reminded you of what wikipedia tells me is a talking, devil-cat thing that can take the shape of a man?

I mean...I'm flattered, but I'm curious.

clockworkjoe

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #203 on: April 13, 2012, 05:23:10 PM »
I'm guessing death traps

beej

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #204 on: April 13, 2012, 09:27:08 PM »
Well looking at the book from a rpg perspective it falls into what I think is your bend on games.  You're own actions will do you in ala Wages of Sin and the more casual side of horror ala EP and CoC (Bryson's Spring in particular).  The monsters are out to get you but not in a 'we have to feed human flesh through the door slot' manner or defenestrate  cultists.

I'm not knocking Tom or Mr. Glancy.

Behemoth is that causal horror that you do so well.  The cat willing to pay the fare to ride a trolley or sit enjoy some chilled vodka and cavier.  But at the same time it has no problem popping your head off your shoulders like a cork or gunning you down with .45s.   

"Old R'lyeh Brewery. Enjoy a cold one on the Great Old One!"

Cthuluzord

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #205 on: April 15, 2012, 12:34:59 PM »
So...I am an idiot. I banked on my school board not being idiots and GenCon being held around roughly the same time.

My board just sent next years approved calendar. My first day with students is the 16th. I'll have to work all through GenCon, and there is absolutely no way out of it.

Fuck...

Tadanori Oyama

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #206 on: April 16, 2012, 04:22:56 PM »
Well that sucks. I suppose this supports the theory that the US Department of Education is trying to crush the roleplaying game industry.

In an effort to put a positive spin on things, you should still do the Kickstarter and make this widely known so you can get sympathy money on top of your gamer money.

beej

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #207 on: April 16, 2012, 11:16:40 PM »
Yes! Kickstarter!
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AmishNinja

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #208 on: April 20, 2012, 03:13:55 PM »
Aw man, that's unfortunate news.

I like the idea of the kickstarter, though, and I wanted to ask: do you have plans to release Dangers of Fraternization in any form?

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Re: Caleb is a mad genius (or Yet Another Fan Club Thread)
« Reply #209 on: April 20, 2012, 04:16:38 PM »
Tell you what, if the Kickstarter meets and Stoltze is okay with it (copyright-wise), I'll just dump it on the internet. We can use the same page we'll have to build for the horror scenarios.