RPPR Episode 119: Duality Post Mortem

rimwardNews: No Soul Left Behind is out! BUY CALEB’S BOOK! If you backed Boiling Point, check the Kickstarter to read the text for Sparkles the Unicorn.

Synopsis: Duality, a Rimward and gatecrashing focused Eclipse Phase campaign recently wrapped up on the Actual Play site. You can browse the entire list of episodes here if you need to catch up. Caleb, Tom, Aaron, and I discuss the campaign and what we liked and didn’t like about it. It took a long time to play and run and we did learn a little about ourselves and our favored play styles by doing so.

Shout Outs

  • The Annihilation Score: The latest in the Laundry novel series. An occult violinist battles demons, both personal and external.
  • Margin Call: a movie about the 2008 financial crisis and who caused it.
  • Exile: An extremely Lovecraftian horror film with some rather terrifying body horror.
  • Concept: A board game about figuring out phrases from common symbols.
  • Sonic Dream Collection: It’s like Deviant Art manifested itself.
  • Last Week Tonight – Televangelists: John Oliver examines how televangelists can make money without taxation because religion.

Song: D a n c e O f C a t s by Datasette

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  1. RE: Aaron’s sympathy monster

    At least Ross wasn’t a complete monster and make him an x-threat and force Aaron’s character to kill him- ala Morty and “Fart”.

  2. RE: Aaron’s sympathy monster

    At least Ross wasn’t a complete monster and made the robot an x-threat, and then force Aaron’s character to kill him-a la that Rick and Morty episode

  3. I can’t remember if I ever asked this on the games’ comments, but was Fetch as a term for a fake human TITAN fork an original Rossism? that was super evocative, I liked it a lot

    I’ve thought a few times in the past about Caleb’s comment about what Duality did to Red Markets design, the way Red Markets as described seemed to be more a Shadowrun-esque game in terms of it structure without necessarily having overarching plots beyond the Stop Being Poor motivation. glad to hear that’s getting specific treatment.

  4. I agree with Caleb, parts of this were really well done(Jupiter, Ceres & Extropia) and presented lots of neat ideas for future campaigns. It did feel very disjointed as there was a lot of bouncing around and the ‘get mission done and onto the next one’ attitude of the team left them more numbers on the sheet than characters to me. The lack of personal missions for characters was disappointing. I feel I’m unfairly comparing Duality with Know Evil when they’re very different campaigns.

    On the subject of more EP campaigns, Proxy Cogburn could become an antagonist trying to complete Manjappa’s plan. An uplift campaign involving the Hidden Concern would be pretty cool and hearing you talk about it gave me an idea for another EP campaign that I would love to run with the right group.

    My idea on what the Mirrored Pillar was: a brain-fucked TITAN dreaming it’s a society of people made up of the minds it had uploaded. The characters saw the simulspace representation of a dreaming TITAN. The deconstruction/reconstruction entry method was something dreamed up by an insane god-mind.

  5. Jovian for intrigue and Xiphos for comedy. Simply the Best.

    1:05:30… People in glass houses Missouri

  6. Author

    Fetches are my term for TITAN delta forks. We’ll see if it becomes official or not.

    @Doug – fair enough. Missouri has its dystopian elements too.

    @Wyrdling – I don’t remember many jump scares – it’s more of a slow creeping doom vibe.

  7. In the Laundry series, Mo is described as a combat epistomologist, which is a type of philosophy about where we get knowledge of ideas or ideas of knowledge, which is even greater than her use of the demonic violin.

  8. Greater in the sense of weirder. She is a combat philosopher.

  9. One thing the EP factions are good for is that you can essentially run a different genre of game for each one. The Jovians are fantastic for Noir-style games, and the Ultimates are ideal for games styled around Japanese cinema or wuxia – playing up the different sides of the faction through court politics, honor duels and wire-fu.

    … And one day I will run an Anarchist campaign where the PCs must stop a maniac who uses his implanted nanoswarms to change things into space-lumber, whilst persued by a rampaging security bot altered to look like a giant honey badger with plasma-rifle eyes.
    There will also be a man who shoots seekers altered to look like crows.
    He will steal thier money.

    It will be *Glorious*.

  10. Thanks, really insightful wrapup. I have a tendency to run “sampler” campaigns like this too, mostly because I love complex settings and want to show them off to my players (who almost never want to read the setting books themselves). I feel like there were both strengths and weaknesses from Duality that I can learn from. As Aaron said, it worked well to have a recurring villain they were tracking. He was interesting enough to keep the player’s focused, but distant and diversified enough to I think the reason why the Mirrored Pillar didn’t work too well was that it was such a massively strange thing that it begged to be the central focus of a campaign, rather than just one feature among many. So maybe there’s a lesson in avoiding things that are *too* centrally compelling if the goal is an episodic campaign structure.

  11. Sparkles is the best PC and I can’t wait for non-backers to get his pdf. The same with the Masks of Chaos stuff

    The failure of Dark Sun was other peoples fault Ross
    Tom was Morph Designer
    Caleb Async
    Aaron Social Ciirok
    Did I get that right?
    Who was everyone else?

    What do you mean Jason was in town? Did Jason move away?
    I know Thad moved away but Jason did so as well?

    Wait the mirrored pillars bothered Caleb. But the idea of a Call of Cthulhu one-shot set around that truly bothers him.
    another Tribes of Tokyo? Is this referencing the fact Tribes went super Cthulhu at the end. Along with the Samurai One-Shot
    Pressure Rules are strange.
    What Tom why the titanian commonwealth hate.
    Tom doesn’t mean to betray you it is just a thing which happens
    I just so, so love Calebs anger and hate towards Tom. I mean he just played his character. Tom made a giant vampire doom samurai.

    Hey I’d always pull the same lever especially against Jovians. Killing Jovians is never a morally grey thing. Killing a Jovian is actually rewarded with Rep in every faction. Or it should be. Jovian should be a flaw.
    The Jovians are not right though. if anything you cannot say the Jovians are right Ross. Worse yet they are hypocritical, about it and don’t try to hide it.
    Fuck the Jovians
    Fuck people who think the Jovians need sympathy. Fuck people who think the Jovians can be sympathetic. They are space Nazi’s.
    They are the worst parts of the American and Central/Southern American governments and then you try and say they need sympathy? No… you don’t tell people to sympathize with nazi’s

    Yeah the Jovians are easy to understand. Space Nazi is fairly easy to understand.

    Yeah almost like the Ultimates are really really good at there jobs? Oh yeah that is so hard to believe a group is highly secretive and aware of tradecraft.

    Did the sign say will kill Caleb super dead? Like so dead dead that he won’t ever survive?

    Yay the Laundry!
    Yay other things!

  12. I find it ironic that Caleb complains about the kidnapping on Xiphos lacking foreshadowing and being a blindside when I distinctly recall the crew of Release the Kraken excitedly accepting a free ride to a scum swarm from fans on a scum barge.

    Bohimi Aschwebe was not a fan of Release the Kraken, and they did not get the free ride to the scum swarm they were expecting.

  13. Caleb brought up an interesting point for long campaigns that may be worth expanding on in another episode. When you are playing one character in a campaign that suffers from scheduling issues or picking up after a long period of time, how do you keep your character consistent, and yourself still invested in the story?

    The latter I’ve seen solved when the game master does a write up of the previous adventure’s resolutions and weaves in the subsequent adventure’s goals/questions (for example Drunk and Ugly’s Eclipse Phase campaign Thunder and Whirlwind http://drunkandugly.com/category/eclipse-phase/). This solution puts more pressure on the game master of course, and we don’t want that now do we; so what other solutions are there?

    In terms of trying to keep a character consistent from session to session, one of the techniques I remember using with varying success was to jot down three behaviors or feelings my character had at the end of a session on an index card. Reviewing those short notes a week or so later helped me remember what I was experiencing and made reintegration to the character easier.

    With regards to Aaron’s “I will always play a CIROC(sp)”, what about the scientist that designed and coded the original CIROC? Have you considered playing him? Or is he locked down in cold storage for his crimes against transhumanity? Was the CIROC based on any source code? What would that agi/infolife look like? Where did the befuddlement algorithm come from? Is that an emergent property, or were the CIROC’s source code actually based on TITAN warmachines and then the befuddlement and happy-go-lucky algorithms added later to make the CIROCs more pliable?

  14. Duality turning out so episodic is actually great news for me. I did the completely counter-intuitive thing by listening to this postmortem despite having listened to only Hedgerow and Duality #1. For some reason I could never really latch onto the campaign’s initial episodes: the Jovian coup sounded crazy, but I was afraid I’d be lost if I jumped in there. Since it is so episodic, maybe I’ll start from the Hidden Concern episodes this time.

  15. @Twisting H: I find that EP’s knowledge skills and traits, or their equivalent in other systems, are really useful for getting a character down.
    When looking at a new character, or one that hasn’t seen action for a while, it isn’t really helpful to see that a character is good at shooting things and very good at lying, because that describes 50% of all the characters out there.
    But seeing that generic-ex-military-84 has a skill of 80 in “18th century Germanic cuisine” makes him stand out a lot more.

    At the risk of angering the great RPPR gods, I’d like to point at Aspen here: The fact that she was good at Impersonation came up a lot, as did her async powers, but the fact that (iirc) she was an infamous ex-prostitute?
    Hell, the fact that she was a gorilla only really came up in one-liners.

    On the other hand, look at The Spared and the Spoiled – yes, they were all supervillians, but their lives outside the main plot were just as important, and that’s where most of the character defining moments were.

  16. So — who _was_ to blame for the collapse of the Dark Suns campaign? Baiting us like that now is at least as unkind as naming names at this late date!

    Eclipse Phase is ‘hard SF’??? More comedy, guys, please! 😉

  17. Margin call was excellent. It wasn’t about the 2007 collapse of Lehman brothers, but an earlier event that went mostly unnoticed by the rest of us. Which made it worse somehow.

  18. it’s pretty hard! I think the only theoretically unpossible human technology is the goddamn fucking QE communicators. cosmic intelligences are allowed to have technology indistinguishable from magic in hard scifi, that’s in the ruuules.

  19. @crawlkill: I’ve already learned the hard way not to argue with Eclipse Phase fans, so I’ll just say that, miserably and insolently, I still only regard it as pretty cartoonish space fantasy/space opera, albeit in denial. (Not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with that sort of genre.)

  20. So regarding the argument of the Mirrored pillar. I recently started reading up “Gatecrashing” and in that book a lot of what Ross suggested to describe the Mirrored Pillar (A gate to a parallel universe or a hyper advanced simul-space, time travel? etc. Your just never really going to know.) seem to coincide with the suggestions proposed as to what exactly a Pandora Gate could be in your own campaign’s reality. (See page 17: PANDORA GATE RUMOURS). Reading it while re-listening to this campaign made me appreciate Ross’s tactic surrounding this aspect of the games.

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