Whither Business as Usual?

If-then statements.

IF demigods is wrapping up a week from now, THEN we return to business as usual.

The IF statement tests as true, based on Bill’s recent “whither” post, so what does BAU look like.

I’ve been thinking about that, and I don’t feel like I want to go back to Fellowship.[^1] I realize we left on a cliffhanger, and I love all the characters, but man I can’t get the game itself to gel for me. I don’t want to over-analyze why, partly because my feelings on it waffle a bit, but they waffle between two negatives[^2], so it’s not like there’s a resting state where I land on “I’m feeling good about this today, let’s roll!”

“Okay, so… what then?”

Well, it’s not like I alone get to say, but elsethread, I posted:

Now, that was a typo. I meant to say “I like the focus on…”

However, let’s pretend Freudian slips are a real thing and proceed with “I’d like to focus on […] shorter form games.”

I just feel like that might be better, since the longer games have been more Miss than Hit since Masks.

Maybe Henshin? You know what, I’m not going to post ideas in this first post. Maybe downstream a bit. Other people can and should as well.

Anyway. T-8 days to needing a plan. Let the thinking commence.


[^1]: As GM, at least. I haven’t given it any thought from the player side, though I don’t know if I can get my head out of my feelings about the system itself in any case.

[^2]: My feelings oscillate between “the game isn’t calibrated to facilitate the play it wants, via the medium I’m in” and “the game probably works for the author, who knew what they meant when the wrote the words, but not me probably ever, IMO.” With a sizable mid-range devoted to “good art design can make an unfinished game look finished. In this essay I will…”

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Fortunately we have a bunch of options here.

And some of those have been broken out here:

https://forum.menagerie.team/tag/game-pitch?order=op_likes&status=open

Another option is that Fellowship gets wrapped up, but someone else takes the Overlord slot to make that happen. I don’t know how the group as a whole feels about that, but if there’s interest in closure, it seems no more experimental than some of the other games we’ve talked about. :smiley:

So Fellowship remains a game where I love the characters (esp. my own, usually), and I love the concept, and I’m still feeling ambivalent about the rule structure it works in. If we “cancelled the show” I would not feel heartbroken; that the interval since we last played has cooled my ardor for it all as much as it has is probably indicative of something.

Parenthetically, in retrospect, I’m both enjoying and not-enjoying Demigods a lot. That has nothing to do with the GM specifically, I’ll note. I originally had (probably because of the system and the potential of the setting) a real Masks vibe from it, but I find how it’s worked out (in part by my own choices, in part by the group choices, in part by the rules) less satisfying. The character interactions have never quite gelled, for a variety of reasons (again, rules, setting, absences, etc.), which takes a lot from what I was looking for. No blame here, it very much is what it is, and I’m pleased on multiple levels to be wrapping tonight.

As for what next … I kind of like the idea of looking at some (no, really) shorter form game, things designed for a few sessions. I feel like that’s a bit of a cop-out; I’m not sure if the irregular schedule issues of late are just the new normal all around or more of a blip. The drawback to shorter form games is that we’re learning new rules more often. The advantage is we get exposure to a number of things, and aren’t stuck with anything we don’t care for for long.

My two cents (in a sawbuck of words).

I’d be interested in hearing expansion on this at some point, if/when you have time. :slight_smile:

Fair enough. It bears some pondering.

So I should do this while it’s fresh in my mind, and in context of the after-action chat we all had. Plus the final Tale made me feel a bit better about things, so there’s that.

I think part of my general dissatisfaction came from the way the Muse works, which is basically using Sway on everything (for ends good and bad). The circumstances to apply that were kind of limited early days (as much by my imagination as anything else). It did kind of make him a one trick pony; Damien was good at casual interludes, but in a more conventional conflict (“We’re being attacked by tactical sharks!”) he felt much more limited (esp. with a starting Prowess of -1).

(And, yes, Failure leads to Interesting Stuff, and Demigod Prowess, even at -1, is theoretically a big deal. I just still felt limited.)

There was also always this feeling that the character as I wrote him up (and which the playbook reinforced) was a bit of a wastrel; that one of his Thread gainers was “Seduce someone” was kind of discomfiting. In part I didn’t really grok that aspect until we were in flight (Muse was my second choice, but Margie had a really cool concept for Reaper, which was my first, so I was happy to let her have it); that’s my fault for not picking a character / concept I could feel more comfortable with.

As a player, I often have problems with wanting understood limitations around my character and what they can do, and that’s exacerbated by having a writerly interest in characters that, themselves, have (non-rule-based) limitations. That mindset doesn’t lend itself well to characters who are, by definition, divine and theoretically unlimited. I don’t know if it’s a limit of my imagination, or my feeling that pursuing that sort of thing feels like cheating or exploiting the rules or being a sloppy writer, but it never quite clicked all the way for me.

I also tend to need a number of sessions to really figure out how to make a character work. Five in this case. :crazy_face:

For all the game tries to bind the characters together through Tangles (and Tangle-focused advancement), it never really felt like it worked here. This arrangement felt like a bit more pushed version of the standard PBTA “define relationships in advance” mechanism; this mechanic feels like it should work, but often comes off as forcing characterization before gameplay reveals what the connections should be.

(There’s a thought: have each session end of such games actually include creating a new connection of that sort, based on the session’s activities, so that such connections can grow organically.)

(Some Thread mechanism to draw in the family/pantheon stuff would probably make sense for this game, too.)

If all the above feels too negative, I’m probably overstating things. I thought it was a great adventure, and the research that went into the scenarios was nicely done. I had problems finding a comfortable and useful way to act effectively as my character, in part because of how the playbook was set up, in part with how I instantiated it, and in part in how the story went along. There are definitely some lessons there for me to learn and apply for future games.

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Mike mentioned we seem to do well with modern games. I want to ask the follow-up question: is it just modern games, or also/instead games that:

  • have familiar societies, stuff we recognize and feel at home with
  • emphasize or at least support mundane activities like going to lunch with friends, and not just 100% adrenaline adventure

Games like Star Wars can feel familiar: it’s whatever sci-fi tropes you feel at home with. And there’s plenty of games or supplements that encourage ordinary everyday style play. I just finished reading through one for D&D 5e, called Witch+craft.

My favorite. :slight_smile: I could gush about that book for hours.

I think at least part of is something to do with that first one: it’s very easy to add something to the game when it really exists and you can point to it and say “this is not too abnormal.”

And personally, I also like having the second one in play too. I love a good action scene, but having those moments of characters just hanging out and letting things occur in the moment are nice too.

Having said that, I think another thing that helped the last couple of well-liked games was that the group had goals, but had latitude in how to accomplish those goal and the goals weren’t all encompassing. Let’s look at some example:

  • Masks: Team of superheroes, protecting the city. But in 50-ish sessions we only ever got into (I think) eight super hero fights, the rest was left up to us to explore our own goals, interact with cool NPCs and inhabit our characters.

  • Demigods: Team of demigods, protecting Kronos. But we also had a party, went to the underworld, and went on double dates.

  • Scum and Villainy: Team of smugglers… though not really, because no one was really invested in the smuggling part, more like a team of space weirdos doing… well not smuggling. Mostly space repo.

  • Fellowship: Team of champions of various factions, fighting an evil overlord. Did meet a lot of fun NPCs, but it’s not like we could continually interact with them because we were constantly on the move and they weren’t. I specifically remember a conversation mostly going “I really like this NPC, I’d like to have them around, but I don’t want them to lose the things that make them cool by being a companion.” That is an issue.

In further notes, looks like I might be out the last week of March (week of the 30th) and some more weeks going forward. More info as I get it, but it looks like BAU for me is that there is no BAU.

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I guess I can just also suggest the obvious. If people enjoyed Masks, just run Masks again :smiley: If people didn’t enjoy it, I haven’t heard that yet. Ditto other games people enjoyed in the past.

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I will note that we had initially decided to go to other games as a palate cleanser from masks and that was at least half a year ago. I know my palate at least is cleansed.

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Yyyyessss … that sounds right. For a couple of reasons:

  • It makes for easy/familiar roleplay.
  • It supports powers and abilities and skills and goals that are not just “I SLAY MANY, MANY THINGS.”

The conflict here is in the game system – it encourages connections with NPCs and adding them to the Fellowship Entourage … but that always felt a bit weird because the eponymous group … didn’t do that. If anything, it shed members over time.

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We certainly teed that up as a possibility at the time. Options that come to mind:

  1. Something completely new – a fresh city, fresh heroes, a whole new world.
  2. A continuation of what we had (with suitable evolutions as folk feel comfortable with).
  3. The Next Gen. The children (or mentees) of Jason and Alycia. Leo and Aria’s kids. Etc. Magus Charlotte as mentor / quest-giver. All that jazz.
  4. Same city, new characters/team, with a decent smattering of crossovers from the olden days.

I would be totally into 2-4, and probably okay with 1.

Not the only thing in the world possible, and there’s always that risk of trying to recapture the lightning in the bottle, but … I’d be game, if someone felt inspired to run it.

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Speaking of Masks and getting the band back together, I find it very serendipitous that someone on Reddit brought up this same topic. Nothing too substantial on the thread yet, but just interesting coincidence.

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Got this ball rolling here. Game Pitch: Masks

Alright, we are T-5 days till game. Where are people’s feelings at with games? Do we wanna try a new Masks game or something else?

I ask only cause if I have to start learning a new rules set I want some heads up, and even coming up with a character. I’d personally cast my vote for Masks but I’m good with whatever.

So what is the general opinion?

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Thanks for asking, because both points are valid!

Since I’m not offering to run a game[1], and I’m pretty flexible on the whole thing, I don’t feel like my opinion is all that helpful aside from encouragement.

I’d vote for Masks, but sort of in the “Sure, mushrooms on the pizza is fine, I like them” kind of way – the cool think is we’re gaming (having pizza) and as long as it’s not a Roll20 version of “Puerto Rico” (pineapple and anchovies), I’m cool.


[1] One of these days.

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I am still out of pocket moving, though I should still be available Monday. Masks is cool with me, though I am also open to any alternatives anyone else wants. In the end though, want I most want to play is whatever someone is excited to run.

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It’s gonna be Doyce or me running something at this point.

Doyce, it sounds like people are vague but open to any of the options. Where are you on this?

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