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Trollbabe!

Hi all, here’s a link to a session in the Trollbabe game I’ve been playing with Adept Play stalwart Robbie and his daughter Lara. I had a lot of artistic involvement with Trollbabe in the early days, but never managed to play it successfully oh so many years ago, so to finally get it off the ground is really satisfying. It’s turned into a bit of a project, as you’ll see.

As of now, we’ve played four sessions - the first was unrecorded due to technical difficulties and featured Robbie solo. What I’m posting here is the second session, kinks and all - I stumbled a bit with the prep, resulting in a slow start for Lara’s troll babe; we didn’t use the relationship mechanics at all. But it was a lot of fun and the resulting stories felt rewarding. I’ve got some things in mind to work on for future sessions:

-better prep, giving more thought to how character relationships can be setup in different ways around any given stakes issue. “Us over here vs. them over there” is a different feel from family ties split across both sides of the stakes, for instance. Also, taking a moment during prep for each adventure to think about how the situation in the first scene will present itself — as opposed to literally not thinking about it all until I say “So you’re walking across the field, and . . . “

 -More conscious attention to checking in on the pivots -- structural elements of the gameplay that are meant to guide escalation of the action. I’ve been kinda doing it by the seat of my pants, and so far not terribly I think, but I want to think a little more critically about what’s going on in the game.

-Also, I keep forgetting to do the little denouement thing you’re supposed to do, of summing up the impact of the adventure on the region after the troll babe has left.

-Dig into those relationship rules!

Here’s the playlist:

 

 

Department: 
Actual Play
Games: 
Trollbabe

Comments

Ron Edwards's picture

I know I should be talking about play and people and procedures, but this little note is for admiring your freaking introduction and other technical details of the video.

One minor thought: that pivots are entirely unplanned; they are, in Sorcerer terms, fully emergent Bangs. Trollbabe play has no prepped Bangs at all. So it's really important not to miss them, but it's also almost always the case that the skill is to see one because you passed it, not because you master its appearance and precising timing.

Ross's picture

better prep, giving more thought to how character relationships can be setup in different ways around any given stakes issue. “Us over here vs. them over there” is a different feel from family ties split across both sides of the stakes, for instance. Also, taking a moment during prep for each adventure to think about how the situation in the first scene will present itself — as opposed to literally not thinking about it all until I say “So you’re walking across the field, and . . . “

I'd be interested to dig into this a bit more. It seems to me that there are useful things for the GM to have thought about before play in this and similar games, but they need to be the right sorts of things so that you can also respond to the player prompts - in this case the named location (but also probably some other stuff that's less obvious?).

My guess is that to be most effective there is a balance between specific enough to bring in the variety you allude to Rod, and general enough that what you have prepped doesn't drown out the players inputs. What have you / are you finding to work?  This is something I struggled with that time we played the Pool - where a lot of what I had dreamed up bounced hard off the great stuff you and Robbie created from the image. 

Rod_A's picture

Hi Ross, I typed a long (for me) comment and it disintegrated in the virtual ether, which is a thing that I forgot can happen. But basically - erm, I don't actually have any groundwork prior to the player's location selection, but I don't think that's what I'm grappling with right now. Basic relationships that you can come up with off the top of your head (husband, wife, his sister, her brother) seem to work fine, with appropriate attention to giving each a position about the stakes. To me, framing the opening scene is a more difficult struggle. My tendency to have everything start with one NPC or another yakkety-yakking to the trollbabe about what their problem is has me thoroughly bored with myself - which is why I want to spend more time specifically thinking about how to frame that scene in a way that engages action, not just talk.

I'm curious what your thoughts are on what it was like to run that Pool game. I'm not sure I see a strong connection to Trollbabe, as in that game our pre-play contributions to building the setting and situations were huge in scope. Whereas at the start of Trollbabe the player just makes up their trollbabe, walks into a scene and sees what's there for them to respond to.

robowist's picture

I'm glad that Ross is weighing in, as  both his Pool and his Legendary Lives experiences will be valuable in a discussion of preparation. I'm in the midst of rereading Trollbabe cover to cover to help me to crystalize some thoughts. I hope to put together a longer post once I've taken time to digest it. One of the issues we've run into is that, while the bare-bones prep approach worked beautifully for our first session, now that we are many sessions in, it seems that a slightly different approach is required.

One preliminary thought: The Trollbabe is first introduced with a scant history. She carries a few items, exhibits some magic abilities, has a fighting style, and is now walking along at some place on the map for an unspecified reason. She's a tabula rasa. But during the first adventure and then onwards, she accumulates experiences, makes friends and enemies, and begins to take stock of the world. Perhaps we also learn more about the human and trollish items she carries.

So, for the second adventure, she now has more of a background to work with, and it seems natural that that background might factor into the adventure. Up to this point, we have brought one adventure to an end, and, at the beginning of the next session, I've just pointed to another location on the map. Briga (my trollbabe) is now wandering in that location for some unspecified reason, just as she was wandering at the start of our opening adventure. But as experiences accumulate, Briga might sometimes wander with a more focused goal in mind. 

In our last session, Rod, Lara and I hit a snag, and we stopped to evaluate our approach. One idea we had: it might make better sense for me to determine where Briga would wander next (and perhaps why she would be there) at the END of an adventure. The GM would then be able to consider how elements of Briga's growing biography might factor (or not) into the new stakes of the next adventure.

Rod_A's picture

Since Robbie mentions it, I should probably clarify: the game text doesn't say that the choice of subsequent locations and associated prep happens at the beginning of the next session. I had chosen to do it that way because it seemed to be working out, until I decided (yesterday) that it wasn't.

Rod_A's picture

I reviewed yesterday's footage a little bit and realized how tired and draggy I was at the start of that session. Maybe things would have gone differently if I were feeling more up -- or if, even not feeling up, I had something prepared in advance that I could lean on.

 

(Incidentally, the footage would have been unuseable -- I had blundered in experimenting with OBS and not putting it back how it was, so a Discord chat window is covering up the call window; and in not putting on headphones, so Robbie's audio is echoed in the recording. All in all, not my best day.)

Ron Edwards's picture

Yeah, the rules say "between adventures" and that's all. It's on purpose: as a player, you can say it right at the end of a session, any time before the next session, or at the start of the next session.

I was typing some more on this topic, and then I realized that I don't want to describe my experiences or feelings about preparing for play, once we have lots of background material and a better sense of who the trollbabes are and what they want. Based on a lot of the recent posts here, I think what I'd say would cause anxiety, for at least some of the readers, not you necessarily. I'd rather let the dialogue here and the ongoing play across many games to do the work, which I also think will be better work.

Ron Edwards's picture

Do I ever understand and sympathize the growing pains with recording play. Remember session 7 of Legendary Lives?

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