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Burdens for good or ill

Consulting for Tales of Entropy has become almost a way of life, considering the multiple sessions, the length of the sessions, and the processing throughout. Especially for a game which is entirely finished and published, thus system development isn't the point, and for a game whose typical play-time is single-session and relatively short, in the two-hours-plus range.

Petteri's aim in seeking the Scorch was to examine promotion, rather than design/development. In this video we came back to that and considered video methods as well as identifying best practices, in terms of teaching rather than writing. I'm beginning to think this distinction is one of my tenets for consulting.

One thing I don't want for Adept Consulting is for it to be perceived as reviews. I have no star or other rating system; I don't provide judgments at that level. Avoiding that zone of internet activity while at the same time providing public displays of system scorching is tightrope territory.

Briefly, insofar as it's necessary to say so, I like Tales of Entropy and will be carrying it about in public/opportunistic play venues. I'll be carrying some cautionary thoughts and participant-focusing practices too. Specifically, that the rules concerning Burdens are the game's greatest opportunity but also its most dangerous potential zone of failure. You'll see this discussed carefully in the video, so here I'll just say it's a gutsy design whose potential payoff is something I'd like to enjoy in future play.

We also discussed our experiences of the game we've played and which is presented here at the site, which leads to possibly personal commentary and certainly individualized judgments. I snipped out most of that which concerned people by name. Unfortunately, the two exceptions concern the same person, Paul, which conveys the false impression that I was focusing negatively on him. For reference, they were:

  • playing one's character without advocacy, so that others have no reason not to saddle him or her with Idiot Ball or Villain Ball burdens
  • as the new Narrator, framing entirely different circumstances and problems from what was established to have been happening

However, in each case, the more general point applies pretty well to several players' use of the rules in question in our game, me included. For instance, I put in an annotation to acknowledge that all the negativity I perceived in his play of Arcturus could easily be observed by others in my play of Zocchi. And I think all of us struggled a bit with what a new Narrator can say, change, establish, and decree; in the final session, you can see me groan when I learn it's my turn because I was finding it so undefined.

So Paul was unfortunate to be the stand-in for those two times in this discussion, but the critique I'm presenting isn't of him. I apologize for any impression which leans that way.

Department: 
Consulting

Comments

Thank you Ron for this great experience. In addition thanks to Santiago and Paul for the game. Even though we had our difficulties the fiction we got was pretty nifty as noted in the video.

Perhaps leaving this slogan "You can learn something from your own game" is the definite approach I would have to this consult. Considering the fact that the game was already published and I had played it for some years, this is quite significant.

I encourage anyone who is in a situation like me to try. More insight is always good.

Ron Edwards's picture

It was a pleasure. I am reluctant to take on projects that are very far advanced in production, and this was the first time someone wanted to consult about an already-published game. But I think we kept our eyes on the goal and were able to finish successfully. I learned a lot too.

Santiago Verón's picture

I just wanted to say, not only that I enjoyed playing with you and meeting you, but also that I enjoyed watching this video and learned from it. Perhaps some day I'll organize my own Entropy game, and we'll see how much could I learn from just playing the game and not reading it. Hugs to everyone!

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