This is when something really complex develops and expands right within my grasp, while I’m learning just what it is we’re making only at the last possible moment, and knowing I’m not quite good enough to do it justice at the moving margins.
Now I know that the area is called The Haven by its inhabitants, whereas everyone else calls it the Haunted Hills, specifically Hag’s Nook, and that the village called Green Rock Way used to be merely the sparsely-inhabitated crossroads including the way to the substantial village Green Rock. And I know why.
My prep process at this point probably deserves a short video, when and if I get a moment to make one. Briefly, I’d planned to be pretty aggressive about getting the characters to Green Rock and into those nasty places that I’d prepped. Little did I realize that two of them would go there anyway, no aggression necessary from me, and although that changes-up one or two kinda cool things I’d anticipated controlling, that’s fine.
I’ve attached my current notes for the Stickmen, which as you can see are incredibly sketchy. It’s typical of what I use going into play for this game, and then discover and develop so much more during play itself. Painting on eye-marks is a good example.
The only downside for this session is that extreme fatigue kicked in for me, at about the two-thirds mark, and you can see me run down and start losing my place or otherwise struggling over things to do. But I think we did it! Tons of back-story, arrived at legitimately, and another fierce fight, albeit nothing so heinous as what lies ahead.
Which they know just enough about, and are dreading.
5 responses to “The road to Green Rock”
About character creation and development
So we're some sessions in now, but my sense of Binry throughout has been really influenced by the system, Ron's sketched setting, and his particular character creation process. So … what to say about that?
As a RPGer from way back (almost – but not quite – as far back as anyone could reasonably have that label), I’m of course familiar with a random-stats-in-order, limited-flexibility character creation process. But I haven’t actually DONE it that way for a long time. Starting with stats quite good in Strength and Power, but very average elsewhere, picking a family background (Council), and deciding (despite that high POW) not to follow a real cult or shaman path … a personality started to form. I chose Purposeful from Ron’s list, but saw it (at least initially) as a bit of a self-centered purpose, with him determined to do what he wanted – hunting, because he’s decent at it and it’s fun. He’s arrogant in that oblivious way teenagers who’ve been generally lucky in life (POW is also luck-associated, as I read classic Runequest) can be. Not a bad person, maybe not likely to become one, but not a particularly good one, either. Maybe not quite as lucky as he looks – maybe his family might not be thrilled about him becoming a hunter, maybe they see the selfishness and wonder if he might not grow out of it.
Play worked out great for this. Despite our basic incompetence (which totally works for young PCs), Binry managed to skewer a plague-bird and help Des back to the village. But he was diseased and kinda ignored for a while – but he did get better. Then he managed to also skewer Jodny – someone he knew, and reality hit him hard. Then he was nearly scared to death by some shade-creature, and began to learn all these things about the village that (as a mostly unconnected guy) he had no clue existed and mattered. And no choice about that they did matter, that they were literally deadly serious matters.
In this session, I wasn’t sure where he’d go next. Being in the council, with people (including his parents) expecting him to actually join in … I figured he was pissed at Yoreen, blaming her for how bad/necessary it felt to kill Jodny. And that he’d be pissed at the village generally, for keeping so many secrets from him. Still all about him, mostly. But, in a combination of “misery loves company” and “strength in community”, wanting to drag as many people along towards a confrontation that might at least resolve SOME things (never mind that the resolution could be final and unpleasant for many, or all).
Arriving at the fight, and seeing Alkerton and Jhynathon already there – having seen what they’d been through recently (temptation/deception/resistance, loss of a mentor), knowing how they responded, seeing that their lives were in immediate peril … well, we’ll see where that leaves Binry next.
I’m not sure I’ve said all that much about how the system/setting/etc. guided me towards all this. I think that’s because I’m not sure how to talk about the connections. Hopefully some of ‘em come through anyway.
All of you have portrayed the
All of you have portrayed the doubts, unsurety, and hopes of mid-teens so well that I can't separate my prep and setting-design from my engagement with the characters. It's definitely mutual.
I want to talk more about the Classic Runequest system, mostly beacuse I'm surprised at how well it functions. Now, the not-so-competent adolesent assumption is vital to this. And I am a bit surprised by how more-competent folk – magically amped-up foes, Ms. Badass Vaquia – also can fail more than might "feel" right. But my '79-'84 assesment of the percentile system was VERY negative, and that's not what I'm seeing in play, so … is it ALL about getting assumptions aligned? Where's the "hidden wisdom" in this system? I'm just not sure, but it seems like there's more value here than I can easily uncover …
I’ve been surprised too,
I’ve been surprised too, although as we discussed, some of it is surprise at the heinous possibilities you’ve collectively dodged only by happenstance rolls. Some of the survival is due to the confluence of rules-use, whether intended or unintended by the characters, but some of it is the rawest possible luck. Another point or two of dagger damage, and Jynathon would be dead; that one percentage roll of yours (55% was it? 65% Something like that) and Binry would be dead.
Would our game be as fun if two of the three player-characters were dead by things like that? I don’t know. I imagine you guys would have picked up nearby characters, like Jun or Ruduver, so I’m not talking about can-or-can’t continue, but the plain old investment and fun.
As a related point, Vakia isn’t all that much more advanced than your characters – a single quantum, perhaps, with her best couple of skills in the 50-65% range and a lot of those you might think of as her skillset down in the 35-45% range. She isn’t carrying any Rune magic (initiates can get them from Priests). She’s a long way from Rune status; when she thought about going up alone against a Rune Priest in a place-of-power, she knew what that meant.
You’ll recall that she missed her bowshot, after all that buildup about the cool bow, and I was pretty surprised by her take-down hit against the warrior-of-wood – the latter were built as skeletons by the rules, who are really hard to stop because they don’t collapse in shock, but but fall apart with a solid chest or abdomen shot, and she nailed it in the abdomen with her Bladesharp running, so basically sliced it in half for a “timber.” The few really outstanding successes are so memorable in this game that they tend to give the whole landscape its mountains – enough to generate a real sense of plot from.
I remain in a learning-state about the questions you’re asking, because what really matters is getting eligible for initiate status and making the full transition from eager/apprehensive kid into young adult with a place in the world. Playing at Vakia’s “level,” which I stress again isn’t very far beyond yours, should tell us a lot.
Interesting … your
Interesting … your assesment of Vakia (spelling noted) fits, absolutely. I was probably misapplying a description (something like "she's a stone-cold killer") that turns out to be characterization rather than a skill-assesment.
And certainly, Binry's save vs. death was pretty close to a coin-flip, so pure luck IS a factor. A string of those going the wrong way might leave a bad taste about the system, and (so far) it seems that whether or not that happens is just luck. A *lot* of folks I've been playing with in the last decade+ would hate that, but (again, so far) in this game I'm comfortable with it.