God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Fuzzy
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:39 pm

Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby Fuzzy » Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:37 pm

Getting the right balance is immensely hard, particularly given page count limits. One option would be to stick to the core count, and then shift any additional content to *unofficial* and unedited online supplements (reduces publishing costs, lowers editing and formatting costs). WOTC has done that in some instances, and it's worked - but then again, they have an army of designers and playtesters at their disposal, and the luxury of a budget with multi-year objectives built in. Then again, posting excess content (from the cutting room floor) may not cost much since it could actually relieve some of the tradeoffs (and it doesn't need to be official).

Maybe the concept to aim for is Core+ ...

The most critical people to support are the Core (and especially people who need introduction to the game). Maybe they didn't play OTorg, and are being introduced to it by someone who did. The adventure needs to be fun and playable by relatively new folks. This is important in character design too... New stuff should be different, but not necessarily *better* than old stuff, otherwise power creep sets in and less experienced players feel like second fiddles. You should not need to have memorized 500 pages of rules to play an effective and interesting character. (This is one of the reasons I love Cosm cards - you don't need to pre-read ANYTHING, but you still get the flavor of the cosm injected into gameplay, and it keeps changing.)

Then there's the Plus - folks who are looking for something bigger, more nuanced, and don't feel intimidated by the complexity of the world - in fact, crave some realism. I think this will grow over time, much like real-life issues began entering the comic books in the 90s (like Fallen Son / Death of Captain America).

The Core comes first, but the Plus provides the long term staying power. Infiniverse is great, but it's not the same - D&D has a huge OCL set of supplements, but none are even close in popularity to the "sanctioned" (higher quality, "official") content. There's just something special about being "official", like when some director in the MCU spills some hint at a Con and Twitter explodes with speculation.

In terms of the tradeoff of what's most likely to get used, it's sometimes just hard to know - we skipped a lot of content in the later acts of God Box. Did we really need multiple "traveling from point A to point B" scenes in Chicago, given the number of similar scenes in earlier Acts? Maybe just a list of random encounters (pick or roll or skip entirely, enemies in back of book). Would that take away from the fun of the Core players? The question in a given scene should be, "does this advance the plot and/or the characters, or is it just filler?" It's the difference between the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit (which should never have been a trilogy).

Some aspects actually WERE relatively open ended and still highly focused on an objective rather than a specific set of actions (the defense of Fort Washington, for example) - that was a lot of fun. On the flip side of this, when the people and artifacts were kidnapped and traced to the nightmare tree, one of the players said "Oh no, this whole adventure is going to be hopping from one tree to another until we get to the final act where we have to stop the victims from being sacrificed in some terrible ritual..."

And the GM said "No Comment"

fougerec
Posts: 819
Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:27 am

Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby fougerec » Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:39 pm

Fuzzy wrote:In terms of running a business, though, I do think that TE definitely needs a villains/rogues/monsters book.


IIRC we got 30-ish opponents in the core book, 30+ new creatures/opponents in the LL book and the same in the Nile book. Not including anything that's in the DC Missions or the Adventure. So three books and 90+ opponents. Assuming the same 30-ish mark for the remaining five cosms that's a ton of creatures/opponents and threats.

Fuzzy
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:39 pm

Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby Fuzzy » Mon Dec 31, 2018 1:43 pm

The God Box isn't to hold Lanala, but Huitzilopochtli, the Atecan darkness device that thinks it is a god. This makes it a moral delemma of helping Quetzalcoatl so that Baruk Kaah doesn't take the entire realm of Azteca. The Aztecans and edeinos will be fighting each other in Chichzen Itza, allowing the storm knights to slide in.


Darn, wish I'd seen this idea earlier.

User avatar
TorgHacker
Posts: 4594
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:40 pm

Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby TorgHacker » Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:19 pm

Fuzzy wrote:Getting the right balance is immensely hard, particularly given page count limits. One option would be to stick to the core count, and then shift any additional content to *unofficial* and unedited online supplements (reduces publishing costs, lowers editing and formatting costs). WOTC has done that in some instances, and it's worked - but then again, they have an army of designers and playtesters at their disposal, and the luxury of a budget with multi-year objectives built in. Then again, posting excess content (from the cutting room floor) may not cost much since it could actually relieve some of the tradeoffs (and it doesn't need to be official).



This actually is what we've done in several cases. Ruins of New York was one. Secrets of the Nile will be another. But there's no way we're going to release a product unedited and laid out properly, and having unofficial stuff published by us seems counterproductive given that we do have the Infiniverse Exchange for that.

But the problem is that this is fine for sourcebook material, but sections of adventures aren't really 'sliceable' like that. It's not so much cutting (though in my case I may have to) but of not putting it in in the first place.


The Core comes first, but the Plus provides the long term staying power. Infiniverse is great, but it's not the same - D&D has a huge OCL set of supplements, but none are even close in popularity to the "sanctioned" (higher quality, "official") content. There's just something special about being "official", like when some director in the MCU spills some hint at a Con and Twitter explodes with speculation.



No question about that. However, it still comes down to resources. As you say, "they (WotC) have an army of designers and playtesters at their disposal, and the luxury of a budget with multi-year objectives built in. " Darrell is full on cranking the cosms out. I'm full on doing what I can, but this isn't my dayjob. We have freelancers (me included) who are pumping out content but it still requires someone (and preferably some-two) to go through, make sure the rules and content are correct (this is not easy).

Part of why I'm writing all this is explaining things I've learned about the business and process of producing this stuff since starting freelancing. There's a lot of behind the scenes stuff and reasons for decisions that people are completely unaware of. Some of it I can talk about, some I can't.


In terms of the tradeoff of what's most likely to get used, it's sometimes just hard to know - we skipped a lot of content in the later acts of God Box. Did we really need multiple "traveling from point A to point B" scenes in Chicago, given the number of similar scenes in earlier Acts? Maybe just a list of random encounters (pick or roll or skip entirely, enemies in back of book). Would that take away from the fun of the Core players? The question in a given scene should be, "does this advance the plot and/or the characters, or is it just filler?" It's the difference between the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit (which should never have been a trilogy).



And yet, there are some people who like the "filler". Sometimes it's world building and immersion. There can be purposes beyond just plot and character.


Some aspects actually WERE relatively open ended and still highly focused on an objective rather than a specific set of actions (the defense of Fort Washington, for example) - that was a lot of fun.



Yup, and remember me comparing the length of Act 1 of the Relics adventure to the longest Act published? That's the one. :-)


On the flip side of this, when the people and artifacts were kidnapped and traced to the nightmare tree, one of the players said "Oh no, this whole adventure is going to be hopping from one tree to another until we get to the final act where we have to stop the victims from being sacrificed in some terrible ritual..."

And the GM said "No Comment"


Well, tropes are tropes for a reason, and really there are very, very, very rarely completely new stories. Tropes are the words of the language of story. It's what you do with them that makes it all sing. And even that YMMV.

Oh, one last thing. The quote from Mike Shea about 3+infinity options, that's still in the context of doing adventures for your own group. When you just have to jot down some notes, rather than full sentences and paragraphs, covering a lot of details. A lot of those details are in the GM's head. Some are just improvisation. The creatures are usually published already and you flip open one of the other books to get the stats.

It's a process that is much less formal, has no space or time constraints beyond what the GM wants, and shortcuts can often be made (I mean, Mike is the "Lazy DM" after all. :-)

But as publishers, we just can't do that sort of thing.


Anyway, the tl;dr summary is:

1. YMMV
2. Writing adventures for publication constrains the adventure in several ways that aren't applicable when you do adventures for your own group.
3. The business of producing RPGs imposes further constraints on what you can and can't do.
Deanna Gilbert
Torg Eternity designer
Ulisses North America

fougerec
Posts: 819
Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:27 am

Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby fougerec » Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:24 pm

Fuzzy wrote:In terms of the tradeoff of what's most likely to get used, it's sometimes just hard to know - we skipped a lot of content in the later acts of God Box. Did we really need multiple "traveling from point A to point B" scenes in Chicago, given the number of similar scenes in earlier Acts? Maybe just a list of random encounters (pick or roll or skip entirely, enemies in back of book). Would that take away from the fun of the Core players? The question in a given scene should be, "does this advance the plot and/or the characters, or is it just filler?" It's the difference between the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit (which should never have been a trilogy).


IMO scenes like this do serve a purpose in Torg Eternity beyond the story - Possibilities and card hand manipulation. Any scene where there's a use of the Drama deck gives the players a chance to get new cards (and depending on how the GM does Possibilities those as well).

For us the appeal of the larger single cosm adventure is to really highlight that reality. Cosm jumping mini-adventures is a taste, a multi-session romp is a banquet.

Fuzzy wrote:Some aspects actually WERE relatively open ended and still highly focused on an objective rather than a specific set of actions (the defense of Fort Washington, for example) - that was a lot of fun. On the flip side of this, when the people and artifacts were kidnapped and traced to the nightmare tree, one of the players said "Oh no, this whole adventure is going to be hopping from one tree to another until we get to the final act where we have to stop the victims from being sacrificed in some terrible ritual..."

And the GM said "No Comment"


My group would say "oh shit, they got our friends and some sort of relic from the museum, we need to fix that". I find player comments on the meta structure to be somewhat irritating - it's akin to going to a horror movie and shouting "no don't split up" at the screen. Most groups bring different expectations if they know they're playing a pre-written adventure as opposed to one of the GM's creation and one of those is (usually) that there is going to be a certain structure - it's part of the meta narrative - as opposed to a more free wheeling story.

The generally revered Relics of Power trilogy suffers a lot from "the princess is in the other castle" syndrome and while my players did comment on it, they also understood that it serves a narrative purpose.

User avatar
TorgHacker
Posts: 4594
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:40 pm

Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby TorgHacker » Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:30 pm

fougerec wrote:
The generally revered Relics of Power trilogy suffers a lot from "the princess is in the other castle" syndrome and while my players did comment on it, they also understood that it serves a narrative purpose.


I can say that while Relics is obviously a McGuffin chase for the most part, that "princess is in another castle" trope is something I kicked out to the curb immediately. :-)
Deanna Gilbert
Torg Eternity designer
Ulisses North America

fougerec
Posts: 819
Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:27 am

Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby fougerec » Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:33 pm

TorgHacker wrote:
fougerec wrote:
The generally revered Relics of Power trilogy suffers a lot from "the princess is in the other castle" syndrome and while my players did comment on it, they also understood that it serves a narrative purpose.


I can say that while Relics is obviously a McGuffin chase for the most part, that "princess is in another castle" trope is something I kicked out to the curb immediately. :-)


Yay! My player didn't mind it the first time but after a while it does get tiresome!.

Fuzzy
Posts: 127
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:39 pm

Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby Fuzzy » Mon Dec 31, 2018 3:18 pm

I find player comments on the meta structure to be somewhat irritating - it's akin to going to a horror movie and shouting "no don't split up" at the screen.


I don't know, TORG is all about metagaming. We strongly reward players who pull out funny movie quotes that fit the situation. You are literally a person who can manipulate reality, and you have visited places where you know reality just works differently. If the Delphi Council is sending you on a mission to Nile Empire and you ask what it's like there, the *official* training course probably goes something like this:

"Here, read these comic books..."

And before you travel to Orrorsh, you need to be aware that you're going to a place where EVIL WINS and the laws of horror work against you. I'm sure someone in the NSA's cryptography team (what's left of it) has figured out that Orrorsh is an anagram of Horrors. If not the NSA, then probably some 7th grader in Kansas. It's 100% reasonable for a character (in the world) to think "If I was in a 19th century horror novel, what would happen?". Of course, that doesn't always happen, but bringing other realities with you is the only way Evil can possibly lose in the long run in Orrorsh.

The following is probably an official operational policy statement for Storm Knights operating in Orrorsh:

Image

Then again, I would give Deadpool a 5 star rating, so don't look to me for guidance about metagaming.

User avatar
hawaiianbrian
Posts: 209
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2016 1:08 am
Location: Vancouver, WA
Contact:

Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby hawaiianbrian » Mon Dec 31, 2018 7:13 pm

Fuzzy wrote:I appreciate H Brian's observation that Fires of Ra could be broken up a bit. Some suggestions on how to do so would be welcome.


An interesting idea. I'll see what I can do.

Staffan
Posts: 336
Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:48 am

Re: God Box Review - FULL OF SPOILERS

Postby Staffan » Tue Jan 01, 2019 7:45 pm

Fuzzy wrote:Separately, two followup points:

1) Examples of good open sandbox adventures... I'd suggest Waterdeep.


IMO, making a "pure" sandbox for publishing is nigh impossible. Being open to anything requires writing a lot of material that just won't get used because the PCs don't go in that particular direction, and it also puts a great strain on the GM to learn the details of a lot of things instead of just having a general grasp of the adventure as a whole and detailed knowledge of the next few steps. It's also not as satisfying as a player, because often you don't have enough knowledge on which to base your decisions, or something driving you in a particular direction.

The best sandbox adventure I've seen is Operation Shadowpoint, the web enhancement for Star Wars Age of Rebellion Beginner Game. In the actual Beginner Game, the PCs are taking over an Imperial off-the-books spy base, and it's mostly meant to introduce various game mechanics gradually. But once they have the base? That's where things get interesting and when Operation Shadowpoint takes over. The PCs need to ally with locals - both indigenous people and colonists - in order to get manpower for defending and operating the base. They will need to acquire supplies somehow. They need to stay alert for threats that would lead to the base being discovered. And so on. Some things will happen because the PCs decide to do them, and others because the GM/adventure throws some new challenges at the PCs. It's a very open adventure both in terms of what the PCs do and how they do it, but there's a clear direction and motivation for the PCs.

That said, I think TORG having adventures structured into Scenes and Acts make sandboxes hard to do, and force some amount of railroading into the game. The most sandboxy things you can do with that is either offering multiple approaches in a given scene (e.g. the Chichen Itza example) or have scenes that can work in different orders or possibly be skipped entirely (e.g. an investigation sequence where scenes 2, 3, and 4 are different places to investigate that eventually lead to a showdown in scene 5 - this was, IIRC, done in Act one of the original Destiny Map).


Return to “Setting Discussion (TORG)”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests