Fires of Ra Discussion and Questions

User avatar
hawaiianbrian
Posts: 198
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2016 1:08 am
Location: Vancouver, WA
Contact:

Re: Fires of Ra Discussion and Questions

Postby hawaiianbrian » Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:00 pm

The other issue is that Torg adventures are structured around an Act/Scene framework which has a baked-in mechanical element, as part of its movie-inspired roots. D&D doesn't use that kind of structure, so it's whatever... same with most other RPGs, really. When writing for those games, it's fully possible to write your adventure as basically "Here's what happened before, here's who is responsible, here's what they want, here's where this takes place, here are some things the heroes might learn as they explore... and go!"

If you're running a homemade Torg game you can still kinda do that, because you can base scene and act breaks based on natural dramatic points in the story as it is generated by the back-and-forth between the GM and players. Someone gets a spontaneous idea and they rush off to hack a cyberpapal data bank, and the GM rolls with it, and there's a scene.

But when writing a Torg adventure, the author knows they won't be at the table, so they have to create something that already has scene and act breaks built in, if for no other reason than because many people need help knowing when and where to do that.

As for Act 1 of Fires of Ra being fights and chases, to be frank the rest of it is mostly fights and chases, too. As Greymarch2000 pointed out, this is the Nile Empire, which is aggressively action-oriented. The World Laws and cards push that, so if things start to slow down, action interrupts it. I could see a more Noir-ish investigation taking place in Cairo, but I don't think it would last more than two or three scenes before suddenly Professor Infinity's Psycho-Ray Machine is poised over Cairo and the heroes are having fistfights atop a zeppelin rigged to explode.

Other cosms aren't like that, or at least not as much. Aysle's mega-adventure is a cosm tour, just like all of them, but pulls back a bit on the railroad. You can play most of the acts out of sequence, depending on where the heroes choose to go. Within each act, there's the usual sequence of scenes that presupposes certain decisions on the part of the heroes. Every published adventure is going to have that kind of thing, and yes, sometimes characters have abilities or players come up with clever workarounds that changes everything. This is where the DM has to do some work; There's no amount of pre-planning on the writer's part that can cover all possible outcomes at the table. We try to anticipate some things, but there's only so much we can do.

The idea about an adventure that functions more like a choose-your-own-adventure is something I've also thought of. I'd like to do something like that someday. I can see some complications I'd need to think through, first. One of those complications is that no table would end up using more than a fraction of the total word count of the adventure –– all the rest would be "wasted." To mitigate that, we'd probably just have scenes within an act be selectable, with all threads coming back into pinch-points that mark the beginning of the next act, and with variables that shift depending on which route the heroes took to get there. All that would be really, really cool, and I'll see if we can do something like that someday.

Lastly, I think it would be fantastic to have an adventure (not one of the main realm adventures) that is a full-on sandbox and leaves scene/act breaks up to the GM. As the realm of high fantasy, Aysle would be perfect for that. But it would probably be best saved for a Year 2 adventure. Or something on the Infiniverse Exchange!

User avatar
ShirtlessOBrien
Posts: 192
Joined: Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:55 pm

Re: Fires of Ra Discussion and Questions

Postby ShirtlessOBrien » Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:50 am

I think Torg works best in a middle ground between sandbox and railroad job.

As I said when we were talking about The God Box, previous Torg adventures like The Destiny Map were linear in the big picture sense but each individual scene offered some scope to approach it in different ways, and some scope for the choices made in that scene to affect future scenes. When you meet Wu Han for the second time it matters how you interacted with him the first time. Enemies you don't kill can come back to annoy you again or come back as allies. Each scene led to the next in some kind of logical order that made the players want to follow the story path.

The Day One Living Land module also did a good job in this regard.

In a good action movie there are still fights and explosions in a formulaic order but they hang together logically and the characters make sense. It's what separates a Die Hard from a mediocre action movie, or the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie from the sequels.

GeniusCodeMonkey
Posts: 368
Joined: Wed May 09, 2018 2:35 am

Re: Fires of Ra Discussion and Questions

Postby GeniusCodeMonkey » Thu Apr 18, 2019 11:46 am

I think it's too late, but...

Page 24 states "A shocktrooper company (consisting of three platoons) has been assigned to the dig site ...". With there being 40 shocktroopers shown in the enemies section.

In the Nile Empire source book ...

"Shocktroopers are organized into squads of 10 men, one of which is assigned a Kocha machinegun. Squads are commanded by a veteran shocktrooper. Platoons consist of four squads and are led by a lieutenant. Three platoons make a company led by a veteran lieutenant. Each company is also accompanied a support platoon of five 81mm mortars. "

So actually at the dig site there should be 10 men * 4 squads * 3 platoons + (1 * 4 lieutenant) + 1 veteran lieutenant = 125 troops; not 40 as stated ... not including the support platoon.
Question everything.
Politeness costs nothing.

User avatar
hawaiianbrian
Posts: 198
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2016 1:08 am
Location: Vancouver, WA
Contact:

Re: Fires of Ra Discussion and Questions

Postby hawaiianbrian » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:21 am

I’m thinking that was supposed to say 140, not 40, but in all honesty the number of Bedouin and shock troopers in that scene shouldn’t really be relevant, as that battle’s ultimate purpose is to serve as a distraction so the heroes can get into the camp undiscovered. I’d never advise a GM to play out such a battle roll for roll.

In retrospect, they probably wouldn’t need quite that large of a force at a dig site (I was envisioning Tanis from Raiders of the Lost Ark), but no matter how many troops are there, only a portion of them would be in play in any scene.

Fuzzy
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:39 pm

Re: Fires of Ra Discussion and Questions

Postby Fuzzy » Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:26 pm

So I of course agree with Genius Code Monkey... I've already expressed this earlier in the post on the God Box. I understand the rationale for creating a railroad tour through the Nile Empire, though I still disagree with it.

I did want to comment on the notion that Nile Empire is the realm of "two-fisted action sequences"... If you go back to Indiana Jones, there was plenty of action, but also plenty of interaction, beginning with the scenes of him in his office at the university. One of my favorite scenes from that movie is the drinking scene with Marion. Sure, it was followed by a big bar fight, but there was a good balance of character building and fights. Then there's the multiple scenes with Salah, and the investigation and research and camel rides...

Anyway, there seems to be a tendency to want to make the realms just a tad bit TOO one dimensional. I mean, part of the charm of Indie is when he breaks convention. Like when he's confronted by the swordsman and just pulls his pistol and shoots him. Or about to fight the Nazis and Salah's kids intercede and mob him.

I don't doubt that it's easier to write single-threaded adventures rather than sandboxes. But I do object to the response that "we write single-threaded adventures because players want to play that way". If the real answer is "we write single threaded adventures because sandbox adventures are much harder and more time consuming to write", then that's perfectly fair. And probably true.

I do wonder if there's an "in-between" format... Imagine a format with a calendar (or timeline) in which things happen, and a big list of scenes that MIGHT take place, or could be re-used in different order, and various plot points and characters who are involved and could show up at different times. There are certain scenes that MUST happen, and probably anchor the acts, and certain that frankly are just filler.

We're in the 2nd act of Fires of Ra (we mix in a bunch of different RPGs so it's going slow). I will say that as players, we actively look for ways to break the monotony of the adventure by skipping over whole scenes when possible. Besides, keeps the GM on his toes. And, it can be more fun.

*spoiler below*

Example: at the beginning of Act 2 the players are flying in and are supposed to do some sort of skill challenge to pretend they went down and got destroyed, then probably make contact with various people, then go through all the standard motions We all rolled our eyes, so we said the heck with it, and we raised the white flag and landed in plain view so they could easily capture us, knowing they would take us right to their leader who can promptly subject us to some terrible death trap after taunting us and telling us about his evil plan. So much more fun. The GM pointed to several pages in the adventure book and said "total waste of space", and no one missed it.

fougerec
Posts: 805
Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:27 am

Re: Fires of Ra Discussion and Questions

Postby fougerec » Tue Apr 30, 2019 1:17 pm

Fuzzy wrote:The GM pointed to several pages in the adventure book and said "total waste of space", and no one missed it.


"Total waste of space" for you and your group. Other groups might take those scenes and completely run with them while thinking the canal chase in Act One is a total waste of space. That's the sign of a good GM is to take the framework presented to them in a pre-published adventure and run it in a way that's fun and entertaining for their group. My group suffers from severe, severe, severe analysis paralysis. I know that if I present a sandbox and say "so what do you do" then 95% of the session is going to be trying to find the best thing to do (and that's if I give them choices..if it's completely open then it's deer in the headlights time). Fun once. Maybe. Every session? Heck no. Heck even a simple requisition phase for a game can become an hour or better of trying to decide the optimal choices.

So for that group something with some rails but room for them to approach the individual challenges in their own way is ideal. They flourish in a mission based, directive from the Council style play. "Go here, do the thing. We don't care how you do it". That works amazingly well to get a good solid 4 hours of play time in rather than 3.5 hours of "what do you want to do? I dunno...this sounds okay.. How about this? I don't want to go there..."

User avatar
TorgHacker
Posts: 4403
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:40 pm

Re: Fires of Ra Discussion and Questions

Postby TorgHacker » Tue Apr 30, 2019 1:56 pm

Fuzzy wrote:I do wonder if there's an "in-between" format... Imagine a format with a calendar (or timeline) in which things happen, and a big list of scenes that MIGHT take place, or could be re-used in different order, and various plot points and characters who are involved and could show up at different times. There are certain scenes that MUST happen, and probably anchor the acts, and certain that frankly are just filler.



Great! Go for it! <points at Infiniverse Exchange>

Be the change you want!

But...




We're in the 2nd act of Fires of Ra (we mix in a bunch of different RPGs so it's going slow). I will say that as players, we actively look for ways to break the monotony of the adventure by skipping over whole scenes when possible. Besides, keeps the GM on his toes. And, it can be more fun.



Sounds like published adventures aren't your cup of tea to begin with.


*spoiler below*

Example: at the beginning of Act 2 the players are flying in and are supposed to do some sort of skill challenge to pretend they went down and got destroyed, then probably make contact with various people, then go through all the standard motions We all rolled our eyes, so we said the heck with it, and we raised the white flag and landed in plain view so they could easily capture us, knowing they would take us right to their leader who can promptly subject us to some terrible death trap after taunting us and telling us about his evil plan. So much more fun. The GM pointed to several pages in the adventure book and said "total waste of space", and no one missed it.


So you mean...like...filler. Like you're advocating above. Except intentionally making "wastes of space".

This is why RPGs are great...you can go off the tracks if you want. Which you can still do, even with a linear adventure.

As for additional options...well...that's what the Sourcebook is about. That's what the PDF supplements are all about. It's not like these adventures are the end-all be-all of existence.

It all depends on what the objective of a product is.

The objective of the super-adventures for each cosm is to showcase each cosm, and be fairly simple to run. That's what it's designed to do. That's why it's written that way.

Relics of Power has a different objective. So it's written a different way.
Deanna Gilbert
Torg Eternity designer
Ulisses North America

User avatar
TorgHacker
Posts: 4403
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:40 pm

Re: Fires of Ra Discussion and Questions

Postby TorgHacker » Tue Apr 30, 2019 1:57 pm

fougerec wrote:
Fuzzy wrote:The GM pointed to several pages in the adventure book and said "total waste of space", and no one missed it.


"Total waste of space" for you and your group. Other groups might take those scenes and completely run with them while thinking the canal chase in Act One is a total waste of space. That's the sign of a good GM is to take the framework presented to them in a pre-published adventure and run it in a way that's fun and entertaining for their group. My group suffers from severe, severe, severe analysis paralysis. I know that if I present a sandbox and say "so what do you do" then 95% of the session is going to be trying to find the best thing to do (and that's if I give them choices..if it's completely open then it's deer in the headlights time). Fun once. Maybe. Every session? Heck no. Heck even a simple requisition phase for a game can become an hour or better of trying to decide the optimal choices.

So for that group something with some rails but room for them to approach the individual challenges in their own way is ideal. They flourish in a mission based, directive from the Council style play. "Go here, do the thing. We don't care how you do it". That works amazingly well to get a good solid 4 hours of play time in rather than 3.5 hours of "what do you want to do? I dunno...this sounds okay.. How about this? I don't want to go there..."


<points up>

That. If you have a group who loves to mix things up for the GM, and do the "strange" thing...published adventures are likely not something you'd enjoy anyway.
Deanna Gilbert
Torg Eternity designer
Ulisses North America

GeniusCodeMonkey
Posts: 368
Joined: Wed May 09, 2018 2:35 am

Re: Fires of Ra Discussion and Questions

Postby GeniusCodeMonkey » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:07 pm

I must admit that my last session of FoR went very well. I read everything here and the guide to the GM in the Core book, and took each scene as a sandbox of what needs to be done, not a straight top down approach to the scenes.

► Show Spoiler

It was the best game I've run in a long time, with all the players being engaged and getting quite someway through the act.

Anyway to cut a long story short, I forgot that the scenes should be seen as a guideline to what needs/should happen; not the bible. As long as the PCs get what's needed to be done in the end, how they get there doesn't matter. That journey is what roleplaying is all about. Doing this more free flowing style, kept me on my toes a bit, which was fun, but also made the story my/their own.

► Show Spoiler
Question everything.
Politeness costs nothing.

Fuzzy
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:39 pm

Re: Fires of Ra Discussion and Questions

Postby Fuzzy » Tue Apr 30, 2019 10:56 pm

Great! Go for it! <points at Infiniverse Exchange>

Be the change you want!


I'd love to, but after 60+ hour work weeks on a startup, kids, chores, etc., I'm lucky to get my sacrosanct 3-4 hour gaming session in every other week. So it's, "please take my money!" instead.

I'm sure there are a lot of gaming groups that prefer prescribed adventures. I'm not criticizing them. But if I don't raise a hand and represent our voices, no one will. We are, btw, REALLY looking forward to Relics of Power.

As to the idea that maybe published adventures aren't really for groups like ours, I don't know what to say. The problem is that open ended GMing takes a lot of time to do from scratch, and we just don't have it. I asked our GM what his favorite recent sandboxy adventury was, btw, and he said Dragonheist.

If I could ask for one supplement to help with open ended adventures, it would be a rogues gallery / monster/enemy manual, with each rogue having a mini subplot or background to hook in. I started writing one several months back, but just don't have the time for it.


Return to “Setting Discussion (TORG)”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: QuarrelBlue, Synarchist, Wakshani and 28 guests