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Anthology Gaming 
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Post Anthology Gaming
With my Monday night face-to-face group, we recently began what I'm calling a Star Wars Anthology campaign. I'm trying desperately to scratch two itches simultaneously: my love of longer story arcs and campaigns and my desire to try out new systems and mechanics.
The gist of the campaign is this. The player characters are all the crew of a small freighter called The Dragonfly. They work part-time for a transport company called Ten Thousand Suns, but they are free to pick up work between hauls however they see fit. After an undefined number fo jobs, they will own the freighter free and clear.

With this framework, I can easily set up ongoing story arcs with the players, give them space to do their own thing and send them out into completely new areas of space on short term missions. This was specifically chosen so we could try out different game systems while keeping the same set of characters and the same general plotlines and NPCs.

I look to comic books for inspiration here as I've read many books where artists change from issue to issue and the story keeps chugging along. Sometimes, writers change for a short stint and a side trek or smaller story is told, but things move back to the A plot before long. And then of course, sometimes there is a "new creative team" for the comic and things are shaken up, but the core concepts of the comic are still generally recognizable (usually). Personally, I'd like to explore this style of storytelling within a campaign framework.

We began a few weeks ago with character generation,. Our first game system will be the granpappy, the one I played back in college - West End Games d6 system. I'm using the Revised and Expanded version (the Millineum Falcon cover) and picked up two cipes of it at a local used bookstore with some unused credit I had. So, yay, free game.

I did add in a small character generation hack from FATE where each player had to come up with a bit of backstory with the player on their right and left so we had a party of associated (not necessarily friendly) characters. It worked rather well, resulting in some plot hooks for future games (two PCs assassinated a hutt in return for getting sprung from a Coruscant jail and one PC owes another 10,000 credits from a bad game of sabacc)

The characters:
* Player C created a female twilek tech. She's secretly an escaped slave who blew up her owners in a starliner "accident". She serves as ship mechanic, but she has designs on becoming captain (and of course, I have that whole "escaped slave" plot hook).
* Player R created a human who has run afoul of the law a few times but is basically a good natured person. He is a well-rounded character who has enough starship piloting to be the pilot. He's no Wash (Firefly), but he gets the job done.
* Player J whipped up an outlaw human who was raised by a family of smugglers. He's the ship's security officer (meaning he uses the turret and he's the best shot with a blaster).
* Player S made up a mon calamari with some solid knowledge and personnel skills. He works the shields and sensors on the ship and seems to be the face of the group so far.

The ship:
I downloaded a sweet little ship from RPGNow by Wydraz called the Dragonfly. Its a pretty merchant vessel with some escape pods, a med bay, lots of room and plenty of cargo space plus a small shuttle and we added on a dinky laser turret. I added on some Star Wars stats, but didn't give them much more than a starter ship. There are plenty of upgrades that the ship needs (shields, hyperdrive, an astromech droid, fire controls, more weapons, better drive controls). Its a nice, pretty ship with lots of possibilities.

Future Plan for Game systems:
As I said, we're starting with West End Games d6. Once I have a solid feel for the party (I'm thinking four or five sessions from now), we will switch to a FATE-based game that is in alpha playtest called Bulldogs! that I'm pretty hyped about. I am looking for things they do that can be phrased into Aspects as well as skills they seem to use so I can work them into FATE skills. Its been pretty fun keeping an eye on the mechanics along with the story.

After we play through a couple storylines in Bulldogs! FATE, I am looking to switch over to Starcluster 3. I am excited about all of us trying a completely new system and I'm doubly hyped because much of the mechanics will also be in Clash's upcoming baseball RPG. Once we log a couple missions in SC3, my hope is that they can get involved in more space battles, which is perfect timing to try out the PDQ# system as seen in Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies! I playtested the ship-to-ship combat in S7S and it is super fun. I actually bit on some of it during Monday night's chase sequence, but look forward to fully realizing this system in a Star Wars mileu. After some big space battle fun (I hope to run this alongside Empire Strikes Back Events), we will probably end up in the Outer Rim and will flip to the Solar System as seen in the indie darling the Shadow of Yesterday. I hope to explore some character stories, bring some of them to a close and start pushing towards an endgame scenario.

Problem so far (two sessions in):
We were discussing advancement during a break and Player J mentioned that raising a skill with character points in WEG d6 was very, very expensive. Player R realized (out loud) that if we're switching systems, how do we account for character advancement? Before I could answer, Player J stated that when I do the character builds, I can account for skills that have improved. Unfortunately, he also stated that since WEG d6 advancement is so expensive, he might as well spend character points for bonuses to die rolls. This is a strategic choice, but I'm a bit sad that 1) I had forgotten how expensive it is to raise a skill in WEG d6 and 2) the players may decide to go with Player J's suggestion which not only robs them of character advancement during this system phase, it may impact their decisions in future systems AND it throws off my judge of difficulty numbers which in turn may affect how many character points I award after each session, thereby slanting the experience of the WEG d6 in a pretty fundamental way.

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Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:16 pm
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Post Re: Anthology Gaming
This sounds awesome, Rich! I kind of went through this playtesting SC3, switching between mechanics on the fly, but nowhere near the degree of shifting you will be doing. The character transfers were painless - it was just learning to use - and anticipate - the different mechanical effects. This sounds like great fun, and very interesting, expressing the same characters in sso many different systems. ;d

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Wed Nov 17, 2010 9:18 pm
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Post Re: Anthology Gaming
Definitely a cool idea - I hope you'll keep reporting on it.

I wonder what the effect would be of trying an anthology campaign where the system change was explained by something in the story. Like a Doctor Who game where each different landing was played with a different system. Would it seem trite, or a waste of time, or be worth the effort?

Regarding advancement, I would personally avoid normal advancement, given those difficulties. I'd probably just handle it through the system changes. But then I'm usually an advocate for slow advancement. How frequently do you advance in your games? We usually only advance once every 4-6 sessions - which is pretty close to how long you said your D6 arc would run. If you need it to be more frequent, what about devising a mid-term advancement package. At the end of a mission, for instance, just tell players they've got x number of skill increases and x number of bonuses and x number of whatevers to spend. Would that make it easier to control advancement over the long arc of the campaign?

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Thu Nov 18, 2010 9:21 am
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Post Re: Anthology Gaming
Thalaba wrote:
Definitely a cool idea - I hope you'll keep reporting on it.

Thanks for the props!

Quote:
I wonder what the effect would be of trying an anthology campaign where the system change was explained by something in the story. Like a Doctor Who game where each different landing was played with a different system. Would it seem trite, or a waste of time, or be worth the effort?

I'm actually aiming to do that, but since I don't script or heavily plot my games, it will be tricky.

Quote:
Regarding advancement, I would personally avoid normal advancement, given those difficulties. I'd probably just handle it through the system changes. But then I'm usually an advocate for slow advancement. How frequently do you advance in your games?

That's tricky, since there are no levels in any of the games we'll be playing. I think I'll let the players pick a couple stats to boost when we flip to FATE (which will be 8ish sessions in, I want everyone to be comfy with their PCs and the story before we start flipping systems).

Quote:
We usually only advance once every 4-6 sessions - which is pretty close to how long you said your D6 arc would run. If you need it to be more frequent, what about devising a mid-term advancement package. At the end of a mission, for instance, just tell players they've got x number of skill increases and x number of bonuses and x number of whatevers to spend. Would that make it easier to control advancement over the long arc of the campaign?


That's a good idea. I will probably use it or something very similar. I just need to note what each system allows to be advanced. I'm personally a fan of the Milestone system introduced in Dresden Files RPG that also exists in Bulldogs! alpha playtest.

My only dismay is that it slants one of the purposes of my anthology - which is to see how each system affects the play at the table. Since at least one player will be using character points to boost rolls instead of an eye towards advancement, its already a bit off track.

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Thu Nov 18, 2010 9:35 am
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Post Re: Anthology Gaming
So, 3.5 months into this little experiement - time to request an update.

How's it going?

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Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:44 am
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Post Re: Anthology Gaming
I saw Orklord around recently, so... bump!

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Mon May 09, 2011 2:45 pm
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Post Re: Anthology Gaming
It's interesting because we talked about doing the same thing at one point in the Wednesday Night group. I think I might have posted about it here, but I'm too lazy to look it up. But the idea was to put together a D&D campaign that used a single world and set of characters, rotated DM's, and shifted editions along the way. It does add the variable of different DM's, but we like the idea of changing so that everyone had a chance to play.

Alas, too many things came up and that group fell apart (at least that incarnation - they might still be playing in some form or another).

So I, too, am interested to see how it worked out...

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Mon May 09, 2011 4:36 pm
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Post Re: Anthology Gaming
John Wick made a really interesting little thing called The Flux, which was all about the possibilities of re-using character ideas, capabilities and so on across different game systems and even settings, in order to quickly establish emotional connections with a new campaign. I wouldn't say that it's fully baked, but for five bucks it's really thought-provoking.


Mon May 09, 2011 5:38 pm
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Post Re: Anthology Gaming
Ala The Amazing Engine? ;)

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Mon May 09, 2011 6:03 pm
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Post Re: Anthology Gaming
No, my understanding of the Amazing Engine games was that there would be a single system that you could use for many things (like a TSR version of GURPS). Flux is ways of linking campaigns that use different systems.


Mon May 09, 2011 6:11 pm
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