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Steven Bean
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140 followers
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In classic fantasy RPGing, the "basic unit" of adventure started out as the "dungeon crawl" but then branched out into hex crawls, linear story crawls and even mysteries. In CoM the "basic unit" is the "investigative case," but: what other types of adventure frames are MCs imagining using in their games?
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Edit: I went back and looked at my copy of the PC character sheet - I actually had him mark one crack, not the two that I thought I'd imposed.

OP: I'm curious what other MCs think of an MC move I made the other day.

A PC did an Investigate move using a supernatural method, invoking a power tag related to his character's belief in the Cthulhu mythos (one of his logos - not mythos - themebooks from before he awakened.) He rolled a 7-9. I felt it served the story to answer his question clearly and then cast around for a complication. Sometimes I look at the MC moves, sometimes I don't. This time I didn't - I just went on instinct. I told him that the same intuition that gave him the answer to his question also raised some doubt in him around his belief in the coming of Cthulhu - I instructed him to MARK TWO CRACK on that themebook.

So, what do you think? Was this move strongly consistent with RAW? (We probably all agree that RAW doesn't really preclude anything, especially in a narrativist game.) Which MC move would you say this falls under? Should the MC (rather than the player) be able to unilaterally narrate that big a change to a PC's self-concept? Is such a move consistent with CoM's player-driven character evolution ethos?
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Last night I ran session two of my first CoM game, entitled: "Dreams at Work in New Heir City." What follows is a little bit about my approach and some description of the two sessions.

I have two VERY experienced RPGers who have played PbtA games before and two brand new RPGers. I'm using emergent techniques to accomplish several things: 1) Create a real sense of mystery around the Mythoi, 2) Make "awakening" feel like "waking up," and 3) Build slowly to the full rule set for the players new to RPGs. All I told the players to begin with was that they would play PCs in a modern-noir city inspired by my 8 years living in Portland, OR in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

I asked each player to give me three things - people, places or objects - from epic/mythic/iconic media (film, literature, mythology) that their character would identify with. We eventually got to: 1) Paul Muad'Dib, Morpheus and Cthulhu for "Ricardo Salazar" (played by Miguel), 2) Hippolyte's Belt, Code Sign: Starbuck and Robin Hood for "Miranda Steele" (Krishna), 3) Indiana Jones, Lu Zhishen and the carnival from Something Wicked this Way Comes for "Moe Halloway" (George) and 4) and The Joker, Odysseus and Athena for "Denise" (Yazmin). I had bounced back a few "entries" for not being iconic enough but the final set was good.

The PCs started with three Logos themebooks that we created together. The commonality in the backstory of all the PCs is that they all had some kind of connection to the City University. When they encountered each other and two NPCs there 10 years ago, they discovered that they all have the same birthday: October 31 (players' choice). From then on, they gathered once a year as the "City U B-Day Crew." The crew gatherings were organized by NPC "Gala Reyes" and went on from their 20th b'day to their 26th. At the 25th, the other NPC, "Morgan Poule", didn't show; at 26, Morgan, Gala and one PC, Denise (played by Yazmin) didn't show. After that, Gala didn't organize and the crew drifted apart. Until now. This year, their 31st, Gala called everyone out of the blue, expressed regret that they hadn't celebrated their 30th together and organized their 31st at a swank, exclusive restaurant called Ava's Lounge.

The morning of the meet, Denise got a last-minute call from a "client." Denise has military training and mechanical expertise and makes money rigging cars to look like they've crashed accidentally - for anyone with the right amount of cash, no questions asked. The job was needing to be done that night, precisely between 11:30 and midnight, but it didn't have to produce a fatality. Because it was last minute, the fee was double normal. She took the job

The four PC's arrived for the 8pm reservation at Ava's, but: no Gala. They got through a cocktail and an appetizer and their entrees had just arrived and still no Gala, but a dirty, nasty, gaunt, track-marked street junkie shows up at their table begging for change. No one else in the VERY exclusive restaurant seems to notice. After a short interchange, four cops show up, draw on the junkie, saying he's brandishing a weapon (he isn't). They open fire. The junkie goes down, revealing a groin wound that ISN'T from the gunshots. He dies, but as he does, he pours his heart out o a PC. This awakens all four of the PCs' first Mythos themebooks simultaneously - I hand them themebooks I've written based on one of the themes they sent me (Ricardo gets "Visions of R'yleh" [Subversion] Denise gets "Diabolical w a Sick Sense of Humor" [Divination], Amanda gets "Clothed by the God of War [Expression] and Moe gets "His laughter wounds her deeply and he kills her with a bullet carved with a smile" [Bastion]). The police shout that the PCs have guns (they don't). The PCs engage and defeat the 4 cops and then flee the scene. (End of session one)

In session 2, they escape on foot into the industrial zone, break into a work wear store to disguise themselves and do some reflection/investigation to try to figure out what the heck is going on, both with circumstances and their weird new powers. Denise tries to skip out on the rigging job but her client keeps calling her on her cell phone - even after she smashes it and then leaves it in an alley (it mysteriously shows back up in her backpack, smashed, but ringing)! She re-agrees to do the job - again, between 11:30 and midnight that night - in exchange for the name of the target. The voice-scrambled client gives her the name: Gala Reyes.

That evening, the 11 o'clock newscast's lead story is about a violent act of terror at Ava's Lounge that put four policemen in the hospital; the security footage from the lounge is blurry and the perps cannot be clearly seen. The second news story is about a single car accident AT 7PM in which Gala Reyes - somewhat famous in the city - suffers a puncture wound and lacerations to her pelvic area and inner thigh.

We cut scene to downtime: Moe recovers a burned tag, Ricardo and Miranda explore their Mythos and Denise investigates, gaining Clues; she asks two questions and her player, Yazmin, claims to have a theory - she's on the case!

Finally, for the last 10 minutes of the session, we co-develop their crew theme. I give each player the crew theme questions and ask them to pick questions, answer them and draft power and weakness tags from the perspective of their individual characters. We round-robin share and then I have the group decide which of the tags they think best represent the bonding experience of the crew based on the two sessions. They land on: "instinctive, almost telepathic, coordination" (power tag) and "trust each other?!?" (weakness).

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Can MCs share their experience with Danger Ratings? I get how variance in how their profiles are leveraged in-game could greatly affect their efficacy so these ratings will always be very general. My question is: do you find that their Danger Rating in relation to a crew is very PC Crew size-dependent? Eg, is the rating (generally) on target for a Crew of four PCs but underpowered (maybe even exponentially) for a Crew of 5-6 PCs? What experience do you have that you can share as I go into using Dangers?
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EDIT: Last night I ran session 2 and post-its on a wall worked great!

Looking for suggestions: I want to clearly communicate things like story tags, that have a mechanical effect, to the PCs but I don’t like saying: “it’s raining so I’m putting a ‘poor traction 2’ story tag into effect.” To me it disrupts the narrative flow of the storytelling. I’m thinking of getting a dry erase board and writing the tags up as I narrate. Do other people have strategies they use around this?

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Ran a playtest yesterday for my Umerican "alternate funnel" entitled "Slave-Drones of the Fantas-Ti-Plex." It takes some inspiration from the 2nd edition of the Paranoia RPG that I played in the mid 80s. It was a table of independent gaming dignitaries: (DCC author and evangelist) +Terry Olson, Brandon Raasch (principal of game publishing company BARD games) , George Feldman (co-author of AUTO-DESTRUCT-O-RAMA!, our fast-play, post-apocalyptic, table top miniatures car combat game) and Erik Schmidt (the "Unpossible Labs" website). Erik's blog about his playtest experience and thoughts on DCC can be read at: http://unpossiblejourneys.com/dungeon-crawl-classics-gaming-like-its-1982/

As a playtest, it was great - I confirmed my basic basic, found the gaps and mined players' experiences for what would have improved those experiences. I remember when I started out designing for publication that I thought I'd have "arrived" as a designer/writer when I could do a game without having to playtest it. Not only have I learned that such a thing is pretty much impossible but I've come around 180 degrees - I LOVE running playtests for the new perspectives they reveal and the ideas that are generated from debriefing my players' experiences.

Expect to see the published version from +Reid San Filippo's Shield of Faith Studios sometime this year.

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Proud to have written the 2nd most lethal room, and while I don't want to take anything away from my good friend Judge Terry, I DO want to point out that during playtesting my room as originally written was judged "too lethal" and toned down. I think the RAW - "room as written" - shoulda been given a chance; just sayin'...

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In 2015, before there was ROCK GOD DEATH-FUGUE or even NULL SINGULARITY, I put out a not-so-little product co-written with +Julian Bernick (with help from +Brendan LaSalle and +Roy Snyder) called World-Quest of the Winter Calendar: A "World-Shaping" Zero-Level Funnel. Well, I didn't know anything about marketing, no one knew who I was and I was so new at publishing that I didn't even think to put "zero-level funnel" on the front cover, so I think that not a lot of people heard about "World-Quest." Thankfully, it's getting a little boost this week from Goodman Games' "Community Publisher Profiles." Please check it out and if you're looking for a zero-level funnel that can change your entire (DCC RPG campaign setting) worldview this holiday, consider ordering a copy from the Dark Master's online store!

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SESSION WRITE UP FOR WORLD-QUEST OF THE WINTER CALENDAR (A "WORLD-SHAPING" ZERO-LEVEL FUNNEL) AT THE N. CALIFORNIA INDY RPG CONVENTION: BIG, BAD CON. (PHOTO TAKEN BY THE INESTIMABLE DOUG KOVACS) SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!

A little less than a week ago, while foraging in the forest for victuals for the High Holy Week Festival, 24 peasants from the village of Bigbadcon went to the aid of an old man dragging a heavy sledge who was beset by a swarm of small, metal-crafted imps. Some regretted this act of charity when they learned that by approaching the old man they had unknowingly entrapped themselves in the Penumbra - the space between the worlds.

The man revealed himself as Laylokan, the God of Weighing the Cost of Balance. and he explained that their only way out was tied to the cargo on his sledge - the Winter Calendar. The 5' tall rotating silver calendar marked the seven days of the High Holy Week, a week whose divine significance is lost to antiquity... but not completely. As Laylokan explained, through mystic means, the events that originally gave that week its significance were recorded within the Winter Calendar as a sort of "living morality tale." If the PCs were to explore six chapters of the tale and interpret their meaning with Laylokan as witness, the veil between the Penumbra and the mortal world would lift and they could return home. But, Laylokan warned them, it might be a very different home indeed: their re-telling would power a great metaphysical ritual and that would re-shape their world in accordance with their interpretation of the "morals" of parts of the story.

In a six-hour gaming session, our plucky peasants survived four of the chapters of the story (without bringing doom to either themselves or their world - both of which were VERY possible.) By that point, more than half their number had lost their lives to the dangers that come with being thrust into a living morality tale centered on a major campaign in the ongoing struggle between Law and Chaos (making the adventure much more lethal than I remember when +Julian Bernick and I were playtesting it for publication).

Our peasants presented morals at three points in their adventure; each time two PCs generated morals from the perspective of Law, two from the perspective of Chaos and two were tasked with deciding, from a Neutral perspective, which moral rang more true. In all three cases, the moral told from the Lawful perspective was found wanting. As a result, the world to which the PCs returned was one that had aligned itself far more with the ethos of Chaos:

Governance would be characterized by widespread anarchy and frequent, violent revolutions would ensure that no dynasty would be long-lived. This would greatly benefit PCs who levelled up as Thieves as the exercise of their skills would benefit from less law and order.

The divine Pantheon would also favor Chaos with the addition of a new arch-fiend, the disappearance of a major god of Law and the high priest of another Lawful god secretly serving a Chaotic god.

Morality would be thrown to the wind. The social order would be characterized by rampant debauchery, with no respect paid to virtue. Individuals and communities would constantly put what it means to be "moral" to the test through exploration of all manner of depravities.

For those returnees who revered Law, the changes wrought would make a Hell-on-Aereth while for those who endorsed Chaos, it would be a land of splendor and opportunity.

World-Quest for the Winter Calendar is a Steve Bean Games 3PP product available on the Goodman Games website. This unique funnel for DCC players who've "been there, done that" vis a vis funnels has a mechanic that shapes the Judge's campaign world as the result of player choices and "meaning making."
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Living in a Latino community, Dia de los Muertos is just as important as Halloween, but I had to do a DCC twist on it at our youth technology career development center..
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