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[ profile] peaseblossom and I have been playing, for a while, long road to when, our Nobilis game. A bunch of things have happened --go and look at her write-ups if you are interested.

One of the many things that happened during the game was her character gaining a secondary estate so here's the write-up.

The estate of the Purple Thought covers a deep reverie of decadence that leads to renewed energy, vigor and life. This estate covers a senescence so deep that from it comes a deep and true creativity so powerful that it can penetrate the secrets of reality. This estate covers aspects of sexuality, inspiration and the arts.

The Imperator of this estate, Itari hails from the world of the Ten Thousand Orchids. This world is inhabited by a graceful race of intelligent, humanoid, flowers. As such this is an understanding of life that can be very difficulty for outsiders to grasp, most can only understands two of its aspects: the decadence and the naked sexuality; and the inspiration that forms community. But to truly understand the Purple Thought one much capture the inter-textuality between the two.

Miracle chart )
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[ profile] peaseblossom has been posting a bunch of stuff lately for a long road to when, the Nobilis game we've been playing 1:1. Some neat stuff, though to be honest I firmly believe that looking at story synopsis really fails to catch the coolness this game has to offer. Its actually a little frustrating to be running a game and know that only one other person will ever see just how cool it is. Luckily that person's opinion is indeed the most important in my world, so thats no small bit of satisfaction.

One of the things I wish came across better in the write-ups is how much both of us are treating this slow, really taking time to savor things. Pacing is such a vital part of gaming, and I feel that so often with large groups we are going at full barrels and we loose some of the pleasures of more slower pacing.
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From the old Lexicon of the Lost 500 Years (I should really figure out a way to host that again someday). Included here for reference and thought in my current Nobilis game

Read more... )
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Often times there are specific scenes I want to start with. Or think will happen. For these I like to define a few things. First I get the target audience (especially easy for a 1:1 game). Target audience is more than the players that will be directly involved. Sometimes there are scenes that are meant to illustrate specific something to folks not in the scene. And so I want to know that out front.

Then I decide on the specific NPCs that are going to be involved in the scene. Remember for me an NPC is person, place or thing that has importance. When I have a specific NPC and I’m being really good about scene building I like to have before me three things: Do, Say, Resources.

Do are those things I want them to do, either before the scene starts or during it. I’ll usually list some expected contingencies.

Say are the key things, in voice, to remember. They might not get said but it helps me a lot.

Resources are the things they can bring to the table. Usually what the player is after, even if they might not be aware of it at the start.

All of this usually goes out the window in the first five minutes, but if I’ve done it I find that I’m better able to imprivse. The more work I do upfront thinking things through the better capable of improvising I become. This is good because that’s where most of a session happens anyway. These scene preps really just exist to up my confidence level going in and make it easier for me to think on my feet. I probably use about 25% of it even slightly as is. Which is why I get lazy and don’t do it, and when I don’t do it my sessions fall flat. The avoidance of prep is one of the problems I was having last fall and I’m trying a lot harder to get back into it.
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[ profile] peaseblossom thought it might be a good idea for me if I fleshed ou my thoughts on how I prepare for a given session. So I figured I’d start with what I do for an NPC.

When I develop an NPC I basically do the following:
  • Rationale
  • Objectives
  • Activities
  • Assessment
  • Voice
  • Mechanics

Rationale is the why. Why is this person (and I can use the term person very loosely, often applying it to places and even things) important. What impact does this person have on the player(s) and the world.

Objectives is a clear idea of what the person is doing and what they are supposed to do. I’ll often strive to get in the NPCs head and decide what they are doing to impact the setting ad the other actors (PC and NPC) within it.

Activities are the things they are doing or are going to do. I usually start with a few vague statements and the flesh them out from there. These are the things I can do to jump-start a given scene.

Assessment is how will they react to a given situation? What is their personality and what does this mean. I usually place them within the world/setting at this point.

Voice is where I give some stylistic things that I hope will make the NPC stand out as a separate person. As this is my weakest skill as a GM I really ned this to help me make better NPCs. Otherwise they all start sounding the same.

Mechanics, I hate mechanics, I really do but they do help so I give powerlevels or stats or whatever is appropriate. And some more stylistic flourishes for how they’ll use them.

And then every time I use an NPC I update this material with the status of the game. What I prefer to do is do a lot of work on these up front so I can coast by from session to session just make the NPCs more and more realized. What I’m finding in a Long Road to When is that due to its travelogue structure (something I rarely do as a gm) I need to do a lot more of this just to keep up. And since one of my objectives is to get better at NPC voice (and in using erotic content) it requires me to spend a lot more time working on my NPCs, especially voice.

Being the king of process flows, mind maps and concept maps I usually map the NPCs and the world out, but thats a seperate post. What I'm striving to do here is set the nodes.
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Peaseblossom and I have been playing A long Road to When, our one-on-one Nobilis game. Her session summaries can be found here. Things are going well though there have been certainly some rough spots in characterization. Its really forcing me to break out of some established habits and try new stuff out. I also find the need to prep for a 1:1 game a lot heavier than group style, which is probably good for my lazy bones.
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People who have thought about public speaking or presentations usually know that silence is one of the most powerful tools in conversation, speaking and negotiation. Think about any memorable speech. The power comes from pauses. Look at any accomplished comedian. They use timing. What is timing if it isn't the use of silence. Music is punctuated by silence. Storytellers will often use their pauses in very real ways, the best using it ina way that borders on hypnotism.

Yet roleplaying is a medium that, to my experience, abhors silence. Think about it, we have a group of players and usually a GM. 3 and up people. That usually means that theres one or more conversations going on at the table. Thinking back to most gaming sessions there is usually one of the following types of conversations:
  • GM to all players
  • GM to one player
  • All players
  • Player to Player
  • Any breakdown above.

But I think at any gaming table I’ve ever been there hasn’t be silence. Well except for the odd moment of very uncomfortable silence and that’s usually broken very quickly.

In the one on one gaming I’m doing with [ profile] peaseblossom silence has become very important. It's texture is actually adding a lot to the plot. What is important, what is worthy of deeper thought. Silence adds power by its presence.

The difficulty is figuring out how to bring this to a larger group.
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So [ profile] peaseblossom and I have been playing our Nobilis game, a long road to when, she has some summaries of play up to know on her livejournal (she's not caught up yet!). These don't match 1:1 a given session, but we've been keeping sessions pretty short, about 1:30 to 2 hrs. Its easier because we do it after the kids go to bed and then we just play until we reach a nice point to stop.

Some things I should write more about when I get a chance include:
  • Silence as flow in the narrative

  • Erotic undertones in gaming (and when its not just an undertone)

  • Developing npcs you think your spouse will find attractive

  • As should become rather clear to the few who have read the entries and are familiar with the old Lexicon of the lost 500 years is I'm mining that old fertile territory for this game.

    Basically she's doing a backwards alchemical rite across the world tree touching on places important to events that never happened except to the miraculous. So far it seems to be working.
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[ profile] peaseblossom and I have just started a new Nobilis game and it should be interesting. One of the things I've noticed already that I have to think more about to articulate what is going on in my head, and get more actual play under the belt, is the issue of silences. Silence doesn't seem like a useful tool when gming for a group but already I've noticed it has a bigger importance.

I may create a no-Jess filter so I can post my Nobilis stuff and my GM ruminations and not ruin things for her.
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This Nobilis game (stealing from [ profile] peaseblossom's playbook) is about a member of a Noble family from earth (the Power of Breath I believe) who died on a world far from earth and was re-Nobled in an inhabitant of that world. Said inhabitant was sort of human, a vestige of a lost colony from the Lost Five Hundred Years (and yes time issues is important here). She must find out what is happening, without aid of Imperator of Familia and navigate a long way home.

This will be a game of exploration. Exploration of the physical world of the Ash, of the social worlds of Nobilis and of the interior landscape.
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Darnalia is a world on the World Ash, not that the average inhabitant knows that. To them it is a system around an average enough star that at some point had strange gravitational anomalies which caused the various planets to crumble so that know the system is a series of asteroid belts with large planetoids (Pluto size) scattered about. All surrounded by an extensive Oort Cloud-Sphere. This system, if it ever developed life, had none when it was colonized by the brave aether ships of the Terra 300 years ago. But then the aether ships fell from the heavens and civilization became a lot harder, fragmenting into a million different enclaves, most barely scrabbling to survive. Over the eyars technology has grown, altering as it takes advantage of the unique metals and crystals of the system. The humans have developed nanotechnologies and more, splintering and combining in heady combinations. Even striving to step beyond their system. To them earth is but a dim dream of a fallen state.

The Miraculous: I’m just barely sketching this here as more will be discovered in play. First a general principle of this world is potential. Thing of it in a hermetic light, the metals and crystals have potential and can be used in ways that earth substances can only dream of (crystal growth are used in a similar way to flowers by the Nobles of this world-fruit). There are Imperators, but fewer than on earth. From Heaven and Hell, the Wild and the Wyrm most certainly; and ancient, barely recognizable True Gods. But there isn’t any correlation to Light and Dark.


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