[Reaper Minis KS+] So I wrote a Braunstein Scenario to share (need help sharing it...)

Hey y'all:
While I've been waiting for that Big Ol' box of miniatures goodness to be delivered from the Reaper Bones KS, I sat down and wrote up a Braunstein style scenario. I'd love to share it.

Here's the gist of it:
A Wizardly Swap Meet is happening in an out of the way, monster infested, swamp clearing. Rival wizards are showing up to buy up as many familiars as they can ( the primary ingredient for building bigger monsters). A clan of carnies is hosting the affair, security is provided by pirates, and the local lizard men are the ones bringing and selling the captured familiars. Undoubtedly carnage, backstabbing, and magical dueling ensues.
5-8 players ( with back ups for more); playtime 3-5 hours. Uses minis from the Vampire Level Pledge and minimal terrain and space requirements.

Here's the deal: I wrote this thing up with whatever word processing thing was loaded on my computer. Not sure where to post and host the thing right now, so your suggestions welcome on that front. It's rough, but readily playable.

In the meantime, if you want the files, whisper me your email addy and I'll send them to you. Would love feedback and AP if you get to play it before I do.

Thanks much fellow minis-lovers:
K-Bob

PS: If anyone wants to discuss the general design process and experience, and your own approaches to similar kinds of games, please post in this thread.

Comments

  • Okay, if I did this right, this is the addy for the google docs version.

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lpnWpbjYqtWg0qOfterC1LcUsR5zMf3wGD460S5nJQ8/edit

    No pretty pictures in that one so for, but mostly it is going to be pretty evident what minis I'm talking about if you have access to that Reaper Vampire Level KS.
  • A lot of work here. Best wishes on the project!

    Been working on a miniatures story game for my 15mm Sci Fi guys. I'll use a variation on the card story telling game. It's working well in Fairy Tale Assassin League. Should make the game play in an hour to 90 minutes so I shouldn't use too big of a terrain board.

    Trying to get people to play spontaneously is the challenge. When the rules are too open it just shuts people down. Odd isn't it? Limiting actions like the cards do really helps. The mix of cards guides the story.
  • I freely admit I cheated with this one, Chris. I'm fully relying on a Referee in there that wants to make this more than just a skirmish and makes a point of inviting people to play that will groove on that concept.

    Sometimes trying to explain stuff to people that just.don't.get.it starts to wear me down.

  • Trying to get people to play spontaneously is the challenge. When the rules are too open it just shuts people down. Odd isn't it? Limiting actions like the cards do really helps. The mix of cards guides the story.
    I've been pondering some related concepts recently, Chris.

    I really think from here out when I talk about these kinds of hybrid minis/story-games I'm going to skip trying to make mechanics to go with them at all and instead make "soup starter packets".

    Those things would just be a general concept ( What's the rub of this situation and broadly where is it headed described in a paragraph or so elevator pitch format), the must-have stuff (miniatures, certain key characters, basic table layout stuff), the seasoning ( background stuff, goals some/any character might have, cultural/historical/situational influences), and suggested ingredients (links to terrain, miniatures, etc), and cooking options( what systems I'd modify or use depending on whether I was going Matrix Game, Braunstein, multi-form, Mythic GM Emulator, or whatever and how many players).

    Thing is, this sort of thing is really, really personalized. Each and every one of them. Everybody has different collections of minis, budgets, number of players available, and preferences on style of play/mechanics. I used the Reaper KS as the basis for this one strictly because of how common it was going to be to know someone in your broader location that had access to at least that core set of miniatures.

    For myself, making one of these "soup starters" I think I'll make either index cards with one story element/concept written on each and deal them around.

    Alternatively, 'm considering having some one-page things with a bunch of those kinds of things on them and hand them around. Each sheet will be different, and it's important to have concepts divided up on those sheets, with maybe 5-6 ( expected players+1) of them for a more story-creating style of play. The idea here is that every player will get one, and have all kinds of stuff to draw inspiration from, but you don't quite know what will end up being used during play.

    Now if anyone knows a way to automate that process, lemme know. Because that right there would solve a design dilemma for me.

  • I don't think using a strong GM is cheating - in fact it is pure Braunstein. The only draw back of strong GMing is that it limits who else can run it. The ref has to be a good ref to make them work.

    I understand the wearing down feeling to. Recently my games have been very light and I hope fun, rather than serious. Hungry Dragon - the fighting stealing don't eaten game, Mongolian Goat Rodeo, Fairy Tale Assassin League? No heavy theme here. What I do with the minis will definitely follow that line. I don't care if the world loves it - it's for my own enjoyment. I just don't want to work as hard GMing.
  • So the biggest thing the game needs is goals/motivations. There are almost none, and the ones that are present don't interact enough to make meaningful conflict. There is a lot of stuff, but little actual motivations. Don't be afraid to give players motivations. They will add to those as they see fit. But they need starting motivations or they have nothing to work with.

    You have money. But you have nobody who needs money except a vague statement that the pirates want to end up with as much of it as possible and the Flagums want some too. Money means nothing if characters don't have a defined need for it. The easiest way to define a need is to make it do something in play, possibly by making it be something other than "money". Maybe instead of silver pieces they trade in little crystals that can be used to "influence the world around them" - in other words, they can spend one to add to a die roll or to reroll a die or whatever. Something they can make immediate game use of. Then you have a meaningful resource worth hoarding. If you want to leave it as just money, define how much the pirates and the Flagums need in order to accomplish what they want. And define why the wizards need money and don't want to just throw theirs around.

    You have oddities, but, again, nothing defining a need for them. And you specifically state that they don't have powers. So why would one trade in them? Just because they look like they're a resource so you probably should?

    You have familiars, but only the lizard men have them. They seem to be the only actually meaningful resource, and they're the least fleshed-out thing in the game.

    Seems like the oddities and familiars concepts could be combined. Then take them away from the wizards. Then give the wizards a reason why they want to acquire oddities/familiars to make into monsters, other than "because they can". (Or maybe the wizards need certain oddities/familiars, which are not the ones they start with).

    It looks like each player is supposed to play all the characters within a faction. But most of the factions contain characters that have goals that conflict with each other. So how the heck are you supposed to advocate for your multiple conflicting characters while you're completely in control of each of them - you're setting up weird false conflict there. Glink wants to kill his boss, which is your other character - how are you supposed to play that?

    In fact, it looks like you've written a 15+ person scenario, but you're afraid to call it that. If you eliminated the Mooks (which are pretty useless) and wrote actual goals for the other 15 characters, you'd have a pretty good game. Especially if you got rid of the miniatures, which don't seem to actually add anything other than slowness.

    Plot points are wonky. Main characters have 18. You lose them based on the difference of a compared 1d6 roll. So you typically lose 1 or 2 at a time. So it takes 9 lost conflicts before you suffer consequences. That's a lot of bookkeeping for a very delayed consequence. I think you could narrow things down to "you fail" vs "you fail plus lose a turn" and just leave it at that. If there are enough goals to try to accomplish, losing a turn is a significant consequence to failure and less unfun than losing a character entirely.

    And you need to call the setting a swamp meet. It's a swap meet in the swamp. Don't dodge the obvious play on words.
  • If I got rid of the miniatures, then it wouldn't be a miniatures game now would it?

    It's true that you could play this as a freeform of some kind if you wanted to do that. Go for it. I wanted specifically to make something up and tie it to a set of minis that a bunch of people are going to be receiving in the mail soon. Trying to talk to other minis owners about this general sort of play is extremely hard because every single person will have different collection. by doing this, I was specifically trying to give a common touch-point for a bunch of folks to start with.

    Internal-faction fighting. Truth be told, that was side effect of just plain wanting to get something up online for people to be able to look at. As I originally intended it, all of the characters in the various factions would simply have their own little card with a character and those attitudes and motivations on it.

    How many characters? I dunno, it depends on how many players showed up. At the core of it, I was assuming you'd need at least 3 wizards ( with Norell Splend the Good Wizard being one of them), and at least 2/3 non-wizard factions.

    The other characters were there for a couple of reasons. First, if there were only 5-8 players, everyone had a main character and a back up assistant at minimum, with the non-wizards having some more characters to balance out the abilities and interests of the wizards. You could split up the characters and do some different stuff with them if you wanted.

    Second, because of what happened to Dave Wesley in that first Braunstein: He had a whole lot of players show up and was stuck making characters on the fly. The idea here was to have characters ready to go for onlookers who join ( Assistants first, then on down to mooks as player group size blossoms or characters are knocked off).

    For practical purposes, if I was running this, I would probably have a very brief sheet for single players (with very basic stats and no motivations for the secondary characters), then have all of the other character sheets on index cards as players were recruited. That's where the cross motivations are really supposed to come into play.
  • Money, oddities, familiars:
    Yeah, I've been getting feedback from folks that those things really need to be fleshed out.

    Over the next few days, I guess I'm just plain going to go in and flesh out some more stuff with that.

    Some of that was just plain simplification. The text was getting really very lengthy.

    I put no prices in originally, figuring haggling would be part of the fun. I really wanted to see what values people would put on familiars and items and services all on their own. I'll see what I can dream up to at least give some target numbers and motivations for actual totals to be achieved.

    The familiars themselves are needed to build monsters. You need to use at least one for any monster building attempt, and having more gives bonuses. The lizard men start with 5 of them, and more are in the bayou and can be captured ( and expended familiars can be reintroduced during play by the referee to encourage just that).

    The oddities are there to add color. They can absolutely be used in duels and monster making. You just have to get a little creative to justify it. The magic system is freeform that way. Me, I'd be pretty liberal with allowing those modifiers, provided you didn't overdo it. Much like you get bonuses for description In Wushu or solid reasoning/arguments in Matrix Games.

    Why fight? Why build monsters? Why duel? It's what the thing is about, and gamers are reliably gamers. This scenario will almost certainly end in a big old fight with the hydra stomping through the place. It just will. Kids? Non-gamer adults? Those folks might come up with another ending. Not gamers though, not even dirty hippy ones that hang around these parts of the internet. Especially in a one-off game. it's why I emphasize that the Ref needs to watch the vibe and make sure players know about the win conditions. Despite the 3 different ways to win, all equal in my mind and the last couple more important in some ways, I know that there will always be people who only shoot for the in-fiction win. Every time.

    Plot points? There isn't much in the way of healing in this game. There isn't meant to be. By the end of the scenario, characters should be sweating how low they're getting if they've been active. Plus, wizards can expend Plot Points for bonuses and even one duel going on through several turns in a round can leave you depleted. Only wizards spend Plot Points like this, so they just plain have more.

    Any failed skill roll or failed conflict roll results in loss of plot protection. Piss several people off ( or just one with a few characters) and you may suffer a good bit of loss In just a single round, even if it is only a point at a time.

    I didn't want to do lose-a-turn penalties, even for a single character. Wizards are already losing any ability to do much else on a turn when they do research, get in a running duel, or try to make a monster. I estimate there will be only around 5-6 full rounds of play, so adding more loss of play potential seemed kinda crappy. It's why I have all members of a faction moving/acting together even when multiple players are in that faction and possibly at cross-purposes.

    The naming conventions? I liked it. Personal choice, so I'm going to keep it. Plus, I think these games benefit from humor, even stupid humor. "A Wizard Did It" is by this point a common enough explanation ( and gamer in-joke) for whatever weird, impossible creature, dungeon eco-system, or architecture appears in old D&D adventures that I decided to smush it together and use it to describe a swap meet where impossible critters and items were being traded and created.
  • Crap. Sorry about that wall of text. Lots of those explanations were things I dropped from what I put up on google.docs.
  • edited June 2013
    I put no prices in originally, figuring haggling would be part of the fun. I really wanted to see what values people would put on familiars and items and services all on their own. I'll see what I can dream up to at least give some target numbers and motivations for actual totals to be achieved.
    Haggling is fun, yes. Totally agree. Don't use fixed prices for important big things, those should be haggled over. I'm just saying that in order for haggling to mean something, money has to mean something. If you replace one of the win conditions with "has the most money at the end", then money means something. If the Flagums need 1 gold per faction member by the end of Turn 4, or any faction members they can't pay will leave, then money means something. But if it's just a setup where everyone starts with some cash but nobody actually needs to have any cash at the end, then money means absolutely nothing.

    It's hard for people to picture the concept of money not being intrinsically valuable, because we have so many ubiquitous uses for it. We need it for the most basic things - food and board. We need it for pleasures and entertainments. We need it for courting. We need it for building a future nest egg. We need money for so many things that it's hard to realize that game characters don't need it for anything unless you explicitly say they do. Until you give them a goal to meet or a thing to buy, they have no need for money and no real reason not to freely spend it like crazy. This tends to make money a very complicated resource to make use of in a game. And if you analyze how many board games use money, you'll see that it's not really "money" at all, it's just resource allocation chits represented by green paper. Which is usually how it should be considered.
    The familiars themselves are needed to build monsters. You need to use at least one for any monster building attempt, and having more gives bonuses. The lizard men start with 5 of them, and more are in the bayou and can be captured ( and expended familiars can be reintroduced during play by the referee to encourage just that).
    I saw that they are needed to build monsters. That's why I called them out as being the only meaningful resource - they are the only thing that ties to any of the game mechanics in a clear way. And because of that, you shouldn't tie them to just one player. Probably all of the non-wizard players should have at least one of them. And all of those players should have at least one greed goal that would give them reason to want to sell their familiars. And some other complicating goals that make it so they don't want to just sell to anyone - so one of the activities the wizards need to do is to figure out which of the sellers would be willing to sell to them. That's where interesting interactions start to happen.
    The oddities are there to add color. They can absolutely be used in duels and monster making. You just have to get a little creative to justify it.
    It says you use creatures to build monsters and at least one of those creatures needs to be a familiar. It's not clear you can use oddities for that.

    And the outcome of monster making seems kind of fixed - there's a set list of monsters you can get. It's not clear how being more creative and using more resources gets you a better monster. Maybe you should point out which are the most basic monsters that you get by making the bare minimum and which ones you get by using more resources and creativity.
    Why fight? Why build monsters? Why duel? It's what the thing is about, and gamers are reliably gamers. This scenario will almost certainly end in a big old fight with the hydra stomping through the place. It just will.
    I get what you are saying, totally. But I think they need just a little bit of direct motivation to set them at cross purposes. It doesn't need to be much. Maybe one of the wizards needs some specific oddities (but preferably make it so that they need like 2 out of a list of 3-4 or something like that, so that they aren't hosed by a single object disappearing.) Maybe another wants to prove his awesomeness by creating the most badass monster and beating up any other wizards' monsters with it. Just little things like that will be plenty to drive them at each other. But right now, those motivations/goals aren't clearly fleshed out. If you look at the revised Braunstein game that Wesley did, the single most clear thing in it are the goals he wrote for each character that put them at odds with each other.
    Plot points? There isn't much in the way of healing in this game. There isn't meant to be. By the end of the scenario, characters should be sweating how low they're getting if they've been active. Plus, wizards can expend Plot Points for bonuses and even one duel going on through several turns in a round can leave you depleted. Only wizards spend Plot Points like this, so they just plain have more.
    I missed that wizards spend more in duels. However, the pirates seem to start with 18 as well, don't they?

    But if you don't want people losing turns, why do you want them dying? Maybe there should be some other consequence for failure. Maybe they pay money or oddities or something to the challenger when they fail, and death/expulsion is never really on the line.
  • I'm working on a v 1.1 adding in some of the stuff you're talking about and splitting off the secondary character motivations to create some advanced rules. If main players recruit onlookers, the characters get upgrades just for coming into the game. Downside is those cross-purposes the characters have.

    I'm adding in a couple of more clear goals per faction in the simplified sheets, including cash goals you're talking about for the non-wizard factions.

    Players already have the option of offering non Plot Point loss as alternatives to a losing character in a conflict, but the player may accept or decline. They also get a Saving Throw versus getting written out of the game (death). If they die, they have the option of using a secondary character and continuing to play.

    Why death at all? By my best guess, main character death is unlikely until the very last couple of rounds. I don't mind if characters start dropping like flies in the last couple of rounds. I simply didn't want to write rules that said, hey, no one's main character can die before the X Round/Hour 3.

    I gave everyone's main character 18 Plot Points as standard, and every assistant character 6 Plot Points. It was just eye-balled and seemed fair to me. Nothing fancier than that at all actually. Wizards already have a bonus against all non-monster characters in conflict rolls, but may well being losing Plot Points of their own more regularly.

    As for the oddities and familiars, I'm adding some optional extra rules. Familiars will get some specialties of magic they can add or another ability and I may allow even non-wizards to use that part of the thing.

    People can go try to catch untended wild familiars by base contact+skill checks, so that also gives non-lizard men something to do potentially.

    Another person made the suggestion that recipes exist with core ingredients, so I'm going to make some of those as well and give them out to wizards. Collect the right ingredients and you can make a specific monster without rolling for it, provided no one has already made that monster. Making the same exact monster as someone else is just gauche, like showing up to the party in the same outfit as the hostess.
  • I'm working on a v 1.1 adding in some of the stuff you're talking about and splitting off the secondary character motivations to create some advanced rules. If main players recruit onlookers, the characters get upgrades just for coming into the game. Downside is those cross-purposes the characters have.
    That sounds excellent. I like the idea that adding extra players to your faction adds some complications to help balance the increased power.
    People can go try to catch untended wild familiars by base contact+skill checks, so that also gives non-lizard men something to do potentially.
    There you go. If they have a money goal, and a market (wizards) and a product (familiars) and an activity to obtain the product (hunting), then they have an excellent motivation to do something. And a nice multi-part activity to engage in (go hunt, then sell/haggle, then repeat).
    Another person made the suggestion that recipes exist with core ingredients, so I'm going to make some of those as well and give them out to wizards. Collect the right ingredients and you can make a specific monster without rolling for it, provided no one has already made that monster.
    Sounds like a good way to make the trading of oddities much more meaningful.
  • So, a bunch of changes and additions have occurred. I'm still working but the goals for the main characters, but more general stuff is up there if y'all want another look at it.

    Rob, I like the idea of your time related/round related goal, but honestly, I'm not quite sure how to work it in.

    All ideas appreciated.
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