Simon explains Nerver av stål

edited August 2018 in Story Games
So I've written this game called Nerver av stål. It's a film noir mystery game and it's great. There's no English translation, but it's been mentioned a few times over here by some Swedes, and I think it's really neat (I consider it my most well-crafted game yet), so I thought I'd do one of these threads where I explain the game and people can ask questions and whatever. That way you don't need an actual translation of it! Well, kinda.

So when I pitch the game I say "Hey so this game is called Nerver av stål and it's a game that emulates film noir mystery movies the way they looked in the late 40's and early 50's, so it's classical black-and-white Bogart stuff, not Chinatown neo-noir. There's one main character, three or four players in total, there's smooth jazz music, voiceover narration and it's all pretty sweet. Do you wanna play?" And then they say "Hell yeah" and I go "Ok, let's sit down. Clear the table."

Then I set up my speaker and I play a smooth jazz song. I let it run for a few seconds and then I read this text, which is basically a Raymond Chandler pastiche narration of a private dick looking out over a rainy city and philosophizing about the world and its dark alleys. It starts "The clock was somewhere between way too much and way too little" and goes on like that. All first-person past tense filled with metaphors and clichés. This is to put everyone in the mood.

The jazz song keeps going in the background when I transition to talking about film noir, what the genre is and some historical context. It's just one song, though, and when it's done, the music falls silent while I keep talking. I talk about american soldiers having seen horrible things in Europe during WW2 and wanting to make movies about it, but having to dodge the Hayes Code censorship. About them coming back to America and finding women having come into the work force and not being all happy about just going back to being house wives. I like to mention the femme fatale here, how it's kindofa sleazy cliché now, but in the old movies in their historical context, it's women who are breaking free from the roles imposed on them by society.

So now I put three or four sheets on the table (depending on the number of players). For three players, they are Nerves of Steel, Silver Tongue, and Golden Dreams. For four players, theres also City of Shadows. basically, Nerves of Steel is the main character, generally male if you want to simulate the old movies (I like to keep it that way when people are playing for the first time, but breaking it up if people have played before). He's cynical but tries to do right by himself. He'll be in all the scenes and the game is narrated from his perspective. Silver Tongue is the femme fatale, again generally female in the old movies. She's got a history but is good at hiding it, and having other people help her. Golden Dreams is the main bad guy, who can be male or female. They're the power in the shadows, the gangster boss, and acts a lot through henchmen. Finally, City of Shadows is a GM-esque role, playing everyone except these characters. The game works well both with and without this player. If there's no City of Shadows, the other players play other characters. Now everyone chooses a role.

The players read their roles and then explain their special abilities to each other. Everyone gets one. I take this opportunity to explain some rules when the special ability calls for it. Also I place cards in front of the players. Here are the special abilities:

Nerves of Steel: You have three cards of spades in front of you. By flipping one of them over, you can make a conclusion that is absolutely and irrevocably true. If you say "I could see in his eyes he was an honest man", then that man can never be corrupted. If you say "That was an obvious lie", then regardless of what the person thought when they said it, it is now established to have been a lie. And so on.

Silver Tongue: NoS and GD both have a card of hearts in front of them. As long as they have that card face up, they have to be on your side. They don't have to believe what you tell them, but they have to try to help you. They can at any time flip their card and switch allegiance/give up on you/see through you. However, when they have a flipped hearts in front of them and you have a conflict, you can decide to win the conflict by giving them a thumbs down.

Here's where I explain the conflict rules. Basically, when there's a conflict, a player not involved in the conflict can give a player involved a thumbs up or thumbs down, declaring that things go well or badly for that person. The act of giving a thumbs up or down is what makes it a conflict, basically. You can't give thumbs if you're involved in the conflict yourself, unless you're the Silver Tongue and have a conflict with someone with a face-down hearts.

Golden Dreams: You have three cards of clubs in front of you. At any time you can flip one of them to introduce someone working for you. Others can also work for you, of course, but people whom you've bought with a clubs are always played by you, unless you choose to have someone else play them. You can use this to buy a character that has been in many scenes already, played for example by the City of Shadows. Buying them relveals they've been working for you this entire time, and from now on you'll be playing them. You can also play this on the Nerves of Steel or the Silver Tongue. In this case, you won't be playing them, of course, but you establish that they have been working for you in the past. Or perhaps they still are. Perhaps even without knowing it!

This is some of the rules. There are also rules about how you talk. I'll get to them soon. Feel free to ask questions if you're interested.


  • Ok so here are some rules on how to talk:

    First rule: Everything that is said while playing a scene is part of the narrative. That means you don't say things like "Haha, that was great!" or "I bet he'll turn out to be a bad guy." or especially "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!". Inbetween scenes all of those things can and, with the exception of the Monthy Python quote, should be said. But from the moment the scene starts until it is cut, only things that would be actual words in the book, if this was a book, are to be said. Narration and dialogue. That's it.

    Second rule: Narration is done in first person past tense, and the first person is Nerves of Steel. So if I'm Silver Tongue and I describe my character walking up to Nerves of Steel, I say something like "She walked up to me and looked me in the eyes without blinking. It was just for a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity to me." So even though it's me speaking about my character, I'm calling her "she" and I'm calling your character "I". And it's all in the past tense. Got it? This does not apply to dialogue, obviously.

    Oh, and this means Nerves of Steel needs to be present in every scene, though sometimes he can be hidden and watching the scene. And if you're in a pinch, you can use the trick of "Here's what must have happened next. I only learned about it after the fact, but i must have gone something like this:". Also he can't die, mostly. If he does, it should be at the end of the movie. for extra bonus points, you can then have the last scene in the present scene, with NoS talking into a tape recorder or writing on a typewriter as he's slowly bleeding to death.

    Third rule: You cannot interrupt someonw who's narrating. If I'm going on about the neon signs reflecting in the wet pavement, you shut up and listen. Wait for me to finish, then you can say something. You can raise your hand to signal that wou want to say something, and I can let you in by finishing my sentence and pausing, but that's up to me. Also, do leave pauses when speaking, to allow other players to say something, if they want to. If nobody says anything, you can keep speaking. This rule also obviously do not apply to dialogue.

    Those are the rules on how to talk. They make the game pregnant with atmosphere. Follow them scrupulously.

    And another thing for the atmosphere: When you start a scene, you pick a smooth jazz song (saxophone more or less obligatory) and start it. When you do that, everyone else shuts up, because the scene is starting. Let the music run for a few seconds, then start your monologue. This is where you set the scene, and because of the "no interrupting" rule, it can be as long as you like. Some scenes are only the monologue and then they end! Note that this means Nerves of Steel has to give up some agency as other players get to tell him where he is, why, and sometimes even what he's doing. That's the price you pay for being the main protagonist.

    Anyway, you play the smooth jazz and talk, and then when you finish talking, you can do a little gesture of opening up to signal that others can start talking now. The music runs on in the background, but once it's finished, it should stop. Play only one song; don't keep going for the entire scene. I have four songs on my phone that players can choose from and that's plenty. If you start to recognize them, that's a bonus! You can even get some themes going. I like to use the song Angel Eyes when I set a scene for the Silver Tongue, and then setting a scene and hearing that intro get going really builds some nice expectations. It's awesome.

    Sometimes scenes are short and music is long, and then you have to cut it when you cut the scene. That's fine. Don't let it bleed into the between-scenes talking. The music is for fiction only!
  • Alright, so a few things left to explain. Cutting scenes and keeping track. Let's start with cutting scenes. There are a few reasons why you want to cut the scene. Here are those reasons:

    The first is because the scene is over. The one who set the scene gets to cut it when it's done. Just like many other games.

    The second is because there might be a plot hole. If someone says something and you think "Hm, I'm not sure that agrees with what's been established", cut it. Cut it now, and stop the music if it's running. Then ask "Hey, so you said that woman is my sister, but in a previous scene I established I was an orphan". Maybe it's fine. Maybe the other person says "Yeah, but this is actually your real sister that you didn't know you had!". Or maybe it's a small correction. "Huh, yeah, I guess she's a friend from the orphanage instead, good?". Maybe it's even "Oh, crap, I need to rethink my scene. Hang on a minute." All of these are fine. What's not fine is you ignoring the plot hole and moving on and then the plot has a hole in it. This game needs a tight plot. don't let it spring a leak, even with small stuff! Once you've talked it out, continue with the music if it was playing when you cut, and rewind a few moments and try again.

    The third reason is because you regret what you just said and think you can do better. Cut the scene, rewind and try again. That's fine. It's obviously not fine to cut the scene and tell someone else they can do better.

    The final reason to cut the scene is because someone broke the Hayes Code.

    What's the Hayes Code?

    It's the censorship code of the MPAA, and if you break it, your movie can't be shown. It forbids things like swears, sex, insults to the priesthood, illegal drugs, blood and gore and so on. It also forbids things that are really problematic to forbid today, notably homosexuality and race mixing. All of these things are stuff we do want to have in our game, though! We're film noir filmmakers and we want to make a movie about the dark aspects of society, and we also want to challenge existing norms. But we have to be subtle. For example, we can't swear, but we can get away with "Damn" and "Blast", and if you say it just right, everyone will know what you're really intending to say. And we can show the girl combing her hair and the guy putting on his tie and there's only one bed in the room and it's unmade and we all know what they did, but we didn't show it so we can maybe get it by the censors. And these two guys? They're "partners" and we all know what that means, but if Mr. Hayes comes a-knocking, we can tell him "What? I'm not sure what you're implying here. They work together."

    But if someone flagrantly breaks the code, we cut the scene, point it out, rewind, and then they have to redo it in a more subtle way.

    There's one more thing that's important about the Hayes Code. It says crime doesn't pay. So if someone commits a crime, they need to suffer for it. They can't get away scot free. This is why the femme fatale that we all love has to be punished in the end. but we all remember her for her life, not her tragic death/imprisonment. sometimes this includes Nervis of Steel. If he did a crime, he can't have a happy ending (which is usually fine by film noir standards).

    So that's cutting the scene, and the Hayes Code. If you really don't like it, you can leave it out; the game won't really suffer for it. Or you can replace it with a different aesthetic.
  • edited August 2018
    Thank you ! The setup is elegant and powerful. If someone wants to go out of genre, I really recommend keeping the same Hollywood era for inspiration. This guarantees strong single action focus.
  • Elegant!
    Can you provide a summary of what will flip cards and what will reveal them, for each role? I got a little lost in that; and I cannot tell if the three-card bits are intentionally limiters or what.
    Also, do you have trigger(s) for beginning the endgame?
  • Flipping cards: sounds like Nerves of Steel can flip whenever [he] wants, as long as there's still some of the original 3 cards left unflipped; Silver Tongue cannot flip [her] hearts but NoS and Golden Dreams can flip the heart in front of them whenever they choose; and GD can flip a club at any time, their choice.

    Does City of Shadows have any card flippage?
  • edited August 2018
    Yeah, not clear still. :)
    How about a table?

    Starting Cards StatesWhat Flips EachWhat Reveals Eac

    EDIT: Looks like the HTML renderer is borked in this theme. Ah well,
  • How I read it:

    NS: starts with 3 spades, faceup. May turn facedown whenever desired, to make something true. Never turns faceup.

    ST: starts with 2 hearts, faceup, one for NS, one for GD. Cannot affect the cards. NS may turn theirs facedown whenever desired to see through. GD may turn theirs facedown whenever desired to see through. Never turns faceup.

    GD: starts with 3 clubs, faceup. May turn facedown whenever desired, to buy a character. Never turns faceup.

    CS: ???
  • edited August 2018
    Hey, yeah! I totally forgot about the City of Shadows. Predictably, they have three clubs. The clubs can be flipped to take over a scene from someone else, or to set a scene out of turn. Basically, they get three extra scenes. That may sound a bit less fun than the others, but I really like it when I’m CoS, since it gives me extra influence on the story. Sometimes I use it to just get a short monologue scene establishing something interesting.

    And regarding the cards:

    NoS has three spades. Flip one to draw an irrevocably true conclusion. He also has one hearts. As long as it’s face-up, he must try to help ST. If he chooses to flip it, ST can give him a thumbs down even when she’s personally involved in a conflict.

    GD has three clubs. Flip one to buy someone and control them. They also have one hearts, same deal as NoS.

    CoS has three clubs, as explained above.

    ST has no cards in front of her.

    EDIT: And if it's not obvious: All cards start face up, and cannot be flipped back once they're face down. You could pretty much do this with checkboxes instead, but the cards give it some tactile feel to it, the suits gives some theme, and it's easier to see what everyone else has already used. Also, I have a deck of cards that a friend gave me which is black and white (so the red suits are grey). It's pretty much useless for anything except for playing this game, but it's awesome for this!
  • I'm still missing the last part, about keeping the story on track. I'll write that tomorrow. Interesting note, though: There is no character creation. Whoever sets the first scene describes who NoS is (I usually let the NoS player set the first scene if they want to, for this reason). Characters don't have names until the name is mentioned in fiction. It takes some time to explain the rules, but if everyone's played before, you basically just grab a role and set the first scene. Zero setup.

    The documentation part I'll write tomorrow is an important reason why this works.
  • Is it available anywhere? I couldn't find a place...äs-nerver-av-stål-du-borde-läsa-mitt-spel says it's attached to the post but I didn't see it.
  • Hm, must have disappeared. I'll find a place to upload it when I get the chance. Or send me a PM with an email address.
  • Is it available anywhere? I couldn't find a place...äs-nerver-av-stål-du-borde-läsa-mitt-spel says it's attached to the post but I didn't see it.
    You need to be logged in to see the download link.
  • You need to be logged in to see the download link.
    Ah thanks :)

  • edited August 2018
    Alright, it seems it worked out with the download thing. If anyone wants a copy and don't want to register to, send me a PM with an email address.

    Last part of the rules: Documentation. The previous rules have been about atmosphere (music, how to speak) and genre aesthetics (the characters, the Hayes Code). The part that's left is the plot. This is handled by the questions sheet, which is just a blank paper.

    So you're setting the first scene. What you want is a scene that opens up a lot of unanswered questions. Here's a good first scene: Nerves of Steel is at his office. Looks like he's a private detective! Someone knocks on the door. A man is outside bleeding from a gunshot wound, delivers a package to our protagonist, whispers "Please, you have to protect her. This should be enough as payment. Watch out for the Frenchman!" and falls dead to the floor. Nerves of Steel opens the package, finds an expensive diamond necklace and a picture of a woman, signed "J. Farinelli". Cut scene.

    Mysterious, right? Loads of unanswered questions. After the scene, we write down the questions on the questions sheet. something like this:

    Who is the man?
    Who shot him?
    Who's the woman?
    Why is she in danger?
    Who is the Frenchman?
    Where does the necklace come from?

    These are all questions that the audience wants to know the answer to. Here is a question we don't write: "Did anyone see the man visit NoS?" This is a bad question, because we have no reason to believe there was. We don't use the questions to direct the game, only to document unanswered questions. A good question should be something that, if unanswered, will leave the audience dissatisfied. It's also a yes/no question, which is not that evocative.

    So now it's my turn to set a scene. I look at the questions sheet and think about whether I can answer some of these questions. I set a scene where NoS visits everyone called "J. Farinelli" in the phone book, until he finds the woman on the picture. She's a nightclub singer, and he speaks to her. When he shows her a picture of the dead man, she goes pale, but then claims she has no idea who he is and asks NoS to leave her alone. NoS uses his ability to declare that she absolutely recognized the man in question, and that she looks deathly afraid. Cut scene.

    Okay, so now we look at the questions sheet. We can cross out the question "Who is the woman?". She's Jenny Farinelli, a nightclub singer. But we also have some new questions. How did the man and Farinelli know each other? Why did she pretend not to recognize him?

    A question is crossed out once there is an answer that the audience would not find dissatisfying if there's no more info about it.Perhaps it will turn out that the woman's name isn't actually Jenny Farinelli. That's fine. But for the moment, we have an answer, so we cross out the question. We can always write it in again later.

    So that's the way it goes. Before each scene, you look at the sheet. Are there few questions listed? Make a scene where something strange happens, that raises new questions. Are there many open questions? Pick one or two and set a scene to answer them. Don't think about the whole story until when the movie is nearing its end and there are only a few questions left. Instead, just focus on answering a few of the questions and let others answer other questions. You'll end up with a satisfying mystery (since there are no loose threads) which is still surprising (since nobody knows how it all fits together. It's a wonderful thing to see this come together neatly when halfway through the game you're thinking "How in the heck will we tie all this together?".

    For the game to be able to end, there are two requirements:
    1. All questions, or all except one, must have been answered. If you want, you can leave one question unanswered, to create an open ending, but only one.
    2. All crimes must have been punished, as the Hayes Code requires.

    Those are all the rules of Nerver av stål!
  • Another thing about the questions: They are written from the audience's perspective! If there's a rustling in the bushes, and our protagonist shrugs and thinks "It was probably just the wind", you should absolutely write down the question "What was the noise in the bushes?". Because come on, of course it wasn't the wind, and as an audience, we will not be satisfied with that. Later in the story, it'll turn out that someone was in the bushes spying on him.
  • I can testify the game works like a charm. I've played it on two separate occasions and both times it went exactly like Simon wrote: Halfway through the game we were thinking "How in the heck will we tie all this together?". But we did manage to tie it together in a way that was both satisfying for the audience (i.e. us) and the Hayes code.

    When getting the game explained I thought the narration part sounded the most complicated, but it takes just a few moments to get into and really adds flavor to the whole experience. The rules for the separate roles are easy to get in play and also add flavor. I especially like when Golden Dreams reveals that the nice barkeep has been the mole.

    I hope he'll translate it so you can all try it because it feels like it it as perfect film-noir simulator in much the same way that Lovecraftesque manages to simulate a Lovecraft short story.
  • All of this seems pretty clear - and absolutely lovely, from a design perspective, like the simplicity of the rule for the Silver Tongue.

    The one thing I can't quite picture/understand is how much or how little your "roles" are supposed to limit the scope of your narration. Since everyone is effectively sharing the role of the first-person narrator, it's really not obvious to me who is supposed to say what and when.

    For instance, if I am not Nerves of Steel, can I or should ever narrate the actions of the protagonist? And vice-versa? Is this something that's best played loose and a little differently by every group, or is it intended to go a certain way?

    I suppose an example of play would clear this up, but it's not obvious to me.

    For instance, let's say I'm City of Shadows and I narrate the following - where should I stop and let Nerves of Steel say something?

    "I found myself in a dark alley, with the moonlight glinting off the puddles left by the rain. In front of me was a metal door, on rusted hinges. Something drew me to it - perhaps the gentle rustling and murmurs I could hear as I put my ear to the door. I grabbed the handle and yanked it open..."

    At what point in there have I gone too far (or is it all as intended, until I want to stop)?
    edited September 2018
    Oh man. Thank you so much for taking the time to write all this out! This game sounds amazing. I love how you’ve mapped the film noir archetypes to the player roles, the talking rules and the question rules sound like they get the gameplay flowing perfectly, and the little touches like incorporating the Hayes code and flipping cards to use role abilities are great. It seems like this captures the tone and feel of a noir potboiler so well.
  • edited September 2018
    Is this something that's best played loose and a little differently by every group, or is it intended to go a certain way?
    Yeah, it's pretty loose. If there's a City of Shadows player, they should be the only person doing dialogue for NPCs, but others can narrate actions, especially in the intro monologue and in when making new NPCs enter the scene. So saying something like "Suddenly I heard the sound of screetching car tires outside, and saw through the window Jimmy's car stopping and him stepping out, running towards the building" is totally fine.

    If there's no CoS, it's pretty much all shared, though you probably shouldn't take over the actions of an NPC that's being introduced and played by a different player. Once someone grabbed that role, they should get to play it until the end of the scene.
    "I found myself in a dark alley, with the moonlight glinting off the puddles left by the rain. In front of me was a metal door, on rusted hinges. Something drew me to it - perhaps the gentle rustling and murmurs I could hear as I put my ear to the door. I grabbed the handle and yanked it open..."

    At what point in there have I gone too far (or is it all as intended, until I want to stop)?
    You could absolutely do all that in your intro monologue. Like I said, that's the price of being the protagonist. You can even do this:

    "I couldn't get that photograph out of my mind, so I went down to the city archives to go through the old papers for the city planning. After hours of painstaking searching and some angry conversations with unhelpful civil servants, I finally found what I was looking for. 2214 Lakeview Terrace. I jotted it down on a napkin I had in my pocket and ran out the door, to the relief of the staff." and then you cut the scene. That's fine.

    You never do dialogue for other player characters, though, and as I said, once you're done with the intro monologue, let the players play their characters. You can be sneaky about the dialogue thing, though, if you really want to introduce something sneaky, and say something like "I asked him about the girl, and he nodded, saying that she was a regular". Probably don't do this with main characters, though.

    Does this clarify things a bit? This part is quite vague, really, and I usually feel out the group I'm playing with to see how they prefer it. Some people take big liberties and others are quite conservative. It's all good as long as nobody's toes are being stepped on. For Nerves of Steel in particular, I make sure to mention that the player has to give up some authority, beforehand.
  • I hope he'll translate it so you can all try it because it feels like it it as perfect film-noir simulator in much the same way that Lovecraftesque manages to simulate a Lovecraft short story.
    Not likely to be translated into English by me, but I always write my stuff as public domain, so if anyone else wants to, it's fine by me. I haven't even managed to publish it in Swedish yet, despite the game being done like four years ago.
  • edited September 2018
    Oh man. Thank you so much for taking the time to write all this out! This game sounds amazing. I love how you’ve mapped the film noir archetypes to the player roles, the talking rules and the question rules sound like they get the gameplay flowing perfectly, and the little touches like incorporating the Hayes code and flipping cards to use role abilities are great. It seems like this captures the tone and feel of a noir potboiler so well.
    Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I'm very satisfied with how well this game works. Every rule has a purpose and it really works very well in play. Of all my games, I consider this one my best-designed one.
  • Simon,

    Those are some good notes, thank you!

    But I'm unclear on how much you're talking about *introducing a scene* (where, as you say, you can take liberties) and how much you're talking about play in general.

    The most extreme version seems to be one where anyone can narrate anything, so long as actual dialogue is left to the appropriate players. Is that how you play?

    I could see that getting strange with the conflict rules, I think. (Since they're based on who's playing what character, but, in these examples, we might have other people narrating actions for those characters.)
  • Wonderful little game! I hope I can quasi try it out and run it from your notes.

    Could you please write down your 'original soundtrack'? :)

    Also, how long does it take on average to play thru a session?
  • Simon,But I'm unclear on how much you're talking about *introducing a scene* (where, as you say, you can take liberties) and how much you're talking about play in general.
    Hm, let me try again (and I'm sort of trying to think of how it actually goes when playing this; I've written about it a bit, but not this explicitly). I'll try to make it more point-by-point:

    * When doing the introductory monologue, you can control the actions of NoS and NPCs (even if there's a CoS player), but not dialogue. You can introduce other characters, saying where they are and what they're doing, but no more than that.
    * When not in introductory monologue, you cannot control the actions of other player characters (including characters bought by GD and NPCs played by CoS). You can, however, introduce them into the scene and then let their players take over (try to give some sort of hint as to why the character appears so as not to stump the player!).
    * If there's no CoS player, a player who's character is not in the scene plays NPCs, both actions and dialogue. If all three are in the scene, you'll just have to figure it out. Usually if all three colorful characters are in a scene, the NPC(s) will be in the background anyway.
    * If you're NoS, you get some leeway when using your ability. You can use it to say things like "I could see in his eyes that the second I was out the door, he'd be on the phone with Big Mike repeating every word of this conversation like a damn tape recorder" or "Through the thin fabric of the dress I could see the outline of a Colt Pocket Hammerless on her thigh. The dame was packing heat."

    Does that help?
  • edited September 2018
    Wonderful little game! I hope I can quasi try it out and run it from your notes.
    Lemme know how it goes, if you do! Here's some of the text from the character sheets:

    Men’s names:
    Johnny Bellamy Norman Vincent Lou Gregory Ernest Humphrey Clarence
    Women’s names:
    Ann Jane Greta Mildred Frances Mary Dorothy Helen Gladys
    Hall McVeigh Grant Sanders Goldstein Patterson Flick Farinelli Beauregard
    Hotel Belvedere Anderson Manufacturing Plant Center City Gazette Littlewood Park 5th distric police station Green Acres Sanatorium S/S Victoria Frankie’s Bar Lazyfield Motel
 Le Pavillon Wakefield Mansion Crimson Avenue Lakeview Terrace Copper Creek Road Cameron Boulevard

    Nerves of Steel
    Motives: Curiosity, compassion, justice, lust
    Means: Quick tongue, two fists and a cynical world-weariness
    Remember: Information is key. Find out the truth, don't reveal more than you have to and always pretend to know more than you do.

    Silver Tongue
    Motives:Power, love, fear, revenge
    Means: Charm, crocodile tears and a gun
    Remember: The best way to get good at lying is regular practice.

    Golden Dreams
    Motives: Greed, control, jealousy
    Means: Henchmen, contacts, bribes and business deals
    Remember: Don't act in undue haste; bide your time and set your traps.

    There's also a bunch of text explaining the role in question, but I'm afraid I can't be bothered to translate that. I can paste it below (I'll make a new post) and if you want to do the work, you could try Google Translate.
    Could you please write down your 'original soundtrack'? :)
    I've been running with these four songs (took them from YouTube). Put one song per playlist - they're supposed to stop playing after the one song, as you recall.

    Also, how long does it take on average to play thru a session?
    The questions sheet makes the pacing quite easy, meaning you can start wrapping it up by saying "Let's not add any more questions", but I'd say three hours is a good time frame. If you have four, you can relax, and probably finish early. But of course it depends a lot on the group.
  • edited September 2018
    Klockan var någonstans mellan alldeles för sent och alldeles för tidigt. Jag satt på mitt kontor med en mörbultad ciga­rett i mungipan, ett glas whiskey framför mig och två i magen. Jag stirrade ut över Center City. Ett tjockt, oljigt molntäcke höll på att dra in över staden. Det var som om Gud själv helst ville slippa se ned på de ljusskygga själar som kravlade ut ur sina skrymslen vid den här tiden. Hederliga affärer hade stängt
och syndens nästen tänt sina blinkande neonskyltar. De lovade glömska och lättsamma nöjen till de stackars satar som befolkar gatorna på natten.
    Molnet började släppa ur sig vatten som ett badkar som sväm­ mar över. Jag såg ned på de människor som rusade runt på de våta gatstenarna i jakt på skydd från regnet. Tusentals vilsna och hungriga själar som alla ville rycka sig upp ur rännstenen med samma oljiga rep, trampandes på varandras ansikten i jakten på ljuset i toppen, som bara var ännu en billig neonskylt med falska löften.
    Jag försökte tända cigaretten, men min tändsticksask var ned­ blodad och tändstickorna vägrade ta fyr. Jag fimpade den i alla fall. Jag svepte glaset. Jag behövde ett till. Jag behövde en förbannat bra livförsäkring också. Jag behövde semester. Jag behövde ett litet hus på landet. Vad jag hade var en hatt, en rock och en revolver. Jag tog på mig dem och gav mig ut i regnet.
    Center City är en stad fylld av falska hjärtan och billig sprit. En stad fylld av drömmar av guld och tungor av silver, av nerver av stål och kulor av bly. Det är en stad med tusen berättelser, och min var bara en av dem.

    Nerver av stål
    Du kastas hals över huvud in i ett mysterium och du vill kom­
    ma till botten. På resan träffar du människor som kommer att vilja ha din hjälp. Du försöker att vara en någorlunda heder­lig människa och hjälpa de som förtjänar det, men i en stad som Center City, fylld till bristningsgränsen av lögner och svek, är det inte lätt att veta vem, om någon, som förtjänar det, och du har utvecklat en hälsosam cynicism för att kunna överleva. I slutänden är det viktigaste att rå om sitt eget skinn, och försöka komma ut ur soppan helskinnad.
    Motiv: Nyfikenhet, medkänsla, rättvisa, lusta.
Medel: Rapp tunga, hårda nävar och en cynisk världsvana. Kom ihåg: Information är livsviktigt. Ta reda på sanningen, av­ slöja inte mer än du måste och låtsas alltid som om du vet mer än du gör.
Specialförmåga: Du har tre spaderkort på bordet framför dig. Du kan när som helst vända på ett av dem och använda din berättarröst för att introducera dina slutledningar i scenen. Till exempel kan du se att någon ljuger, notera att någon är beväp­nad eller dra en slutsats att vad som ser ut som en olycka egent­ligen är ett mord. Dessa slutledningar är alltid korrekta när du använder spaderkorten, och du kan också kontrollera andras rollpersoners tankar och handlingar under monologen.

    Följande teman får inte förekomma i spelet, varken i berättan­de, beskrivningar eller dialoger. Om de trots detta förekom­ mer är det var spelares ansvar att bryta scenen, varefter den spelas om från en tidigare punkt.
    1. Svordomar;
2. Nakenhet;
3. Illegala doger;
4. Sexuella perversioner; 5. Prostitution;
    6. Sexualhygien eller sexuella sjukdomar;
7. Barnafödsel;
8. Hån av prästerskapet;
    9. Tydliga förolämpningar av en nation, ras eller tro

    Förutom detta gäller ett antal andra regler för berättelsen som
    måste hållas i åtanke:
    1. Brott får inte löna sig. Om ett mord eller annan typ av grövre brott begås med berått mod måste förövaren straffas innan spelet är över.
    2. Främmande nationer måste respekteras. Om främmande makter med antiamerikanska eller brottsliga intressen fö­rekommer i spelet för deras specifika nationstillhörighet inte nämnas.
    3. Omoraliska och upprö­rande handlingar såsom mord, misshandel, våldtäkt, mord­ brand och annat, får ej beskri­vas i onödig detalj.
4. Tydligt sexuella handlingar får ej förekomma, och kyssar och liknande ömhetsbetygelser bör hållas anständigt, speciellt om den ena parten är en ”heavy” (brottsling).

    Gyllene drömmar
    Du är spindeln i nätet, dockmästaren som håller i trådarna. Du är rik och mäktig, men inte tillräckligt. Aldrig tillräck­ligt. Det finns något du vill ha, och du är beredd att göra vad som helst för att få det. Men du är en tålmodig människa och har lärt dig att vänta. Du har också lärt dig att det är farligt att smutsa ned sina egna händer, och du föredrar att låta dina underhuggare göra det som krävs. Du är också sannolikt den som vet mest om vad som pågår bakom kulisserna.
    Motiv: Girighet, kontrollbehov, svartsjuka.
Medel: Underhuggare, kontaktnät, mutor, affärsuppgörelser Kom ihåg: Skrattar bäst som skrattar sist. Gör inget förhastat i affekt, utan bida din tid och lägg ut dina fällor.
Specialförmåga: Du har tre klöverkort som representerar tre personer som arbetar eller har arbetat för dig. Du kan använda ett av dem för att introducera en underhuggare som då spelas av dig. Du kan även spela ett för att ta över en existerande roll som då visar sig ha jobbat för dig hela tiden. Till sist kan
du spela kortet på en av de andra spelarna. Detta betyder att rollpersonen har arbetat för dig i det förflutna, kanske till och med fram tills nu. Du kan däremot såklart inte styra andras roll­ personers agerande.

    Du har ett mörkt förflutet som du inte vill ska komma upp till ytan. Du har varit stygg men är mästare på att ge sken av att vara snäll och oskyldig. Du vet att världen är en hård plats och det finns inga lyckliga slut. Du har inte pengar eller makt och du kan inte vinna i ett knytnävsslagsmål, men du vet att den tuffaste kämpe lätt faller offer för en kula i ryggen. Därför använder du din charm för att se till att oavsett vem som har överhanden så vill de dig inget ont, och de som avslöjar din tveeggade silvertunga måste försvinna så fort som möjligt. Du är inkapabel att lita på en annan människa, men du är fullt kapabel att förälska dig.
    Motiv: Maktbegär, kärlek, rädsla, hämndlystnad.
Medel: Charm, krokodiltårar, pistol.
Kom ihåg: Det bästa sättet att bli bra på att ljuga är att öva regelbundet.
Specialförmåga: Nerver av stål och Gyllene drömmar har båda ett hjärterkort framför sig. Så länge det ligger med framsidan uppåt kan de inte låta bli att stödja dig. De måste inte tro på allt du säger, men de måste försöka skydda och hjälpa dig. När som helst kan en spelare vända på sitt hjärterkort och genomskåda dig. Är du ensam med en person med ett vänt hjärterkort så vinner du automatiskt alla konflikter i scenen. Du kan inte döda Nerver av stål, men väl såra honom dödligt.

    En värld av skuggor
    Världen i film noir kan vara både idylliskt vacker och skräm­mande ondskefull. Men även när det till synes rena och vackra visar sig så kan alltid skuggorna skymta i bakgrunden. Den godhjärtade flickan är hopplöst naiv och menlös och i den vackraste av karibiska solnedgångar planeras ett mord. Din roll är att gestalta denna värld, från både dess bästa och värsta sidor. Du spelar alla roller förutom de tre huvudrollerna. Det kan handla om poliser, bartendrar, godtrogna makar, arbets­kamrater eller andra personer som interagerar med huvudrol­lerna i berättelsen. Försök att återanvända dessa roller och låt dem dyka upp igen under berättelsens lopp. Gestalta också gästerna på en fest, folkmassan på gatan och publiken i rätts­salen. Använd dig friskt av berättarrösten när dina roller inte är i scenen, för att introducera vändningar i berättelsen eller bara beskriva hur neonskyltarna speglar sig i den regnvåta trottoa­ren.
    Specialförmåga: Som tröst för att du inte har en egen huvudroll att spela får du lite extra makt att bestämma över berättelsen och dess riktning. Du har tre ruterkort framför dig, med framsi­dan upp. Du kan vända på ett av dessa för att sätta en ny scen, även om det inte är din tur. Du kan till och med använda det för att avbryta en pågående scen för att sätta en ny.
  • These are great supporting materials, Simon!

    I particularly like your choice of Generique, by Miles Davis. It's from the soundtrack to ascenseur pour l’échafaud, a film from 1957 or 1958. That whole soundtrack would be perfect for this game. Here's the main theme from the film:

    Thank you for your answers on the narrational authorities of the players. Here's my take so far, based on what you've written - let me know if it sounds right to you:

    * When setting up a scene or introducing characters, you will occasionally narrate things which take away the agency of those characters, in order to place them at the scene. That's OK: be prepared for this, as a player. This is necessary and useful to frame scenes in the first place.

    * Once the scene is going, try to limit your narration so that you're not dictating the actions of other players' characters. If you're narrating, and you realize that you're about to add actions or details which might be the dominion of another player's character, take that as a cue to pause and give them the chance to do so themselves.

    * Occasionally, by accident or necessity, people will narrate actions or motives on the part of your character, even if they try to avoid it. Be prepared for this, too, but try not to do it too much, when narrating yourself - keep an eye out for opportunities to let them do so themselves.

    * Dialogue is *always* spoken/acted by the players of the relevant characters, however. (If you need to use dialogue in order to frame a scene, or in other important circumstances, summarize it in narration, instead - e.g. "He introduced himself as they shook hands...".)

    Is that more or less how you play?
  • Is that more or less how you play?
    Yup, sounds about right. There are some fuzzy edges to it, be prepared to leave some character agency to others (especially if you're Nerves of Steel or City of Shadows), but try to let people play their characters when possible. Some of this happens necessarily because you can't just ask "Hey, so would it be okay if you did this?" or "So what have your character told me about this thing?", because of the strict talking rules. And 9.9 times out of 10, it's better to just roll with it than to cut the scene. That "narration and dialogue only" rule is really important for the mood of the game. It really kicks it into high gear.

    Oh, also: Sometimes Golden Dreams might want to have a scene with their character plus a bought henchman, or between two henchmen. In those cases, someone else will just have to play the henchman. No big deal. You can communicate things like this by pointing at each other around the table, if necessary.
  • I particularly like your choice of Generique, by Miles Davis. It's from the soundtrack to ascenseur pour l’échafaud, a film from 1957 or 1958. That whole soundtrack would be perfect for this game. Here's the main theme from the film:
    I like that one, too! I think I used it once when I didn't have access to my regular songs.

    Note that the jazz music is the one place where I deviate from the source material. The real film noir movies didn't have jazz soundtracks, but the music is so connected to the genre that just playing a few notes of Miles Davies instantly propels us to dark, rainy alleys and cigarette-smoking, fedora-wearing private detectives*. It really does wonders for the atmosphere.

    Not that Nerves of Steel needs to be a private detective! It's an easy way to do it, but by no means necessary. Look at movies like The Lady from Shanghai and DOA to see movies that could absolutely be Nerves of Steel games without being about private detectives.
  • Yes, it's a lovely soundtrack - you could use any of the tracks from it, including some of the more "energetic" ones. Someone's put it all up here (apparently tuned down for some reason, as well):

    I feel like I have a clear picture of how narration works now, thanks, Simon! I've got to try this game sometime. I appreciate the detailed answers!
  • Oh, and here's another thing you might not have noticed but which gets really important if you want to modify or remove the Hayes Code. Once the hearts have been flipped (and sooner or later they always get flipped), the Silver Tongue is pretty much invincible, right? She can win any conflict. Nobody can get to her.

    If it wasn't for that Hayes Code rule that says that the movie cannot end until the guilty ones have been punished.

    That rule means that at the very end, when she's seemingly invincible, the Silver Tongue will be betrayed by her own player. There will be a conflict that she could win, but where her player will make the choice to have her lose. And then she will lose it all.

    I find this really poetic and thematic. And it ties in to how the femme fatale was treated in the original movies, too. She was larger than life, she was full of life, but because of the censorship code, the filmmaker had to punish her, no matter how much they wanted to let her get away with it.

    It always breaks my heart to do it.
  • Ooh, yes, that sounds really important. I was thinking about that when you mentioned it earlier, as well.
  • Oh, another question:

    You've implied this, but, unless I missed it, haven't said so outright.

    Do we take turns setting scenes, one by one? Who starts?

    It seems like we must do so in strict order, or the CoS's ability isn't clearly useful. Is this correct?
  • Yeah, forgot to mention that. You take turns, yes. And as I think I mentioned, since the first scene will establish a lot about who Nerves of Steel is, I usually let that player go first if they want, and if not, I usually go first, since people are often hesitant what with the speaking rules and all that.

    Another thing: It's totally cool to introduce a character thinking "This would be a cool Silver Tongue". It's up to that player to take you up on it and play her, or to wait and introduce another character later. With the Silver Tongue, that doesn't happen too often, but it's very common with Golden Dreams, especially if you're just talking about the person, rather than introducing them directly. I've played games where we don't see GD until the final scene, and even some games where it's unclear who the mastermind even is, until towards the end, the GD player buys the butler and it turns out he was behind it all the whole time.
  • Great, thanks, Simon!
  • Is the turn order important (like Fiasco) or is it okay to go in any order if everyone has a scene in every turn?
  • edited September 2018
    This thread has been super interesting to me, since a friend and I have been kicking around doing an adaptation of Lovecraftesque to handle hardboiled novels. (This turns out to be a different problem than adapting film noir movies). Simon, this game is super tight and does exactly what it sets out to do: create a post-war film noir story.

    I think your instincts about it not handling neo-noir are generally correct, though after a weekend watching Chinatown* it's clear that Nerves of Steel could do something like that, but it would be on everyone at the table to make that happen; the game's procedures won't make it happen.

    A vague observation about post-war film noir: by 1950, most of the great American film noirs had already been made, so the 50s noir films were mostly B-movies that followed a formula; Nerves of Steel nails that formula. And there's plenty of room to elevate the story for sure :) (The great French noirs appear for longer than the American ones for complex reasons including Jules Dassin's self-imposed exile and the parallel evolution of the roman noir which is a different animal and doesn't exist in American literature until the 1960s or so--Jim Thompson being the foremost practitioner.)

    I played this on Saturday using the notes and it worked really well even though we messed up the narration rules (and it was also generally difficult to corral people to not do any meta-commentary; we do a lot of investigative games in my group, but full-on immersion is a rare goal for us and we're all used to talking OOC.)

    I think we messed up one thing for sure: at some point the idea that the player who made the initial monologue had some kind of narrative authority crept in. That seems clearly wrong :neutral: However, it was somewhat hard to suss out exactly when people could contribute their action narrative as well as the odd tone-setting observation.

    A question about City of Shadows: can that player break in with color narration without spending their cards? It would seem like a natural thing for them to do, kind of how the Watchers are supposed to work in Lovecraftesque.

    Thanks so much for posting this, Simon!

    * Chinatown always makes my personal top five movies list but Polanski is a criminal. I ended up donating double the ticket price to RAINN as weak compensation.
  • You seem to know a lot more about film noir than I do. I just watched a bunch of movies! Glad you like it.

    Yeah, there's no specific narrative authority after the initial monologue. It's pretty much a free-for-all, but held in place by the no-interrupting rule and the "don't control characters played by others" rule. It works out pretty well in my experience, but then I'm always there when I'm playing, so I don't know if I'm doing something that I'm not communicating in this thread.

    And yes, CoS can absolutely break in with color narration, but then so can anyone else. I like to do that sometimes to give people a bit of thinking space. Like, the scene is tense and I can see everyone is waiting to see what Golden Dreams is going to respond, but the player is hesitating, thinking about a good reply. Since nobody is talking, I break in with some colorful dexcription of the light through the venetian blinds or whatever, giving the player some time to consider their next line.
  • Yeah, they next time I facilitate it I'll try to make the narrative rules a little clearer. There's a couple of things procedurally where I know what you mean but on first read I didn't quite get (like "cut more in the LARP sense of stopping to maybe rewind" rather than "cut to indicate the end of the scene" which is how I normally use it.)

    As for noir*, I'm a huge fan of the film genre and decently well-read in the three great mid-century practitioners of the literature; I've read all of Chandler, a decent chunk of Hammet, and I'm slowly going through Ross MacDonald in order to give myself some well-deserved treats :smile: So that the more I look at Nerver av stål and see how well it could flow into some of my favorite works in the genre** is maybe my best compliment :smile:

    * I am capable of discussing the tiresome differentiation between "hardboiled as a literary/film genre" and "film noir as a description of cinematographic technique" when necessary but as that tends to lead to saying things like "Chinatown can't be a film noir" I tend to just let the distinction blur.

    ** Nerver av stål can mostly handle "The Big Sleep", "The Glass Key", and "The Maltese Falcon." Given Simon's note above about "tossing out characters for ST to play but letting them make the decision" it might be able to handle "The Little Sister." Stuff like "The Long Goodbye" or in film "Sunset Boulevard" are more difficult because they bend how the roles work (the Silver Tongue and Golden Dreams roles are very blurred between Terry and Eileen Wade especially in "The Long Goodbye"; "Sunset Boulevard" mostly lacks an investigator as a main character.)
  • I'd also be super
    I played this on Saturday using the notes and it worked really well even though we messed up the narration rules (and it was also generally difficult to corral people to not do any meta-commentary; we do a lot of investigative games in my group, but full-on immersion is a rare goal for us and we're all used to talking OOC.)
    I've generally found little problems having people stick to the "no meta-commentary" rule, but I've played with two people who couldn't for the life of them stick to the past tense.

    Anyway, I'd be very interested to hear about the session! Care to summarize it (if you can)? Any moments that were especially memorable? This game hasn't been played a lot without me, or at all before by people who have not already played it with me. You're the first blind test! And that even without reading the rules in full.
  • Yeah, they next time I facilitate it I'll try to make the narrative rules a little clearer. There's a couple of things procedurally where I know what you mean but on first read I didn't quite get (like "cut more in the LARP sense of stopping to maybe rewind" rather than "cut to indicate the end of the scene" which is how I normally use it.)
    In Swedish we usually use the word "klipp" (literally "cut (with scissors)") to talk about ending the scene. In the text, I use the word "bryt" (literally "break"), which is the thing a director shouts out when a mistake was made when shooting. The distinction was lost in translation.
    ** Nerver av stål can mostly handle "The Big Sleep", "The Glass Key", and "The Maltese Falcon." Given Simon's note above about "tossing out characters for ST to play but letting them make the decision" it might be able to handle "The Little Sister." Stuff like "The Long Goodbye" or in film "Sunset Boulevard" are more difficult because they bend how the roles work (the Silver Tongue and Golden Dreams roles are very blurred between Terry and Eileen Wade especially in "The Long Goodbye"; "Sunset Boulevard" mostly lacks an investigator as a main character.)
    I have sent you the rules and there's a list of a dozen movies at the end. Let's see if you agree with the list! :)
  • Gärna!

    We had just played our first game of Dialect together so we were all nicely warmed up. I pulled up this thread and mostly read your write-up verbatim; I used the music cues you provided. (I can see about getting some other recommendations in there; the "Chinatown" soundtrack is less sax heavy but has some really interesting bits.)

    On a whim we decided to try and use names based on our Dialect characters, which had mostly been "Plant + Animal" when we could, which explains why our PI was named "Harry Clover" (Nerves of Steel's player had played "Clover Hare" in Dialect.) Obviously with a name like that his nickname was Lucky.

    CoS opened the narration with Harry coming to on a barroom floor, an empty bottle of gin next to his head. Further narration showed that Harry owed some money to people--more than his bar tab or his rent but something a bit darker.

    [At this point CoS put down these questions:

    How much does he owe?
    Who does he owe it to?

    The first question wasn't that great so we eventually just crossed it out; we were feeling our way through it.]

    I stepped in now as Silver Tongue: Colleen Bind, jazz singer at the Ark Club. She'd been getting threatening letters in the mail and was worried they came from the gangland leader known as "The Eagle." She said she'd paid off her debt to him long ago, and didn't know why he would be threatening her. She gave Harry the letters and exited the scene.

    [New questions:

    Who's sending the letters?
    Why are they sending them?]

    I did the next narration intro: Harry recognized the letters as the work of Sammy, a one-armed war veteran who'd do anything for a drink. Harry headed down to a bar he knew Sammy haunted. NoS's player took over the dialogue here, but unfortunately CoS slipped and did some blocking, not knowing where Sammy was. (I tried to salvage it but ended up breaking the rules--remember how I got that wrong about the narrative authority bit?) by having Harry try roughing up the bartender but the scene kind of fizzled out.

    Next Golden Dreams' player narrated Harry heading down to the Eagle's unlisted nightclub. They had a tense conversation where it became clear that the Eagle was behind the letters, because of some debt Colleen owed. (I can't remember but I think that NoS played their first club card.) CoS then used one of their cards to have some thugs follow Harry down an alley; I gave a thumbs down to the conflict, so they worked him over pretty good.

    Harry next headed to the Ark to confront Colleen. In their conversation she told the story of how her and Jimmy had been bootleggers back in the day, but had gotten in deep with the Eagle. He'd offered Colleen a way out: she had to "take care" of Jimmy. She claimed she had done just that. Here NoS played a card to say Colleen was lying.

    [So at this point we crossed off "Who's sending the letters" (the Eagle) and added "Why is Colleen lying?"]

    Harry headed back to his office only to find Sammy there, a bullet hole in his head and a scrawled note by his side: "I tried to get out..."

    [We added "Who killed Sammy?" to the question list.]

    Harry headed out the window just ahead of the cops. He headed back to the Ark to hear Colleen sing; backstage, he hid himself so he could eavesdrop on a conversation between here and a goon named Tommy. GS paid a card to take over Tommy. Colleen was begging Tommy for some more "medicine" for someone, just until she could clear off, but Tommy turned her down; the Eagle would have his hide. Harry tried to find out a bit more about Colleen from the backstage crew but that petered out a bit (I think that was CoS again). After the set, Harry demanded Colleen tell him what she had really done, because he knew she was lying. NoS turned over the Heart card at this point, which worked great for me.

    I narrated them driving out of town to a little cottage on the beach. Harry went to help Colleen out of the car, and distracted for a second by her beauty (yeah, yeah, I know :smile: ) didn't hear someone come up behind him. He took a sap to the neck and went out like a light. When he came to, he investigated the cottage. Someone had clearly been living there. And on the table he found a little-pearl handled .22 pistol--just right for a lady to keep in her purse. And the same kind of gun that had killed Sammy.

    [After cutting the scene we had a longer discussion of the meta-story. We ended up by crossing off a lot of questions, and our attempts to find new ones were answerable right away. So, "Why is Colleen lying?" was answered with "she didn't kill Jimmy, she was hiding him"; "Who killed Sammy?" by "Colleen"; and "Why is the Eagle sending the letters" with "he found out about Jimmy." We raised briefly the question "Why did the Eagle use a cut out?" but the answer was obvious--he was in love with Colleen himself.

    Harry headed back to the Eagle's club. As he approached he could hear Colleen and the Eagle arguing. Colleen tried to get him to understand that they could still have what they had together, he just had to look past this Jimmy thing; the Eagle refused, and so she shot him. At this point Harry burst in and held his gun on her. She told Harry that she loved him, that she had always loved him, that she brought him on the case because she knew he was into the Eagle for a lot of money and so would be on her side. Harry refused to let her go. When a cop arrived, GD used another card to buy the cop as a minion; Colleen tried to run away, but the cop shot her. Harry went back to his old life, free of debt but dirty with the sordidness of the whole affair. His luck had turned for the moment--but there's never any real luck in this city.
  • So hey, despite screwing up the rules, we got a perfectly serviceable little noir out of this! And it all worked really organically I thought. I'm not sure if our meta-discussion of the questions was strictly by the book but it seemed appropriate.

    As it was a question of interest to me, I asked GD how they thought it compared story-telling wise to Lovecraftesque; they seemed to feel that the roles in that game were easier to grasp, but we discussed more some of the ways they could have gotten more into the story (there had been some confusion about what buying a character meant--until I explained it, they hadn't realized they got to take over that character.) But we were all mostly impressed by how well everything had worked. I think the next time I facilitate it, now that I have clarified some of the rules (and have the original text, thanks Simon!) that it would go even better. This could easily become a really useful pickup game for me at my Tuesday meetup so that I will not eternally be chained to running Monsterhearts* :smile:

    * After never running Monsterhearts at all, I'm now running it all the time, which is fine; I've started a series online of playing out MH in a single town in Lovecraft country. But a break is nice too :smile:
  • Thank you for the writeup! That's very useful to me, and it's a nice story. Question writing is definitely a skill and I often sort of "take charge" when doing it. But it's not supposed to be very subjective, so I don't think it's a problem. The key question is really "Will the audience be dissatisfied if this is not answered?" and, when it's time to cross it out, "Will the audience be satisfied if there is no other answer to this?". As you noted, "How much money does he owe?" is not a question that the audience needs answered. Sometimes there are grey zones, like your "Why did the Eagle use a cut out?". Sometimes, even though we might know the answer, it's still something that needs to be shown on the screen, so to say. But sometimes it's better to leave it as something that can be inferred.

    I adore Lovecraftesque, by the way. It's become one of my standard repertoire of convention games. This would have been inspired by Lovecraftesque had I played it before I designed Nerver av stål.
  • You're welcome! I like Lovecraftesque too; it's the only horror game that has consistently made me scared (well, save for Shane running Bluebeard's Bride--he has this brilliant technique of slowly narrating more and more horror until you realize that he wont' stop until you say something.) Lovecraftesque is probably a good platform for our goal of doing novel-based noir but I think there should be some Never av stål DNA in whatever we hack together for sure!
  • edited September 2018

    I have sent you the rules and there's a list of a dozen movies at the end. Let's see if you agree with the list! :)
    I do mostly! The only one I might quibble with is Casablanca which walks an awkward line between a bunch of different genres. (For example, the cinematography & direction--the always reliable Michael Curtiz was the director--sure seem to qualify but you never hear Casablanca mentioned on the great noir film lists. I think it...kind of drops two hardboiled characters (Rick & Renault) into a wartime love story (the triangle of Rick-Ilsa-Lazlo) and a standard Nazi bad guy. And it works its metaphor of "Rick's world-weariness represents America's non-entry into the war pretty hard :smile: (It's often overlooked that the film began production before the USA had declared war on the Axis, and certainly before anyone knew the outcome.) But it's only a quibble, and I've gone to the mats to defend Casablanca as a noir myself :smile:

    I haven't seen Murder My Sweet but maybe I need to rectify that; I probably avoided it because Chandler adaptations are notoriously a) unfaithful and b) not always that great, except for The Big Sleep (which isn't all that faithful) and the absurdist noir hommage/parody The Long Goodbye.
  • edited September 2018
    I do write that Ilsa is not a classic Silver Tongue. Rick starts the game with a flipped hearts and then flips it face up.

    And no, you don't need to see Murder My Sweet. It's not that good, but it is a very clear example of the genre that the game seeks to emulate.
  • Yeah, I literally just got to that section in your sources list :-)

    One thing that occurred to me is that there's not a lot of mention of the client in all this. I think that's good! The "client" is usually an innocent and often a bit colorless in the literature, and in the films there's usually a push to reduce the number of characters. However, if you're playing with a City of Shadows, that might be an excellent NPC to introduce early, and get CoS into the thick of things.
  • I Google-translated the pdf and did [a little bit of] cleaning up. It's mostly English-readable. The last 6 pages contain printable character sheets, rules summary, Hays Code, and intro text. They were workable enough for us to play a couple days ago! The document's publicly editable so if anyone wants to keep nicing it up, sweet. Especially the intro text, making sure that part reads well seems pretty important.

    When we played, the atmosphere worked quite well, and it was very clear that without the talking restrictions during scenes we would have had way too much humor, out of band chatter, parody even.

    The plot... was rocky. I think maybe we were trying to be too clever? I mean it worked out fine, but it was touch and go there near the end to make sure we had something coherent, with a number of Break!s to clarify just who did/implied/saw what.

    I played NoS and felt both weird and good about how much other folks said my character did. Like, it was weird that I wasn't narrating and I felt a little embarrassed like they were doing my job for me, but good because hey, they did a great job.

    The four songs above felt just a little _too_ samey for us. But I feel one of the tongue-in-cheek suggestions during a Break!, to add Shake It Off, wouldn't quite be in theme.
  • Great minds Guy, I've been working with Simon on a condensed English language version based on the thread and the pdf too :smile:
Sign In or Register to comment.