Monday, January 26, 2009

Libri Vidicos Session Review

The Libri Vidicos session ran fairly well last night. I'm still a little amazed that the homebrew rpg system I'm using has managed to sustain itself in a fantasy rpg context for as long as it has. I've got a few things I'd tweak in terms of the magic system, the exp costs, and how damage is tracked, but overall I'm pretty happy with it. I've been working (or trying to work) on a version with slightly more crunch for the combat side of things. That's been hard for two reasons-- first, that I don't want to mess up the easy narrative flow of the game as it stands right now and second, there's basic combat crunch and then the insanity of things like d20 or Rolemaster. I don't want to go too far down that road. Again, I think it is one of those situations where I need to sit down and define ahead of time what I want out of the system-- what positive benefits do the changes provide. (If, on the off chance you aren't familiar with the homebrew system I'm talking about, you can look at the version of the rules posted on the Libri Vidicos and Changeling wikis: linked in the sidebar).

Some summary thoughts about the game last night:

1. Had another session with some introduction of elements, some talking heads and then letting the individual players follow their own leads and interactions. I think I dragged a little on this. I had some things I wanted to get across and if I'd been more on the ball I could have gotten a second 'go-around' with each player.

2. The device of using a particular class to introduce a plot or thematic point is a good one. It should be used sparingly, but I think at least every other session in that game there need to be a reminder that they are in a school and taking classes. One of the lectures dealt with the question of defining "monstrous-ness" and how people define thing through the other. It was probably a little unsubtle, but there were a couple of players wrestling with some of those concepts in some email exchanges I'd had in between sessions.

3. A scene I wasn't particularly pleased with seemed to get a strong positive reaction. One of the teachers looked at how each of the students were casting. I was able to work in some history of magic, a reminder about why different mages cast differently, and some other ideas. I thought it came off a little frazzled, but Sherri said the whole thing went over well. Perhaps it was that I describe something new and unique to a fantasy setting and then managed to tied it back to each individual character. At least, that might be one of the reasons that worked.

4. Since the game is supposed to be about late-HS/early college age characters, one of the players chose in an email to handle a situation in a deliberately adolescent way-- essentially punching someone out who had been talking trashing about a girl (and indirectly him). It was a good choice for his character in order to remind everyone that the PCs, despite their skills, can be at base slightly immature. The trick was/is how to punish the character without punishing the player. I'm working on using his punishment time as a chance to have him meet and interact with some new situations and NPCs. OOH I don't want to reward "bad" behavior too much. The distinction between PC and player choices becomes a difficult one here.

5. We've had a couple sessions of NPC interaction, plot advancement and general set up. I'm hoping to have a little more action and adventure next time. There's been a series of 'trials" running this year for the second-years of each of the five houses. Next session will be a scavenger hunt around the school, with some upperclassmen assigned to interfere with their efforts. I'm hoping that works well.

6. Dave's character has been asked to put on a circus (for various reasons). I felt like I didn't do justice to that at the table. The group made a list of acts and tried to figure out who would do what. I should have had a couple of NPCs pop in on that-- to put their two cents in, volunteer or else dismiss the notion. That was an opportunity I might have lost there, especially since there are some first-year students they really haven't yet gotten a sense of. OOH I did manage to have a couple of interactions with NPCs who have been around but they haven't seen in play. I'm most happy with how one of their fellow classmates and housemates has finally come into focus as a severe micro-manager and precise taskmaster. Last year I didn't have a good sense of what that character was about, but now I have a hook that everyone knows and acknowledges.