Verbal role-playing game - the oldest format of a completely free world in games.
Again, I want to immerse you in the world of strange experience, which is given by people from the gaming field. The last time was the commander of a large alliance from Eve, and today - Khast and Theo, who are engaged in commercial board verbal role-playing games.
In the sense that the players come to him, they sit down together at the table, and he begins to tell what is happening to them. And they answer what they do. The host of the game provides the engine and render, and the players make a choice for the characters. It is like a computer online game, only without a computer. And with total, total freedom of action.
This hobby is widespread in America and Europe, because it is much more interesting than TV shows and online games in the right hands. In Russia, it has been an amateur "kitchen" format for more than 25 years, but for a couple of years professional Masters have appeared. That is leading, who earn only this for a living. Previously, such a perversion was not observed.
From the experience of these people you can learn a lot for game design and generally useful. But it's much more interesting to just climb and see how this world of geeks works.
What is a board verbal role-playing game?
This is the very first format of role-playing games after the theater. Remember the book-game where you play alone, read the text description of the situation, and then choose the action and scroll to the chapter where the new choice? That's about the same, but for a number of differences:
- The plot is completely free, because instead of the engine - a person who, based on his knowledge of the world and the plot, tells what is happening. There is no frame. Neuromantix wrote: "... In all games, there is a lack of complete freedom of action - let's say, pour gold into the peasant with the words" buy yourself a new cow, I don’t want to search your goblins, and then drag it to the village ", or go and sit with the robbers by the fire. Or something else like that . " Here you can give the peasant gold, face and valuable advice. Or all at the same time. Or steal a second cow from him.
- You are playing not one, but in the company of friends, that is, you are discussing everything together, somehow coordinating and generally doing a lot of interesting things together too. A much more intertwined plot is born. For example, if it is necessary to save the princess from the tower guarded by the dragon, the magician may offer to cool the construction, the thief to sneak in and steal the maiden, and the bard to persuade the dragon. Then you need to plan and try to do it all. As a result, the fourth plan will be born, and then everything goes wrong.
- And finally, in a book, usually you just make decisions, and here there is still a role system. You are familiar with two of them in computer games: in Fallout (SPECIAL), this is the direct heir of the desktop GURPS (they did not agree on a license), and in different games of the Baldur's Gate series it is AD & D. True, then there was a 2-3 edition, and now the yard is already the fifth. Another famous system is also known to cyberpunk fans - this is Shadowrun. Simplifying, there the whole story of the world was born just in the games, and then it was recorded.
The system is needed as an interaction model. For example, in Fallout, your level of science determined whether you could break the terminal, the level of possession of weapons — the likelihood of hitting the enemy, and so on. The same (adjusted for simplicity of calculations) in board games. As random number generators, cubes with different numbers of faces are used. The coolest - interest, d100. It is almost round, it has a hundred facets and sand inside, so as not to roll away. It’s hardest to buy (and no, we don’t have that, more precisely, we’ve got it in such sets, but there it’s d10 with dozens of faces).
How does the preparation for the game and the game itself
Here is an illustration of a roughly 15-minute episode of a similar game:
Four players walked through the woods, and went to the bridge over the river. A troll stood on it, snarling in human language:To start playing, you need a global world - this is the setting. Need a system of rules to calculate the interactions and parameters of the characters. You can play without a system, but usually it helps, especially for combat interactions. Then you need a plot of the local plot - where the players met and what happens. Classics of the genre - this group was sitting in a tavern, and someone suddenly appeared on the threshold. Or the players were unloaded in the form of prisoners to a new land. Or something else happened. The prize for the most non-trivial unloading goes to the computer quest Full Throttle, where you start playing for the biker Ben, who wakes up in the trash can. The beginning is very important because it sets the plot of the module.
“You people pay for the passage!”
Without further ado, the magician used a paralysis spell, while the other three killed the monster in just one round: they chopped off his leg, hit the crossbow in the head, and the troll fell, breaking the bridge.
"If he took a fee for the passage, then he should already have the money." Found a big bag with small bags of coins. In each there were 5 gold, and this is just a penny for my party. Nearby there were tools of a carpenter and large nails, similar to those that were hammered into the boards of the bridge. And then it dawned on them what they had done.
Troll built this bridge.
He built it for people who will go through it.
He watched him.
He asked for a very modest fee per pass.
I have never seen players so guilty. Even the dwarf who killed innocents more than once was saddened. They stopped for a few days to trim the logs, repair and strengthen the bridge. They buried the troll, giving it the name Barduun. They installed a memorial plaque on the bridge, calling it "Barduun Bridge", and the paladin wrote a poem that spoke of the monstrous error of the magician.
In a tavern in a nearby town, they heard a conversation that some new thief Barduun had captured a bridge and killed a good troll.
Source in English , my translation and a little free
The module is a short finished episode, like a series of a series. It usually takes 1-2 game meetings for several hours.
Still need players and characters. Each player creates a character as in computer role-playing games (even the modern generation is entirely taken from the desktop). He thinks about who he is in the world and what he does about the place where the module began. He gives the character in advance to the Master (leader) so that he thinks about changes in the world caused by his appearance (for example, his relatives live somewhere, someone knows him in the village and so on).
The same characters usually play several modules. If the modules are plotted together, this is called a campaign. If the characters in the modules stick together, then the party turns out. Typically, systems are pushing the characters to complement each other. Like on Firefly: hard on an alien planet without a negotiator or a good pilot. Or a man with earflaps.
From this point, the module’s plot is already underway. By itself, a module most often represents a set of points and their descriptions and a schedule of what is happening. In the example of the princess tower and the dragon, this could be the tower itself, the nearest settlement, a couple of random encounters near the tower, and so on. In the city it is clear who lives, what he wants, what is in the stores, how the residents will react to the party and its individual members, what they can tell about the dragon and so on. Perhaps there will be a couple of people who he bit, but did not kill, or a library with a magician, or something else interesting. Or, in general, our heroes will be raised on the pitchfork for insulting a rare species listed in the Red Book. And so on. Further, the Master determines the interaction, often completing on the move from his vision of the world fragments that were not prescribed in advance and creating new ones, if necessary. For example, if the players decide to settle down, and the hobbit decides to marry the governor's daughter - then why not? But I already guess that soon the dragon will kidnap her, because the module is still about the tower. Or not kidnap if there are no logical reasons within the world.
Go to the commercial management of parties
“I previously worked as a production manager. This is super boring. The latter work was very convenient for money, but not for pleasure. I was ready to downshifting in order to do what I like. And to have money from it. At first there were a small number of people from the role community who wanted to be led. No longer students, earn money and are willing to spend it to get exactly what you need. I decided to try 4 years ago, I had a man of 15. Everyone liked it. By the principle of word of mouth spread, a year later it became more than 25, I began to call other Masters into the project. So the company appeared. ”It must be said that in Russia the attitude towards commercial games is rather peculiar. When a vole is organized, go to zero - yes, fine. But getting a plus is somehow not very fair to the players. That is, there is a widespread opinion that this is a pure hobby, and it is strange to make money on it.
“There were many offensive posts in social networks, because we have a free role-playing community. I myself began as a player, I really wanted to get to the games of Hast. I learned that it is commercial, gone. Then he could not find the Master. Someone is incompetent, someone disappeared after the first module. I came to Hast in the end and gave money. Now I know that the module will be, that the character will be developed, that I will play a big story from beginning to end. This is something that I could not get anywhere else. I tried to play in other commercial projects, but it didn’t work there. And there the entrance threshold is high. Plus, then, Hast led Shadowrun, he was very happy with me. A year later, he began to drive himself with him in the team. ”Hast:
“In three years, I developed an understanding of how this differs from kitchen modules. When the money factor arises, demand begins. People become demanding. They want to be served with quality. And they understand that they have the right to demand. When you play for free, they don’t want to spoil relations with you, and they’re embarrassed to say that the Master should know the setting more, learn the rules, that the last hour is not interesting for everyone. And when people pay money, then all the problems immediately surface. It allows you to grow. And I am very picky about quality. It is necessary to register in advance, it is impossible to freeze, it is necessary to prepare. Many more adults need a timetable: we form it in a glider and follow it precisely. Players like this. They get used to good. People want to be found. Therefore, they want to get everything for earthly money. ”A game session is 8-9 hours per module. Usually it is a day off or from evening to three at night. There are players who play 1-2 times a month, there are those who want to participate in the story 3 times a week. The price in this project is the same for everyone - 1000 rubles per module.
And then begins a very interesting history of the architecture of the project. The fact is that:
- The global plot always goes 9 months, and this is the history of the world. As the season of the series or the adventures of the Fellowship of the Ring.
- A separate module always goes one meeting. This is the “series” of the series, that is, the finished work that moves the plot somewhere slightly forward along some aspect.
- Players start a module each time with a new composition - who can and wants to play. Hasta has a planner on the site, where the themes of the modules and their style of “social game” or “campaign in a dungeon with fights” are stated. Players note which days they can play, what they want to play with, who they would like to get at the same table (and with whom they don’t). The schedule is made.
- In the global plot involved 30-40 players, but they are divided into parties of 5 people per module. Elections in one of the modules are shaken by others. That is, it is like the finale of Fallaut, which has just happened to the settlements, is already seen by another party, which comes there later.
- All players communicate in a telegram channel, where they change information and share their impressions.
- A general meeting is held once a month, something like “everyone gathered in a tavern” so that everyone could agree, exchange items and so on.
When a player pays you money to play, you can accidentally go into indulging his weaknesses. And do not let him die in the game world, for example, each time helping out by chance coincidences and trumps from the sleeve.
“The world should not be cardboard, this is not a game of giveaway. If the players are stupid, they must die. There were situations when parties die completely. It is tragic, but always, when you realize that characters die, the best thing you can do is make a beautiful ending out of it. Depending on the system and the setting, the mortality is different. The last 9-month project from autumn to late spring (in the summer everyone goes to live-action games) was about fantasy Japan. The average mortality rate is 2% for each character per module. It is clear that in the modules of the “bloody thriller” type it grows, and in social units it falls. The system is such that a farmer with a fork has 5 percent chance of killing a samurai with a 20-year preparation with a conventional fork with the first strike ... In general, mortality is usually introduced to induce drama. But there are lots of other ways to bring drama, so we try to play that the living character suffered and then made out everything. It seems like the hobbits survived, but the absolute power ring is already in Mordor. ”Given the average frequency of game modules and the difference in severity of the settings, you have a 30-60% chance of not bringing the character to the end of the series. In the middle of the game, new people are needed, and here the system of individual modules saves a lot. Between them, new characters are introduced, approximately according to the experience of the corresponding middle game. Often, the players make them somewhat similar to the past: for this in the same world of Japan there was a transfer of souls to new bodies. In fantasy worlds, a new character is usually simply selected, which must be won back.
“There are accidents - he brought a couple of gaijins with muskets for samurai in the first module at the very beginning. One player took the lead, shot at him. I was not ready as a master. I thought I would get a bad wound, but I played an extremely low probability. The player, herak, and died. "Since most of the players are from the role community, they choose different characters and play different characters. But newcomers (often players' girls or friends) first play themselves, and then only go out for a variety.
“Their character is evolving, changing. They get used to it. They have conflicts with each other between the characters, transferred to the real. Almost like another life. At work, I Vasya, and here Musashi. They understand that the story of the character will be completed anyway. There will be a result.Naturally, the characters kill each other too. This is a free world. If the players are in the same game, the system works. If in different - it is necessary to agree about a duel at the collection in the tavern or fit into the module to each other. There are players who purposefully run away from others who want to nail their character.
A new character works for people who entered the project in the middle. We give the average experience of the party, that is, not on the top bar. This is a client, we are interested in him to continue walking. Of course, there are those who are closer to munching. These people lose part of the fun. They fall off the project: you can munch at home in a computer game. The rest understand that most of the buzz in the social sphere, and it was not necessary to stick 5 months in a row ”.
Why quarrel during the module? Often happens bytovuha at the level of "do not share the treasures." Well, you know, Arkenston one. More complex - the format of the plot and character. “You drank my beer last year and killed a friend,” “You violate the code of honor.” People often use nadigrovuyu logic: in the example of the troll paladin wrote a poem to calm his conscience. It happens and “We are still going to kill a common enemy, but you are also evil. How to deal with the main reptile, arrange a duel with each other. "
Drive in apartments or in a cafe for large meetings. For example, in Moscow there is a standard institution for rolevikov - Prancing Dreadnought, where you will not be insulted for 24 hours in a row for a minimum deposit approximately equal to tea and beer. There are simultaneous sessions of the game in three games with three masters.
There are problems of attention. Players in a commercial project often try to take the lead, or take the most attention (and playing time) for themselves. The master ensures that everyone gets their share of the game. To do this, specifically my respondents have an excellent system of “highlights”.
It works like this: in each module, for each character, places are laid where it becomes extremely important. Usually it works 2-3 such places per session. It may be a decision in battle to press the detonator or not. It can be a dialogue with an important character who can only be held by such a beautiful elf. These are the pivot points of the plot of the module, and decisions there are very important.
That is, it is impossible to become a clear leader, because everyone takes turns in the “highlight”. Especially those who pushed aside attention.
There are still clues - this is how the module is connected with the characters: where and who can use their skills if they think about it. This may be a familiar character in a foreign city, a safe that only a thief can take, and so on.
When a player takes too much attention, another player turns out to be in the “flare”, who has been cheated by attention. Even with the help of "flare" beginners are drawn into a role-playing game.
“Usually, new people just don’t know how to take an initiative on their own. There are players who are silent and well. And there are those who are embraced. Their "light up". It so happens that the elf Masha flourished in the deepest inner world, and you just had to ask her opinion. There should not be a situation when the characters are not the main ones in the fairy tale. It doesn't always work out perfectly, but everyone has a piece to play. It is possible to strongly influence the plot of each. This does not apply to the played groups that come together: they can agree on a leader, if everyone is OK, then this is their social contract, we don’t climb into it. ”To control the global nature of the world and the plot, the general plot is written first (without taking into account the players' choice, at the level “There is Mordor, there is Gandalf, there are such places with such and such responsibilities, and war is brewing”). If the players began to ring the Brotherhood, but in the course of the play they decided to destroy the world, this is their decision, which means they will destroy the world. There will be obstacles, but it’s quite real to overwhelm Elrond with a bright fraternity. Moreover, since one of the projects was on "Star Wars", there it is right from side to side.
By the way, the settings. The last 9-month TV shows were: Star Wars, Shadowrun, Japan “Five Rings”, the next one from the fall will be about AD & D, the world of fantasy with dragons. The settings are selectable for most players, simple on entry, without repetitions. Long before the game, texts about the world are published, references to works on it, films, and books. Between the settings, people fall off, because not everyone is interested in changing the topic, but they fall off a little.
“After 3 months you are both a psychoanalyst and a bartender. They bring in the module all stresses from work or family life and compensate for the behavior of the character. We have no professional psychologists in our team, but we have an understanding of these processes in our heads. There were moments when serious problems around a character are such that the player experiences in reality. In desperate situations they sometimes write to me — they ask for advice on how to proceed. We do not give recipes, but we analyze the situation: what was the reason, why, where, what points of view. He himself finds a solution. Often. Players help each other. ”In general - it turns out an interesting series with a story for each player. Moreover, the plot is written in many ways by 30 players (and this is fantastic detail), and everything can be influenced.
“We sometimes play along. When a party sometimes comes up with something cool, and we haven't thought about it, then we take it into a global storyline. You know, sort of that conspiracy theory turned out to be true. "
What does it look like
Here is a branch on Reddite , where you can feel the atmosphere through one of the systems.
Play alone - CRPG or game books , they are now being republished. Playing social games with roles - board " Overboard " and the like. Play in a company in a fixed world - look at the desktop This War of Mine , where there are situation cards (“You walk up to the house, from which the girl screams, hear the keyhole, and see a soldier with a machine gun, which ...”). Raising the degree of hardcore and realism, one should add to the roles an unfixed world and a living Master. These are forum games . In the unfixed world and relatively fast - these games from sabzh, the group Hasta and Theo here. Live, dressed as a character and with hundreds of other people in the forest - in the field games, here is the calendar . A darthslider , for example, can tell a lot about half-salt Stalkers (there is a forest, a monster, anomalies and anecdotes over a fire, but there are almost no separate roles and vivid characters). Here is my post about Neuronomicon (Teo's field play), and here about Stalker .