August 10, 2012

[RULES QUESTIONS] City of Fire and Coin

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This august I fought the heat playing new games. One of the nicer I've found was City of Fire and Coin by Epidiah Ravachol. For a long time I asked myself why there was no game able to convey the feeling of a well written sword and sorcery short story. First time we played, we nailed the Sword & Sorcery atmosphere really easily.

Being an introductory adventure and the full game not being yet released, some questions hit the back of my head. What a better occasion to write the author, ask for an interview (yet to come) and hit him with my questions about the rules?

Hopefully sharing them can be useful to other people.

1) How manage the game if Rogues get separated or wants to split?
This is one of those things that seems scary at first, but isn’t as bad as you would expect. In the Discovery and Rogues’ Phases, nothing really has to change. In my experience, the rogues quite often get a little split up in the Rogues’ Phase, running off here and there to fulfill their demands. In the Perilous Phase it’s a little tricky, but still possible.
You can run a Perilous Phase with a rogue or two missing, as long as everyone’s cool with keeping it short. In fact, several times I’ve had Rogue Players end a Perilous Phase that wasn’t going their way so I could start a Rogues’ Phase and demand the missing rogue to show me how he shows up in the knick of time.
You can also run a Perilous Phase where the separated rogues are in different battles. As the Overplayer, you just want to make sure you focus on the action that’s happening around the rogue with the dice.


2) In a Rogue Phase we are bond to the first setupped scene or the questions can span through places and time, making flashback questions possible?
2.1) If the questions after the first can spawn through space and time, the player making the question must setup a scene before or not?
You are not bound by the opening narration at all. I mean, except for that first demand. But after that, it goes where it wants to go. This phase is particularly good for handling long journeys and flashbacks. If you think about scenes as we typically do, like movie scenes, then the rule is that a phase is not a scene. Several scenes may occur in a single phase and several phases may occur within a single scene. So you’re free to go wherever the phase takes you.

As for question 2.1, there's no need to set the scene in the same manner the Overplayer does at the beginning of the phase.
Basically, you would just follow what flows naturally from the narration. Let's say your the Overplayer and you start the Rogues' Phase by describing a musty temple, untouched by humans for centuries. The thunder is the fact that the jungle surrounding the temple is completely silent. Then you demand of Manyara, "Show us how you manage to evade the temple's traps. Manyara's player describes a descent into the inner sanctum of the temple that is fraught with danger that she skillfully avoids. Then she hands the dice to Muaphet's player demanding, "Show us what happened the last time you were here."
Jumping on the fact that it's been centuries since any human has visited the temple, Muaphet's player describes a harrowing experience from centuries past when he was once offered as a sacrifice to the temple's forgotten gods. Then he makes a demand of Snorri's player set back during the time of the rest of the story.


3) During the endgame what happens if we roll a Mystery or a Moral?
The player has the option of either creating a new one, or reincorporating one that already exists. Sometimes you may want to create a new one, because none of the threads on the table are that exciting. But most of the time I’ve seen the Rogue Players just opt to reincorporate. If they do reincorporate, treat the die roll as a normal roll for the tone rolled (or the opposite of the Overtone in the case of a Mystery).

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4) How manage the game if one of the Rogues turns out to be a spy or a double-crosser?
My advice to the Overplayer is to get to a Rogues’ Phase and fast. It’s really the best phase for handling this sort of thing, because it keeps the story in a clear consensus. Someone can say, “Show me how you finally slip our grasp,” or “Show me how you manage to mete vengeance on my rogue,” and keep everything on the up and up. Since the goal of the game is to work together to tell an enthralling sword & sorcery short story, then people should be cool working together to tell of a great and treacherous betrayal.
If it matters, the rules for how a rogue dies are in effect, which means a rogue can only die if someone puts that rogue’s life on the line (which is always the case in a Perilous Phase and can be the case if the player making the demand during a Rogues’ Phase specifically includes a life or death situation) and the player of the rogue whose life is on the line accepts death. In my experience, most people looking to play a double-crosser are totally looking to see that double-crosser on the end of someone’s sword.


5) In the Rogue phase if a player ask a question to the Overplayer, he rolls the bones to set a tone or just uses the Overtone?
5.1) If the Overplayer does not roll a new tone, he cannot be stymied?
5.2) If he rolls, he can create a  Mystery  or a Morale?
Ah! This is one thing I had just found missing from the current edition of “The City of Fire & Coin.” And it is something I’m going to correct. The Overplayer only ever rolls the bones for the Overtone. Thereafter, if the Overplayer is handed the dice it’s usually to end a thread, or to answer a demand in a Rogues’ Phase. In this latter case, he does not roll the dice, which means he cannot be stymied and he does not generate a Mystery or a Moral. He simply holds unto the dice until he’s answered the demand and passes them on as usual.
There are a number of reasons for this, but the most important is to ensure that things happen in the story because of Rogues and not because of some villain or incidental character’s folly.
Also, keep in mind that the tones do not indicate success or failure. You do not need to roll a stymie have a character fail to do something. The rogues have befriended a meek shepherd and escort him across the badlands so that he may ask the woman of his dreams to marry him. During a Rogues’ Phase taking place in a loud tavern where this woman is a barmaid, one of the Rogue Players hands the dice to the Overplayer and demands, “Show me how our shepherd friend fairs with his lass!” A glum result could mean sadness for our shepherd, or it could mean the whole tavern grows silent to listen to an earnest and beautiful proposal. Likewise, a jovial result could be about the merriment and joy of lost love finally found, or it could be about the shouting and hullabaloo raising by the woman’s current boyfriend who is now comically chasing our hapless shepherd around with a leg of mutton.

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