I was intrigued by it and saw some interesting tidbits about it online during the development processes. The focus of the game is on narrative connections between players and how the story itself moves along. The DramaSystem builds off of elements of narrative structure and collaborative gaming that are common to many games in the story game category, but it aims for something bigger and meatier. The system works by deconstructing story action, pacing, and drama and applies a structure to the interactions at the table to create a story between the participants.
|Published (Last):||24 February 2011|
|PDF File Size:||16.59 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||5.43 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
June 1, Hillfolk , page xx , see p. Starting with the Hillfolk roleplaying game , and continuing with Blood on the Snow and Series Pitch of the Month , DramaSystem offers a wealth of setting options for players to inhabit, and create compelling stories of interpersonal conflict and emotional drama.
However, DramaSystem is primarily designed for campaign play. What if you want to run a game at a convention? The challenges are significant. Here are some tips that I, and other GMs and players, have learned during convention play. Emphasize again and again that this is a game about interpersonal drama, conflict, and powerful emotions. Beyond that, make sure your players understand that DramaSystem is a game of player antagonism.
You can certainly let the players choose from a long list, but I like to take six to eight roles and create very simple playbooks for them. This helps avoid players becoming paralyzed by too many choices, and also helps me run the game—I know that a given convention game of Warlock Mountain will involve some configuration of Captain, Doctor, Scientist, Elder, Comic Relief, Teenager, Criminal, and Soldier. Likewise, there are a vast number of dramatic poles that a player character might have.
This is fine! This approach gives players more flexibility, because now every character is a potential source of drama and drama tokens for every other character. It also gives every player something interesting to do in every scene: nobody is there in a purely supporting role. Ignore or minimize the procedural rules Whatever the setting, DramaSystem game sessions should stay laser-focused on the tensions and conflicts within a small, tightly-knit group of player characters. These characters might at some point fight orcs, sabotage a bridge, or plan a daring heist; but all of that is just background to their drama.
The goal of a convention game is to show your players a good time, and give them a sense of what makes the game fun and distinctive. Instead, encourage the players to handle procedural scenes as dramatic scenes. You can give such scenes a procedural feel by asking questions and introducing threats.
What is is? How do you deal with it? Nurture the drama token economy Drama tokens are the currency of DramaSystem. Make sure the players understand that an important part of the game is amassing enough tokens that their character has the power to influence what happens in the story.
This game is working when drama tokens are changing hands, passing from one player to another. Every dramatic scene ends with an exchange of one or more drama tokens. If the petition is willingly granted, the granter earns a drama token—from the petitioner if he has one, or from the kitty if not. If the granter refuses, the petitioner gains the token— from the granter if she has one, or from the kitty if not. In a convention game, I recommend letting players take drama tokens from the kitty for a longer period of time than you would in a campaign session.
This method increases the number of tokens in play more quickly, which heightens the suspense and raises the stakes. Pointing out to the group that a couple of players have two or three tokens in front of them causes everyone to realize that those characters now have more narrative power than the others.
This creates an incentive for the other players to make difficult concessions or challenging demands, so they can take tokens away from those players and use them to push their own agendas. You can also mix things up by bringing characters together in a different combination than previously—if the rebellious daughter is never alone in a scene with her mother, throw them together in a stressful situation, and see what happens.
Further reading Want more tips? Blood on the Snow includes a chapter of advice on running DramaSystem one-shots, including agreeing on a story outline beforehand, and stronger GM control over the narrative.
Good luck running your next DramaSystem con game, and have fun! September 18, drama system , Hillfolk , RDL , robin d laws , rules , rules hacks Leave a comment In my last Page XX column I promised a rule for a rare instance of procedural resolution.
This occurs when the caller of the scene wants to be surprised by the outcome of an external event. I admit to being surprised that people want this, but it turns out that a few groups do. It does fit certain genres where the group works together toward a common goal that regularly repeats itself. This might apply to series set in the worlds of sport, the arts, or around other occupations. In the standard procedural system seen in Hillfolk, you fail more frequently than you would in a standard adventure-oriented RPG.
Compelling drama arises from failure, from the tightening of the screws on the characters. If the result is an 8 or higher, the answer to the question is Yes. If not, the answer is No. When the card is revealed, the scene caller narrates accordingly, then frames the dramatic interaction arising from it. A surprise procedural outcome never counts as a scene unto itself. It is always a prelude to a scene.
Callers seeking additional complication can specify any card as the target to hit, allowing adjustment of the odds upwards or downwards from roughly even.
Success in a standard procedural scene with the players on one side and the GM on the other depends on matching a target card. So if the target card is a 4 of Clubs, the players have to come up with a 4 of Spades, Diamonds, or Hearts. However, if the GM has only spent a yellow procedural token, the players only have to match the suit.
When the target card is the 4 of Clubs, players need only draw any other Club card. The odds improve even further if the GM spends the lowest token, the red. All players have to match is the color of the card. In our 4 of Clubs example, any Club or Spade brings success. The GM does not reveal the token she spent until all cards have been drawn.
So when, in our example, a player gets the 4 of Diamonds or Hearts, that could be decisive in your favor, or irrelevant. As players narrate a contribution to the effort according to the impressiveness of the card drawn, this can introduce an uncertainty some find confusing.
I actually like the uncertainty of this, asking the player to describe an action that could be amazing or could be nothing. But if members of your group find that too much of a headscratcher, you can always borrow a variant rule from Susan Davis, an intrepid member of my Thursday night group and mastermind behind the Worlds of Adventure DramaSystem actual play podcast.
In this variant, denomination matches also grant success regardless of suit or color, regardless of the drama token spent by the GM. When one is drawn, and the GM is unable to knock it out of play, the procedural automatically concludes, as a success for the players.
This tips the odds only slightly more in favor of the players. Hillfolk is a game of high-stakes interpersonal conflict by acclaimed designer Robin D. Using its DramaSystem rules, you and your friends can weave enthralling sagas of Iron Age tribes, Regency socialites, border town drug kingpins, a troubled crime family, posthuman cyberpunks and more. In parallel we see the second series lead, Mike Ehrmantraut Jonathan Banks pulled along similar lines, with the poles ex-cop vs. In season two his effort to provide for his daughter-in-law and granddaughter, his involvement with cartel smugglers deepens.
She starts on the straight-laced lawyer side but her association with Jimmy starts to awaken, then inexorably pull her toward, the criminal pole. In a DramaSystem game you might be reluctant to pick the exact same poles as another player but here we see how effective that can be as long as each character is moving along the continuum in a contrasting way or at different rates.
Poles for the other key figure, Chuck, can be defined according to his tortured relationship to Jimmy: is he dependent or dominant? His environmental sensitivity puts him in the first position.
As such each embodies a single pole for one of the leads.
You Pick It Review – Hillfolk
I loved both as source material, but I wanted more experience with the game mechanics in play before I could review the system itself. Since I gave a pretty lengthy description of the two volumes last year, I will concentrate here on the mechanics and the feel of the game. The system relies on shared narrative control between all participants, everyone taking turns at selecting theme and setting scenes, starting with the game-master. The focus of the game is the cast of player characters, which are created in the first session and are linked by a web of relationships established by the players.
DramaSystem/Hillfolk: A Brief Review
In a procedural scene, the characters confront and overcome external obstacles. They fight opponents, conduct chases, investigate mysteries, explore unfamiliar environments, and so on. When they succeed by talking to others, it is by negotiating with characters who exert no particular emotional hold over them, over practical matters. In a dramatic scene, the main characters confront internal obstacles, seeking emotional reward from people they care deeply about, for good or ill. Historically, roleplaying games have concentrated on procedural action, giving short shrift to dramatic interplay. When scenes that ought to be dramatic arise in the typical roleplaying game session, they tend to start strongly, but rapidly stall out.
June 1, Hillfolk , page xx , see p. Starting with the Hillfolk roleplaying game , and continuing with Blood on the Snow and Series Pitch of the Month , DramaSystem offers a wealth of setting options for players to inhabit, and create compelling stories of interpersonal conflict and emotional drama. However, DramaSystem is primarily designed for campaign play. What if you want to run a game at a convention? The challenges are significant. Here are some tips that I, and other GMs and players, have learned during convention play. Emphasize again and again that this is a game about interpersonal drama, conflict, and powerful emotions.