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Ka_ge2020
As the name/description says, I was just wondering whether anyone had tried the kind of a-sequential, perhaps reverse-sequence scenarios as part of a campaign, with their groups? If so, any advice? If not, erm, any advice?

I've just been kicking around the idea of a multiple-period referential campaign that plays around with 'dream sequences', which are less dream sequences and more... well, what is actually happening in one of the periods in question. This is also partially a manipulation of the players themselves that, while normally a 'no no' of GMing can lead to some rather interesting scenarios. (This from experience based upon the assumption of the reality of given situations based upon previous experience and what they 'can expect', i.e. compare with assumed reality films like Fight Club, eXistenz, Thirteenth Floor, etc.)

One potential problem is in the 'yellow plot road' (as in 'follow the...') approach to PC destination, i.e. the idea that the final statistics, etc., of the character is determined before the game is concluded. In that that there is a question. For a 7/8 adventure campaign, what is a 'reasonable' amount of karma/experience to be awarded. I know this is obviously dependent upon the situation, but I might need to have to extrapolate characters based upon the pre-established preferences of advancement by the players. (This is similar to the advancement protocol found in Amber DRPG, so not too unusual.)

If I've posted this to the wrong forum, then my apologies. Just thought that I would root out advice and ideas where I could...

Ka_ge
Herald of Verjigorm
So, what? You want approval to railroad beyond any illusion of interactivity?

As for karma, assuming you are properly preparing for every eventuality, 500 karma points for survival, but they can only use them as you have decided for the next scene.


More helpfully, this can only work if your players want to do it. When going backward through time, you can try to metagame and kill off that guy who will have shown up later to save your life except that he now had been dead for a week before the life threatening event occurred.
Ka_ge2020
QUOTE (Herald of Verjigorm)
So, what? You want approval to railroad beyond any illusion of interactivity?

Ouch!

Please don't misunderstand my intent. The overall goal is to create a narrative experience that is potentially interesting to experience. It, of course, doesn't make reference to the normal, sequential and supposedly narratively 'free' approach to scenarios/campaigns. I.e. It automatically assumes a certain amount of the 'nugget' and 'yellow plot road' approach. A part of this, however, is an experiment in non-linearity. For example, one might consider it two parallel 'sub-campaigns' that are complimentary.

With reference to that, as time progresses on, my concept of the campaign does shift towards that, such as to allow independent evolution of the characters. Foreshadowing is, however, a goal even if it does require a purely narrative approach and, as far as possible, non-reference to game mechanics. Of course, with that said, perhaps the over-mapping of an alinear approach to time/precongition is the goal.

Again, this is an approach in narration and, in this case, a partial manipulation of the players. Your - erm, is 'knee jerk' appropriate? - reaction shows that, perhaps, the question regarding future karma is irrelevant. At the same time, though, I would also suggest that in this case the over-arching story is more important than supposed freewill, a point that you refer to.

Anyway, the ultimate point of your post is to ensure that any 'foreshadowing' is done carefully and that, further, greater care has to be done with the non-sequential adventures. Possibly through the assignation of a primary and secondary 'sub-campaign' for the over-arching plot.

QUOTE (Herald of Verjigorm)
More helpfully, this can only work if your players want to do it.

A certain amount of off-footing is, however, inherent in what is in many ways becoming a sub-genre, or at least style.

QUOTE (Herald of Verjigorm)
When going backward through time, you can try to metagame and kill off that guy who will have shown up later to save your life except that he now had been dead for a week before the life threatening event occurred.

I've often found that this more often shows up in munchkin players, i.e. the determination to necessarily 'ruin' a campaign. Which says more about player selection than not. However, again your reaction might suggestion that two separate forward-progression sub-campaigns might prevent this kind of (perhaps appropriate) reaction.

Ka_ge
Herald of Verjigorm
QUOTE (Ka_ge2020)
Anyway, the ultimate point of your post is to ensure that any 'foreshadowing' is done carefully and that, further, greater care has to be done with the non-sequential adventures.

Actually the ultimate point of my post is to give a little good advice as well as tossing in a somewhat comedic intent and getting to abuse tenses in the english language in a manner that is relevant to the topic.

My only real point is that once one player dislikes an idea, it's best not to force that potentially innovative storytelling method. I generally prefer gaming over storytelling, and that does include occasionally shattering the time/space continuum when given an opportunity.
hyzmarca
My recomendation, to avoid confusion and paradoxes and metagaming and railroading is to employ personal linearity. While the characters are experiencing external time in a nonlinear fashion they themselves advance foward on their own personal timelines with the same regular pace that they would otherwise. Their personal timelines do not have to coincide with or run parallel to the primary timeline or even each other's timelines.

Having their own personal linearity means that the characters can move backwards while still advancing fowards. They accumilate karma as normal and they are uneffected by any changes they make to the primary timeline.

This also provides the experience of the characters' awareness of and their resulting responses to their timejumping which can potentialy add more to the narative.


A good way to start, I believe, is to put the characters in a future where something horrific has happened, perhaps worse than the scourge. They don't know what has happened or when it has happened and they have no control over their time jumps. Their overall goal would be to replay a series of seemingly unconnected and random runs from their pasts and their futures to gleam the information needed to stop whatever has happened.

In the end it may be a small and seemingly insignificant thing like leaving the toilet seat up that set in motion a global chain reaction amongst shadowgovernments and megacorps and and things that must not be Named.

The important thing is to not take the game out of the players' hands. It is their adventure as much as it is yours.
Edward
Non liner movies are cool, but only because the writers where able to think back and forward along the time line to make everything cool and consistent while choosing those paths they wanted with no random chance.

This cannot be done in an RPG because you have to consider the independent freewill of the players and the random chance represented buy the dice.

The most obvious problem is that in seen 1 the PCs kill BBEG, Bobís 2 weapon fighting was instrumental in this death.

In seen 3 (2 sessions later) the BBEG shows up to torment the PCs and Jain gets a lucky shot with a pistol at extreme range and takes his head off.

In seen 8 the BBEG sends mooks after the party and one gets lucky killing Jain.

In seen 12 Bob pises off Jain and she cuts his arm off

In seen 20 (beginning of timeline) Bob boches a demolitions check and detonates a bomb truck every member of the party was within 3 meters off, destroying the building most of the action was in while BBEG was on the top floor and falls to his doom 9/11 style.

These situations do not require munchkin players

If you run a game like this then any character that has appeared in a previous session can not die, and long standing possession can not be lost, expended or destroyed and the session must end in a situation close to how the previous session started.

In short the Herald of Verjigorm was correct, if a little blunt.

My suggestion, play a role playing game every second week and collaborate with your friends in the writing of a work of shadow run fiction using memento like regressive time on the other weeks, possibly even having characters that you each are more responsible for than the others, but donít pretend itís a role playing game.

Edward
hyzmarca
QUOTE (Edward)
The most obvious problem is that in seen 1 the PCs kill BBEG, Bobís 2 weapon fighting was instrumental in this death.

In seen 3 (2 sessions later) the BBEG shows up to torment the PCs and Jain gets a lucky shot with a pistol at extreme range and takes his head off.

In seen 8 the BBEG sends mooks after the party and one gets lucky killing Jain.

In seen 12 Bob pises off Jain and she cuts his arm off

In seen 20 (beginning of timeline) Bob boches a demolitions check and detonates a bomb truck every member of the party was within 3 meters off, destroying the building most of the action was in while BBEG was on the top floor and falls to his doom 9/11 style.

These situations do not require munchkin players

If you run a game like this then any character that has appeared in a previous session can not die, and long standing possession can not be lost, expended or destroyed and the session must end in a situation close to how the previous session started.


I disagree. In a nonlinear game there is no need to maintain consistant causality between scenes, only consistant application of the rules. The seeming lack of causalty can be jarring to players and characters alike, but it can aso make for a very interesting game.
Ka_ge2020
First off, thank you for your replies.

QUOTE (hyzmarca)
The important thing is to not take the game out of the players' hands. It is their adventure as much as it is yours.

Indeed, that is important. Although to be fair 'railroading' is present even in linear adventures, e.g. from what I remember about the adventure Maria Mercurial and, indeed, many of the published adventures that I have from the time.

On consideration, I shall stick with the two timeline approach, with linear progression in each even if play hops between one or the other. I still think that it is entirely possible to achieve the kind of perceptual monkeying around that I'm after, but I shall leave that as an aside.

QUOTE (Edward)
This cannot be done in an RPG because you have to consider the independent freewill of the players and the random chance represented buy the dice.

There are numerous ways by which the 'illusion of freewill' can be maintained while progressing along a specific plot-path. Basically, the 'ole 'carrot and stick' approach and, even, 'turning the map upside down'.

However, I was not clear that time travel is not occurring in the primary timeline, as it were. That asynchronous was only really envisioned in the secondary.

QUOTE (hyzmarca)
My suggestion, play a role playing game every second week and collaborate with your friends in the writing of a work of shadow run fiction using memento like regressive time on the other weeks...

Thank you for the suggestion, although I will not take it up. If RPG is solely opening up a world and going "Have at it!" to the players, then the idea of a campaign becomes merely an act of self-gratification for the players. Surely, then, you could argue that you might as well hand the players a pen and paper and tell them to go and write their own bit of fiction?

The creation of a story does not preclude the illusion of 'free will'. Although, as you can see, I'm really not a fan of completely 'freeform' play.

Sorry if that sounds a bit confrontational, though the responses thus far have answered the question in hand. "No, we haven't tried it", in essence.

QUOTE (hyzmarca)
The seeming lack of causalty can be jarring to players and characters alike, but it can aso make for a very interesting game.

I rather like playing around with player perception as a tool for enhancing the gameplay, hence the concept. Yes, it does break a 'rule' of GMing but, then, in many ways the GM is a player-creator in the story that is told by the interaction of players-GM.

Ah well, probably best to leave the thread to die...

Ka_ge
mfb
such a campaign would be the stuff of legend, if done well. if done less-well, or even done poorly, it will at least be a campaign to remember.

as hyzmarca said, it would be good if the characters were allowed to advance (in terms of karma, magic, and probably cyberware, if not regular gear) normally, as if no time-hopping were occurring. this keeps the players from feeling like they're 'losing' stuff when they jump backwards in time, but it does introduce some obvious paradoxes when they use stuff gained in the future to affect the past. these paradoxes are doubly bad if there is no actual time travel involved, just flashback episodes. therefore, you may want to simply disallow any advancement at all (no spending karma, make sure the characters have no access to cyberware surgery facilities, etcetera). this second solution is a very short-term solution, though, so you'd be best off limiting the adventure to a session or two, tops, and making sure the characters are very busy for the duration of the run.

another thing you should be sure to introduce is a reason for the details of the run to be hazy. maybe all the characters are under the effects of a mild hallucinogen, or they're all actually on a metaplane, or whatever. basically, this gives you a safety net for paradoxes--if the character shoots off ten rounds from a 15-round clip at 3:00pm, then jumps back in time and shoots another 10 rounds at 2:00pm with no reloading in between 2pm and 3pm, you can just write it off as "your memory must be faulty."
Ka_ge2020
Okay, maybe not dying the death then.

QUOTE (mfb)
such a campaign would be the stuff of legend, if done well. if done less-well, or even done poorly, it will at least be a campaign to remember.

That is, indeed, the goal. The purpose of posting here was to make sure that it at least leaned towards the former rather than the latter by scrounging around for the advice of experienced gamemasters and players, including borrowing concepts from other systems where applicable.

Again, though, there is no 'time travelling' involved. I explained that rather poorly. Rather, you have two related, but separate, sub-campaigns going on. One of these is 'historical', the other is 'modern', i.e. current SR timeline. While they can be played completely separately, the goal is to use the 'historical' sub-campaign as a method of highlighting different aspects of the plot as well as to offer teaser/hints as to locations, motivations, and so forth. Switch between the primary (SR) and secondary (historical) can be used in a 'flashback' or 'dream image' approach, with the nature of the flashbacks becoming a feature of the SR timeline.

With regards to non-linearity, yes it is difficult to handle. Less so in relation to character advancement per se, since a 'wish list' approach ala the Amber DRPG puts that in the hands of the players. The 'losing stuff' would obviously happen, although one could just as much say that they are 'gaining stuff', if but for a short period.

The paradox issue seems intuitively to become less of an issue when non-linearity is introduced at the scenario level, rather than within a single scenario.

Ack, need to think on this some more...

Ka_ge
hyzmarca
In that case, have them make two characters with the same identity using BP or Becks, whichever you prefer. Give the older characters an unusually large amount of starting BP/Karma and the younger characters less than the usual amount. The difference should be uniform but is entirely up to you as GM.

You may or may not discourage drasticly different builds. I wouldn't, personally.
A younger version of a samurai may be a magician or vica versa. So long as you leave enough space for the players to fill in the blanks of their characters' lives it would be interesting.

If you don't wish to encourage drastic changes and wish to remain a rules-legal continuity between past and future, then cap younger character's stats and skills at their future selves' starting values. Since some offscreen skill degredation wouldn't hurt anything in this case I don't see why.

Edit: The above suggestion doesn't apply to essence, which should not fall lower that the future character's for the young character and not high than the young character's for either. Unless your characters are vampires or have learned unique metamagics from Blood Spirits it can harm the flavor of the game.
mfb
i know there's no actual time-travelling involved. that's simply the easiest paradigm to use when discussing this, for me.
Edward
I assumed you where going to enforce causality (at least on the grose aspects like who is alive when), memento did. If your not then that changes things again (making them more confusing, if easier to run).

I did assume you where not invoking time travel, just using flashback episodes. If you had been invoking time travel there are numerus models that make causality a non issue

I was thinking a constant step back with small steps. What I didnít understand was that you intend to run only 2 time lines; each of witch is internally consistent. What youíre doing is much more achievable, especially with SR biotech to patch up injuries between timelines.

All you have to do is have the early timeline at least a year before the late timeline and not let anybody die in the early timeline that is alive in the late timeline (they can go into overflow damage and be left for dead, they just stabilise and get sent to hospital.)

When doing character generation you will need 2 character sheets. First create standard starting characters that will be played in the early timeline. Copy these only the 2nd sheets before advancing them, to the power level of the late campaign (set an amount of karma earned and some extra money to spend) make a photocopy of the starting late campaign character sheet.

When advancing characters karma earned in each timeline goes to the character in the same timeline, any skills, abilities, implants or gear the early timeline character gets that the late character didnít start with where somehow lost during the year, (skills, metamagics and spells are imposable to loos as far as I know so you may not want to allow them to be obtained if the late timeline character didnít have them)

With this simplified setup I say it would be eminently playable, pleas let us know how it goes.

Edward
Frackula
You could say they're trapped in VR or some kind of collective dream with brain damage, so their "memories" might not be 100% real, and their minds are filling in bits with fantasy to make up for lost information as they slowly go insane. This causes the PCs to collectively relive segments which can end differently than the actual incident. But there's still that whole idea that they're locked into place, that each segment might have a "real" ending they are supposed to follow.
MaxHunter
It is difficult, but feasible.

If the "modern" timeline starts/ends in a VR setting or sorts you could even still have someone who is alive in the present setting die "before". He/she actually died in the past and now has become a ghost in the machine. This revelation affects the present timeline as soon as it is revelaled...

Just my 2 cents.

Cheers,

Max
MaxHunter
It is difficult, but feasible.

If the "modern" timeline starts/ends in a VR setting or sorts you could even still have someone who is alive in the present setting die "before". He/she actually died in the past and now has become a ghost in the machine. This revelation affects the present timeline as soon as it is revelaled...

Just my 2 cents.

Cheers,

Max
Ka_ge2020
QUOTE (hyzmarca)
In that case, have them make two characters with the same identity using BP or Becks, whichever you prefer.

Seems reasonable. Related to this, is there a published guestimate/ball park figure for the differnet 'levels' of a campaign and BP? For example, 'street-level' through to high-level 'merc' campaigns or 'heavy hitters', etc.?

QUOTE (mfb)
i know there's no actual time-travelling involved. that's simply the easiest paradigm to use when discussing this, for me.

Then my apologies. I just wanted to make sure that there was no confusion, though the confusion is normally on my behalf! wink.gif

QUOTE (Edward)
I did assume you where not invoking time travel, just using flashback episodes.

Indeed. 'Flashback' episodes are planned to occur in both the primary and secondary sub-campaigns. I was really trying to handle non-linear scenarios in the secondary campaign as a means of detailing or explaining the events in the primary. Causality will be partially maintained - or blurred - by the 'stroboscopic' representation of the secondary campaign.

I really should change the title of the thread, since it is misleading. With that said, it does bring up the relevant issues in terms of both game mechanics and GMing techniques.

QUOTE (Edward)
What I didnít understand was that you intend to run only 2 time lines...

That will be my lack of lucid explanation. biggrin.gif

So yes, two internally consistent 'timelines' (campaigns). One in a historical period and the second in the SR timeline. The primary campaign is identified by the preference of the players, with the secondary timeline being the one that is represented non-linearly. (This might be different from my original suggestions, in which case you have my apologies once again.) A possible 'third' (&c.) timeline is possible as further illustrating certain features of the story since, of course, the primary and secondary campaigns are related.

QUOTE (Edward)
All you have to do is have the early timeline at least a year before the late timeline and not let anybody die in the early timeline...

That's not going to be problem given that the SR and historical periods are separated by a substantial period (and a separate set of game mechanics, out of interest). the question of karma, etc., only really becomes an issue in the secondary campaign, since as above it is non-linear.

Other than that, what you mention about dealing with the characters makes sense...

QUOTE (Edward)
With this simplified setup I say it would be eminently playable, pleas let us know how it goes.

Oh, I will do. You may be waiting for some time since I have another, tiny, problem to deal with. I don't have a real-life gaming group and therefore have to rely on PbIM. spin.gif

QUOTE (Frackula)
You could say they're trapped in VR or some kind of collective dream with brain damage, so their "memories" might not be 100% real...

I had considered borrowing from the 'assumed reality' genre (e.g. Fight Club, eXistenz, etc.) but thought that it might be even more confusing. That linked to the premise of 'foreshadowing' as a means of multiple attempts at an 'important' scenario whose resolution might be attributed greater significance. Again, though, that begins to get a bit dodgy in terms of player suspension of disbelief.

Once again, thanks for all your input. If you missed it, though, there is a question about BP's and 'campaign level' at the top... Many thanks!

Ka_ge
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