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GMing Demon: What NOT to do?

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  • Taidragon
    started a topic GMing Demon: What NOT to do?

    GMing Demon: What NOT to do?

    As the title somewhat implies, I've had some interest in running a game of Demon in the future. Having played a number of games with different GMs and players, I can safely say it has a number of hurtles that the GM needs to avoid. Demon is complicated, with the plots, the counter plots, characters, infrastructure and happenstance that needs to all come together without making the experience a mire to get through. Though mistakes will inevitably happen, I'd like to preemptively learn how to avoid the worst and be properly prepared. Failure can teach as much as (if not more than) success, but I've also learned from experience it's best to have a good platform to start from to make sure that one egregious failure doesn't stop future attempts.

    What advice do you all, either as players or GMs yourselves, have to avoiding particular pitfalls? What plots should not be done and characters should not be evoked, and how do you keep the group working together when they have very different characters with differing ideologies?
    Last edited by Taidragon; 04-06-2017, 05:20 AM.

  • Taidragon
    replied
    Another revival, another anecdote from a game I was in, apologies for the double post;

    If a player joins a game after it has started, and their first actions in said game involve an ongoing plot, do not withhold info on what has been happening in said plot. It will only confuse players on what is going on, and why certain avenues and characters are considered as things that need to be dead/alive/active. This goes double if the player characters are being treated as having always been part of the Ring to avoid having to roleplay them in, since they should be aware of this or close enough to the other main characters as to not have this information actively withheld but still expecting active assistance.

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  • Taidragon
    replied
    Originally posted by KieranMullen View Post

    In what book do the Knights Of Saint Adrian appear?

    (Thanks!)
    They appear in Mortal Remains, a Hunter book.

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  • KieranMullen
    replied
    Originally posted by Korogra View Post
    Something that recently came up in a game that I was playing in sounds appropriate to bring up here. When using antagonists that have a connection with the God-Machine ( Deva Corporation, Knights Of Saint Adrian, even Utopia Now), it’s important to remember that these groups have no true authority over Angels or their master - they are tools, and sometimes nuisances that just so happen to be too useful to eliminate for most occasions. What these groups should NOT be able to do is being able to control angels or build Infrastructure with any true level of skill or regularity.
    In what book do the Knights Of Saint Adrian appear?

    (Thanks!)

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  • Korogra
    replied
    Something that recently came up in a game that I was playing in sounds appropriate to bring up here. When using antagonists that have a connection with the God-Machine ( Deva Corporation, Knights Of Saint Adrian, even Utopia Now), it’s important to remember that these groups have no true authority over Angels or their master - they are tools, and sometimes nuisances that just so happen to be too useful to eliminate for most occasions. What these groups should NOT be able to do is being able to control angels or build Infrastructure with any true level of skill or regularity.

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  • Taidragon
    replied
    Indeed;

    The storyteller is aware of the issues with the player with the Analyst with the impossible memory, and is trying to give the player goals to work towards. The player simply isn't carrying them over.

    The storyteller had no problems with the indecive player. They recognised the issues the player would bring if they stayed, brought them up and said if the player wouldn't settle on a build then they would be removed. Player said No, and they were removed.

    The agency thing only really occurred because the storyteller didn't quite appreciate how detracting the agency takeover would be. They simply wanted us to have fun. However, they realized the issues and reverted the control to get things back on track.

    The player inviting themselves into a scenario and taking a while to get into it is a known issue, and part of the reason the game is winding down. It isn't as bad as it once was, but still something I thought others should look out for.

    As I noted, the storyteller is new to Demon but they have a good head about them.

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  • Malus
    replied
    Have you discussed those with your ST?

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  • Taidragon
    replied
    Originally posted by Malus View Post
    The above points sound pretty specific.
    They would be, since I am pulling them from experience from my latest game, as noted in the opening of the post.

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  • Malus
    replied
    The above points sound pretty specific.

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  • Taidragon
    replied
    Going to revive this thread with a few bits from a game I’m in that is winding down. I should preface these points that this is from a game where the storyteller is new to Demon, and while they had a lot to learn they did well it.

    Make sure that players have an identity for their character well established and their goals set by the start. There is a player in my own game who clearly wants to be in the spotlight and doing things, and at one point early on commandeered the entire Agency to try and go to war with another Agency with conflicting goals, but they didn’t publicly establish until at least session 6 that their Analyst Demon was over a thousand years old, had memory of her time with the God-Machine and that It was looking for her... and they couldn’t think of any Aspirations or real goals for her to have beyond a generic “Save the God-Machine from Itself” as the long term goal.

    Don’t keep players who can’t keep their character’s builds the same between sessions. There was another player in the same game was removed for having even less cohesion for their own character, being unable to keep the same concept and unable to reconcile it with the group. Demon is full of awesome, but after a while you just need to nail something down and stick with it.

    Related to the above, don’t let a player commandeer an entire Agency without resistance and let them do what they want with it. This will derail, or at the very least massively delay, what plots you have. It’s one thing letting players have fun, it’s another to have them derail things without anything to show for it.

    If a player invites themselves into a scenario they weren’t part of before immediately before it starts, and then spends over five-ten minutes doing things on their own just to get into a place they can be in that scene, make them simplify their approach. It isn’t always fun being on the sidelines, but it’s much worse having a scene that’s supposed to be focused on one set of players being massively delayed or outright overtaken by someone else.

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  • KieranMullen
    replied
    Originally posted by KieranMullen View Post
    But is this railroading? The plot assumes that the players will follow it. In D&D terms this is a no-brainer - modules are very goal-oriented. However CoD is supposed to be more character driven. Does stories like this work well in the CoD dynamics in general and in DtD in particular? Do your games follow connect-a-dot plots?
    A bit odd to quote and reply to my own post, but I think that I have figured out what was bothering me and how to fix it.

    When I was a young pup of a DM, I would set up adventures by drawing detailed maps and think "Hmm..., let's put a mimic here, and then some bugbears down there, but if they take the left corridor I'll put in a trap, and I need a stronger monster to block the access to the altar..." The Temple of Evil adventure would segue into the Dungeons of Unpleasantness that would allow access to the Demi-plane of Faffing About. I was approaching DtD the same way, looking for appropriate monsters and traps, all very linear.

    I think it would be better to use the "Conspyramid" structure described in Night's Black Agents. (Using the narrative version they suggest later in that manual). In this approach I know a specific grand finale conflict/scene where the players will have to stop a certain GM action. Below that are a spreading web of either actors or locations that have logical arrows showing which is connected to which. At the very bottom there are the local plot hooks, minor conflicts or problems that might draw the players into the story.

    The idea in NBA is to get the players to trace out the structure of the story based on their own investigations. The goal is to have them find some lower element of the pyramid, and then discover the connections up, sideways and potentially back down the pyramid, trying to figure out what the heck is going on. (In that game the ST even provides red yarn, pictures, and a cork board for the players to brainstorm on the conspiracy). The pyramid structure also provides narrative suggestions since if the players attack something on level N in the structure, there are logical consequences for who or what will respond to that action.

    This will require a bit more work on my part, but it brings a much better dynamic to the game. The structure will give me an indication of how agents of the GM will respond, and give a lot more opportunity for non-combat abilities to come into play.

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  • Vent0
    replied
    They can and do - they would be close to Falling, but Demons have to come from somewhere.

    That actually makes it a bit more interesting - a villainous Vampire is largely an a-hole you need to dust. But a villainous Angel? You could destroy them... or you could provoke them into Falling. Both remove the threat, but the later offers the additional drama of - what do you do when they are now nominally on "your side"? Leave them to face their former peers? Or turn your opponent to your cause?
    Last edited by Vent0; 12-15-2018, 05:12 PM.

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  • KieranMullen
    replied
    Originally posted by Vent0 View Post
    Player Characters exist in the world, right? Their Aspirations will give you hints as to their motivations, and their Cover's close associates will be other treads you can pull on. Involve both in the Plot, and you can rope them into it at any point.
    You're right of course. I can only incorporate the players' motivations when the players have fleshed out their characters. But as I've thought about this I can see that there is a narrative problem. How do you make an Angel a villain?

    I can make an Angel that the players fear because she's too strong. I can make an Angel with whom the players are angry because he killed their dog or erased their kid. But I am not sure how to have an Angel evoke that sense of personal vendetta and animosity that a good villain can evoke. Because with an Angel, it's not personal. They don't break a character's legs just to make them crawl. They're just executing instructions.

    I can see how a vampire or werewolf or mage another demon might be an arch-villain. But I'm not sure how to evoke the same emotional response from players with an Angel/GM driven plot.

    I suspect that I need to re-think higher rank Angels. Perhaps they have more free-will and independence. Perhaps an angel can choose to execute their orders in a variety of ways and some enjoy choosing a darker path....

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  • Vent0
    replied
    Player Characters exist in the world, right? Their Aspirations will give you hints as to their motivations, and their Cover's close associates will be other treads you can pull on. Involve both in the Plot, and you can rope them into it at any point.

    Leave a comment:


  • KieranMullen
    replied
    Okay, I am fleshing out the story that I alluded to above (set near the Huge Honking Infrastructure). The idea is that the players find a Town With A Terrible Secret, hiding a farm with Infrastructure to create Resource A, that is being taken to Refining Infrastructure B, and then used at Occult Site C to accomplish a GM goal that (as a by-product) would cause a natural disaster killing tens of thousands of people and costing billions if it succeeds. So, I have descriptions of the Town, the Farm, the Refinery, the Site....

    But is this railroading? The plot assumes that the players will follow it. In D&D terms this is a no-brainer - modules are very goal-oriented. However CoD is supposed to be more character driven. Does stories like this work well in the CoD dynamics in general and in DtD in particular? Do your games follow connect-a-dot plots?

    Leave a comment:

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