FEEDBACK WANTED! - A Horde of Problems

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Chit
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FEEDBACK WANTED! - A Horde of Problems

#1 Post by Chit » Sun Jul 12, 2020 10:53 am

Did you come to the A Horde of Problems event? We want your feedback!

This event was designed and run by our guest Host Charlie Atree with the able assistance of two guest Cultists - and they would love to know what you thought of the event. What worked for you? What was the down side? Any suggestion for tweaking or refining the approach for next time?

Please post below.

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Re: FEEDBACK WANTED! - A Horde of Problems

#2 Post by Chit » Sun Jul 12, 2020 11:54 am

My own feedback on this event - I really enjoyed it, found it interesting and eventful and at times hilarious (Ana rolling a 3 followed by an 11 on an attempt to leap from a bush onto a cultist gets caught in the bush, tries to fight her way out of the bush - and only exits the bush on the cultist unleashing a powerful blast of energy (Ana rolls...15) - which blows her back out of the bush). (Rolls probably wrong - but you get the idea!)

What did I particularly enjoy about it?

Sense of place - I liked that we were attacked on three separate occasions, in 3 separate places, with three very different fights. Each location was very different. A bare hillside below a Horde outpost; inside a ruined Horde outpost. The final location, an altar on a floating rock far above the ground over a purple energy spurting eruption was amazing. And I loved that Nomine managed to work his way through the floating rocks up to the altar by grappling hook - I didn't think this was possible! And it was by far the best use of the grappling hook that I've ever seen in any event.
Variety of encounter - Attacked by an orc in a shredder among skirmishing groups of battling locals, a powerful lone cultist killing orcs in the destroyed outpost, three cultists conducting a ritual on a floating rock and turning into energy beings courtesy of the item we were after. Finally defeated by the whole remaining group (helped by a 99 roll from Ana - finally! revenge!) and a total shafting by Nomine with his Molten Fist while the cultists focused on Tikal and Ana and Wilsby. And becoming Just Desserts, eaten by a shadow-blinded Ana and Rrath her dragon.
The Object of Desire - The Black Blade, described as the blade of a knife without its haft, the air distorted around its edges as if light was being sucked into the blade - such a great description and of course Nomine immediately decides this is not just going to be meekly handed over to the Client... I feel a story coming on...
Well-lead Starlight mission - having Nomine freed up to take his natural role results in things like having a plan of attack and good communications, healers alerted to the sick, we didn't miss the orc sending out patrols, instead a diversion attracted people away from the group while we dealt with the sick.
The role play - aside from Ana-in-the-bush, there were lovely moments like Tikal dropping onto the shredder just as it went up in flames from leaking oil ignited by Devvy's torch and Nomine's flamethrower. Ava always with a touch of pragmatism not wanting to risk certain death and wondering if she is being paid enough. Wilsby's unique healing ways and using tendrils to tie down a cultist. Philias astride his trusty Feathers - who got wounded AGAIN - getting blasted out of the air by cultists way up on their rock. And the cultist rp was stunning - really good characterisation of three very different characters - you really felt good when they finally got theirs!
The Tracker - OK of course I liked this because it was my piece of the action. I loved the thought of Chit dragged along on a runaway snowmobile. Plans for sneaking through the wood being disrupted by starting to move downhill and getting dragged faster and faster til she is crashing down the hill in plain view - and unable to fight due to having both hands fully occupied. The best laid plans... In retrospect, it was so unfair to the organisers to move in such a chaotic and rapid pace right at the start, but you reacted so fast and Chit practically ran into the Shredder at the bottom of the hill. From the Tracker point of view - I was provided ahead of time with a Tracker map showing where the Tracker would point - and this preparation was really helpful for smooth communication. At one point a misunderstanding was quickly correctly before a mistake was made. It also made the role of using the Tracker much less stressful.

What could be tweaked?

Wear and tear on the organising team - With multiple roles in a free-for-all fight, it is really hard to keep track of what is going on and respond to everything. I thought this was heroically well-managed - I especially admired the emotes which responded to multiple attacks at the same time. Also SL were good at extemporising in rp if something they'd done had occasionally been missed - like Devvy nudging her torch flame closer to the pool of oil - which was then picked up in the next emote. But I was concerned that this was a really hard work event that must have taken a huge amount of energy from the guest team. Thus is something we can maybe work on, to find a SL+allies rolling approach that minimises strain on the DM. On the plus side - this effort on the GM team's part gave an amazing fight experience!
Timing The event probably ran too long. In retrospect, in an evening event we might only be able to do a 2-fight event. Healing and regrouping takes time to rp. When people have really low rolls, it can take half an hour to regroup. Plus ideally there would be time afterwards to rp healing and reactions to finding the item. This probably means that in an evening the maximum we can handle is two encounters, or one sneaking mission and a final encounter, or an attack and transport of prisoners or spoils. Sadly we lost several people before the end of a great event. Maybe if we want to do a longer event it can be split into 2 events, or even become an afternoon event. I like the idea Nomine has sometimes used; of an event in 2 or 3 acts, where there is a 5-minute regroup (and bio break opportunity) between acts. It would be interesting to know which bits took longer than the GMs expected, and which bits less long?
Small vs large group Some people much prefer small group rp - for example, Eritis and Syrawenn can struggle with many voices and prefer small group rp best. It might be worth looking at a structure which creates space for this rp. Good examples recently were 1-hour sessions to go interview the Librarian for information, or win a document through a card game, or take a briefing for a client, or keep a watch on an area and report back. So the question to ask is - How could small group rp help the story along?

A Horde of Problems was a very memorable event which I thoroughly enjoyed - thank you very much for organising this for us! It was a resounding success as a first trial of this kind of event!

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Re: FEEDBACK WANTED! - A Horde of Problems

#3 Post by Salsaberry » Sun Jul 12, 2020 3:13 pm

My feedback for the event. (I had to leave after the death of the cultist.)

What I liked:

- I enjoyed the setting of Twilight Highlands, I feel that it was a nice place to have an event like this, even if the zone itself is quite large. It allowed a lot of player freedom and movement, and I feel it fit the theme of the event well.

- I particularly liked that we were given freedom to orchestrate our own attacks and consequences without following a strict procedure. I also liked the liberal utilisation of rolls during the event.

- There was a clear end goal in sight.

- I liked the variety of enemies we fought, including shredders, orcs and cultists. I particularly enjoyed the characterisation of the cultist, whom of which (despite it being voided due to fair misunderstandings) showed obvious pain at the attacks he suffered.



What I think could be improved:

- Rules: I think the rules could have been brought up at the very start of the event, as I found myself confused at certain points during the event. I didn't realise that the orc shredder was in there in character as I thought it was just a loller hanging about our event. Attack and defending roll structures could have also been explained beforehand.

- Raid Warnings: I think that raid warnings should have been used more during the event, specifically after the orc shredder encounter when the orcs were hunting the group down. I feel that more context could have been given to everyone during the encounter.

- Rolls: One thing I found particularly on the down side was the structure of attacking and defending with rolls. While I mentioned earlier that I did enjoy the liberal use of them, I feel that everyone should have made an attack / defending emote before writing the next raid warning, as I found that multiple of my emotes were blanked.


Overall I rather enjoyed the event for the time I was there, so good job with making an engaging event! I hope my points aren't too harsh and that you improve for next time!

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Re: FEEDBACK WANTED! - A Horde of Problems

#4 Post by Nomine » Sun Jul 12, 2020 5:22 pm

A few thoughts and much good things was mentioned before.

The tracker as a "forced" mover was very good way to push the event forward and use the area well. Even if it meant that the event was more railroaded than most are (which I do not think is bad. An event can be experiential or character driven, either works well.)
It also meant that people needed to deal with the speed, rather than the usual slow moving pace across a terrain which was needed for this event.

Good use of location and the story fit the location - which is something I always appreciate, few things are better for immersion than having your visual and story match. Fewer things we need to ignore. (I also noticed that we do not actually know if we took out the "master" or just henchmen.)

Mechanics
I am very much ok with almost any sort of system, D100 or D20s are easy to grasp -intuitive, and I like that things are kept simple and don´t come in the way for roleplay. But for them to work and feel fair - I think target values needs to be established before people roll. Otherwise it can easily feel like the GM makes up their mind after seeing what people rolled.
When we switch to playing vs played NPCs it is also important to establish what the rules are: Successful hits vs a target value, highest roll? etc.
I appreciated that the fights where short, which a plus in my book. (Vampire suggesting no more than 3 exchanges in a single combat, which I think is a good principle).

Here there was some risks with target values vs number of healers we had, which is not something I think a GM can fully prepare for. Healing like value of a gold coin is a tricky business. Even when there is many healers there, it is hard to know what speed people prefer to heal at.

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Re: FEEDBACK WANTED! - A Horde of Problems

#5 Post by Chit » Sun Jul 12, 2020 6:19 pm

Nomine - I am not sure what you meant by
"When we switch to playing vs played NPCs it is also important to establish what the rules are: Successful hits vs a target value, highest roll? etc."
Could you explain?

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Re: FEEDBACK WANTED! - A Horde of Problems

#6 Post by Nomine » Sun Jul 12, 2020 6:32 pm

@Chit - That is precisely it, if you do not explain what the rules are - one thing is to say that dice rolls will be used, and it will be rolling of percentage dice. Unless you have established how a roll should be read - you slow down an encounter having to deal with confusion and different ideas of what dice means. The Gm got to explain much more - and as we saw in the fight against the last 3 NPCs there was suddenly two different ideas of how the combat should be run: E.g. roll vs a target number or opposed rolls: E.g. the highest roller wins in player vs NPC. Both ideas of roll mechanics where used in the final fight.


Ask for roll and mention target number in the same sentence. Always, every single time a roll is asked for. That is true regardless of which system is being used, D100, D20, Simple System.
If there for any reason is a change to how a mechanic will be used, always - make the change clear before asking for the first roll.
So in the last NPC fight - as there was not a target number clearly communicated and the players roll against another played character - you end up with people trying to figure it out on their own, while looking at the rolls of others and trying to guess what they are using. It slows down an encounter and there is an inherent risk of making it unfair for the group as a whole.

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Re: FEEDBACK WANTED! - A Horde of Problems

#7 Post by Anadelonbrin » Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:39 am

First off, thank you so much for hosting/GMing/NPCing this!

<3

I had a great time and can only imagine the amount of planning and preparation that went into this.

Enemies

Shredder orc
In one of my pen and paper RP groups, we've talked a lot about how to balance hostile NPCs. When you have a party of skilled fighters, it's tricky to create enemies that are challenging. They will easily fall either into the ditch of cannon fodder or on the other side of the road, godlike and indestructible. So put this large a group of Starlighters in front of a single orc? Yeah, cannon fodder or ridiculous. But you solved it by putting the orc in a friggin mecha suit! It changed the tactics and made it a good challenge. Also, props for having an actual Horde orc there for it. I can only imagine how much that complicated GMing, but for me, it really added to the immersion, particularly to not have the player in the raid with us. That we were informed to take the Elixir of Tongues made it clear for me upon arrival that the orc was part of the event.

Lone cultist
In terms of challenge rating, a single cultist is generally easily dispatched. However, you set the scene to show that this one was no joke by having the ground littered with orc corpses. Clearly a threat to take seriously. The missed heart eating emote actually made it more interesting. How the bastard kept talking set off a soundtrack of ♪ "Why won't you just DIE MOTHERFUCKER DIE MOTHERFUCKER DIE!?" ♫

End battle
The setting was gorgeous, the emotes amazing, the coordination was glorious. It was a really immersive scene. Hats off!

Environment

The inky black potion had a really great effect in this particular area. It helped well with the mood. The area itself was wonderful for this kind of event. I find it very helpful to have a WYSIWYG* environment as I have a hard enough time keeping up with chat without also having to consider imaginary NPCs etc. Raid markers are very useful for that.

The tracker

There are times when travel takes up so much time in an event that it either drags out too long or the action bits get rushed. While travel certainly has a function in a story, it's not the main focus (unless the event is actually about travelling). Having the starting point where it was and the tracker to move us along was a great way to avoid the general cat herding issue of moving a group of people from one place to the next in a timely manner.

Potential for improvement

System
As others have stated, the rules for rolls were unclear. I rolled to attack before writing emotes so that I'd know how to write them, but I was unsure whether I would hit or miss, whether I should just write what I wanted to attempt or write the result of the attempt. Since so many of my rolls were low enough that they had no chance of being successful on any sort of scale, I could confidently type out my failings, but it would have been nice to have the same confidence for potentially successful emotes as well.

With the shredder, I didn't even write my attack emote, just rolled and got the result in the orc's reaction. This made me think I shouldn't write attack emotes, but in hindsight, I reckon it was more a result of the poor orc player trying to keep track of a sea of emotes.

I realised afterwards that this was something I should have asked about at the first sign of confusion.

Rolls in general are a bit complicated. Straight up rolls with no modifiers mean that seasoned fighters in their prime in full armour, frail old people with zimmerframes and rosy cheeked children in diapers have technically the same chance of success or failure. Modifying rolls is a can of worms in itself. No system is going to be perfect.

I don't mind that I got bad rolls. Generally, bad rolls make for more interesting RP. It's no fun if there's no risk involved. And with the way I was rolling, no amount of modifiers would have saved Ana from herself! :lol: (Cursed bush! How dare it!?) But what would have been helpful is to have a rules breakdown at the start and clear guidelines for what's a success and what's failure for all the rolls, i.e. "Roll to avoid, if you roll below 50, you get hit."

Phasing
While the area was great, phasing did complicate things a bit. It's a tricky thing with phasing, but one way to solve it could have been to put up some OOC event notes to let people know which quests to do beforehand, as we had about a week to prepare and most quests are quick to complete with flying + lower level area.


___
* What You See Is What You Get - The idea that what you see on the screen is what you'll get when you print it, the virtual closely resembling the physical. In the case of RP, if you see something on your screen, like a mob or a building, it's there IC.

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Re: FEEDBACK WANTED! - A Horde of Problems

#8 Post by Eritis » Mon Jul 13, 2020 9:40 am

I had to dip out quite early since I was feeling pretty out of it but from what I saw, I have to agree with Nomine.
Rules need to be set.
Especially seeing as Starlight has pretty much a set list of rules, it is incredibly confusing when you randomly get stuff thrown at you and don't have the time to process it or try to understand it.
Also just all actions and rolls being at once, which I get might be preferable for some people but it is a surefire way to have emotes be missed and making the opportunity for people to zone out since there are long waits between actions most of the times.
Additionally, I felt like at least from the one fight/part of the event I was part of, no idea if it got better later, that the target values were unforgiving.
Needing a 65 out of 100 to not get hit by rockets, which logically speaking would most likely immediately knock your character out if they got hit by them?
Mix it in with the values only being told afterwards and it totally felt like they just wanted to make drama and injuries happen early on.
It also was quite confusing that we got told to drink the Inky Black Potions and to keep the Elixer of Tongues for later... and then 5 minutes later I miss several emotes and says because I wasn't told to drink the potion and it was incredibly easy to just assume the shredder to be a random person who just sat there.

Loved the idea and concept of it all but the execution was entirely lost on me.

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