Narrative Control – Episode 76 – Talking Torches

Hi, welcome back to the show. This week I’m talking torches with Shaun Hayworth, Josh Curtis, and David Gallo. We discussed GMing and playing Torchbearer!

Host: Sean Nittner

Guest: Shaun Hayworth, Josh Curtis, and David Gallo

Length: 1:35:16

[00:23] Intro to the show
[01:36] Introducing the guests: Shaun Hayworth, Josh Curtis, and David Gallo
[03:48] Keeping suspense in the game. Setting player expectations to expect and enjoy the grind.
[09:40] The system is definitely a <em>game</em>. Keeping focus on fiction instead of the mechanics are driving play.
[15:27] Signal to the GM that stakes aren’t high enough? Bigger rewards, more consequential actions.
[17:03] Counterpoint. Putting constant pressure on the characters prevents the players from exploring other options (camp, town, pursuing belifs/goals). Deciding on how hard to push.
[21:23] Reluctance to back down. Player skill to recognize when it’s time to cut losses and run? GM and Player skill.
[27:38] Torchbearer teaches you how to play it, but there are some growing pains. Signpost things of significance.
[29:29] How beliefs function in Torchbearer, compared to Burning Wheel. Beliefs as signals to the GM, and as aspirations for a better life.
[37:22] Tracking moving parts (Conditions, Light, Turns, etc.) Gaining mastery over time. Comparing playing in person vs. online.
[41:08] Role of party leader. Doling out tasks (and conditions) to the other characters and giving the GM some time off as the players discuss their options among themselves.
[47:47] Resource management for the GM. Tracking light, tests, etc.
[49:19] Managing real estate on the table (players deck cards, fate/persona/loot/checks tokens), dice, character sheet, etc.
[52:53] Tokens for check to signal to the GM when they have/need checks. Finding locations for check and setting Ob levels accordingly. Tokens in person, Roll20 online, etc.
[55:04] Pacing, when to use make test, a conflict, and when to continue pushing forward with narration.
[1:03:22] Another conflict litmus test, applying a broader scope of consequences. Using conflicts when that granularity is needed.
[1:04:26] Burning Wheel HQ games and Apocalypse World (and hacks) both direct you to keep having the conversation of what happens until the fiction demands you go to the dice.
[1:05:49] The game atmosphere is heavily curated by the GM. The more energy you put into describing the world and talking about what happens in the fiction, the more invested the players become in the fiction. Don’t be a tired, lazy GM!
[1:11:02] It takes time to learn the game. Give that time for people to learn.
[1:15:06] Keeping the fiction in front during conflict (where mechanical choices are made before the fiction is described).
[1:24:02] The skills I want to see players develop are based on patterns in the fiction instead of a mechanics to engage. Learning strategy in the fiction by asking over and over “What do you do?” Good idea!
[1:28:59] Best twists come from following the player’s lead. Knowing that they are doing makes it easy figure out what could go wrong.
[1:30:07] Miscellany – Final thoughts. 2D cash dice right here!

Direct download: NC_Episode_076.mp3