Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › City of Dreams (Remember Tomorrow)

City of Dreams (Remember Tomorrow)

Sam Kabo A.
user 30231972
Seattle, WA
Post #: 90
A swords-and-sorcery version of RT. The corrupt, venal City of Dreams lies on the coast between a pirate-harrowed sea and a barbarian steppe.

Characters:

Decimus: (Seth) (Sorceror/knowledge). A foreign wizard on a quest for the arcane knowledge hidden in the Scroll of Abbadon.

Norga the Vulture (Sam) (Barbarian/pride). The Grishnak clan were all captured and sold into slavery, and Norga is the only free Grishnak (she was serving her apprenticeship among the Noscene Pirates). She hungers to see the City humbled.

Bonesplitter: (Steve) (Barbarian/envy). A barbarian who wanted to become civilised - and not just civilised, but

Alistair Silverblade (Seth) Noble/freedom. Youngest son of the Third House, he just wanted to escape the political career his family had lined up for him. And maybe get into a tavern.

Usthir the Acolyte (Ben) Seer/freedom. Rich and comfortable from a brilliant career telling fortunes to the nobility, Usthir has had a Great Revelation: in order for the city to survive, the nobility must intermarry with the barbarian clans.

Kestrel Sharp (Sam) (Rogue/lust): Burglar and wine-shop ladies' man was once picked up by the noble Lady Virix, and lost his black heart. He will win her love or die trying.

Factions

The City of Dreams (noble house/lust). Specifically its nobles, divided into seven (later eight) great Houses. Depraved, corrupt, very good at intrigue and always thinking about how to expand their harems.

Daughters of the Word (priesthood/power): the closest thing the City has to a respectable religion, very big on conversions and on having lots and lots of rules.

The Hand Harvest (secret society/greed): an illegal underground gladiator ring. (But not very underground. All the important people attend.) They like exotic, unfair, crowd-pleasing stuff. ("Two midgets fight a basilisk.")

The Noscene Pirates (warband/pride): ferocious raiders and conquerors. Piratey.

The OBA Blood Magi (circle of magi/survival): a really underground bunch of vampire-wannabes, blood-fetishists and assorted creepbags. Believe the blood of virgins and nobility will bring them power. Not very subtle about it. Shockingly, they are hunted without mercy.

The character who got the most advancement was Bonesplitter, who after an interrupted hookup with Lady Virix was patronised by the Seventh House and made to fight in the Hand Harvest. Here he adopted the persona of the Seventh House's founder, a semi-mythical hero, and won massive popularity. The Daughters of the Word, who were kind of super-racist, sent an undercover priestess, Sister Asa, to seduce and ruin him - but she fell in love with him instead, revealed her mission, and married him to found the Eighth House.

Norga also had a pretty cool arc despite horribly failing: imprisoned by the city guard, she was visited in prison by a Daughters priestess intent on conversion: drugged by the priestess, she went berserk and escaped in priestess robes... but in the hallucinatory state, was converted to her very own, weirdly-interpreted version of the Word. Later, she was caught up in a Noscene pirate-raid, and challenged the pirate king, the dwarf (Tyrion, not Thorin-style) Etri the Stunted, to single combat for the pirate throne. Etri, an old friend from her training days, demanded that she marry him if she lost. Disarmed by his chain-flail, she could have killed him with a hidden dagger - but couldn't kill her old friend, and chose instead to marry him and put her revenge on hold.

Decimus couldn't catch a break, honestly; at every turn the Seventh House wound up getting more control over him. He got stuck translating esoteric pornography under threat of death, managed to escape with the help of the Hand Harvest for a little while, but then tried to cut a deal and got tied down to the even more unsavoury task of cursing the Seventh's political enemies.

Alistair... oh, god, Alistair. Poor kid. He got kidnapped by pirates, and failed to prevent them from ransoming him back to his family rather than letting him join them. He got jumped by blood magi, heroically slew them, but got only minimal advantage from it. He went for help to Lady Virix, who planned to arrange a dynastic marriage for him.

Usthir... got threatened and cursed and generally shoved about by nobles and priestesses. At length he managed to rescue Rhiannon, enslaved heiress of a barbarian clan, from the clutches of the Blood Magi and place her for safekeeping with the Noscene Pirates, against the fated day when she would marry into City nobility.

Overall I had a damn fine time with this: the swords-and-sorcery tendency to go big, lurid and tropey made for some big over-the-top play. (Helped a lot that I'd read <i>The Lies of Locke Lamora</i> and <i>Colours in the Steel</i> recently.)

So I suppose the idea of RT is that the factions are generally going to have the edge over characters - because each success in character-creation effectively means *three* points for a faction, to a characters' one. And factions always at least break even out of deals. So it felt to me as though getting only one successful character was kind of the right result, and being willing and able to make a character's failure interesting is kind of key. Aside from cyberpunk, it feels very much like a system designed for brutal worlds, where stakes are high, life is cheap, dreams are usually destroyed and there is no reliable central authority - Hollywood noir, Gold Rush town, late Republic/early imperial Rome, postapocalypse.
Ben R
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 519
I think Usthir was a bad choice, in hindsight. Too civilized for the murderous City of Dreams. But I really liked how it all came together in the end, challenging Norga (now of the pirate faction) to shelter the unfortunate barbarian princess but hiding from her that it would save the city. It also tied quite neatly into Bonesplitter’s success, since his whole story was about a barbarian making it good and joining the nobles.

And Alistair… oh Alistair. Most adorable swords & sorcery hero evar. Was it just me or was anyone else expecting Lady Virix to find him a date for the prom?

she could have killed him with a hidden dagger - but couldn't kill her old friend, and chose instead to marry him and put her revenge on hold
That was extremely cool. I think it highlights the strength of the “loser narrates for the winner” method (an idea that carries back to even older games like Trollbabe, but probably doesn’t get used enough), which is that the player is always the best person to sympathetically describe their own character getting beaten. Far more fun than having someone else tell you about awful things happening to your hero.

Yeah, cutting deals with factions is bad for *everyone*. No one ever did it, but you can spend successes to injure the faction you are up against. That can be very useful particularly if they are positioned as a group you expect to fight a lot.


Two rules mistakes:

One rule I totally forgot: when a character wins their goal (like Bonesplitter) they get to roll and use the successes to injure factions. Which is a sweet victory lap.

Also, in the original (more complex version) factions can’t increase influence (their one stat) during Intro scenes. They can do other stuff that adds bonuses later. We originally played with no stat being raised more than one in a scene (for anybody) — we should probably go back to that, which would apply to factions as well. So they’d come it at 5 at best after the intro. Still tougher than the original rules, but not as bad as a 6 or 7.

I need to adjust and compile our changes and add them back into the Remember Tomorrow rules hack thread, but I’m thinking of some other tweaks. I’ll post them in here in a bit because I want to see what you guys think and get input from anyone else who’s played RT.
Sam Kabo A.
user 30231972
Seattle, WA
Post #: 91
Yeah, I think that both Usthir and Decimus struggled a bit in their early scenes due to not being naturally get-your-hands-dirty kinds of characters. Part of it was that we weren't always great at framing scenes as antagonists, either - we had a lot of scenes of the form 'a representative of the faction shows up and issues a warning,' which tends not to have much potential to move the plot forwards. Maybe it'd help if the antagonist had a little more information about what the character was doing in general to advance their goal, so that the antagonist could expand on that as a preamble to the faction's involvement?

"What are you working on in general? How?"

"Ludovico's trying to break out of jail. He's kind of a physical guy more than a schemer, so probably something daring and athletic."

"Okay. It's a moonless night. Ludovico has stolen enough bedsheets to make a rope, and he's making it down the side of the building. Just when he's stepped off the side, he realises that the four currently-unimprisoned members of the Esperanza Gang are gathered at the wall's foot, and wishes he hadn't shared his plans with quite so many fellow-inmates..."
Ben R
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 520
Maybe it'd help if the antagonist had a little more information about what the character was doing in general to advance their goal, so that the antagonist could expand on that as a preamble to the faction's involvement?
That's exactly right. The Intro scene is supposed to set the character in motion and show their story goal and how they're approaching it. And before any conflict scene, instead of just unilaterally framing a scene, the antagonist is encouraged to have a dialog with the hero about what they've been doing, take into account what they did last, etc.

I think we leaned too much towards the antagonist narrating what the hero had been doing up to that point, instead of asking. I suspect it's a natural mistake since when you're the antagonist it's *your* turn, so you expect to frame.
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