Saturday, June 16, 2018

Questions for Player Feedback/Establishment of Shared Setting + Three Player's Responces

Something that worries me as a referee is that how I perceive my games is different from how my players perceive my games. If I am unable to communicate my "vision" of the setting then there is a chance that the players will be confused and unable to play "correctly". I've written about difference in perceived settings before, and these are the questions I have been asking my players about my games. I usually ask these after like 4-5 sessions and try to adjust my descriptions afterwards to try and better match my vision of the setting.

If you want to use these questions simply replace "Valiant" with the name of your setting.

1. How would you describe the Valiant Setting?
2. How do you visualize Valiant in general?
3. How do you see the NPC's
4. How do you see the villages/towns/cities?
5. How do you see the wilderness?
6. How do you see the dungeons?
7. How do you see the monsters?
8. Any media come to mind that is similar to Valiant for you?
9. If you were gonna describe Valiant to a person who was interested and wanted to know more what would you say about the setting/theme/aesthetics?
10. What genre would you say Valiant is?
11. What is the most memorable image or encounter in Valiant?
12. Do any locations visually stand out to you?

Art for an old Dungeon of mine


Player 1

1) the Valiant setting is more-and-more like some kind of proto-HP Lovecraft setting, with a hint of Slavic. In 400 years Lovecraft-ski would be digging up ruins and writing about this place and it's creepy cults and monsters.

2)At first Valiant was standard Adventure stuff, with open, sweeping vistas. After those fungus monsters though, it's suddenly a lot more overcast and gloomy!

3) The Npcs... Same kinda difference with the towns, actually. At the wedding they were great chums, the Jarl was sagely, and the cultists where creepy. It varies too much from place to place for me to pin it down, but I will say the NPCs strike me as being way more unpredictable for some odd reason. As in, it's like one of those horror films where the town is udner a cult, and they act all weird and distant, but you're waiting for the other shoe to drop and for them to go psycho

4) I don't think I've spent enough time in the towns to properly visualize them. Sometimes I see them as muddy Hovels, a la "Monty Python's Holy Grail," Other times it's like a happy Rennaissance fair with the wedding, then it's like Skyrim. Hard to pin it all down just yet, but I'll keep on thinking about it!

5) Wilderness is consistently forlorn at least. It's always dangerous, misty, and creepy. That was well established and reinforced. Terrific job there!

6) Dungeons are always just fun to go through. There’s been a lot to them and we’ve gotten some good chances to stop, catch our breath, retreat and return and explore them all. I think it’s a great sign that I’m always down to see where each dungeon goes to

7) the monsters are Lovecraft Monsters if given Russian names basically (which I take it comes from your Ukrainian background! So I guess that’s “Ukrainian names” not “Russian Names,” but.. well, you get what I’m saying!). Like the Kuvuklaks or whatever they were called? I’m not huge on Lovecraft himself, actually, but the flying fungus horse is straight out of my conception of him!
8) I can’t say yet, I haven’t played this game enough. I guess ”Lovecraft mixed with Skyrim mixed with... Hellboy? This issues where Hellboy fights Yaga Baba or whatever her name was?”
9) if honestly emphasize the mechanics over the setting. I only played one other /tg/ game, which was pathfinder, and this game is so much more graceful and intuitive and faster than that games ever was, which I attribute to the mechanics. IF I was to talk about the setting, I’d mention the creepy proto-Lovecraft factor again

10. What genre would you say valiant is? Hate to go back to the Lovecraft Well, but that comes to mind. throw in a bit of an adventure... Maybe a little more of a dark comedy. I can see how, with a really serious group of players, this could be downright depressing. With our group, at least for the moment, I think it's kinda profound -- it's, like, it could be viewed as an interesting portrait of characters using humor to cope with the circumstances! This is a dark, DARK world, and the fact that the characters we're playing are having a hoot in it... it's, well, interesting is a safe word to use! Needless to say, now that our shit's getting kicked in, that may change, but for now, I think it's kinda heartwarming 11. What is the most memorable image or encounter in valiant? I'm gonna go with the first dungeon, where BV gagged the cultist with a stick and tried to creep on him. That's when I knew what sort of a game we were getting into. The other Pathfinder game I played was dead boring, and there were only two moment from that game where the characters really came alive and the situations got fun. The fact that this happened right from the GO was a great sign to me. 12. Any locations visually stand out to you? Kek. Not really, sorry! I see either the white website we use with cute stick-figures OR a pastiche of screencaps from the Skyrim trailer. I guess the wedding stands out as a fun location, but that had way more to do with the characters than the setting's visuals, by far! I will say that, after giving it a though, I think the cult room with the charnel pit and the weird Peridot Obelisk stand out, but I still want to say that the Visuals are about the last thing I'm focusing on. I'm way more into the fun interactions between the characters!

*The mechanics he is talking about are here

Player 2

1) Practical fantasy, which leans more towards low. Tech where it exists is scarce and mysterious, and the fact that players have no real idea about its purpose or origin is great.

2) How do you visualize Valiant?
Feels like I'm wandering around in wild parts of Scotland or Ireland with some of that good old Viking charm. There's a good balance between religion, magic and steel on steel. Very comfy, but not without intrigue such as what the purpose and origin of the zeppelin was that we encountered not so long ago.

3) How do you see the NPC's
Bless those poor men and women for dealing with our party, but I love that there's a few NPCs out there who seem to be just as dumb as we are. A little bit Byzantine inspired, a little bit Norse. Not really looking for saviours to come and rescue them from every little trouble and not willing to bow at the feet of those who bring it with them.

4) How do you see the Towns?
To make a comparison to obvious fantasy sources, larger towns kind of remind me of a slightly Gothic influenced Esgaroth (albeit with obvious signs of an overarching religion in ye olde Eastern-Orthodox Christianity style). Smaller settlements are a little more of a cross between Edoras and Nashkel.

5) How do you see the wilderness?
The roads are safer than traversing actual wilds, though they're not without their difficulties as the floating spore cloud proved. The wilderness itself seems like it's eager to encroach on human life, or to make you regret entering their own turf. It absolutely pays to be prepared.

6) How do you see the dungeons?
Places with actual uses to certain groups of people, rather than just some nonsensical Ayleid ruin which you'd find in Oblivion. Trapping an ancient evil? Cool. Out of the way complex where people won't be persecuted for cult worship? Also cool.

7) How do you see the monsters?
If you're unprepared or otherwise unlucky, tactical retreat is absolutely a viable and sometimes necessary option. There's no feeling that the player characters are overpowered in this, or that you can walk into a situation with confidence you'll make it through with all your fleshy bits in the right place. The tension you feel in those encounters makes them far more memorable than your run of the mill battle against kobolds.

8) Any media come to mind that is super similar to valiant for you?
I wouldn't say any one thing is wildly similar, I get a few magical and tech elements from Thief, supernatural leanings from some of the fun bits of Grimm's Fairy Tales, good old fighting like you want in fun games like Dark Messiah or Mount & Blade, etc. It's all shaken up enough that I actually had to put thought into comparisons though.

9) If you were gonna describe valiant to a person who was interested and wanted to know more what would you say about the setting/theme/aesthetics?
Do you enjoy coming up with plans to defraud a land of mostly honest people via compulsive lying? Or trying to convince someone that doing so is probably immoral and would cause issues for you later down the line? This is 10/10 for doing so. Or more generally, If you enjoy tense encounters in dark holes where things are likely to take a turn for the worse, where your light is low and your comrades are wounded but there's no ridiculous cloudkill spell to save you... good luck. You may just need it.

10) What genre would you say valiant is?
Low fantasy with an underlying sense of horror lurking in wait.

11) What is the most memorable image or encounter in valiant?
The Avatar of Kull Varld still feels fresh, however the dumb Jarl of New Rind and his longsuffering aide really made me laugh. What a guy.
12) Any locations visually stand out to you?
New Rind is great so far - I love areas with huge towers, massive pennants and arenas. It's one of those places where you can tell at a glance what that place is all about. The three massive toads were also a good source of comedy.

Player 3

1) A fantasy setting mostly inspired by medieval Eastern Europe with some Scandinavian influences and some horror elements.

2-4) I visualise Valiant a lot like the world in The Witcher 3. A lot of open fields, moors and woodlands. Here and there a few villages that look more like hovels and towns that have a bit more going on in terms of activity and size. All of them are relatively small and somewhat dirty towns with poor infrastructure that still does its job.
Same with the NPC’s; relatively poor commoners who live a simple life, while characters like the jarl live a more luxurious life in more extravagant houses. With extravagant in this context meaning that they’ve got a few paintings or weapons hanging from the walls, not that everything is full of gold. Again, a lot like it’s portrayed in The Witcher.

5) The forests I see as untamed with at best small muddy roads as the best way of travel. They’re eerie, dark, and quiet but it being winter currently they’re not all that dense. I see it a bit like the forest in the very first scene of Game of Thrones.
Outside of forests I’m thinking of more open fields of woodlands, with more low shrubbery instead of trees.

6) Somewhat stereotypical in its fantasy design. Ruins of long deserted dark hallways full of spiderwebs, dirt and rubble. With the most recent dungeon that we entered having damp walls and ceilings and being full of fungus.
7) For the most part very much like real life animals, just with some kind of “horror” twist to them. Like a normal bear, but with a human head with snakes for eyes on top of it. Or normal spiders just way bigger and more dangerous. So while I clearly see them as fantasy monsters, I mostly see them as a mutated version of big real life animals.
The exception here being the flying tentacle monster, which leaned much more heavily on the horror aspect without having any familiar real life animal attached to it. It set it apart as somewhat otherworldly, or maybe as something Lovecraftian.

8) The Witcher

9) I’d tell them to think of The Witcher with more horror elements. And also with a bigger focus on religions and cults than you’d find in The Witcher. A religion that, just like a lot of the setting, seems to be inspired by medieval Eastern Europe.

10) A mix of things really. It’s mostly low-fantasy but it certainly has moments that would also make it fit in the horror genre. We’ve even seen a glimpse of what seems like steampunk with the airship.
11) Probably the encounter with the giant spiders. Mostly because of how tense it was and how close to dying we got. It also made for some good character interactions that continued to play a role later on. Like being afraid of spiders, horses dying, and horses (and other things) potentially serving as ritual sacrifices.

12) The hot springs with the frog statues and the room in the first dungeon with the balcony where we fought the leader of the cultists.


  1. Do you have a complete document of those mechanics you mentioned? Or at least the classes. It appears it only lists the initial template abilities.