RPG Report?

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CaelK
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Re: RPG Report?

Post by CaelK » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:54 pm

Hey, Aino's player here. Thought I'd share the ending I wrote for my character.

After the campaign, Aino's parents are essentially friendly adults to her - despite her knowing things that only their daughter would know, they don't make the connection. She seems resigned to continue her life this way, however sad it may be. I can't imagine Kirika, who's still going out kicking shades and taking mana, knowing what's going on without reassuring Aino that someday, they'll believe.

She releases a single, Gyfu (meaning gift or benevolence, and was her final episode's ability), which pretty much starts her musical career. She goes through high school, and uses her profits to finish college, while still holding down a career.

After college, Kiyohiko Kogarasu proposes to her. She tells him everything, and because he believes it wholeheartedly, they get engaged. Not soon after, her parents finally make the connection in a flash of magical insight - though they don't (or magically can't) understand all the details, logic is really thrown out the door and they choose to believe. She is officially adopted into the family and earns her name back, Aino Crescentia Sturluson, before being married.

Background details: The wish made to get her parents to believe was just that they'd believe someday, and was made years before her marriage. Ironically, this happens at a time when her parents' role as parents can no longer be fulfilled, and the question of why they didn't notice for years always hangs over their heads. Symbolically, I wanted her losing her name and regaining it to represent her regaining self-esteem and becoming an adult. While her new history (having been changed) dead-ends a few months before the campaign, the science agrees with the assessment, if any scientific testing is done.

And with this, I shall call Aino's journey to adulthood finished, and my character complete.

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AmuroNT1
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Re: RPG Report?

Post by AmuroNT1 » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:24 pm

So it's been a couple of weeks, and as promised here's some behind-the-scenes information about the game. Please bear in mind that most of this comes from conversations we had at dinner after the final session, therefore it's been a couple of weeks so I might not remember everything we discussed.

Magic

As a quick note, my brother told us that for some of our speculation about the nature of magic was spot-on, and other times he did what TV Tropes calls "Sure, Why Not?" and made our speculation canon since it sounded good. However, I'm not 100% clear on which is which, so I'll just report what we learned.
-Magic has existed for as long as there's been intelligent life on Earth. Like we learned with Hisako, it's essentially human life energy in whatever form you want to call it - Spirit, Ki/Chi, whatever; "Magic" is just the name we used in our game. However, the Imperial Japanese Army's efforts to condense the energy during World War II are what started the metaphorical ball rolling.
-Magic does not have any kind of will or higher intelligence; it's essentially bacteria, with its main "goal" being to grow and expand. This is why attempts to wish for knowledge always failed, because it wasn't like a genie wish where there's a mind to hand out the information.
-The low-level Shades are the result of Magic gathering in high concentrations; I believe that if one were to gather enough Magic, it could potentially "evolve", such as an Orb-Type becoming a Brute-Type, but that's about it.
-On a related note, there aren't really any "official" names for the various Shades, just descriptors like "Eyeballs", "Hulks", etc. So the designations I had Erika come up with (Orb-Type et al.) are as good as any.
-The "X-Factor" that determines if someone develops magical powers is..."a high Soul stat". My brother admitted that it was kind of hard to put this into "non-game terms". According to the BESM book, Soul represents "luck, willpower, determination, and spirit, and can sometimes represent psychic ability, empathy, and unity with nature", so interpret as you will. This is why our characters were required to have high Soul stats from the outset. He also mentioned that it's entirely possible a male could meet the requirements and develop powers, but for some reason it just never happened.
-The way Sacrificing works is, someone chooses to give up something, and the amount of Mana they get out of it is directly proportional to how much it means to them; therefore, sacrificing something important to another person would give basically no Mana. After a Sacrifice is made, the Magical Girl gets some of the Mana "up front", while the rest is used to turn whatever they sacrificed into a high-level Shade, and in order to get it they have to kill the Shade and claim the Mana it leaves behind.
-Incidentally, it was noted that the way Magic works in this setting is essentially the opposite of how it works in Madoka Magica, and an unscrupulous and selfish person could easily make off like a bandit (as we saw with Kotomi and her peers). All they would have to do would be sacrifice something, then let the Shade run around killing people to drain their Mana, then "harvest" it at the right time.
-I asked about the first high-level Shade we fought back in Session 3, since for a long time I'd been wondering if it was a person or just a concept. My brother admitted that he'd never really thought about it beyond being "a boss-level enemy".
-We also asked about the backstory, wondering why the Japanese military didn't try to change reality so that they won World War II instead of merely wishing Hitler out of existence. I don't believe we got a straight answer, but more than likely changing history on that grand of a scale would have cost too much Mana, whereas getting rid of a single person was a much more reasonable expenditure. We also theorized that the Magical Girl who actually made the wish may have done it on purpose, tying in with the fact that she ended up committing suicide shortly after.

Characters

-Kirika gets a lot of notes, since she was effectively the main character of the story, and my brother noted that she was his favorite character, such that if he'd been participating in the game as a player rather than the GM, she would have been his character.
-The original concept for Kirika was that she'd be a straight-up, mustache-twirling villain who would sweep in, mug our characters for whatever Mana they'd earned, then leave them alive to collect more for her. Obviously this kind of character wouldn't have been very interesting, so she got completely rewritten.
-The two aspects of Kirika's character that ended up completely defining her character were her Catholicism and her being bi-racial; after that everything fell into place.
-As you may have noticed from the recaps, Kirika has a MAJOR persecution complex, as seen with the fact that she views things in black and white (IE writing off everyone who annoys her as "jerks and bitches" rather than accepting fault for her actions). This ended up driving a lot of her character.
-The idea of Kirika being a devout Catholic and also a fan of hardcore death metal came about from the notion of giving a character two seemingly contradictory personality traits.
-Late in the game when Kirika was breaking down, she started wondering if she was responsible for her parents' deaths. My brother clarified that, as far as he'd planned things out, Kirika had nothing to do with it and their deaths really were a tragic accident.
-A major inspiration for Kirika's character was Dongtae, the protagonist of the Korean webcomic DICE: The Cube That Changes Everything. In terms of physical appearance, she unintentionally ended up resembling Weiss Schnee from RWBY.
-Kirika's character song is Follow Me by Gamma Ray.

-Sakura was made to play around with the "pink archetype", seen with characters like Madoka from Madoka Magica, by taking a character with that appearance and giving her a personality that's seemingly the complete opposite (cold, ruthless, calculating). Physically, she resembles Iroha, the protagonist of the Madoka mobile game Magia Record.
-Sakura's character theme is Black Rain by DJ Krush.

-Haruka's music was "supplied" by Kanako Hoshino, a singer who worked for Konami on their Bemani series of games (Beatmania, DDR, etc) and was mostly prominent from 2005-2010. Any time we heard Haruka's music in game, it was one of Hoshino's songs.
-In fact, as one might expect, Haruka's character song is Answer, by Hoshino.

-My brother considered making Momoka a Magical Girl, but ultimately decided against it. The whole idea of her getting "contagious powers" from hanging around our characters, like Ichigo's powers affecting his friends in Bleach, didn't really fit with the way Magic works in this world.
-Additionally, Aino's player said that when she made her Sacrifice, he briefly considered having her sacrifice her own life, killing off the character and swapping over to Momoka for the rest of the game. Obviously that didn't happen.

-The girl we dubbed "Spartan" wasn't actually meant to be a Spartan-looking warrior, but more of a standard Knight. However, because everyone and their cousin was using swords, my brother decided to mix things up and give her a spear instead, which resulted in us comparing her to a Spartan Hoplite.

-We did end up learning the names for some of the side characters, but not all of them. The Green Mage girl partnered with Namika was Janice, but off the top of my head I can't recall what Red Sniper's name was. We didn't end up learning the names of the others, though. The only person aside from my brother who'd be likely to know all their names would be Aino's player, since her copy power meant he got to see all their character sheets. In an amusing side note, for a while I was convinced that Janice was actually Marie because they coincidentally resembled each other; rather ironically, Marie's Magical Girl costume was green, just like Janice's.

-Erika had a lot of plans, mostly dealing with her supporting cast, that never came to fruition because the game focused mostly on the Magical Girl side of things. This is unfortunate, but it happens.
-At the start of the game, I wanted Erika to only have access to some of her powers, representing a sort of mental block she'd unwittingly placed on herself by her refusal to grow up and be more responsible. In this form, her costume would resemble the traditional "cute archer" like Linkle from Hyrule Warriors and her powers would revolve around her bow and "keep-away" techniques like arrows that slowed or trapped enemies. Once she got past her problems and grew up, her powers would evolve, with her gaining a more heroic costume and melee techniques. However, my brother told me that that wouldn't really jive with the setting (since our characters were supposed to have full knowledge of their abilities from the beginning), so Erika got all her powers from the start.
-What Erika said in the final session about having been angry and self-destructive following the divorce was something I came up with partway through the game. It's based off of my own experiences in life, particularly seeing that passion can be a double-edged sword, and can turn to toxic negativity in the wrong situations. Additionally, Aino's character profile noted that she tried to be friends with Erika in the past but that didn't happen, so I needed an explanation for why someone who seeks out friends constantly would have ignored her.
-One big thing I wanted to do was explore Erika's relationship with her mother in greater depth. I feel a little like her mother came off more "villainous" than I intended. Her backstory was that she was a passionate gamer who wanted to get into the game industry herself, but had to get a white collar office job in order to help support the family. Some of her resentment towards her ex-husband comes from the perception that she had to give up on her dream for his sake, and by the time she was divorced it was far too late to even consider going back to game programming, meaning she's stuck in her Office Lady rut seemingly forever. One aspect of the character I put into the notes is that she still has her old game consoles hidden in her closet, and will occasionally pull them out and play them to try and recapture her happiness, but she does her best to keep Erika from finding out because she's embarrassed to have such a "childish" quirk.
-It may not have come up in the game, but while Erika's father didn't have the affair that lead to his divorce, he DID cheat on his wife once a year before that. However, this happened as a result of him and a co-worker having too much to drink after hours, and he was immensely remorseful. The woman he ended up marrying at the end of the game was the woman from that night, as a result of their discovering a deeper passion later.
-For the curious, I never actually gave any characterization to the woman who destroyed the Kadoyas' marriage by lying about Richard sleeping with her. She didn't really matter to the story any further than that, so I never bothered. If you twisted my arm, I might say that her motivation was sheer jealousy (since my profile for Richard noted that he's quite handsome and drew the eye of a lot of ladies).
-One idea that ended up not working out was the school newspaper. The idea I came up with was that the head of the paper was due to graduate, and there was a friendly competition over who would succeed him; Erika wanted to keep it acting like a respectable newspaper, while one of the other club members wanted to take a lighter approach and be more of a gossip magazine since that's what he felt the students would want. However, it ended up that our characters were in their last year of middle school, so the idea had to be dropped; Erika becoming the head of the high school newspaper in the ending is a nod to this idea.
-The newspaper club itself was essentially a combination of the Daily Planet from Superman and the Kamen Rider Club from Kamen Rider Fourze, with Erika occupying a spot analogous to Lois Lane and Gentaro Kisaragi (who was a major inspiration for the character). One character who sadly didn't get any screentime in the game was her assistant/"Jimmy Olsen"/little brother figure, whom she was trying to help by building his confidence without realizing that he was harboring a crush on her. The character in many ways ended up being a lot like Shigeo "Mob" Kageyama, the title character from Mob Psycho 100.
-Marie, who appears in the final session, is one of the characters from the newspaper plotline. My brother said he'd been planning on turning her into a Magical Girl from the very beginning, and thought she was the most developed and interesting side character from all our profiles. The main reason for her becoming a Magical Girl was to light a fire under us and let us know that if we didn't hurry up and resolve the problem, things were going to get worse quickly.

-Finally, for more character themes, Erika's is Be The One by PANDORA feat. Beverly while Fujiko's is Tori no you ni by Wagakki Band. Never got a theme for Aino.

Plot

-The place where we apparently went off the rails the most was in Session 3, when our character managed to alienate basically everyone. My brother didn't expect us to be so outright negative to Haruka, but we pointed out that her using mind control on people was crossing a line; if she'd just been using her illusion powers to create awesome-looking stage shows, we wouldn't have had a problem. The other part of it was Erika pissing off Kirika by pointing out that her angry grumbling about "Maybe I should just let Sakura kill her" wasn't a very Christian attitude; if she'd put it just about any other way it wouldn't have been as bad, but that specific wording really got under her skin. The original plan was that our characters would side with either Kirika or Sakura, but by pushing away from both of them we extended things (though that fit with our characters' stated intent of just protecting their part of Urahara). There was also the fact that it took us a long time to make contact with Sakura and mend fences with Kirika, but I don't think any of that extended the game past its original length.

-Session 4 is another place where things could have gone very differently. Haruka was basically on the verge of snapping and attacking our characters to try and get their Mana, but Fujiko's "Get a hold of yourself, man!" slap managed to bring her back to her senses. Additionally, if we'd failed to rescue Momoka, Haruka really would have snapped and would have ended up committing suicide later.

-Despite all our worrying about Kotomi coming back into the plot to get revenge for Mirror Girl's death, we were told later that there was no need for it. In effect, after losing her friend, Kotomi's reaction was "Screw this nonsense, it's way too dangerous! I'm going back to living my quiet life!" and she completely left the plot from then on. My brother said that he'd made a mistake by killing off Mirror Girl, saying that it should have been Kotomi instead in order to better demonstrate that she was no longer a part of the plot (and her minions would have backed off without their ringleader).

-Apparently there was a minor "deleted scene", something that we would have seen had our characters visited Kirika's apartment during a certain session. It would have involved Red Sniper going to Kirika's to ask for Mana to help resurrect Namika, but Kirika refusing because she considers bringing people back from the dead to be unnatural as part of her Catholic faith. While this scene wasn't a big loss, it does end up tying in with the ending (see below).

Ending

-Our ending was basically the happiest ending we could possible have gotten under the circumstances. The amount of Mana we had was nowhere near enough to enact a more permanent solution, like changing history so that Magic never started coalescing in the first place. In fact, we were told that rescuing Kirika's caretaker was the furthest we could have gone, and if we'd tried to save the four classmates who'd also been turned into Shades we basically would have been locked into a bad ending.

-One of the ideas we'd floated was saving Kirika's parents, either by resurrecting them now or by changing history so that they survived the car accident that killed them. However, as was pointed out, Kirika would been against the idea of resurrecting the dead, even if it was her own parents, so it probably wouldn't have ended well.

-Additionally, the idea I'd had of going the Urobuchi route and having someone try to become the "avatar" of Magic so they could control how it worked was flat-out rejected, since as we covered earlier Magic doesn't have a "will" to begin with.

-The only possible way we could have had enough Mana to change everything would have been if Kirika sacrificed her own life, which would have been worth even more Mana than a normal sacrifice because, as a Catholic, she considers suicide an unforgivable sin that would have condemned her soul to Hell. But obviously that would have been a bad ending from our perspective since it would have involved losing the person we'd been fighting to save all this time.

-A lot of the stuff in the final session was intended to come full circle in regards to events at the beginning of the game. The girls coming to Marie's aid mirrored Kirika showing up after their first battle, while bringing back the photograph of Kirika to test and see who was gaining powers was an unintentional example. Erika writing an article about Fujiko's kimonos mirrored the backstory we came up with for their first meeting; namely, Erika's father wrote a book about Japan's traditional crafts and interviewed Fujiko's grandfather, and after the divorce when Erika was trying to cling to her father's memories she decided to do a follow-up article and ended up meeting Fujiko while trying to find her grandfather.

-As for Erika's personal ending, I consider the completion of her character arc to be her growth into a more mature person. At the outset of the game she was more flighty and childish, having a very idealistic attitude (as seen by her "save everyone" attitude, contrasted with Fujiko's more pragmatic view of giving priority to friends and family members) and was trying to cling to the past (both her father and her own youth) as much as possible. Her experiences over the course of the game resulted in her becoming more of a pragmatist, as seen by the fact that she saved Kirika's caretaker but accepted the deaths of her four classmates as tragic but unavoidable. Her decision to become a youth councilor is the ultimate expression of this, since her original drive to become a reporter was selfish (trying to cling to whatever remnants of her father that she could) and instead she learned from her experiences and decided to help people in a more meaningful, direct way. If she hadn't undergone this kind of character growth, she probably would have ended up becoming a photographer or starring on a Tokusatsu show; while in the final ending she still does photography, she accepted it as a hobby rather than ways of life, showing that she's defining herself as her own person and not just "Richard's daughter".
Sakuya: "Whatever. Stop lying and give up your schemes, now."
Yukari: (Which lies and schemes are she talking about? It's hard to keep track of them all...)

-Touhou 07.5 ~ Immaterial and Missing Power

Zeonista
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Re: RPG Report?

Post by Zeonista » Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:13 pm

Thanks again for sharing! I am somewhat late in replying, but this was a good final summation, good enough for me to offer some congratulations and support for your group's efforts. I suppose the half-a-loaf victory is a little bittersweet, but that is truthful enough. A lot of anime (including some magical girl genre) have a story that centers on the hero/heroes' journey, not their ultimate big finish, which goes all the way back to the Miyamoto Musashi trilogy, if not further. If the players could say that their characters came out greater than when they started, and they enjoyed the RP experience, then it was good. If they can fondly think back on the campaign ten years later, then it was a success.

I can say with confidence that there will always be unfulfilled side quests, possible NPC actions and connections, and might-have-been scenarios. Any campaign that is heavily story driven and focused on life events of the heroes will have them! That would be several of mine, including some my friends and fellow gamers remember gladly. Making theme song lists is delightful, and playing one to set the mood or rev up a scene always works wonders.
"I am fire. I am death. I am Hashmal."

"Discontent is the first step in the progress for a man or a nation." - Oscar Wilde

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