Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

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Arkrite
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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by Arkrite » Wed Apr 05, 2017 6:31 pm

Jalinth wrote:
Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:49 pm
Donnie being a straight-man was exactly what was needed.
Agreed. Anything else might have resulted in him being overshadowed, but strangely being normal helped him stand out. And he had a very unique set of stories as most of the cast didn't have any serious relationships to speak of.
Jalinth wrote:
Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:49 pm
I'm not a crazy wizard from an evil alternate universe, or a mind-reading corporate executive.
When I started playing this game I realized one thing, I'm not nearly smart enough to play a character who is as smart as Zane is.
My way of getting around this? Making his ego and arrogance so overwhelming that it's believable that he just missed things that should have been simple for somebody like him.

I have no idea how effective it was, but it did get reactions. It was amusing to see people who weren't involved in the game commenting about how they hated Zane's guts ;~)
They were all so very nice about it!

Also got at least on private comment from somebody who said they liked him. Obviously they didn't want to admit that in public. Imagine the scandal! ;~)
Jalinth wrote:
Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:49 pm
I will say that his growth as a character was awesome, along with his growing friendship with Toxic.
Saving my comments on that for a later episode.
Jalinth wrote:
Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:49 pm
Who'd think the bloody Necromancer would be so loyal?
He's just a terrifying world ending mage who used to sacrifice people for power. No need to be worried at all.
Amuses me that Zalman wound up being one of Zane's closest friends.
And for somebody with a such a ominous back ground he was surprisingly mellow. Thankfully nobody really raised his ire.

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Davies
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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by Davies » Thu Apr 06, 2017 12:45 am

Before we get started, it's time for some product placement! Kickstarting now (and fully funded, and more along the lines of a pre-order) is ENWorld's A Touch of Class, featuring seven new classes for the fifth edition of the world's original fantasy role-playing game, including one (the Alchemist) designed by your obedient servant. This would be the first time my work has ever been published in a print format*, and I think it'd be worth having for anyone interested in 5E.

Moving forward.

Chapter Four

June 12, 2009 to August 22, 2009

Lasting two months and some change, this was the campaign's first lengthy adventure. It was divided into three "issues", like I'm fairly sure the previous chapters had been, but only at this point do the issue numbers and names start appearing in the posts, so I can't preserve that numbering and will be largely ignoring it in this commentary.

This adventure was meant to be something of a horror story, or at least a story about scary things. We managed to keep to this theme throughout, so even if the characters weren't scared very much, they seemed conscious of the dangers that were confronting them. And in the final battle with Blume, I managed to communicate real fear to Donnie and Ray.

We opened up with something that I kind of feel ambivalent about now, essentially using someone's mental illness for comedic effect. While I tried to emphasize the pathos of the witness' situation after the action was over, I'm not sure I really did so effectively or not. Still, it gave Zane the first of his famous rants, and set up ADA Sunderland as someone I wanted to feature as a recurring character. Unfortunately, my one opportunity to do so (by having her, and not some nameless prosecutor, handle Robin's retrial) passed by unremarked. The lesson here is to keep track of your own NPCs and use them when appropriate.

Speaking of recurring characters, this issues saw the introduction of Project Freedom's favorite AEGIS goon, Agent Edward Ritter. While I cast him with the image of Geraint Wyn Davies -- no relation -- these days I think of him as looking more like Clark Gregg, and I could actually have cast that actor in this role if I'd thought a bit about it. (For those curious, these days ex-Agent (and ex-Director-pro-tem) Ritter is happily retired from AEGIS and spends most of his time having wacky adventures with his nephews and neice on the dime of their eccentric great uncle.)

Charlie and the Raven continue their little dance in this one, allowing me to maneuver Charlie into taking the active role in the interview with Fear-Master II. I think it would have been very different if Zane had done it, and probably resulted in Zane taking some psychological damage. On the other hand, it also basically side-lined him in this scene, and with the way that he had to drop out of the final act, I'm not sure it was the best decision to make. On the other hand, he got to flirt with a sexy vampire and so probably shouldn't complain, even if said vampire took the fact that he never called her back rather amiss.

I also tried to teach Ray a rather direct lesson about excessive force in this one ... sigh. He also managed to usurp Donnie's role as the streetwise character (though that was partially my fault for forgetting that you can't make an untrained Knowledge check). Matters were coming to a head on this front.

What's sort of interesting in retrospect is that despite the theme of the adventure being fear, and having Fearsome Presence as an advantage, Zalman's scenes in this one are largely about courage -- delivering the courthouse from the fear gas, facing down the third Fear-Master directly, and of course the bit that he'll never live down, where he's directly acting against fear.

Levitt's final words were intended as an echo of those of the elderly violinist in the Sandman story The Sound of Wings. I also slipped in some references to the Callahan's Crosstime Saloon stories of Spider Robinson and the honestly execrable Biggles movie.

* Unless you count my credit for providing some ideas for Bob Schroeck's chapter of GURPS Y2K.

Shock
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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by Shock » Thu Apr 06, 2017 1:37 am

I'd like to give a shout-out :mrgreen: to your NPC who never actually appears: Wilhelm, who does nothing but scream. ;}

The Fear-Master arc is easily my favorite of the parts I didn't get to participate in as a player. There's an awful lot going on and some really good character interaction.

Plus Zane gets tortured :twisted:

OK I never actually hated Zane but I'll have my thoughts on him in a separate post.

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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by Shock » Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:00 am

Zane sometimes seemed tailor made to be unlikeable. More personally, he seemed tailor made to be a foil (sometimes out and out enemy) for Robin. Though I have to wonder if things would have been different if her first mission hadn't gone so horribly.

Anyway, this is about Zane. And really, he's not so bad if you look at him next to Mike. Of course, we didn't get the chance to see if Mike was going to change for the better, which Zane did. Slightly ;}

The inner voice was amusing as was the fact that his powers were frequently an afterthought and that his Ego was almost a separate character. It all made for a great unique character.

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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by Jalinth » Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:05 am

I did enjoy this one. It's funny that for all Zalman was immune to fear, It was one that had me, as a player, the most tense. There was more then one occasion where I was worried that there might be some serious civilian casualties.

I find myself wondering - Did Zane and Zalman bond over ego the way that Armstrong bonded with someone in FMA over muscles? :)

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Arkrite
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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by Arkrite » Thu Apr 06, 2017 1:52 pm

Davies wrote:
Thu Apr 06, 2017 12:45 am
I also tried to teach Ray a rather direct lesson about excessive force in this one ... sigh.
One of my friends read through that and just couldn't stop laughing that Ray had launched a normal human badguy... was it five miles?
I always got the feeling that Stickman really wanted to be playing a Spiderman/Daredevil style street level game with secret identities to keep them from having to deal with reprisals for their actions.
He never really seemed to gel with the idea that we needed to keep the public happy with us lest we wind up back in the clink.


Davies wrote:
Thu Apr 06, 2017 12:45 am
On the other hand, it also basically side-lined him in this scene, and with the way that he had to drop out of the final act, I'm not sure it was the best decision to make.
It never bothered me, I was just happy that I wasn't causing any grief.
I was spending some time down with my Grandparents and I didn't have access to post during that time.

In other news I miss both my Grandparents, and by proxy their home city, Langley. So many good memories.

Shock wrote:
Thu Apr 06, 2017 1:37 am
Plus Zane gets tortured
Give the people what they want ;~)
Shock wrote:
Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:00 am
Zane sometimes seemed tailor made to be unlikeable.
*whistles innocently*

Jalinth wrote:
Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:05 am
I find myself wondering - Did Zane and Zalman bond over ego the way that Armstrong bonded with someone in FMA over muscles?
Or maybe it was just over chess. Heaven knows Zane could never win a game vs Zalman!
Now back to the ego flexing ;~)

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Davies
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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by Davies » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:34 pm

Chapter Five

August 24, 2009 to August 31, 2009

This is the one where I f---ed up.

I have a longstanding love of the screwball comedy movie What's Up Doc (1972), and discovering that there was a D20 Modern adventure (A Funny Thing Happened At Carousel #5) inspired by same was something of a thrill. Now that I was running a campaign, I decided to adapt this adventure to Mutants and Masterminds (by giving some of the characters super-powers) so that I could see whether the funny was with me. It was intended to be a lighter, softer adventure after the serious darkness that had gone before. Also, I wanted to give Charlie the chance to finally have a car chase where she was in the driver's seat.

And then StickMan decided that Ray was actually a highway patrolman! Except that I'm pretty sure that not even highway patrolmen break into moving vehicles and threaten their passengers.

I was caught flat-footed, and I have to admit that I was both panicked, because I had no idea how to get out of this dead end to the scenario in my mind, and infuriated, because of how I'd gotten put into it. If the police showed up at this point, there was no way that Ray would not be taken into custody for vehicular assault, and the rest of the team would probably be taken in as accessories. In retrospect, I should have had that happen and then proceeded to the courthouse scene that was at the ending of the original adventure. But I didn't think of that.

Instead, I vindictively kicked StickMan out of the game. It was the wrong call, and I feel guilty about it eight years later. This is something that a GM should never do unless a player is actively harassing other players, or failing to participate, and neither of those was the case here. This was all on me.

The only positive memory of this adventure that I have is Zane's incredible rant to Dr. Bogdanovitch, which can still bring a ghost of a smile to my face now. Something else that I learned which may be useful to other GMs was that it's a mistake to assume that all your players have the same level of familiarity with certain subjects -- like airport security -- that you do. It's your job to explain such subjects to them, and try to make it interesting rather than just dumping the information on them.

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Arkrite
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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by Arkrite » Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:59 am

Davies wrote:
Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:34 pm
And then StickMan decided that Ray was actually a highway patrolman! Except that I'm pretty sure that not even highway patrolmen break into moving vehicles and threaten their passengers.
If I remember correctly it was actually a bit worse than that. He broke into an innocent taxi driver's cab to threaten a man who was guilty of... following?

I just remember seeing that action and cringing because there really wasn't a good way of coming back from that. I think it was actually a bigger crime than he'd been put in jail for originally.

Davies wrote:
Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:34 pm
It was the wrong call, and I feel guilty about it eight years later.
I'm not sure I'd agree with that.
Stickman was given multiple chances, and multiple reminders, to bring Ray more in line with the themes of the game.
And each time he either disregarded it, or didn't understand it. I don't know that more chances would have changed anything, and I'm not sure that a court room scene would have ended any better.

At the end of the day I still think that Stickman wanted to be in a different game than he was in.
I think that he wanted street level vigilante action game, more like an action movie. Big fights, big action, no repercussions.

But that's just my opinion.

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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by Shock » Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:07 am

At the time, I read Ray's departure as a boiling over of frustration with his power set. I'm honestly not sure how I would have handled "I know where everyone is and I take 20 on everything." Couple that with unbeatable Lie detection in a game where the truth was really hard to come by and I probably would have had to either kick the character out or ask him to be significantly retooled.

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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by Jalinth » Fri Apr 07, 2017 2:56 am

I admit that I had a sigh of relief when Ray left. His infinite lie detecting power just didn't work for the game, and his actions caused problems in every adventure, and many of the scenes he was in. To this day I use his him as a mental example of things to watch out for when running a game or even creating a character. I can be troublesome at times but I try to control it and I'd like to think that I've never stomped up and down on the line while disregarding any and all warnings.

I can't say that I wish he hadn't been in the game, because without him things would have been different and what we got was amazing. I remember Arkrite commenting to me a couple times how it was dealing with Ray that made Zane go in the direction he did.

In the end his ejection wasn't pretty or graceful but I feel it was warranted.

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Arkrite
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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by Arkrite » Fri Apr 07, 2017 3:44 am

Yeah, that was kind of the breaking point for Vaulter as a teammate. He would just automatically succeed at pretty much everything he tried because he'd take twenty.
The only time people had any chance of beating him was when it was a skill that could only be done trained, or when somebody had over invested in a skill.

I remember it getting to the point that I really just didn't bother rolling on a majority of checks.

To be fair, it's okay that you're the best at what you do. Be it being the scariest creature in existence, the best damn thief, the greatest driver, *draws a blank on Robin* Best at driving Zane nuts?
Anyways, my point is being good at something is great. But when the character starts being the best at everything the other characters can wind up feeling quite useless and pointless.
I honestly don't think that was his intention, but it was how I felt while he was around most of the time.

Of course I was really there for the interactions with the PCs, the NPCs, and the story so it wasn't a deal breaker, but I have to admit it was more interesting when notice checks started to actually matter again.

And that was why I made an effort to drop any knowledge skills that the other players had ranks in. Being knowledgeable in lots of stuff is a genius staple, but it really just made way more sense for the other characters to know more than him on things they'd spent their entire lives doing.

I guess I came away with the same thing as Jalinth, I saw a lot of things I didn't like and I tried to avoid them.

...
That being said, I play an electric speedster that drives most people insane in another game, so I'm an abject failure ;~)

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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by Tattooedman » Fri Apr 07, 2017 4:41 am

Davies wrote:
Thu Apr 06, 2017 12:45 am
Chapter Four

June 12, 2009 to August 22, 2009
I don't have a lot to share on this one. I was still struggling with my work schedule and trying to keep up (which unfortunately was something I dealt with the entire length of the game), so I felt like I needed to keep my posts simple so that I could get something posted and not feel like I was making everyone wait on me. I did greatly enjoy the story - I love the FC setting and to be able to play in a game that not only used that setting but advanced things in several interesting ways.

Davies wrote:
Thu Apr 06, 2017 12:45 am
Chapter Five

This is the one where I f---ed up.
I disagree.

Stickman seemed to be .... let's go with problematic..... and I think the assessment that he was playing in the wrong kind of game is somewhat correct. I believe that he intended for Ray to end up a hero, he just really jumped the gun extremely fast (no pun intended). At least that's how I see a lot of Ray's actions, though I do recall being frustrated by some of his antics at times and getting the impression that I was not the only one. Unfortunately he had to go as nothing seemed to get through to him, as I'm sure that something was said to him and even if nothing was (which I seriously doubt) the in-game ramifications that happened to Ray should have been clear.

The one thing that I did take away from that situation was that as a GM it is very important to go through the PC's powers and make sure that you understand exactly what the player is trying to do with the powers. And that as experience points are spent make sure that the GM & Player are on the same page when it comes to the applications of the powers for the character.

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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by Davies » Fri Apr 07, 2017 5:51 am

All right. I still think I could have handled it better than I did, but unless ClassDunce posts a really strong dissenting opinion in the next sixteen to eighteen hours, I'll accept the verdict of history and just move on to the next chapter in this saga.

I also wish I knew what happened to him after his blog stopped being updated in 2011.

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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by ClassDunce » Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:20 pm

I haven't talked to Stickman in years, like since all of this happened, he kind of disappeared after this. However if I remember correctly, He was a kid. Maybe anywhere from 18-20 years old. I remember him stating that he was still in school at one point he talked about starting school and assumed he meant college. There was a lack of maturity with Stickman. It was the major issue in almost every interaction with him. I sympathize with the position that he put Davies in. He boxed all of us in when it came to skill checks and what I our characters should focus on and not. Didn't really effect me much to be honest because Charlie was kind of the Anti-Skill character. She had like a +8 in driving but not even that defined her as a character, it was just something that Charlie had some experience in.

He also spent an entire adventure talking backwards and that bothered me far more than anything else, on a personal level. I think Davies did the right thing but it was an awful situation.

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Re: Project Freedom DVD Commentary (?)

Post by Tattooedman » Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:27 pm

I'm willing to agree that things could have maybe been handled differently than they were, though I honestly wonder if it would have changed the outcome.

That said the game wouldn't have been what it was without Stickman & Ray.

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