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Title: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on August 29, 2006, 10:37:43 PM
Dear Readers,

As I promised Ron some time ago, here is a Rifts Actual Play report. As I'm not deeply enough into terminology, I will reflect on the goings in the game with my own words. As I´ve been invited to write this, I'm sure you can bear with that, even more so as my half-baked misunderstanding of a given Big Model term would only confuse the reader; thereby hindering communication instead of furthering it.

Situation: Odyssee Con is a unique Convention in Berlin, Germany, where DSA, D&D and Shadowrun are banned from being played. The mission used to be to promote and play niche or unknown systems (to the german market, that is). As times changed, so did Odyssee's focus: now it's mostly independent german systems (most of which are Adventure Roleplying Games on the Story-heavy side) with a growing dose of Forge nascent thematic rolplaying games also presented.

Intention: My intention was to get use out of my dormant huge Rifts collection, and to show people how great Rifts can be. I wanted them to get to know:

- the diverse background
- the conflicts in North America
- the ugly face of racism

I wanted them to experience:

- wonder
- excitement
- feeling of being clever
- sense of accomplishment
- Rifts style awesomeness in action scenes

My limiting factors where mostly:

- time
- plausability

That is to say, I wouldn't dole out the experiences, but make them earn them.

Preparation: I chose Canada, more precisely Old Bones (City of Quebec) as the setting. I read up a lot on the published material for the area, as well as read the wikipedia articles on the landscapes and citys involved. I started making myself comfortable with the rules:  Rifts has a crude Version of D20 as its core rules, so I had to re-organize the looking up the modifiers for combat and saving throws. Once I re-organized Kevin Siembiedas dreadful :" and +1 at levels 1,3,5,7,8,10,14" lines into easy-on-the eye tables, the system was as playable as any other d20 style D&D derivate. With this top-down view on the modifiers, errors were easy to spot, and easily corrected. I also very quickly made my mind up in regards to dodge: the dreaded -10 malus was to be omitted, as only a dodge with a chance for success is dodge wrth taking. And I wanted the combat to be about the tactical decision of foregoing an action or not. More on that later.
Whence the rules were clear, I took a deep look at the equipment, as there is much talk about how there is a power creep involved. i made a short spreadsheet, wherein I checked the damage averages of weapons against their costs, as well as checking Power Armour and Body Armour. In a nutshell, it basically works out. I was amazed, but the most equipment can be used: as is. So only when something looks too powerful I make a quick comparison to the spreadsheet values and can see wheterh it has to be nerfed or not. I did not have to nerf anything for the sessions played at the con.
While looking at the equipment, I already got a good impression, backed up by data on how much power a certain amount of soldiers in a certain amount of equipment meant. To totally grok North American politics, I also had to make myself acustomed with the powers of the magic kingdoms, therefore I had to read all Spells, Psionic Powers and Character Class (O.C.C.) descriptions. Interestingly, the description of political goings on Rifts Earth are very plausible in regards to the rules. That is, the world basically obeys to the RAW, which I liked a lot.
So I was loaded with world data, the workings of the game world and the balance of power in Canada. Now I could create the adventure situation. When I prepare Adventures, I basically use a thing called "Story Engine", which is a formalized graph of the involved parties, their objectives and theri ressources as well as their lines of influence. I assume there is no emotional attachement to the Rifts setting in many a reader here, so I try to  be as abstract as possible or provide explanations. I'll also omit the allotted ressources:

Lazlo (Good Magic City State) wants escaped chimpanzee scientist with superweapon, that would kill all non-humans, to kill evil Insect Invader who treaten Lazlo and Earth and to prevent exctinction of all non-humans

Chi-Town (Fascist Bad City State) wants escaped chimpanzee scientist with superweapon, that would kill all non-humans, to kill all non-humans

Free Quebec (Racist Bad City State, at war with Chi Town)
wants independence, thusly to damage Chi Town. Secretely controlls everything in Old Bones

Splugorth of Atlantis (Ultra Evil Cthuloid Slavers)
want scientist to trade to other dimensions for huge profit and blackmail all mutants/D-Bees on Earth

Island Kingdom of Montreal (Anarchic Corrupt City State): Bribed by Chi-Town to fight against Free Quebec.

Old Bones (Casablanca/Mos Eysley Crossover), secretely controlled by Free Quebec with agents of all powers

Knights of Jean D'Arc (Ultraviolent Racist Hillbilly Militia of Free Quebec): Want to drive out all D-Bees, and punish those who associate with them through murder, rape, torture and plundering. 

Mr. Bingles (Chimpanzee Mutant Scientist), who escaped and wants to leave America for Europe and the NGR. Conspired with the mutant underground railway and Psiscape (Good Psionic City State) to flee. Carrier of the superweapon, it's in his brains, he developed it and destroyed all records.

My plan was to GM two sessions: The first would be for the Lazlo (Good) sponsored expedition to retrieve Mr. Bingles alive, the second one for the Chi-Town (Fascist/Bad) intervention force, following on the heels of the Lazlo expedition.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on August 29, 2006, 11:49:22 PM
First Session, the Lazlo experience:

In a matter of seconds after inscription was possible,  I had six player sitting at the table. At earlier Odyssees I had problems getting enough people for playing Traveller or 2300 AD, so this is worth mentioning.

I had prepared the characters to save time, but left some skill points (I.Q.*10 in percent) to customize the characters, so everybody would have some feeling of "owning" the character. The mix was:

Rogue Scientist (think Indiana Jones with a computer)
Burster (think "the Flame")
Juicer (think "the Flash")
Mining Cyborg (think Robocop with a motordrill)
Ley Line Walker (think Wizard)
City Rat (think Rogue with Psionics)

The session started with me plastering the table with printed illustrations to introduce newbies into the settings, I also explained a lot verbally in sort of a power ride. Then I let the players decide wther they were totally loayal Lazlo-dwellers or hired mercenaries. I made a big speech as the Dragon Plato, head of Lazlo, to generate a sense of urgency and establish the mission goal for the players. As expected, some players were awed by the apparition of a huge white dragon, others were jaded and took pleasure in bein cool headed professionals who asked the right questions no matter whom they were talking to.
The hints this group had were very sketchy, as they only relied on some mystical visions the Master Seer of Lazlo had had. So They travelled towards Montreal. They avoided all distractions I had come up with, so they kept quiet and on the timetable. That was a smart move on the players side, which paid out later. Some more illustrations were shown and quick descriptions uttered to set the scene.
At the entry of the St. Lawrence River, they had to deal with their first problem: A drunken pilot, whom they needed for navigating them through dangerous waters. They decided to stay for the night, which lost them eight hours. Still the group as very smart in hiding their mutant and sorcerous parts in the boat, while the other characters caught up on gosipp and found out about the Knights of Jean D'Arc. Some nice in character play was also possible for some members. Luckily, the players not interested into playing the chit-chat were on the boat, so everybody was served. on a sidenote, several players grew angry and disgusted at the Knights of Jean D'Arc when they had to listen to their drunken boasting. So actually some players already cared. Others chose to keep a cool and professional stance, which they enjoyed once again.
The next encounter was the Island Kingdom of Montreal where the City Rat player took great enjoyment out of bribing officials with drugs. The other players were making a spectacular entry by driving their magic monster truck off the boat to impress and frighten the fishermen and would-be privateers. Quickly they bribed and impressed all information they wanted out of the small town, albeit leaving quite a trace. They had made the strategic decison of favoring speed over clandestinity, so that was intended. I hope.
They knew the Chimpanzee was taken away in a "purple yacht" to Old Bones, so they lost no time to get there.

Cut to Old Bones

After arrival, they quickly searched the "purple yacht" and through clever use of their different abilities (PSI, social, clever in character talk) found out who the owner was. In the course of that they split up the group to explore the city and follow the lead more thoroughly. They had several sense of wonder moments, when they found out about the workings of the city. They also explored some more of the undrlying racist conflicts.
Still they moved with urgency and quickly came up with a plan: Storm the party where the Chimpanzee was going to be shown around as a party joke.
Waht they didn' find out was the plot of the Splugorth: From their base in the city, they manipulated and instigated the Knights of Jean D'Arc to blow the party as a diversion. A Splugorth Slave Barge (Famous illustration on the old Rifts main Book Cover) was sent to snatch the Chimpanzee during the ensuing chaos.
As the players moved quick, the Splugorth didn't find out about them, so this was a classical two sided surprise. The Knights of Jean D'Arc were killed easily by the group with a clever combination of spells and powers (Carpet of Adhesion and Burster Fire Wall), the party security guys shot the juicer, who had no Megadamage armour at that moment, and failed his Autododge. He was toast.
I let the player play the Slpugroth Slave barge from that on, which filled him with great delight!
What follows now was a collection of great action scenes, a techno-wizard monster truck breezing through the narrow streets followed by the nightmarishly powerful and ugly Slaver Barge! The Slaver Player pulled no punches so this was even more deadly. As a GM, one oftentimes plays the opponents sub-optimal out of the many tasks involved. But especially an enemy like the Slaver has so many special abilities, that the assigned player was a great help!

Quick sidenote: Looking things up in Rifts Sourcebooks is painful. Only the continued use of the index and bookmarks kept the game moving at cinematic pace.
 
The fight climaxed with the 'Borg player jumping unto the barge after the shields collapsed, thereby buying enough time for the others for escape  with the chimpanzee (without consent from the 'Borg player! Great moment of decision making)!
Luckily for the 'Borg player (he held out long enough and I rolled low enough for the time of reinforcement arrival), who had fully counted on being killed, Free Quebec forces arrived which the Slaver flew from. he could take another boat and follow the others into the sunset...

Stay tuned for the summary of the second session.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Frank T on August 30, 2006, 03:23:15 AM
Sounds good!

I have some questions:

In the first part of the adventure, did the players notice they were avoiding all kinds of trouble because of their clever approach?

Could you elaborate on that bit about reinforcement time? How did that work?

Did you prepare something like a “what happens if the characters never show up” timeline? What did it look like?

- Frank


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on August 30, 2006, 03:45:56 AM
Quote
In the first part of the adventure, did the players notice they were avoiding all kinds of trouble because of their clever approach?

I can't say that. When I introduced stuff they could have investigated, like  a battle site, or a mystical mist, they didn't investigate, but said: "We don't have time/This looks dangerous. Let's move on."
One player wanted to investigate, but was quickly quieted by the others.

Reinforecement time was like this:

Upon alert (Slave Barge blasting Lighnting all over the city), I rolled a one on 1D6+1 for the the minutes the FQ Quebec SAMAS would need to scramble and drive the Splugorth Slaver off. That meant two minutes, which is about 8 Rounds of combat. With all the combat actions everyone has, this is quite some time. FQ has a base right next to Old Bones, so they were as quick as a trauma team in cyberpunk.


I did not prepare a timeline, but the logic of the story engine would have unfolded:
Splugorth capture Chimpanzee extract formula from his brain through bio-wizardry, blackmail everyone and wipe out races with an altered retro virus at will. Most likely all humans. Basically the end of the world, save for some few who where resistant to the virus. Lone Star might have researched a cure, but already too late for millions and millions of people. Why are you asking?



Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Frank T on August 30, 2006, 07:02:42 AM
I’m asking because I’m interested in the applied techniques. Like: When did you make up the whole “party” thing? If the characters had shown up one day later, would the chimpanzee already have been gone, and would they have had to chase the slaver barge to get him, or would you have made up different circumstances then? That kind of thing.

- Frank


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Precious Villain on August 30, 2006, 08:59:27 AM
Hi!

Nifty post - I have the Rifts base book and was put off by the combat system so I'd like to know exactly what your modification was to make it "work."

Also, I'd really like to see the full "Story Engine!"  Both the filled in graph for this game and your thoughts on what information you put in it, why and what you leave out and why.  This kind of things sounds like it might be helpful for my Shadowrun prep.

-Robert


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: MSch on August 30, 2006, 11:07:47 AM
Quote
In the first part of the adventure, did the players notice they were avoiding all kinds of trouble because of their clever approach?

I can't say that. When I introduced stuff they could have investigated, like  a battle site, or a mystical mist, they didn't investigate, but said: "We don't have time/This looks dangerous. Let's move on."
One player wanted to investigate, but was quickly quieted by the others.

Well, as a player I had the urgent feeling of looming doom and apocalypse and knew of far too many different enemys groups around. So I tried to focus on impeeding the apocalypse and staying alive.

In a con-game there should not be too much red herrings. I hoped that this would be true. So I did not follow all the hints the SL cleverly layed out. If there is some mysterious 'monster' around stomping on Coalition Skelebot Divisions you don't investigate, you beat it ... especially with this not really combat oriented group.

The size of the Rifts-setting is huge and the rules are ... well Palladium ... and of six only two players were familiar with the setting and the rules. It seems natural, that the people concentrated on the task instead of travelling around like tourists.

I had tremendous fun and especially liked the chase scene with the Spluggort-Slaver.


Ciao,

Martin


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Callan S. on August 30, 2006, 11:58:50 PM
Hi Martin,

Could you sort of tell what was a side task (that you would bypass) and what was the main one? If you could, how would you say you knew? Thanks for posting by the way, its great to get a players posts in a actual play thread as well! :)


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on August 31, 2006, 03:56:38 AM
Quote
When did you make up the whole “party” thing? If the characters had shown up one day later, would the chimpanzee already have been gone, and would they have had to chase the slaver barge to get him, or would you have made up different circumstances then?

The party was there from the start. Had the charcters not been this quick, the Splugorth would have taken Mr. Bingles to Newfoundland. I prepared all the way up to Arcadia, with the possibility of a cool water chase/Ship battle between FQ, Chi Town SAMAS from Halifax, Splugorth, the two parties and some hundreds of Pixies from Prince Edwards Island.

But most likely the other group would have cought up, so that battle between the groups would have ensued.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: MSch on August 31, 2006, 11:47:39 AM
Hi Martin,

Could you sort of tell what was a side task (that you would bypass) and what was the main one? If you could, how would you say you knew? Thanks for posting by the way, its great to get a players posts in a actual play thread as well! :)

The characters were given orders by an old dragon. The main task was finding an unknown thing/object/being nearly the size of a man with unknown powers and get it back to Lazlo if possible, failure would bring the apocalypse ... oh and fast action was of utmost importance.

So I left with no real info, but the persistent feeling, that we were already too late.

The fist strange encounter was smoke in the wood that we could see from the river. Quick investigation showed some destroyed and some functioning Coalition robots, standing in a clearing wich looked like something big dropped onto them. This didn't look like the action of a mansized object/being and just made my character feel worse. The Coalition is swarming in the woods and big things drop from above, most forboding ... so my char pushed the throttle.

When we came to Montreal there were some hints of mysteries but the Island and its inhabitants seemed strange and double-tongued, so we raced after the purple yacht the moment we heard of it. Again I had the feeling of being late or even more late.

Up until my Ley Line Walker saw (via Read Aura) that the "funny" ape at the party was a mid level being I had the gnawing, unpleasant feeling (for the char, for me it was quite a sensation) that I was totally wrong and loosing the trail and time. Combined with the feeling of being naked (no MDC-Armor during the party), I was quite on the edge ... which also may have been caused by the high volume of coffee I was drinking to counter just 3 hours of sleep and 3.5 hours highspeed race to Berlin ;-)

Well, to answer another question from above: I was aware that we wasted no time and were pleased that we were quite effective. The congratulation from the SL (that we had been very fast) sounded a little bit like "... but I had prepared so much more ..."  ;-)

I didn't miss anything, we had all some spotlight time, mystery, combat, planning and survived being chased through town by a Spluggorth Slaver Barge and even survived (!) and escaped ... that was Rifts like it is supposed to happen especialy in a convention game.


Ciao,

Martin


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Callan S. on August 31, 2006, 11:41:02 PM
Ah, so tactical consideration as to whether you took them on, rather than being cued to do so. Cool, I wish I'd played! :)


Hi Settembrini,

I like how you've listed an intention at the start with three main elements. Your pumped and excited about these things, right? How many of them got into the game, do you think? If any didn't or didn't much, do you think that your excitement about them was still part of the play experience? By that I mean an excited GM makes a more exciting game, even if what he's excited about isn't coming into play too much. What do you think?


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on September 01, 2006, 09:59:57 AM
Quote
By that I mean an excited GM makes a more exciting game, even if what he's excited about isn't coming into play too much. What do you think?

Adventure Gaming is all about being excited. You can't prepare a decent session if you have no vision, nothing that gets your juices flowing. Ther must be a reason for taken all the workload.
But:plausabilities must be served first. If something doesn't come upt even though I want it, it won't come up. There is no value in things I like to happen that I actually let happen anyway. This would be circular self-fulfillment in a bad way. At least for me.

For the themes and motifs that I wanted to introduce:

I can only say that players were confronted with that. Everyone could and should react in his own way. It was there, I portrayed it, but wether anybody actually cared I can`t say. I surely had the possibility to introduce racism and politics into the session, exploration was also done.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on September 01, 2006, 10:59:11 AM
Second session:

Starting some hours behind the first group, the Chi-Town Intelligence Chief Col. Lyboc intercepted the notice of escape from Lone Star. Lyboc sees his chance to get really powerful, so he tries to seize Mr. Bingles and present him to the Emperor, before the loss is even noticed. He wants to discredit and replace the leader of Lone Star to gain control of that vital installation himself.
He sends for some troops and sends them:

Special Forces 1st Lt. (Leader)
SAMAS Flight Officer
Technical Sergeant (Mechanic/Demolitions)
Psi Stalker Sergeant
Dog Boy Cpl.
Soldier Cpl.

quickly after the Chimpanzee. He tells them they were last seen in Montreal, and gives them access to a fast boat. They didn't ask many questions and don't request heavier weaponry and start their hunt (big mistake, I'd say).
When they arrived at the pilots house at the outlet of the St. Lawrence, they bungle their way through the conversation with the drunken Militiamen and Pilots. The Lt. is very indecisive and doesn't want to travel at night with a drunken pilot. His subordinates where all bickering and secretly confering what is about to be done about hte Lt.s inaction. Finally the Flight Officer steps up to him and presses for a decision, as well as reminding the LT. of the harsh time limit they are under.
THe Lt. remains indecisive and orders the tech sergeant to "steal" a drunken sleeping pilot, but that proves impractical. All in all the Lt. started showing being a very bad adventure gamer, he makes himself a fool by "knocking on the pilot's house, but silently!" even after asking back, he insisted on knocking at the door "loud enough to wake the sleeping drunken pilots, but  very quiet!".
After quite a stall in the game, which some characters used for acquiring infos on the Knights of Jean D'arc and some local clothing, the Lt. can be ushered to actually decide. After this shameful episode, the humbled Chi-Town soldiers close on to their quarry as they actually travel all through the night up to Montreal.
In Montreal the Lt. is indecisive again and starts a dangerous discussion with the Chi-Town sponsored pirate-fishermen. He insists on paying no toll, by blowing their cover and waving around with his military I.D. Meanwhile the Dog Boy socializes with the natives and basically single handedly finds all the clues the previous party left. As the rumbled into the city and took no precautions, the locals can tell them quite some story. Especially the Dog Boy player keeps asking to find out about the enemy's group members, to adjust tactics (smart dog!).
Then they usher the Lt. to "decide" for a quick leave, w/o further investigation to catch up on the competing party.

Cut to Old Bones

The group is trying to collect as much information as possible in short time, and therefore splits. They basically collect all the info left by the other group, as they were not very cautious. They are only several hours behind them, but the crucial time saver was when the tech sergeant and the psi stalker went to a random pimp to check up on underworld rumours:

They enter the pimps "lair".
They talk to him.
He is uncooperative.
They threaten him.
He activates alarm button.
They get angry.
Bodyguard Octoman Mr. Slithers (meanest bounty hunter in anvil galaxy, think boba fett with eight arms) arrives.
Tech sergeant thinks he is smart and threatens Octoman with explosive device.
Octoman laughs and attacks.
Tech sergeant presses button

Player: Rolls dice AND MULTIPLIES WITH TEN for  ninety MD!
GM: "Holy cow! I thought you only had some kind of grenade."
Player: "Fusion block. And we aren't even harmed."
GM: "He fires back."
Both Players:" He isn't dead!?"

After a quick firefight with MD weapons, that leaves the neighbourhood leveled and the pimp and octoman dead, the players emerge victorious. Bystanders proclaim them to be the new "Kings of the 'Hood". The players take this role to order everybody around to gather information about the Chimpanzee and the other group.

Back with the others a strategy discussion ensues, after all facts had been collected. Here, the Lt. wants to sell the rare alien Octoman artifact weapons in order to buy a large grenade launcher. (Which he could have applied for at the start of the adventure...)
The others discourage him from doing that. Strangely the line that settled his concerns was: "Stun grenades don't work on environmentally sealed people."

I thought: He wanted a friggin awesome auto-grenade launcher (oodles of Megadamage x10) to shoot Stun Grenades?!

Anyhow, they make their plan w/o Auto-Grenade Launcher and follow the other group. They pinpointed their location by clever use of their new underground minions and hefty bribes to farmers in the river area. During the strategy discussion a lot of flipping through sourcebooks was done by the players, and they enjoyed and revelled in thinking about tactics and the neccessary tools/weapons for the task.

That's were the session ended.

One player quickly came towards me and expressed his total satisfaction with the session, and that he totally liked my way of GMing. Especially the way I fast forwarded the unimportant and zoomed in to the important parts was a pleasure for him.
All in all, I was very surpised that noone was bored to "just" follow in the footsteps of another group. The players thought it to be very cool, as they could actually picture the events much better, and were sure they could actually get somwhere with reasoning. They really had to and could outsmart someone.

Stay tuned for the final encounter, wherein both groups confront each other to decide the fate of Rifts Earth...

 




Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 01, 2006, 11:06:24 AM
Hi Andreas,

I'm following these posts with interest, but am short on time for comments. My observation: you are extremely skilled with scene framing and also with scene-cutting, which not only makes the game more fun to play, but also more fun to read about.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on September 01, 2006, 12:29:31 PM
Thanks for all the warm comments. I'll gladly answer qustions also.

The final confrontation:

Pragmatic Dimension: I could not foresee what would happen to both groups, so I did not know whether they would ever meet up, still I hinted at the possibility in the ad for the sessions. There was a three hour break between the last session and the start of the ll-nighter sessions (they started at 2400 hours). One couple left during the break. They had already expressed their liking the session, but obviously went home to sleep. The Juicer player didn't want to play, as his character was toast. The Lt. left quietly for another game, w/o ever speaking to us/me again. I think he didn't like it at all. One player had to continue a tradtional session that is held year after year and continued. he wa sundecided at first, but left for that endeavour, expressing his regret at not being around for the showdown. So Three players from each side had the time and willigness to wrap it up in a big fight!

Rapport:
With the purple boat and Mr. Bingles the Lazlo group hid in a sidearm of the big river to meet up with the valiant 'Borg, who  had followed them and to rearrange some other stuff. Rolls were made for their sensor use, but the Chi-Town Group surprised them. The Chi-Town party was all over them, spraying them with Laser Rifles and Stun Grenades and dishing out great amounts of damage.

Me: Wow, Lazlo group is toast.

Sadly they didn't follow their own plan: Shoot the Wizard first!
So once the Lazlo groups Initiative came up, they did the killer combo: Carpet of Adhesion + Flame Wall again!
All but the SAMAS (flying power armour) were stuck to their boat and burning for 6d6 MD every turn.

Me: Wow, Chi-Town group is toast!

Then the Chi-Town soldiers remembered their battleplan and concentrated on the wizard, ignoring all others. He chose to use "actions from the future" to keep dodging the blasts. Thereby he was neutralized. Then they aimed for the Burster and forced him behind cover as well. [Here the Pally System of combat actions and suppression fire really did shine]

Me: Wow, Lazlo group is going to die...

The City Rat went all valorous and used the Techno-Wizard emplacement gun to kill the Chi-Town Lt.

Me: Heck, how's this gonna end?

Tech Sergeant threw another one of his dreaded fusion blocks over to the other ship, killing the Burster and the City Rat

Me: What the...?!

Meanwhile the SAMAS flew around doing some damage, but generally being unimportant. The 'Borg from the Lazlo forces was largely ignored and merrily kept firing at the SAMAS.
Then, after some more fighting, it all came down to a showdown between the 'Borg and the SAMAS. They wrestled and shot and the 'Borg kept drilling for the head of the SAMAS.

Oh my!

In the meantime, the Ley Line Wizard who had been hiding so long, was able to act again. He saw that only him and the 'Borg remained, and things were looking bad. So he made a grave decision: He went under deck, and killed the chimpanzee!

The SAMAS made many holes into the Ley Line Walker with his Railgun and ejected out of his power armour, as the Mining 'Borg had fled under water. He had tried to drill through the SAMAS helmet, but missed after reducing his head to a meager 2 MD. As the slowly-to-death-burning other Chi-Town soldiers kept melting away his armour, the 'Borg player didn't want to stretch his luck and jumped into the water.

With his buddies dead or dying, the mission goal unattained, his armour in shambles, a frightened and wet SAMAS flight officer took it to the wilderness, hopefully to return to Chi-Town safety...

With his friends dead, his plating in shambles, the Chimpanzee killed by friendly fire, a disillusioned Mining 'Borg crawled out of the water, hopefully to reach Lazlo alive...

Player applause




Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Callan S. on September 01, 2006, 07:21:34 PM
Awesome ending! And not at all controlled or contrieved, just the raw results of action! Was there shock and awe when the line walker killed the chimp? What were the responces when the city rat and burster got fusion blocked?

Quote
By that I mean an excited GM makes a more exciting game, even if what he's excited about isn't coming into play too much. What do you think?

Adventure Gaming is all about being excited. You can't prepare a decent session if you have no vision, nothing that gets your juices flowing. Ther must be a reason for taken all the workload.
But:plausabilities must be served first. If something doesn't come upt even though I want it, it won't come up. There is no value in things I like to happen that I actually let happen anyway. This would be circular self-fulfillment in a bad way. At least for me.

For the themes and motifs that I wanted to introduce:

I can only say that players were confronted with that. Everyone could and should react in his own way. It was there, I portrayed it, but wether anybody actually cared I can`t say. I surely had the possibility to introduce racism and politics into the session, exploration was also done.
Actually, I'd like to ask you for some advice. Years back when I started up with a new group, I ran a game that quite a theme in it (Rifts australia game, actually). There were two fueding families, with a rival in each for the love of one woman. One made himself a monster (to get power/revenge? Or punish himself?) after losing her and in his bent passion, raping her. The story was set after, where the son (the rape made her pregnant!) became a sorcerer and not knowing the monster was his father, was using the monster to attack the other family. Into this bunch of issues, the PC enter. The details don't matter to what I'm going to say, except that I felt for this storyline.

Okay, I felt this stuff and was excited about it (it probably showed in my presentation of the story). But the players approached it...well, you know your players that enjoyed acting cool and calm and professional, no matter who they were talking to (including ancient dragons). Well, that's how these players approached this game - everything was an obstacle to take down. And I think what made the obstacles worth taking down, was my excitement. But I wasn't giving this stuff for that way of playing.

So, I personally shifted to trying to cater to what they found fun - which was beating obstacles. And my games became incredibly dull, because I thought (at the time) they'd get all excited again and be the center of the games excitement. While they were really relying on me to get excited, to make their obstacle beating exciting for them.

But I couldn't get excited - I started trying to run obstacle beating game, because the rival lovers and other stuff - well, that wasn't where the players excitement was at.

Am I making sense? Please moderate me if I'm stuffing up your thread and I'll start a new thread or PM (I thought my post would end up shorter than this, sorry). My questions are: I think I needed the players to be excited about the same thing as me, otherwise I'd just naturally shift over to feeling what they were getting excited about*. Why haven't you felt the urge to shift over to what they find exciting (and fall into the same problem as me)?

Sorry for this post, it's probably one of my suckier ones.


* Which didn't work out, since their excitement was a reflection of my own. I couldn't reflect of their excitement when theirs was a reflection of my own. When two mirrors reflect each other, all you get is black.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on September 01, 2006, 11:13:17 PM
First, I'd say your theme was way to personal, so muchthat I think would have also either felt uncomfortable or viewed professionally. People like to make choices. You have to allow them to care, not force them to care. Everybody likes to pick something which he cares about, and many people like it, if they see something valuable in something everybody else does not.

For making people care about themes, you can do two things:

Play a Thematic Roleplay Game, like they can be found here at the forge. Choices are made by the players, so they are bound to care.

Present a believable large and colourful emulated world. with believable motivations and lots of different factions and moral standpoints to chose from. The players will surprise you and will be motivated like you have never seen it before. They'll be drawing maps, writing in-game letters and all things like that. Sure at first it's problem solving-obstacle-overcoming. But once the players found something they want their character sto like, it will rock more than anything else!

Either way, the adventure gaming way or the thematic way, leaves the players choice. and that is the most important thing. Freedom of choice. Trust the players, they want to care about something. but not neccessarily what you care about. A good example could be Star Wars: Many people love Bounty Hunters/Boba Fett, others love Jedi. Others love the Empire, all love the movies. The heavy force-fed [pun intended] Jedi slant in the new movies was that basically screwed them for me. There wasn't any choice. Only force.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: MSch on September 02, 2006, 01:21:10 AM
Awesome ending! And not at all controlled or contrieved, just the raw results of action! Was there shock and awe when the line walker killed the chimp?

Actually it was the City Rat that suggested, that we have to kill the monkey before we all go down in flames. And when the City Rat was dead, his player was playing devils advocate with my Ley Line Walkers conscience. Finally it had to be done. So this was not all running around in silly armor, blasting around, there was a moral decision to make ... in a Rifts-Game! Who would have thought of that?

Well ... being one of those 'german hardcore narrativists' (as Vincent Baker called us, after he and Ron were in Berlin for the Spione-Event) I took this challenge and did what had to be done. The chimp would have been dead anyway, because the SAMAS fired his Railgun blindly into the lower deck after the Ley Line Walker had glued him (the only flyer) to the deck too (Carpet of Adhesion is nasty and totally unbalanced).

Quote
What were the responces when the city rat and burster got fusion blocked?

The city rat aplayer ccepted it and had fun watching the rest of the drama. The player of the Burster was just a substitute and he was not very fond of the rules and I told him most things his Burster could do. This, the late hour, the poor rules (or at least the ridiculous organisation of those rules) and some oversight by GM and Players led to some frustration.

I know why I usually don't play mages: too many choices  ;-)  (and then two feature monsters, this was heavy burden)

In retrospective the Burster would only have taken 1/10th the damage of the fusion block (player oversight ... mine) and would have survived. I could have handled the Ley Line Walker different (e.g. turn invisible and continue fighting) but those are just minor quibbles

But those Coalition Soldiers, that were magically glued to their ship, standing in several meter high pyrokinetic Mega Damage flames that were rapidly melting their armor away, their hovercraft rushing into fight and then away from us straight onto a cliff, those soldiers kept shooting at us without the slightest modifier to their actions, even when they hit the cliff or had to fire at someone at the back. This should have been handled different by the GM.

But this is my only grief from (for me) one and a half action packed Rifts sessions.

In conclusion I think even though the Lazlo team seemed far underpowered (at least without the Juicer) their diversity led to more tactical choices and with some clever plan could have annihilated the Coalition party with much less own fatalities. But two o clock in the night is not the time for clever plans   ;-)


Ciao,

Martin


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on September 02, 2006, 01:54:05 AM
Carpet of adhesion is already powerful. Giving penalties would have taken the other group totally out of play, as they already had to hit a 12.
No saving throw, no ranged attack needed, and no way to escape is already unbalanced. Especially in a PvP situation. But the solution is easy:

"Carpeted" get the "entangled" tag from the SRD, BUT they get a Saving throw for totally avoiding being entangled. Thus all Carpet matters are resolved.



Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: MSch on September 02, 2006, 04:10:33 AM
Carpet of adhesion is already powerful. Giving penalties would have taken the other group totally out of play, as they already had to hit a 12.
No saving throw, no ranged attack needed, and no way to escape is already unbalanced. Especially in a PvP situation. But the solution is easy:

"Carpeted" get the "entangled" tag from the SRD, BUT they get a Saving throw for totally avoiding being entangled. Thus all Carpet matters are resolved.

You are not going to change the Rifts rules into something, that makes sense, actually balanced? This would so totally _not_ be Rifts that it would suck all the fun out of the game  ;-)

I made my complaint during the session, you acknowledged it and ruled that there will be no other modifier and I accepted it. So don't sweat it, I enyoed it nonetheless.


Ciao,

Martin


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: niddhogg on September 02, 2006, 05:59:35 AM
But those Coalition Soldiers, that were magically glued to their ship, standing in several meter high pyrokinetic Mega Damage flames that were rapidly melting their armor away, their hovercraft rushing into fight and then away from us straight onto a cliff, those soldiers kept shooting at us without the slightest modifier to their actions, even when they hit the cliff or had to fire at someone at the back. This should have been handled different by the GM.

The problem was the Coalition soldiers had no options to act differently. They were glued to their ship, standing in this Mega Damage fire. There was no way to flee because after failing their "saving throw" and without heavier armor than the "dead boy" armor all of them were doomed to die. No discussion, no options. None of them could survive the 6d6 MD damage per round for more than 4 rounds (in expectation). Why not continue shooting at the enemies and supporting the SAMAS who wasn't glued and the only way to accomplish the mission?

By the way i think the Coalition party's mission was more difficult because their orders were to get this ape alive. We were told explicitly rather to let the ape in enemy hands than killing it. Hence we hesitated to request heavier weapons because we feared the ape could be injured, in particular the Lt. did so. The ley line walker killed the ape ruthlessly. In the end Laszo won because the formula to wipe out the non-humans was lost.


But it was very fun to play. The Coalition party had to be fast because the Lazlo guys had been even faster. It was exciting all the time, even during the final showdown when one party was doomed to die since the first combat round. Settembrini used a lot of pictures / hand-outs to get into the Rifts world and we weren't restricted in our actions. Even following the first party wasn't boring because we were free to decide how to catch up with the Lazlo party. On balance it was very funny and exciting. The final showdown was over at 3 am. But all players stayed at the con for a while, talking about the game, the system and this good gamemastering.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: MSch on September 02, 2006, 07:03:30 AM
But those Coalition Soldiers, that were magically glued to their ship, standing in several meter high pyrokinetic Mega Damage flames that were rapidly melting their armor away, their hovercraft rushing into fight and then away from us straight onto a cliff, those soldiers kept shooting at us without the slightest modifier to their actions, even when they hit the cliff or had to fire at someone at the back. This should have been handled different by the GM.

The problem was the Coalition soldiers had no options to act differently. They were glued to their ship, standing in this Mega Damage fire. There was no way to flee because after failing their "saving throw" and without heavier armor than the "dead boy" armor all of them were doomed to die. No discussion, no options.

Yeah ... and deservedly so  ;-)

Running headlong into combat with no other plan than "shoot the mage first" was ... foolish. They had more firepower, the moment of surprise and a SAMAS, the only flying character.

And what did they do? They came rushing in, side by side, blasting away like there was no tomorrow and with sheer luck the SAMAS became airborne before the Carpet of Adhesion came down ... not clever.

They knew that they went up against magic wielding, D-Bee-loving, mutant scum from Lazlo with some dirty tricks up their unwashed sleeves who even stalled a Splugorth Slaver and his Barge. Reconnaissance, spreading out, ambush from the cliffs, combined with air support from the SAMAS and naval attack from the ship would have been the way to go ... more effective, more Coalition-like and we would have been toast by the second melee round.

But I am just mocking around, I had plenty of fun too.

Quote
Settembrini used a lot of pictures / hand-outs to get into the Rifts world and we weren't restricted in our actions.

Yes, I liked that very much, even though I knew Rifts quite well. You "got the picture"  ;-)


Ciao,

Martin (next time I'm the lieutenant)


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: niddhogg on September 02, 2006, 11:04:47 AM
Running headlong into combat with no other plan than "shoot the mage first" was ... foolish. They had more firepower, the moment of surprise and a SAMAS, the only flying character.

And what did they do? They came rushing in, side by side, blasting away like there was no tomorrow and with sheer luck the SAMAS became airborne before the Carpet of Adhesion came down ... not clever.

You're right. We ended our regular session just in the moment our characters found out the whereabout of the Lazlo guys. Then our Lt. player became quiet and left the table quickly. Only the players of the Psi stalker and the SAMAS and me (btw, i played the tech sgt) promised to continue for final-showdown session. Our dog boy player had to participate in another round (as Settembrini told some posts before) and our Coaltion Grunt player .. emm .. i don't remember. So there were only three players and two of them left the convention promising to return for the final showdown. Next time i saw these players was just before we started the final session. Hence there was no arrangement/tactics apart from the "efforts" of the Lt. to emphase non-lethal weapons etc. to avoid harming the ape. Well, it was a mistake and a fatal one.

Two last things:
Firstly, i think this glue-and-flame combo was very deadly and none of us anticipated its deadly efficiency. Our characters didn't have such a party doomsday machinery. Hence we should have more concentrate of getting as deadly hardware as possible.
Secondly, there was a situation Settembrini didn't described: When our Lt. tried to sell the very precious alien technology (weapons from that octopus-bounty-hunter),
the SAMAS flight officier was so frustrated resp. horrified about the Lt.'s doings (the previous ones and the current attemp to sale) that the mentioned to suspend the Lt. and take over command by himself.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Callan S. on September 02, 2006, 12:47:04 PM
For making people care about themes, you can do two things:
That's the divide there. I didn't set out to make them care about my fun - I pursued their type of fun instead. But I could only really reflect their fun - I couldn't emit obstacle beating excitement, only reflect it from others.

What's bizarre is that they could take my moral theme excitement and go off on a obstacle beating/gamist tangent. How can excitement carry over like that - it's kind of stupid? Perhaps they just felt the motivation but could only do what they'd done before. Never mind, I'm taking too much time in your thread. Oh, and I assure you, there was no force, even though those issues were personal - you might consider whether your holding off on issues that deeply interest you, because you'll get too passionate about them and apply force to the players. It's a very real problem in RP design.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on September 02, 2006, 01:25:15 PM
Quote
It's a very real problem in RP design.

No, it's a GM problem. Give people many choices, and they will gladly pick their favorites. they might not care for the rape victim, but they might care about the village nearby, where they met a nice female teacher or the nunhouse, where they treat orphans, or they hook up with the local ultra-kewl bounty hunters and want desperately to join that guild themselves. Everyone has different needs. Either you gather their needs beforehand (many thematic games do that, and even drop your need for prepation), or you give them enough options. Adventure Gaming is all about options. You left them only the option to feel about one story involving only very few characters. Don't limit your scope to personal stories, give 'em freewheeling large adventorous and lavish settings, where they feel free and sense opportunity around every corner. Your special effects and cast budget is unlimited, so don't bore people with a handful of NPCs when you can have the cast of a thousand!
This can even be done in a depressing manner, if you care for a darker mood. But if there is any single advice I have for any Adventure Rolplayer GM it is:

Give the players options, give the players options, give the players options.



Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Callan S. on September 02, 2006, 05:18:05 PM
I should have emphasized in my account, they were very happy with that first game (leaning forward in chair, paying close attention, etc). They became unhapppy when I tried to give them what they wanted (obstacle beating). One even said as much, saying the first games were the best. This has happened in two groups, actually, the first being GM for the first time with my friends (again, really fun first game, dullness afterwards).

I think I must have switched because I wanted to, shock horror, be in on the fun event that was happening. The GM is just another player, of course.

I think I tried stuff like the cast of thousands and other option techniques, when perhaps players simply home in on what you find exciting (and then deal with that in a way they find exciting). They ignore 999 NPC's for the one NPC that your thrilled about. When I switched to their way, I starting homing in on them at the same time. I'm interested in how you didn't switch that way. I think it's to do with the cast of thousands - not homing in, but scattering outward. You've perhaps kept to your moral issue style of fun (rather than switching to obstacle beating like me) because...I dunno. Perhaps because amongst those thousands of NPC's, the players would every so often approach them at a moral issue level (like the female nunhouse teacher, or the desperation to join a guild/be part of something). The cast of thousands doesn't help the players, it helps you. Helps you meet your moral issue agenda, while I gave up, switched over and everything went wrong. Just a hypothesis, of course.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on September 03, 2006, 03:11:16 AM
Quote
The GM is just another player, of course.

Is that really so? I don't think so. It's quite a contrafactual and game-damaging viewpoint. GM is every-thing. He decides on style, challenge, mood and whathevu. It's responsibility, either you are up to it, or you are not. That's why you need passion. And in the first session you had passion (but expected to empassionate the players also, which also leads to nowwhere, see above).
Let go of the idea of the GM being equal, that's really a concept that leads to nowhere in the context of games like Rifts. There might be other games, like PtA!, where this couldbe true, though. You stated it as a truth, so I assume you firmly believe in it. Dis-learn, and have fun again.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Glendower on September 03, 2006, 06:33:10 AM
Quote
The GM is just another player, of course.

Is that really so? I don't think so. It's quite a contrafactual and game-damaging viewpoint. GM is every-thing. He decides on style, challenge, mood and whathevu. It's responsibility, either you are up to it, or you are not. That's why you need passion. And in the first session you had passion (but expected to empassionate the players also, which also leads to nowwhere, see above).
Let go of the idea of the GM being equal, that's really a concept that leads to nowhere in the context of games like Rifts. There might be other games, like PtA!, where this couldbe true, though. You stated it as a truth, so I assume you firmly believe in it. Dis-learn, and have fun again.

Putting the GM on some sort of throne helps nothing.  It destroys any kind of open communication about the game.  I agree that a player who is GMing has responsibilities, but so do the rest of the table.  It's a collaborative effort to have a good time.

It's a better idea to have everyone equal, but with slightly different jobs.  Then you can have shared ownership of what's happening in game, which has, in my experience, made for a very fun time.  And I believe that applies with all game systems.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on September 03, 2006, 06:47:43 AM
Quote
Putting the GM on some sort of throne helps nothing.  It destroys any kind of open communication about the game.  I agree that a player who is GMing has responsibilities, but so do the rest of the table.  It's a collaborative effort to have a good time.

It's a better idea to have everyone equal, but with slightly different jobs.  Then you can have shared ownership of what's happening in game, which has, in my experience, made for a very fun time.  And I believe that applies with all game systems.

Shared ownership? The players own their characters, and nothing else. That's why it's fun. That's why they care, that's why they can experience suspense.
A GM is like someone having friends for dinner: He is responsible for cooking, the others for eating, and more importantly creating a nice evening through the stuff they talk about. Nobody can take away the chores of cooking from the cook.
A player might bring along a salad, or help with the dishes. But the cook is the cook, the GM is the GM.



Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Precious Villain on September 03, 2006, 08:56:44 AM
To be fair, Rifts is an old design and was probably written on the premise that the GM is all powerful.  Playing it another way is a form of Rules drift, even if the rules aren't actually stated explicitly anywhere in the book.  Not that Rifts couldn't benefit from changes, of course.  But while that sentiment may apply narrowly (to Rifts, AD&D, etc.) I don't believe it is a universal truth in role playing.

-Rob

ps:  still looking for that "story engine" thingy :) 
pps:  and is it common to ignore the -10 modifier on Dodge rolls when the attack is ranged, i.e. laser, bullet, arrow, etc. ?  The combat example in the book seems to ignore it (or those characters have ridiculously good stats).


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Glendower on September 03, 2006, 09:36:52 AM
That's a good point, Rob.  I've been playing a lot of the Indie games these days, which has altered how I view the distribution of responsibility at the table.  I also think the language I'm using isn't quite clear. 

When I say collaborate I mean everyone at the table suggests moods or styles before play begins.  You know, the standard discussion of "wouldn't it be neat if we were all ex army buddies" or something similar.  The GM can take inspiration and ideas from the players during this discussion, it makes his job easier as he can find hooks that engage and involve the players.   That kind of open communication allows people to not only get their idea of fun heard and understood, but they then know what everyone else thinks is fun. 

I like the idea that the responsibility of everyone at the table is to ensure everyone at the table has fun, including themselves.  To take your analogy, even a cook could use someone to peel potatoes, or stir the batter.  Food that I've helped prepare always tastes better, and everyone pitching in means a less tired cook. 

This helps when designing play.  Giving players options is fine, but it helps to know what options they'd go for. 


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on September 07, 2006, 01:23:47 AM
Quote
When I say collaborate I mean everyone at the table suggests moods or styles before play begins.

This is totally bonkers for a Con-Session. And most real groups I know, subconciously settle in for what the DM has in store for them simply by agreeing to the game played.

Wanna play Cthulhu?
Well...
Wanna play Blue Rose?
Well...
Wanna play Twilight:2000?
Hell, yes!

That's how reality works.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: droog on September 07, 2006, 04:07:41 AM
That's how reality works.
Your point about con games is fair enough (though I think people have run eg MLwM including creating the Master and Minions, for example, at cons). As far as continuing group play goes, however, it's fundamental to some games, such as Burning Wheel or Sorcerer, that there will be talk about the game beforehand to fix on details of setting. So that's how some of reality works, you might say.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on September 07, 2006, 04:12:13 AM
Quote
So that's how some of reality works, you might say.

Well, of course I'm talking about the adventure gaming context.
The cited games are designed for player input and minimal prep time. Those are different animals.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: droog on September 07, 2006, 05:34:15 AM
This is a big digression from your actual play, and I'll take it to PM. Please excuse me.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Settembrini on September 26, 2006, 07:30:45 AM
I never fully grokked the three Creative Agendas, therefore I renounced them to be of any practical value, and I personally think they don't cover what I get out of the hobby.
I realize, that this is not the place to argue about that.
I also realize, that only actual play can be categorized into the CAs, not systems.

So here is my request:

Please analyze my actual play, and tell me what CA our game was. I will not "fight back" or "argue". I just want to see the methodical tools of the Big Model in Action. Maybe you (all who care to post) can even convince me of it's merits. I will be reading with an open mind, and am looking forward to your analysis.


Title: Re: [Rifts] Two and a half sessions at Odyssee Con, Berlin
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 30, 2006, 10:21:39 AM
Hi Andreas,

That's best suited to a new thread, I think. I'll need a couple of days because other threads are occupying a lot of time.

Best, Ron