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Title: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: jrs on May 23, 2007, 04:21:57 PM
So we started a Grey Ranks game.  We only got through Chapter 2; not exactly a full session.  I assume much of that was due to our unfamiliarity with the game and needing to pass around individual sheets of Ron’s copy.  I definitely want to continue and complete the full game.  The setting and the game itself are very compelling.  I particularly like the Radio Lightning bits before each chapter. 

Our crew is
Tadeusz (Tod), 15, holds dear his first love, Aloof/Friendly, Careless/Careful
Eugenia (me), 15, holds dear her city (Praga), Eye-Catching/Inconspicuous, Immature/Experienced
Tadeusz (Ron), 16, holds dear his country, Weak/Strong, Selfish/Resourceful
Kazimiera (Maura), 17, holds dear her friends, Talkative/Articulate, Foolish/Clever
(This is all from memory.  Ron, as holder of the character sheets, you’ll need to correct as needed.)
 
So Jason if you are reading this, I have some mechanical/textual questions for you.

D4s and age adjustments. 
1. We all assumed that if your reputation die is a d4 and you choose to use it for a personal scene and you are 15, you still roll the d4.  That is, the minus on personal scenes due to age does not apply.  Is that correct?

2. We also assumed that age adjustments to dice occurred at the point a die is chosen for the conflict and not at the beginning of the chapter.  Is that correct?  I have to admit that I was the one that was confused by this, and I couldn’t find anything in the text that stated it explicitly.  Although in hindsight, I do not see how it could work any other way.

Starting NPCs
3. The draft we are using has conflicting statements on the number of NPCs to create after Chapter 1.  In the Chapter one summary (p. 17), it states “one fewer than the number of players”; later on p. 19, it states “one extra per player to start”.  We followed the second version, because we saw it first.

Target numbers
4. Another textual conflict.  The “What Do We Do?” guide (very handy I might add) states that “The target number is equal to the chapter number times the number of players.”  There is no indication that there is any difference in the target number for personal and mission scenes.  The game text on resolving personal and mission scenes (p. 26) describes a different (and much more obtainable) target number for personal scenes, namely that it is the chapter number only.  We played with separate target numbers for personal and mission scenes.  I expect that is what you meant; otherwise Grey Ranks would be an incredibly harsh game full of failed personal goals!

And a couple comments:
1. This game just screams out for board-game components.  (Didn't someone ask about that over in Publishing?)  You already have the grid for which we had to scrounge up tokens to represent our characters.  I would love to see cards for each individual situation element that could be laid out in front of everyone, easily picked up and passed around as needed.

2. We were initially confused with equating prologue and chapter one when we wanted the prologue to take place before chapter one.  We are such a literally minded bunch.  You may want to make sure that the game text consistently refers to “chapter one” in the character creation section, and not use “chapter one” and “prologue" interchangeably.

I’m looking forward to our next session!

Julie


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 29, 2007, 03:17:56 PM
Whew - finally got a chance to contribute.

I like Grey Ranks a lot.

Here's my one concern: personal scenes seem a little too self-enclosed to me. I'm not very fond of posing my own character's adversity and then stating his actions in response to it without some kind of intermediate input or constraint in there as well. I think we've ended up drifting things a little by having a lot of group interjection right at that point, so one's own situation isn't entirely of one's own making.

Thoughts on that?

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Emily Care on May 30, 2007, 12:10:39 PM
I've enjoyed getting to play Grey Ranks, too. What were a couple high (is that the right term?) points in the plot for you when you played?

best,
Em


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Jason Morningstar on May 30, 2007, 12:53:57 PM
Hey all,

Thanks so much for playing Grey Ranks.  I'll answer your questions in more detail when I get back from my vacation (tomorrow night).
But:

1.  Yes, can't go below d4 or above d12.

2.  You got it right. 

3.  Thanks for the catch; my intention was one fewer to encourage interaction.

4.  The latter, I think the "what do we do?" text got pulled form an old version or something.

--Jason


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Jason Morningstar on June 01, 2007, 11:17:41 AM
Thanks again, Julie.  The final game will have some downloadable stuff which you ought to have a version of - half-page sheets with the Radio Lightning broadcast on one side and a space for situation elements on the other.  These are supposed to get passed around and referenced in play, chapter by chapter. 

I'll take a look at the way I'm referring to prologue and epilogue (chapters one and ten).  The way the game is structured, this is a little awkward, because I can't structure the game prologue-chapter one - chapter two etc., due to the die escalation.  Chapter one is the prologue.

I hope you get a chance to continue on to later chapters, where things really heat up.  So what happened in play? 


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 01, 2007, 02:26:28 PM
Hi Jason,

Our recommendation is indeed to call them chapters 1 and 10, but to have text in there which says, "Chapter 1 is the prologue" and "Chapter 10 is the epilogue." That text needs to be the first thing people read about the chapters and their names, because as it stands, the terms prologue and epilogue are just tossed out naked first thing, and the reader is trying to parse them regarding the chapter numbers without any orientation. So our group's collective point is very much about ordering of information in terms of reading.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Jason Morningstar on June 01, 2007, 02:43:12 PM
Yes, that makes sense.  I was trying to differentiate them, because the rules are different.  It's complicated!

I guess the simplest approach is to always refer to them by number and note in the text that one is the prologue (with different rules) and ten is the epilogue (with different rules).


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 03, 2007, 06:39:46 AM
I finally got around to this again ... we're continuing our Grey Ranks play this afternoon and I really wanted to summarize events in the first session before then.

Let's see, Prologue scenes generally spun off the Radio Lightning news about the counterfeit newspapers, with the kids distributing them around the city ...

Eugenia dodged some German soldiers who even took a potshot at her, by taking to the rooftops
Tadeusz (Tod's) impressed some Grey Ranks kids from another neighborhood
Tadeusz (mine) helped dispose of a German soldier's body and ate a cake when he shouldn't have
Maura had to deal with a distraught neighbor who didn't want her to go out on dangerous missions, and bribed her with vodka

All of the above led to the terms and categories that Julie listed in the above post.

Chapter 2 was pretty complex, but it centered around the plan to hang a German officer in effigy, to add a little spice to the Radio Lightning news about the signs on the lampposts.

As far as the mission goes, well, it started fine with Tadeusz (T) acquiring a uniform to stuff, and then went south very badly when (a) Tadeusz (R) ended up stealing food from the German mess and losing the (still-alive) officer who had previous inhabited the uniform. The crew was surrounded by German soldiers; fortunately, the girls were then able to delay them and make up excuses, permitting the others to scatter, even retaining the half-stuffed effigy.

All the personal scenes succeeded, which as I recall were a little bit shy on the teen-love angle and a little bit more meaty on the tough-times-during-war angle. I was thinking to myself afterwards that I wanted to see more of the former in our upcoming session. We all moved "north" on the grid.

I particularly like the combination of Radio Lightning, the chosen but still optional scene elements (brilliant), and the neighborhoods, which are characterized just enough to get us excited about them.

I am still a bit confused about when you do or do not get to check off the boxes for the Reputations, and just how much authority is involved when someone proposes a Personal scene for their character but is strongly opposed or at least influenced by the rest of the players. Also, is every character forced to have a Personal scene every chapter? The text seems to indicate that that's the case.

I find the business about dice size change based on age very confusing in application, and I'm certain we mixed it up at least once during our session.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Jason Morningstar on June 03, 2007, 07:08:38 AM
I am still a bit confused about when you do or do not get to check off the boxes for the Reputations, and just how much authority is involved when someone proposes a Personal scene for their character but is strongly opposed or at least influenced by the rest of the players. Also, is every character forced to have a Personal scene every chapter? The text seems to indicate that that's the case.

I find the business about dice size change based on age very confusing in application, and I'm certain we mixed it up at least once during our session.

Thanks, Ron, that all sounds perfect for the first two chapters, in terms of content and success ratio.  To address your questions:

You check off a reputation box when you use the die.  So if you are starting fresh, the first time you mechanically invoke a reputation in play (to re-roll any die that had a result you didn't care for), you cross off the next highest box (the first time, this will be the d6 box) and incorporate your reputation somehow, then re-roll. 

I'm not clear on your question about authority in personal scenes.  Do you mean a scene in which your stated goals are at odds with another player's character or interests?  If they care deeply, they can use their own resources (reputations and things held dear) to influence the outcome.  I've often found that people will change intentions to reach an informal consensus if their initial idea is sharply at odds with somebody else's desires, though.  I think that's fine - that's just being friends. 

Everybody should have a personal scene in every chapter.  I didn't want any mechanical encouragement for being *less* involved, and allowing people to not take them, in some circumstances, does just that. 

The die mod for age thing does get a little confusing.  Some people latch on and some people forget.  The easiest way to handle it is this - the die you actually hand to the mission leader, or actually roll for your personal scene, is changed up or down immediately before you hand it over or roll it. 


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: jrs on June 04, 2007, 04:40:37 AM
We played our second session and got through chapter 5.  We hit our stride and things really started getting intense for our characters--including the destruction of what my character holds dear and her moving into three corners on the grid.  Ron said he'd do a write-up of events in play, so I'll leave him to that.

We have two procedure issues that stymied us.

1. Age thing again.  If both a reputation and age will affect the chosen die, which acts first?  For example, the player has a 17 year old character, she is putting forward her d8 (she's already used her d6) reputation die for her mission scene.  Is it: (a) start die d4, age adjust down which keeps it as a d4, change to d8 for reputation; or (b) start die d4, change to d8, age adjust to d6?
This type of thing happened several times during play and we were not sure how to proceed.  We decided that the age adjustment always happens first, but we'd like to know what you intended and you may want to make that clear in the text.

2. Final mission scene.  The rules state that before the last player's mission scene, all the mission dice are rolled to determine the success of the mission.  It is unclear if that roll should include the last person's mission die.  Since the last person could still have two dice to choose from, we did not like having to force the person into a blind choice before his or her scene.  This is what we did.  We rolled all dice collected thus far (three for our game).  Then proceeded with the mission scene for the fourth person.  This is not a guarantee that the mission outcome is known before the last mission scene, but there is a component of how much the last person matters to that outcome.  So if the three dice are rolled and beat the target number, that is a very different situation than if they do not.

Julie

p.s. I got Maura's character's name wrong in my first post.
p.p.s. When we did re-rolls, I do not think any of us chose to use the d12; we just re-rolled the original dice used. 


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Steve Segedy on June 04, 2007, 12:45:31 PM
I'm sure Jason will weigh in on this, but based on our own playtests* and discussions, I believe the answers are:

1.  Age modifiers are a final adjustment, ultimately modifying your personal die before it's rolled.  For example, if you plan to use a D4, age won't lower it any further.  If you wanted to use Reputation to raise it, but only had a D6 to use, it would still wind up a D4.  If you had a D8, the end result would be D6.   If you then used your last Reputation level, the D10, the end result would still be modified by age to be a D8.

2. The rolling of the Mission dice in the final scene should include everyone's dice.  Ideally, this shouldn't be a problem as the players choice of a die size guides their narration, not the other way around.  The player narrating the final Mission scene should be guided not only by their choice, but also by the results of the final roll- it's up to them to narrate the success or failure of the mission.

This last bit might be made clearer in our rules if we indicated that the pool should be rolled after the Mission scene is set up (by another player), but before any real role-playing or narration of the scene.

* I'll add the caveat that if any of this doesn't ring true, the rules may have changed somewhat between playtests


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 04, 2007, 03:57:56 PM
Hello,

I will now put my sternness hat on. We have decided upon our official, group, consensus decree, and are not afraid to say, Jason, we think your game will be damagingly unclear unless you implement the following specific recommendations throughout the test:

Always call Chapter 1 Chapter 1. Do not call it anything else. Early in the text, the first time it's mentioned, you should say "Chapter 1 acts as a prologue and features some special rules." Note the lower-case "p."

Always call Chapter 10 Chapter 10. Do not call it anything else. Early in the text, the first time it's mentioned, you should say "Chapter 10 acts as an epilogue and features some special rules." Note the lower-case "e."


The issues Julie has outlined above must also be clarified - or else, in our view, the game will not be playable from the text. Part of clarifying them will probably require a step-by-step breakdown of the decisions a player must make on his or her turn, in order, something like:

- I review the existing narration (either from someone else, for Mission scenes, or what I've just said, for Personal scenes)
- I decide which die to use; I may use either Grid or Reputation die for either Mission scene or Personal scene
- if it is the Grid die, I adjust it by age if I'm 15 or 17
- if it is the Reputation die, I adjust it by age if I'm 15 or 17; I also adjust it to a higher die if I want to check a Reputation box
- if it is a Mission scene, I give the die to the mission leader and narrate appropriately according the instructions, based on that exact die size
- if it is a Personal scene, I roll the die for the scene and narrate appropriately based on success or failure

I think it will be valuable to state that there are no such things as: Mission die, Personal die, Grid scene, Reputation scene. Dice are Grid/Reputation, and Scenes are Mission/Personal, and choosing which die for which scene is fully under one's control.

This has been a stern-hat announcement from the Hyde Park collective game group and I am playing every ounce of trust-card that I may have earned over the last eight years of game-play and posting and Forge-running in order to get you to heed it. We're not kidding.

One small but important thing: all use of the word "exposure" should be replaced with "invoked," for Things Held Dear.

OK, the sternness hat is now off my head.

Before we started play, we reviewed the rules about Things Held Dear and upgrading Reputations, to make sure everyone was oriented about them. We also went through the situational elements in play so far and clarified our, or rather my, misunderstandings about using them. Finally, we reviewed the rules about the grid so that we could all understand what mission and personal scene outcomes might mean.

Jason, you will like this part: for the first two chapters, yes, "success" in the traditional resolution sense dominated our thinking, and since grid movement just bumped us around the middle or to middle-edges, seemed like pretty good heroic war-time stories. In playing these chapters, however, the adolescence of the characters and the repercussions of what they saw and did, transformed our sort-of Boy Scouts at War (Yay!) story into a dark, terrifying, heart-breaking drama of how patriotism is not worth the destruction of young lives.

Particularly because we glommed onto the part of the setting which spoke to all of us most sharply: the rivalry between the Home Army and the communist resistance, a classic example of making an enemy out of the ally you most badly need. As we see it, anyway. Others may disagree.

Ron: Tadeusz Chmurzenka, nicknamed Drab (which I do not know what it means, in Polish), 16
Tod: Tadeusz Fiycz, nicknamed Zodiak, 15
Julie: Eugenia Bartnik, nicknamed Zofia, 15
Wala Świderska, nicknamed Halina, 17

Chapter 3
Julie was mission leader, and she decreed that we were to steal some weapons for the Home Army. The mission was still a little prosaic and it succeeded, based on getting ourselves designated as official Polish lackey truck drivers, and included some neat scenes with Libka, our Timid intel-gatherer (an NPC in our crew). Tadeusz (T) continued his role as the main mission-accomplisher, although Tadeusz (R) finally got his Reputation up to Strong from Weak during his Mission scene, by kicking a German officer in the balls. Wala utilized her usual talkativeness Reputation to advantage in narrating our way out of trouble.

Now for a fun part. When the final mission die is a collective disaster, but the numerical outcome states a successful mission, there's now an opportunity (or rather fruitful-constraint, same thing) to narrate a pyrrhic victory. Julie had the final mission narration, and found herself in this position ... so she decreed that Eugenia ended up delivering the weapons to the communist resistance by accident. Mission completed! Whoops!

All the personal scenes used situation elements extensively as well as rounding out the NPC characters and interactions among the crew:
- Tadeusz (T) embarked on a story-sequence concerning his girlfriend Lisa Becker (Held Most Dear) (yes, a German name), including their first kiss.
- Eugenia turned out to have a crush on a crew member named Karl Fleischer (yes, of German descent, but a Warsaw native), but failed to get her first kiss. [this was our first failed roll in the game]
- Wala helped Wanda, another crew member who actually doesn't want to be in the Resistance (but we use her for cover) get married secretly. Wanda's Reputation was Unlucky to Lucky, but as you'll see soon, she did not make the shift.
- Tadeusz (R) ended up drinking vodka after the mission with Libka, in a pub full of approving tough Polish Home Army guys, and vastly appropriately, entered Nervous Exhaustion. (or maybe I have this wrong and it was the next chapter, I can't quite remember)

Now that everyone was firing on all cylinders with soap opera, and now that one character started on a corner, here's where the whole-game level of the system kicked in with a vengeance, most especially and most wonderfully via the SIS itself in tandem with numbers, dice, and reward mechanics.

Chapter 4
I was mission leader, and based on Radio Lightning, decreed that we were assigned to deliver the mail to a neighborhood (which I drew from the situation elements), with the stern decree that we were not, repeat not, to engage in any of the actual fighting. This chapter was the first that really, really hummed, with every person knowing exactly what to contribute and when. About this point, the situation elements were being used so thick & fast that only a couple remained at any given moment. Here's what happened, organized by player rather than in actual order.

Eugenia used her mission-setting, delivering mail, for a Personal scene to get a letter to someone one a street which had been obliterated by bombing; she also threatened her Dearly Held street to get a re-roll to succeed. Her Mission scene concerned preventing Olek, an Obsessed NPC member of our crew (an 18-year-old who was too sick and wounded actually to go into the Army), from hurling himself into combat in street-to-street fighting.

Tadeusz (T) found himself abandoning the mail to help a shopkeeper who'd been shot by a sniper; his Personal scene involved the picnic where he tried unsuccessfully to get Lisa to flee. As you can see, we were starting to see failures as well as successes, distributed one way or another across Personal and Mission scenes.

Based on the Radio Lightning stuff about the informer, and also from a situation element that stated "your cousin has been sentenced to death as an informer," I put Wala into her mission scene with our NPC crew member Karl, saying he was the accused informer. See, Karl Fleischer is of German descent. Maura really nailed it, as Wala decided to get Karl to hide instead, and also narrated that (as our collective disaster) that Karl's mom was the real informer, and that Wala had twigged her to our Grey Ranks identities. Damn! (I can't remember the character's Personal scene for this chapter.)

At some point or another after that, Tod started to frame a scene about a possible informer, and we all pointed at him and said "you're mission leader next time!", which is to say, we loved the idea and wanted it to be central to a whole chapter.

My Mission scene was last, and it involved how we were being upbraided by the Home Army because of all the mail we'd lost and screwed up with, but we ended up being successful after all because the people of the neighborhood thanked us and praised us, to our chief officers.

At the end of the sequence, Tadeusz (R) emerged from Nervous Exhaustion (if he didn't before; I'm still a bit lost on when that happened), and everyone else moved significantly - Eugenia into Martyrdom, which didn't really fit in my mind about her character, so I singled her out to keep her moving another square, into Derangement. Everyone nodded. Looking across all the chapters, it so happens that we tended to use in-game justification for singling-out, in the sense of saying "well, this makes most sense for you to be here instead of here." This even applied in a kind of backwards way as you'll see in the next chapter.

All of us had also gone "h'm!" when I chose to do my Personal scene after the mission was concluded back in Chapter 3, so in this chapter, the next, and probably from now on, you'll see that at least one player reserves resolving a Personal scene until then - it serves as a perfect mini-Epilogue with many small benefits.

Chapter 5
Tod was decreed mission leader and it was essentially already rock-solid that this chapter was all about the informer, Mrs. Fleischer. This was the first mission which, we decided, we arrived at by ourselves as a crew and had nothing to do with Home Army HQ. We were also inspired by people choosing no less than two situation elements involving the sewers beneath the Old City, and by the obvious conclusions to be drawn from Radio Lightning's rather pathetic attempt at propaganda, that the Home Army was actually getting its ass kicked and the communist partisans were actually providing the most effective resistance.

This chapter shined for a lot of reasons, but especially since we were really thinking structurally now, deciding when and if to take Personal scenes at the beginning and end of every Mission scene. For instance, I got the first mission assignment (lure Mrs. Fleischer away from her house) but took my Personal scene right away, in which I was to get Wanda to help us, but found her and her new husband in the middle of consummating their suicide pact. Tadeusz (R) tried to stop them but I failed the roll; I even destroyed Julie's Thing Held Dear (her street) with Stuka bombers and the re-roll still failed to prevent it ... so Wanda and the husband killed themselves in front of Tadeusz' eyes.

Julie, staring in some horror at the "Destroyed" check-box of her shattered street on her character sheet (yes Jason! it was fun!), then leaped in with an instant Personal scene, and then I got my Mission scene and Tadeusz (R) was forced to beat Mrs. Fleischer unconscious and heft her to the sewers; this led Maura to take her Personal scene right away and have Wala distract Karl (who'd showed up right at the wrong moment) and keep him from noticing that we'd kidnapped his mother.

For some reason I stayed focused on Julie, in terms of player-driven adversity, possibly because Eugenia was in the Derangement corner. I assigned her mission, state  that now we (Eugenia, Tadeusz (T), Tadeusz (R, collapsed in exhaustion), and two of our NPC crew) had Mrs. Fleischer in the sewers and were trying to interrogate her without really knowing how, and Eugenia had taken the lead. This was pretty horrible, as Julie failed the roll and basically, ended up uselessly tormenting the woman into incoherence. She had our characters screaming at her and hurting her, for no reason and with no meaningful effect. We knew what we were really talking about, and the room seethed with quiet rage and shame among us, the real people. "Eighteen-year-old sergeants at Guantánamo," I growled at one point.

Tod then rolled for the mission, getting a successful roll (in the sense that we'd dealt with the informer), and I think it was Maura who assigned his character Tadeusz' mission: to kill her, specifying that we had no weapons to speak of. He ended up breaking her neck with a rope.

Tod and Maura then took their Personal scenes, with Tadeusz (T) staying aloof from Lisa, and Wala dealing with Karl some more, successfully convincing him to stay loyal to the Grey Ranks crew (Karl moved from Excitable to Calm).

So the dynamic interaction of Personal/Mission/who's-next was very powerful in this chapter, and in fact had begun to rev up in #4, and I think we can rely on it being a major feature of play from now on. Brilliant design, really, just like Nathan's game carry - it's the reason why System is designated as part of the SIS in the Big Model.

This chapter's outcomes were savage.
- Eugenia, having moved through Martyrdom into Derangement, now moved over in entirely different direction into Suicidal Depression! Three different black corners in two turns!
- Tadeusz (T) finally moved over into Martyrdom which made all the sense in the world
- Wala moved over into Nervous Exhaustion, ditto
- mine was the best: Tadeusz (R) a little bit in the top row; Tod singled me out only because everyone else was fitting so perfectly into their destination squares (above), and for me, moving an extra square had little or no game effect.

As for Reputations, Wala is still Talkative but is now Clever; Tadeusz (R) is still Selfish but now Strong; Eugenia is still Immature but now Inconspicuous; and Tadeusz (T) is still Aloof and Careless (Tod has upgraded his Reputation die only once, I believe). As for Things Held Dear, Eugenia's beloved street is destroyed, Lisa Becker is invoked, Tadeusz (R)'s boots are invoked, and Wala's silk scarf is invoked.

After that, we were ready to stop and wait for the next session. In looking foward to later play, I can't imagine how all four characters are possibly going to be able to make it through all five remaining chapters. And that's fantastic.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Jason Morningstar on June 05, 2007, 04:13:06 AM
Wow, thanks very much for the detailed report and organizational pistol-whipping.  I need to process a little and I'll have some questions. 


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Jason Morningstar on June 05, 2007, 06:09:31 AM
Still processing, but I wanted to make it clear that your "stern" feedback is exactly what I, as a designer, need to hear, and that this post is a model for constructive feedback.  Maybe this is obvious, but being confronted with real cognitive and procedural problems is hugely valuable, even though the playtesters worked through them to have a fun time.  I think we often see (and I'm as guilty as anybody) playtest reports that read "So the magic sub-system was a little complicated, but we finally figured it out and it was awesome!".  Where, in fact, the magic sub-system is a huge impediment to cogent play and needs to be called out. 

More on the actual play later.


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Jason Morningstar on June 05, 2007, 11:03:53 AM
1. Age thing again.  If both a reputation and age will affect the chosen die, which acts first?  For example, the player has a 17 year old character, she is putting forward her d8 (she's already used her d6) reputation die for her mission scene.  Is it: (a) start die d4, age adjust down which keeps it as a d4, change to d8 for reputation; or (b) start die d4, change to d8, age adjust to d6?
This type of thing happened several times during play and we were not sure how to proceed.  We decided that the age adjustment always happens first, but we'd like to know what you intended and you may want to make that clear in the text.

I can make this clearer.  You should grab your dice for the chapter and then, when you commit one to a scene of either type, adjust it up or down. 

Quote
2. Final mission scene.  The rules state that before the last player's mission scene, all the mission dice are rolled to determine the success of the mission.  It is unclear if that roll should include the last person's mission die.  Since the last person could still have two dice to choose from, we did not like having to force the person into a blind choice before his or her scene.  This is what we did.  We rolled all dice collected thus far (three for our game).  Then proceeded with the mission scene for the fourth person.  This is not a guarantee that the mission outcome is known before the last mission scene, but there is a component of how much the last person matters to that outcome.  So if the three dice are rolled and beat the target number, that is a very different situation than if they do not.

That's not what I intended but it is intriguing.  What I intended is for that last player to roll all the dice (four in your case) and compare them against the target (4 x scene number in your case), thus knowing ultimate success or failure going into the final portion of the mission and framing accordingly.  Your way likely leaves an element of chance up to the very end, which seems fun and challenging - possibly more challenging to effectively frame.  Hmm.  There's an element of predestination in the "official" way that I actually like.  You kow how it is going to go down based on choices (dice contributed) already made, and have a little bit of breathing room to stretch and tell that tale.  Does that make sense?


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 05, 2007, 12:46:25 PM
Hi Jason,

We are perfectly OK with (a) choosing one of the two available dice and (b) adjusting it up or down at that time. That's not the problem.

The problem concerns the times when we must make two adjustments in those few instances when we choose the Reputation die and also want to upgrade it via the Reputation progression. Therefore a 15 or 17 year old character must now adjust twice, once for age, and once for the upgrade. The question concerns the order in which to do those two things.

Example 1

Let's say a character is 15 and in, say, a Mission scene. The player chooses the Reputation die, which, as it stands on his sheet, is a d4.

1. We know it upgrades by one size because the character is 15.

2. The player wants to check his first box for the Reputation progression, to d6.

If #1 goes first, then the die is upgraded from d4 to d6, then is "transformed" to a d6; i.e., the player gets to check the box. Note that checking the box has had no mechanical effect.

If #2 goes first, then the die is transformed from d4 to d6 due to the Reputation, then is upgraded further to d8 due to the age.

Example 2

The character is 17 and has checked off both the d6 and the d8 boxes for a given Reputation. He is in a Personal scene and decides to use the Reputation die, currently sitting there as a d4.

1. We know that it's upgraded by one size for age.

2. We know that it's transformed to a d10 because he's going for the gusto and choosing to mark the d10 box.

If #1 goes first, then it's upgraded to a d6, and then transformed into a d10.

If #2 goes first, then it's transformed into a d10, and then upgraded into a d12.

I could go on with lots more examples, but the general pattern is that which is chosen to go first will make a different in the final die size outcome.

It is possible that you haven't been confronted with this observation before, but that simply underscores my current gripes about playtest culture, because this choice faces all of our 15 and 17 year old characters with every roll.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: jrs on June 05, 2007, 12:52:11 PM
A quick addition to Ron's post above:  I want to point out that at the beginning of a chapter, all of us put forward a d4 as our reputation die.  We do not anticipate utilizing one of the higher reputation dice until a scene is established.  This is why both the reputation die change and the age affects are firing at the same time and causing us confusion. 

Julie



Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Steve Segedy on June 05, 2007, 01:29:59 PM
Hey Ron,

What I tried to express earlier (albeit clumsily) was that die changes due to age are always the final consideration, rather than the first.  Therefore, in both of your examples, #2 should come first and #1 (age) should come second, resulting in a die increase in both cases. 

If the examples had been different (a 15 year old in a personal scene, a 17 year old in a mission scene) age would still be the last consideration, and would therefore lower the die in both cases.  This means there are times when it's simply not worth using a D6 reputation, because your age is just going to lower it to D4 again.

In any case, your feedback about the age rules- and the general confusion they seem to create- are prompting us to look hard at how they should be changed.  Thanks again!


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: jrs on June 18, 2007, 07:51:07 AM
We only managed to get in two chapters (6 & 7) this past Sunday.  My character has managed to stay alive, barely, I used mission leader privilege to bump her off a corner she had already visited once.  She's now bouncing between Suicidal Depression and Derangement.  She gunned down her first Germans point blank in Chapter 7. 

Ron's character is now at Nervous Breakdown for the second time.  And we'll need to play out his character's demise next session.

We were originally uncertain about the meaning of "visiting" a corner--did it mean passing through the corner or starting a chapter from the corner? Based on the play example, we surmised that the corner only counts towards the character's demise if the character starts a chapter from the corner, that is, the singling out of a player to move on the grid twice can mitigate the effect of immediately landing on a corner.  You may want to clarify that in the game text.

A new thing we exploited in play, forced re-rolls to make another player's character fail a personal scene. It finally clicked that re-rolls could be used to force a re-roll of a die that was successful. We ruthlessly squandered endeared items with this discovery.

Julie


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: jrs on June 18, 2007, 08:10:46 AM
Oh, I forgot--we have another question about the rules. 

We do not understand this, "Reputations are similarly frozen wherever they happened to be when the character made his exit" (p. 32 under "When your character is gone").  What does that mean?  Is it that the exited character must continue with only d4s for personal scenes?

Julie


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Jason Morningstar on June 18, 2007, 08:47:28 AM
Hi Julie,

Glad you guys figured the re-roll thing out, although I feel sorry for your poor characters. 

You need to start in a corner for it to have impact, so passing through a corner (through being singled out) would not count as a second "visit".  If you end up on a 'write out" corner after a chapter, that character should be written out in the following one.  So if you start in A1 for the second time during chapter six, somewhere in chapter seven that character should encounter martyrdom and leave the story in body.

The intention (and I can see that it is unclear, sorry) is that a dead player can use either a d4 or the highest die they invoked in play.  The same thematic constraints apply, so using the d4 should highlight their former immaturity in some way, while, say, a d8 would be fond memories of their good qualities and lost potential.


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 18, 2007, 08:51:42 AM
Wait a minute.

So a dead (or otherwise-exited) character can re-use a given increased die size for Reputation?

If so, then that is a new use of that rule which is not available to the characters still in the story. Is that what you're saying?

'Cause that ain't stated in the rules at all.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Grey Ranks] Another playtest
Post by: Jason Morningstar on June 18, 2007, 09:26:31 AM
Sorry, wish I could edit.  I mis-remembered:

"If your character is written out of the story, you still get mission and personal scenes, but they should be about your character's absence.  Feel free to include other characters and interact with them as the voice of their lost comrade.  Your character's final grid position is an epitaph - draw situation elements from it for the remainder of the game.  Reputations are similarly frozen wherever they happened to be when the character made his exit.  You'll contribute one of these dice, as usual, to the overall mission.  Since your grid position is frozen, winning or losing your personal scene has no mechanical consequence once your character is gone."

So yes, you've got your grid position die, and a d4, and the choice you need to make is which of those two you contribute to the mission.  Cold comfort, but I was referring to reputation not as a game term but as a personal one - you're dead, whatever rep you had isn't going to change any more.