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Author Topic: Brainwash (for Snowball)  (Read 8351 times)
Lollo
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« on: March 11, 2004, 07:15:59 AM »

Hi you all,
in the weekend, at Ambercon Italy, I'll test "Brainwash", a Snowball scenario. It's inspired by Chuck Palahniuk novels and tells the story of a rockband starting from the assassination of their leader and then moving backwards... I'll let you know if it works or not.
Well, I HOPE it works, since it's my very first time with The Pool and its variants. :-)

Ciao
L.[/i]
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Lxndr
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« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2004, 08:01:09 AM »

I'm very, very interested in seeing this Snowball scenario written up!  I've been noticing italian links to my page for weeks now, and even mentioned your game on my front page.  It's cool to see how far Snowball's spreading.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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Lollo
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« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2004, 08:10:30 AM »

Quote
I'm very, very interested in seeing this Snowball scenario written up!


Well, probably it will be published on www.flyingcircus.it (a site that aims at becoming the Italian version of The Forge). But... it will be in Italian, of course. :-)))

Ciao
L.
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Lxndr
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2004, 08:17:43 AM »

IF you translate it into English, I'll put the copy up on my page.

But whether you do or you don't, if the italian version is put up, let me know and I'll at least link to it.  :)

Can you give a brief run-down of how it's planned to spin out, or could that be "spoiling" it for potential players at this time.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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Lollo
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2004, 02:23:56 AM »

Ok, here we are after Ambercon Italy. Phew!

For those of you who can't read Italian and can't wait for a translation, this is a Memento/Palahniuk game, narrating (backwards, of course) the last days of a rockband. It uses the "Snowball" system by Lxndr.

I planned Brainwash for sunday morning last weekend at Ambercon, but I did a playtesting with four very experienced players on saturday afternoon. It was the first time I ever played with The Pool/Snowball, so I thought it could be good to test the system and the scenario.

The playtesting was nice (as I have said, very good roleplayers, with strong help from the Italian authority on shared narration, Fabrizio Bonifacio) but not completely good. That was my fault: I had planned too much details in advance. The playtesters also said that certain scenes mustn't always be contiguous: that is, if scene A ends with the concert, it's not necessary for scene B to end *exactly* at the concert; there could be some in-game time between scenes (so they aren't "frames").
Oh, and the game won the award "most interrupted & disturbed event during Ambercon 2004". :-) So I couldn't explain very much of the philosophy of the game before the event.

But the first game was still very useful. With the playtesting experience, the regular game with six players on sunday morning went very good!
The players completely took the spirit of "first state an action, we'll discover WHY you did this in the next scenes": it was very nice to see (both in the playtesting and in the regular event) how all the different elements and ideas were rolled up together at the end (er, the "beginning) of the story. I proposed very little elements: three NPC and the general frame for the scenes.

I found very useful having six photographs (one per scene) detailing the setting of that scene (the concert, the restaurant, the train, etc.). I placed them face down on the table and proceeded revealing them, one by one, on each scene. So the players know exactly where they were and could easy reconstruct what was told so far, even pointing at a photo and saying "ok, in the concert I remember having a gun, so somehow in the preceding weeks my character must buy or steal it". Finally, putting the photo one next the other or a little distant easily visualized if they were contiguous frames or not.

As for the system. I found that the players tended to add and/or raise Traits very rarely. Maybe the referee should encourage raising a Trait whenever there's something relevant to the story, a rule of thumb along the lines of "if you want it to be important to the game in the next scenes, you must have a Trait for it"; I think that in this way it could also be easier to remember all the elements put in the story by the players.

Dice rolling was nice. The Pool & its variants are very elegant systems. I had some minor problems becaues my 0-3 referee dice were of the same color and size of the players' one, so it was difficult to split them again after the rolling, but that was my fault. ;-)

The players sometimes didn't know how to state Intent/Calamity; they simpply told "Intent: it happens this and this. Calamity... uh... well, it happens nothing!". I think that, particuarly for Ideas, there's nothing particularly wrong with this.

Two or three times, in the last scene,  I declared automatical success for stated actions that put together all the story in a logical way.

What else? I have read Snowball before The Pool and I had some minor doubts aboute the rules; after reading The Pool all became clear, but I strongly suggest writing down Snowball so it could be read also by someone who doesn't know The Pool in advance.

In the end: I think I'll play Snowball again, maybe with different scenarios. I don't know if having NO prepared scenario at all would be easier; probably this needs much more impro from the referee.

Ciao
Lorenzo

PS: forgive my English, it's not my mother language. :-)
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zib
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2004, 04:07:45 AM »

Quote
The playtesting was nice (as I have said, very good roleplayers, with strong help from the Italian authority on shared narration, Fabrizio Bonifacio) but not completely good.


LOL!
Me? An authority on shared narration?
Maybe I have the only merit to have played some "forge's games" for the first time in Italy in a public event. In particular InSpectres, Octane, Dust Devils.

If he let me say so, Lollo is a real V.I.P. among Italian gamers. >;D

Anyway, Brainwash was really amusing. I think that in the next future we'll see new snowball's events (zib's lonely neuron is working...).

bye,
zib (a.k.a. Fabrizio Bonifacio)
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Lxndr
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2004, 06:40:02 AM »

Sounds like your snowball experience was a good one.  Very cool!  I'm glad to see people play it.  I'm going to comment on some of your comments now, but overall, I just want to say "nifty! cool! rock on!"

Quote from: Lollo
That was my fault: I had planned too much details in advance. The playtesters also said that certain scenes mustn't always be contiguous: that is, if scene A ends with the concert, it's not necessary for scene B to end *exactly* at the concert; there could be some in-game time between scenes (so they aren't "frames").


Yeah, Snowball's a game that can easily fall apart with over-planning.  Also, you're right in that scenes don't always have to be directly contiguous, but I'd still call them frames - because they do wind up framing the action, even if they don't touch.

Quote from: Lollo
As for the system. I found that the players tended to add and/or raise Traits very rarely. Maybe the referee should encourage raising a Trait whenever there's something relevant to the story, a rule of thumb along the lines of "if you want it to be important to the game in the next scenes, you must have a Trait for it"; I think that in this way it could also be easier to remember all the elements put in the story by the players.


In a convention game, I wouldn't expect Traits to be added or raised very often (although as a GM, you can call for them yourself - relationships with NPCs are a good place to do this).  Yes, things that are supposed to be very important should have traits, but in any compressed game, like a convention game using almost any system out there, there's always less "character improvement" than longer-term games ("campaign-style").

Quote from: Lollo
The players sometimes didn't know how to state Intent/Calamity; they simpply told "Intent: it happens this and this. Calamity... uh... well, it happens nothing!". I think that, particuarly for Ideas, there's nothing particularly wrong with this.


Oh no, nothing wrong with that at all.  :)  Sometimes the worst thing that happens is nothing at all.  But the Calamity is definitely supposed to make the player think, and sometimes it's fun, even with an Idea, to add some sort of complication on a failure.  Obviously, "nothing happens" isn't usually acceptable when adding a trait, though, since even a failure still adds it.
Quote from: Lollo
What else? I have read Snowball before The Pool and I had some minor doubts aboute the rules; after reading The Pool all became clear, but I strongly suggest writing down Snowball so it could be read also by someone who doesn't know The Pool in advance.


I suspect some of it might be just language difference, but I'm going to ask - what was missing from Snowball that would have made it more comprehensible to you?  My goal was to write it so it could be read by anyone (and in fact, one of my proofreaders was my girlfriend, who's never even SEEN the Pool, or most roleplaying games in fact).  Since the last time you probably downloaded Snowball, I've added an example of play at the end, and tweaked the language in a few places due to advice from my editor, but I'm still interested in seeing where you thought the unclear areas in Snowball might've been (and if they're gone now).

Quote from: Lollo
In the end: I think I'll play Snowball again, maybe with different scenarios. I don't know if having NO prepared scenario at all would be easier; probably this needs much more impro from the referee.


Having NO prepared scenario at all can be very fun, but it doesn't lend itself to easy endings in the same way as a convention-style pre-planned module could.  It's good for pick-up games amongst friends, but in an official convention slot I'd be nervous to have no prepared scenario at all.  But I think it can be done.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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Lollo
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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2004, 07:11:42 AM »

Quote
I suspect some of it might be just language difference, but I'm going to ask - what was missing from Snowball that would have made it more comprehensible to you?


E.g. a better clarification on the various sources of dice. If I have a +3 Trait, where do I take the 3 dice to roll? From the referee or from my pool? Reading The Pool I found it, but I don't remember this having been explicitly stated on Snowball.
And the system wasn't completely clear in the difference between gambled/added dice at first. I think it's just a matter of having the single steps better explained.

And yes, I had the final draft, but I think it could be better. Cool game anyway. :-D

Ciao
L.
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Lxndr
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2004, 08:17:24 AM »

I looked through the draft and, lo and behold, yup, it assumes people know what "invoking a Trait" means, but even the example of play doesn't explicitly spell it out.

I've added some text to the document here at work, and once I get home and can convert it to a pdf, a slightly modified version will be put up that hopefully explains that a lot better (in other words, actually mentioning it).  And it's early enough that I'll be able to get that revision into the published copy going into the No Press Anthology.  So, double yay.

Thank you, Lollo!
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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