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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 204 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Capes!] The first session  (Read 2838 times)

Posts: 202

« on: February 17, 2005, 04:25:56 PM »

So my first try of Capes! took place on Tuesday.
It was me and three other players:
* Lyle, who has many years of roleplaying experience under his belt
* Mike, who is also quite experienced
* Henry, who is relatively new to roleplaying in practice, though he fooled around with D&D a little in the 80s.

First of all, Capes! is very difficult to explain to newcomers. We spent the better part of an hour with me describing how play would work. There was a lot of squinting and furrowing of brows as the (quite foreign) concepts of Capes! beat against the brains of folks with preconceived notions about what roleplaying is.

Then we made spotlight characters. Everyone liked leafing through the click-and-lock slips (I printed out two copies of the downloadable set and cut them out).

We ended up with:
Lyle – Martial Artist / Ingénue named The Damsel. He envisioned her as a kind of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (from the movie not the TV show). With her Duty exemplar, the Rabbi who taught her to be a fighter for God.
Mike – Robot / Curmudgeon named X117. The robot was designed to kill, but broke free of its programming to do good. He has a Justice exemplar that is the CEO of the company that created him.
Henry – Speedster / Spunky Hid named Supersonic Steve.
Me – Magician / Guilt-Ridden Professor Culiar. He’s a cross between Dr. Strange and Batman. He’s going to have an Exemplar, but I didn’t think of a good one for this session.

Lyle started the first scene, setting up a “how the super-team got together” story in the Synagogue where both the Damsel and Supersonic Steve attend services. It was pot-luck night, when suddenly mooks start streaming in through the windows and kicking down the doors.

Mike made up a supervillain, Razorback, on the spot to play. Razorback is there for a mystic artifact. The mooks are working for him. Henry chose to play Supersonic Steve. I, sadly, thought it would be cool to play the mooks.

Jay’s Capes! lesson # 1: If you have no story tokens, don’t be the only person playing a non-super character.

We flailed around a bit, learning the rules as we went. The scene took all evening and we ended up just narrating three outstanding conflicts by consensus when it was time to wrap up. Razorback got the dingus and got away. Tune in next week for our next scene.

I had a few of interesting observations:

1.) Nobody but me (the guy who’d read the rules and who has been thinking seriously about RPGs for years) was comfortable stating actions authoritatively. They were all in the “I try to do this” mode instead of the “I do this and this, and the crowd does this, and then…” mode. I think player stance is the hardest thing about Capes! It’s not a comfortable technique for people who are used to being strictly on one side or the other of the GM screen to suddenly straddle it.

2.) Credibility just happened. Even though people were timid about putting their feet into the narrative pond, when someone said that something happened, nobody questioned it. The division of credibility just worked. Very cool.

3.) Character investment is hard. There is a lot to think about in Capes! Changing situations, characters that you may never play again, mechanical resources, and on and on. It seems really hard to focus on a character. I’m sure this will get better with familiarity, but it is really a juggling act.

4.) Focus was maintained. I’ve played some other games with Henry in the past, and he has attention issues. Lyle does too sometimes. But this game did not have lots of digressions and space-out moments. Everyone was focused on the game. So even though focusing on the characters was hard, the mechanics kept us all paying attention to what was going on. There is no down-time. Player spotlight is built right in, and that is perhaps the coolest thing about the game.

All in all, we had a good time. Better yet, now that I have clarified some of the rules, I can see us having a real blast next session.

Jay Loomis
Coxcomb Games
Check out my http://bigd12.blogspot.com">blog.

Posts: 3702

« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2005, 09:24:48 PM »

Jay:  Too cool!

I've seen the whole "I try this" rather than "I do this" mode a lot while running demos.  What I usually do is prompt them for the next step.  "So you hit me with an I-beam... what does it do to me?  How do I react?"  If you say that with a rabid, fascinated intensity it usually draws them into more description quite naturally.  

I think of it as if they've just teased me with a cliff-hanger in a story that only they are telling... which is, locally, neither more nor less than the truth.

Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum
Larry L.

Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic

« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2005, 04:44:16 PM »

First of all, Capes! is very difficult to explain to newcomers. We spent the better part of an hour with me describing how play would work. There was a lot of squinting and furrowing of brows as the (quite foreign) concepts of Capes! beat against the brains of folks with preconceived notions about what roleplaying is.

Yes, this seems to be the chief drawback I have noticed in the game. The learning curve seems a little steep for non-gamers. Mind you, if you sit and read through all the examples in the book, "how to play" becomes much clearer. But handing someone a rulebook (even one presented like an attractive graphic novel!) and saying, "First, read this book" is always a great way to sap the interests of many potential players.

I think this stems from the GM-less nature of the game. In most games, the GM also acts as the tutor, hand-holder, whatever. I think this stems from the "The GM is the rules" stuff stated in most RPG texts. In practice, I've always found this fosters a sort of laziness/passivity among players, who in knowing the GM actually sets the rules by fiat, realize that learing the rules is a waste of time, thus requiring the GM to handle all the mechanics stuff.

Capes is, I think, more akin to teaching someone a "masterless" competitive game like chess or go. I understand the game, and now I'm teaching you how to play this game so that you may play against me. If you think what I'm teaching you is a load of shit, we can stop and look over the situation in a rulebook until we come to consensus.

I'll see how this theory holds up after I've sprung the game on a non Forge-weaned group.

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