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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 141 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Snowball(ish)] Nope, no heroes here.  (Read 1980 times)
Jack Aidley
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Posts: 488


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« on: February 24, 2005, 03:36:20 AM »

A few weeks back, in another break from the theoretically on-going campaign I've been running I pursuaded Dave to run a short one-off (we had been going to play Capes, but didn't we had only the Lite rules and hadn't really got our heads round them) so I was a player for a change. Last night we played a second and final session of this game. Dave opted to run using the Snowball system but paying in a conventional forward manner, although it turns out we got the rules slightly wrong for the first session (oops).

Dave set the scene on a fairly gritty victorian-stylee steam-punk setting with a moderate magic level (for example, England is still ruled by King George who has used magic to extend his reign to some two hundred years). Our characters were:

Myself: Scabs (real name: Hewell Benedict), a low life street bum with a skin condition. He's a gifted shape shifter, and animal magician. He scrapes a living commiting petty acts of thievery and doing odd jobs for rich folk (who rob him blind). Every time he shapeshifts his clothes have turned to rags on his return.

Traits: Shapeshift 2 (later bought to 3), Animal Magic 2, Fight Dirty 1, Grovel 1, and later Streetwise 1.

Robin: Alfred Watson, a well-to-do type possesed of Mind Magic skills. He has been known to occasionally hire Scabs when in needs of his magical talents.

Traits (incomplete, I suspect): Mind Magic 2, Wealthy 2, Convincing 2

So, my character and Robin's have a employer-employee and upper-lower class relationship. I've found I really enjoy playing in games where the PCs are not on a equal footing.

We were sent off on a find-and-retreive mission by a crimelord called Sable, with his unpleasant sidekick Gaunt. I'll not do a blow-by-blow of what happened, but instead I want to talk about the character interaction and why it was so much damn fun.

Scabs is a loser, plain and simple. He kow-tows the whole time to people he's scared of or things of as his betters. He's a lazy waster and failure. Although possessed of powers that should make him somebody, or at least, comfortably well off and not scared of awfully much he only ever uses them to scrape by or bum off doing the work. And you know what? That made him really, really good fun to play. When you've lost the notion that you're supposed to be trying to get the best out of your character, and the notion that you're supposed to be the hero it's really liberating.

I also really enjoyed playing the relationship between Alfred and Scabs. Alfred's general disgust at the whole situation and Scabs in particular was great fun, and playing the constantly grovelling Scabs really enjoyable. And in the final scene, when the church guard (I think they were church guard anyway) came to book Alfred for trafficking in magical artefacts dumping him in it at the drop of a hat:

"Oi didn't have anything to do with, mister, sir, it was all him, mister. Oi didn't do nothing, sir."
"Will you testify to that?"
"Yes, sir, Oi will."

Great fun, indeed. And things like being sent (as a mouse) into an opium den to search it out and then just going to sleep in a warm spot and coming out and telling Alfred I'd searched the place. Scabs wasn't totally useless, of course, his shapechanging skills allowed him to acheive all sorts of useful search, spy and escape tricks while his knowledge of the streets kept us on path and the ability to command animals (usually dogs) to attack won us most of the fights we got into. Still, all the time I knew that I could have acheived more but it just didn't seem like what Scabs would do.

And the final thing that made it fun? Never, ever taking the lead. Scabs is a follower, he's not bright and he doesn't come up with cunning plans. He looks to his employer for direction, rather than thinking up his own solutions. Usually in the games I've played in I tend to be one of the players most involved in coming up with plans and courses of action, I really enjoyed actively refusing to do so, and just going along with what Robin thought up (although more than a few times, Scabs didn't exactly implement what Alfred suggested - out of sight, out of mind and all that).

I don't play in games all the often, most of the roleplaying I do is the game I run weekly. And the only long running game I'd been involved in lately was, frankly, rather disappointing. It was great fun to play again, and even better to play a character in which I could simply be that character and not worry about taking any responsibility for pushing the game forward or acheiving anything. The only real strategic thought I needed was how to use Scabs powers without comprimising his innate cowardice.

With this game, trying out Capes, and running another Great Ork Gods session this has been a fine, fine month of roleplaying.
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- Jack Aidley, Great Ork Gods, Iron Game Chef (Fantasy): Chanter
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2005, 01:44:54 PM »

So what was the error in how you played the rules? Did I miss it somewhere above?

Mike
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Jack Aidley
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2005, 01:40:36 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
So what was the error in how you played the rules? Did I miss it somewhere above?


No, I just didn't fill in the details. We were playing where if you "won" the conflict you chose between taking a Monologue of Victory and getting your stake back. Which effectively undermined the whole staking thing - we noticed our error part way through the first session and corrected it.
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- Jack Aidley, Great Ork Gods, Iron Game Chef (Fantasy): Chanter
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