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Author Topic: [Breaking the Ice] Disney romance and one hot stripper  (Read 14534 times)
Andrew Morris
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« on: May 23, 2005, 08:03:00 PM »

This weekend, I played Emily Care's playtest version of Breaking the Ice. Something about the game captured my attention in Emily's Actual Play post, but I couldn't identify exactly what it was. Emily was kind enough to send me the playtest version so that I could give it a run and see if I could identify exactly what element of the game really grabbed by interest. As it turned out, I never did, but I had some fun along the way.

My friend Kristina seemed interested in the game, so we got together for a couple of sessions. Kristina is not really a "gamer," but she's done that interactive online stuff (as near as I can figure -- her descriptions were a bit vague). When I went over the game, the only impediment to her interest was her reaction to dice ("Dice? Ugh!"). Upon asking about her reaction, I found she'd had bad experiences tied to Fortune-based mechanics and their staunch advocates in the past (without knowing the terminology, she seems to strongly prefer Drama mechanics). Despite this, she was still willing to give Breaking the Ice a fair shot.


First Session[/u][/size] (Total time: 2.5 hours)
For our first session, we decided to set the guidelines for the game as something along the lines of a G-rated Disney-esque romantic comedy. We actually had some trouble finding a common language to describe our guidelines, since I can count the number of romance movies I've seen (and liked enough to remember) on one finger.

We went with the easy Switch, and swapped genders. I played Sandy,  a rich girl who'd started bartending at a hot club in order to make her own money after her parents cut her off from the family funds. She loved the ocean and cats, was into astrology, and covered up her mild depression/shyness by putting up a public front of a party animal. Her conflict was that she'd never had a real boyfriend before. Kristina played Ian, a nature-loving, risk-taking, frugal schoolteacher. His conflict was that he's from a much lower social status -- the "wrong side of the tracks" so to speak.

First Date
Ian and Sandy had dinner at a local restaurant, headed to a dance club, had a fight, then made up and took a moonlight walk down the boardwalk. The interesting thing is that the mechanics absolutely forced us to re-roll every time, leading to lots of embarrassment and misunderstanding, which created some mutual attraction. We gained an Attraction Level in almost every scene, but only one of them became permanent. At no point did we gain a Compatibility (more on this as we go on).

Second Date
Sandy's uncle had lent her his yacht, and she invited Ian over. There was some misunderstanding, as the intimate little get-together was actually a full-blown formal party. Some more misunderstanding followed, and Ian got drunk and seasick, vomiting on Sandy's dress (okay, maybe we strayed a bit from the guidelines here, but we didn't notice until later). But, after the party was all over, they had a heart to heart and Sandy went in for a kiss. She slipped and gave Ian a head-butt to the nose instead. They parted ways for the night without having kissed, and with Ian nursing a bloody nose. Over the course of this date (one of the longest that we played), only a single Attraction Level was gained, but it didn't become permanent.

Third Date
Despite all the problems they've been having (and still with low Attraction and no Compatibilities), Ian and Sandy decided to give it one last shot. Ian took Sandy for an overnight camping trip, which didn't work out too well -- Ian came across as insensitive, and accidentally gave Sandy an allergic reaction from the meal he cooked.

Resolution
Ian and Sandy were clearly not meant for one another, so they ditch the attempt at a romantic relationship and become friends.


Second Session[/u][/size] (Total time: 1.5 hours)
For the second session, we decided to play without any guidelines, since we didn't really stick to our original ones anyway. We stayed with the gender-flip as the Switch again. I played Valentina, a hard-drinking, aggressive "dancer" in the red-light district. Kristina played Tristan, an ex-hippie turned drug squad police officer. Valentina's Conflict was that she was embarrassed about her job and was afraid of Tristan finding out about it. Tristan's Conflict was that he'd lost someone close to him (a very nasty overdose death), and he had a fear of getting too close to someone again.

First Date
Valentina and Tristan started off the evening with drinks at a bar, caught a movie, had dinner, and ended the night with a passionate kiss. With five scenes, we increased the temporary Attraction Level by five, but only one became a permanent level.

Second Date
Overall, the evening went well, with some clubbing, a stop at an ice-cream shop, and (at the hard-drinking Valentina's direction) another visit to a local bar. We increased Attraction Level by three, but none of them became permanent.

Third Date
For their third date Tristan visited Valentina's apartment for a romantic dinner, with some dancing and physical intimacy. Once again, we gained three temporary Attraction Levels, but none became permanent.

Resolution
We decided that, even though the Attraction Level was low and no Compatibilities had been created, Valentina and Tristan were a good match. Tristan fell for Valentina dancing at the club on the second date, and she for him at the romantic dinner on the third date. We didn't know if they'd stay together forever, but they're certainly in for a long-term relationship.


Overall, I enjoyed myself, and Kristina did as well. I'm really looking forward to the finished version of this game.
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Brand_Robins
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« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2005, 08:14:51 PM »

Since looking over the version on the web (I have no idea how current it is, being Mr. Not in the Loop) I've been wanting to play this game. My wife looked it over as well and thought it might be interesting.

Then someone on lumpley's journal mentioned that you could do something like Star Wars (the orriginal series) as three dates between Han and Leah, and my interest went into high gear for all of 10 minutes. Then I bottomed out and looked away.

Your post has reminded me why I liked the game's idea in the first place, and now I'm going to get my wife to play.

Thanks!
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- Brand Robins
Ben Lehman
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« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2005, 08:48:02 PM »

Were you just very unlucky on those "keeping attraction" rolls?

Also -- Did you bring in your conflicts for extra dice when you needed them?

In my playtest with Emily, I brought in my conflict in almost every scene, which probably was what propelled us towards a happy ending.

yrs--
--Ben
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2005, 08:51:51 PM »

I think we were just exceptionally unlucky. We called in our Conflicts for almost every Scene.
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2005, 09:04:21 PM »

Quote from: Andrew Morris
I think we were just exceptionally unlucky. We called in our Conflicts for almost every Scene.


Ouch!

How many scenes did each date last?

yrs--
--Ben
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2005, 05:35:15 AM »

Ben, the first session had four scenes in each date. The second session had five scences in each date. So, a total of 27 scenes.
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Emily Care
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« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2005, 05:38:28 AM »

Hi Andrew!

Thanks so much for taking it for a spin! Great characters & situations for both games. Your idea of what happens with the characters is the most important thing, I'm glad you dropped the guidelines in favor of your vision.  This gives me more data on how it really needs to work, thank you!

Please especially give my thanks to Kristina on being open to giving the dice a try.  Sounds like I've still got to work at getting the dice balance right. You definitely should get better payoff than that.  

Some more questions: do you remember how many dice you were rolling each scene? 9 or so? I'm curious about how the conflicts came into play too.

best,
Emily
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2005, 05:57:09 AM »

Emily, I don't think we were ever rolling more than seven dice. Re-rolls were absolutely crucial, because after stretching to get as many Bonus Dice as possible, we usually had only six dice.

Oh, and as I mentioned, I really wanted to play in order to find out what captured my interest so much, and I think, in hindsight, that I've identified it. Basically, I've never played a game where the character didn't have some power(s), or were in an unusual setting, or there was some element that made it clearly different from real life. The engaging thing about Breaking the Ice is that it has nothing like that, but still provides for interesting stories. At least, that's my current theory.
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Emily Care
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« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2005, 06:51:59 AM »

Quote from: Andrew Morris
Emily, I don't think we were ever rolling more than seven dice. Re-rolls were absolutely crucial, because after stretching to get as many Bonus Dice as possible, we usually had only six dice.

Yeah, you should be able to stretch much further than that. The pool needs to be bigger, and it should be clearer that there is more to call upon.  When I've played, I liked to fall back on describing setting elements too, and the addition of having your character do something that calls on the other character's traits worked well in my game with Ben.  

Max of 4 bonus dice would put you at: 1 for base Attraction + 4 Bonus Dice + 3 Conflict dice + (up to) 5 Re-rolls=14.  Which makes for lots to narrate!  Got to have a wide pool not only of potential dice, but of different, interesting things to weave into play.

Quote
Basically, I've never played a game where the character didn't have some power(s), or were in an unusual setting, or there was some element that made it clearly different from real life. The engaging thing about Breaking the Ice is that it has nothing like that, but still provides for interesting stories. At least, that's my current theory.

Awesome. I guess Matt would be proud. : ) John Kim too, I bet.

yrs,
Emily Care
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Andrew Morris
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« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2005, 07:48:43 AM »

Ahh, I wasn't counting Re-rolls, so, yes, for some scenes we were rolling around nine dice.
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