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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 83 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Actual Play  (Read 3771 times)
Anders Gabrielsson
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Posts: 31


« on: October 24, 2005, 12:54:13 PM »

I got my first chance to play today so I thought I'd jot down some notes while the session is still reasonably fresh in my mind.

I opted to explain the rules in detail before we started, partly because I wanted to make sure I remembered them myself and partly because the people I played with are the sort who want to know things in advance. I had made a little diagram of the scene-page-action structure, and if I had had time I would have made it clearer and made copies for everyone - that would probably have helped keeping the rules straight.

We only played a single scene, since by the time we got through with that it was getting pretty late and we wanted to talk a bit about the game afterwards. There were some questions about the rules, but nothing we couldn't solve or find answers to. We were four players, and possibly it would have worked better as an intro game with only three.

During the post-game discussion one player expressed that he had had a hard time getting the story he wanted into the game, which I think in part was caused by our lack of experience with the rules. During and after the game there was some discussion on when to focus on playing tactically and when to focus on telling the story. Again, lack of experience with the system often forced us to choose between one and the other.

The very spur-of-the-moment character creation and somewhat unfocused players probably reduced the quality of the experience a bit. I had a good enough time, but I noticed that I tended to react more to the actions of the others rather than drive the action myself, partly because I didn't get a strong feeling for my character.

On the technical side, we found it a bit hard to remember which character was allied with which side in which conflict, and using some sort of markers for this was suggested as a solution.

I would certainly like to try it again, and I think at least one or two of the others could be interested.
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Sydney Freedberg
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Posts: 1293


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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2005, 03:36:55 PM »

one player expressed that he had had a hard time getting the story he wanted into the game...

A lot of people seem to hit that, perhaps because Capes doesn't have the explicit story-structuring of other indie games like (say) My Life With Master, The Mountain Witch, or the new version of With Great Power... What it does have is a potent economic or ecological cycle, which you can use to great effect:

1) Inspirations -- once you've gone past that first scene, you've got a crop of Inspirations; each time you cycle one back into the game, you have a duty and an opportunity to link it in thematically or causally with the scene that produced it.

2) Scene-framing -- again, once youv'e gone past scene no. 1, your turn to frame the scene gives you tremendous power to nudge the story in a desired direction (although not necessarily have it go that way).

3) The Debt/Story Token economy -- this is the power core, right here. The trick is realizing you can't tell the story you want to about your character in Capes: what you can do is bribe other people into telling the story you want to tell about your character.

If I just try to advance the storyline I have in mind for My Guy (and I've fallen into this pit, believe me), I'm just creating Conflicts that no one else cares about, winning them, and narrating stuff that doesn't engage anyone but me -- or just using free narration outside a Conflict -- and I will never get Story Tokens that way, and thus never have real power over the game/story (plus, I'm gonna be bored).

But if I watch other people for the stories they seem to want to tell with their characters, and create or escalate Conflicts that play into their desired story which they can invest Debt in and I can lose (garnering Story Tokens), and meanwhile I'm piling a big bribe of Debt (i.e. potential Story Tokens) on any Conflict that they create that interests me, we have a reciprocating engine going.
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Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2005, 03:43:53 PM »

1) Inspirations -- once you've gone past that first scene, you've got a crop of Inspirations; each time you cycle one back into the game, you have a duty and an opportunity to link it in thematically or causally with the scene that produced it.

2) Scene-framing -- again, once youv'e gone past scene no. 1, your turn to frame the scene gives you tremendous power to nudge the story in a desired direction (although not necessarily have it go that way).

3) The Debt/Story Token economy -- this is the power core, right here. The trick is realizing you can't tell the story you want to about your character in Capes: what you can do is bribe other people into telling the story you want to tell about your character.

1> You do?  I don't recall that being in the rules or being part of actual play I've read about or participated in.

3> Only if you actually tell him what you want.  Otherwise you're in a classical conditioning model, which takes many cycles to work.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2005, 05:48:13 PM »

Oh, hell yeah, tell people what you want. (Carefully choosing your Exemplars and free Exemplar conflicts go a long way towards that). But the game gives you mechanical ways to incentivize them for giving it to you, too.

Little tricky thing: There is in fact no game where you can really have fun creating your character's story yourself, by yourself; you have to engage the other players (GM included) in playing the other parts and challenging you. That's why people (like me) are disappointed when they write up 5,000-word backgrounds for their D&D characters and none of it ever comes up in the campaign. But Capes, like some other indie games and unlike D&D, pays the other players to learn about your character, get excited about some aspect, and play to it.

As for the Inspirations thing -- darn it, my book's in a box somewhere (we just moved), can someone else see if this is indeed a rule?
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TonyLB
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2005, 06:39:56 PM »

The Inspirations thing is in the Errata for the first printing (which both Sydney and Fred have) and the rule is found in all subsequent printings on page 25.

As for how long conditioning takes ... I think it depends on whether you're practicing Aggressive Empathy (p. 133).  If you are then you're not just waiting passively for information to filter to you, you're an active experimenter, and that's a whole different sort of learning curve.

I recommend the Strategy and Tactics chapter, as well as the chapter on Preparing a Story Thread.  Particularly if you've played the game enough to be moderately comfortable with the rules being discussed, those chapters have some pretty densely compacted information to be teased out and put into practice.
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Vaxalon
Member

Posts: 1619


« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2005, 07:33:12 PM »

Hm.

Looking at p. 133, I wonder if the elevated difficulty of using active empathy online is the reason that the online game s I have been in have been so much less rewarding than the FTF sessions.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
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