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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 84 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [Paranoia] run with non-gamers  (Read 2577 times)
Rob Alexander
Member

Posts: 76


« on: November 19, 2005, 08:03:08 AM »

This week, I ran a Paranoia XP session with three guys from work.

Player 1 - used to play Paranoia and some form of D&D in his teens, but never after that, and never for sessions of more than about an hour
Player 2 - has never played any rolegame ever
Player 3 - likewise, although I've talked to him about it a bit

None of these guys are 'gamers' by any definition of the term. Player 3 is fairly interested in some 'geek' things (computer-related, mostly) but the others aren't into anything like that at all.

After the epic length of my previous post I'll try to be concise:

1) **** Watching the excitement level ****
It seems that a big part of being a GM is watching how the other players are responding to the game, and trying to change what you're doing to keep everyone involved and excited. Back when I used to play, I would have totally ignored this. (In part, because it conflicted with the received wisdom on "how best to play a roleplaying game").

I don't know how well I managed this. Certainly, players 2 and 3 were pretty uninterested at the start and engaged by the end. When one player seemed to be getting bored, I'd give him an immediate chance to act, which seemed to work fairly well.

I suppose you could call this "Giving players *what they want right now*". Certainly, this aspect is something I want to explore further...and I'll be looking out for games that help me achieve this.

Needles to say, it's wholly incompatible with the traditional(?) linear-scenario model.

2) **** Rules versus freeform ****
Player 2 was a bit frustrated by the way I used the rules... he seemed to want to use his wits to come up with stuff (e.g. evidence for a treason claim) and resolve conflicts that way. I was a bit more in favour of getting the jist of what was happening, then letting the dice give the general character of success/failure so that I/we could narrate from that.

Players used the Perversity Points mechanic, but didn't seem to enjoy it that much. Possibly this would have been better with more players.

3) **** Use of director stance ****
Player 2, who's never gamed before, made spontaneous use of director stance at at least one point ("Okay, I can see a bar in the corner of the big lobby, so I'll go in there"). I've seen this at least once before, when I've GM'd for the first time for a friend who knows me already and hence isn't at all intimidated.

Previously, I would have stompted on this pretty quick, but I'm not at all keen on doing that now. So I don't know if the *are* bars in Alpha Complex, nor do I care...there are now, and there's one right here.

For next time, I'd use a more structured rule system, and explain to the players what stance they're meant to adopt (without using the term, though). I wouldn't want to use anything, though, that didn't have some explicit way for a player to use director stance.

4) **** Hard to manage without structure ****
I'm working from the the 'mission scheme' structure provided in the rules, along with (roughly) the 'Mr Bubbles' scenario provided in the book. I never had any  intention of sticking to the scenario, though - I just riffed off the player's actions and whatever ideas the scenario could give me.

With no map, no detailed schedule, and no game mechanics to really support me, I felt pretty lost a lot of the time. I mean, I was doing ok, but it was all furious adlibbing and quite mentally demanding in a way that, say, my recent D&D game wasn't.

It didn't help that I let the players split up (at one point, they were doing things in three wholly separate locations). This meant that it was difficult to keep everyone involved... I was cycling through the players (in the manner of, say, D&D combat) but it still meant that players would be sitting out for a time while others acted.

I suppose that, since their characters were acting mostly independently, and ignoring their official mission (which they hadn't been briefed about anyway) they weren't very invested in the actions of the other players.

5) **** Bringing the session to an end ****
As time came up to the three-hour mark, all three characters (by chance) ended up dead at once, so I had their next clones turn up at the debriefing room. I think that this was a good idea, rather than just letting the session drag on or be postponed. I'm very interested in the idea of short, intense sessions that stand on their own and come to a point.

The result of the scenario was a bit inconclusive.... Player 2 has decided that he "won", but that didn't really come out of the rules themselves, since everybody survived.

All in all, I think everyone enjoyed the game, and players 1 and 3 at least have expressed interest in maybe playing something else some time. It now falls to me to suggest some options.....any hints?
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John Burdick
Member

Posts: 105


« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2005, 04:19:06 PM »

Rob,

When I played, the guys didn't make that much use of their chips, but they liked getting them anyway. One guy happily built up a massive pile and never spent any. That fits how he plays games in general. I'm not concerned about it.

3) **** Use of director stance ****
Player 2, who's never gamed before, made spontaneous use of director stance at at least one point ("Okay, I can see a bar in the corner of the big lobby, so I'll go in there"). I've seen this at least once before, when I've GM'd for the first time for a friend who knows me already and hence isn't at all intimidated.

Previously, I would have stompted on this pretty quick, but I'm not at all keen on doing that now. So I don't know if the *are* bars in Alpha Complex, nor do I care...there are now, and there's one right here.

My response here would be that yes there's a bar. Give me a minute to figure out how twisted an Alpha Complex bar is from baseline expectations and try to come up with secret society and treason considerations.

John
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TonyLB
Member

Posts: 3702


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« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2005, 08:26:08 PM »

All in all, I think everyone enjoyed the game, and players 1 and 3 at least have expressed interest in maybe playing something else some time. It now falls to me to suggest some options.....any hints?

Well, that sort of depends on what parts of Paranoia XP they liked, right?

Did you play it silly?  Did you play it straight?  Did they play it silly or straight?

Did anyone want the pathos and the comic-orwellian doom?  Or were they trying to stay alive, be sensible, stick it to the other guy before he sticks it to you?
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