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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 87 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [Actual Play] 60's themed fun  (Read 2149 times)

Posts: 576

« on: November 07, 2005, 07:06:07 AM »


Well, no more posting about a game I have never played asking dumbass rules questions.  I have now played once, and hope to do it again very soon.

I am usually the game-master for my normal table at the game club I attend every Sunday night in Hamilton, Ontario.  I have been running a WWII based action/horror type game, using Storyteller rules.  However, the last couple of sessions were heavy on the intense horror.  They were great, but I felt I needed a break; something a bit light-hearted as a change of pace.

Enter Capes.  I suggested the game to the group and, I think mostly to humour me, they went for it.  I also suggested we use a '60's theme for the game.  I threw a list of concepts at them by email to get them thinking: superhero/villian name possibilities (The Trip, Black Justice, The Man, The Veteran, Nowhere Man, etc.), and some concepts in the form of a phrase (Goal: Kidnap Jimi Hendrix, Black Panthers, Are drugs good or bad?, etc.)

So, last night we all sat down to play.  I won't give a play-by-play of the rather addled and chaotic story-line that resulted, as the humour and fun of it was definitely "you had to have been there quality", and also was far more adult themed then I could have anticipated.  But I will give my impressions of the game, and the way the players played it.

* At first I was floundering trying to explain the rules of the game.  There were a lot of glazed looks around the table.  Then I said to myself "Maybe that Tony guy really does know what he is talking about" and tried a Capes Lite approach.  I said, "Ok, lets just start this thing.  The heroes are in a coffee shop, when the bank alarm across the street goes off.  Since this is the start of a scene, everyone can now pick characters..." and went from there.  This worked FAR better than trying to explain the rules in any detail before hand.  The rules are just too much of a tightly bound whole to describe in a piecewise fashion.  You have to experience them to get the idea behind them.  The Capes Lite approach is really the way to teach people the game.

* It was astonishing to me (it shouldn't have been, because I game with very smart people) how quickly the players picked up on the gamist elements of Capes.  I found that very quickly they were making tactical plays to control the story.  An example.  At one point, just for fun, I put down a goal called "Humiliate Mr. Glitter" for another player's character (a very nasty fellow called the Supremicist).  I was acting at the end of the order when I did this.  At the start of the next page, before anyone could even roll on this goal, the two players playing bad guys promptly claimed both sides of this goal, shutting me out of it completely.  I was stuck.  Unless I could somehow arrange an exact tie on the card, it was going to resolve badly for Mr. Glitter one way or the other, and since I was at the end of the turn order, I knew that they could just keep claiming before I had a chance to.  I had not seen this aspect of tactics to the turn order, but these two players jumped on it with both feet.  On the other hand, I was able to resolve "Get the slaves across the border to be sold in Mexico" against the bad guys while they were distracted, so poor Mr. Glitter's inevitable, horrible, and well-documented photographically, humilation was not in vain.  People were instinctively playing distracting Conflicts, purposefully losing Conflicts to gain Story Tokens, playing side Conflicts in the hope of getting quick victories, etc., all without ever having cracked the Strategy and Tactics portion of the rule book.

* As players realized they had freedom to do anything, they rapidly went wild with abandon.  As a consequence, things got very loopy very quickly.  There were no "Asteriod Crushing Men", as I thought there might be an earlier post, but there was some pretty crazy stuff going on.  (The '60's theme encouraged this, I will admit)  This is not necessarily a bad thing, as we all had a good time, but I think for the game to have long term enjoyment, the players would need to leave behind "Paranoia" level one-joke humour role-playing and explore more serious, or at least more coherent, story lines.

* The only complaint I have regarding the session was that, compared to other role-playing games I have played, the Shared Information Space of the session was not nearly as coherent and vivid.  I think there are several reasons for this.  First, the fact that the game quickly became parodic in its humour meant that the narrative was kept at a cartoony level.  Also, the players had a hard time taking into account previous narratives in terms of their current one; they usually had only a very hazy idea of the current state of affairs.  Finally, the rules themselves, since we were learning them, kept halting the action as we would talk about the various game options available during a person's action ("You know, you can split dice here", "You know, you can roll either sides die, not just your own", etc.)  As a consequence, the narratives were very choppy, and there wasn't much sense of a continuous story being told.  I suspect that as a group of players plays more frequently, internalizes the rules, and becomes more experienced at paying attention to what others are saying, that would smooth out.

* One of the players made an interesting comment regarding the game, I thought.  He said he felt the game was a very good "ice-breaker" game, especially in a game club environment.  Since everyone contributes to the storyline, no one can easily sit back and just watch what is going on.  Everyone is encouraged to open up themselves creatively to the other players, giving the other players a window into your gaming personality.   I think I agree with him.  While I think this game can (and has, from the descriptions on the forums) be used for very serious role-playing, it also functions very well as a "beer and pretzels" game.

Overall, although it was a slow start, the game was a hit.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it very much, myself included.  I already feel like I got $10 worth of fun out of it, and that was only the first game session.  People were eager to record the characters, story tokens, and inspirations for future play, and I suspect that it might become a semi-regular activity at our table. 

Tony, you are probably a genius.  Its too bad you can't patent game rules, because there are some things in this game that seem so innovative to me they should be considered patentable.

* Want to know what your fair share of paying to feed the hungry is? http://www3.sympatico.ca/hans_messersmith/World_Hunger_Fair_Share_Number.htm
* Want to know what games I like? http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/skalchemist
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