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Author Topic: [The Long Patrol] Ronnies feedback  (Read 2897 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: December 30, 2005, 10:12:33 AM »

Hello,

The Long Patrol by Kingston Cassidy rated a Runner-Up. Here's my feedback.

1. Despite the excellent image on the cover, "mud" as a term isn't central enough. Either bring it solidly into the setting (e.g. the battleground is a muddy place) or, for purposes of post-Ronnies future development, leave it behind.

2. This game is starving for a setting with real political content. Kingston: choose. Whatever military conflict makes you choke up in frustration, terror, or perhaps even pity, use that one. It might not even be one that has immediate box-office grab, but if you can bring honest clarity about your view into the text, it'll hit every reader hard and demand actual play.

3. Patrol points offer a great overall context, but the game needs a more structured, contextual way to set each mission up. The method needs to rely on a "flow" from previous events during play; the GM shouldn't be a freeform novelist session by session. Whatever method you hit upon, it should provide how many violent and traumatic conflicts might be expected during the upcoming session.

I hope you can see how all three of these points are related - you solve one, then you'll be 50% percent toward solving the other two. Work on all three and you'll see your game shape itself into a great thing right before your eyes. Count me in on playing it at that stage.

The Long Patrol is a great starting game design. It's up there with Unsung and Carry; along with its fellow entry Krasnoarmeets, we are starting to see some serious war RPGs in which "roll for surprise, roll for initiative" are not the primary concerns.

Details ... the scores and training are relatively traditional, which is fine. The "only" rules for training are great, and all of them should be like that, which means getting rid of or altering the "bravo" option ... I favor the former, because the behavior that "bravo" dictates/favors should be reserved for decisions during play based on (or altering) Values. It shouldn't be written in up-front. More radically, and I don't necessarily recommend doing anything but thinking about it, this is a game which might do well to lose PC creation options and just work with pregen handouts.

The values are excellent! The basic idea is from The Shadow of Yesterday, as acknowledged, but perfectly pared down and honed toward the issues the setting should bring up. It's easy to see what the person is driving toward if they lose two of them: Survival only (no Loyalty, no Humanity, Loyalty only (no Survival, no Humanity), and Humanity only (no Survival, no Loyalty). Who will end up where? What decisions led them to it? Who is still trying to balance among these values? These are the questions that Godlike, for instance, left out.

Best,
Ron
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KingstonC
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Posts: 51


« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2005, 02:38:44 PM »

Thanks for the feedback.

Quote
1. Despite the excellent image on the cover, "mud" as a term isn't central enough. Either bring it solidly into the setting (e.g. the battleground is a muddy place) or, for purposes of post-Ronnies future development, leave it behind.

2. This game is starving for a setting with real political content. Kingston: choose. Whatever military conflict makes you choke up in frustration, terror, or perhaps even pity, use that one. It might not even be one that has immediate box-office grab, but if you can bring honest clarity about your view into the text, it'll hit every reader hard and demand actual play.

I totally agree. I wrote this game in response to America's current occupation of Iraq, but kept away from Iraq as a setting due to the fact that 1) it lacks (literal) mud, and 2) the war is an open wound I am loath to poke my fingers into. I thought about setting the game in Vietnam (which is full of mud, and a conflict with more psychic distance), but I don't know enough about the conflict in Vietnam to make such a setting believable. In my upcoming re-write, I will definitely choose a setting, either Vietnam or Iraq.

Quote
3. Patrol points offer a great overall context, but the game needs a more structured, contextual way to set each mission up. The method needs to rely on a "flow" from previous events during play; the GM shouldn't be a freeform novelist session by session. Whatever method you hit upon, it should provide how many violent and traumatic conflicts might be expected during the upcoming session.

In my second draft of the game, I chucked the patrol point system. Instead, the game master must assign a mission that the PC's must either achieve or fail to achieve by the time the game master has run out of opposition points. I also suggest a balance between obstacles, fights, and moral dilemmas. Do you suggest an even more structured system, with a set number of encounters, each worth a set number of opposition points, and a set number of each type of dilemma?

And I agree about the Bravo. Choosing to be a bravo is like chucking the humanity value out the window before the game starts.

Thanks,
K



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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2005, 02:50:09 PM »

Hello!

What you've written about Viet Nam indicates to me that it is not suited for your game. I suggest instead that you reduce the real-world distance between you and the setting as much as possible, so Iraq would be just right (abandoning the "mud," post-Ronnies). The open-wound issue you're talking about is exactly what The Long Patrol is suited to deal with.

I like the opposition points. I think they'd go well with what I was trying to express about scenario/mission design. Let me try it again ... what I suggest is a mechanical way to arrive at some number of traumatic and/or violent conflicts that the next mission will include. Then the GM can decide what kind of mission it is, and whether and how to pace/organize those conflicts into scenes. Adding your concept of so-many opposition points, which should be arrived at (a) independently and (b) equally mechanically, I think it would be easy and fun to come up with the next mission, in terms of people, situations, and so on.

Best,
Ron
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Darcy Burgess
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Posts: 476


« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2006, 05:14:06 PM »

I have a pair of points that bear directly on what Ron is suggesting with regards to Patrol Points.  If I'm reading Ron's suggestions correctly, what I'm about to say is one possible implementation of what he's driving at.
  • The epilogue portion of the Patrol screams for players to use the PPs they earned during play to buy speaking rights, especially when it comes to setting up conflicts for the following mission.  Phrased differently, the more your grunt carries the squad in play, the more you get to direct the flow of the game.
  • If you like that ^^^ idea, then you'll need to revise how PPs are awarded -- split up the PPs among characters tackling the same challenge.  This will help drive players to generate more conflicts -- so that they have more opportunities to earn "full" points.

My other points are a little less "big picture".
  • You might want to keep your eye on the will awards spread (1/3/5).  I'm suspicious that actual play will reveal that there's insufficient incentive for players to give up their values -- the 3 is just too good.
  • Related point: you need to include a mechanic that allows the players to escalate the conflict from 1 Will to 3 Will, because if it's just GM fiat, then it will loose some of it's metagame teeth -- it's more of a gimme.  Keep in mind that this mechanic could be when the conflict is defined (say, during the previous epilogue), or it could be done in the moment, much like Dogs.
  • GM Guidelines or some other mechanic for determining the value of the opposition (especially in Traumatic conflicts!) are very badly needed.
  • I'm a little fuzzy on the implication of your healing rules -- are you saying that "healing" (aka crossing off) a wound does not necessarily mean that you'll regain X will, where X is what you lost to the wound?  If that's the case, you may have an opportunity to explore different implications for Y>X, Y<X and Y=X where Y is what you actually regain.
  • It might be worth considering a fortune mechanic with a more predictable curve (4dF?) -- that puts the bulk of the resolution squarely in the player's decision while still allowing for some unpredictability.

I echo Ron's assertions about this game targeting some serious stuff that other games have missed.  And I happen to really like Godlike -- but the Long Patrol does the agony of war better.  Good on ya.
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