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Author Topic: [3:16] No Man's World -- DragonMeet, London (AP)  (Read 1469 times)
Gregor Hutton
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« on: January 31, 2006, 05:00:47 PM »

I have been pretty much constantly on the move and snowed under with work since Dragonmeet in December. So, at last, here is the AP thread of the 3:16 game from there. (And, in fact, the first of two AP threads for tonight.)

I'll have to do this in bits.
--Gregor

-----
Saturday, December 3, 2005
Table UF11, Dragonmeet, Kensington Town Hall, London
-----

No Man's World

GM:
Gregor Hutton

Players:
Rob Alexander, Jon Baddeley, Max Cairnduff, Ben Felten, Matt Machell and Michael Simmons

--Preamble
I started off by giving a brief explanation of the setting of the game. The words I used were "Starship Troopers", "Aliens", "Warhammer 40K" and "Aliens vs Predator". I described Terra and its "Great Peace", the raising of birth permits and the Expeditionary Forces. The mission: Destroy All Life in the Universe.

I feel this was a short, pointed introduction to the setting and went well. We were all on the same page. There were also subtleties that were missed out, of course. I am hopeful that a group familiar with the text of the game would have a deeper understanding of life on Terra and in the Force as described in the gamebook.

In fact, a key element I need is a page (like Polaris' Moments Frozen From...?!) that states succinctly the game as best as possible. But for a one-shot my intro was fine, I feel.

Next I stepped through the character creation process, pretty much as written in the free PDF. Everyone had to write down a name and then pick a rank. As there were 6 players I went with one playing the Lieutenant. Two were interested in the role, and they happily split the Lt and Sgt roles between them. Out of the rest one player was very enthusiastic for the Corporal and the Energy Cannon, and the other three were happy playing troopers.

I then had them make up and write down their reputations, then allocate points to FA and NFA. We then allocated equipment (as listed in the PDF) and rolled for initial kills.

Each player then introduced their character to the others. Starting with the Lt down to each of the Troopers. The style was "I am Lieutenant Eric Graves. I have a reputation for being twitchy and nervous, and I have killed 34 people." This worked well, and it was quite interesting as people used "critters", "things" and in the Lt's case "people" (deliberately) to describe their Kills. I felt this set the group up well and got everyone up to speed and thinking about the group dynamic.

Rob playing Lt Eric Graves, "Clever But Very Twitchy", FA 4, NFA 6, Kills 33
Jon playing Cpl Jenkins, "Coward, Uses Excessive Force", FA 4, NFA 6, Kills 48 (including doubling the roll)
Max playing Sgt Bob Tyler, "Blindly Optimistic and Idealistic", FA 3, NFA 7, Kills 14
Ben playing Trooper Hawking, "Cynic", FA 7, NFA 3, Kills 49
Matt playing Trooper Dave Stanley, "Man Who Can Get Stuff", FA 3, NFA 7, Kills 15
Michael playing Trooper Geraint Evans, "Sleazy", FA 4, NFA 6, Kills 25

--Intro
So we dive in. The Lt is told he has 8 minutes to get the troops ready for a drop. I wondered if he would soften the planet up, or whatever. He played up the nervy Lt to the hilt and the troops goofed around. Sarge pulled out a bible* and using his Non-Fighting Ability got them all to shut up and grab his "Good Book". He then led them in a sermon that "had served [his] previous units well, they faced death with strength". "How many previous units?!" asked several players. The reply that it was many, and that they had all died with honour and bravery, set the tone.

In the end the 8 minutes pass without any bombardment, or indeed preparation on the soldiers' behalf. The sermon finishes just in time for the troops to hurry to the drop ship and they are launched haphazardly planetward. They are not even sure what the target is, or indeed what the enemy they are to face is like.

To follow...
-2. The Landing
-3. First Contact
-4. The Grand Plan
-5. Mothership
--Ending
--Postgame Stuff
--Analysis

*Bible was interesting, but not unexpected. I made it a point to _not_ include any mention of religion, gods, bibles, faith, etc. in the PDF or in my preamble, but it featured in actual play anyway. I think I will use the sermon idea as an example of play in the book, but I will change it from a bible to a "field manual". Incidentally, I have an idea to label the print version of 3:16 in sections not unlike a bible (chapter, verse) for ease of reference (and somewhat alluding to biblical form) without any mention of religion, gods or any of that stuff. If people want to add it in, then fair enough. But I am purposefully avoiding mentioning it explicitly myself.
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Matt Machell
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2006, 02:54:13 PM »

The good book scene set the tone for the whole game. The grunts freaking out at the insanity of their officers, but being able to do very little about it.

Mechanically (and it's a while ago, so I may be misremembering) it also highlights a slight issue, in that once somebody starts narrating, they don't stop until they fail. However, since they're the one narrating, they seem to be expected to provide their own adversity to fail against. So if they want, they can go on and on.

Not a bad thing, but a couple of times it struck me as disjointing the game a bit if no ideas for adversity come as you're narrating or you just enjoy what you're saying too much. The oomph needs to come in again at that point, and it was kinda hazy as to where the credibility to give that oomph should come from.

That's just a minor point though, it was a riotously enjoyable demo.

-Matt
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2006, 03:32:04 PM »

Hi Matt

Yeah, I think I was/am too fuzzy-headed about what the stakes/risks (as I tentatively term them) were.

Risk
I've been thinking about this a bit and I figure that if an event has no "risk" then it is unopposed, there is nothing to be gained and nothing to lose. No one is competing, there is nothing risked on the outcome. So I need to think in terms of what is there to gain and what is there to lose on an event. And when does that event change into another event with a different risk. So spotting where there is a conflict of interest, etc.

So, really when the Sarge started trying to get the lads together the risk for him was that if he failed he would lose control of the situation (narrative control) and be at the whim of his troops, but he would gain a defined benefit if he was successful (i.e. rally the troops to his book), which he was. But as Max really took it out there in his speech he went beyond that initial success really, he was getting more resistance from the lads, so he should have been making more checks as the risk had been redefined. Of course, he could well have stayed in control. The other thing was that the troops could be redefining their actions to be no longer in conflict with the sarge.

I guess I need to think in terms of (a) define what you want to gain, (b) what you have to lose, before we roll the dice. And better framing of events too is something that I'm mindful of.

Polarization
It was really interesting how the party separated like water and oil between the officers and the troopers. It kind of threw all the officers together into one mindset and "gang" and drew the grunts together against them. Something, which I thought might happen when I created the differences initially in the game. It was weird seeing it follow throw like that in play though. Did you feel that the different equipment helped that? I got a feeling that the entrenching tools being given to the grunts but not the officers drew a subtle line in the sand as all the players wrote down their equipment. I'm curious to see if this effect is repeated in other sessions.

Thanks for the feedback Matt.
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Matt Machell
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Posts: 477


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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2006, 01:09:34 PM »

... Something, which I thought might happen when I created the differences initially in the game. It was weird seeing it follow throw like that in play though. Did you feel that the different equipment helped that? I got a feeling that the entrenching tools being given to the grunts but not the officers drew a subtle line in the sand as all the players wrote down their equipment. I'm curious to see if this effect is repeated in other sessions.

Yeah, I think that made a subtle, but telling , difference. Part of me wonders if years of induction via British-style war movies and TV that deals with the class divide had something in this; there was a hint of Blackadder in the officers behaviour. It's one of those things that is nicely open to be played up more, if a player decideds to use their flashbacks to describe being mistreated by an officer or similar.

-Matt
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