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Topic: [Secret Waitress] (Read 3633 times)
February 03, 2006, 10:31:56 PM »
First post to Actual Play, so, hopefully, I’m doing this right. If not, someone kick me in the shin, please. I wanted to make sure that I made some points, so they're in italics, except for the Wrap Up which is almost all points if I understand it correctly. (I'm reading a great book right now that has the main points all in italics and then tells you you can just read those and skip the rest if you want the jist. Not that I'm encouraging that.) Well anyway, good TV show Thursday (Earl and The Office) got in the way of playing, so we decided to move the first play test of Waitress to Friday, which was tonight. My Secret Waitress is a game I’m designing which explores the conflict between a sense of duty and motivation and being asked to complete a task that can be ugly and against that sense of duty.
Previous threads about the game are here:
The game pdf is here (not update with the rules we played):
My Secret Waitress
My significant other and I decided to give character creation a go and then play one favor each, but ended up playing two favors each. I figured that this would go pretty quickly, maybe an hour and a half total. It ended up taking 2.5 hours, and I think this was because my SO had never played a rpg before, so it took some time to explain, show, and play through a couple of actions before we started the game.
Made me think about how the rules that I’ve written and other rules I’ve read in other games would be hard for someone who hadn’t played a rpg before to pick up and understand.
(Flashbacks to my first D&D games.) More on her thoughts about the experience towards the end.
Character creation took longer than I thought it would. If figured 15 minutes top, because basically you’re writing a 100 word back-story that answers: Family relations, growing-up, how the PC got the job, and what motivates her to take on the corruption as a secret agent. From the story, you pull two adornments (skills) and one motivation. And then you split up 6 points between two Stats.
I quickly created my character Bev with the Motivation of Help the Poor +1. My SO took a little longer to figure out Flo’s Motivation. Hers was To Protect Women's and Children’s Rights +1.
Picking the motivation was the hardest part of the character creation, and, perhaps, just as well, because we both picked something that we care about in real life.
I noticed a slight difference between the Adornments we picked also. Mine (Street-smarts +1, Club Connections +1) were geared more towards giving me advantages in play and she picked some (Sister A Lawyer +1, Ex-boyfriend Cop +1) that probably tied in more closely to the back-story.
I’m not sure why this would be other than I knew what I was getting into so I gamed the creation system. In the end, it didn’t mater, because she was able to use her Adornments almost as often as I.
During play, we found it hard to understand why we were doing everything until we placed an exact qualification on why we were trying to expose Senator Sputnik. As soon as we came up with “He’s hiding kickbacks from the oil industry, and we need to figure out how and where,” the game was easier to play.
I thought it was interesting that once we moved out of the abstract (i.e. we need to take down this corrupt Senator), and moved in the specifics, that it became easier to play the game.
Basically, play in the new system (not written up yet) happens like this: PCs start at the club, get assigned a Favor (pick a card), roll to get Tips, the Player sets the first cut, then additional cut scenes play out until either a) favor is resolved or b) favor failed. If (a) happens then evidence is awarded, and a check is made to see if Guilt happens (damage to one of the two major Stats). On each Favor card, these are the facts that have to be played: 1. The favor, 2. a number of major NPCs (others can be added as needed), 3. a number of Locations, 4. a twist. Each card is also worth a certain number of points of evidence.
I couldn’t tell if the evidence system worked at all with only two people and only four Favors. It seems like it will.
Here are summaries of the four Favors. Overall, they went better than I expected and for me were really fun. My SO had different thoughts, which I’ll share at the end of this.
The first favor was for my SO, Flo had to take the Senator’s nephew out on a date and show him a good time back in the Senator’s guest room. Flo got off of work, called her sister to watch her kid, failed at conning the sis into it so had to bring the kid on the date. They made it to the movie where they were showing a Werewolf movie on the other screen. A guy dressed in a werewolf costume mistakenly came threw the screen, freaked out the kid, kid ran, they left the movie, and then the nephew asked Flo up into the guest bedroom. Flo turned him down because of the kid, failed the favor, and my SOs scene ended.
I drew “pick up and deliver a package.” I left work, called the agency for equipment, got a gun, drove to the alley, forgot to ask the Senator who I was meeting, and found two people and two cars. I used my Street-smarts to figure it out, got the package, went to the bank, and as I was handing the package over, bank robbers dressed as the Clintons burst in holding a Bag Lady. Instead of turning the package over, Bev opened it. Found it full of powdered heron (don’t ask), and then intended to throw the powder into the air, use it as cover, smack Bill on the head, grab the Bag Lady, and get out of there. It worked with the spending of four tips (ouch), but the cops were at the door, so with Charm, Bev talked the Police into letting her go. No evidence earned.
Back to my SOs turn. She picked “shut up Johnny Greenhorn, an environmental activist.” But before she left work, she got Senator Sputnik to “Hire a nanny for the kid, get me a long weekend, and arrange for me to have Monday off.” So, Flo flies out to Cali, meets up with Rob Berry, State Trooper, they go to a giant Redwood tree. Flo pretends to be a reporter, gets up in the tree. Discovers Johnny’s wife and kid, carries on a looooooonnng interview with Johnny, and then the Trooper comes up the tree, kills Johnny and the wife. Flo (spends some tips to help the roll out) wrestles with the Trooper and loses just as a news heli flies overhead. They work out a plan to get out of the tree. Trooper first. Flo flags down the heli, fails to convince them that she didn’t do it, gets arrested, but Senator Sputnik calls, let her off the hook (the enviro was shut up), turns her into a hero for saving the kid. The Trooper is pissed and tells her that the logging company is how Sputnik laundries money. Evidence gained. Guilt gained.
So, my SO is ready to quit playing now. She’s worn out for reasons that she let me in on, but she lets me have one more turn. Bev has to deliver flowers to Sputnik’s lover at a hotel. She gets the flowers, charms and calls in connections on the pain-in-the-ass front deskman, and then charms the pain-in-the-ass husband, delivers the flowers, wins the Evidence. Gained no Guilt.
The only reason I won this was because my SO didn’t play the twist, which was family member. This would have been the Catholic Priest who took her in when she was a child. If she would have played this, I probably wouldn’t have been able to let Bev deliver the flowers.
Phew. This is much longer than I thought it was going to be. Overall, we both agreed that the game system works. We both talked about evidence points, and we both think that they’ll work with more players, and now I’m questioning if they are even needed for play, because play would work and be fun without them (Last standing Waitress wins). We both thought that three players would work better for the game. And I’m pretty happy with how the game plays. I think it’s pretty darn fun. It really came down to making choices, and I figured that I would probably just game the system and win, but when that homeless person was being held hostage, I found that I couldn’t let my character just sit there and do nothing and thus win, when I had to power to act and possibly save the day. It surprised me that this style of game would have that type of effect on me. Powerful.
It affected my SO pretty much the same way, except on a much deeper level. She didn’t like the fact that she had to be on the spot to make a choice without knowing enough – she couldn’t put the “enough” in clearer term, maybe outcome. She said that it put her outside of her comfort zone in two ways really: the choices, but also having to narrate the actions of her PC and the game. And she summed it up with this is a quote: “I started to feel more uncomfortable because I knew what I was going to have to do.” So, we talked a little more about different types of rpgs and, at least, how I was explaining them from a basic dungeon crawl to some kind a campaign, she said it just didn’t seem like her thing.
But ultimately, I feel that it was a good gaming experience, and after six years, I learned something about her, and myself. Plus, my game was pretty fun. Makes me happy and motivates me to continue to tune this game up and get it completed.
Momentary Lapse Press
Re: [Secret Waitress]
Reply #1 on:
February 06, 2006, 05:43:54 AM »
Appreciate and praise your SO, because she's awesome to help you playtest like that. I suspect many of your observations are spot-on, and from my reading I think a playtest with a larger group will be very useful in finding the weak spots in your game.
It is interesting to think about the experience of the new/non-gamer when they approach your game - there's a sort of lingua franca that you can employ as shorthand if you expect your audience to be composed of "experienced" gamers that is really hard to break away from. Actually
what's going on in an engaging, understandable way is, at least to me, very challenging.
Grey Ranks: Child Soldiers, Warsaw, 1944
Re: [Secret Waitress]
Reply #2 on:
February 06, 2006, 09:54:19 AM »
I agree that a larger group is needed for a better playtest. I just moved to this town a year ago and haven't found anyone who games yet -- small towns. Not an excuse so much as a challenge for me to figure out how to get this playtested in a larger group. (My old group is now scattered from NJ, to IA, to CO.)
Your point about language is a good one. For a game like this, if it gets played, I can't imagine that it would draw in an audience other than "experienced" gamers, so I may be off the hook in coming up with the language, but my short draft blurb at the front of the game is pretty typical of what I've seen in RPGs, and, really, it is pretty vague about how you actually go about what the players do during role-playing.
I've been thinking about this and a better way to express how to play this game, and maybe being very clear up front in the intro is the way to go. I think that answering the question: What do the players do? And then writing that in the intro in a clear and detailed way is probably the most important thing I could do in addressing non-rpgers and rpgers alike.
One other thing I noticed during character creation is that my SO didn't even have an idea of what a conflict was or what conflict resolution was, so, character creation was pretty hard until we played a quick conflict. After playing that conflict, character creation became much easier for her, because she had a small grasp on how to play the game. So, I'll also need to address that better in the intro.
BTW, she said the other day that she might play it again or another rpg. She thought about it and the initial discomfort she had, she thought, might have been because of how alien rpging was to her.
Momentary Lapse Press
Re: [Secret Waitress]
Reply #3 on:
February 06, 2006, 10:31:39 AM »
Oooh, hook her before she bolts! May I suggest Breaking the Ice? Actually, BtI is a good design lesson for you, too - lots to learn there in not very many pages. That and Dogs in the Vineyard and she'll never look back.
I really like the idea of playing out a conflict before making characters. I think you could find a way to make that work, or maybe have your characters sort of grow out of an initial conflict. DitV, similarly, teaches you how to play through the mechanism of an initiatory conflict and it works wonderfully.
Grey Ranks: Child Soldiers, Warsaw, 1944
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