*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
December 18, 2014, 01:00:39 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 68 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Project Senate] First playtest in the Scottish Highlands  (Read 2924 times)
JMendes
Member

Posts: 379


WWW
« on: February 06, 2006, 11:45:56 AM »

Hey, :)

So, we had the first playtest of Project Senate last Saturday night, and it was quite interesting. We used version 3 of the game design document (which isn't online yet, because my ISP is undergoing some sort of maintenance, but I'll post it soon).

The Setting: we played in the Highlands, after the Scotts established themselves, but way before Braveheart. Think 7th or 8th centuries, rather than 13th. We were going for a historical setting, but we weren't that concerned with accuracy. So, we had clans and families, druids and priestesses, noblemen, freemen and captive slaves. Everyone had at least a basic sense of where and when we were playing, and that seemed to be enough.

So, who was playing? I was GM, and my wife Ana and two friends, Rogerio and Antonio, were at the table. Rogerio was the host. It took us about two hours to go through the whole of the setting creation process, then another two to create characters, and finally, we played through one challenge (reward cycle) for each of the characters, for yet another two hours, which made for a rather lengthy session, but really, the only way to get an initial sense of what the system does was to make sure it was the four of us going through it, and the only way to ensure that was to do it in one sitting.

In case you're wondering, Project Senate does highlanders very, very well. Here's how we defined things. We decided that the characters would all be from different families, all from the same clan, which made it easy to identify what the types of challenges would be:
- Domestic Policy: Anything that affects your family's position in the clan;
- Foreign Policy: Anything that involves other clans or other cultures entirely;
- Business: Anything that involves long term trading relationships;
- Personal: Anything that affects the Character directly.

We further defined the resources as follows:
- Wealth: Land, food, sheep and horses.
- Manpower: Freemen and slaves bound to the family, whether as warriors, workers or whatever.
- Clout: The family's relative political position. Also, kinship with the clan chieftain.
- Reputation: Perceived competence, including personal combat.

Lastly, we scheduled the passage of time for the midsummer festival, occurring yearly.

As for the characters, Ana and Rogerio both created family chieftains, and Antonio created a very political druid. To be honest, although the characters did have a rather different set of assumptions behind them, they didn't feel all that different. This may be because play didn't really get under way much, or it may be a flaw in the system. Hopefully, it's the former. I went through character generation myself, building a family chieftain, just to see how the generation mechanics play out, but then retired the character immediately. (I didn't even make my own relationships available as shared relationships.)

We then played through the challenges. Rogerio's character started out low in Clout, so I decided to throw him an Opportunity Challenge to gain a little. I gave Ana a Danger Challenge where one of her relationships would come out severely crippled in Clout and Reputation unless she did something. Finally, I gave Antonio a Crisis Challenge, a chance to either loose a little Wealth or gain a bit of Clout and Reputation, with a deadline added for the fun of it.

After everyone had a chance to come up with strategies for their challenges, I had to assign budgets, and this was my first real snag. How do I, as GM, really assign budgets? The game will certainly need stronger guidelines for this. As it turned out, I think I managed to come up with relatively balanced budgets for the three of them, but this might have turned out rather differently. However, I was rather pleased to see that, balanced or not, it was rather easy to tie the mechanical budgets to the actual in-game actions of the characters, which is way cool. If this hadn't happened, Project Senate might have felt a lot more like a board game than an RPG.

So, once they had their budgets, it was time for them to scrounge for resources. I was glad to see that no one player had the required resources immediately available, so they all had to negotiate for them. Rogerio went through negotiations with three relationships, whereas Ana and Antonio went through two each. And this was my second snag. How do I assign time spans to the various phases of negotiation? I need to think very deeply about this one, as it's not obvious at all, and it has a significant impact, especially regarding deadlines in Challenges. On the positive side, role-playing the NPCs during the negotiations was both fun and easy, and the players' dice rolls gave me just the right cues to decide their attitudes and their requests. It quickly became apparent that it would be easy for the GM to keep coming up with linked challenges just by observing what the mechanics say.

Finally, it came down to challenge resolution. All characters went into this with somewhat significant bonuses for overcommitting resources, which is cool. Ana and Antonio both breezed through theirs, whereas Rogerio failed his abysmally. He briefly pondered purchasing success, but he would have had to burn so much manpower it would have cost him way more than the two points of clout he stood to gain, so he decided to let it go.

After it was all over, Antonio came up with a player-generated challenge to strengthen one of his relationships. I gave him a minor budget, the resources for which he had available, so I told him to go ahead and roll, and he did so successfully.

One comment on the die roll mechanics: they work fine. I was a bit worried that the die roll table was a bit too complicated and perhaps overkill, but it's neither. It's easy to read and the math is straightforward.

So, in conclusion, the game works! Character generation is very crunchy, which is cool, but it is also very tied to the game world, which is cooler. Game play brings solving the problem unavoidably front and center. Yes, these are people in power, and yes, these are powerful people's problems. So, I'm guessing I at least hit the target. A lot of work remains before we can call it a bull's eye, however.

Things to work on:
- The passage of time needs to be refined, especially where negotiations are concerned.
- Timing the onset of challenges needs to be reviewed.
- A mechanism needs to be developed to allow negotiations based on promises. Right now, PCs must actually do what the relationship wants before gaining access to the resources.

A couple of game balance issues arose:
- Resource mix parameters are more important than the other relationship parameters.
- Of the other parameters, Availability is way more important than the other three.

Well, that's about it. Any comments or questions on the game session itself are welcome. If you prefer, you can also add questions, comments or suggestions regarding the game design to this thread on the indie game design forum.

Cheers,
J.
Logged

url=http://lisbongamer.mc-two.com/]Lisbon Gamer[/urlLisbon Gamer
Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


WWW
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2006, 04:58:15 PM »

Heya,

Quote
Things to work on:
- The passage of time needs to be refined, especially where negotiations are concerned.
- Timing the onset of challenges needs to be reviewed.
- A mechanism needs to be developed to allow negotiations based on promises. Right now, PCs must actually do what the relationship wants before gaining access to the resources.

A couple of game balance issues arose:
- Resource mix parameters are more important than the other relationship parameters.
- Of the other parameters, Availability is way more important than the other three.

-So did the actual play and reflection help the design process?  How do the things you listed above relate to the things you talked about in design?  What further complications might arise from these issues?

Peace,

-Troy
Logged

JMendes
Member

Posts: 379


WWW
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2006, 05:36:13 PM »

Hey, Troy, :)

I've been mulling over your questions for a couple of days. The only thing I could come up with was "I don't know"...

If I may, what were you aiming at with the questions? I feel I should have grasped some point of yours, but didn't...

Again, thanks for taking the time.

Cheers,
J.
Logged

url=http://lisbongamer.mc-two.com/]Lisbon Gamer[/urlLisbon Gamer
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!