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Author Topic: [Carry] Sweet Decline  (Read 1812 times)
Nathan P.
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« on: February 27, 2006, 11:20:05 AM »

One of our group was out of town for our usual game night, so I ran Carry for the two remaining. The game was awesome and instructive. First, a quick run-down of in-game events, and then my conclusions and things for further pondering. I was playing with Pat and Can (pronounced John), we've been RPing together for the academic year now, and they were totally on board with my playtesting intentions.

Quote from: Can's Burden
Sweetheart dies in a car crash back home, he reacts by becoming more brutal and reckless.

Recklessness leads to death of his best friend in the squad.

His guilt over these two deaths is plaguing him with visions of the deceased in recurring nightmare.

Quote from: Pat's Burden
The character's father is a college professor who objects to the war, making the character's entrance into the military an act of rebellion.

The character has an older sister who follows her fathers lead, and participates in protests, but she still writes letters of support to the character presently.

He has problems with all authority figures, including commanding officers.

Can chose the squad Sergeant, Ramsey "Ram" Capello, and Pat chose one of the Corporals, Daniel "Locker" Jones. These are the two highest Months In members of the squad, having die pools of 10 and 9 respectively, which contributed to the loooong game length (more on this later).

Game Events

We started with one of the fodder being found impaled on a booby trap, which led to the discovery of two Vietnamese near the camp, which segued into a brief firefight. During the Action scene, Ram ordered Locker to kill the remaining farmer, which he obeyed but disagreed with, setting the tone of their relationship for the game. Can won the Action roll, giving himself 4 fallout to spend, which he used to "shell shock" Pats character, raising his Burden. I was very happy that rules did exactly what I had wanted them to do.

That night, Locker talked to some privates about their greivances with the Sgt. The next day, they were ordered to sweep-and-clear a nearby village. This went about as well as you would expect. We had Conflicts over whether Ram would shoot a child or not in order to get  information out of the village elder (he didn't), whether one of the Fodder would see the error of his ways after Locker caught him raping a vietnamese woman (he did not), and a crazy action scene with NVA snipers and Fodder going off the deep end, that ended up with Can rolling many dice and me rolling none, making him inflict a lot of fallout on his squad, including raising his own Burden.

They had to wait for a dustoff to evac their seriously wounded man, so they camped out near the village overnight, leaving two men to lock up the Vietnamese in a hooch and guard them. In the morning, they found the hooch empty and the guards dead, garroted, and Ram lost it, swearing vengeance. They discovered a tunnel in one of the hooches that led down and into the jungle. A tunnel cave-in and some conversation about just abandoning the Sergeant later, we had a final Action scene of the remaning squad (down to 5 Fodder and Locker) and Ram coming on a patrol of NVA from opposite directions at the same time. They ended up losing the Action and regrouping, with a standoff between Ram and Locker over whether to cut their losses or go out in a blaze of glory.

Can used the last die he had for the conflict and lost, but it triggered a Profile change, refilling his pool, just as I decided to call Endgame. So, the Sergeant is staring at the 6 soldiers across from him, all with weapons down but at ready. The two characters obviously have to choose each other as targets, and they each had a d6 Burden, so they each rolled. Can won by a lot (something like 50 to 25ish), and so had a Monologue of Victory, decribing the physical ending of the story. He described how he managed to whip the squad into a patriotic fervor, and they went into the jungle and routed the NVA. They got choppered out, and Ram saw some more action, but was eventually wounded and went home. Locker was given command of the squad and rebuilt it.

Pat then had his Monologue of Defeat, talking about the memories and legacies of the characters. He said that Ram stayed in the Marines after he got out of the hospital, but was relegated to a desk job and just faded into obscurity. Locker's distrust of command was only strengthened by being given one, and after he was wounded he ended up abandoning his rebellious ways and joined his father as a peace activist.

Playtesty Things

I was nervous about how it would play with only two players. It turned out fine, except that the structure of the game combines to make it go for a longer time with fewer players! We played for a solid 4+ hours, with about 15 minutes of breaks, and there were still 5 Fodder when we went into Endgame. I'm going to change some stuff for playing with 2 players, most notably by directing the group to cut out one Fire Team of their choice, bringing the total # of characters down to 11.

Both Pat and Can had a good time, and had nothing but positive feedback. Now that Pat knows how it should play, he's going to look at the text and tell me where I don't explain it well. This will be a very good thing.

The main problems were basically learning the new system, and getting used to dice used simultaneously as randomizers and as tokens. Good presentation should help with this.

I didn't bring up establishing Backstory (mainly because I had a brainfart and printed out the old rules that didn't have it in there, and then couldn't remember how I wanted to implement it). Also didn't bring up assuming the Burdens of Fodder. Next time.

Minor rules tweaks (how to break ties, the fact that the ranking officer can apply fallout to themselves) came up and were noted, and will be in the next revision.

I was happy that the game progresses how I want it to. That is, its a linear decline from start to finish, everything goes to shit, and boom, its all over. Absolutely every scene contributes to this decline, and it's fantastic.

With such large die pools and few conflicts, compared to a game with more players, the Profile changes were few and far between. Which was fine, but I still need to play a full game with a lot of people, to really exercise those mechanics.

Biggest Changes

Joe was right, Endgame conditions are too restrictive. That's going to get revised to a more flexible guideline of "When there's a perfect moment, go for it" with a backing of "If all the Fodder are dead, you have to go for it."

Also, I want to determine some kind of mechanical thing for the GM to kill off Fodder himself. Technically, by the rules, Fodder can only die from Action scenes, but I ended up just killing a bunch of them for story purposes. Joe did that too in his playtest, and I think its an important tool. At the moment, I'm thinking of having to spend dice or something from the GMs die pool to do it, because I do want to keep the GM rules pretty strict. So, brainstorming for this, we'll see how it goes in further playtests.

I was, however, totally happy with Burden use and progression, and basically will do my damnednst to explain it correctly in the rules.

I'll be directing the players to this thread to add their impressions, if warrented. Questions and suggestions welcomed!


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Nathan P.
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My Games | ndp design
Also | carry. a game about war.
I think Design Matters
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