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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 74 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Drowning and Falling] Falling from Grace  (Read 8450 times)
Jason Morningstar
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« on: March 07, 2006, 06:16:16 AM »

Me, Remi, and Clinton playtested Drowning and Falling last night and it went very well.  D&F is a charity project I'm working on, and I'm super excited about it.  Power 19 here.  Remi came on board as art director and managed to convince five indie comics artists to contribute art, and it is just gathering steam.  As an added bonus, it is actually playable!

We made up characters - three each, which took about fifteen minutes.  This is a touch too long and I'll need to tighten it up some.  We then made up challenges, a process that currently uses playing cards to randomize the elements you get to use in creation.  I drew well, and got two difficult and four easy elements, which I turned into four challenges.  Remi loaded his up and had three total challenges, and Clinton had, I think, four also. 

Nobody had any trouble creating funny challenges.  Remi had us drowning in debt at one point, Clinton tried to make us fall from grace, and I had a beautiful princess to fall in love with.  More "normal" challenges included a "milk vampyr" (don't ask), a narrow cliff ledge over a raging stream (on which we were assaulted by Cliff Sharks!), an IKEA-style "ball room" we almost drown in, and my personal signature challenge - the wet staircase without a hand-rail.

I lost two characters - one guy held on a long time, and the second guy died very quickly.  I think Remi also lost two, as did Clinton - although his third character, through a series of lucky rolls in character generation, was a monster who demonstrated a "reverse death spiral", getting better and better as the game went on and beating up the other PCs for their treasure. 

Here's what I learned:

Two hours is a little long to play.  The resolution procedure gets repetitive after a while, and the challenges, although designed to scale upward in difficulty, all start to look alike.  We all agreed that a one hour game would be perfect. 

Hit Points are set too high.  Part of the fun is seeing your beloved adventurers die in awful ways, so the total needs to be scaled down. 

A bunch of other tweaks presented themselves which I'll address in the game.

Here's an interesting observation - in Drowning and Falling, characters are both cardboard and utterly disposable.  And yet we all really got into them, creating stupid back stories and rivalries, cheering their successes and bemoaning their untimely deaths.  It made the game much more  fun, and yet it is something that isn't - and probably can't be - addressed in the rules.  I think we have an innate desire to make stories, and when confronted with an experience that is borderline board game in many ways, we just add it in with our friends.  I know this isn't a revelation, but it was cool to see it happen at the table, and we all commented on it. 
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2006, 06:31:19 AM »

on which we were assaulted by Cliff Sharks!

Is that cliff sharks, as in "the fish"/"JAWS", or is that Cliff Sharks, as in the name of some greasy "used car dealer vibe" debt collector?

Quote
And yet we all really got into them, creating stupid back stories and rivalries, cheering their successes and bemoaning their untimely deaths.  It made the game much more  fun, and yet it is something that isn't - and probably can't be - addressed in the rules.  I think we have an innate desire to make stories, and when confronted with an experience that is borderline board game in many ways, we just add it in with our friends.

I remember doing that in the old days with that HeroQuest boardgame (kind of like the precursor to the new Fantasy Fligth Games' 'Descent'). I was a plastic elf piece, my buddy was the plastic warrior piece, and we got more roleplaying in on those cardboard dungeon pieces than we did in our regular AD&D 2E adventures. :-)
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The Story Games Community - It's like RPGNet for small press games and new play styles.
Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2006, 06:40:24 AM »

Don't tell me that Cliff Sharks can't find a deal for you:
http://www.forwardcars.com/images/used_car_salesman.jpg
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The Story Games Community - It's like RPGNet for small press games and new play styles.
Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2006, 06:41:40 AM »

Is that cliff sharks, as in "the fish"/"JAWS", or is that Cliff Sharks, as in the name of some greasy "used car dealer vibe" debt collector?

I was going for gigantic sweaty fish that hang out in nests high above narrow ledges, but I like your idea better.  In play it is all color anyway - they would be equally deadly.

And as far as personification goes, I can't help but do that, too - when I play Memoir '44, I always pick a unit to root for, and think about the battle from their perspective.  Poor bastards. 

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Emily Care
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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2006, 07:44:17 AM »

Hey Jason,

This sounds awesome, ridiculous and fun. I can't wait to play!

How are you planning on tightening it up, time-wise?

best,
Emily
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2006, 08:18:22 AM »

How are you planning on tightening it up, time-wise?

It'll actually be pretty easy, since challenges are created from a finite group of resources - currently playing cards, but I'm considering changing that.  We played with 18 cards that formed 11 challenges, and the previous test had 26 cards and maybe 16 challenges, with an exchange rate of about 12 cards per hour of actual play.  So I want to tune the challenge-building resources to align with character hit points in the 60-75 minute sweet spot.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2006, 09:17:08 AM »

Here's an interesting observation - in Drowning and Falling, characters are both cardboard and utterly disposable.  And yet we all really got into them, creating stupid back stories and rivalries, cheering their successes and bemoaning their untimely deaths.

You say "And yet."  I would argue for "And therefore."  The same thing happens in Paranoia.  Cardboard characters are easy to project your passions-of-the-moment onto.  Doomed characters are something you don't mind playing fast and loose with (nothing to lose!)   The combination is very freeing.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2006, 09:19:02 AM »

Good point, Tony.  The Paranoia example is apt.  Last night in play there was a lot of "But I'm your brother!  Your evil brother!" stuff going on, and it just took the hinges right off the crazy barn.
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