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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 57 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: first [AP] Breaking the Ice the old-fashioned way  (Read 3597 times)
joshua neff
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« on: July 28, 2006, 05:10:32 AM »

I bought BtI a few months ago, but my wife (Julie) and I only just got to playing it for the first time last night. I'll cut past the chase to the end and say we loved it. It was a tremendous amount of fun. Julie's final comment was, "It seems at first like there are a lot of little rules, but it all flows smoothly in play."

We sat down on the living room floor to play, some dice, a notebook, and a character sheet between us. Julie went with my desire to do a 1930s screwball comedy (because she encourages my love of old movies and my geeky obsession with the 1920s/30s/40s). We decided that rather than doing the obvious gender switch, we'd go with outlook--I'm generally a pretty postive, optimistic sort, while Julie tends to be somewhat pessimistic ("No, I'm a realist, darling.") and dark. After doing the color/trait thing, we ended up with:

Sally Foster (Julie's character): an Optimistic, Patient, Early Riser; a Baker who Owns Her Own Specialty Cookie Shop and Has a Greenhouse where she Grows Exotic Jungle Flowers. Her Conflict was "Husband Hunting/Looking for Commitment."

Hal Spencer (my character): a Laconic, Stiff guy who Never Goes Out Without His Umbrella; a Nightclub Owner who Secretly Writes Poetry. His Conflict was "Afraid to Open Up to People."

Julie doesn't generally GM (she's only done it once, at Mike Holmes' egging on, and that was for a short, freeform game), so she asked me to be the Guide first. She began the first date where I picked her up at her house to take her to a fancy Chinese restaurant. Sally had never been to a nice restaurant before, so she was exaggeratedly dressed up, although she still looked pretty, and was babbling nervously as I walked her to my car. The next turn was in the restaurant, which we both described as being big, lavish, decorated in a 1930s American view of what Imperial China would look like ("All crimson and gold, with lots of paper lanterns"), with obsequious Asian waiters who do the whole "Ah, so, honorable customer" routine. (Julie later narrated that the owner was a fat, cigar-chomping Causcasian and the Asian waiters all sat in the back speaking perfect English, smoking cigarettes, and laughing at us.) The dinner wasn't going well, since Haldidn't say or emote much, although he impressed Sally when he ordered in perfect Mandarin. Then, Hal's buddy that he plays cards with, a rakish Erroll Flynn/Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.-type named Randall, showed up and imposed himself upon us. He started flirting with Sally, making Hal look quiet and meek, until Randall ran a hand through Sally's hair. Hal stood up and chastised Randall for treating Sally "dishonorably." They got into a shoving match ("Oh, yeah?" "Yeah!"), and Hal pushed Randall right into a waiter, who dropped a tray on the floor, which somone slipped on...and the restaurant erupted into disorder. So, the next scene was us in the kitchen, washing dishes, which ended our first date. We only ended up with one more permanent point of Attraction, and no Compatibilities.

The next date was on Sally's turf: Hal showed up at her cookie shop with a bouquet of flowers. Unfortunately, the cookie shop was doing very good business, and Sally was the only one there, so she was too swamped to pay any attention to Hal. So, Hal rolled up his sleeves and jumped behind the counter to help Sally out. It turned out that running a nightclub had given him the trait Can Handle Chaos Easily, and he took care of sorting out the customers while Sally got the cookies together. They went back to Sally's house, so she could show him her greenhouse. Hal mentioned that the greenhouse was pretty stuffy and suggested they go for a walk in the nearby park. Sally thought Hal was a bit odd, as he carried an umbrella with him on a clear,sunny day, and again he didn't say much. They were standing by a duck pond and Hal was explaining that he carries an umbrella with him because "they always give the weather report, but have you noticed how often they're wrong? You never know when you're going to get wet." Suddenly, a dog got away from the man walking it (I imagined Alan Hale playing the dog's owner) and ran up to Sally, knocking Hal into the pond. He sat there, his umbrella opened, completely soaked. Julie took over as Active Player and had Sally feel sorry for Hal. (At the end of the game, she said this was the moment Sally fell in love with Hal.) So, Sally pretended to want to get a better look at a lilly floating in the pond and threw herself in after Hal. The next scene was back at her place, where they were drying off. Hal was wearing the only robe Sally had available, a bright yellow silk robe with flower designs on it. The doorbell rang and Hal went to answer it, only to find Randall standing there. His rakish friend took one look at the stiff in the yellow robe and burst out laughing. Hal shooed Randall away, and Sally offered to run Hal an herbal bath to make him feel better. We ended that date with one more permanent point of Attraction and two Compatibilities: "Sweet tooth" and "Inside joke about the duck pond."

The final date was at Hal's nightclub. Randall had spread the word about Hal in the yellow robe, so now none of the club's employees took Hal seriously. Hal greeted Sally at the door of the club and introduced her to the staff, who all chuckled about the yellow robe. Hal loosened up a bit and referred to the pond incident with a quick "quack quack." The band was playing, and it turned out that Sally loved to dance, so they ended up on the dance floor. A fast song segued into a slow song. The crooner on stage was singing lyrics that Hal bashfully admitted he wrote for Sally. Overwhelmed, she kissed him. (I decided at the end that this was the moment he really fell for her.) Randall again tried to disrupt the budding romance by picking a fight with a customer and starting a brouhaha. Hal used his ability to handle chaos and quieted everyone down. Then he finally opened up: he made a big speech to the whole nightclub, saying that maybe he had looked silly in the yellow robe, but he was in love with Sally and willing to look silly for her. He grabbed a cream pie and shoved it in Sally's face, then shoved a pie in his own face. Finally, he shoved a pie in Randall's face and knocked him into a chair. We did the last roll and ended up with 6 permanent Attraction and 3 more Compatibilities: "Likes Romantic Songs," "Stands Up for Self," and "Laughs at Self."

Julie and I slowly got used to the rules, and as we got comfortable, we had a ball. We were both very encouraging to each other, making suggestions, throwing Bonus Dice and awarding Rerolls to each other. Julie even got bold and started grabbing Bonus Dice from me when she'd use a trait. It was one of the best gaming sessions I've ever had (right up there with the last time we played PTA), and I'm still thinking about our screwball comedy.
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
joshua neff
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2006, 05:11:32 AM »

I don't know how "first" got in the title of this thread. I didn't originally type that. Weird.
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--josh

"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
Emily Care
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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2006, 05:42:57 AM »

[Happy Dance!!]  What a great game, Joshua! I'm a big fan of classic screwball comedy, too. My favorite example for the game is "Bringing Up  Baby". I just can't think of a better conflict than "babysitting a leopard". : )  Your game had so many classic moments for the genre, and Randall was the perfect foil for Hal.

Quote
(Julie later narrated that the owner was a fat, cigar-chomping Causcasian and the Asian waiters all sat in the back speaking perfect English, smoking cigarettes, and laughing at us.)
I love this! Ha! A nice turn on the head for the stereotypes of the period, too.

Quote
They were standing by a duck pond and Hal was explaining that he carries an umbrella with him because "they always give the weather report, but have you noticed how often they're wrong? You never know when you're going to get wet." Suddenly, a dog got away from the man walking it (I imagined Alan Hale playing the dog's owner) and ran up to Sally, knocking Hal into the pond. He sat there, his umbrella opened, completely soaked. Julie took over as Active Player and had Sally feel sorry for Hal. (At the end of the game, she said this was the moment Sally fell in love with Hal.) So, Sally pretended to want to get a better look at a lilly floating in the pond and threw herself in after Hal.
I can't help but think of the young Catherine Hepburn playing Sally.  I can just see her diving in after him.

Quote
Hal used his ability to handle chaos and quieted everyone down. Then he finally opened up: he made a big speech to the whole nightclub, saying that maybe he had looked silly in the yellow robe, but he was in love with Sally and willing to look silly for her. He grabbed a cream pie and shoved it in Sally's face, then shoved a pie in his own face. Finally, he shoved a pie in Randall's face and knocked him into a chair. We did the last roll and ended up with 6 permanent Attraction and 3 more Compatibilities: "Likes Romantic Songs," "Stands Up for Self," and "Laughs at Self."
So perfect. A pie fight, yes! And how touching for Hal to really undergo this kind of character development, changed by his relationship with Sally.  It hadn't struck me how the compatibilities, along with new traits, can come to over-ride a character's conflict.  You need it less as you go along, since you have more positive traits to use and a higher base attraction between the two, so the conflict can slip out of the main frame of the action--but how awesome to see real revolutionary change in a person's character come in literally through the synergy of the relationship.  In Shooting the Moon (the sequel to BtI),  you can actually cross off a trait and change it, which puts this kind of change into focus. It's a great feeling to see a character resolve something like this.

And this particularly pleases me:
Quote
Julie doesn't generally GM......

Julie and I slowly got used to the rules, and as we got comfortable, we had a ball. We were both very encouraging to each other, making suggestions, throwing Bonus Dice and awarding Rerolls to each other. Julie even got bold and started grabbing Bonus Dice from me when she'd use a trait.
Yes! Mission accomplished. Making it fun & easy to make a game flow even and especially for folks who don't gm. I'm so glad too that the rules became intuitive as you used them.

Thank you, Josh & Julie! Thanks for sharing about your game. I"m so glad you had fun!

best,
Emily
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