*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
June 29, 2022, 02:56:09 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 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 84 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Grey Ranks] Gen Con Playtest  (Read 4032 times)
Jason Morningstar
Member

Posts: 1428


WWW
« on: August 18, 2006, 05:59:07 AM »

So I got together at Gen Con with a dream team of young Turks to try out Grey Ranks:  Gregor "Best Friends" Hutton, Kevin "Primitive" Allen Jr, Joe "Contenders" Prince, and Nathan "Carry" Paoletta.  This was the third playtest of the design, which is still developing.

I had prepped three scenes and pre-made characters.  The game is designed to be played in three sessions, so I set the characters up for scene 5, which begins on 4 August 1944 and is the high water mark of the uprising.  I warned the players that the game was still rough, and that the playtest wouldn't necessarily be fun.  They were eager to give it a go. 

We played through an entire scene, which involved four vignettes (emotional, character-centered cut-scenes and flashbacks) and six different moments of mission narration.  After that I was ready to take a break and discuss what we had seen, and the four guys gave me a lot of constructive feedback.  Here's what I learned:

1.  They actually learn about the Warsaw uprising in school in the UK.  Gregor and Joe hit the ground running, conversant with the material.  America has failed my people yet again.  I don't want a lot of background to be necessary to play and enjoy the game, but the oceanic gap puts my task into sharp relief. 

2.  The mission structure is a little wack - currently you resolve your successes and failures, and then assign them to other player characters as the scene progresses.  There's no tension and perhaps more importantly, no tactile involvement.  Somebody shoves a die at you and you make something up to agree with what it says. 

3.  Aspects desperately need to scale in a uniform way.  Right now there are four - things you hold dear, things others think about you, love, and hate, and among those there are three different behaviors.  I can fix this, but I didn't realize the magnitude of the problem until we tried it out. 

4.  The vignettes are awesome.  Gregor set up a chilling scene where his teen had to help his father murder a German soldier - his father was holding the guy down, and Gregor's character couldn't do the job right, injuring the German clumsily until he begged for death.  It was awful. 

5.  There needs to be more player empowerment.  It's a grim, relentless game and characters will fail and die - that's a given.  But within that structure, there really needs to be a way for players to clearly define and acheive goals they set themselves.  Currently there isn't any outside implicit ones imposed mechanically.  You don't need to be bale to kick ass, but you absolutely need to have those fist pumping "YES!" moments, which are currently absent.  I also want to ramp up the sex and love ina big way.

Overall, I'd say it was a grinding failure, but one that shows the direction I need to go - and that's what playtesting is for!  I'm very excited about revising Grey Ranks based on this, and other, feedback. 
Logged

Eric Provost
Member

Posts: 581


WWW
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2006, 06:13:26 AM »

I was totally jealous that I didn't get to take part in this at GenCon.  But now I'm totally glad you got to play with four people that weren't me, and still got to see what I was talking about with the mission structure.  I'm really curious to see what you come up with for a solution.

-Eric
Logged

Jason Morningstar
Member

Posts: 1428


WWW
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2006, 06:33:54 AM »

Eric, you are a good friend and I felt bad when our schedules got all messed up, but in retrospect you're right - those guys told me many things I'd heard from you already.  It was good to get some fresh eyes on the game. 
Logged

Nathan P.
Member

Posts: 536


WWW
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2006, 06:36:08 AM »

Hey Jason,

First of all, thank you for the playtest. As Gregor said at the time, there's a diamond there once the rough is ground away. And, from my perspective, the session wasn't "a grinding failure" at all!

Anyway. On to the constructive. These are my thoughts now that I've had some time since, so take them with the appropriate grains of salt.

Quote
1.  They actually learn about the Warsaw uprising in school in the UK.  Gregor and Joe hit the ground running, conversant with the material.  America has failed my people yet again.  I don't want a lot of background to be necessary to play and enjoy the game, but the oceanic gap puts my task into sharp relief.

Well, the overview you gave got me and Kevin up to speed pretty quick, I think. One problem that you may run into (with a US audience, at least) is that the background that it presents may create a strong "the person who own's this is in charge" vibe, with them disseminating the information and so on. So you have that GM-duty coming into play right off the bat. I don't know whether this is something to try to ameliorate, or to build on, or to address in the text, but I thought I'd point it out.

Quote
2.  The mission structure is a little wack - currently you resolve your successes and failures, and then assign them to other player characters as the scene progresses.  There's no tension and perhaps more importantly, no tactile involvement.  Somebody shoves a die at you and you make something up to agree with what it says.

In retrospect, I think you could adjust the current structure to make the mission's proceed with more tension. What I see is this kind of progression:

- The World frames a scene for a character.
- The character narrates, the group roleplays.
- Moment of crisis! Success or failure is important! The World picks a dice from the mission pool.
- The dice is a success. Cool. More roleplay. OR
- The dice is a failure. Crap! Now, people can bring in the stuff from the lists to adjust the dice up, by involving them in the narration. So, like...
-- "The Nazi's uniform fills me with hatred and resolve." Cross off the list, the dice goes up one.
-- (someone else) "I recognize him as the school bully, and I remember the time I beat him in a fight." Cross off the list, the dice goes up one.
-- Now it's a success!

Also, you could maybe make it so that you can call on list things twice, but the second time gives the person who calls on it a wound (sorry, I forgot what those are called). So, grabbing them early is still a strategic good thing. This structure would preserve the "do I succeed now and then suffer, or suffer now and then succeed" kind of thing, while giving the players more authority over the resolution. Does that make sense?

Quote
3.  Aspects desperately need to scale in a uniform way.  Right now there are four - things you hold dear, things others think about you, love, and hate, and among those there are three different behaviors.  I can fix this, but I didn't realize the magnitude of the problem until we tried it out.


Yeh, I think we discussed some good solutions to this. I'll re-iterate - I think they either need to be more different, or more the same. But I'm sure this won't be a problem to fix.

Quote
4.  The vignettes are awesome.  Gregor set up a chilling scene where his teen had to help his father murder a German soldier - his father was holding the guy down, and Gregor's character couldn't do the job right, injuring the German clumsily until he begged for death.  It was awful.


Vignette's are awesome. I think maybe there should be a little more direct feedback from Vignette's into Mission scenes, though - especially to get more love and sex into them. Maybe, at the end of a vignette, anyone can take something from that vignette and add it to the list for the mission? So you have player-authored stuff entering the fiction, which is always awesome, and it directly connects to the flashbacks, and vignette's serve as a recharge for the mission if it's going badly. Again, just a thought, but I think having stuff from Vignette's spill back into the Mission scene's would be appropriate and awesome.

Quote
5.  There needs to be more player empowerment.  It's a grim, relentless game and characters will fail and die - that's a given.  But within that structure, there really needs to be a way for players to clearly define and acheive goals they set themselves.  Currently there isn't any outside implicit ones imposed mechanically.  You don't need to be bale to kick ass, but you absolutely need to have those fist pumping "YES!" moments, which are currently absent.  I also want to ramp up the sex and love ina big way.

I think both of my things above help address this. I think there can be tension coming from looking at your dwindling list of resources and trying to decide whether to use them now or later, without having to go into doing more dice rolling.

Finally, you may want to consider putting some reward in for the World to assign failure. Right now, you need to assign failure because you need to assign all of your dice. I'm a little uncomfortable with this from the perspective of "I'm only doing it because I have to" rather than "in this situation, sorry dude, but I want to screw you" It may seem minor, but I personally think it's a difference between unfun and fun for some people. Maybe the World gets to refresh an item on the list, or assigning a failure gives them a bonus on their next Vignette scene, or something. This may bear some thought/conversation, but I thought I'd mention it.

Anyway, there's some thoughts. I hope some of them are helpful!
Logged

Nathan P.
--
Find Annalise
---
My Games | ndp design
Also | carry. a game about war.
I think Design Matters
Jason Morningstar
Member

Posts: 1428


WWW
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2006, 07:33:42 AM »

Thanks, Nathan, I really appreciate the feedback.  One thing I've (re)learned recently is that re-incorporation is amazingly potent.  So the idea of being able to bring a crossed-off situation element back into play is really brilliant and obvious.  You've already seen Jadwiga Ruffowa the patriotic slut, you've dealt with her, now the World brings her back into play as a reward and we see another facet of that character.  So cool.  Also, adding to the list by introducing elements created ina  vignette does exactly the same thing.  Rock!

I can distribute "background knowledge" authority in a way that will fix any stinking notes of GM-ness...

Thanks again!

Logged

Joe J Prince
Member

Posts: 99

Putting the fun into dysfunction!


WWW
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2006, 12:58:13 PM »

Hi guys,

Glad to see you're taking Nathan's feedback well Jason, instead of say - killing and eating him...

I also think that grinding failure is a bit harsh, we found some things that worked well and some that didn't, so as a playtest it was a resounding success!

I think the main sticking point was the mission structure, but it sounds like you're already on top of that. Personally I'd like to see:
Quote

- The World frames a scene for a character.
- The character narrates, the group roleplays.
- Moment of crisis! Success or failure is important! The World picks a dice from the mission pool.
Decide what is at stake out of Things you hold dear or How others think of you
The die is rolled.
Quote
- The dice is a success. Cool. More roleplay. OR
- The dice is a failure. Crap! Now, people can bring in the stuff from the lists to adjust the dice up, by involving them in the narration. So, like...
-- "The Nazi's uniform fills me with hatred and resolve." Cross off the list, the dice goes up one.
-- (someone else) "I recognize him as the school bully, and I remember the time I beat him in a fight." Cross off the list, the dice goes up one.
-- Now it's a success!

Things brought in from the lists could be tracked as counters, a player can discard a counter to adjust a die by +1 (so they don't need to be used right away).
A reincorporation mechanic is a very cool idea.

Hope this feedback helps!

It was great meeting you and I'm really pleased I got to play in the game. Looking forward to the final version - will Poland ever be free?

Cheers
Joe
Logged

Jason Morningstar
Member

Posts: 1428


WWW
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2006, 02:31:23 PM »

will Poland ever be free?

Not on my watch!

Thanks for the suggestions, Joe.  And I was using "grinding failure" in the best possible way - we played until the wheels fell off, as I knew they eventually would.  No harm, no foul, no hot tears of despair.

Logged

Gregor Hutton
Member

Posts: 274


WWW
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2006, 05:36:10 PM »

Hi Jason

Great thread and I think you captured the points we found.

The big one for me was that there was no conflict -- no disagreement about what happens next. Someone throws a die your way and you narrate in line with its result.

The game was grim, real grim. But then it is a tragically brutal incident in history. On the other hand, we're doing more than stepping through history and dying on cue, right?

However, this was a really valuable playtest as, while it shut some doors, it also opened others up. And hopefully these doors lead to a remarkable game. I'm pretty sure they will.

I really liked the mission and vignette scenes. I loved the tables of incidents and hooks. The preparation you had was excellent. I wonder if there could be a GM's guide to the uprising and a segmented Player's guide (both done week-by-week?). The hooks were pregnant with story potential, and we found them easy and natural to fit into our fiction.

In my vignette scene I wondered afterwards if there should have been a test to see if I lost something of myself in killing that soldier. Sure, I was moving up the scale of obedience to killing, etc. but at what cost?

I am really looking forward to this game being published.
Logged

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!