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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 141 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Beat The Clock] Doom  (Read 3928 times)
BlackSheep
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Posts: 40


« on: December 07, 2006, 01:52:05 AM »

So, yesterday I ran Beat The Clock for the first time.  This was at a gaming society get-together (which ended up in a common room / coffee shop due to a room booking snafu) with eight players.  Some of them I've known for years; some for less; some I'd never met before the day.  The setting I used was that from the Doom movie - a squad of marines in a quarantined Martian research facility with monsters created by genetic experimentation.  Again, the group was pretty evenly mixed between those who'd seen the movie and liked it, those who'd seen it and didn't like it, and those who'd never seen it.  I'd made a few cosmetic changes, with 'fears' becoming 'flaws' and the addition of a 'teamwork' edge.

The game ran a little under two hours, I reckon, with a fifteen minute time period set.  To be honest, I completely forgot about the mechanics for winding back the doom count, but I don't think it would have made a great deal of difference.  Players were constantly setting the push as high as it could go, or nearly so, and their luck held out for the most part.  We only had four or five pitfalls the entire game, mostly resulting in instant death, and about the same number of setbacks because of the high push levels.  Nobody picked up any significant pain or panic, although on reflection had I remembered about setbacks rolling back doom we might have seen a few people setting low pushes and hoping to fail.  As it was, there was one case of someone pitfalling to within an inch of death, with three minutes left on the clock, and having no real chance to survive.  My bad; something to remember should we play again.

So what actually happened?  Well, everything started off according to plan, with the marines dividing into teams, tracking down infected scientists, shooting at shadows and downloading research data.  Porter ran off on his own to find the BFG; Mac tracked down Dr Grimm; Duke started planting explosives to blow the place once they were done.  The rest of them were in the genetics lab, where someone overrode a door lock and let the Hell Baron loose.  First thing it did was take out Reaper, kicking off a massive firefight.  Kid looked to be toast when he ran out of ammo at a key moment, was saved at the last second by a shotgun blast from Goat, and then fell prey to the Baron's projectile tongue thing.  With the data secured and two marines down, the evacuation began.  Sarge, Goat and Destroyer, dragging Kid with them, started to fall back.  Mac and Grimm headed to the teleporter room; Mac got Grimm to safety, but was attacked by the Pinky demon.  Portman turned up, wasted Pinky with the BFG, and fled while Mac desperately worked to keep the teleporter going.  Duke got surrounded and trapped by zombie scientists, and set off the explosives, killing himself along with the monsters and breaching the walls of the compound.  With the atmosphere going, everyone hustled through the Ark, eventually leaving Mac alone with the dead Kid.  Kid then got up, already mutating, and a desperate struggle began that ended with Mac diving through the teleporter and throwing an ST grenade back through it.  One telefrag later, and the mission ended a lot more successfully than the one in the film.

Overall, we certainly had fun.  It was more hectic action than creeping horror, which can be attributed equally to the scenario, the players and the gaming environment.  The game moved fast, and people mostly grasped the rules quickly.
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iago
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2006, 09:33:53 AM »

Fantastic!  Thanks for running this game.

As an FYI to others, Beat the Clock is a product of the Compact RPG Challenge, and can be downloaded here: http://www.evilhat.com/lab/BeatTheClock1.0.zip

This sounds *about* like how I anticipated play to proceed -- high pushes until someone puts themselves in trouble.  The instant death risk is something I had hoped people might be a little more cautious about -- as their doom totals increase, I had figured on that being an incentive to set push at, essentially 12 - current doom - 1.  But continuing to set your push at 10 or 11 and just hoping -- that's certainly valid.

Did folks do the "help each other escape" thing talked about later in the rules, or was it an every man for himself thing?  Or was it every man for himself, but everyone's escape totals were about the same, thing?
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BlackSheep
Member

Posts: 40


« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2006, 09:55:20 AM »

This sounds *about* like how I anticipated play to proceed -- high pushes until someone puts themselves in trouble.  The instant death risk is something I had hoped people might be a little more cautious about -- as their doom totals increase, I had figured on that being an incentive to set push at, essentially 12 - current doom - 1.  But continuing to set your push at 10 or 11 and just hoping -- that's certainly valid.
Oh, a couple of people were setting push at one point below instant kill.  That's what happened to Kid - he took a pitfall to eleven doom with a couple of minutes on the clock, and didn't have enough escape to have a chance before time ran out.  Mac also landed on eleven doom by the end of it, but got himself out when the order of play sped up after everyone else escaped.

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Did folks do the "help each other escape" thing talked about later in the rules, or was it an every man for himself thing?  Or was it every man for himself, but everyone's escape totals were about the same, thing?
Nobody gave away any escape tokens, but due to the high success levels, everyone's escape totals were pretty even anyway.  Except Mac.  He lagged behind, and was desperately gathering escape while everyone else hightailed it.

One thing I wasn't sure on, actually - are you allowed to give away escape points on any roll, or only when you're on the verge of escape?
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iago
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2006, 10:15:28 AM »

One thing I wasn't sure on, actually - are you allowed to give away escape points on any roll, or only when you're on the verge of escape?

As I recall my intentions, it'd be any roll.

So, moving on, here's what I want to ask:

What did the system do *poorly*, that might need to be changed? 

Should there be a greater chance of failure (i.e., a lower cap on what you can set as your push) baked in, or is the push range fine as it is? 

Did anyone find the idea of the die mechanic (push harder, succeed more, but fail big) unnatural or a poor fit? 

Does this *need* a group of players like yours, where everyone sounded pretty invested in the premise and comfortable with one another?  In other words, how much did the system itself contribute to player-fun?
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BlackSheep
Member

Posts: 40


« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2006, 08:02:28 AM »

As I recall my intentions, it'd be any roll.
Ah, right.  The RAW seemed to indicate it was only when you got the twelth point.  Had we been allowing donation at any point, we'd probably have seen a lot more sharing.

Of course, teamwork was quite heavily encouraged in my setup.  Had I gone for the Cube/Saw-type scenario I was also considering, things would have been different.  Did you ever consider a 'screw you' mechanic?

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Should there be a greater chance of failure (i.e., a lower cap on what you can set as your push) baked in, or is the push range fine as it is?
I think that even with a lower cap you'd get people pushing it as far as it can go.  I'm crunching some numbers on an alternate mechanic, will post what I come up with.

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Did anyone find the idea of the die mechanic (push harder, succeed more, but fail big) unnatural or a poor fit?
Once it was explained and used a couple of times it was fine, but a few people had trouble with it at first.  More the idea of setting your own difficulty than anything.

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Does this *need* a group of players like yours, where everyone sounded pretty invested in the premise and comfortable with one another?  In other words, how much did the system itself contribute to player-fun?
I think the atmosphere would have been much the same with, say, Risus or another minimalist sytem, but the gameplay wouldn't have been nearly as satisfying.  Non-arbitrary win/lose conditions are a big help for survial horro
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iago
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« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2006, 08:07:33 AM »

Excellent.  Thanks for those answers.

Hmmm. In my mind, a "Screw You" mechanic would be something like: Take a point of doom in order to reduce one player's Escape tally by 2 (or 3?), or everyone else's Escape tally by 1.  Because it always seems the "screw you" guy is closer to getting killed off while making things tough for everyone else.
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iago
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2006, 08:10:56 AM »

Hm, here's a final question:

I've had a thought of introducing a card component to the game -- where the "escape map" is essentially built out of cards that folks lay down, and the cards are what set the "push" levels.  Do you think taking the setting of "push" out of the hands of the players (at least directly -- they'd probably get the ability to choose what cards get set down) would be a good or a bad thing, or just a "different thing"?
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BlackSheep
Member

Posts: 40


« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2006, 06:00:30 AM »

Hmmm. In my mind, a "Screw You" mechanic would be something like: Take a point of doom in order to reduce one player's Escape tally by 2 (or 3?), or everyone else's Escape tally by 1.  Because it always seems the "screw you" guy is closer to getting killed off while making things tough for everyone else.
Oh yes, it should certainly be double-edged.

I've had a thought of introducing a card component to the game -- where the "escape map" is essentially built out of cards that folks lay down, and the cards are what set the "push" levels.  Do you think taking the setting of "push" out of the hands of the players (at least directly -- they'd probably get the ability to choose what cards get set down) would be a good or a bad thing, or just a "different thing"?
I was going to suggest something similar, actually.  I think it's a good idea - players still get some control, but they won't have a free choice and they'll have to mix it up.  Plus the push levels will presumably be tied to the obstacles.

Incidentally, it does seem a bit odd to me that doom can be reduced but pain/panic can't.  It would seem a better fit to have the doom clock be the inevitable one, while injury and stress can be overcome at a rice.
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iago
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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2006, 08:51:37 AM »

Hmmm. In my mind, a "Screw You" mechanic would be something like: Take a point of doom in order to reduce one player's Escape tally by 2 (or 3?), or everyone else's Escape tally by 1.  Because it always seems the "screw you" guy is closer to getting killed off while making things tough for everyone else.
Oh yes, it should certainly be double-edged.

Fantastic.  I think I just figured out how I want this to work in the "card game" version of BTC.

Quote
I've had a thought of introducing a card component to the game -- where the "escape map" is essentially built out of cards that folks lay down, and the cards are what set the "push" levels.  Do you think taking the setting of "push" out of the hands of the players (at least directly -- they'd probably get the ability to choose what cards get set down) would be a good or a bad thing, or just a "different thing"?
I was going to suggest something similar, actually.  I think it's a good idea - players still get some control, but they won't have a free choice and they'll have to mix it up.  Plus the push levels will presumably be tied to the obstacles.

Incidentally, it does seem a bit odd to me that doom can be reduced but pain/panic can't.  It would seem a better fit to have the doom clock be the inevitable one, while injury and stress can be overcome at a rice.
Yeah, I hear you there, but since Doom marches on, it seemed like the thing I wanted some mitigation on.  I'll be giving the whole game a look and overhaul when I move to the next edition, though.

Thanks again!
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