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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 74 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [Grey Ranks] Act II Playtest  (Read 3627 times)
Jason Morningstar
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« on: December 30, 2006, 11:54:13 AM »

Steve, Clinton and I ran through Act II (Scenes 4, 5, and 6) of Grey Ranks today.  It went very well and exposed some interesting soft spots.

Steve played Alicja Strachalska, a sixteen-year-old girl from Praga who went from timid to tough and careless to careful.  She held her first love, a Parasol soldier named mar, dear.

Clinton played Jerzy Hlasko, a fifteen-year-old boy from Mokotow.  Jerzy went from obsessed to loyal and remained excitable throughout the act, never making it to calm.  He held his family dear, as represented by his grandmother.

I played Danuta, AKA "Jenny", a seventeen-year-old girl from Wola who held her Faith dear, particularly Wola cathedral.  She went from ugly to attractive and aloof to friendly.  I imagined her as a tough, taciturn soldier, sorta like Jo from the Facts of Life.  What can I say?  My wife's been watching a lot of Facts of Life episodes lately.

There was some sizzling action happening.  We introduced Mar, Alicja's first love, as an NPC, and he was used a lot - so was Clinton's guy's grandmother.  A third NPC was Aleksander Kowalski, introduced as a situation element in scene four as "a suspicious guy".  We quickly tied Kowalski and Grandma together in a little nest of collaborators, which was fantastic.  Poor Clinton got thwarted on his personal vignettes over and over again as his grandmother conspired to get him out of Warsaw safely through German intermediaries.  There was a nice mission in which we had to distract a German O.P. with nothing more deadly than cooking flour and eggs (Alicja baked a cake).  My favorite moment was in scene six, when we learned that Jenny's cousin, Tony Pawlik, had been sentenced to death by the Home Army special court for collaborating with the Germans.  Mar came to her and put a pistol in her hand, and she had to shoot her own cousin in the face.  But not before I tied him by association to Jerzy's grandma!

It was fun and played pretty fast - we completed three scenes in 2.5 hours.  The grid worked great. The situation generator did as well. 

 It occurred to me that NPC reputations have no mechanical way of changing, and I need to at least address this ("change them if/when it makes sense").

Clinton and I both forgot to adjust our dice for age after the first scene, and since this is crucial we discussed ways to reinforce this visually and procedurally. 

I'm going to add more specific information connecting home district status to radio Lightning broadcasts, just to make it more situationally relevant. 

Clinton, ever the optimist, suggested adding an "Escape!" spot to C3 on the grid, sort of like an anti-corner.  I'm thinking about it.  We talked about the grid a lot, actually, and came to the collective realization that the "weak link" isn't - it's just the most noteworthy individual, since moving double per the rules isn't necessarily bad, just ... dramatic.

Thanks, Steve and Clinton!
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2007, 08:25:12 AM »

Hi Jason,

Hey, I have a thought ... perhaps some attention to the physical space of play, and the objects in it, would be useful.

You already have the grid, so the notion of physical stuff to look at and alter is already there, the "board" if you will. Perhaps designated spots for dice would also work ... not in the sense of character sheets, but rather zones or spots in front of each person, to hold dice. The place for the vignette die, the place for the mission die.

So I'm thinking of getting away from the more usual RPG idea that currently unused dice are just kind of "there" in not-play-space, to a more board-game type attitude in which one has spots and places to keep things. The logic moves away from "when your character is 15, and you're doing a Vignette scene, roll 'x' die," to, "Once you're set up your board-space, always roll the die from your Vignette box for Vignette scenes."

Best, Ron
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2007, 06:40:01 PM »

That's a good idea, Ron, and I'm definitely going to explore it.  This playtest brought up a lot of interesting tactile/die handling/procedural/spatial issues.  Here's a photo of the tabletop, pre-game. 
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Steve Segedy
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« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2007, 06:56:16 AM »

Something that's been on my mind since the playtest involves how scenes and conflicts are set up.  As it was in our game, each player took their vignettes (mission and personal) in turn, generally setting them up to involve our own characters.  So as Alicja, I set up a scene where I baked a cake and faced the Germans, and as Jenny, you set up the scene where you were told to go shoot your cousin.  I suppose it felt a little weak to me that each player was setting up their own challenges, and effectively asking the other players to help them play it out.

Perhaps it would be useful to more explicitly have each player set up a scene for someone else, and actively work to challenge their character and create interesting conflicts.  I recognize that this is a bit like early drafts of the game, where there was a rotation of roles between players, but I think something like this might help provide a bit of structure and ramp up the drama.
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The Shab-al-Hiri Roach and Grey Ranks, available now at IPR!
Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2007, 07:57:00 AM »

Thanks for that suggestion, Steve.  I'm torn, because I like the idea of a player having control over their own arc, but having players responsible for each other would be more engaging - I felt what you did in play.  I'll think on it some more. 
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