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Author Topic: Project C.H.A.I.R  (Read 5194 times)
Jake Richmond
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Posts: 220


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« on: January 25, 2007, 05:49:15 AM »

I had a chance to play an early draft of Nick Smiths new game, Project C.H.A.I.R., the other night. Lots of fun. I thought I'd share with a report.You can read a bit about project C.H.A.I.R. on Nicks http://projectchair.wordpress.com/

Getting started
Nick, Travis and April Brown and myself got together last Saturday to play. Gabe Sutherland joined us half way through. I had talked about the game a bit with Nick the week before and I had a general idea of what it was all about. Gabe, Trav and April knew nothing about it at all. A game of PC starts by asking the players to choose a Word. The players will answer a series of questions about the Word, and in doing so will determine what the game will be about. Here's what we came up with:

Word: Ficus
What is Ficus?: Ficus is a brand of nasal spray developed by a New Zealand corporation. Ficus also contains addictive chemicals and mind controlling drugs.
Why is Ficus relevant?: Ficus is being brought to the U.S. for the first time. Ficus will be a major new competitor in the nasal spray market.
Where?: The first U.S. test market is New York. The year is 1986.
Who?: The players are the Ficus promotions team. We are:
The Ficus CEO
The Inventor of Ficus
A hired New York marketing expert
A local "facilitator"
Celebrity spokesman, Mr. T
Ultimate GoaL?: Launch Ficus successfully in the United States and make a mess of money.

We decided that we wanted to keep the games events and action within the realm on the possible. So no super powers or super natural elements. A game of PC takes place in three acts played out over the course of one or more sessions, and we had to decide what would happen in each one. We decided the first act would cover the New Zealanders arriving at the Airport, the bribe to the FDA, the prelaunch day visits to prominent New York Drug Stores and an appearance on Good Morning America (recorded that night for broadcast the next day). The 2nd act would include launch day activities like the press conference and the launch party. The third act would contain the exciting showdown, but unfortunately I've forgotten the details as we only made it through the first act.

The last thing we needed to do before we started was stat out our characters. Our characters abilities were divided between Truth and Belief. Truth covered things our character knew they could do, while belief covered things the believe they might be able to do. For my character, the native New York "Facilitator" who specialized in transportation, event management and protection I choose "Knows New York" and  "Knows how to use a Gun" for Truths. For Beliefs I choose "Believes he can sing" and "Believes he never fails". Truths and Beliefs chosen by other players included "Will do anything to make sure Ficus succeeds", Believes she can make men do anything she wants" "Believes he is loosing his religion" and "Has a body guard".

Play
PC has no GM. The players set the frame work for the game by defining what will happen in each act. This gives you a goal to work toward while allowing for a lot of wiggle room. Players can suggest scenes, conflicts or events at anytime. If a player wants to he can give up his character for the scene and step into the more traditional GM role. But he can only do this if he has the permission of the other players.

Conflicts are resolved using dice and the afore mentioned Truths and Beliefs.If a player knows they can do something then they role their Truth die, adding the bonus from any applicable Truth they've written on their sheet. For example, my character "Knows how to use a gun" and because of that will ad a bonus to any Truth die he roles to determine the result of an action related to using a gun. Beliefs work the same way, but represent things your character does not yet know if he can do. Once a Belief has been accomplished it becomes a Truth, and can be used as often as you like. If you attempt to use a Belief and fail then your confidence is shattered. You can never attempt to use that particular belief again. We had decided that our game wouldn't have super natural elements, but in other games beliefs might encompass stuff like "I can turn back time" and "I am unstoppable because I am in love". When a player announces an action the other players determine whether the action will be Easy, Medium, Hard or Extreme. Nick has a little chart that shows what you have to roll to complete at each difficulty. It's a pretty straight forward dice mechanic.

Truth and Belief help shape the entire game. Each player was constantly looking for new situations where they could put their Beliefs to test. This led us to a several interesting scenes, including a karaoke bar (complete with singing), a on night stand between two players and a raid on Turner Broadcasting (and hand to hand combat with the Turner Broadcasting Commandos). In each case one or more of the players were able to turn a Belief into a Truth, and use those Truths to help us reach the Act 1 climax (the all-out battle on the set of Good Morning America).

We had a really good balance of player input for this game. Our group is used to more GM-heavy games, but it seemed like each player was very comfortable stepping up and initiating new scenes and conflicts. At the moment PC doesn't have any set rules for scene creation, but determining what would happen during each act was enough to get us through the game. We had a little difficulty with deciding appropriate target numbers for difficulty roles until Nick explained to us that the number range for each difficulty was already set, and we just needed to determine whether an action was Easy, Medium, Hard or Extreme.

Wrap-Up
I think this session went very well. The big thing wa that everyone had a lot of fun. we all picked up the rules very quickly.Something that I think is kind of remarkable is how well we did without a GM. Our group historically does poorly without a GM, so I was surprised by how smooth and effortless this session was. Everyone was happy and eager to contribute. I think we will definitely play Project C.H.A.I.R. again, either as a continuation of this session (since we only reached the end of the first act) or by choosing a new Word and creating a new game.

The one problem I found is that none of our characters ever faced the threat of losing Relevance. When a character fails an action they loose an amount of Relevance based on the difficulty of the action (1 for easy, 5 for Medium, etc). Each character starts with 100 Relevance.If you loose it all then you character is no longer relevant to the game. While we all failed a few times, none of us were ever got close to the point where we would loose Relevance. It may be that we were making roles to easy, but I think it's more of a case that failures need to make more of a dent in the Relevance total.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2007, 05:53:27 AM by Jake Richmond » Logged

Jasper Flick
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2007, 07:47:12 AM »

Interesting, but argh, I keep mentally substituting "Player Character" for PC instead of "Project C.H.A.I.R." >_<

So the game has no central GM, but a player can morph into one at any time? How does that work? Do the rules suddenly change or is it more like an explicit social role? I'm actually most interested in why that option is put into the game, though I guess that's a question for Nick.
Specifically for your group, it's interesting you say you are used to GM-heavy games, but didn't use the player-becomes-GM option. Why's that?
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Jake Richmond
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« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2007, 08:11:13 AM »

Quote
So the game has no central GM, but a player can morph into one at any time? How does that work? Do the rules suddenly change or is it more like an explicit social role? I'm actually most interested in why that option is put into the game, though I guess that's a question for Nick.

Definitely a question for Nick. To me it didn't seem like there was any real difference between what happened in the scenes where there was no Gm and what happened in the scenes where there was one. Except that one player would be pushing the narrative more then the others. I suspect that the GM role is unneeded for this game.

Quote
Specifically for your group, it's interesting you say you are used to GM-heavy games, but didn't use the player-becomes-GM option. Why's that?

Well, we did use it. just not very much. I was surprised that this worked well for us. I think maybe that the way the game is generated, where the players work together to build the setting and define what the game is about, was what made this work for us. We each had a much more focused interest in what was happening in the game. In past GM-less games we've tried there have been complaints of lack of direction. With PC our goals and interests were at the front of the game and very much the focus of play. That's what made it a strong game for us I think.
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nick smith
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« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2007, 10:27:42 AM »

Quote
So the game has no central GM, but a player can morph into one at any time? How does that work? Do the rules suddenly change or is it more like an explicit social role? I'm actually most interested in why that option is put into the game, though I guess that's a question for Nick.

i have noticed in so many groups where if they don't see rules for GM they don't know how to play and the reason the scene GM is there is to make sure everyone know they have a chance to control the game, like Jake mentioned there really is no need to have one as seen in the playtest and we used it very rarely but maybe you have  really cool idea and want to "take over" the game for a sec, now of course with a group that can play with no GM would have no problem just going with it but in other there will need to be a line between the player running a scene and another playing in it.

also the transaction from player to scene director is as simple as "i want to run this scene", nothing changes except the direction for everything involving npc and actions is now pointed to one person insted of everyone
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check out my game:
http://www.atarashigames.com/CDMHOME.html

visit: http://projectchair.wordpress.com/ for more project C.H.A.I.R. info
nick smith
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« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2007, 10:34:25 AM »

I've been very busy so i apologize if i didn't answer all you questions, the little time i have I'm using to update the P.C. blog so feel free to look there for some answers as well
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check out my game:
http://www.atarashigames.com/CDMHOME.html

visit: http://projectchair.wordpress.com/ for more project C.H.A.I.R. info
Jake Richmond
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Posts: 220


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« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2007, 09:19:03 PM »

It seems to me that ideally what you want is for the players to always have a strong hand in guiding the game, and to tat end the idea that one player will take the role of Director seems like a formality. I think that all players need to be the Director at all times, recognizing that often one player will be a little more "in control" then another.
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nick smith
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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2007, 09:36:50 PM »

if only every play group would understand that idea there truly would be no need for formalities such as "director"
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check out my game:
http://www.atarashigames.com/CDMHOME.html

visit: http://projectchair.wordpress.com/ for more project C.H.A.I.R. info
Jake Richmond
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Posts: 220


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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2007, 10:33:11 PM »

Right. but I think you can push the game so that it dosen't need one. Make it more clear that those responsibilities can and should be taken on by all players. Theres nothing wrong if one player wants to really drive a scene, a series of scenes or an entire game. Thats fine. All players should know that they can do this, that they can step up or back as much as they want. If you want players to do this you should shape the game to encourage this. And at the moment the game does encourage this, except for the unneeded distincition of director.


jake
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2007, 03:32:43 AM »

I think you're right Jake, at least it fits with what I guess when I read the AP. Do away with the explicit GM, it seems artificial. The GM-upgrade kinda looks like bait for people used to GMs to try out this game. Isn't that like sneaking up mode? I think we can agree that's not a good idea.
Nick, not everyone needs to play your game. Those that will enjoy it will discover it without the false bait, perhaps even sooner.

(Oh, and because so far I've only wrote about the GM thing: everything else looks promising!)
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Jake Richmond
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2007, 04:33:56 AM »

Nick, Hurry up and post your first draft somewhere.
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nick smith
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2007, 01:07:10 PM »

yeah I'm working on it

thanks for the feedback, your both right and i will take that out of my draft, which should be done soon
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check out my game:
http://www.atarashigames.com/CDMHOME.html

visit: http://projectchair.wordpress.com/ for more project C.H.A.I.R. info
Jake Richmond
Member

Posts: 220


WWW
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2007, 12:39:29 PM »

On the other hand, it it's something that you feel is important and should be part of the game then give it some more attention and provide a compelling reason for it.
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