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[Grey Ranks] Dreamation Playtests

Started by Jason Morningstar, January 29, 2007, 11:47:01 AM

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Jason Morningstar

Thanks for those links - I hadn't seen them! 

The way it stands you can re-roll a die as it sits or exchange it for a d12.  So if you are angling for failure, it's actually a little harder than success, but not much.  That needs to be streamlined and clarified, because it is a clunky rule.

I'm going to mercilessly edit down the Radio Lightning broadcasts and time them to make sure they are under, say, 120  seconds.

Emily Care

I got a lot out of the Radio Lightning broadcasts, but do agree that they'd be better shorter. Likely hearing them go from the news at Scene 1 to Scene 7 we'd get more of a sense of the impending doom. But Jason, I didn't realize they were pleas for help from the two I heard. Emphasizing that would increase (?!?!) the pathos, I am sure.

I think I agree with Bret that the edge of competition among the players seems un-needed and a bit jarring. I never framed the actions people took in that light. For example, when I torched your character's faith to get you to re-roll the losing die for Bret's character to love him, I honestly did it to help. Though of course, if I'd really meant it I suppose I should have torched my own character's love of her friends. Ironically, that would have been most appropriate.

But sacrifice seems more appropro. And even when trashing one another, I felt that the players did so with an underlying compassion and love, even.

Pooling the dice seemed interesting to me since it gave me a choice about the scene framing I planned for my mission scenes. Much better than having that be deterministically dictated by the grid. The second round of allocation for one another was harder. I didn't want to skunk anyone.

One simple point that I'd very much recommend adopting as a matter of course was what Lisa mentioned in our playtest: keep the dice on the character sheet until used, to help keep straight who had done their mission scene/vignette. I kept glancing around at other player's sheets trying to discern what was yet to come and who still needed spotlight/plot time.

The vignette/mission sequences work beautifully. As Mel, I think, said, I was confused by it at first, but came to love it, especially know what would happen.  I think I noticed that these scenes were more often given in summary or soliloquy form by the player who initiated them. Makes sense since there was no resolution needed.  Makes for a quick flow of play, though I enjoyed the ones that were role played out better.  You answered the question of role play verses telling well at the table ("groups will choose their level"), and I can't think of a good way to enforce play. Perhaps it's not necessary. But I noticed in my games too that the more interaction between players, the more likelihood of role playing. And also, role playing is not entirely necessary for a great game to ensue. At the time, I remember thinking it might be good to simply address the difference between summarizing a scene versus acting it out to give players a kick in the pants to choose consciously what they will do.

The role of being the Leader worked well. Especially with the scene elements that had been chosen by everyone. That is a slick little way to get everyone on the same page and to create a way to quickly allow the scene to be framed while incorporating elements that matter/have been created by the whole group. Very nicely and functionally collaborative. Are there other roles that the Leader takes? Like keeping play moving by having people initiate their scenes? However, I felt bad when I found out that "commending" someone at the end of the turn had a bad effect on the character I gave it to.  I was choosing between Bret who had had the strongest character scene, and Lisa whose character had added the most to the mission.  But whichever I would have given it to, I'd have thrown into a corner cell.

I suppse you may have made it hard for a reason. If we do hurt each other, it's only a small fraction of the situation they were in. How lame to be quibbling over such a small betrayal we have to give. But still, it was hard. An alternative would be to have the commendation give them a second move in the direction of their choice. However, the betrayal might be part of the point. Is it?

Oh, and another reason to have the other players be the one to destroy your hold-dear's is that it releaves the player of the responsiblity of doing that to their own character, and makes it more likely to happen over all.  The context in which hurting eachother seems to make the most sense in this game is not really knifing one another out of competition or vengeance, but out of desperation and scarcity of choices and resources.

RE the grid: I kept it in the back of my mind, but didn't steer by it particularly.  I took my cue mainly from the traits on the sheet. Writing the quadrant or nearest axis on the character sheet might have been a way to keep it more in the foreground.

I'm looking forward to playing the whole game sometime soon.

Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games

Robert Bohl

Man, I missed some hot shit after I left!

Jason, would it be appropriate to have the Radio Lightning broadcasts tracking a single story or a single thread?  As it stood, I found myself disengaging after the second one, and not only because of length (though that was no doubt part of it).  It's just that the broadcasts didn't feel like they had too much to do with us, and I didn't really have a narrative to follow.

Or maybe I'm just a lazy listener, that's always a possibility.
Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG

Jason Morningstar

Good comments and much appreciated.

Competition among players - I'm revisiting this.  It's been sort of fading in intensity in the design since the beginnign and may just not be necessary.

Lisa's suggestion about the die pool and die handling is excellent and I'm going to implement that, or something similar.  I found myself asking for a show of hands to track scene progress way too much.  It needs to be pretty obvious with a casual glance around who needs to do a scene.

Emily, I like the idea of adding some metagame responsibility to the Leader role, to kick people in the pants and push the scene forward, add complications, encourage the introduction of situation and NPC elements. 

I still need a better phrase for what the Leader does after each mission - "Singled Out" sounds a little awkward to me.  Originally the Leader awarded both "Weak Link" and "MVP" (with the MVP rewarded with a move in the direction of his or her choice), but it seemed like too much, since 50% of the players are then doping something fiddly on the grid each scene.  Maybe the answer is to award either a positive or negative consequence to a single character who stood out somehow.  Like choosing to lose, the award can be a tactical decision if the Leader wants it to be. 

Thanks for all the feedback - this is hugely valuable.