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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 140 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [GALACTIC] Berlin Playtest 2007  (Read 9515 times)
Georgios Panagiotidis
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Posts: 83


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« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2007, 09:11:27 AM »

Thanks again Georgios (do you go by Joe? or is that just a LJ fluke?).

Although I slightly prefer to use Georgios when online, Joe is fine as well.

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Your interpretations are giving me some good ideas for how to present certain parts of the text. I think your realization of "we cannot play Galactic this way" is fairly accurate. Depending on future playtest reports, I'll consider addressing that topic loud and clear.

Cool. It might just be a local thing. I remember the people I played with in Edinburgh approaching things very differently from the ones here.

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Regarding crew and agendas, did you apply any of the sample relationships listed on p. 32?

I suggested them during our character creation session, but I think everybody just used them as jumping off points. There's also the unfortunate side-effect that, this being a guys-only gaming group, some of the romantic relationships for the crewmembers were never really an option. Hopefully we'll eventually get to the point where playing a woman in love with your friend's character won't be awkward, but we're not quite there yet. ;-)

Our next game is scheduled for monday after next, I'll try to beef up my GM prep until then. Although I'm starting to think that if I settle too much on certain background facts, I might discourage my group from freely adding and expanding during the scenes. Which is something I noticed when one of my players handed me his quest. If the quests are too generic, it's hard to pin-point just what the player cares for. If they're too detailed, there's not much I get to add to the game other then repeating what the player has prepared. It's a little murky just where to draw the line. On the one hand I want to encourage everybody adding and expanding the setting and situation during the game, on the other hand I'm supposed to have my little sandbox during GM prep where I get to give the background my personal spin. It's a balancing act, I haven't quite mastered yet.
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Five tons of flax!
I started a theory blog in German. Whatever will I think of next?
Alan
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Posts: 1012


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« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2007, 11:46:06 AM »

Regarding crew and agendas, did you apply any of the sample relationships listed on p. 32?

Hi Matt,

You asked me that same thing in a recent email about our Seattle playtest and I don't think I replied.

No, I overlooked that in crew member creation. I knew something had gone wrong when the players asked how the crew members could oppose the captain. If I were to introduce the game again, I think I would focus on these and treat them almost as strictly as descriptors in Sorcerer -- "these are the sort of relationship you can have with your Captain" -- at least until the group had some experience with the game. The trust/doubt mechanic makes sure that only those sorts of relationships really matter but it would help concepts around the table if everyone is onboard in advance.
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Georgios Panagiotidis
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Posts: 83


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« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2007, 11:42:02 AM »

Our fourth(?) session featured two of our four Captains (Capt. Hammit and Michel), since Erik unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute. We managed to finish Michel's quest and are about half-way through Capt. Hammit's quest.

This time we paid much more attention to the crewmember's relationship when looking for a crew agenda in a scene, which in some cases meant completely redefining them to make them useable. Simon mentioned that he felt the crew side of the conflict worked much better this time around, as they were much more engaging then in our earlier games. Although I wasn't quite as excited about the conflicts themselves, I did notice that when put next to one another plot and crew agenda provided a lot of content to play around with. The scenes played out very dynamically and felt less like individual set pieces and more like parts of a coherent ongoing story. This became obvious when we reset Porter's relationship to his Captain to one of questioned loyalty (with him having a criminal past). Suddenly Porter's actions had an added depth that existed independently of the scene's plot. This is obviously the way it's supposed to work, but this new dimension suddenly popping up was notable and well received. It seems to me that getting a handle on crew relationships is key to making Galactic take off. The rest can be easily understood by anybody who's ever run a game himself, I think. How to use Crew Relationships and Crew Agendas, though... well.. we sort of bounced around a bit, before figuring them out for ourselves. But I have to admit, I still can't actually explain them to others. I think it has a lot to do with how the players relate to the two agendas and how they let them play off of each other. It's a bit like alchemy, really. You throw together two different elements, shake well and sometimes there's a reaction and sometimes there isn't. And nobody at our table knows why. In other games I'd immediately read up on the examples in the book, and although the examples in the file are fairly short.. I'm not entirely convinced that a more elaborate passage would have made things easier for us.

One scene that worked fairly well had Michel having taken over a hostile ship being hailed by two heavy battle cruisers who had just jumped out of hyperspace and requested identification. We threw in various ideas, introducing some kind of ID console which Michel's crew suspected of having lethal security measures installed to avoid abuse. Jannis suggested that his crew member Barton, who believed Michel to exploit him and the rest of the crew (relationship), would be sent to deal with the possibly dangerous identification console and thus convince the heavy battle cruisers that everything aboard the ship was fine. The console obviously needed some sort of ID from the ship's captain or XO, which prompted somebody to throw in the line "Captain, I've found this thumb." The plot agenda was established as: convincing the battle cruisers that everything is ok; whereas the crew agenda was: convincing Barton that Michel wouldn't risk the crew's life to save his skin. I was fairly low on Hazard at that point, so I moved most of my dice to the crew agenda. Niklas won the plot agenda completely (kicking out all of my dice) in the first roll, and the crew agenda as well by taking his connection I believe to re-roll my highest die. The scene ended with the cruisers moving on and leaving Michel's new ship alone, as well as a speech by Michel with which he managed to convince Barton that they were all in this together. One of the reasons why this scene was so memorable to me was that the events and the characters felt at the same time consistent and unpredictable.

Narrating what happens was a bit of a problem, though. Since we made sure to determine narration by highest die roll instead of defaulting to the GM - as we naturally tend to do - there were moments where a player would unintentionally introduce narration that would contradict setting elements that related to the Scourge. This a problem because the players can not know beforehand what part of their narration will or will not contradict the Scourge threat (or other background info). So far we've handled it rather clunkily with me simply blocking certain parts of a player's narration, which sadly muddles up the rather dynamic interaction of the game. It's something I'd rather not do, but I can't see an alternative to it yet.

Whereas our last game (with only one captain) felt a little toothless with Simon almost breezing through each conflict, this time the scenes were a little more challenging. Although still not approaching the harsh difficulty of our first session. My Hazard pool stayed in the single digits throughout the game, which was just enough to even out each conflict. Although edges and connections gave them a distinct advantage.

Two rules questions came up. Can you spend Hazard or Fortune to change your dice pool inbetween rolling the Crew Agenda and the Quest Agenda? Also can I spend Hazard to add dice, after a player has used a connection on my dice? I'm guessing no, but want to make sure.
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Five tons of flax!
I started a theory blog in German. Whatever will I think of next?
Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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student, second edition


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« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2007, 07:38:43 AM »

Hey G: Thanks again for posting. I'm really glad the game is going better for you. You're raising some interesting issues, too. Your post is also good timing, as I'm starting to shake off the chaos of moving.

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ow to use Crew Relationships and Crew Agendas, though... well.. we sort of bounced around a bit, before figuring them out for ourselves. But I have to admit, I still can't actually explain them to others.

I'm going to sit on my response to this one until more groups have played the game.

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there were moments where a player would unintentionally introduce narration that would contradict setting elements that related to the Scourge.

Hmm. I have to take another look at the text and think about what it says. Give me a day or two, and I'll respond to this with more detail.

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Two rules questions came up. Can you spend Hazard or Fortune to change your dice pool inbetween rolling the Crew Agenda and the Quest Agenda? Also can I spend Hazard to add dice, after a player has used a connection on my dice?

Can you clarify what you mean by the first question? Do you mean "can you spend Hazard/Fortune to move dice in between agendas? Or "can you spend Hazard/Fortune to add dice before you roll?"

As for the second question, I think there's a table missing from the text that might answer your question. As with the previous response, I'll go look at the file and get back to you in a day or two.
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Georgios Panagiotidis
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« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2007, 05:57:21 AM »

Some quick observations about last night's game. I'm posting this now as opposed to later, because I'm having some PC trouble now and don't know when I will get to post again before monday.

We noticed that players need to restrict themselves when it comes to narrating elements, in order to keep the 'story' sensible and coherent enough to take it seriously. This wasn't quite as obvious to us, as one would think. While there is a rule in place to help this along  (two can veto a suggestion), there was a certain reluctance to use it. This is usually only a question when it comes to introducing Edges, Connections, etc. to the scene in order to win the agenda. Vetoing such a suggestion, because you feel it's too ridiculous or far-fetched feels a little like one player scrambling to win, while you are a spoilsport about it, because you don't like his explanation. On the one hand the spirit of the game is cooperative, on the other you need to 'judge' people's attempts at narration in order for the events in the game to pay off (emotionally) later on. This "judging" is quite elemental to the game I think, but seemed to us a rude thing to do to unless it was explicitly required by the rules.

Erik (whose Captain was the unluckiest of all in our games) felt that the crewmembers only caused trouble for him, making it hard to care about them or their agenda. Although this might also be because of the rather antagonistic relationships two of his crewmembers had to their captain.

Jannis noted, that losing a quest agenda has no apparent drawbacks other than some colorfully negative narration. My guess was that emotional investment in the setting and the struggle would be important here. This seems to be one of the taks of the GM, encouraging the players to care. Again, possibly blindingly obvious to some but I've rarely had to think about this stuff before.

Erik added, that the captain's stand often felt too hopeless to put up a fight. Death is a very real possibility for the characters, so the players prefer their emotional investment to be far more casual or at least cautious. (A little like how people feel about characters in a horror movie, I guess.) It seems that players need to enjoy watching their characters suffer or wrestle with tough decisions. I was a little reminded of Doom-The Boardgame (which we enjoy playing), yet there the player occasionally get to "kick ass & take names" to release some pressure, which was something we didn't have a lot of. Even at the end of a quest.

We noted a kind of death spiral taking place, once a crewmember gains doubt. It was repeatedly the best plan of action to try to eliminate a crewmember to get rid of their doubt dice. You mentioned there was a table missing or something, which might explain this. So far using doubt dice meant either winning the conflict or potentially dealing harm to crewmembers for me. Overall as a GM I felt that I had little to nothing to lose in each conflict. Hazard bounced around in the single digits again. Following up a successful captain (who won one or both agendas) usually meant facing some harsh opposition by me as the GM.

Can you clarify what you mean by the first question? Do you mean "can you spend Hazard/Fortune to move dice in between agendas? Or "can you spend Hazard/Fortune to add dice before you roll?"

After rolling and resolving the crew agenda for example, can I spend Hazard to affect my dice in the quest agenda? Or can I only spend Hazard when allocating dice to the two agendas?
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Five tons of flax!
I started a theory blog in German. Whatever will I think of next?
Alan
Member

Posts: 1012


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« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2007, 11:25:24 AM »

Just a quick observation from my own playtest experience with Galactic -- I think it's important to frame all crew agenda's in terms of the crew member's relationship to the captain. It's about the relationship, not about what's going on in the plot.
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
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