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[Lacuna] Decoy Team

Started by Graham W, August 06, 2007, 04:31:35 AM

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Graham W

We played Lacuna yesterday, in the garden, in the blazing sunshine. What a superb little game. Five players, plus myself.

In advance, I'd prepared this Static sheet. Note the theme: there's another Mystery Agent team, chasing the same Hostile Personality, and our team are decoys, being set up by Control:

Quote0: Insertion into Blue City.
3: Control refers to the agents, once, as "Decoy Team".
5: The agents see another team of Mystery Agents.
10: Something big blows up, with our team of Agents inside it.
12: Control (presumably mistakenly) calls our team of Agents, congratulating them on a successful detonation.
15: "Wanted"-style posters of the Mystery Agents appear; their photos appear on City-wide TV; etc.
17: It's indicated that Control is responsible for the City-wide hunt for the agents.
20 +: Spidermen show up. All hell breaks loose.

Agents gain Static from the usual things, plus:
Questioning Control about the "decoy team"
Making contact with the other Agents.

I've got a vague plot in mind: a hunt for an HP who, in Blue City, runs a large corporation ("The Corporation"); there'll be a large Corporation building to investigate/infiltrate; possibly a black-market theme.

I start off by talking to the players: this game can run many ways, how do they want it? They say they'll suck it and see, but mention The Matrix as an influence.

The insertion point is a hotel in Blue City. The Agents are scattered around (one in the lobby, one in the kitchens, and so on). The players decide that, when the Agents appear, it's as if they were halfway through doing something: the guy in the kitchens, for example, finds himself halfway through chopping vegetables. After a few Access rolls to grab things, they exit the hotel.

Quickly, it's clear that Andrew and Alex want an investigative game; while Morgan and Jayme want to shoot things; and Stocky is on the fence. They split up. Andrew and Alex take a tram to the Corporation building, seeing what they can find. Morgan, Jayme and Stocky rob a gun shop. There's some nice little scenes talking to the gun shop owner, talking to people on trams, some hints about "The Conflict".

We establish that our Blue City is generic: the barman is everyone's idea of a barman, a towel in his hand, cleaning glasses; the receptionist is either a hyper-efficient PA or a dozy floozy, painting her nails; the caretaker holds a brush and wears a brown coat. Items are generic too: the only sort of revolver, in our Blue City, is a generic Revolver; the only sort of shotgun is a Shotgun. One of the characters asks for a large revolver and is met with bewilderment: "That's the size a Revolver is".

By now, Andrew and Alex are questioning the Deputy Manager at the Corporation building; while Morgan, Jayme and Stocky are smuggling guns in the back entrance.

Static is about 5 and increasing. I am recording Static in view of the players, by dropping tokens into a glass (note that the rules suggest, cryptically, that Static should be tracked secretly). I like it this way. It creates tension. They realise, quickly, that more Static is bad. Surreal events occur: a door melts, a man is found sliced into cubes.

As Static reaches 5, the players see the other Mystery Agent team (waiting in a conference room at The Corporation). Andrew and Alex are still questioning the Deputy Manager; Morgan, Jayme and Stocky are ransacking the penthouse offices. Around now, there's a lot of insubordination, some lying to Control and questions about the other Agent team. Static rockets to 10, so the bottom three floors of the building blow up. The Agents are left above, trying to get out.

Here things get surreal and Matrixy. Stocky tries a huge leap to a neighbouring building, gaining additional propulsion from firing guns behind him. Alex and Andrew accelerate the lift to the top of the building, trying to break out of the top. Morgan uses the granite desk, from the penthouse suite, as a surfboard to ride the explosion downwards. Are we in action movie territory? I think we are. Jayme goes with the surreal thing, narrating that a lake, down below has turned to jelly, and that it breaks her fall.

This is really very surreal, so I check everyone's OK with this. They are.

So it's back to the hotel. Static increases quickly, now, and the City-wide hunt for the Agents begins. Control is alternately unhelpful and over-nice. The Agents decide to head to an address in Factory, which they found in their investigations.

Static is over 20, so we're close to the end. Alex, Stocky and Andrew go to a pre-arranged meet at a wasteland, where they find a trap set: rows of men pointing guns at them. There's an increase in Static, so that must mean the Spidermen: so, a distance away, black sedan cars pull up, and humanoid figures get out.

Morgan and Jayme head into a warehouse, where they find the HP, apparently assassinated by the other Agent Team. Of course, he's not actually dead (although, when Morgan tells this to Control, Control tells him he's wrong). The HP's body turns inside out, into a demon of guts and ripped flesh. They take him out, in gory style.

With Spidermen approaching, Agents start to eject. Static is around 25.

Andrew attempts to run from the Spidermen. He gets an increase in Static and, since Static's around 25, that must be the Girl, mustn't it? So he's in an alley and, at the other end of the alley, another car pulls up. A female gets out, face unseen. He shoots her, but there's no effect. Andrew ejects with the sound of high heels approaching.

And that's it. Note how Static drove the game. Insubordination drove it sky-high. Heart rates stayed pretty low (only Alex reached his maximum), although the players were watching them increase and worrying.

It was much more action-oriented than other Actual Plays I've seen, which suited our mood and the group, but still with strong themes of Control screwing the agents over. There were overtones of Paranoia, which I've played with Morgan before.

Lacuna gives you no clues about how to run it, so it's heavily, heavily reliant on the skills of the GM and players. As a GM, you'll pull in techniques learnt from other games: I used "Say yes or roll the dice", plus a lot of improv stuff.

It's a superb game. I'll play again.



Great AP report Graham. I love how you used a bowl of glass tokens to track Static in full view of the players, because this is something I wanted to try as well.

It's cool that even with a hastily written up list of Static events, it totally comes down to what your players do - well all of you together - how the game actually turns out. I have read all Lacuna AP posts I've found, and yours rates very heavily on the action and Matrix feel.




Wow - this sounds like a great game. From what you mentioned, it sounds like a combination of The Matrix/Paranoia/Dark City (the movie). does the game allow for extended campaigns, or is it usually a one-shot storyline?
Technocrat #0000002

Graham W

Hi Tom,

It is a great game, but don't think it's a Matrix/Paranoia/Dark City game. We played it that way, but that's not how it is.

Lacuna makes a point of not telling you how to play. So, depending on your proclivities, it can be an action movie, a mystery game, a game about trust and betrayal. For comparison, look at Ron Edwards' Actual Play post, Nine gram medal. His group did harsh raw self-discovery and suicide. So...Lacuna can work different ways.

But it is a great game.

For myself, I would have preferred less action movie, less Matrix and more mystery. But what can you do with players who want to surf on desktops to escape explosions?

Yoki, yes, interesting. The players ended up hating the sound of token being dropped into glass.


Graham W

Tom! I reread this thread and realised I ignored your question.

I'm not sure whether Lacuna allows for an extended storyline. If anyone knows better than me, I'd welcome any thoughts. I note that Ron Edwards' Nine gram medal game lasted four sessions.

After our game, we wanted to play again. We left the game with a glimpse of the mysterious stuff: Spidermen, the Girl. It made us want to play again, to investigate further.

And there's lots more we could investigate: we didn't touch on Agent Miner, Deep Blue stuff, the Lacuna itself.

Now...that said...I wonder if you'll ever actually solve a mystery in Lacuna: and, if you did, whether it'd be fun. I imagine it's always good to leave something unknowable.

And I worry that, after a while, that trick might become stale. A bit like "Lost", the TV show. It's great, until you realise it's just mysteries for the sake of mysteries, and then you lose interest.

But that's just a worry. Right now, we'd love to play again, and I think Lacuna could happily last us a good batch of sessions.


The Dragon Master

If you'd like to try this as a solvable mystery, you may want to look into the Running a Mystery thread. The link should bring you to the post that lays out a step by step of it which I found very useful for my own mystery campaign. Don't know how well it would work with that system, though it seems like it would be a lot of fun.
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