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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 71 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Grey Ranks] Third and final session  (Read 3694 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: July 15, 2007, 03:25:04 PM »

Hello! What a great game.

You can read about our first two sessions in [Grey Ranks] Another playtest for first two sessions. We'd completed seven out of the ten missions. To summarize, my character had just visited Nervous Breakdown for the second time and was therefore due for his removal from the story, and for the three final chapters, everyone else pretty much just moved down the chart toward Hatred for the rest of the story, as we consistently failed Mission and Personal scenes.

Chapter 8

At this point, everyone had been mission leader twice except me, so I was mission leader. Using the situation elements, I decided we were dealing with those damned Oldtown sewers again, conducting a rearguard action with a cache of grenades as people fled. One important detail we were working with is that the Home Army no longer cared about scouts "staying out of combat," and so we were working from direct military orders. Unsurprisingly, given our grid positions and dice availability, the mission was a spectacular failure, and it was about this point that we realized our chances of decent outcomes for Personal scenes were also becoming scant.

It worked out fine to "play" a dead guy, and as the first public advocate for mechanics permitting such things (regarding The Mountain Witch), I was happy to see it work yet again. I narrated my character's nervous breakdown, primarily just becoming an increasingly dependent recluse living with his family. The actual dice-dependent bit was sort of horrible because occasionally Tadeusz remembered he was at war, and in one case got his hands on a rifle and shot at refugees, thinking they were "the enemy."

The various other Personal scenes and steps of the mission are too depressing to relate, as we had to scatter across the ruins and totally abandon the mission. Our crew member Olek, the sick guy who wanted to be a real man in the Home Army more than anything, was killed in the first two seconds of his first actual for-real Home Army mission.

Chapter 9

I'm not sure why, but now that we'd each had two scenes as mission leader, any one of us could do it, and so I had an idea first and therefore was mission leader again. I suggested that it was all about survival with a few other displaced people, and picked up someone's suggestion that it involved a church. A lot of it involved the rector of the church, who was a bully and a religious fanatic who wouldn't let us into the stores of food and wine. One of the scenes concerned the grim chance that the crew might have to resort to cannibalism. Again, it was fun that my character's absence was involved, because it was the crew's memory of Tadeusz's self-indulgent gluttony that led them to make a joke of how hungry they were. Julie had her character Eugenia try to stop another crew member, Libka, from committing suicide, and failing (this was important because Eugenia had already visited the Suicidal Depression box and was still quite close to it).

In this step, I didn't utilize my dice very well, as I actually had a potential d12 remaining for destroying what my character held dear, and should have sent it to the mission roll. I used it for the personal roll instead and failed anyway, such that our remaining non-player-character crew member, secretly succumbed to hunger and ate human flesh.

The final bit involved the Nazis making use of a big ol' mortar (we learned about it in the situation elements), which brought down the church right when we'd managed to convince the rector to let us back in.

Here's a look at the math at this point, the final quantitative stage of the game. Given a target number of 9 times N, everyone needs to chip in a d10 or a d12 and to roll high, to have any chance of beating the target number (36 in our case). Considering that everyone is also probably nigh out of Things to Hold Dear and Reputations, it's a hard push, and in our case, pretty much impossible. But conceivably, not in every game! You could have a group shot at mission success, by husbanding those resources and failing in all the Personal scenes in all the previous chapters, to use high dice and re-rolls. Or conversely, individual players could have a shot at successful Personal scenes at the end, through the same tactics and accepting the heightened chances for a failure-hit on any given Mission roll before this point.

Which brings up the Premise of the game: is patriotism worth the sacrifice of youth? Gentleman, I give you Jason Morningstar, who along with Nathan Paoletta has at long last brought genuine politics into role-playing. It's been a long, far too long a wait.

Chapter 10

My Tadeusz got no epilogue. Eugenia went off to some awful private hole and ate rat poison, dying horribly. Wala came to a permanent end as well, but Maura left it a bit mysterious; I'd thought she might follow up on her frequent use of Nazis interested in prostituting Wala at various points, but no. Tod stalled out a bit; first, he narrated (his) Tadeusz shouting abuse across the river at the Russians. I mentioned that epilogues could be any time later, and we all chatted to arrive at the idea that Tadeusz eventually winds up in America, to become one of the anti-communist Polish community in Chicago in the 1950s.

Throughout play, we used all but one of the situation elements: Home Army trapped in sewers, which is kind of funny given that at least three chapters involved those sewers, just not with the Home Army

I do think Situation creation is a work of genius. It's a great mix of group vs. individual (in the fiction), group vs. individual (real people), lots of elements but keeping them optional, Radio Lightning, and constraints on narration plus character development. It's like seeing the five-component Big Model SIS in action: Situation (composed of Character and Setting) and System (especially Reward) in perfect harmony, multiplied by Color at the very outset.

We would also like to say, as a group, that we think the rules about "freezing" the Reputation of a dead/gone character are nonsensical. We also found the replies to our questions about this in the previous thread to be nonsensical. In our view, the Reputation rules should not change for a dead character, by one iota.

Best, Ron
edited to fix some missing text
« Last Edit: July 15, 2007, 07:21:20 PM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2007, 05:09:34 AM »

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2007, 05:22:57 AM »

Hi Jason,

Here are the game components that I (actually, we the group) recommend altering for dead/gone characters.

1. Keep the grid position regardless of Mission/Personal outcomes. In this, we fully agree with the written rules.

Here are the game components that we recommend not changing from the regular live-character rules.

1. Anything to do with the Reputations. We cannot understand any of the rationale that reputations cannot change after one is gone. Of course they can. We cannot understand why one cannot keep utilizing dice-increases via Reputations, as the remaining characters delve into their feelings and memories about the dead/gone person. That seems not only logical but also fun. In this, we strongly disagree with the written rules.

2. Mission and Personal scenes and dice. In this, we fully agree with the written rules.

Here are the game components that we are neutral about and thus don't really see any reason to change.

1. Situation elements, i.e., that person getting to choose one from the grid-position list at the beginning of a chapter.

It seems to me as if you're thinking about all five of these issues at once. It's also confusing to relate your posts to the text, both here and in the previous thread. For instance, the text says nothing about changing the rules for adding situation elements for players of dead/gone characters, and yet your post implies that the people with these characters don't get to add them.

It seems to me as if you achieve the "freeze" feature by fixing the character in the grid position, which we agree with, and which we did. But freezing or fixing the other stuff is simply confusing, both in fictional/creative terms and in game-play dice mechanics terms.

Best, Ron
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2007, 06:03:00 AM »

Hi Ron,

Maybe I'm miscommunicating.  Players of dead/written out characters still contribute situation elements.  They are fixed in place - if you written out on B4, you pull elements from B4 thereafter. 

The punitive nature of being dead (your assets are frozen) is intended to make that a less attractive option and to encourage gaming the grid a bit, probably to the detriment of the crew as a whole.  Being written out makes you less helpful to your crew.  That was my intention, anyway - your points are well taken.
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