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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 154 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [One Can Have Her] Arson and old flames  (Read 3459 times)
Jonas Ferry
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Posts: 111


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« on: November 08, 2007, 06:39:19 AM »

b]The characters were:

Douglas Spencer, a hardboiled journalist that was blackmailing the homosexual film star Jess Escobar. He wanted to switch jobs from a scandal magazine to the LA Times.

William "Billy" O'Leary, a greedy police officer in the vice squad that took bribes from Jess Escobar to keep his gay bar secret from the rest of the police. He wanted peace of mind, to break out of the net of bribes and debts.

Edmund Cobbs, a conflicted war veteran who had killed a soldier on his own side almost thirty years earlier in World War I. He wanted forgiveness from the murder that still haunted him.

John Berry, a cynical government agent who murdered hos partner in the agency through arson. He wanted to become the most influential gangster in town and rule the criminal world.

It was easy to get the players to choose things from the lists, and they seemed happy with their options. Someone wanted "brother" or "family member" on the list of relationships to the femme fatale, to set up an incest story, but I don't think they felt limited in a bad way. I stressed that the life goals should be made very specific, but it turned out they still weren't specific enough.

The game started with me framing scenes that made it clear the crimes were coming back to haunt the characters. We had individual scenes with each player character, and quickly cut between them to set the stories in motion. I made sure the femme fatale Lola Griffin was in an early scene, to involve her in what was going on. Based on the characters' relationships to her I made her the daughter of WW1 war veteran Frank Griffin. Frank Griffin was the owner of LA Times, to connect different player characters with each other.

The game progressed round-robin style, with Spencer and O'Leary sharing stories due to player wishes and the other two on their own. An agent had followed Berry and his partner, had been caught in the fire, but survived. He wanted revenge, Berry failed to kill him, but managed to pin the arson on the vengeful agent. It turned out Cobbs had mistakingly killed Frank Griffin's brother, and that another veteran knew about it. Cobbs tried to force the other veteran to silence, but was confronted by Griffin and begged him for forgiveness. Spencer and O'Leary shared an enemy in Escobar and tried their best to make his secret bar public and rob him on money.

Towards the end of the game, with only Spencer's and O'Leary's players having cards left, the game slowed down. Spencer had sent an article to his scandal magazine with pictures of gay activity in Escobar's club, and O'Leary had failed to steal a lot of money from Escobar's safe at the club. The way the game is constructed the players have to get rid of all their cards before the ratting can begin, and if you don't find obvious conflicts the game can stall. This same thing happened in an earlier game (see The End of the Rope), and that time the group chose to skip the last cards and get on with the ratting. This time one of the last cards was a king, same as last time, which is bad for the player if played against the game master. It means the enemy of the player character shows up and the conflict is lost. But if they're played againt another player, their enemy shows up, and you win the conflict. It's one of these things you pick up as you play the game, that it might be better to play a king early against another player character than to save it for last. Or you can play it in the final conflict to set up a nice situation for ratting if you want to.

I think Spencer's story slowed down because the player focused on an earlier rejected life goal instead of the one chosen. The player first wanted "the big scoop" as a goal, but I thought that was too vague. Instead he chose "a job at the reputable LA Times", and it wasn't clear how that goal would be reached by publishing a gay-outing article in a small magazine. The character still had stuff to do, but I think the player felt the character was done.

When we reached the ratting phase it turned out two people, agent Berry and police office O'Leary, ratted on the journalist Spencer to his enemy Escobar. Spencer, in turn, sold Berry to the police. Two characters got away, O'Leary and war veteran Cobbs, so none of them reached their life goal. Berry's player decided he should go out in a blazing fire, and his epilogue had the police enter Berry's gasoline-drenched house as he lit it with his cigarette. Spencer called the police on Berry from a pay phone and was killed in a drive-by shooting by Escobar's people. O'Leary went back to his old life of bribery and debts, and Cobbs led a sad and lonely life to his natural death many years later.

It was a fun session. We laughed a lot, mostly at perfect one-liners and faux-hardboiled gay innuendo on what Escobar and his men were up to at the club. What little difficulties we had could have been solved by even more concrete life goals. You shouldn't say the character wants out of debt, you should suggest who he's indebted to and the story focus on how to repay it.

- JonaThe characters were[/b]:

Douglas Spencer, a hardboiled journalist that was blackmailing the homosexual film star Jess Escobar. He wanted to switch jobs from a scandal magazine to the LA Times.

William "Billy" O'Leary, a greedy police officer in the vice squad that took bribes from Jess Escobar to keep his gay bar secret from the rest of the police. He wanted peace of mind, to break out of the net of bribes and debts.

Edmund Cobbs, a conflicted war veteran who had killed a soldier on his own side almost thirty years earlier in World War I. He wanted forgiveness from the murder that still haunted him.

John Berry, a cynical government agent who murdered hos partner in the agency through arson. He wanted to become the most influential gangster in town and rule the criminal world.

It was easy to get the players to choose things from the lists, and they seemed happy with their options. Someone wanted "brother" or "family member" on the list of relationships to the femme fatale, to set up an incest story, but I don't think they felt limited in a bad way. I stressed that the life goals should be made very specific, but it turned out they still weren't specific enough.

The game started with me framing scenes that made it clear the crimes were coming back to haunt the characters. We had individual scenes with each player character, and quickly cut between them to set the stories in motion. I made sure the femme fatale Lola Griffin was in an early scene, to involve her in what was going on. Based on the characters' relationships to her I made her the daughter of WW1 war veteran Frank Griffin. Frank Griffin was the owner of LA Times, to connect different player characters with each other.

The game progressed round-robin style, with Spencer and O'Leary sharing stories due to player wishes and the other two on their own. An agent had followed Berry and his partner, had been caught in the fire, but survived. He wanted revenge, Berry failed to kill him, but managed to pin the arson on the vengeful agent. It turned out Cobbs had mistakingly killed Frank Griffin's brother, and that another veteran knew about it. Cobbs tried to force the other veteran to silence, but was confronted by Griffin and begged him for forgiveness. Spencer and O'Leary shared an enemy in Escobar and tried their best to make his secret bar public and rob him on money.

Towards the end of the game, with only Spencer's and O'Leary's players having cards left, the game slowed down. Spencer had sent an article to his scandal magazine with pictures of gay activity in Escobar's club, and O'Leary had failed to steal a lot of money from Escobar's safe at the club. The way the game is constructed the players have to get rid of all their cards before the ratting can begin, and if you don't find obvious conflicts the game can stall. This same thing happened in an earlier game (see The End of the Rope), and that time the group chose to skip the last cards and get on with the ratting. This time one of the last cards was a king, same as last time, which is bad for the player if played against the game master. It means the enemy of the player character shows up and the conflict is lost. But if they're played againt another player, their enemy shows up, and you win the conflict. It's one of these things you pick up as you play the game, that it might be better to play a king early against another player character than to save it for last. Or you can play it in the final conflict to set up a nice situation for ratting if you want to.

I think Spencer's story slowed down because the player focused on an earlier rejected life goal instead of the one chosen. The player first wanted "the big scoop" as a goal, but I thought that was too vague. Instead he chose "a job at the reputable LA Times", and it wasn't clear how that goal would be reached by publishing a gay-outing article in a small magazine. The character still had stuff to do, but I think the player felt the character was done.

When we reached the ratting phase it turned out two people, agent Berry and police office O'Leary, ratted on the journalist Spencer to his enemy Escobar. Spencer, in turn, sold Berry to the police. Two characters got away, O'Leary and war veteran Cobbs, so none of them reached their life goal. Berry's player decided he should go out in a blazing fire, and his epilogue had the police enter Berry's gasoline-drenched house as he lit it with his cigarette. Spencer called the police on Berry from a pay phone and was killed in a drive-by shooting by Escobar's people. O'Leary went back to his old life of bribery and debts, and Cobbs led a sad and lonely life to his natural death many years later.

It was a fun session. We laughed a lot, mostly at perfect one-liners and faux-hardboiled gay innuendo on what Escobar and his men were up to at the club. What little difficulties we had could have been solved by even more concrete life goals. You shouldn't say the character wants out of debt, you should suggest who he's indebted to and the story focus on how to repay it.

- Jonas
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One Can Have Her, film noir roleplaying in black and white.

Check out the indie RPG category at Wikipedia.
Jonas Larson
Member

Posts: 10


« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2007, 10:41:36 AM »

Thank you Jonas for a great session, since I was the one who played Douglas Spencer, I wanted to give you my thoughts on the matter too. They are, however, quite similar to yours. I absolutley share you impression that the stroy slowed down for Spencer.


I think Spencer's story slowed down because the player focused on an earlier rejected life goal instead of the one chosen. The player first wanted "the big scoop" as a goal, but I thought that was too vague. Instead he chose "a job at the reputable LA Times", and it wasn't clear how that goal would be reached by publishing a gay-outing article in a small magazine. The character still had stuff to do, but I think the player felt the character was done.

Yes, I guess I felt kinda done after I got the article published, it felt very difficult to move on after that. As you said, how would that help in achieving my goal? Maybe I should have tried going in another direction, but as the game played out I felt pretty much forced to make Spencer publish the article. In addition I also held very bad cards, and I guess that on some level I didn't want to get involved in an  important conflict that I was bound to loose.
As it turned out, "the big scoop" was an easier goal to follow than "a job at the reputable LA Times". But from a neutral standpoint I guess they might be equally vague.

But there was one conflict att the end that we could have played differently. Of course I refer to the conflict where I went to see Frank Griffin, editor of the LA Times, and father to the femme fatale. Here my goal was to convince him of not siding with Escobar, but maybe I should have tried to make him get me a job instead.

With that said, I enjoyed the game very much, and would be very intrested in trying it out again sometime.

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Jonas Ferry
Member

Posts: 111


WWW
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2007, 06:04:39 AM »

Hello Jonas,

Thanks a lot for the feedback! You know, I really liked the conflict where Spencer cut off Griffin's support of Escobar. The thought hadn't crossed my mind you'd do that. Had you gone for securing a job, even a success wouldn't make it so since that was your character's life goal.

Next time I'll aim higher and introduce new obstacles well into the ratting phases. It's no problem if there's loose ends left, since the players have the epilogues to conclude every plot line they want to.

I think you were very hard on Spencer, in a good way, in your epilogue! He didn't stand a chance in that drive by, and didn't get to see the result of his article. I don't think we ever decided what happened to Escobar, did we?

- Jonas
Logged

One Can Have Her, film noir roleplaying in black and white.

Check out the indie RPG category at Wikipedia.
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