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Author Topic: Aware - 2nd playtest/another hideously self-serving post :)  (Read 1668 times)
Demonspahn
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Posts: 158


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« on: November 20, 2002, 09:51:56 PM »

OK, so playtest session #2 for Aware: Roleplaying in the Age of Reason is in the books.  

In case anyoneís interested, a slightly dated write up of the game and its rules can be found here. and the write up of the first playtest session can be found here.  The setting information can be found in the Indie-Netgaming Yahoo! Group, Files section.  

The second session started Tuesday night on IRC and the actual course of play went something like this:

----

Our two animal heroes, Tofu the fox (played by Christoffer Lerno/Pale Fire) and Bugger the clam (played by Chris Edwards) continued their initial story by taking up the search for the chowís chew toy in exchange for some information from the dog and his gang about humans in the area.  

They sought out the clamís magpie friend at her nest and asked if she had heard anything about the dogís bone.  She in turn directed them to a nervous little mouse who put them onto the trail of the same cat they had seen earlier talking at the creek side with an alligator.  

They went down to the creek and found what was left of the cat lying on the bank, they spoke briefly with a turtle named Eli and then discovered the dogís bone as well as the remains of a dog (the one who had been poisoned earlier, incidentally) in the water, stuffed under an outcropping of the bank.  

The fox dropped the clam into the creek where he saw an alligator sleeping in the muck of the creek bed.  With _painstaking_ slowness, the clam "footed" his way to where the bone was wedged under the ledge, then used his shell to work it loose.  Both the bone and the dogís carcass came loose in a muddy swirl of water, the bone and the clam drifting to the creek bed and the dogís carcass floating to the top of the water.  

Tofu lost sight of Bugger in the murk and was reluctant to enter the water so he asked the turtle to go gather him up.  Meanwhile Bugger found himself on the creek bed, face to face with the alligator who was now awake.  The gator "grinned" and attacked, Bugger tried to squirt him in the eye but only succeeded in propelling himself upward through the water.  The gator pursued, snapping and thrashing and accidentally caught the turtle in its jaws while Bugger was thrown out of the water and onto the bank, battered and bruised.  

During the commotion, the fox slipped into the water and grabbed the bone.  Then, before the gator could attack the poor clam, the fox conned it into believing they had been sent by the leader of the gators to get the bone.  

We broke for the night with the fox and the somewhat rattled clam heading back to Town to return the bone to the Chow.  

---

Looking back, it doesnít sound like much was accomplished but there did seem to be a lot going on while we were playing.  

First off, we got started a bit late and I meant to finish up early but got so involved in the course of the game that somehow time got away from me.  Tired this morning, very tired.  :)

Before we started playing, Christoffer and I hashed out a few new beta test rules that worked fairly well in play.  One rule gives the game more of that struggle of Instinct vs. Reason that I was looking for in that you can use any stat to overcome a challenge/conflict so long as you provide adequate narration as to how it is done.  But, and itís a big "but", if you donít use the "correct" stat, you _must_ use Reason to augment your score rather than Instinct.  

So, Bugger the clam could conceivably use his high Wits to climb a tree (the "correct" stat for this challenge being Might), but must roll Reason and then narrate the event---perhaps a bird or squirrel carried him up into the tree, or he convinced a badger to stomp on a balanced stick and catapult him into the tree.  This rule makes for some more interesting narration and allows animals to make better use their higher stats, rather than be limited by low ones.  Of course this kind of thing depends a lot on common sense (the clam would have _no_ chance of climbing the tree under normal circumstances) and in the end, GMís discretion.

Tying into use of Reason is another new rule in which characters who roll a "6" on the d6/Reason roll gain a new Quirk, rather than gaining a new Quirk every time Reason is rolled.  This encourages animals to use Reason more often and makes Quirks (and by default, Sins/Taints) somewhat more rare and unique.

The last new rule we tried to implement was in the narration itself.  Over the course of the session we tried several different ways of narration, using variable amounts of player power over the story.  In the end I am still not sure which one I want to use but I did come away with a better idea of which ones I do not want to use.  I will probably be posting a "help me" post on this in Indie Game Design later if anyone is interested.  

So two out of three new rules worked pretty well out of the gate; now all I have to do is write these in.

One thing Iím pleased with is that the Story Element mechanic seems to be falling into place.  The story started out with these basics elements:

1. NPC - A mean Chow dog that lives in the nearby abandoned human town.
2. Situation - Someone stole the Chowís chew toy and he wants it back.
3. Complication - A big alligator thinks Tofu stole something of his.
4. Hook - The Chow has information about a human threat to the Greenwood.
5. Reward - Tofu wants to learn that he comes from a legendary line of foxes.  


After two sessions, elements 1., 3. and 4. have been resolved and element 2. is forthcoming within moments of the next session, barring anything unforeseen (the PCs are on their way back to Town with the chew toy).  Only element 5. has yet to be resolved but I do have some interesting ideas on that.

All in all I felt like the session was a success; much closer to how I had envisioned the game being played which was really cool.  It was extremely entertaining and felt somewhat more productive despite being a bit shorter than the first playtest.  IMO itís still missing the "dark and gritty" aspect that I am imagining, but as Chris noted that will probably be reflected more in the semi post-apocalyptic setting.

On my end, I still think my descriptions need work but I think they were better than the first session (maybe I was just more relaxed) and I think the players got into the game a bit more but Iím not sure if I had anything to do with that.  Chris and Pale Fireís banter helps a lot with the gameís atmosphere---maybe itís just a benefit of IRC but as they banter I can actually "see" a deranged clam and a slightly befuddled fox conversing with each other as they wander through the woods, rather than two people sitting at a keyboard.

Well, thatís about all for this one.  Any comments or questions from anyone are welcome.  Chris and Christoffer if either of you have any thoughts since the session, or if I missed anything please let me know.  Also, Iím still looking for players so anyone who wants to make an animal PC for future use, drop me a line.

Thanks to everyone for reading,

Pete
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C. Edwards
Member

Posts: 558

savage / sublime


« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2002, 10:07:38 PM »

Once again you've covered everything quite well, Peter.  Something did occur to me as I was reading your post though.  As far as I know you haven't changed the rule that states "The PC gains 1 point of Reason (and loses 1 point of Instinct) for every 5 Quirks he develops."  I would suggest that you re-examine this rule and possibly alter it based on the now greatly reduced rate of Quirk gain.  Reducing the number of Quirks necessary to gain a point of Reason would be a good start, I think.

-Chris
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Christoffer LernŲ
Member

Posts: 822


« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2002, 10:18:10 PM »

This time we opened up with a lot more possibilities for narration so I felt a whole lot more ready to get involved with driving the story.

The first session had been fairly straightforward sim and Pete seemed a little worried how to drive the story towards what we wanted. However from the start Aware was supposed to have some directorial mechanics, we just missed it the first session.

Anyway, before this second session Peter and I discussed some ways to have more director stance. Some of it which turned out to be not a little confusing :) However some of the ideas we discussed (Pete already mentioned them) turned out very well in actual play.

Back to the play: I tried to put some cereal into things when I failed an awareness roll by the creek and promptly said I put Col. Bugger on that nice and furry place on the ground so I could go and scout on my own (establishing that the cat who stole the bone we were looking for was a) here and b) dead).

However after that there was some chaos about who had a right to narrate what. I think that first director stance worked well enough, but I was obviously hogging the GM position from Pete. AND we didn't have any good guidelines which made it rather confusing for a while.

I did some excellent lying with Tofu instead of fighting things out, which tested the "use another trait to succeed" mechanic. When I actually got a quirk from that, it was easy to figure out the quirk. I had been lying really well, so from then on my quirk was to habitually lie to people.

(The first session I was supposed to have gotten another quirk running from a pack of rats, but I couldn't figure out what quirk that would be)

I'd like to see Aware keep a little director stance about at the level of the fur of the cat.

I look forward to the next session Peter!
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formerly Pale Fire
[Yggdrasil (in progress) | The Evil (v1.2)]
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