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Author Topic: [Fastlane] Playing Without a Croupier  (Read 6337 times)
Lxndr
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« on: November 21, 2003, 06:47:33 AM »

For months now, the idea of playing Fastlane without a specific croupier has been rattling around my head.   I'm rather fond of the traditional GM/Player split, and the "core" Fastlane rules will still involve a centralized croupier figure, with everyone else playing protagonists.

That said, I don't mind rules variations, and for some reason, the Fastlane game has been bugging me to come up with a croupier-less alternative (yes, that's how I think about it).  There was some discussion in #indierpgs last night, and then I slept on it.  I've imagined and discarded several ideas, including removing the concept of protagonists entirely.

My core design goal with croupierless Fastlane is "no more banks."  Each player should continue to have one bank, which would now serve double duty.  If necessary, they'd get extra chips to compensate for the loss of a croupier.  Suggestions have been made for giving players two banks, one for crouping and one for playing, but that just sits wrong with me.

Fastlane already employs a very round-robin approach to its play.  Each player/protagonist takes a turn, having one conflict and/or scene, whichever comes first (with a strong encouragement to have a conflict in each scene). So, currently, my strongest idea for removing the croupier is as follows:

Quote
Each player acts as the croupier for the fellow to his right.  Say we have players A, B, C and D sitting at the table in that order.  A would be the croupier for B's scenes, B would be the croupier for C's scenes, C would be the croupier for D's scenes, and D would the be the croupier for A's scenes.  

Other protagonists may, of course, be in the same scene, but the rotation remains the same regardless of how many protagonists are there.


Now granted, this doesn't really remove the croupier so much as it just distributes the role, passing it around the table, but I haven't been able to figure out how to mechanically balance a complete free-for-all.  

Anyway, I'm just tossing this out there to see what y'all think.  This is only a basic idea that'll be in the "optional rules" section, but I'm wondering:  does this sound workable?  What should I consider to ensure these rules work, that may not immediately be apparent?  What problems do you see these rules as causing, potentially?
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2004, 10:31:32 AM »

Hi Alex,

I need to know more about this idea and how you might have developed it in your mind since first posting about it.

Why?

Because I'm a complete moron when it comes to figuring out the outcomes of the bets. When we played at GenCon, you looked at the board once the wheel had spun, and it is completely opaque to me how you actually decided who got chips, who lost chips, and how much in each case.

I'm a total roulette illiterate and barely remember how to apply the numerical outcome to one's chips' positions on the board. The doubling or the whatever-ing is totally beyond me at this point.

So a group-based approach, with the GM-tasks distributed more evenly around the table, seems ideal to me. Any further ideas about that?

Best,
Ron
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Lxndr
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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2004, 03:39:33 PM »

I was once a total roulette illiterate, much like yourself.  Then I joined the Fastlane Roulette Club for Men.  Now, I have a freakish knowledge of the game, and can count out bets as good as any amateur croupier.  Ron, I'm not just the President of the Club, I'm also a client.

Seriously, I knew next to nothing of Roulette until I studied the game for Fastlane, and it's amazing how quickly I picked it up.  All I knew before was that you could bid on a number, or you could bid on red/black/odd/even, and that you could win stuff.  I had no idea how much, etc.  Now I've internalized, and I've learned a lot more types of bids in the process.  Some of it, really, is just practice and time - my first playtest sessions I was checking my little cheatsheets all the time (see a reproduction of my cheat sheet on page 26).  Another good thing to remember:  remove all the FAILED bets first, to clear the board from clutter, then concentrate on what's left.

On page 48 of the current Fastlane book is my final (at least as of that publication) answer to this post: it's called Distributed Authority, an optional rule.  With Distributed Authority, everyone gets a protagonist, and everyone gets a chance to be croupier.  They all create supporting characters together, as well as boost their own character, etc., and it all goes on one big master sheet.  Then one player becomes the croupier, and stays that way until someone else bids/spends less chips than they do (not winnings).

After doing some quick tests, I decided I liked this sort of round-robin approach better than the earlier example, where A would be croupier for B, etc.  It falls within the general Fastlane mandate - what happens to you is related to the risks you're willing (and able) to take.  The general swing of things is that a person becomes croupier either because he wants it (spending less chips on purpose) or because he has no choice (can't bid a thing, at least compared to his fellows).

I'm not sure how well this addresses the issue that prompted you to contact the Fastlane Roulette Club for Men - namely, that you're still ignorant and uncomfortable with roulette bets.  Moving the croupier's duties between people would encourage the whole group to get more familiar with the process, however; and even in the standard game I found that over time, players would gather enough knowledge to tell me "yeah, I got X chips for this, and Y chips for this, and take this away..."

Does that help, or did my rambling kind of get too far off that point?
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2004, 03:41:40 PM »

Hi Alexander,

It does help, in that we've reached accord on the point that when I play Fastland, GM or not, I'm gonna want help from everyone at the table in accurately managing how to give out chips to the people who didn't get hosed.

Best,
Ron
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Lxndr
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« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2004, 06:18:15 PM »

If my experiences running the game are any indication, players quickly catch on to how many chips they deserve for winnings, and thus can help their own counts, and others as well.  This happened both in the playtests, and in some of the longer demos I ran at the convention.  Between that, and the cheat-sheet, you should be good to go.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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