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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Ben Morgan on June 22, 2002, 08:15:38 PM

Title: Elfs!
Post by: Ben Morgan on June 22, 2002, 08:15:38 PM
Just had me my first session of Elfs tonight. I went in with absolutely zero preparation.

It went swimmingly.

I had four players, none of whom had read the rules before. All four of them have various levels of experience with D&D. I headed over to my brother's house around noon or so. My friend Chris brought GTA3 with him, so of course the game didn't start until 6. The session lasted about two hours, which is a bit less than my preferred usual of five or six, but considering it was my first opportunity to GM a game in almost a year, I wasn't complaining. Besides, my only other experience with a game of similar tone is Paranoia, and I can't really keep a session of that going for more than two hours before it degenerates into us hitting each other over the heads with empty soda bottles (Bop!).

I originally wanted to run Sorcerer (I've actually been trying to get a group together for that for nearly six months now), but I think it requires more forethought about character motivations and situation than these guys were prepared to do. So I needed to start simpler. But at the same time I also wanted to start introducing new gameplay ideas. So Elfs was the perfect way to start: a nice simple silly game with subtle (not too mention clever) director stance rules built in. I see this as a transition game, a stepping stone to games with a generally more serious tone, but building on essential "new" gameplay ideas.

The players:

Chris (hasn't played any RPG in nearly ten years, wants to get back into gaming): is playing an oral stage with a high Dumb Luck.

Joel (my brother, who has lots of gaming experience but hasn't played anything but D&D in the last four years or so, and even that was sporadic): also playing an oral stage, but with scads of Low Cunning.

Eddie (longtime D&D guy): playing an anal stage with an even split of Dumb Luck and Low Cunning.

Lonny (longtime D&D guy): playting a genital stage with an even split of DL and LC. He was also the only one that volunteered to be a magic-user.

The setup:

I started them off in the sewers of Freehold, my token Big Port City. They were each running from separate groups of angry people, which pretty much mutated into one giant angry mob, intent on either running them out of the city of impaling them on big sticks (I hadn't really given much thought to which one).

"Why are we running?" they asked.

I grinned. "You tell me. You're the ones they're chasing."

It took them a second to realize that I was (gasp!) giving them power. Then they each proceeded to come up with an absolutely hilarious reason why they were being chased out of town. Most of them involved sex in some fashion (which is odd, considering only one of them is genital stage).

So, in true Munchkinfest fashion, I tell them that they were each getting chased out of town by angry humans with pitchforks and torches and other assorted angry mob gear, and they each decided that it was easier to duck into the sewers than deal with all the foot traffic in the streets, and then they sort of ran into each other. Random coincidence is a wonderful thing when you're a GM and just don't care how silly everything looks. Now they're together in a proper RPG party (of sorts), and they've got a common enemy. I get them moving with a not so subtle "You see the torchlight behind of you", lead them through some twists and turns (all nicely fast-forwarded) until finally they got to what they believed to be a way out to the docks. Unfortunately, they had to get through three members of the aforementioned mob to get to the stairs. What followed was the most unbelievably obscene combat sequence I've ever seen (from what I've read about Elfs playtesting, others have had similar experiences).

I laid out combat for them as follows:
1. You each tell me what your character wants to do for this round.
2. I ask if you want to use Low Cunning or Dumb Luck (reminding them that while, yes, you can simply use Spunk, you get a bonus for using one of the other two).
3. If you want to use Low Cunning, I ask who are you screwing over and how.
4. If you want to use Dumb Luck, I ask so what is happening in reality, as opposed to what is happening in the character's depraved little mind.
5. If you want to use just Spunk, roll 'em and pray.
6. Everyone roll. Determine initiative as detailed in the rules.
7. I resolve the basics of everyone's actions in the order dictated by the initiative.
8. Once the result of everyone's action has been determined, I narrate the actual events of the whole combat round, often to resounding hysterics.
9. Rinse. Repeat as necessary.

(Eventually, I'm hoping that the players will automatically incorporate steps 2 through 5 into step 1.)

Once their opponents had been dispatched, I let them loot the bodies for coins, and they escaped out onto the docks and onto a departing ship, bound for destinations as yet unknown (at least until next week, when they'll end up in another city, and either manage to piss off everyone there as well and get chased out again, or they'll find a dungeon to traipse around in and kill bunches of more standard fantasy-type monsters. Or maybe both).

Rules Assessment:

This is a nice neat set of rules. I likes it lots. Once the guys caught on to the ways that they could use Dumb Luck to influence game elements outside of their own characters, or even bring new game elements into existence, they ran with it in a big way. The experience system gave them a good laugh (I get experience for the coins I've spent?). In short, a fun time was had by all, and we're going to do it again as soon as possible (next weeknd). I ran very free and loose with things, letting players adjust their DL and LC scores as they figured out what each of them did in-game.

I don't really see this game lasting more than five sessions or so, especially if we can get it together to get started earlier and play longer sessions, so we're going to run this for as long as it lasts, and then I want to give them something else to try, maybe the Pool. Whatever I put in front of them, I want to keep nifty things like director and author stance and FITM front and center.

The Bottom Line: Two Thumbs Up.

Title: Elfs!
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 23, 2002, 06:13:03 AM
Thanks Ben!!

Couple points ....

1) For your later sessions, I do suggest you do some preparation. This time, yes, they were having fun with the player-power material, but it will get stale very fast unless you have some NPCs who are (a) up to something understandable and (b) terribly parodied from D&D stereotypes.

The players will need adversity, and that adversity needs to have faces, names, and screamingly funny dialogue. (Let me tell you about the Horrid Evil Cleric-lady with Obvious Repressed Hang-ups, and how she reacted when the elf started humping her leg ...)

2) Elfs is satirical, not silly. (#1 is involved with this.)

3) I have found that many new players shy away from being "magic elfs," mainly because they have been brainwashed that "knowing magic makes you weaker in other areas." Have your players figured out that a magic-slingin' elf doesn't have to "trade off" any effectiveness of any kind? Once they do, you might give the players the option to have their characters be magical after all.


Title: Elfs!
Post by: Ben Morgan on June 23, 2002, 11:08:32 AM
I absolutely plan to do at least some preparation for the next session and beyond. This was basically a nice and simple intro, I'm working on actually having the story go somewhere; exactly where is of course up to the players.

Like I said, this next session I want to get them either interacting with the locals of whatever town they've ended up in, or go slogging through a dungeon, whichever seems to be more interesting to them, and I'll have to prepare for both. And the D&D parody will be in full force, and I have players that will appreciate it because they all have experience with D&D (No pun intended).

As far as the magic, it only came up once so far. If the one guy seems to be having lots of fun with it, and the others start wanting it, then I may decide to be magnanimous and let them retroactively have magic.

They went nuts as far as what magical items they'll be looking for. I told them that the more plusses they pile onto it, the harder it'll be to find it, but they didn't care.

Title: Elfs!
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 01, 2002, 11:35:28 AM
Hi Ben,

So they like the magic item system, do they? Just wait until they figure out how much easier it is to get a magic item from another elf. I think the illustration with the spiffy sword and the sledgehammer says it all.