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Author Topic: Roach questions  (Read 8597 times)
Pelgrane
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« on: June 08, 2006, 02:30:30 PM »

We ran a game this evening and enjoyed it, although it was very slow. If I get time, I'll post it in Actual Play. In the meantime, a couple of questions arose.

1. Players hung around until just before dice rolling, and threw their weight in on what looked to be the winning side just before the scene was decided. This slowed things up, and meant that most scenes were one player versus everyone else.

2. People kept narrating in more and more NPCs to support their side. This was time consuming as yet more dice were added to the mix. There seemed to be no limit to the number of luminaries and stalwarts people threw in, other than social nicety. Is there some limit? I don't think social nicety alone is enough - it makes the game arbitrary..

3. People used their position to get students from their faculty as NPCs to support them. Can they also get faculty dice?

I think I fail to understand what should actually happen amongst players between the framer setting the scene and assigning Pembertonians, and the rolling of dice.

--
Simon Rogers
Pelgrane Press Ltd

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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2006, 04:53:37 AM »

Hi Simon, glad you got a chance to run the game. 

The rules specifically state that there are two limits on narrating in NPCs - the first is that your introduction needs to add some color (you can't say "I convince another football player to help me!"), and the second is that if the group reaches consensus that the scene is full enough to be fun and interesting, you stop and roll dice.  It's a rare game where this doesn't happen a few times, but I've found that groups reach their own rhythyms and implicit limits.  So your observation that this is essentially arbitrary is not off base, since it relies on social contract to enforce.  The game walks a weird line between competitiveness and collaboration - a player who is obsessed with winning won't have any fun and may ruin the game, while a player who cares not a whit for winning can likewise queer the pitch.  The rules state that "winning" is a polite fiction, and really it is. 

You can absolutely narrate in other faculty members.  You could, for example, say, "My entire department supports me on this one, as you well know", and get a die representing them as a group.  Or "Professor Monckton stumbles over and puts his arm around me, the chairman of your own department staring you down in open defiance."

When you bring a Pembertonian into a scene and hand him or her off to another player, they should play that character in the scene and roll their die on whichever side they deem appropriate - they are essentially doing you a favor, and it is divorced from their own PC's involvement in the scene.  They get to decide how they will act and roll their die, not the scene framer.  So choose who you dole out Pembertonians to wisely.

I hope that helps! 
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Myrmidon
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« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2006, 08:54:36 AM »

Another question which came up in the conclusion of my recent game was regarding determining the winner.

There were four players, three of them Roached.  The unroached player, by the end of the game, had 0 reputation.

When the game ends, if there is only a single player who is unroached, do the automatically win?  Or do they have to be unroached AND have more reputation than any other player to win?

Thanks.
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Adam Flynn
Adam Dray
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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2006, 09:00:36 AM »

The single unroached player automatically wins.

The player with the highest Reputation, roach or no, gets to narrate the epilogue.
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Pelgrane
Member

Posts: 125


« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2006, 10:24:44 AM »

The rules specifically state that there are two limits on narrating in NPCs - the first is that your introduction needs to add some color (you can't say "I convince another football player to help me!"), and the second is that if the group reaches consensus that the scene is full enough to be fun and interesting, you stop and roll dice.  It's a rare game where this doesn't happen a few times, but I've found that groups reach their own rhythyms and implicit limits.  So your observation that this is essentially arbitrary is not off base, since it relies on social contract to enforce.  The game walks a weird line between competitiveness and collaboration - a player who is obsessed with winning won't have any fun and may ruin the game, while a player who cares not a whit for winning can likewise queer the pitch.  The rules state that "winning" is a polite fiction, and really it is. 

I hope that helps! 

Yes, thank you. Interestingly, I found that we did almost no person-to-person in-character roleplaying at all. It was more a big free-for-all to introduce more and more elements following the person whose scene it was setting out the stakes, the dice rolling and then narration. I don't think that is what was intended, but I'm not sure. Did you envisage the  first person setting the scene, then assigning characters, people introducing NPCs, in-character roleplaying and then stake-setting followed by people declaring which side they and their NPCs were on? I don't have the rules to hand, so I can't check. I think next time, we'll try it more like this. We can play this in many different ways, of course, but I would like to know what your intentions were.

I was definitely acting as "the banker" in monopoly terms; people did look to me for arbitration because I was the only one who knew the roles, and so the other players automatically extended that role.

With this game, and many others, it would be very useful for the players, and an excellent marketing tool to listen to an edited sound file of a the first scene of an event. You could even build the sound file into the PDF. Wait, I must make a note of that.

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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2006, 05:45:31 PM »

First of all, great idea about the audio file.  I'll work on that.

I don't really want to tell anyone the "right" way to play, but in my experience it is useful to keep an eye on the role-playing bits, because they can get lost in the procedural shuffle.  I find that setting a good, strong example in the first scene helps a lot to establish some expectations.  And once that ball is rolling, people usually want to role-play a bit and will make it happen. 
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Pelgrane
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« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2006, 12:59:00 AM »

First of all, great idea about the audio file.  I'll work on that.

I don't really want to tell anyone the "right" way to play, but in my experience it is useful to keep an eye on the role-playing bits, because they can get lost in the procedural shuffle.  I find that setting a good, strong example in the first scene helps a lot to establish some expectations.  And once that ball is rolling, people usually want to role-play a bit and will make it happen. 

Thank you for the advice. I only had half an hour or so to absorb the rules before play, so that might have made a difference. I'm very much in to games designers suggesting a default method of play, then saying "of course you can do what you want." I want to know what a game is before I attempt to modify it, otherwise I might dislike a game because I don't understand what it could bring to the group. Informal, social contract advice is also very welcome in this context. Anyway, I look forward to receiving the hard copy of the rules, and we'll play another game later in the year.

Simon Rogers
Pelgrane Press Ltd
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Adam Dray
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« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2006, 06:31:06 AM »

There's also a rule about assigning one of the other players to take on the role of the NPCs you're dragging into the scene. Did you do that?
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Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Pelgrane
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Posts: 125


« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2006, 09:50:22 AM »

There's also a rule about assigning one of the other players to take on the role of the NPCs you're dragging into the scene. Did you do that?

Yes, and they marshalled many allies of their own. No one rolled a die for an NPC against their PCs interests.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2006, 04:11:52 AM »

There's nothing wrong with jealously using NPCs you've been assigned to further your own agenda if that's how your group rolls - in this case, you've got to be pretty selective about who you parcel out key NPCs to, building factions and informal alliances.  I've also played in games where players gleefully screwed their own side - there's no right way to handle this, as long is everybody is having a good time. 

If "NPC bloat" in scenes is a pernicious problem and you're reluctant to invoke the I call bullshit rule, you could establish a general number, maybe during your lines and veils discussion -

"OK, as a guide once we've narrated in, say, half a dozen NPCs and Pembertonians, we should think about focusing on the conflict at hand..."
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Pelgrane
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« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2006, 05:39:17 AM »

If "NPC bloat" in scenes is a pernicious problem and you're reluctant to invoke the I call bullshit rule, you could establish a general number, maybe during your lines and veils discussion -
"OK, as a guide once we've narrated in, say, half a dozen NPCs and Pembertonians, we should think about focusing on the conflict at hand..."

Thanks. An informal limit and peer pressure will probably do the trick. The problem is more that it's time consuming to wrangle all the dice together more than anything else, but I can think of ways to formalize and speed up that process which we'll try next time.

Simon
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2006, 06:03:37 AM »

Simon, do you mean it is time consuming to sort dice prior to resolving a conflict?  I always re-state the elements just prior to resolution, putting dice in piles as I do.  Everyone will have, at most, two piles in front of them, and usually only one. Thus:

"OK, this is an everything else conflict (put forward d8 personal die).   I'm using my physics expertise to build an x-ray machine to give the rowing team Roentgen burns (departmental d8 goes forward).  I've got this loopy grad student to operate it on my command (d10 goes forward).  It's a cruel trick, so a die for my enthusiasm of cruelty (another d8).  Oh, and I'm Roached." 

So when it comes time to roll, I have 3d8, a d10 and a d12 ready to go. 
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Pelgrane
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« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2006, 07:44:52 AM »

Simon, do you mean it is time consuming to sort dice prior to resolving a conflict?  I always re-state the elements just prior to resolution, putting dice in piles as I do.  Everyone will have, at most, two piles in front of them, and usually only one. Thus:

"OK, this is an everything else conflict (put forward d8 personal die).   I'm using my physics expertise to build an x-ray machine to give the rowing team Roentgen burns (departmental d8 goes forward).  I've got this loopy grad student to operate it on my command (d10 goes forward).  It's a cruel trick, so a die for my enthusiasm of cruelty (another d8).  Oh, and I'm Roached." 

So when it comes time to roll, I have 3d8, a d10 and a d12 ready to go. 

Everyone was piling in dice as they thought of the NPCs as they went along instead of doing it in a nice orderly fashion as you suggest here. The final conflict was the most hectic (and amusing):

Professor Ferndale Pilot III, already disgraced, his unmarried sister openly flaunting her relationship with the louche Professor of Art, was sent before the Chancellor to be expelled from the college. The Asst Chaplain offered his half-hearted support, and undermined Pilot's (my) high-sided dice with his ridiculous d4 prayer group. The former had cleverly deroached himself for the last scene, and would win even if he lost the single point of reputation he staked to be in the scene.

he Chancellor, wheelchair-bound, remember the slow hand-clap instigated by Pilot in the Convocation and voted for explusion. The atheist professor of maths, who demands lead to the attempt at expulsion, remembered Pilot's scorn at his ineptitude with the distaff, and the Professor of Art rankled at the accusations of plaigarism and the switched painting which had been unvailed at the cheese and wine.

Everyone mustered ranks of NPCs; Antwerp the Waiter who had earlier spiked the drinks, the  socially inept maths students, Picasso (don't ask), Prof Dembski, visiting professor of set theory, Lady Jane the University benefactor, Pilot's treacherous sister and the tousle-haired, brain-addled and saintly chaplain. The art profesor tried to introduce the models and donkey used for the blackmail attempt against the chaplain, but was overuled, as they were elsewhere, and an ally pointed at that they would only be worth 1d4 in any case (2d4 if you include the donkey as a separate NPC) It was a draw, but the low prayer group die offered up by the Chaplain meant a loss against the superior die of the art prof; and expulsion for Pilot who took up a teaching post at Harvard taking all the roaches with him, "After all, at Harvard, who would notice the difference?"

Simon
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2006, 09:13:12 AM »

That all sounds hilarious.  We had a game in which somebody's dog was not only a prominent NPC, but a prominent Roached NPC*.  So I'd totally allow the donkey if you could get it into the scene somehow!  Some people I play with regularly would demand the donkey, in fact.  That's neither here nor there, but everything you described sounds spot on in terms of tone and color for a Roach scene.  If I counted correctly you had an even dozen participants in that scene, PCs included, which approaches the point where I'd try to stop further introductions myself.  I'll emphasize, though, that this will vary from group to group and your description sounds perfectly reasonable to me. 

*Flavor only - no extra D12s. 
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Pelgrane
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Posts: 125


« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2006, 06:13:57 AM »

Some people I play with regularly would demand the donkey, in fact. 

Not a quote to be taken out of context!
Thanks for all your help, and I'll let you know what happens next time we play.

Simon
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