*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 18, 2022, 02:16:53 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 54 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Sweet innocence at GenCon  (Read 12824 times)
John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« on: August 23, 2006, 09:42:32 AM »

So I was interested by the thread on (The Shab-al-Hiri Roach) Disturbed at GenCon, and contrasted that with my own GenCon play of SAHR. 

I played in a game of The Shab-al-Hiri Roach as GenCon Indy 2006, at an event organized by Eric Provost. It was scheduled for Saturday at 9:00AM, and we had three players show up. This was my second game of SAHR, and for this I decided to deliberately play against type. So I made as my PC a sweet, innocent young professor. We each came up with our PCs fairly quickly without a lot of discussion -- I was last to finish mine. The full set were as follows:

  • Tabitha Rockford Butterfield (played by John Kim)
    "A junior starry-eyed professor with dreams of inspiring her students, who believes in fairies and good magic."
    Assistant Professor of Poetry & Drama
    Enthusiasms: Gossip & Sociability
  • Tobias Farthington (played by Eric Boyd)
    "A conniving junior professor of religion who cuts corners wherever possible to allow more time for extracurricular activities."
    Assistant Professor of Religion
    Enthusiasms: Debauchery & Deception
  • Prof. Lafayette Horner (played by Eric Provost)
    "Recently promoted to full prof. Vicious and vibrant football player who likes to win at any cost.Rumored to have reached his new position through illicit means."
    Full Professor of Foreign & Ancient Languages
    Enthusiasms: Deception & Sports
  • Chester Pemberton (played by Charles Perez)
    "A legacy of the founder, he is driven to live up to his ancestor's accomplishments -- or tear them down."
    Full Professor of Anthropology
    Enthusiasms: Debauchery & Status

         The sequence of scenes is outlined below, with the initiator of the scene marked in parentheses at the start of each. I didn't record the details of the conflict roll or the wagering of status, so that isn't noted down. Roughly, I racked up a lot of status early on -- 10 or so. I took the roach late in the first event. I then vomited the roach near the end of the third event. Eric Boyd, playing Farthington, also cleaned up in status -- but was left with the roach at the end. Eric Provost, playing Horner, was beaten down to nothing in status at some point and pretty much stayed there. I maintained my lead in points until the very end when Charles played a card to steal 2 Status from me, won in a conflict, and won the game.

I. Convocation
(Charles) Pemberton accuses Horner of sexual misconduct specifically homosexual affairs with Bantam and other football players
(Eric P.) With the new class marching in, Horner and the football team carry Pemberton's car into the cow field and fill it with manure.
(Eric B.) Farthington talks to Reverend Talley about Tabitha's drug use. She falls down in a fit during the ceremony, but then cries out Christian epithets and speaks in tongues.

II. Wine & Cheese Social
(Eric B.) Farthington attempts to enslave Horner to do his bidding by drugging his drink.
(Eric P.) Horner attempts to murder Bompus, but is interrupted by Tabitha who takes them both in arm
(John K.) Tabitha attempts to befriend Pemberton, bringing him a basket of fruit *

III. Pemberton Follies
(Eric P.) Horner forces Regina into an orgy with the football team
(Charles) Dean Wakefield-Nutter and Pemberton confront Horner over this, aided by Tabitha
(John K.) Tabitha sees the breakdown on stage and rushes outside to vomit the roach
(Eric B.) Farthington and the football team slip outside and savagely beat Tabitha

IV. Homecoming Football Game
(John K.) Tabitha is sick at home, disfigured from her beating - the Influenza card
(Eric P.) Horner tries to destroy Pemberton's works, but gets to his office to find nothing there
(Eric B.) Farthington breaks into Tabitha's house to bring her soup and treat her nicely
(Charles) Pemberton brings Tabitha drugs, but Farthington protects her, shooing him out

V. Senate Meeting
(John K.) Tabitha demands legal prosecutions of any crimes done by faculty, the motion carrying despite many protests *
(Eric P.) Horner shoots Stoudenmeyer as he vomits the Roach into his mouth, turning him into a zombie
(Eric B.) Farthington beats the Reverend into framing Pemberton for Tabitha's beating
(Charles) Pemberton tries to get the Reverend commited as insane

VI. Christmas Ball
(John K.) Tabitha rushes into the ball to hand out her new play which is obviously based on the real events of the past months
(Eric P.) Horner gets Tabitha arrested
(Charles) Pemberton tries to stop the play from being published, successfully
(Eric B.) Farthington drives Horner & the football team off the road to their deaths

Aftermath
(Eric P.) Horner dies in the crash but his body is thrown in the lake and never found
(John K.) Tabitha goes to prison for drug violations, but is released in two years and goes on to a successful career as a playwright, eventually dying of drug overdose
(Charles) Pemberton's success tastes like ashes in his mouth, and his lives decades of a grim, quiet life at the university
(Eric B.) [I missed this for some reason]

        This may be biased from my playing her, but the character of Tabitha made a noticeable difference from my first game of SAHR. Overall, we did not take the advice of "stacking up bodies like cordwood" -- I think mainly influenced by her character. There were some intriguing events which followed this. In the second event, Tabitha was in the Roach's power and I had designated Charles as the target and he designated me. However, my roach card command was "Befriend this person" and his roach card command was "Obey this person". So following the roach's orders we just sat down nicely together.

         The other standout event for me was when Tabitha, having been savagely beaten earlier, came to the Faculty Senate Meeting calling for the faculty to turn criminal misconduct over to the police for prosecution. I was opposed by all three other players, didn't have the roach, and by my own admission most of the faculty as well. However, I won that with a high roll of 5 versus 4 from everyone else.

         In the end, the game was dominated by redemption and the bringing of law and order to the campus.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2006, 06:49:42 AM by John Kim » Logged

- John
Eric Provost
Member

Posts: 581


WWW
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2006, 10:02:46 AM »

Hiya John!  I had a really great time at this session.  Not only did I get to meet and play with you guys, but I thought it was a wonderful cross-section of characters for the Roach.

For my own part, I thought this session was remarkable because I kinda lost where I wanted to go with my character after the homecoming football game.  After the character just got totally crushed and hung out to dry I had a hard time thinking of what I wanted to do next.  I really started reaching for conflicts and scenes in the Faculty Senate Meeting when I drew a roachy-card and wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it.  And my reaching for conflicts certainly didn't help to spice up the final events. 

I think maybe it was because the story I started out with in the first event pretty much wrapped up.  If you remember, I was going for the "most popular faculty member" thing, which had some really neat twists, but really did get resolved when the football team started wondering about the character's sanity. 

From there I tried to play on a revenge thing against Tabitha, but it never really did have any bite.  After all, she'd been beaten within an inch of her life, drugged, and tormented with soup by her now affectionate attacker.  What could I possibly do to top that?  I probably should have looked for a different angle. 

But, all in all, it was a fantastic game.  I don't think I'd call it low-key, but it certainly wasn't crazy-violent either.  Heck, if I remember correctly, Regina not only survived, but she also got a bit of revenge against my character and some of the others that set her up for a fall earlier on.

-Eric
Logged

Jason Morningstar
Member

Posts: 1428


WWW
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2006, 10:32:55 AM »

Thanks for posting this, John.  That sounds like a really solid game.  I wonder if the number of players correlates in any way to mayhem?  The most even-keeled game I've ever played had four participants, and the most violently insane had, IIRC, seven. 
Logged

John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2006, 01:12:07 PM »

Hiya John!  I had a really great time at this session.  Not only did I get to meet and play with you guys, but I thought it was a wonderful cross-section of characters for the Roach.

Thanks -- I had a great time too.  My first game of the Roach followed the advice of piling up bodies like cordwood.  This was at a minicon at End Games in Berkeley, cf. my mini-con Roach report.  I played a freakish astronomer who was pushy and violent.  (It had six players incidentally.) 

But, all in all, it was a fantastic game.  I don't think I'd call it low-key, but it certainly wasn't crazy-violent either.  Heck, if I remember correctly, Regina not only survived, but she also got a bit of revenge against my character and some of the others that set her up for a fall earlier on.

Yup.  Regina and her best friend Button Hastings supported Tabitha's call to bring law and order to the campus.  The game had a lot of story action in it, but it was low violence. 

Thanks for posting this, John.  That sounds like a really solid game.  I wonder if the number of players correlates in any way to mayhem?  The most even-keeled game I've ever played had four participants, and the most violently insane had, IIRC, seven. 

Interesting.  My prior run had six participants and greater violence -- so that supports your correlation.  The thing is, this run was much more fun for me.  How did the fun of even-keel play compare to violent insanity for you?  I mention this in particular over how Hans reacted to the game in the other thread, and I wonder about the advice to pile up bodies like cordwood.  Perhaps there might be alternate advice on different styles of play. 
Logged

- John
Eric Provost
Member

Posts: 581


WWW
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2006, 01:31:40 PM »

Quote
I wonder if the number of players correlates in any way to mayhem?

Hmm.  You know, my experience bears this out too.  In my second session at Origins, I had only two other players, and it was super-mellow.  It was also the most cohesive story I've been part of while playing the Roach.  I think there may be something very interesting there.
Logged

oliof
Member

Posts: 449

Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


WWW
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2006, 01:17:49 AM »

My game had six players players and was more on the academentia side. But then, we were all europeans, so we don't know the realities of an ivy league university like Pemberton ...
Logged

Jason Morningstar
Member

Posts: 1428


WWW
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2006, 04:34:08 AM »

I see the need for some additional "how to play" advice, with options for different modes and lengths.  When I wrote the game I simply had not seen the wainscot game in action during playtests - it had always been really gonzo, full stop. 

Fewer participants means more screen time, so you aren't fighting to get everyone's attention, and the spiral of "Top this!" may not even begin to assert itself.  It also means more time to interact with, and invest in, characters.  Hmm.
Logged

Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2006, 07:24:33 AM »

Hi Jason,

Here's another thought ... when I played the IGC version of the Roach last year, the group members were all academics, whose professional lives were very close to the things the player-characters were initially invested in. So although we did get a bit gory and a bit crazy, the idea that the characters were doing this for tenure, and personally took the in-game Reputation issue very seriously, remained throughout play.

For whatever reason, the group I played with during GenCon last year (to whom I introduced the game) were also pretty oriented to keeping the character's academic priorities firmly central to play. It may have been due to my "verbal one-sheet," which I recall did emphasize the professorial and in-game nature of Reputation.

In a lot of actual-play threads and general discussion of the game, I've been a little surprised to see people build pyramids to the roach god, massacre whole football fields, and basically abandon the institutional, professional context entirely. To me, that loses a great deal of the point of play. It seems that Reputation is being utilized strictly as an out-of-game scorecard and not an in-game feature. If so, no wonder that Premise is lost and people are treating it as pure Gamism, and to be blunt, the Roach rules ain't Gamist enough to support that approach (nor do I think they should be).

I suggest contrasting your current text which introduces the campus, which is pretty much the same introductory text you used in the IGC, with the play-advice text later in the book which includes stacking up the bodies. Are they really well-matched? I think there's Premise-based content in the former that might be getting obscured in the latter, or at least not included. ('Cause it's not like I want less death in Roach play or anything wimpy like that ...)

Best, Ron
Logged
Jason Morningstar
Member

Posts: 1428


WWW
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2006, 08:51:53 AM »

That's a good note, Ron - thanks. 
Logged

Adam Dray
Member

Posts: 676


WWW
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2006, 10:11:38 AM »

Yes, Ron, but if you play an Associate Professor, it's very easy to go the route I did in the last game. My professor was a Philosophy professor who knew next to nothing about his field and just liked to teach undergrads to get girls. He was concerned about keeping his Reputation to keep up appearances so he could continue his lifestyle but he wasn't interested in a tenured Full Professor role because then he'd be expected to publish and research and do Real Work. The system supports that kind of play by making Associate Professors marginally poorer at issues of Power than Everything Else, so I see players of those characters tend to do Everything Else.
Logged

Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2006, 10:17:18 AM »

Hi Adam,

You've corrected me fairly, because I over-stated my point with my emphasis of tenure per se in the previous post. "Academic Reputation" = "important to fictional characters" is my position, with tenure being a ready example.

With that said, I think your example supports my point and makes it stronger by showing variations on the ways to do it.

Best, Ron
Logged
John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2006, 08:16:13 PM »

Hm.  I think there are a lot of players (especially those not intimately familiar with academia) who aren't particularly drawn to the academic focus.  The GenCon game I was in which started this thread had relatively little violence, but also relatively little academic material. 

So I'm not sure that the academic focus is necessary for the game.  It is the nominal focus, but it seems to me that it can just be color. 

What we're discussing here (and on the other thread, "Disturbed at GenCon") should be advice and/or mechancis that work and guides player to a violence level which is fun for everyone. 
Logged

- John
Adam Dray
Member

Posts: 676


WWW
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2006, 08:25:10 PM »

I think I understand your point better now, Ron. The rules do support or even encourage two kinds of play, and that can be confusing to players. Certainly when I was playing my Owen Wilson-like philosophy professor and had near-14 Reputation by the end, I wasn't playing that as being powerful within the university. I don't think I was giving my Reputation score any in-game power at all. It was, for me, just a means to "winning" narration at the end.
Logged

Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2006, 10:16:18 AM »

I think I understand your point better now, Ron. The rules do support or even encourage two kinds of play, and that can be confusing to players. Certainly when I was playing my Owen Wilson-like philosophy professor and had near-14 Reputation by the end, I wasn't playing that as being powerful within the university. I don't think I was giving my Reputation score any in-game power at all. It was, for me, just a means to "winning" narration at the end.

Yup.  Tabitha was leading in Reputation chips for most of the game from the original post, but she was far from the most respected or powerful figure within the faculty.  Reputation seems like an out-of-game tracker for several reasons -- most notably that your Reputation score doesn't affect anything in the game until the end. 

I ponder an optional rule to change that.  Perhaps at any time, only the player with the highest Reputation score can control Luminary NPCs.  Conversely, only the player with the lowest Reputation can control Regular Joes. 
Logged

- John
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!