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First time experience with the Roach

Started by DrQuencher, October 24, 2008, 02:26:26 PM

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Hi all,

I discovered the roach last week while slacking off at work. After printing out the Game Soup rules, reading some play experiences, and admiring the comic, I decided this was the game for me. I got 3 of my friends together last night (the group had 1 hardcore gamer, 2 moderate gamers, and 1 new to RPG's), created some characters, ran a practice scene, and within a half hour we were roasting pigs and co-eds alike at the first German oiled-pig-dance-wrestling at Pemberton.

Everyone had a lot of fun, but I noticed a few things and I would like to hear some thoughts:

1. People often tried to make side wagers and stakes when they joined in a scene that they were not the framer of. We just squashed that kind of play early on, but it kept on happening. Eventually it evolved into having scenes happen back-to-back, with narration and side-taking happening simultaneously. Anyone else have that problem? What was your solution?

2. A lot of the stakes ended up being "Does the Chancellor/Reverend/Co-ed agree with me?" Which was key to a few scenese, but for the most part it was hard to get the players to expand to stakes beyond that. Any thoughts?

3. The roach command was often forgotten until the end of the last scene of the event. For the event where we were all roached, this was hilarious, but in other events this felt like a cop-out.

4. The non-gamer of the group took to the rules the quickest. The other gamers spent the first scene grappling with the "no-GM" concept.

And now some highlights of the game:
The ragingly anti-semetic Prof. Winthrop convinced the rugby team to release pigs onstage during Prof Mindstein's speech at Convocation. Prof von Bismarck saw the rugby team wrangling pigs and convinced a visiting foreign professor that they were preparing for a pig wrestling contest. Von Bismarck and the other Prof stripped down and grabbed some grease from the cafeteria before charging into the fray. A passing co-ed was chased by the panicked pigs into the auditorium as Prof Mindstein was talking about exploring foreign cultures. As pigs, germans, and rugby players took the stage, Mindstein shouted "Gu ud!" and started dancing, thus starting the proud Pembertonian tradition of German oiled-pig-dance-wrestling. Things went wrong in the next scene when a young radical threw a molotov onto the oiled pigs, but that's another matter.

Another highlight was at the faculty senate. Prof von Bismarck was on a status power play and asked to form a Faculty Relations and Tolerance Committee to help clear up the infighting and animosity that has seemingly come out of nowhere this semester. He will naturally be the head of the committee. He wins the roll, starts narrating the end of the event, and then realizes that he hasn't done the roaches bidding yet. He, the new head of the committee on tolerance, then shouts "Namsilig!", leaps across the table, and starts beating the already crippled Prof Penderson.

Great game Jason! I'm buying the book today.

Prof Brian Mindstein

Jason Morningstar

Hi Professor,

Thanks for posting this!  Your session sounds really funny.  I have to tell you the Game Chef version is a little broken - it was written for a week-long contest, so none of it had been playtested.  The actual game holds together much better, so thanks for buying it!  I think you'll be pleased. 

I think the urge to make side bets is best channeled into additional scenes, which it sounds like you did.  I can't recall the Game Chef version, but in the final rules the only person wagering Reputation is the scene framer - anyone else must put in one Reputation if they participate but that's it.

Setting stakes is hard and takes practice!  The Roach is not an easy first lesson in that dark art.  A game like Primetime Adventures may be a friendlier introduction to stake-setting.  Basically you want compelling and actionable outcomes either way, so "does he agree?", while satisfyingly binary, is a pretty dull stake. 

I usually ask people to keep their card in front of them at all times, as a little reminder.  But sometimes people forget to act on their Command - it happens.

Your experience with non gamers echoes my own.  I often find the very best players are people without any RPG experience. 

Du Ak Nar,



I'd like to add that "agree with me" conflicts are common since so much of the game can be about trying to get the power structure of the university to back you.  Here's the simple solution.  When you start a stake with "agrees with me..." tack on to it, "...and does THIS about it."

Here's a couple of examples from my own play.

One player wanted to convince one of the higher NPCs that the Physics Department was not necessary....and that it should be replaced with an Alchemy Department in order return to an older finer "tradition."

I once had my character (who was Roached) propose to another player's character and wanted to convince the Chancelor that a marriage between professors would be a great symbol of Pemberton's commitment to co-education.... and therefore he should set up a public wedding ceremony during the half-time event of the football game.

A player once wanted the Senate Faculty to recognize the behavior of another player as intolerable.... and therefore transfer that character to his department and place him under the player character's supervision.

Hope that helps.


Jason Morningstar


Thanks Jason and Jesse! I've got another game scheduled for next week, so I'll encourage the "agrees... and does this about it" stakes. Again, great game! I've read just about every playtest I can find and I can't get enough of the wackiness of it.