Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

[Misspent Youth] Culture Jamming the Foundation

Started by wrshamilton, August 18, 2009, 02:57:41 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


This is like my fifth post, and was maybe my second story game, so please feel free to let me know how I could be more helpful with Actual Plays - although maybe some private way, since hopefully this thread can be about Rob's game, which he was kind enough to run for four of us at Games on Demand at GenCon. The players were me (Ryan), Sam, who had run the game of Shock that was my first story game the day before, and two other Robs, who I will refer to as Rob2 and Rob3, unhelpfully.

Authority and World Creation

Rob walked us through this process, and it felt pretty organic. We tended to hop around the various things the game asked us to define about the authority, with some interspersed ideas about things that ticked us off about real-life authorities. These included religion when used in particular, distasteful ways; entitlement; and a callousness to or exploitation of the poor. Ideas mostly came fast, with some of the definitions the system asked for serving as inspiration, and some sort of filled in after a larger picture had been developed.

After moving on to the sci-fi elements that separated the gameworld from ours, we settled on an Authority known as The Foundation: a vaguely Christian religious organization with a Calvinist sort of sense of Elect and unelect. This foundation could harvest the neurochemicals created by Suffering through a eucharist-like wet-tech that must be taken onto one's tongue, and never exposed to open air. The exact purpose to which these harvested materials were put was left undefined, but the Need was that without action the Foundation would eventually widen to a world-dominant organization.

Oh, yes, and we were set in a post-environmental-catastrophe Denver, one of four islands or island chains that were what remained of the US.

Mechanically, the Foundation's Visage was Religion, and its Victim Humanity. I can't quite remember its Vice - the options were Sadism, Greed, Fear, Stability, and Utopianism. I'm pretty sure it wasn't Sadism or Fear.

After this collaboration a few aspects of creation required us to go around the table a few times. If this part is light on details of personal interaction it's because it went so smoothly. No one seemed reticent and Rob was good about prodding and everyone was good about moving quickly past ideas that seemed a little less cool than others. The things we determined were:

Things in the Authority's favor: They had on their side that their device took away one's anger, and hence desire for change; an elaborate media empire of "enterganda", they could overload the device to suck all of the juice out of a person at once, leaving them a scary homebum. I think the fourth was the process of indoctrination to the church, but I'm a little loose on this one. After each player created an advantage for the Authority, Rob gave us ours: that children were not allowed within the ritual, leaving the Yo's with their passions.

The Yo's (Youthful Offenders, PCs): After a funny suggestion that given the situation we could be a Denver-based surf team, we quickly settled on the idea of the Clique as radical documentarians. What followed was a three-step process of naming some archetypes the team should include, choosing one or two, and making your character. The first time around the table all of our roles were jobs on a film-crew, but then we branched out a little, and ended up with:

Rob2: Billy Williams, the little red-headed kid who would hack Foundation sattelites for our distribution.
Sam: Preston, our producer, who was also one of the Elect, and thus had some pull.
Rob3: I'm saying Tina, though the name escapes me, a squat, broad young girl that served as a strong sort of cameraman, and who had a relative who had been turned into a schizophrenic homebum.
Me: Lillian Terant, aka Lil Tyrant, the on-air personality who was in danger of immediate indocrination, one assumes because of her visibility.

I don't have anyone else's character sheet, but Lil's went something like: Female, 17 - tomboyish, ambiguous ethnicity, a few, concealable tats. Means - Cool, Motive - Thrills, Opportunity - Pretty.

The next trip around the table involved the creation of some antagonists - A minister of enterganda type guy to sort of serve as Billy's foil; a morality police the Foundation could use for enforcement; Rae Something, a popular young Elect girl, a dark mirror of Preston; and a religious type at a soup kitchen who had been directing the poor towards the church. This seemed to surprise Rob the GM at how quickly it went.

And the last was my favorite, I think - each player asked a Friend Question of the player on his right. This question could backdoor-narrate some things about the questioned Yo (a fact I didn't realize until I had already asked a boring one I never got around to retracting), and was required to involve some aspect of the two Yos' friendship. As best I can remember them:

Lil, of Preston: Why do you slum around with us, anyway?
Preston in reply: I find my peers dull and unenlightened.

Preston of Tina: Why would you let me help you be more?
Tina: I don't want to turn into a drone.

Rob3 and Rob2 went last, and either because of discussion or insight caught on to the narrative power of the question and answer.

Tina, of Billy: Why won't you let me tell Preston how you feel about him?
Billy: I only said that so you wouldn't be hurt when I rebuffed your advances.

Billy, of Lil: What did you do to sell us out in order to advance your career?
Lil: Showing off for an influential mainstream journalist, I bragged about what I understood of our sat-hijacking methods.

With that, we were ready to play, which I'll leave to another post, or possibly to Rob if he gets to it first. All-in-all creation took a little less than 2 hours I think. It looks like a lot, having typed it out, but there weren't any major stumbling blocks, and creation felt as much of a fun game as the rest of it, though perhaps a little less structured.
W. Ryan S. Hamilton
It's just some crap poems not some games.

Robert Bohl

Here's a summary of what happened in the scenes. Sorry it took so long for me to reply.

Scene 1, the AF is Jonas Lamplight, the high minister of hard tech. The first five seconds involved sitting around watching a TV promo in Preston's basement. Lamplight came on the screen and started asking them why they were watching the promo and who the kids were. This was a secret pre-release version of a TV show that was about to come out that was a sitcom that was going to normalize for people the degraded and braindead state the church service puts people in. We went straight to the struggle (and in fact throughout the game we went almost struggle to struggle). The objective of The Authority was that Billy's hacking of his dad's stuff would be found out. The YOs' hope was that they will be able to catch Lamplight on the videophone with footage they could use to embarrass him. During the conflict, they lost out through Preston's overconfidence but they didn't know it (in character). The kickoff was that the church was about to produce a TV show that teaches poor people to be obedient.

Scene 2, the AF is James Goldbaum, a soup kitchen runner who steers homeless people into the faith. The first five seconds had the kids finishing up a story in front of Goldbaum's place. He arrived on the scene as they're doing the piece and immediately tries to stop it. The struggle is on: the objective is that their story will seem like manufactured propaganda and they'll be discounted as journalist, and the hope is that they'll get footage of Goldbaum showing that he hates poor people. The struggle didn't go well, they were going to lose, then Lil sells out Pretty for Vain and sleeps with Goldbaum to get him loosened up and get him to be a dick on camera. They got a Discovery for the beat: video of Goldbaum showing hatred toward the homeless and linking it to the Foundation. The Question was Will they topple the Foundation's media control? This is the thing they were going to be going for for the rest of the session.

Scene 3, the FQ was "how did you betray us?" They start out at a dive bar with a bunch of people who are excited to see the video of Goldbaum. The cops show up and my objective is people are going to die in the club and their hope is that the video goes viral. Billy sold out Thrills for Nihilistic at the end of the struggle so that they didn't lose. On the surface it seems great: Billy solves things by jammed all the police bands. However, his fucked-up dad wound up having a medical issue and because all of the emergency comms were down, he winds up being put in the hospital which, when revealed, leaves Billy hollow-eyed and utterly reckless.

Scene 4, the AF is the morality police. The first five seconds were back at Preston's house, with the Morality Police monitoring the kids secretly because they suspect them. The kids call a bunch of people over to have a party. We have a struggle where my objective is that they're going to give the eduganda machine proof of children gone mad, and their hope was they're going to get footage of the police being violent. They straight up lose and The Authority has footage of the kids being debauched, but they don't know it. They think that they beat the cops off. This is the "high moment" but it's undercut by dramatic irony.

(cont'd in next post)
Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG

Robert Bohl

Scene 5, the FQ was "Sola Polite to Billy Johnson: Why won't you let me tell Preston about your crush on him? Because I didn't want to rudely turn down your advances." The first five seconds were the kids hanging out in a mall together. I busted straight into a struggle and wanted Sola or Billy to say something that would bring the secrets to the light (there was some sense that Billy was lying to Sola and just didn't want her to hit on him). On the other hand, they wanted some of the Elect kids (who were hanging out with them) to become fans of their documentaries. Lil won through Sola's Altruism so everything went ok, but it also meant that the lies weren't brought into the light. I had my second beat be a Reversal: a rift was created but it wasn't healed. I think this probably wasn't in the rules at the time, but the second beat is supposed to tie into the first one, and this one didn't. I failzored.

Scene 6, the FQ was about "why won't you let me fix you and make you a better person?" They're at Billy's hovel, and they want to interrupt the broadcast of the first showing of the homeless people sitcom. We start the struggle, and I want Billy to get arrested, and they want the Foundation's media branch to be shut down and be a major PR disaster. They wind up selling out, Billy sells out his Orphan and we discover he's been using a false name the entire time and this guy isn't even his dad. They get the Goldbaum program in on top of the premiere of the new TV show and the world sees what kind of dirty shit the Foundation is up to.

Scene 7, the romantic deception between Billy and Lola is on the table again and it starts out with the kids in a diner, with Preston buying dinner for everyone. I wanted someone to tell a horrible lie, and they hoped that someone in the group will get laid by someone else in the group. They won, but I don't remember who fucked who.

They authored a new exploit: The Foundation is a laughing-stock in the entertainment community. This was actually a conversion, which took away the eduganda SoC from The Authority.

I think it's worth noting that a) this game really went hard conflict-to-conflict and I think many games are going to allow a lot more room to breathe than this did and b) I'm missing the interesting back-and-forth during struggles that makes them interesting, but hopefully this captures some of it.
Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG