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[Remember Tomorrow] Take 5

Started by Gregor Hutton, April 20, 2010, 08:13:13 PM

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Gregor Hutton

OK, so last night I was through at Joe Prince's for our Monday gaming. We've not had it for a few weeks and we had a full table this time: Me, Joe, Russ, Matt and Malcolm.

We were giving my cyberpunk game in playtesting "Remember Tomorrow" a go. We've had this arranged for a few weeks and its funny that some cool Cyberpunk threads have come up recently.

Anyway, we got in 5 Introduction scenes and then 11 scenes in play last night, which was pretty good going I thought. There were some slightly sticky bit: most notably I felt a bit of silent half-push/shove going on about the style of content. Russ, Joe and Matt were more gonzo with sentient whales, while me and Malc were more towards the Sprawl stuff of Gibson.

Basically the game involves creating and playing PCs and NPCs until three characters leave the fiction. Last night we got one achieving his Goal and jumping out, a few others getting there and a handful of PCs and NPCs pretty weakened and being left behind. Which is what I'm aiming for.

Another sticky point was Matt framing a scene for Joe, where he's supposed to be antagonistic and he lost his way once he'd described the scene. It kinda almost turned to Joe picking on him, but we got it back on track. My note was that Matt should have a Scene Goal in mind before he starts colouring in. Also Malc reacted to his bookish art dealer ebing framed into a very dangerous situation by Russ. I was A-OK with that, PCs don't get to say where they are placed by the Controller (unless it's the Controller's PC who they are using to hash with someone else). In the end Malc avoided a conflict and it was a colour scene with marginal outcomes on each side. Russ didn't want to push the point.

I have the characters here so I'll throw them up (as they are at the end of the session) and try to come back to this thread with some notes on the scenes. I got a lot out of it.

PC: Fliss Drake
Ready:3 Willing: 4 Able: 5
Conditions: Hunted, Injured, Trapped (all Negative)
Goal: To Kill Zatumo Ryu-Yen (and has changed in game to be Get Bancroft)

PC: Ben Hope|Bankrupt Detective
R4 W4 A4
Cons: Armed (Positive), Impaired (N)
Goal: To Walk Again (Willing ticked)

PC: McBain
R6 W3 A4
Cons: Convinced (P)
Goal: Beat the Alien Conspiracy (R, W ticked)

PC: Bancroft
R3 W4 A6
Cons: Burned Out (N)
Goal: Bring down the politicians who ordered the war

PC: Jimmy Droog
R3 W5 A6
Cons: Angry (P)
Goal: Kill veryone from Project Dragonfly (R, W, A ticked: Achieved and Written Out!)

PC: Miriam Lake
R4 W6 A4
Cons: Prepared (P)
Goal: Find teh 1st Edn signed Frankenstein (A ticked)

PC: The Crocus Brood (started life as an NPC)
R3 W2 A7
Cons: Enthsued, Dangerous, Tooled-Up (P), Injured (N)
Goal: Make sure Dolls stay in slavery

I'll get on to the NPCs tomorrow.

Gregor Hutton

So, here are the NPCs (and noting that The Crocus Brood started off as an NPC created by me, but Joe then switched them to a PC on his last turn as Controller). NPCs only get 1 or 2 Parameters, but I'm sure that it has to be that they have 2 (otherwise their successes are capped prohibitively).

NPC: Reformed Church of Tom Cruise
Cons: Enthused (P), Impaired, Injured (N)
Goal: Theocracy

NPC: Order of Shamu
R:7 A:1
Cons: Convinced, Enthused (P), Hunted (N)
Goal: Have uplifted cetaceans recognized as citizens

NPC: Gerry Gruesome (The Barman)
R:4 A:4
Cons: Angry, Armed (P), Trapped (N)
Goal: To have his wife murdered (A ticked)

NPC: Markus Gephardt (Billionaire Collector)
R:3 W:6
Cons: Prepared (P) Impaired (N)
Goal: Ruin the egregious Valentine di Romano

NPC: Karl Macilroy (Blogger|Former Church Of Tom Cruise member)
W:4 A:4
Cons: Angry (P), Hunted (N)
Goal: Bring down the Reformed Church Of Tom Cruise

NPC: The Bomb Hounds
R:3 A:5
Cons: Trapped
Goal: Kill McBain

NPC: The Noodle Man (Assassin) -- Written Out as part of Jimmy Droog's successful Goal
R:4 A:4
Cons: Burned Out, Dying (N)
Goal: Whatever Dragon Fly wants

At the moment we haven't seen Karl in play. Some have only appeared once: The Reformed Church, The Noodle Man (who got Written Out on his only scene as Joe's Goal came to fruition), The Bomb Hounds, Gephardt. Some have appeared twice: Order of Shamu (in peripheral inclusion -- they've not confronted anyone yet), The Barman. And one has appeared a lot and become a PC: The Crocus Brood.

Also there have been a lot of Conditions in play, they've then been marked off as resolved or used. Here's a list of who has had each Condition at some point in play.

Angry: Gruesome, Macilroy, Drake, Hope, McBain, Droog.
Armed: Gruesome, Bomb Hounds, Noodle Man, Hope, McBain, Crocus Brood.
Convinced: McBain, Shamu.
Dangerous: Hope, McBain, Bancroft, Droog, Crocus Brood.
Enthused: Hope, Crocus Brood, Shamu, Church Tom Cruise.
Hardened: Gephardt, Hope.
Prepared: Droog, Lake, Gephardt.
Supported: McBain, Lake.
Tooled-Up: McBain, Crocus Brood.

Burned Out: Noodle Man, Bancroft.
Confused: Droog, Lake, Curch Tom Cruise.
Dying: Noodle Man.
Hesitant: none
Hunted: Shamu, Mcilroy, Drake, McBain.
Impaired: Hope, Gephardt, Church Tom Cruise.
Injured: Church Tom Cruise, Drake, Crocus Brood.
Lost: none
Trapped: Drake, Gruesome, Bomb Hounds.

Gregor Hutton

Remember Tomorrow is played in discrete scenes. The first "round" of scenes is the Introduction, where you can introduce your PC or an NPC.

These are the only scenes in the game that aren't opposed. You frame some situation for your character and roll the dice to see if you make some progress (hoping to roll equal to or under your Parameters). The purpose is to let everyone see your character, set them in motion and boost your chances for future scenes. You can't directly progress towards your Goal here.

If you are very interested in seeing your PC succeed in their Goal later then you should think seriously about introducing your PC and getting them some Positive Conditions or increased Parameters. If you are less concerned with that then it's perfectly fine to introduce your NPC, as this will make them a tougher opponent (and potentially make them very suitable for being converted into a PC in play).

The Introduction Scenes were in the following order.

Malcolm intro'd Miriam Lake. She visits an antique book dealer and asks about the first edition of Frankenstein. She neeeds a signed copy for her client. Malc rolls the dice and gets 1 or 2 successes. So he gets some information to aid her in her quest and buys some Outcomes. I'm sure he added "Prepared" as a Positive Condition and maybe boosted a Parameter.

I went next and intro'd an NPC: The Crocus Brood. (So, Fliss my PC didn't get Intro'd.) They drove their souped up Dumpster Truck down to a Firearms shop, drove through the motorbikes parked outside, threw a trash can through the window and started looting the place. I roll the dice and they got Armed and Dangerous.

Matt also went for his NPC Gerry Gruesome rather than his PC Ben Hope. Gruesome is working in his bar and is watching his wife flirting with customers. He rolls the dice and gets Angry.

Russ has his PC McBain jet in from Chiba on a Delta Wing. He flees the plane when it has landed and uses his jacket to vault over the perimeter fence. A meeting with a contact outside the airport gets him rolling his dice. I think he got Angry and Tooled-Up.

Joe then finishes the round of Introductions with Jimmy Droog waking up Confused in bed. He lurches around his flat trying to work out what's happened to him. He rolls the Dice and gets rid of his Confused state. I think he added Prepared here.

We then placed all the NPCs in the centre of the table and we read them out. we also went back over the PCs so that we all know who's available for play.

I am pretty happy with the way the Intros worked. I liked the length we put into them, it felt pretty natural (some went longer than others, that's fine). One of the key thing when teeing off on a PC is knowing who they are. It helps the player establish the character, and make a small improvement to their character (hopefully). I also liked that it gets everyone used to rolling the dice and colouring their descriptions as them being Ready, Willing or Able. I also liked having the opportunity to have some NPCs a bit more buffed up to start, if you're interested in having that (Matt and me went for that).

No one got zero successes. I wondered if someone would and how they would react to that. Maybe it would make them desperate in future scenes? Or maybe we'd see them as easy prey? It's a shame no one got into that position.

Anwyay, now we were off into the regular scenes where you can start shooting for your Goals (and each other) and I'll deal with those next.

Gregor Hutton

I got some good (and stiff) feedback from Joe Prince today. Great.

I think I have pretty good answers to everything that he's brought up, but here are the key things.

Conflict Rolls to resolve scenes are just straight rolls. They're the fortune. You also don't crowbar the conflict into a particular arena or whatever. I'm assuming that every character is doing their to win, using their best qualities. Some are best Ready, some Willing and some Able. But whichever of those they're better at colours their fiction.

Good point from Joe: make them commit a Positive Condition before the roll. They may "waste" it or it might give them more successes than they'd have needed to win. Either way it makes best sense in the fiction for that to be thrown in before the roll.

I'm toying with someone taking a "Danger" (gambling with a risk of a bad outcome) in return for an extra die. This would buff up NPCs in return for risking more Negative Conditions being heaped on them. Might be  a goodie.

I still want to keep the burning a Positive Condition for a re-roll if the dice slay you. Hey, I like Mulligans in Golf games on the computer too. And no guarantee on the re-roll being any better.

The game isn't about Man vs Machine or Rebellion vs Tradition. It's about character stories intersecting and only some getting resolved by the end of the story. These characters in motion bump into each other and some arcs are concluded. A lot aren't. I want it to be like the film Crash. Or the way characters drop in/out and go across the Gibson Sprawl stories.

I think I'm married to Ready, Willing and Able even though the lads want something more "cyberpunk". I don't want INT, REF, COOL or go like Apocolaypse World's Hot, Hard, Cool, Sharp and Weird. (I adore KPFS's stats but Cold, Mean and Fucked Up won't do either).

I want my PCs to be disconnected to start the FIRST game. But I want NPCs that are relevant to them. So... I guess the answer is create PCs and share who they are. Then create NPCs off the back of that.

Joe wants money|creds in there. I see that as (a) mainly colour but (b) mechanics as a PCon or NCon when it's significant to the stort. I think I want a PCon like "Resourced" as "Supported" and "Prepared" don't leap to that use instinctively. I'd also like Destitute or something going the other way. NCons don't make you fail but they do limit your successes beyond getting your Scene Goal.

I agree with Joe that we can add something to the Conditions. If want to know more detail when you have one. Angry (at Who?), Convinced (of What?), Injured (How?), Dying (from What?). Etc,

The group had some of this can I/can't I. The buck stops with the Controller on their scene. Unless we all go up in arms at violating the rules then they can say yes or no as they like.

Joe doesn't like the put fiction into mechanics stuff. I'm fine with that. For groups that don't agree to it then it won't happen. For groups that want to give that stuff out then they absolutely can. I hope groups will live on a spectrum of that line.

As Controller you need to know the conflict you're bringing, but find the right moment to hit it. I envisage the Controller setting the scene, stacking up a situation, then the players enjoying being there and role-playing their characters. The Controller then hits the hammer at the right point.

Joe wondered what the difference was. PCs are the only people who can be targeted. NPCs have less of a chance in conflict rolls (less upside), but can get a foot up by being changed to PCs if they get a favourable break.

The idea is to have characters (PCs and NPCs) driving towards their Goals and we hop on to the successful ones, or try and stop others that are being successful against our will.

Joe felt his getting his Goal was an anticlimax. That was down to a poor choice by the Controller on the scene, he threw a really crappy flat new NPC at a juiced up PC. He also didn't let anyone else in to stop Joe's aims. He got another PC in but he was happy to help. So the Noodle Man bought it and Joe's Droog got out. That's fine. We learned to try harder to put the brakes on for the next PC that has two Goals ticked and is trying to get the third. Russ should maybe have gone for a Scene Goal of getting Droog to be unable, or something.

The third "out" is where we should all be shooting to go out together or put a hold on someone getting there before ius. I see it like getting "out" at cards.

Also the table needs to be invested in all the stories going on. Maybe five is too big? I think six is for sure. I hope it pops back and forth with two.

And in further games I hope some characters who didn't get out will return along with ones who did.

Joe J Prince

I finally figured out what my problem is with the game. I just didn't get what it was about - and how it was cyberpunk.

Fear not I have come up with a few tweaks that will make it feel more 'cyberpunky' and not drastically change your mechanics (RWA get to stay).
As an added bonus I also believe it will bring Remember Tomorrow closer to your vision!

The key point – what's the game about?

There's no way to Step on Up and it's downright jarring trying to get a good Dream out of the mechanics.
It's obvious that you want Story Now (if this is wrong then the game is in serious trouble).

The key part of Story Now is the premise. In your earlier post you pretty much said RT does not have a premise it's just about people's stories intersecting, like Crash. If this were true then Story Now would be deid deid deid. Fortunately it's a big bag of wrong. In Crash (not the Croenenburg one), yes there are intersecting story arcs but the film is about racism, bigotry and the true goodness within people.

In RT the premise is that you have to screw folk to get things done. Sell out to get ahead.
Forget your chrome books, netruns and Maximum Metal. That's the essence of cyberpunk right there – in the grimy smog of the near future there are only screw jobs!

This central premise needs to be the heart of the game.

PCs -  player characters are Punks. Whether they are: street samurai, burned out cops, snotty corps, hopped up netrunners or antiquarian book dealers - they are still punks. They don't hold real power in the world. If they try really hard then they might get by on their own, but it's unlikely.

I'd like to see NPCs re-jigged. After everyone has created a PC and had an intro scene then everyone creates a NPC 'Power-Broker' (perhaps using your funky random chart). Each Power somehow stands in the way of a PC's goal. Alongside (or maybe replacing) their regular stats, each Power has an Influence stat. Punks can sell-out during a scene, making a deal with a Power and gaining access to their Influence (perhaps as Edge dice and/or conditions). Of course part of the deal is to screw over whichever Punk the Power has a beef with. This gives a fictional incentive to fuck over the other PCs.

I'm thinking Powers don't need goals – their objective is to get the opposing Punk written out before he achieves his objective. Selling out also provides a good way of escaping from the death spiral.

E.g. McBain sells out to Project Dragon Fly – they'll heal and arm him if he deals with Droog.

On a scene as Controller you get to do one of the following
•   Introduce a new Punk or Power (Powers cannot become true PCs – but an individual member from them can).
•   Have your held Punk go and sell out.
•   Try to screw another player's Punk – with another Punk or with a Power directly (but that should be less effective).

After a Punk achieves his third goal tick, he gets a final scene up against the Power – his level of success determines how well/cleanly he accomplishes his goal and how much damage is done to the Powers' Influence.

This will help mitigate the anti-climactic goal problem. Worth noting it had nothing to do with Matt's NPC - The Noodle Man was cool and made sense. The bit after that was disappointing – no-one from my character's story had entered the fiction so vengeance fell a bit flat!