News:

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

Main Menu

More on SOAP!

Started by Tor Erickson, September 14, 2001, 04:28:00 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

Tor Erickson

  I just read Ron's review of SOAP, then went and read the game itself.  Now I think I need to run it very soon, but I have a few questions that neither the review nor the game answers.
 What if you had more players than the game suggests (3 in the example)?  I'm thinking of five players, but if you stick to the 30 minute limit each player only ends up with 6 minutes of play time.  Is that enough? How many players did you run it with, Ron?
 Also, what constitutes giving a hint to your secret?  Does this just end up being GM's call or are there any guidelines to this?
 As a final note, I think I "got" the game while I was reading the example.  Specifically, the sentence where Sylvia (2 minutes into the game) says "Humming along to the tune of Aerosmith's Crazy, Michael accidentally runs a red light and ploughs into a cement truck."
 I'm still chuckling over that one,
Tor

jburneko

Quote
On 2001-09-14 12:28, Tor Erickson wrote:
 What if you had more players than the game suggests (3 in the example)?  I'm thinking of five players, but if you stick to the 30 minute limit each player only ends up with 6 minutes of play time.  Is that enough? How many players did you run it with, Ron?
 Also, what constitutes giving a hint to your secret?  Does this just end up being GM's call or are there any guidelines to this?

Hello,

I've never played SOAP but I've read it over more than once.  Personally I don't see anything wrong with extending the time limit to an hour.  The author states that the half hour time limit is to mimic the average length of a soap opera episode but honestly I know of no soap opera that runs less than an hour.

On the secret thing, I think it's an honor system.  If you notice SOAP doesn't have a GM.  I think the idea is that if you feel you've given a significant hint about your secret take five tokens.  Just be honest.

Jesse

Ron Edwards

Hey,

We had a Soap game at GenCon with something like nine people, and it was certainly limited in screen time per person, but fun nonetheless. We used the option that "once the half-hour is up, wrap it up." Probably ended up as an hour that way (anyone remember differently?).

As for the Hint issue, my rule of thumb is that a Hint should be enough to prompt a guess. So say it's the end of my turn - I claim I've provided a Hint and am ready to take my 5 tokens. If someone in the group is willing to guess SOMETHING, based on whatever information I've provided during my turn, that that's OK. If everyone says, "No, I can't guess anything that really interests me," then it's not.

If this very mechanic becomes ITSELF a power-issue, then you have dysfunction going on ... as I've said before, part of the solution is to specify that "secret" is what the CHARACTER calls it, but that the player really ought to think of it as "inevitable revelation."

Best,
Ron

Tor Erickson

 Oops.  Missed that part that there's no GM.  That puts a whole new take on the shebang, don't it?
 Honing in on the hint issue, let's say my character's secret is that she miscarried the baby of her husband's partner at work.  During the round, two of my sentences are, "Elizabeth calls David (the co-worker) and tearfully tries to get through to him" and "Even when she identifies herself and claims that it is urgent, however, his secretary claims that he is 'Taking no calls'."
 At the end of the round I say, "Gimmee five tokens, I dropped a fatty hint."
 NOW, is it enough for everybody playing to internally think, "Hmm, yes, there was a serious hint dropped there" and give the go ahead on the tokens, or do all the other players actually guess out loud what the secret is?  Big difference.  Which way did you play, Ron?
-Tor

Ron Edwards

T,

Going by the rules, Player A guesses at the end of Player A's own turn.

So say it's Player D's turn, and he provides a hint (so he says) and takes the tokens because at least one other player (say Player A) confirms that he was intrigued enough by the Hint to be harboring a guess. Player A does not guess at this time. Player D takes the tokens, and play moves from D on to player E. Eventually, some time, play moves to Player A, who takes his turn. At the end of his turn, Player A then guesses about Player D.

Qualifiers:
- Player A, at the end of his turn, can guess about any other player-character, not just D. Saying he had a guess in mind at the end of Player D's turn was not a commitment to guess.
- Player D, after taking his tokens, and before play moves on to Player E, of course gets HIS chance to guess about anyone.
- Any Player, at the end of his turn, can guess about Player D (or anyone else) without having confirmed that they were intending to.

Best,
Ron

P.S. Ferry, if I've screwed this up somehow, chime in and let me know.

[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-09-14 14:27 ]

james_west

There were six people for the two sessions of it I've played, and it worked great. However, ours were more like an hour and a little long, each.

Pretty much, three hints should be all it's possible to give without giving it away; in this I tally well with Ron's experience.


Ron Edwards

Tor,

Again, speaking as a college prof, I have another suggestion.

Play Soap with some friends (who have NOTHING to do with the class) over the weekend. Don't go into the actual class session with an "I'm pretty sure it works this way" approach. Best to get the stumbles and rules clarifications down first.

This is exactly the same reason why, in a few minutes, I am going to blenderize a sandwich with some TAs to make sure that they have SEEN and DONE what they are going to be instructing next week (assessing for presence of macromolecules).

Best,
Ron

Tor Erickson

Thanks for the advice, fellas.  And yeah, I'm planning on trying to get a game going this weekend, I'll fill you on how it goes.
-T.

Tor Erickson

(note: I've got some more comments over in Actual Play, particularly about how fun it was)

Hi y'all,
 Played SOAP tonight.  I'm going to play again tomorrow.  Here's a few points I noticed about the rules.
• Your character can't be killed or negatively affected if you're off-screen, but at the same time it's very difficult to get plot points (though you still can by dropping hints).  This forced people to get involved somehow so they could rack up points for using traits or accomplishing their goal.  This made me think that maybe a character should have to be on-screen to do anything significant, including dropping Hints or guessing somebody's secret.  That way their character stayed involved (to the amusement of all involved).  
 The way we ended up guessing secrets was that we would present it as a bit of in-character dialogue ("You mean my husband has been sleeping with John his personal secretary for all these years?!  What will the neighbours say!")  Then the person would say "Yes!" or "No!", that is or isn't my secret and play would move on.  We had a bit of trouble of deciding when a secret had been correctly guessed.  A lot of time somebody would only guess half of the secret, and we weren't sure if that was good enough.  Several options presented themselves:  1)  If it's close, it's good enough. 2)  The secret remains officially unrevealed (the character can't die) but the player tells the guesser how much of his guess was correct 3) If it wasn't right on, then it didn't count for jack squat.  We settled somewhere between 2 and 3.
 • 30 minutes does go by very fast, but it really lent a light-hearted feel to the proceedings as people realized they only had 10 minutes left to rack up plot points to accomplish their goals
 • The one character who had his secret revealed was essentially out of the game at that point.  He died the next round, but even if he hadn't the character had lost a certain mystique and was no longer very central to the wheeling and dealing that the rest of us were doing.
 • We were unsure how to deal with contested actions involving 3 parties or more.  In the end we decided that you could only do a contested action on one person.  It was also unclear to what extent you could violate player-character sovereignty with contested actions.  Could you have somebodie's elses' character do or say things they didn't want to do or just have things happen to them.  We pretty much decided that you could have happen whatever you wanted to other characters, but the player maintained the right to have their character say or do whatever they wanted.
 I'd love to hear any ideas or comments that I can use for the game tomorrow night.
-Tor

Ferry Bazelmans

Hi Tor,

A few words from the author (who is very sorry for not chiming in sooner)...

Quote
 • We were unsure how to deal with contested actions involving 3 parties or more.  In the end we decided that you could only do a contested action on one person.  It was also unclear to what extent you could violate player-character sovereignty with contested actions.  Could you have somebodie's elses' character do or say things they didn't want to do or just have things happen to them.  We pretty much decided that you could have happen whatever you wanted to other characters, but the player maintained the right to have their character say or do whatever they wanted.

With contested sentences, there are always two sides. Those who want to let the proposed sentence happen en those that don't. When someone proposes a sentence that another player does not agree with, that player can bid tokens to stop the sentence from being added to the game. If the player who proposed the sentence in the first place wants it to happen, he'll have to counterbid. Other players can bid as well to either have it happen, or stop it. There is no rule that says contested sentences are between two people only.
The wisest choice is of course to wait until one of the two players bidding against eachother gives up. If the outcome is not to your liking you can always counterbid again to try and change the outcome.

As for having awful things happen to your character and having that character say things you don't want it to: that's the game. It's a compromise between keeping as much plot tokens for when you really need them and trying to keep your own character out of trouble. If you have only one Plot Token left and someone has your character say something you don't like, then you're screwed. It's as simple as that.

Try to think of it as an exercise in controlling the plot and storyline, not as roleplaying one character indepth. In fact, you'll find that everyone is playing everyone's character if the game is in full motion.

Oh, and Ron, you formulated it perfectly. :smile:

Crayne
The BlackLight Bar, home of Soap: the game of soap opera mayhem.
Now available as a $2.95 Adobe PDF (Paypal only)

Ron Edwards

Crayne,

Thanks!

Tor,

"The one character who had his secret revealed was essentially out of the game at that point. He died the next round, but even if he hadn't the character had lost a certain mystique and was no longer very central to the wheeling and dealing that the rest of us were doing."

One thing to emphasize to players, when the time comes, is that a character being dead or "out" (in the sense you describe) does NOT mean that the player is out of the game. Granted, it's more fun to last all the way through, or to buy it big in the last scene, but it's perfectly OK to lose the PC relatively early and still be an active player, using "NPCs" and bidding and so on.

Best,
Ron

Tor Erickson

Hi Crayne,
 Thanks for your comments. I think it's amazing that I can play a game one night, and get comments from the game's designer by the next morning.  It kind of blows all other models of product support out of the water, doesn't it?
 The idea that when it's time for your sentence you have complete directorial control (within the limits of bidding etc), up to and including having other characters do and say whatever you want, is one I plan to exploit greatly when we play tonight.
 Also the point that anybody can counterbid is a good one: I imagine that it will keep everybody involved in the game.
 The other question I had, though, which I might not have expressed clearly in the post, was that we had trouble deciding what to do with guesses that were only partially correct. Give partial credit?  Say close enough and give it to them?  Make them guess it to the letter?
 Man, I'm already getting pumped up to play again tonight... :smile:
-Tor

Tor Erickson

Hello Ron,
Quote
On 2001-09-17 09:36, Ron Edwards wrote:

One thing to emphasize to players, when the time comes, is that a character being dead or "out" (in the sense you describe) does NOT mean that the player is out of the game. Granted, it's more fun to last all the way through, or to buy it big in the last scene, but it's perfectly OK to lose the PC relatively early and still be an active player, using "NPCs" and bidding and so on.

Best,
Ron

 This is true, and we encouraged the one player who died (really died, as in not coming back)to keep playing, but he felt like he was powerless with his character out and just passed.  Interesting, because in the game more or less the only power the character has is to get plot points.
 Which raises my objection to the idea that you can just keep on playing without a character.  Without a PC you quickly run out of plot points (you can't accomplish your goal, give hints, use traits) and are left powerless.  Though I suppose you could still rack a few up by guessing other's secrets...
 And finally, we played the method that you suggested, which is to say "no winners based on plot points" and it worked fine, but I almost wish there were another way to determine who won.  By default we assumed that it was to accomplish your goal and protect your secret but I wonder if there's some way to make that defined.  Hmmm, perhaps it already is...
-Tor

Ron Edwards

Hey Tor,

"I almost wish there were another way to determine who won. By default we assumed that it was to accomplish your goal and protect your secret but I wonder if there's some way to make that defined. Hmmm, perhaps it already is..."

Two reactions.

1) If you want to "win" in Soap, just keep track of who SPENT more Tokens throughout. That ought to do it.

2) "Protect your Secret??!" Oh my God, that strikes me as a HORRIBLE criterion for winning. For me, the whole fun of Soap is to hint extravagantly and guess enthusiastically; guarding one's Secret as a means to win strikes me as totally counter to the most enjoyable aspects of the game.

A thought for class discussion: is "character removal" necessarily equated to "player failure" in all role-playing? It certainly is PERCEIVED to be that way, based on design considerations from (say) D&D, but MUST it be that way?

Best,
Ron

Tor Erickson

Quote
On 2001-09-17 11:30, Ron Edwards wrote:
2) "Protect your Secret??!" Oh my God, that strikes me as a HORRIBLE criterion for winning. For me, the whole fun of Soap is to hint extravagantly and guess enthusiastically; guarding one's Secret as a means to win strikes me as totally counter to the most enjoyable aspects of the game.

Best,
Ron

Well, in perhaps setting the record for number of posts and responses in a five minute period . . . I think I probably put it the wrong way when I mentioned protecting secrets.  In the sense that by revealing your secret you lose the greatest opportunity to get plot points (a potential five per round), it's encouraged to not blow it at the get-go in the game.
 As for the character death issue, SOAP really does raise an interesting point.  If your participation in the game is divorced from your character (to an extent, because in SOAP it's not totally divorced), what does PC death or removal matter?  This is some great stuff!
Thanks,
tor