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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 75 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [unipool] Horizon, a lethargic horror episode  (Read 1646 times)
Matt Wilson
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 1121

student, second edition


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« on: February 24, 2004, 08:13:10 AM »

Sunday we played another game of Horizon, the Firefly spinoff.

For these sorts of heavy player input games I've been creating loose frameworks of people and a kickoff that includes a big "what if" quotient.

For this session, I had the idea that the ship receives secret Alliance orders to stop on some barren rock and pick up a mysterious scientist. He's well dressed and carrying some sort of equipment case. After they pick him up, I offer a little cut scene of him that reveals that under his clothes he's all "reaver-ized." For those who've never watched Firefly (shame on you), reavers are people who've lived in deep space too long and gone crazy. They become mindless killers. Good fun.

The ship was then to proceed to a small and isolated facility where the scientist would then get transport from a different Alliance ship. So: reavers, and isolated location. Yeah. You get the picture.

Oh, and the last bit of info that I imparted was that Liberty Woo Appleyard recognizes one of the technicians as one of her former students.

So... I figured there were a heck of a lot of ways this could go. Is the scientist actually a reaver? My pre-game notion was that he was assigned by the Alliance as a sort of anthropologist to study them and learn, and maybe he made it out sane, and maybe he didn't.

The group on Sunday was energentic as a herd of tree sloths, myself included. I was used to them providing mostly their own bangs, so I didn't have a whole mess of them to rely on. It made for some odd silences.

But the game did gain some momentum, and I eventually got to settle into a baton-waving, scene framing role. I love it when games do that.

The players, with their crazy author power, decide that the scientist is indeed a mad killing machine, and they decide that the ship is sabotaged, and - this is a whopper - that Liberty's former student was somehow involved with that reaver group (maybe an inconsistency with what's been said on Firefly, but cool), and has been in hiding  from them.

Seriously, I don't know how I could ever again play with a group that doesn't do this kind of thing.

Once they offer the sabotage, I feel it only polite to provide a reaver ship on its way to the station. Loads of tension ensues, with a dramatic resolution, complete with big wrenches, guns, reavers being blown out into space, and a mystery word written in blood on a mirror.

Regarding the Unipool system
I think the GM even getting 10 chips is still too many. Since the GM is involved in every conflict and rolls 3 dice minimum, he or she has good odds of gaining a chip every time, whereas players will probably have to spend a chip every time.

GM habits
I've foresworn the role of GM as cheerleader to players, but I think for next session, a sleeveful of bangs will help in listless moments.

Strange Luck
I kept my spending down to make conflicts generally even, but I kept rolling like a fiend and winning narration. I don't know if anyone else has experienced that, but man, I was thinking, cripes, I want a break from all this narratin'. Somebody win a friggin' roll.
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John Harper
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Posts: 1054

flip you for real


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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2004, 10:41:48 AM »

Yep... the energy level of the players (I'm one of them) was very low. Fortunately, Matt had an Ace up his sleeve: Reavers! And a creepy space station! This was enough fuel to get our fires going, even if they were only tiny cookfires instead of the bonfires we occasionally produce.

In particular, the idea of hooking Liberty's search for her lost students into the Reaver (and Blue Sun) myserties was a stroke of genius. Now she not only has a quest to find her kids, but we get some groovy Firefly-universe metaplot stuff to explore too. Cara (Liberty's player) really sunk her teeth into the bang you gave her and was off and running. Like Universalis, the UniPool allows for one player to be on fire while the rest kind of coast until they get their second wind. I like that.

Sytem Stuff: I agree with Matt. The GM doesn't need even 10 coins to start. Next time we'll try starting the GM out with zero and see how that goes.
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Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!
anonymouse
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Posts: 302


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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2004, 11:05:08 AM »

Matt, I run into the "tired of narrating!" thing a lot when we play Donjon; unfortunately, any system that sticks to a dice-determine-narration scheme is bound to run into this from time to time. You can tack on extra stuff (add a "narration track"; 3 narrates in a row and someone else narrates the 4th time, or whatever) to alleviate it, though.
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Michael V. Goins, wielding some vaguely annoyed skills.
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