[Hell for Leather] To Infinity, and Beyond!

edited August 2010 in Actual Play
We played Hell for Leather at the South Bay Story Games Day, over at Game Kastle in Santa Clara, CA.

We used the following Frame:

Drop-off: The Golden Gate Bridge
Destination: The Network's Space Station
Checkpoints: Get to Russia, Rob the Russian Bank, Steal a Russian spacecraft
Prologue and Adversary: Game Show, The Network
Connection: Criminal enterprise (team of professional bank robbers)

The Players, and their Characters:

Oliver was Jorge, the Muscle. His Flaw was Hypochondriac and his Gripe was with Sabine. His Talent was, appropriately, Robbery.

Heather was Sabine, the Driver. Her Flaw was Alcoholism and her Gripe was with Dmitri. Her Talent was Instant Sobriety.

Ben was Dmitri, the Brains. His Flaw was Paranoia and his Gripes were with Jack and Sabine. His Talent was Quick Thinking.

Joey (me) was Jack, the Cracker. His Flaw was Obsessive and his Gripe was with Jorge. His Talent was Under Pressure

How it went down: Questions and Concerns, or The Useful Bit:

Everything went well. I set up the table poorly, which led to our failure, but people still had fun. If we practice bowling a bit more (we never moved beyond the beginner circle and still failed all the time), and set up the table properly/had a sturdier table, I think we'd have done a lot better. No matter -- the game works beautifully, we grokked the story pip economy rather rapidly, and things flowed very well with Scenes being started and Threats and Challenges being called left and right.

We had a few questions, however:

-How can we recover Traumas? Must we use a Talent or Violence to gain the bonus dice needed to gain two hits and thus heal a Trauma?
-Relatedly, does obtaining 3+ hits have any further benefit?
-Does getting both Shotgun dice into the Target count as getting two hits, and thus result in healing a Trauma?
-Can you share bonus hits to heal other players Traumas?
-When a player dies and there are extra Traumas above and beyond what was required to kill them off, must those remaining Traumas be shared with the remaining players?

Finally, did we cripple ourselves in any way with the above setup/events, aside from my poor table set up (for a variety of reasons, the environment was not sound).

Final Comments:

I really liked this game. I think We really liked this game. We had some Fiasco players stop by to observe and ask questions, and they seemed amused. My fellow players are eager to play again, and I hope to demo the game in a con environment again. I had as much fun observing after death as I did actually playing, so maybe I'll pack six players into a game and just facilitate and watch!

I hope you sell out of your first print run (and many future print runs), Sebastian, this game is totally rad. Let me know if I can be of service, in any capacity you can think of (including play-testing future supplements--you have a willing group! :P). Maybe we can build demand and get it in the indie section of Bay Area gaming stores!

Also, fellow players: please add to this and or correct/clarify my bits. :D


  • Hey Joey,

    It's one of the wonderful things about Hell for Leather, the fact that you need to make sure your table is rock solid and level before playing. It makes you pay attention to the space you are playing in, in a strange kind of way. I'm of the opinion that Sebastian should start selling HfL branded spirit levels and leveling wedges.

    As far as I'm aware, a double hit is the way to recover a Trauma (and the recovery can be applied to any character, not just that of the player who scored the double).

    My interpretation is that if you hit with both dice on a shotgun, that's a valid double hit.

    If Traumas kill off a character, and there are excess Traumas, they should totally be shared around. Spread the joy!

    However, Sebastian may appear and tell me I'm wrong. In which case, I am trumped.

  • Hi Joey,

    Thanks for posting this AP! I'm really excited about it. You're the first foreigner to have posted an AP since release. And you're miles away! I mean, loads and loads of miles away. All the way over there where everyone talks funny and drives big cars.

    So, on to the questions!

    Malcolm, everything you said is right except for "if Traumas kill off a character, and there are excess Traumas, they should totally be shared around." In fact, excess Traumas are thrown away, leaving the surviving players with a better chance of victory. Having said that, often when there's just two characters left over and one gets killed (leaving excess Traumas), we kill the surviving character too. Only some players want to finish the game alone.

    As for the 3+ hits. Wow! I've never seen more than two dice in the Target. Officially, there is no reward for more than 2 hits on one roll. But I think anyone who gets three or more deserves a slap on the back, his photo taken and probably (if you're feeling mawkish) he might be allowed to reduce the Heat by one? Your call Joey.

    It sounds like you had a chopper-filled gorefest. I'm really glad you enjoyed the game. I'll get in touch via email about that playtesting offer. I really, really need your help!

    Does that clear things up?

    Now, for my own question, I'm curious about how high you built the Heat, how many Rest Scenes you used, and what was the most difficult part in explaining the rules?
  • edited August 2010
    Sebastian and Malcolm -- That answers my questions, thanks! And we do like, talk funny here dude. I lack a vehicle though--I'm too good at breaking them. And you're quite welcome for the AP, it was fun to write.

    Anyway, Sebastian's questions:

    -We used 12mm dice as suggested, and I think the highest the Heat got was 10 (we definitely hit 9 a few times). We didn't actually shoot at that particular stack, because I fucked it up and knocked it over shortly after building it. I also knocked it over while building it, heh.

    -We used one Rest scene, mostly because we kept scoring Traumas and reducing the Heat that way, and so we didn't want to take another Trauma to lower the Heat by anything less than the full four dice. Actually, I think we used three Rest scenes, but only one of them had any mechanical impact (a successful attempt to get Sabine off the sauce).

    -For me, the most difficult part in explaining rules was accurately describing story pips, their uses, and the importance in getting them flowing. As it turns out every figured it out just fine, despite my tragic explanation attempts. Everything else was really easy to explain.

    Oh, and some of the language was slightly (ever so) confusing. In the rules on pp 34 it says that you "must roll a number of dice equal to your power", but on the next page it says "it is not mandatory to roll all bonus dice". Like I said, it's not really that confusing, but you might revise that bit of language in the next printing. Similarly, on pp 52 under Adjusting the Heat, it says that if any dice fall while building the Heat, that's a collapse. Under How the Stack Falls, it's explicit in saying that knocking over the Heat while adding dice doesn't count until the final die. Does anyone else get these slightly contradictory readings? Overall the book it totally clear, but when I reference certain sections out of context and see these slight contradictions I always end up flipping around the book like mad. I could also just be really bad at grokking rules.

    It was a ton of fun, though, and everyone wants to play again. I had a mix of people playing, all of them happened to be friends from school or my hometown. Now I have two groups of people wanting to play more HfL with me, which is rad because that means I get to play more HfL.
  • edited September 2010
    Actually, I think we used three Rest scenes, but only one of them had any mechanical impact (a successful attempt to get Sabine off the sauce).
    Interesting! So, you used Rest Scenes even when you didn't need to. Cool!
    Oh, and some of the language was slightly (ever so) confusing.
    Really useful stuff Joey. For the record, if I do another edition, I'll amend the text on page 35 to read "for Power greater than 1, it is not mandatory to roll all your bonus dice." Also, I'll amend the text on p.52 to say that if any dice fall while adding the final die to the Heat, that's a collapse.

    Thanks a million for pointing these inconsistencies out for me (and other players). This kind of thing is very useful.
  • edited September 2010
    Here's a link to the new errata!
  • Posted By: Sebastian K. HickeyHere's a link to the newerrata!
    Ah, that's highly useful. And speedily done, to boot!

    In the very short (almost demo length) game that we played at the start of the week, a teetering tower never fails to get oohs and aahs round the table. And a collapse never fails to generate groans or howls of despair. And it gets people coming across the room to see what is being played. Not only is it a great mechanic, but its a great attention getter.

    And, I notice that Hell for Leather is now available from IPR. Hurrah! That means even more people have the chance to experience the game.

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