Cinematic action game: playtesters wanted

edited February 2011 in Directed Promotion
This game is aimed at action/adventure gaming with strong characterization. I want the conflict resolution to play out like dramatic/cinematic action sequences.

You choose your own setting/premise from pre-existing fiction

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Comments

  • Cool. I'll give this a more thorough read-through later.

    First thought upon skimming: layout could be more approachable. I understand that you want a set of rules playtested. That's cool. Accessibility and presentation do matter, as they help people pick up the information. Given that it's action-oriented, I'd like to see a punchy kind of presentation. Break up the pages of text with some other stuff, maybe box off a rule here and there. Add some pictures.
  • Hi, yeah, exactly that needs to be done, but I dont even know if I have explained how the game works yet. In fact Im pretty sure I must have lots of procedural holes in the basic "this is how you play" text which I will need to find and address before I adorn it.

    But thanks so much for giving it consideration!
  • Posted By: stefoidThis game is aimed at action/adventure gaming with strong characterization. I want the conflict resolution to play out like dramatic/cinematic action sequences.
    I think that a lot of people would describe a lot of other games this exact same way. What is cool/unique/interesting/good about your game?
    Posted By: stefoidI dont even know if I have explained how the game works yet. In fact Im pretty sure I must have lots of procedural holes in the basic "this is how you play" text which I will need to find and address before I adorn it.
    If you don't think you've explained how to play, why are you asking people to try to play it? How are you planning to find and address these holes?
  • edited February 2011
    Posted By: Dan Maruschak
    I think that a lot of people would describe a lot of other games this exact same way. What is cool/unique/interesting/good about your game?
    Hi Dan, well, I thought my signature plays were pretty cool and unique until I read Apocalypse World a few weeks ago. Now I think they are just cool.

    Im am also trying to outline a procedure for resolving conflicts in a cinematic/dramtic style that I havent seen anywhere else, but my knowledge of other games is very patchy, so that might not end up being unique either, but if it works, it works.

    I am experimenting with dividing the game into two phases - a story phase and a challenge phase, each of which works differently. The idea behind that is that story phase is contributive narration that sets the context for challenge phases which are played more traditionally with explicit goal setting.

    The reward cycle is based around players explicitly setting a mixture of personal motivation based (character based) goals and situation based goals, and then achieving them. So 'playing your character' is explicitly rewarded by setting, elaborating on, and achieving those type of goals, and similarly for situation-based goals. These explicit goals feed into the dramatic/cinematic resolution style during challenge phase in the form of procedural advice to the GM on how to structure scenes and conflict. i.e. around those goals.

    Lastly, inspired by IAWA, each challenge phase needs to be associated with a random phrase or mood. the players collectively decide how to interpret the random hint during story phase and use it to shape the events in a general way that happen during that phase so that they arrive at that challenge.

    Please read my doco and comment! its only 20 pages

    If you don't think you've explained how to play, why are you asking people to try to play it? How are you planning to find and address these holes?

    What I mean is Ive done my best to explain to people how to play, but I imagine that there are things that I have unknowingly not described, either because I haven't considered them, or I have made assumptions that seem obvious to me but really are not for someone not living in my head. Rest assured I have done my best, but I imagine playtesting will result in rewrites so Ill leave adornment of the text until it is more stable.
  • edited February 2011
    argh, bloody quote system
  • Posted By: stefoidPlease read my doco and comment! its only 20 pages
    I started reading but I still can't really figure out what the keys points of the design are. Is there a reason I should want to play your game rather than something like FATE or Burning Wheel? (I'm "subtly" hinting to you that you need to work on your pitch and your writing, here. It shouldn't be so much work for me to figure out why someone would want to play your game.)
  • Hi Dan, you mean if I can pitch the game to you, youll playtest it, or just in general?
  • So I've read it over, and I think you're trying to please everyone. You'll get a lot more mileage by picking a style of story and gunning for that. It's obvious to me that you're going for a movie sort of feeling, so which specific movies were you thinking of when you decided to write a game?

    Fiasco does something kind of like what you want to do: you pick a Playset and generate relationships and complications using it. Playsets are basically settings, and each playset has lists of items in that setting.

    I dislike it when a game says, "Just do something! You'll figure it out." Your introduction should include a list of a few example settings, and a list of possible backgrounds associated with each setting - say 15 or so. That way, you've given players and the GM a place to work from, and they also have ready-to-go action.

    And the more I read it, the more I think you really need to cut down some wording and re-present the information. It sounds like you put a bunch of ideas down on paper. Try organizing the ideas logically into a cohesive form, and I think you'll start getting more ideas as to how to put the game together.

    From what I can piece together, you seem to be shooting for something that is quite action-packed and also high on drama.

    What kind of action? What kind of drama? Are we talking about Under Siege and The Rock, or are we talking about 300? Or Indiana Jones? Or Sucker Punch? Those are all radically different movies, and they're radically different types of stories.
  • Posted By: stefoidHi Dan, you mean if I can pitch the game to you, youll playtest it, or just in general?
    In general. You need to be able to explain to someone, somewhere why they would want to play your game or it's unlikely you'll ever get the attention you want. (Having a good understanding of the experience you are trying to deliver, and being able to articulate it, will also help you tighten up the writing and possibly the game design).
  • edited February 2011
    Posted By: TheWhaleSharkSo I've read it over, and I think you're trying to please everyone. You'll get a lot more mileage by picking a style of story and gunning for that. It's obvious to me that you're going for a movie sort of feeling, so which specific movies were you thinking of when you decided to write a game?

    Fiasco does something kind of like what you want to do: you pick a Playset and generate relationships and complications using it. Playsets are basically settings, and each playset has lists of items in that setting.

    I dislike it when a game says, "Just do something! You'll figure it out." Your introduction should include a list of a few example settings, and a list of possible backgrounds associated with each setting - say 15 or so. That way, you've given players and the GM a place to work from, and they also have ready-to-go action.

    And the more I read it, the more I think you really need to cut down some wording and re-present the information. It sounds like you put a bunch of ideas down on paper. Try organizing the ideas logically into a cohesive form, and I think you'll start getting more ideas as to how to put the game together.

    From what I can piece together, you seem to be shooting for something that is quite action-packed and also high on drama.

    What kind of action? What kind of drama? Are we talking aboutUnder SiegeandThe Rock,or are we talking about300? OrIndiana Jones? OrSucker Punch? Those are all radically different movies, and they're radically different types of stories.
    Hi, no doubt the text needs work. In fact, if I get to the stage where I want to make it presentable to a wide audience, I would start with a blank paper and rewrite it from scratch with that aspect in mind.

    Yes, action-packed and high drama, good characterisation. So not say, Rambo. But maybe Toby Maguire Spiderman. However, Im not specifically aiming at 'movies' per se, but a cinematic/dramatic conflict resolution style. Im taking my cue from action movies in that respect, but my aim isnt to replicate a particular type of movie exactly.

    But why do I have to be more specific than that? Why cant my aim just be to be able to produce "action-packed and high drama, good characterisation" ?

    I completely understand that a lot of 'indie games' have a narrow premise that they aim precisely at. And that is easier to design, easier to pitch, and easier to pick up at playing time, as long as the player is interested in that specific premise. But thats not what I want. I specifically want to present a particular style of play "action-packed and high drama, good characterisation" but nothing more narrow than that.

    So thats what my game needs to be judged by -- do the mechanics and rules back that up?

    Heres what I think is important takeaways for players.
    They need to agree on a premise that explicitly states, for their game, What the main thing that the characters will try to achieve and what is the main method/obstacle to that?

    The main thrust of the characterisation/drama is that players need to take between 4 and 6 motivations

    They need to explicitly set at least one long term goal.

    setting + premise + motivations + LTGs >>>> initial situation

    Motivations feed into character goals
    character goals feed into dramatic conflict

    Also, the random story phase phrases and contributive narration (combined/intertwined with the character-based stuff) is supposed to help drive the plot -- leads to explicitly setting situation-based goals which leads to situation-based conflicts. If you can get both types mixed into one situation, then even better!

    Its the explicit goal setting which is key. Motviations/situation >>> explicit goal setting >>> dramtic conflict
    I dislike it when a game says, "Just do something! You'll figure it out." Your introduction should include a list of a few example settings, and a list of possible backgrounds associated with each setting - say 15 or so. That way, you've given players and the GM a place to work from, and they also have ready-to-go action.
    yes, agree . I want to give more explicit instructions and I want to really emphasise the points that turn out to be crucial to the style of play Im trying to make, but I dont know how to yet. Im playtesting with my group for the second time tomorrow. The first playetst was a complete disaster as a game! It was a great playtest however. I learned so much that I couldnt have possibly anticipated because Im a relative newbie to RPG design - to critically analysing what goes on at the table rather than being uncritically subject to it.

    I cant wait to find out what happens at the next playtest, and also if I could get a 3rd party playtest without me there...
  • Posted By: Dan MaruschakPosted By: stefoidHi Dan, you mean if I can pitch the game to you, youll playtest it, or just in general?
    In general. You need to be able to explain to someone, somewhere why they would want to play your game or it's unlikely you'll ever get the attention you want. (Having a good understanding of the experience you are trying to deliver, and being able to articulate it, will also help you tighten up the writing and possibly the game design).

    Absolutely Dan. But I am at the stage where playtest feedback is going to be the most effective way of moving forward. Which parts do I need to shout in the rules? I cant just shout everything. At the moment the rules dont really shout anything. They just mention everything I (currently) think might end up having some importance.
  • I have to completely disagree with both Dan and TheWhaleShark... as soon as I read the first few lines of your game I knew that I wasn't going to be getting an experience like FATE or Burning Wheel and that it wouldn't be for everyone (to use that phrase that was so recently dissected here at Story Games). I think the rules shout a lot...
  • Posted By: stefoidBut I am at the stage where playtest feedback is going to be the most effective way of moving forward.
    It certainly doesn't look like that from my POV. Maybe you've got a good design in there and are communicating it poorly. Maybe the design needs work. Seeking external playtesters won't really help you with either of those problems. Maybe testing with your own group makes sense at this point, it's hard to tell, but if the game has never produced functional play for anybody then I wouldn't recommend seeking third party playtesters. I'd suggest that clarifying your design vision would be a more effective path for you.
  • I'd suggest that you don't let the response of "I'm not interested" tell you anything other than that some people won't be interested in your game.
  • Posted By: masqueradeballI have to completely disagree with both Dan and TheWhaleShark... as soon as I read the first few lines of your game I knew that I wasn't going to be getting an experience like FATE or Burning Wheel and that it wouldn't be for everyone (to use that phrase that was so recently dissected here at Story Games). I think the rules shout a lot...
    I know what they are saying - there is no attempt to sell the game, its just a dry factual list. It might speak to those who are prepared to accept it on those terms, but it doesnt grab the attention of those who might give it a cursory scan and go 'pages of text... no evocative images...nothing emphasised more than anything else... meh!'

    So does the above mean that you would play it or does it mean that it clearly does the job of conveying that you wouldnt want to play it??!! :)
  • edited February 2011
    Posted By: Dan MaruschakPosted By: stefoidBut I am at the stage where playtest feedback is going to be the most effective way of moving forward.
    It certainly doesn't look like that from my POV. Maybe you've got a good design in there and are communicating it poorly. Maybe the design needs work. Seeking external playtesters won't really help you with either of those problems. Maybe testing with your own group makes sense at this point, it's hard to tell, but if the game has never produced functional play for anybody then I wouldn't recommend seeking third party playtesters. I'd suggest that clarifying your design vision would be a more effective path for you.

    I hope that the 40% extra text I have written to address what was missing in the initial playtest has done the trick. Only more playtesting will confirm that.
  • edited February 2011
    Posted By: Dan MaruschakMaybe you've got a good design in there and are communicating it poorly.
    This is part of the issue. I see a good design in there, but you have to piece it together. I'll break down what I think is strong in the design:

    -the explicitly defined motivations [though saying "4 - 6" is wishy-washy; pick a number and stick with it, and also stick with one of each "type," to increase character focus]
    -specific rewards for pursuing and achieving goals [both long and short-term]
    -the "plays" that must be tied to the "backgrounds" [I would also suggest just saying that you get to pick a play for each background, and make plays add a bonus die. For your "other" types of play, I'd let each character pick a "signature" ability, that targets Body/Soul/what have you. Basically, "plays" add bonuses to Background actions, and "signatures" do stuff outside of dice rolls. That's my opinion.]

    Combining those three things can make for a very focused character that demands certain scenes. Is your special play "diving through plate-glass windows?" Well then, I guess there better be some plate glass windows to dive through, right? Preferably while being shot at by bad guys. So, this part is quite good.

    -the concept of "backgrounds" instead of specific skills (however, I'd try to shore up the backgrounds a bit and drive them to be more specific - this is where examples are useful)

    This keeps the action from getting too mired in dice. This is good. These three elements together suggest a faster-paced, tight, action-driven sort of play. Good. A character is comprised of a handful of defining features, which act together in a neat little package to deliver an action kick to your face.

    However, you lose me in the Story Phase. "Suggest things that sound cool." What? That's crap. Put something crunchy in there. Some kind of mechanic that directs the Story Phase. Every other part seems quite directed, so don't flounder here. And no, no matter how well your players design their motivations, it won't be enough to "carry" them through the Story Phase. You need some kind of machinery to keep the momentum going.
    Posted By: stefoidBut why do I have to be more specific than that?
    Why? Here's why:
    Posted By: stefoidSo not say, Rambo. But maybe Toby Maguire Spiderman.
    Because this is a crap answer. First Blood is a pretty good movie; Toby Maguire's Spiderman is cinematic and action-packed, but it hardly had good characterization. It's freakin' Spiderman.

    While you're not necessarily aiming to re-create specific film genres, using films as an anchor point is incredibly useful. How action-packed do you want the game to be? Danger Patrol is an action-packed RPG that escalates to ridiculous points. Do you want your game to have a grittier sort of action? How about more explosive action? Do you want characters that slowly walk away from explosions, or characters that dodge bullets in slow motion, or characters that fight for their lives and barely make it out at the end?

    The reason to define it a little more - and no, you don't have to say "make this specific kind of movie" - is that your criteria are pretty broad, and a broad-based game often lacks a lot of flavor. Give your game more focus and you can tailor the mechanics exactly to what you want.
  • edited February 2011
    Posted By: TheWhaleShark
    However, you lose me in the Story Phase. "Suggest things that sound cool." What? That's crap. Put something crunchy in there. Some kind of mechanic thatdirectsthe Story Phase. Every other part seems quite directed, so don't flounder here. And no, no matter how well your players design their motivations, it won't be enough to "carry" them through the Story Phase. You need some kind of machinery to keep the momentum going.
    Posted By: stefoidBut why do I have to be more specific than that?
    Why? Here's why:
    Posted By: stefoidSo not say, Rambo. But maybe Toby Maguire Spiderman.
    Because this is a crap answer.First Bloodis a pretty good movie; Toby Maguire'sSpidermanis cinematic and action-packed, but it hardly had good characterization. It's freakin' Spiderman.

    hahah, well, we can agree to disagree there, Ill admit I havent seen Rambo in a while, but it was situation driven. OK, rambo was this fucked up viet vet, but he was about as 2 dimensional as you could get. NPCs be mean to rambo, rambo retaliates - escalate, rinse and repeat. Peter Parker, on the other hand, had a fair bit of stuff going on.


    as for the story phase...., I know its vague as. But I dont know how to be more explicit yet.
    While you're not necessarily aiming to re-create specific film genres, using films as an anchor point is incredibly useful. How action-packed do you want the game to be?Danger Patrolis an action-packed RPG that escalates to ridiculous points. Do you want your game to have a grittier sort of action? How about more explosive action? Do you want characters that slowly walk away from explosions, or characters that dodge bullets in slow motion, or characters that fight for their lives and barely make it out at the end?

    The reason to define it a little more - and no, you don't have to say "make this specific kind of movie" - is that your criteria are pretty broad, and a broad-based game often lacks a lot of flavor. Give your game more focus and you can tailor the mechanics exactly to what you want.
    I agree with the above, but I dont choose to aim at it anyway. I want the game premise to be left to the players, and Ive become aware I need to shout that very early on.

    At the moment, my playtest groups's premise is "the characters strive to achieve glory for themselves and their community despite adversity and the whims of the gods"

    Now that might be the type of premise you could build a whole game on, but for my game, its just the first crucial initial step, and Im leaving it to the players.

    Do I need to include about a dozen examples of good premises (as in the way they are structured) and bad ones? yes I do.
  • Wow, Danger Patrol is gorgeous and a fine, focussed idea.

    But look, dont you think theres room for the non-specific experience?

    For me, a certain amount of creative input is a significant part of the fun of roleplaying. Its not that the game a particular group of players come up with itself will be non-specific, once the players have agreed on setting and premise -- they have narrowed it down to something fairly concrete.

    I mean, what do you if you want to roleplay in your favourite book/film setting and there is no explicit game out there that handles that for you? Or what if there is such a game, but its narrow premise for that setting is not the premise that your group wants to play?
  • Posted By: stefoidNow that might be the type of premise you could build a whole game on, but for my game, its just the first crucial initial step, and Im leaving it to the players.
    So "teach a man to fish?" The problem is that they need to eat fish first, to stop starving.

    Basically, you need to design a minimum of 3 different premises, and outline the backgrounds with those premises. Make them specific enough to add flavor but open enough to allow flexibility and customization. Then, you give the reader guidelines as to how to build premises.
    Posted By: stefoidBut I dont know how to be more explicit yet.
    You need to create an economy of scene, basically. Something like, "in each Story phase, you get to pursue one (and only one) of your Motivations." Something simple like that could be a good launching point.
  • Posted By: stefoidFor me, a certain amount of creative input is a significant part of the fun of roleplaying.
    I think you're confusing input on the premise with input on the story. Danger Patrol has an incredible amount of flexibility because of the narrative control that players have.

    Basically, you want to make a streamlined GURPS. "Generic" games don't really work at all; I mean, look at all the GURPS sourcebooks.

    What games are you familiar with? Almost all story games have a very specific premise, but they are far from limited.
  • Posted By: TheWhaleSharkPosted By: stefoid

    Posted By: stefoidBut I dont know how to be more explicit yet.
    You need to create an economy of scene, basically. Something like, "in each Story phase, you get to pursue one (and only one) of your Motivations." Something simple like that could be a good launching point.

    Food for thought, thanks!
  • edited February 2011
    Posted By: TheWhaleSharkPosted By: stefoidFor me, a certain amount of creative input is a significant part of the fun of roleplaying.
    I think you're confusing input on thepremisewith input on thestory. Danger Patrol has an incredible amount of flexibility because of the narrative control that players have.

    Basically, you want to make a streamlined GURPS. "Generic" games don't really work at all; I mean, look at all the GURPS sourcebooks.

    What games are you familiar with? Almost all story games have a very specific premise, but they are far from limited.

    My RPG history is weird. Played years of runequest early on as my first introduction,and some cyberpunk, (and paranoia which was way cool) then got heartilly sick of it and stopped roleplaying for many years, then got back into it via Herowars GMed by a guy who didnt get it at all and played by houserules such that it was runequest with a new glorantha source book, some dying earth with the same guy using same method. Designed my own fantasy heartbreaker which didnt do what I wanted it to do, stopped roleplaying for another few years and then last year or so I bought DITV but have never played it yet, played a couple of sessions of IAWA, and a couple of sessions of PTA, and here I am trying to design my own game again.

    Is Danger Patrol flexible? If you want to play characters who constantly seek danger for its own sake then its great.

    Yep, creative input on the premise and characterisation is what I mean. Creative input on the story, outside of the reactions of a players own character is not so important, but I relaize that some players value that more than others, so my 'contributive' narration is optional. However within their own character's domain, the players are strongly encouraged to have input (currently in a vague hand wavy fashion) through the reward of setting and elaborating of explicit goals.
  • Posted By: stefoidwho constantly seek danger for its own sake
    No, they put themselves in dangerous situations because they need to save Rocket City!

    The players create danger for the hell of it, but with the notion that the danger they're creating is because their characters are trying to save people. That's how the theme informs the game.
  • Posted By: TheWhaleSharkPosted By: stefoidwho constantly seek danger for its own sake
    No, they put themselves in dangerous situations because they need to save Rocket City!

    Theplayerscreate danger for the hell of it, but with the notion that the danger they're creating is because their characters are trying to save people. That's how the theme informs the game.


    Well, OK, so the players get to vary the danger.
  • Posted By: stefoidWell, OK, so the players get to vary the danger.
    I heavily suggest playing the game. Your story game experience sounds limited.

    I'm probably going to wind up designing 3 or 4 "premises" along with "backgrounds" and pitch them to a group of players. See who bites and who wants to change what, and go from there.

    But you should take note that there are many successful and highly-regarded designers around today who have made games with a strong "premise" and make implementing that premise the flexible part. It's something to think about.
  • I probably would have played a lot more story games in the last couple of years had not two small time+sleep thieves arrived!

    Why wouldnt you leave the choice of character backgrounds to the players? Do you mean like, present them with a bunch of archetypes to go with your premise and let them add the detail? Its not a huge issue. In fact there are players who whould thank you for that, and players like myself who would say "why do you get to choose my backgrounds?"
  • edited February 2011
    Posted By: stefoidDo you mean like, present them with a bunch of archetypes to go with your premise and let them add the detail?
    Yes, this one. It's also not a set-in-stone thing. I present them with the premise and backgrounds that I feel represent the premise. If they like it, fine. If they want something else, we make it work.

    It's always better to give something as opposed to saying "come up with it." Rule 0 exists irrespective of the game, so if we need to change something we will. Leaving an empty void and saying "fill this in" is just asking for some control freak to take over the game with his ideas. You need to control for the situation where one player molds the entire premise around his character.

    EDIT: And I don't mean that I would tell players what their character's backgrounds have to be. I would do something like compile a list of 15 backgrounds and say, "OK, these are things that I think fit in this setting. Pick what you want and distribute your points accordingly." I don't make people's characters for them.
  • edited February 2011
    cool, if it helps, this is what my players are coming up with. (after I have done some editing and reclassifying of their concepts to fit the game mechanics)

    Concept: A mighty warrior has fallen at Troy, leaving their young sheild and spear bearer lost and alone. In shock, the young man wanders in a daze until one day he arrives starved, raving and begger-like at the (as yet unnamed) small village. He is believed touched by the gods due to his miraculous survival and the appearance of small marks on his ankles, resembling the wings of Hermes.

    Backgrounds: Soldier 4, Vagrant 2, Noble 2

    Body 5, Soul 3 ------- big burly lad, but a bit of a headcase ??

    Motivations:
    Beliefs: (take a stand)
    Fear is conquered through insane bravery
    Tenets of Apollo

    Desire: (drive)
    knowledge: understand the will of the gods (Why did the gods take his master whom he loved like no other?)

    Issues: (emotional)
    self-worth: he secretly believes he isn't made of the right stuff.
    guilt: He cannot serve another lest he fail again

    Influence: (bind and/or compel)
    Obligation/Duty: The gods are all powerful and cannot be denied.
  • I would play this game in a heart beat if I had people to play it with. I think the text is written well enough for me to start playing right now. I don't think its a game designers job or primary motivation to sell his game. It is what it is. I think TheWhaleShark's comments are fine for consideration, but I don't think he can possible know whether a design feature is "strong" or "weak" without actually playing your game. Some times "vague hand wavy" ways of doing things are the best ways of doing things... playing an RPG can be like poetry or art, so can designing ones. Maybe its what you don't tell us how to do that really counts.
  • I got excited and added a character sheet to the PDF!
  • I'll see about sending you some notes from actual testing by the end of next month. Send me a message if you haven't heard from me. Some friends and I are plotting to start Annalise sometime in March and I'll see if we can do back to back sessions of that and your game on one or two nights. I know you only asked for play testing feedback but I'd be happy to markup your document with comments if you think that'd be helpful.
  • Posted By: masqueradeballbut I don't think he can possible know whether a design feature is "strong" or "weak" without actually playing your game
    Well, allow me to clarify that statement: those elements are the ones which strongly synergize to form a cohesive theme. As in, I see a strong continuity between those three elements that should make for a robust gaming experience.

    Of course all of my comments are simply for consideration until the game is played. However, up-front analysis is always useful. I analyze everything I do at every single step, before I do it and after I do it.
    Posted By: stefoidConcept: A mighty warrior has fallen at Troy, leaving their young sheild and spear bearer lost and alone. In shock, the young man wanders in a daze until one day he arrives starved, raving and begger-like at the (as yet unnamed) small village. He is believed touched by the gods due to his miraculous survival and the appearance of small marks on his ankles, resembling the wings of Hermes.

    Backgrounds: Soldier 4, Vagrant 2, Noble 2

    Body5,Will3 big burly lad, but a bit of a headcase ??

    Motivations:
    Beliefs: (take a stand)
    Fear is conquered through insane bravery
    Tenets of Apollo

    Desire: (drive)
    knowledge: understand the will of the gods (Why did the gods take his master whom he loved like no other?)

    Issues: (emotional)
    self-worth: he secretly believes he isn't made of the right stuff.
    guilt: He cannot serve another lest he fail again

    Influence: (bind and/or compel)
    Obligation/Duty: The gods are all powerful and cannot be denied.
    Yes, that helps me see your vision tremendously. Examples are always good!

    I spent a good chunk of my mindspace today trying to figure out how to put various Vin Diesel characters into the mold of your game. Does this mean I'm on the right track?
  • Posted By: Jon FuhrmanI'll see about sending you some notes from actual testing by the end of next month. Send me a message if you haven't heard from me. Some friends and I are plotting to start Annalise sometime in March and I'll see if we can do back to back sessions of that and your game on one or two nights. I know you only asked for play testing feedback but I'd be happy to markup your document with comments if you think that'd be helpful.
    mark away.
  • Yes, that helps me see your vision tremendously. Examples are always good!

    I spent a good chunk of my mindspace today trying to figure out how to put various Vin Diesel characters into the mold of your game. Does this mean I'm on the right track?


    I hope so!
  • Hi Todd, that would be great, and if you ever need any bikini models playtested, let me know so I can return the favor.

    Im doing my second playtest tonight, so Ill get back to you after that to confirm specific issues I have.

    But Id be interested in how story mode works for your group -- probably that will vary from group to group, and it is only vaguely defined because Im not really sure myself.

    And if the GM advice about 'dramatic/cinematic' challenge phase works for you.

    thanks a lot!
    Posted By: Todd LI glanced thru the google doc, and I like what I see.

    I like your writing. The actual sentences are emminently readable.
    The outline structure and bullet points are straightforward.
    The order of information is intuitive.

    At least that's my first impression.

    Also,

    I suspect that the game lacks a showy gimmick for the internet fanboys to rave about.

    Frankly, I consider that a good thing. If I buy a hammer, I don't need it to have bluetooth and bling.

    For example, I highly recommend this book: http://www.amazon.com/Directing-Film-David-Mamet/dp/0140127224
    It presents a very stripped-down-the-bare-essentials view of how to build a dramatic story.
    More stripped down than the prevailing Forge/StoryGames view, I think.


    Can I promise you an actual playtest, and not let you down?

    I don't know.

    I'm headed to Dreamation for the next 4 days, and it's entirely possible I can get a pick-up game going.

    After that is possible, too. Then again-- sometimes I'm a huge fuckup.
    I've been failing to organize a photo shoot with 6 bikini models for almost a whole year,
    despite the models being lined-up and ready to go; and someone-else paying for it!
    And despite me being a dirty old man!


    SO... assuming I do get a session going... Is there anything in particular you'd like test-driven?
  • edited February 2011
    Had my 2nd playtest, and Im very happy to report a functional game with interested, happy players. A great change from the first disappointing, shamble of a game. I went into this playtest a lot more at ease and confident in my methods which would have helped a lot in itself. The emphasis on preparing the setup beforehand - premise and character motives was a big help in this regard, as well as arming myself with a few basic tactics of for challenge phase resolution. Handling roadblocks and introducing dilemmas.

    In this session, I wasnt focused so much on running the story phase in a radically different way from the challenge phase -- like I didnt sit there and demand of my players "now you make something up!" The players were free to contribute to the fiction outside the bounds of their own character actions if they wished, but nobody did, and I didnt fuss about that. Its a perfectly functional way to play the game like that and I also think 3 out of the 4 characters had fairly tangential motivations which didnt help them in that regard. That was a point I underlined.

    What I learned:
    1) The premise is a key. The players need to take it seriously and use it to inform both their character concepts and also their motivations.
    2) motivations another real key to my game. IF the players dont treat the motivation preparation seriously - if they come up with weak or tangential motivations, then they are making it hard for themselves. 2 of my 4 players came to the table without motivations pre-prepared, which I asked them to do. That, and the fact that I hadnt stressed the nature of motivations as well as I should, nor their utmost importance, saw them come up with weak, largely irrelevant motivations to what was going down. So the other big thing is use the premise to inform about the nature of the motivations - make them relevant to the premise. Basically the players should be looking at the possible motivations and asking themselves - how is this going to come into play given the premise?
    3) the choice of initial long term goal should also have good relevance for the premise, but this is going to flow from the motivations fairly naturally.

    I found it very useful to have a sheet in front of me with abbreviated character details of all the 4 players on the one page. mentioning their name, their concept and their motivations in shorthand (two words only). I constantly referred to this.

    The main thing I want to work on is the story phase dragged on a bit in both cases. The challenge phrases I rolled for each one were not immediately useful to the situation, but after mulling over for a while, as the players were doing their thing ,eventually I thought of neat tie ups. very neat tie-ups actually. Its very hard to wing it on the fly - its not a style of GMing I have done much of - and the challenge phrases really helped a lot. Its like the difference between starting with a blank page when faced with the question "what happens now?" -- instead you start with a page that has a short phrase, in my case the first was 'standoff!' and the 2nd was 'make a friend', and the question is 'how do we get from here to there'. It just gives the seed that you can riff of off and it worked a treat - eventually.

    Next time I would bring down the challenge phrase related bang more quickly, rather than letting the story phrase drag on for as long as I did. After the first one went well, I had more confidence to bring the second one down quickly when the story phase started to run out of puff as the players started to show signs of lacking directed activity. So I suppose the thing to remember is the story phase doesnt need to be dramatic in itself, although if it is, then great, but if it isnt, fast forward to the next challenge as soon as the story phase starts to tire. Roll that story phase dice as soon as the end of the last challenge phase and start riffing in your head, while the players play out their reactions / consequences. Sometimes the next challenge phase will be a logical consequence of the last challenge phase -- the phrase will have immediate synergy. Other times it wont, and thats when the GM needs to introduce a new challenge phrase related bang. After all the logical consequences have already been hashed out in the story phase of course. You dont want to short circuit that, just wait for it to run down of its own accord.

    I found it incredibly helpful to have a list of 50 names on hand. Was playing ancient greece, and I could just seemlessly grab a plausible name whenever I needed it -- helped a lot.

    Lastly, and this is something I totally stole from reading Apocalypse World -- ask questions! Why didnt I ever think of that before? I wrote it down in my doco because it seemed clever, but I really put it into practice tonight. whenever the players seemed to have that 'not really sure what to do right now' look about them, especially just after a challenge phase finished, I just turned to someone and asked, "so what does so&so think of what just happened?' and guess what, they consider it and answer! And then they riff off their own answer and narrate their character acting on that answer. Just a little kick up the bum for the players, and it works so well. use judiciously... thanks Vincent Baker!
  • Doco upgraded to reflect the above, and I also added a section specifically on social conflict.
  • Some more updates and explanations added.

    One thing I did do was make a rule that gives a character who is only performing a defensive play for a particular contest a +1 bonus. I think this small addition, in combination with the cumulative -2 penalty for repeat use of plays, will make for a lot of strategy in action conflicts.
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