[Shock:] Games with 5 players

edited June 2013 in Play Advice
So, it looks like I've managed to get my gaming troupe excited about giving Shock: a try.

One issue: there are 5 of us and the rules suggest you need to allow 45mins to 1hr for each player. Given my experience, we tend to play slow, so that means finding 5 hours, not really practical on a school night.

So, what should we do? As far as I can see we have several options:
a) Have only 2-3 protagonists in a session, possibly playing 2 sessions to ensure everyone gets a turn.
b) Play one session with 5 protagonists but accepting we may end up playing our stories over 2 sessions (which potentially, given people's lives, might have a 2-3 week gap).
c) Do it on a Saturday or Sunday to ensure we can give it te full attention it deserves.

My inclination is (a) or (b). (b) would be interesting because it would ensure we have a bit of time to think about things, but would obviously be less spontaneous. (a) would probably be the most straightforward.

Any advice based on past experience would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

(See my other related thread)


  • edited June 2013
    My advice is (a). I've played like (a) and it was good - I think I'd even recommed (a) to a 4-player group, and even if time weren't a concern.

    If you have 2 players play only protags, 2 play only antags, and the 5th play both, I predict that everyone will have a satisfying time and you won't need that 2nd session.

  • Thanks Vincent. Would you recommend playing the same Shock with different Issues, or a different Shock with the same issues?
  • edited June 2013
    I've played _a lot_ of three player Shock. But once we wanted to accommodate four people so we had two be protagonists and two be antagonists. It seemed like a good idea but in hindsight it changed the nature of the game more than I expected.

    Fixed roles and separated stories lost something. It wasn't _bad_ but it wasn't the same as playing Shock.

    (Normal four-player Shock can work fine, we just find three is tighter. But playing only one role in one story changes things a lot)
  • Always only one Shock, isn't it? That's the way I've always played it, one Shock and x-many Issues. My guy is at the intersection of replicants and immigration, yours is at the intersection of replicants and divorce, Alice's is at the intersection of replicants and ocean deoxygenation...

  • I've played it that you create as tight a grid as possible, with either equal shocks/issues or one more issue.

    So in a 2 player game, it's 2 Issues, 1 Shock.
    In a 3 or 4 player player game, it's 2 Issues, 2 Shocks.
    In a 5 player game, it's 3 Issues, 2 Shocks.

    Having only a single shock gives you a solid exploration of a single explosive technology/discovery/element. Having two shocks gives you a messy society brimming over with change and possibility.
  • I'm in the one shock camp. The game is really not about the shock at all (ironically). It's about the issues.

    Plus it is hella fun to come up with one shock that addresses a weird mix of issues.
  • Yeah, my way also involves going around in a circle and folks contributing either an issue or a shock, with little thought on how they relate, and then determining as the next step how they relate.

    It's how the intersection of Resurrection and Infidelity comes up. It felt like an incongruous combination for a second, then we realized that "What if some people believed that death didn't do us part?" was a hella compelling question.
  • edited June 2013
    We have each person secretly come up with an issue than reveal them all at once, then brainstorm a shock that hits them all. It has led to some awesome settings.

    The later versions of Shock put picking the shock first, then the issues, but I consider that HERESY.
  • edited June 2013
    I love the Shock first rule, because it lets me be like, "replicants, huh? Well then how about ocean deoxygenation! Ha ha ha! Suckers!"

    And then you know that two minutes later I'm like, "the praxes should be car chases vs explosions and shooting vs kickmurder! SUCKERS!"
  • edited June 2013
    And then two minutes later someone is like, "Obviously, since replicants don't suffer from the same lung frailties as humans, they have retreated under water in the wake of the Replicant Wars. But they still breathe oxygen, which means that the oceans of the world are rapidly depleting in oxygen content as they swarm with breath-thirsty robots. The bulk of human vehicles and projectile weaponry becomes useless in hunting the replicants in their now-native habitat. Debate rages on the next theatre of war: do we start bombing the ocean? do we send down divers to engage in hand-to-hand combat? do we wait for them to come to us, and then try to hunt them on land via rapid car chase?"

    And you're like.... "Curse you, roleplayer ingenuity!"
  • I'm like YES. NOW WE PLAY.

    Instead what happens is that Joshua and Rob or whoever are like, "car chases? explosions? shooting? KICKMURDER? No way Vincent, be serious. The praxes are hierarchical social dynamics vs mutualism, and conservative technology vs failing forward." And I'm like, "for real, what? If I say 'I totally kickmurder his ass,' is that hierarchical social dynamics? Is it conservative technology? Is it failing forward? These praxes hamper me!"

    Sad but true.
  • Kickmurder is flailing forward.
  • You need to conflict that! Let them have their hierarchical social dynamism praxis so long as the other praxis is KICKMURDER vs FISTMURDER.

    Everyone's happy.
  • The cool thing about praxis is whatever you put at the opposite ends of the binary BECOME contrasting approaches for your setting.

    So you can totally have "Intersectional Anarcho-Syndicalism vs. Kickmurder" and those are competing forces in your world now.
  • James, for what it's worth I'd be perfectly happy only playing an antagonist (or indeed only a protagonist) if that helps :-)
  • My current thinking is adapt Joe's idea of 2 Shocks/3 Issues with 5 players and hold two sessions with 1 Shock/3 Issues each. That way, everyone gets to play a protagonist and antagonist at least once, and one lucky individual gets to play to 2 *tagonists in each session. The sessions themselves should last around 3 hours.

    First Session
    Player A Protagonist
    Player B Antagonist to A / Owns first Shock
    Player C Protagonist
    Player D Protagonist / Antagonist to C
    Player E Antagonist to D

    Second Session
    Player A Antagonist to E
    Player B Protagonist
    Player C Antagonist to B / Owns second Shock
    Player D Protagonist
    Player E Protagonist / Antagonist to D

    Of course, this depends on people not hating it after week one, but I'm actually quite excited about it as a model as it means we get to try exploring a game world over more than one session and each story will have a nicely sized audience (I really like that mechanic).
  • +1 from me! Sounds like a good time.
  • The good thing with adding a second Shock being, of course, that you're building on the previously established world and making it more complex. Some of the Issues may call for revisiting now.

    My experience with your (b) option, by the way, is that it sometimes works, but 3 weeks apart is too far.
  • Yeah, I guess the second session is an opportunity to tweak or change any issue which felt exhausted by the end of the first session.

    Thanks everyone. Looking forward to it!
  • Cool weird setup. Sounds good.

    Also at some point I want to share with you my Shock: hack (which is currently called Shack.) I say "my," but really it's a hack that was playstormed by a crew of rad people at Fabricated Realities II. It gets rid of *tagonists and story games and streamlines the dice immensely. It's much more ensemble world-exploration.
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