Actual Play - [Hell For Leather] Bullet and the Hell Bikers

Posted by: Gregor Hutton On: Dec 18th 2009 edited

Hey, so we played some of Joe Prince's Hell For Leather on Monday night (it's the companion game to Sebastian's Hell For Leather from the 2 Games 1 Name competition) and it was hell of a lot of fun.

I was waiting for Joe to kick something off but can no longer wait -- so here are my notes about this game.

- I was lucky/unlucky in that I got The Fool, so while Joe facilitated the game I had a lot of GM-like I guess responsibility for framing scenes. That's fun and a nice make weight for me always keeping my same character while others can flip/flop in a pool of PCs. Oh, I also am going to Hell at the end. But will I take anyone with me.
- I really liked the breezy free playing and then a definite resolution mechanic in the Taror cards. It reminded me of Spione's manuevers except that the progression of free-play narration isn't mandatory as it is in Spione -- you maneuver then pass to your left in Spione, in HFL you just "play" out scenes with characters and narration as the group sees fit.
- The resolution method is razor sharp and it reminded me of how cool I thought the Zener cards were in Conspiracy X. If you are tainted by the devil in real life (as I am) then you are maore adept at sniffing out that Death card.
- the players mostly helped each other by putting an extra card in the pot along with Death, mostly I saw through it and picked Death, which was thrilling. In other games there will be less death I suspect as I was shooting way over the odds on finding that card.
- I liked getting Resources in return for missing Death. That was cool.
- I really liked that when I picked a character out rather than Death or a Resource it was a real knockback for me in my Revenge. I also learned to like what that did to the Narrative as a character changed because of it. My failure = Their Narration of their change.
- Signinifcantly the character Toddler changed in one of these moments in such a way that I let her live by never targeting her for Death again. Sweet!
-My only notes were that maybe Toddler could have helped me against the other two in the last scene if she'd wanted to. Maybe that should be an option? But Joe can weigh up the odds and make sure we don't get auto-killing going on -- I love that you have to find the Death card.
- Oh and some examples of the different scenes. The phrase is good for each scene but might leave some people wondering how on earth they even begin. Lists? Or just some bulleted examples? Either works for me.

Playtesting, yes, It was. But the game is done. I'm looking forward to it. It was really AP.

Joe, do you want to put yoru AP thoughts here? Or kick off somewhere else?

Posted by: Joe Prince On: Dec 18th 2009

Well look at that I just finished typing up my AP and Gregor's beat me to it!

[Hell 4 leather] Bullet's Time

SOooooooo after my glorious victory in the 2 Games 1 Name challenge (its not the winning that’s important – it’s the beating Graham) I finally got to playtest Hell 4 Leather on Monday night. For a while there it looked like it wasn't going to happen, the beer and egg-nog was making us sleepy…But the (eventual) arrival of Mr Gregor Hutton re-invigorated our weary souls and the gaming began.

Playing were: Dan, Russ, Gregor and yours truly. I treated the cast to the game's synopsis [A badass biker is granted a temporary reprieve from hell in order to seek revenge on his murderous chapter-mates], sorted the cards and we were ready to go Johnny-go-go-go-go. Ahem.

Taking the initiative I dealt out the three From Hell cards to the others. Dan and Russ immediately revealed The Devil and Death respectively. I should probably have told them to keep the cards secret for maximum surprise but it wasn't a big deal. This meant that by process of elimination Gregor had the Fool and would be playing the vengeful protagonist.

Gregor came up with 'Bullet' – a nutjob biker with a huge beard and gut. He specialised in killing chapter leaders with his signature extra-long barrelled single shot pistol. Things were all rosy for Bullet until Russ had a gasoline tanker reverse into Bullet's favourite titty-bar and blow him to smithereens! Dan narrated how Bullet met Satan – who was dressed like The Stig and accompanied by a bazooka wielding female terrorist. After sealing the deal for revenge Bullet shot the woman to take her boots, since his own feet were now reduced to horrifically charred bones. A pair of woman's boots became Bullets motif during the game – worked pretty well.

The intro scenes set things up nicely, we had fun with the descriptions. The game flowed easily into the main story.

I'll not give a complete story rundown as they are generally pointless in APs. Rest assured there was death, drugs, orgies and mayhem aplenty! Bullet managed to slay 5 out of the 6 other gang members – only sparing his jail-bait ex (after some undead sex naturally). High points included Bullet choking Dan's usurper Udo to death with his rotten demonic entrails and The Mechanic revealing himself as an undercover fed before getting his head blown off in front of his wife and family. Fun times.

I wrote four words total during the entire game – no character sheets is awesome! The rules-lite minimalist approach really lent itself well to pure role-playing, good immersion man.

Yet there was enough structure to provide meaningful focus. As players we were all very giving - happy to say 'yes' and accept each others' narration - we never used the minor resolution system. Which means we were in tune I guess and the game worked well for it.

A lot of fun and interesting characters grew organically. I've a good idea of a few things I want to tweak mechanically in the text. Using Boons to screw other players being the main one (as Gregor alludes to above). Also I think if you 'get killed' in the previous scene you get to frame the next one, instead of The Fool always framing scenes.

Examples of the different scenes definately need adding to the text - I'm leaning towards the bulleted examples.

Overall I was surprised things went as smoothly as they did, I'm really pleased with how the game played out. Dan was so psyched he found this beauty this beauty for his next character!

Posted by: Iain McAllister On: Dec 19th 2009

Sounds like an interesting and enjoyable game was had by all. You say you didn't write down much during the game Joe, but I would like to know what if anything was recorded, how is the story kept on track? Could you explain more about the tarot cards and how they work in the game?



Posted by: Sebastian Hickey On: Dec 19th 2009

Hey Joe! I'm really glad you got to playtest Hell 4 Leather. I was planning on trying it over Chrimbo if I could get some of the old crew together. I'm still a little stuck on the scenes bit, so if you manage to throw those bullet points in there, great!

Posted by: Gregor Hutton On: Dec 19th 2009

Basically you have Boon cards in your hand as a player, so you never have to write anythng down.

All the "PCs" are also represented by a card that you hold. Once you establish a character then it's known to everyone. In future scenes you can play a different character from your first but it will either be someone already playedxand established or someone new -- that's determined by the card you pull. There are only 6 PC archetypes availablefor play I think.

I was playing The Fool so I can't swap my character - think of me as The Crow in the film/comic.

The only "stats" used are your archetype card, the Death cardand any Boon cards you take from your hand andrisk to save your soul.

Posted by: Rich Stokes On: Dec 20th 2009

I think it might be handy to have a sheet which is half cheat-sheet (basically reminds you which cards have which functions) and half tracking which characters are which. I mean, I can guarantee that I'd forget the Heirophant character's name if they've been out of the game for a scene or two. It'd look a lot like the the Contenders sheet, but one for the whole group.

Posted by: Joe Prince On: Dec 20th 2009

Hi guys, thanks for the input.

Iain - I wrote down "Toddler, Udo, Magnus, Lars " That was it. They were the names of the first four PCs appearing in the game. I didn't bother to write down Ludmella - she died in her first scene anyway.

Also, interestingly Rich, we didn't name the Hierophant PC - he was just The Mechanic until the final scene where Russ ended up revealing him as special agent Larry Brown.

I'm not convinced a three page rule set needs a one page cheat sheet. All the Boons work the same way (except the Devil whose rules I omitted from the current version - d'oh).

The PDF is up on my site if you'd like to check it out.

Posted by: Rich Stokes On: Dec 20th 2009

The Mechanic is a fine name for a character.

I was thinking of something like this.

Posted by: Iain McAllister On: Dec 20th 2009

Cheers for the answers guys. Will check out the PDF and give you my thoughts when I have had a chance to read through it.



Posted by: Joe Prince On: Dec 22nd 2009

That's very cool Rich, no harm in having a cheat sheet I guess.
I think all that's missing is a bit more info on the scenes - need to write that first tho...

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