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  1.  
    For those who don't know, Hell for Leather is a game of gruesome violence and bloody murder by Sebastian Hickey. It's the companion piece to Joe Prince's Hell 4 Leather. Both games originated in the '2 Games, 1 Name' design contest.

    Last night myself, Gregor, Joe, and Russ sat down to give the game a playtesting run through. Sebastian has been writing and testing the game for a while now, so the game should be pretty solid. We shall see.

    In setting up, we chose pretty much the 'standard frame' as laid out in the text: near future, hyperviolent game show where people are hunted in the style of The Running Man. Only ours worked out to be slightly different. A near future, perhaps alternative history Britain that evolved as the game progressed.

    Anyway, our team sheet ended up looking like this:

    Prologue/Adversary: Standard Frame, The Network
    Gore Threshold: 5
    Connection: All the characters come from the same area and think they are winners of the Peoples Postcode Lottery.

    Drop-off: Spunkley Manor, rural Oxfordshire. The characters have been assembled to collect their winnings!
    Destination: Eilean Donan in the Western Highlands of Scotland.

    Checkpoints: Get to Doncaster under-cover using public transport, kidnap the Mayor of Doncaster, get to the castle by air.

    The characters were:

    Name: Victor Kinnock (Gregor)
    Context: Ex-councillor, little England mentality
    Flaw: Pedant
    Gripe: Vladimir, because he's a no-good communist
    Talent: Reasoned debate

    Name: Feargal West (Joe)
    Context: Fishmonger, now illegally dealing from the back of a van
    Flaw: Sadistic
    Gripe: Victor Kinnock, he shut down my fish shop
    Talent: Attention to detail

    Name: Darren Hazlewood (Me)
    Context: Recently released prisoner, his takeaway shop was shut down for health reasons
    Flaw: Egomaniac
    Gripe: Victor Kinnock, he had my takeaway shut down.
    Talent: Lies

    Name: Vladimir Timoshenko (Russ)
    Context: Russian immigrant, brought into the country by Feargal on a fishing boat
    Flaw: Contemptuous
    Gripe: Victor Kinnock, because he's an anti-immigrant racist
    Talent: Stubborn

    So that was our setup. How would things progress? Would we have a pleasant story of Merrye Olde Englande? Would things go horribly wrong? Would various minor celebrities die? Yes.

    The game really kicked off with the second scene, where a bin lorry was stolen and driven through the Network blockade. There followed the theft of the new Virgin Hovertrans hovercraft, being launched by an elderly Richard Branson, a bloated Pamela Anderson, and the re-animated corpse of Jade Goody. The guidelines for violence (level 2: must include descriptions of at least one bodily fluid) made this rather nasty, as Pamela Anderson exploded, drenching everyone with saline solution.

    There were many good scenes in this game. One which stood out for me was poor old Kinnock attempting to get into a low-class brothel housed in a former Woolworths in Doncaster. In order to get in he was ordered to "Lick that tramp clean" by a bouncer. The horror, the horror. It also later led to the utterance "Look, you've licked a tramp, I've fucked a Ukrainian (on his mothers side)"

    In regular play, the highest the Heat got to was eight. We were using the beginner’s circle on the Target and, for future games, I think we'll be using the Expert circle. That would seem to make things much more difficult. But, for a first game, the bigger circle is good. It avoids the frustration of either constantly being unable to hit the target or getting collapses all the time. At least there is a chance, on your first run through, of getting those successes that maintain your involvement in what is going on.

    Oh, I just remembered Feargal West beating the Mayor of Doncaster on the arse with a fish slice as His Honour enjoyed an 'interlude' with Big Beryl (the less said about her the better). This was quite an unusual kidnapping attempt.

    Eventually, after being chased by airborne Young Conservatives, crash landing at Keighley International Airport in the Free Republic of West Yorkshire (Keighley is now a shanty town surrounding the airport, so nobody can really tell the difference between what it is now and what it used to be), we arrived at Eilean Donan!

    As time was getting on, we went for a Death Match ending. very quick, very bloody, and the Heat got all the way to fifteen before the stack collapsed and Hazlewood was declared to the winner!

    Overall, the game was great fun. The way it is set up and the mechanical elements promoted an exuberant, tasteless, gory story. Which is, I imagine, what is meant to happen. Mechanically, the game is sound and I personally don't think it needs much more work. The text could do with a few changes, especially as regards the role of the scene setter.

    The text should make clear that it is the responsibility of the scene setter to bring in the adversary and make life as hard as possible for the other characters. The scene setter should drive the actions of the adversary and not play the role of their own character. They shouldn't be thinking about what their character might get out of this situation, they should be absolutely trying to fuck things up for everyone else. That would encourage a lot more brutal interactions. As it was, we played quite a co-operative game. Perhaps the scene setter should only receive story pips for elements that involve bringing in the adversary?

    The text might also want to have a little box-out stating the exact circumstances of who gets to set the scene, just for the sake of clarity.

    Anyway, the game works really well, despite the fact that on re-reading the text again I realise I made a couple of very minor errors during play and omitted a couple of things. Other than that, it was great fun and I'm certainly looking forward to playing HfL again.

    Hopefully the others will pitch in with their thoughts, as I'm sure there is stuff I'll have missed.

    Cheer
    Malcolm
  2.  
    A very fun game. I was glad we were using the large circle, but even then I ended up as the only dolt taking damage. I got down to "Off Hand" and this unsurprisingly led to Kinnock's defeat as he tried to stuff a Conservative Party Manifesto (from 1979) down the large Russian's throat. I failed. The tower collapsed. Hurrah! And I got to narrate him making me eat my own words and choke on them.

    I'm glad we went with the basic frame and deathmatch -- it led to a filthy and fun 2.5 hours of gaming. I'd heartily recommend you recommending that as a great way to play your first game, and only go onto the advanced options once you've done so.

    I think it was all there in the rules and they worked pretty well. The only stumbling blocks were we were quite cooperative as Scene Framers, conscious that our characters were "there" in the fiction. Looking back I'd just have liked a sentence to say "bring in the baying hounds of the Network." I guess on page 24 I should have been remembering the sidebox on page 11, right? Adversity and Pursuit! Maybe a reminder there is all it would have needed. (Or maybe the Scene Framer specifically gets a chip for bringing in Adversity and Pursuit?) I think it would just work with some textual encouragement. It's YOUR turn to bring the heat! Y'know?

    Anyway, I never knew there could be so much fun licking a tramp. I'll spare you the detail with which it was described, and all the puddle licking I needed to get my tongue wet again to embark on the task. (They'd strapped me to the front of a Dumpster Truck and then a Hovercraft, I was parched and in a state by the time we got to Doncaster!)
  3.  
    Hi Malcolm,

    I owe you one. Really, really, really.

    The AP report is detailed beyond my expectation. I'm delighted and excited.

    I'd like to ask you about the scene setter as adversary idea. Do you mean that it would be a better game if the person in charge of the scene sets up a more direct threat for the scene? Do you think it would be useful to offer a guideline in a sidebar to that effect?

    I'm uncertain about stripping away the character from the player setting the scene. Can you elaborate why characterisation from the scene-setter detracted from the experience of play? Perhaps you felt that the game lacked opposition? Do you think that more aggressive guidelines for scene Objectives would offer that opposition? Or was it that the scene-setter felt like he had an ambiguous role, and couldn't reconcile the coop-versus divide? I'd really like to understand this better. Your perspective is fresh and useful. I'd like to figure out what about the scene setting bothered the play experience exactly, so that I can understand better why you would push for more adversity from one of the players.

    Did you find that the scene-setter was the only one to call Challenges, or did everyone pitch in with a Challenge from time to time?

    Did you fail many Challenges (as a group)?

    Did you use Rest scenes?

    Opposition is intended to originate from the Heat stack (later spilling out from characterisation during Rest Scenes). The idea is that in order to achieve success, players will have to raise the Heat with Risks, or commit Felonies. Either way, sooner or later, players will need to use Rest Scenes to reduce the height of the Heat (thereby gaining Traumas, making it more difficult, etc.). Expert play increases the challenge of the game, mechanically encouraging (I hope) the more frequent use of Felonies, Traumas, and, hopefully, Rest Scenes. If you didn't see any of that in action, then I've made the game too easy.

    By the way, 15 dice high? What? Are you 100% sure? If so, you hold the new in-game record. Do you have a photo?

    Sebastian.
  4.  
    Hi Gregor,

    I posted this last comment oblivious to your addition 15 minutes before. I think the same questions apply. Mainly, however, can you help me to understand why the scene framer should act as the adversary and whether or not the scene Objective would be a good enough place to add this adversity? Like, if the scene Objective was "defeat the Hunters," wouldn't that be a good enough place to start the scene? What about if the Run Scene had a new component, called "adversity?" For example:

    "This scene is going to be a Run Scene. The Objective is to get to the third floor. The Adversity is a pack of dogs."

    Does that front load too much? Would you prefer that the adversity was left out from the scene rigging, and left to spontaneity? Such as, the scene setter holds up a Story Pip, announces "Adversity," and states the new threat? For example:

    "Adversity! While you're putting up the ladder, you hear the growl of a pack of dogs bearing down on you from the end of the garden."

    I think the latter might be a good way to go. The scene setter gets the Story Pip, of course. What do you think? Is the exclusion of a player's character from the scene essential to this idea of adversity? In a three player game, I find this pairing down of the group size a little aggressive.
  5.  
    I'd like to ask you about the scene setter as adversary idea. Do you mean that it would be a better game if the person in charge of the scene sets up a more direct threat for the scene? Do you think it would be useful to offer a guideline in a sidebar to that effect?


    I don't think it needs a rule change at all. Just a sidebar, would have done for me. (Maybe a thing that reminds you that you get a Story Pip for playing an NPC (like someone working on behalf of the Network pursuing the characters).

    I'm uncertain about stripping away the character from the player setting the scene. Can you elaborate why characterisation from the scene-setter detracted from the experience of play? Perhaps you felt that the game lacked opposition? Do you think that more aggressive guidelines for scene Objectives would offer that opposition? Or was it that the scene-setter felt like he had an ambiguous role, and couldn't reconcile the coop-versus divide? I'd really like to understand this better. Your perspective is fresh and useful. I'd like to figure out what about the scene setting bothered the play experience exactly, so that I can understand better why you would push for more adversity from one of the players.


    Over to Malc. My take is that I don't want the scene setter's character removed or any of that. I think we were all cooperative because we wanted to get our VPs, but we still brought in challenges. Fictionally we didn't bring in as much of the chasers as we could have. Really we focused on us reaching Doncaster. Focused on us getting the Mayor. The last Checkpoint had more chasers but they were Young Conservatives in small planes, mooning us and trying to stop us getting out of Yorkshire.

    Did you find that the scene-setter was the only one to call Challenges, or did everyone pitch in with a Challenge from time to time?


    I think Challenges got called pretty naturally by the group. We worked it out without much fuss at all. I think that was fine.

    Did you fail many Challenges (as a group)?


    I failed our first scene as I tried to get a bus to stop ("F*k off Kinnock!" The driver shouted at me as he didn't stop!). We had a few failures elsewhere too, but we only had one collapse! We were shooting away from the tower and using the large circle as safety! This is fine. When we're on the smaller circle we won't be able to shoot away from the tower.

    Did you use Rest scenes?


    We had one. The Heat was getting high and I called for one. Everyone ended up trying to convince Victor to not be so pedantic. It was pretty fun. The outcome was that I changed my ways. A sex worker appeared in the brothel dressed annoucning she was in a "negligee". I realised it was a camisole but decided to let it lie! I then became a masochist instead as everyone had beaten on me and I found I (secretly) liked it.

    If you didn't see any of that in action, then I've made the game too easy.


    The game was fine. It's pretty much done, man. We didn't use a lot of Risks and took our failures on the chin (and the Story pip loss like men). Just working back around to another Challenge and hoping for a win. We got some good wins due to the large circle, which by the way we were very grateful for on a first game! I reckon about 2/3rds of our successes wouldn't have been in the tighter circle.

    By the way, 15 dice high? What? Are you 100% sure? If so, you hold the new in-game record. Do you have a photo?


    No photo I'm afraid but it was hilarious. Malc somehow made a roll, Russ then somehow made a roll, by this point it was HIGH. Malc flubbed one or two more and it ended up crazy high then he got a success. Russ knocked it over putting another dice on top at 15. Crazy fun!
  6.  
    Fantastic feedback. I understand your perspective completely, Gregor. I will push for the creation of adversity through the use of NPCs. That is, if you play an NPC that opposes the team, you get a Story Pip. During the playing of that NPC (as per the current rules), you must forego the playing of your character. So this might hit Malcolm's issue too?

    I can bump this text up and splash it loudly on the Cheat Sheet and Team Sheet. What if I push some adversity guidelines into the scene framing text too? I'm conscious that too much adversity in scene framing might encourage a lot of in medias res same-iness. That is, there are only so many helicopter and police chase scenes you can do before they get dull. I think the NPC as adversity idea is very solid, and might take the repetition out these kinds of scenes.

    Malcolm, how does this "fix" sit with you?

    P.S. Well done on the 15 Malc! I've never seen it done in game, and I've, well, played a lot. Also, massive kudos on the Rest Scene and the whole Frame itself, lads. Gorgeous creativity.
  7.  
    I think Gregor hits it pretty well: The idea of just a sidebar giving some additional advice, and highlighting the fact you get a pip for playing an NPC. That's all good stuff. Characterisation by the scene setter didn't detract from play at all. Just some words saying BIG AND BOLD: HEY! SCENE SETTER! YOU GET A PIP FOR PLAYING AN NPC! AND REMEMBER: HEAT = HOW HARD THE ADVERSARY IS HUNTING YOU! REMEMBER THAT LAST BIT, IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT! Or words to that effect. probably a bit less hectoring than that, really.

    Mechanically, you seem pretty much done. I certainly can't see any further changes that would give us more fun than we had last night.

    Cheers
    Malc
  8.  
    That's very, very encouraging. Thanks Malcolm.

    I'll include the guidelines. They are smart.

    Massive love to you four gents.

    Sebastian.
    •  
      CommentAuthorJoe Prince
    • CommentTimeJun 2nd 2010
     
    Here are my thoughts on the matter.

    Overall a very fun game, lots of wacky hi-jinks!

    HfL takes away two of my pleasant role-playing crutches: having a turn and not being judged on physical ability. That's what takes the game out of my comfort zone. Not a bad thing by any means. I felt a little dissatisfied with the outcome and my performance. I would have liked a few more goes I guess.

    I didn't get to do much with my character. I only rolled one die before the death match. Probably my own fault not being good at grabbing the limelight. Compounding this, turtling from challenges seemed quite a good option. In the finale I managed to miss the entire sheet then collapsed the tower - I fear playing with the smaller circle!

    I think what Gregor and Malc have alluded to (and what Russ explicitly mentioned) is the lack of urgency. It didn't really feel very urgent or perilous in play. Our group of miscreants tended to bimble along contentedly. That said we were pretty lucky on challenges, rarely failing. Maybe some sort of timer racking up the heat would help create more of a sense of urgency.

    I think it would be cool if more than one PC could take part in a challenge – two players rolling dice simultaneously would be quite funny. And would solve the not getting to roll much situation.

    Flaws didn't seem to come into the game much – I never really got to be sadistic ?. We all chose complementary flaws and talents - perhaps these could be amalgamated?

    Story pips – are they really needed? We made every checkpoint in the minimum three challenges, quite comfortably. I dunno, you could just have X challenges per checkpoint to simplify the game – maybe even each surviving PC needs to attempt at least one challenge.

    All in all only minor niggles and personal preferences really.

    The game is great as is!
  9.  
    Maybe some sort of timer racking up the heat would help create more of a sense of urgency.

    Interesting stuff. I love the idea of a timer based Heat. Perhaps, for each scene, the scene setter must add a die to the Heat. The more scenes, the more Heat.
    I think it would be cool if more than one PC could take part in a challenge – two players rolling dice simultaneously would be quite funny. And would solve the not getting to roll much situation.

    I toyed with this in an early version. I could never satisfactorily balance the advantage of the extra players rolling with another disadvantage.
    Flaws didn't seem to come into the game much – I never really got to be sadistic ?. We all chose complementary flaws and talents - perhaps these could be amalgamated?

    Challenges, during the "If you fail" clause, are supposed to bring Flaws into the narrative. If you're sadistic, trying to get past a guard, and I call a Challenge for you, I might say "If you fail, you tie up the guard and while you torture him with a cigarette butt, you are being filmed on CCTV. The Hunters will track you down before you have time to leave the cabin." Or something. The text needs to be more specific on the presentation of Challenges, I guess.
    Story pips – are they really needed? We made every checkpoint in the minimum three challenges, quite comfortably. I dunno, you could just have X challenges per checkpoint to simplify the game – maybe even each surviving PC needs to attempt at least one challenge.

    Story Pips were initially incorporated to push the responsibility for contribution around the table. When someone has few Story Pips, they are more likely to be in charge of a scene. Story Pips don't seem to be necessary for anyone used to indie games. Indie games players love giving out Story Pips (just like Fan Mail). So it seems extraneous. But for newbies they work pretty well as an incentive to contribute, I've found. Nevertheless, this is something I will consider. You are a great man for elegant design. If you think they're a waste of time, I need to re-evaluate their importance.
  10.  
    Joe Prince:
    Flaws didn't seem to come into the game much – I never really got to be sadistic ?. We all chose complementary flaws and talents - perhaps these could be amalgamated?


    That was my fault really, not the fault of the game. The "If you fail..." aspect of challenges was one that I completely forgot during play, despite having read the text numerous times. So, the use (or lack of) of Flaws was entirely my responsibility.

    Sebastian: To combat this, I'd make it explicit on the Cheat sheet that the "If you fail..." clause must connect directly to the Flaw. As it stands, the sheet mentions it, but doesn't mention Flaws.

    Actually, what would be nice on the cheat sheet is a consolidated list of how Heat goes up and down, with a list of page references. That means you be able to see, instantly, all the circumstances where Heat changes.

    As far as Story Pips go, they're a valuable part of the game. I'd keep them as is. I like the fact that, if you are successful in a Challenge, it's likely you'll be setting the next scene. They also push you to add stuff if you want to take part in a Challenge or they make you push the fiction to have someone with three pips take a challenge if you have none, or few. As an incentive, they work well. There were times when I got no pips for several things I brought in. That made me realise those contributions were lame and that I needed to up the tempo, make them more exciting, and generally put in a bit more effort!

    Cheers
    Malc
  11.  
    Joe always racked up his Story Pips with witty abuse, gross contributions and his host of NPCs with accents. I was always lobbing them to him. I like that it's the group that judges if something is worthy of a pip.

    And I really don't think there's anything mechanical you need to do to the game.

    Joe: you should have used your micro d10 to roll! I felt it was hilariously appropriate that on my first roll in Deathmatch I off-handedly put my d10 right through the dice tower. What a tube! And Victor Kinnock did indeed deserve to die.
  12.  
    Can I get a little more feedback on the Cheat Sheet, actually? Specifically, on the first page (the setup page), how much of that did you use? Did you reference it at all? If I got rid of everything on that first page, would you have noticed?

    I'll break down the components of the Cheat Sheet and maybe you could indicate whether or not you referenced the Cheat Sheet for them:

    A Page 1, columns 1 & 2 -> Setup (building a Frame and creating characters)
    B Page 1, column 3 -> Story Pips (info on how to use them)
    C Page 1, column 3 -> Target (die results during a Challenge)
    D Page 1, column 3 -> Handicap (when to upgrade to Expert level)

    E Page 2, column 1 -> New Scene (how to choose a new scene)
    F Page 2, column 2 -> During play (how to use Applause, Extras and Howabout)
    G Page 2, column 3 -> Guide (explanation of how to use the Target during a Challenge)
    H Page 2, column 3 -> Violence (how to incorporate Violence into the narration)

    My instinct tells me that the only thing the Cheat Sheet is useful for at the moment is, maybe, for setting up the Frame, checking out how to start a new scene and referencing what to do when you use Violence. If that's the case, I think I can play around with the layout to crop away the useless stuff and promote some new stuff (like your Heat change idea).
  13.  
    I missed your post there Gregor. That's the second time this thread. Sorry. In reference to what Joe is describing, this lack of urgency, do you think that it would be helped by an ever-escalating Heat stack? I'm struggling to figure out why the game didn't have urgency. Do you think that the game didn't have tension? Is there a confusion there between tension and urgency?

    I'd like to understand what hindered the urgency/tension in the game. Surely it was because players, at some point, were scratching their arses and wondering what to do next? Do you think that guidelines can fix this issue? I mean, shouldn't the game mechanics fix it?

    I'm really enjoying all this feedback. Sorry if I'm too dogged with my questions.

    In summary, what was the experience, do you think, that gave some of the group the feeling that they could dawdle around and do whatever they wanted? What kind of input from the group could have stopped that? What could I do to incentivise that input?
  14.  
    Sebastian Hickey:
    A Page 1, columns 1 & 2 -> Setup (building a Frame and creating characters)


    I was mostly referring to the text during this stage. If I had looked at the Cheat Sheet, I wouldn't have left it to the end of Frame creation to mention the Gore Threshold! The Sheet makes it pretty clear the stages you go through.

    B Page 1, column 3 -> Story Pips (info on how to use them)


    The basics of the Pips were easily remembered, so we didn't refer to this bit. That's not to say it shouldn't be there, as it's handy to have.

    C Page 1, column 3 -> Target (die results during a Challenge)


    I found myself mostly referring to the info at the bottom of the Target Sheet, as it offered more detail on what happens when a given outcome comes up. Oh, and on the Cheat Sheet in this section, I would make the line "add Felony Rank" bold to really emphasise this.

    D Page 1, column 3 -> Handicap (when to upgrade to Expert level)


    We didn't get any Traumas in the first checkpoint, so this didn't come into play. I think our only Trauma happened to Kinnock during the second checkpoint.

    E Page 2, column 1 -> New Scene (how to choose a new scene)


    I found this useful as a rundown of what happens in the setup of the two different scene types.

    F Page 2, column 2 -> During play (how to use Applause, Extras and Howabout)


    The stuff about handing out Pips was pretty easily remembered by everyone round the table. I don't think we referred to this part too much.

    G Page 2, column 3 -> Guide (explanation of how to use the Target during a Challenge)


    Didn't really use this, but it's still handy to have.

    H Page 2, column 3 -> Violence (how to incorporate Violence into the narration)


    That was useful, for me anyway. It was good to be reminded of the limitations on what you could describe for a certain level of violence. I remember taking it upon myself to remind people of this during the game.

    I'll sit and re-read the text with the Cheat Sheet next to me and work out what is/isn't there and give more useful feedback in the near future.

    Oh, there's a bit on the Target Sheet that confuses me: At the very bottom, under Complication/Trauma/Traumax2/Traumax3, there's a line that says: "Aftermath: Challenge the player with the most Story Pips." Is this a remnant from a previous version of the text, as I couldn't find anything about this in the text. The text seems to indicate that once a Challenge has been failed, the person with the fewest Story Pips starts a new scene. But this bit seems to indicate something else?

    Edit: Personally, I never felt there was a lack of urgency or impetus in the way the game played out. But that's just from my POV. I never felt very invested in my character (similarly to Joe), but that was a factor of sketching a pretty lame, uninspiring character at the outset. That bit was my responsibility. But, in the end, that didn't matter. The character was merely and anchor in the game. What was cool was all the scene stuff, the crazy environment, the challenges, heat, etc. In summation, I didn't care that my character was lame. The game was enough fun.

    Cheers
    Malc
    •  
      CommentAuthorJoe Prince
    • CommentTimeJun 3rd 2010
     
    Sebastian Hickey:...I'd like to understand what hindered the urgency/tension in the game. Surely it was because players, at some point, were scratching their arses and wondering what to do next? Do you think that guidelines can fix this issue? I mean, shouldn't the game mechanics fix it?


    I agree with you on this. The game mechanics are a much stronger indicator than play guidelines. I suggest you incentivise adversity.

    In summary, what was the experience, do you think, that gave some of the group the feeling that they could dawdle around and do whatever they wanted? What kind of input from the group could have stopped that? What could I do to incentivise that input?


    I think it was the first scene where after elbowing our way past the network's shotgun wielding goons, Kinnock convinced us to go and wait for a bus. Which would have worked but the driver hated Kinnock. Nothing untoward happened to any of the other characters though. A couple of other times we were floundering a bit – like when we first reached Doncaster.

    Perhaps a player could throw in adversity/pursuit or trigger a challenge and gain a bonus of some sort. Maybe: story chip/ refresh talent/ +1 power for next roll? That's an incentive and when stuck the mechanics tell you what to do.

    And how about a lull roll, when a player feels a scene has hit a lull he can roll a d10, rolling lower than the heat stack allows him to add a D6. You can't roll again until someone else does.

    Story pips worked well as rewards in our game – I'm cautious because I use a similar mechanic in the majority of my games and I've found trad gamers verrry slow to pick up on it. As a pacing mechanism they seemed largely irrelevant – it was always three challenges per checkpoint.

    It would be cool if you could hold a number of pips less than the current heat and choose how many to gamble on a challenge and spend them for other stuff like lowering the heat, temporarily impairing other PCs and...(you should probably ignore this).

    For the record I was invested in my character, I thought he was cool, but I didn't get to do much with him mechanically. I really wanted to stab someone!
  15.  
    Malc, the feedback on the Cheat Sheet is brilliant. I'm really going to pair the Cheat Sheet down. I'm going to axe the Frame building and character building sections—the rules in the book are brief enough. Instead, I will offer a seperate "setup" pdf if someone wants to print something out.

    On the Cheat Sheet, I'll strip out the guide section. It will probably look a little like

    1st Column: New Scene (without the Challenge rules) + threat rules (new-ish!)
    2nd Column: Challenge (Here I'll give more time to Flaws, etc.)
    3rd Column: Heat (stuff about the stack) and Violence

    On the Team Sheet, I'll add in a new "Threat" section to the diagram. This is just a rename of the Extras text.

    I'm going to shimmy around the text in chapter four to highlight the following concepts: the If You Fail clause, Handicap advice and the Threat text. I'll also spend a bit more time giving guidelines about Run Scene Objectives.

    That's an incentive and when stuck the mechanics tell you what to do.

    And how about a lull roll, when a player feels a scene has hit a lull he can roll a d10, rolling lower than the heat stack allows him to add a D6. You can't roll again until someone else does.


    The problem with these incentives you describe, is that they are reliant on a player becoming conscious of, and admitting, a lull. That's a reactive incentive which, I think, is a bad incentive. I mean, if a player already knows that the scene is losing steam, shouldn't he just ask the scene setter to end the scene? Or try to spice it up by narrating his character acting in a drastic way (to provoke a Challenge)? Or, using the Extra/Threat rules, inject a new threat into the scene in the form of an NPC?

    I'm cautious because I use a similar mechanic in the majority of my games and I've found trad gamers verrry slow to pick up on it.


    I've found that trad gamers catch on to the Story Pip system pretty quickly. Seriously, I've been surprised by the speed at which people latch on to the system, especially people who play board games and card games. Once you realise that you get the best odds for survival if you gain three Victory Points per Challenge, any bright gamer will look for a way to earn more Story Pips. If the ways to earn more Story Pips are narrative driven, then the game gets richer from the mechanics. At least I've found this to be the case in my playtests with the university and con gamers of Ireland.

    It would be cool if you could hold a number of pips less than the current heat and choose how many to gamble on a challenge and spend them for other stuff like lowering the heat, temporarily impairing other PCs and...(you should probably ignore this).


    I smiled as I read this. I've thought about that a lot. When the game had more options, it was soon very clear that people didn't want them. I didn't try the gambling idea yet. I've got to, as you suggested, ignore that for now, unless I see a really drastic reason to make the change. I'm happy enough with the way Story Pips function to incentivise creative contribution for newbie gamers. That's their main purpose, though they were also included to help decide play order.

    A couple of new points I'd like to get your feedback on:

    I'm going to introduce the +1 Heat per Scene rule. I think this will force a gradual build up of dice on the Heat, maybe encouraging players to aim scenes more directly toward Challenges.

    I'm going to revert to an older rule for the Aftermath of a Miss result on a Challenge: If the Challenge is not completed successfully, the Challenge is passed on to another player (with the most Story Pips). This system makes Challenges more aggressive—one man's failure leads onto another man's obstacle, thereby layering up the detail and intensity as each failure occurs on top of the other. I think that this will inject more of that sense of pursuit that you guys were looking for.

    Sebastian.
    •  
      CommentAuthorJoe Prince
    • CommentTimeJun 4th 2010
     
    I'm not sure you need the Aftermath rule. It was getting to conflicts where the game lagged, the Challenges were fine once we hit them. More aggressive use of threats should remedy this.

    +1 Heat per Scene sounds like a sensible escalation.
  16.  
    Yeah, I'm with Joe.

    (Basically we just needed a bit of incentive to get Joe toppling the tower earlier ... err, I mean getting to conflicts and being challenged.)

    By the way, I really liked that we were constrained in our violence/gore when we had lower heat and then when it racked up we went violent and ape. (Or in my case the tramp went ape on Victor Kinnock, but there ya go.)

    And the Deathmatch endgame was fun fun fun. (And some of that fun for me was seeing Joe and me pitifully crap out at the first hurdle!)
  17.  
    Thanks for telling me what you liked about the game guys. As I was just saying to Harv Barker in an email, it's often the case (especially on a design forum) that commentators focus on the criticisms. It's very refreshing to hear about the successes of the game as well as the failures. I need to know what to nail in place if I want to move the other parts around.

    I'm going to think about the proposed changes over the weekend. I may change the Run Scene slightly to include a new phase called Threat. There'd be no rules change, but it would formalise the inclusion of a threat when the players felt a bit stuck. It might look like...

    Step 1: Choose Objective
    What is the purpose of the scene?
    Step 2: Choose the location
    Frame the scene
    Step 3: Action
    Roleplay and add colour
    Step 4: Threat
    One player takes the role of an NPC threat
    Step 5: Complete the Objective
    And start a new scene

    Players could call a Challenge at any time during steps three and four. Do you think this would help with adversity?