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Author Topic: [Capes] Angels and Demons  (Read 2985 times)
Stickman
Member

Posts: 63


« on: February 22, 2005, 02:37:16 AM »

So after frothing at the mouth about Capes for the last month or so, I ran our first session at the weekend.

We had five players, all with a lot of standard rpg experience under their belts, but I think only 1 other apart from myself had ever played anything particularly narrative before. That player and I have both played a couple of sessions of pool variants (he ran Snowball, I ran The Pool), but that’s the limit.

In order to get the rules explained quickly, we ran through the first scene with only one super (and he was a villain). This was great in terms of getting the ball rolling and demonstrating rules but for obvious reasons wasn't good at getting the story tokens flowing.

Scene 1
Location: Downtown, there's something odd occurring regarding the sewers
Starting Conflict : Goal - What's Happening In The Sewers?
Characters: Scientist, Engineer, Tough Guy backup, 'The Bum' and The Moleman
Robert Bailer (PhD) arrives downtown with Dan the engineer and Fang his body guard in tow. Setting up his gear he starts testing the gaseous emissions in the area, while Dan and Fang do their level best to stop ‘The Bum’ from interfering with his wild ranting. Analysing the gases Robert determines them to be a form of diesel fuel with strange trace elements. A disturbance is felt through the ground, and as Dan investigates the sewer gratings he catches sight of a strange digging machine heading for the basement of a nearby building, the local Savings and Loans. The Moleman and his mechanical digging claws are stopped short by Dan calling the cops.
Other Conflicts: Goal – Stop The Moleman, Goal – Call The Cops

Scene 2
Location: The Dam
Starting Conflict: Event – The Dam Starts To Crack
Characters: Agent, Pinpoint, Moleman, GX15, Gabriel
Localised tremors at the Dam have been picked up. The camera pans in to show a huge mechanical man (GX15) busting up the dam to get to the turbines. Pinpoint the gun toting hero turns up to stop the menace, with some help from the angelic Gabriel. The Agent orders police to open fire on Gabriel (apparently he’s agnostic) while Pinpoint starts subduing GX15, with help from Moleman. The three way battle continues while Gabriel handles the police and stops the steel behemoth from wrecking too much of the dam.
Other Conflicts – Goal – Subdue GX15, Goal – Stop The Angel

Scene 3
Location: Molemans Underground Lair
Starting Conflict: Event – The Lair Is Flooding
Characters: Reporter, Guard, Infernal, Agent, Pinpoint
The underground lair of the Moleman is flooding, with Ace Reporter Morgan Weiss  trapped inside, guarded by the jailer and Infernal, a super villain who summons demons made of hell fire. When Pinpoint and the Agent burst in, they begin a deadly conflict with time rapidly running out. The scene has Morgan struggling with the jailer while Pinpoint shoots various levels and dials to stop the flooding. Infernal escapes as Morgan is rescued.
Other Conflicts: Goal – Kill Morgan


Scene 4
Location: City Park at night
Starting Conflict:  Goal – Capture The Bum
Characters: GX15, Gabriel, The Bum, Cop, Reporter
In City Park we once again see someone attempting unsuccessfully to capture the Bum. This scene felt flat and I think most of the players weren’t really interested. I thought about having a break after this, but it turned out that getting back into the story was the important part. I *think* the problem was that a player felt like he had to generate a scene without really thinking about how if fitted in with the story. Having a hero might have helped to give a viable alternative to a story scene, i.e. ‘Meanwhile, in training ..’ instead.
Other Conflicts: Goal – Drive Off GX15

Scene 5
Location: The Library
Starting Conflict: Goal – The Truth About why Moleman Wants The Bum
Characters: Gabriel, Agent, Wardog, Infernal, Reporter
Notes: As the scene framing duty came back around to me I decided to try to drag things back on course. In the Library we see Ace Reporter Morgan Weiss attempting to uncover what the heck everyone wants the Bum for. Meanwhile Infernal and his heavy Wardog break in and start wrecking the joint to stop Morgan finding the truth. Gabriel turns up to lay the beat down on Infernal while the Agent merely starts adding to the chaos. It transpires that the Bum is housing some secret technology from his time in the army. Infernal escapes but Wardog is dragged off in chains.
Other Conflicts: Goal – Smack down Wardog, Goal – Burn Down Library

Scene 6
Location: Downtown Again
Starting Conflict: Goal – Capture The Bum
Characters: Gabriel, Moleman, Moleman’s Mook Minions, Pinpoint, Infernal, GX15, Tough Guy, Philly, The Summoning Circle
Notes: We decided this would likely be the final scene, and as it turns out, we were dead right. Several narrative directions were vying for control at this point so we played things fast and loose. Also, as a note, having multiple characters per player when there’s already five players, in your first game, on different sides .. it gets a little twisted ! Moleman is back at the vault from earlier, this time nothing will stop him. Philly appears, who is a super soldier from the same squad as the Bum. Factions tussle over who will capture the Bum while GX15 just starts smashing things in his quest for satisfaction. Philly teams up with Pinpoint and Fang, squaring off against the Moleman and his Moleman Mook Minions. All this proves secondary however as the diabolic Infernal tries to complete his Dark Ritual and Gabriel tries to stop him. This scene tousled backwards and forwards for control and had the most conflicts of all the scenes (4 or 5 I think). By now Gabriel had a ton of inspirations and debt, so when he confronted Infernal I inspired his side of the Event – The Last Rite up to three, split the dice and spammed more inspirations. Sitting with a 6, a 6 and a 4, I was pretty confident. Infernal then proceeds to roll the luckiest dice I ever saw and ends with a 6,6,5 after some splitting of his own, with Infernal using his Reminders of the Past to convince Gabriel that he wasn’t always so supportive of mankind. The scene ends as the Moleman captures the Bum (finally!) and a blanket of infernal darkness sweeps over the city.
Other Conflicts: Goal – Kill The Bum, Goal – GX15 Gets His Way, Event – The Last Rite

Next Issue: With Gabriel captured and the vile Infernal ruling the city, demons run amok. Amidst the chaos and ruin, can Pinpoint gather a team of heroes to save the day?

Hits?
Pretty much everything apart from one or two little slip ups on my part. The players all had a great time and are keen to play again. From early on they were up for swapping characters, trying other roles and generally had a ton of fun. One of the players who has a relatively passive style played the same two characters for the majority of scenes, and only took his first super powered protagonist for the final scene (‘Philly’). Everyone else took a super powered character from the second scene onwards and I think enjoyed it. People were starting to generate more conflicts, but I think for the most part it was myself and one other player who did most of the framing there.

Misses?
The main problem was one of direction. Because we didn’t sit down and generate heroes to begin with, the focus was very much on telling the here and now, because there just wasn’t a framework for the bigger picture. For the next session the *first* thing we’ll do is to create a super team to give some background, then get to playing. We do have a nice supporting team of characters now though!

Some things that cropped up

‘I take a shot at the robot and try to destroy it’ .. I saw this raised in another thread and thought ‘yep, that was us’. We were all wary of embracing the directorial role , so much so that the ‘and then..’ rule was never used in play (i.e. we never dictated what another character was doing). Something to watch for next session, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most new Capes groups fell foul of this one.

Three sides .. Say there’s a 'Goal – Capture Reporter' in play, and two players have claimed the sides at the top of the page. As a third party is there anything I can do during that page to prevent it resolving to either of them, or even to try to get it resolved to me? As an aside, what would happen if a third side were allowed on a conflict?

Scene priority .. In a couple of our scenes we found that at the start of page two all of the conflicts were claimed and so the scene ends abruptly. I think in retrospect this was because we made the scene conflict too small in scope. The players were wondering about some system whereby it would be possible to say ‘Here is scene X, conflicts A, B, C and D all need resolving in order to complete the scene’.

Drives .. well, as we didn’t really have any correctly built heroes then there weren’t many opportunities to see the drives working as planned. People were mostly just throwing debt wherever it would fit and staking whatever they needed to in order to get the split they wished.

A Plots .. it seems like it might be advantageous for a player to have slightly more control over the metaplot for  a session. We don’t have enough experience with Capes to know how easy or hard this might be, but being as the players didn’t stomp all over each other last time, I think we should be able to work something out.

Humour and the Code .. we sort of established a loose code, but didn’t put any limits on the style of humour in the game. As a results one of the players took a much more light hearted approach than the others and this lead to some very funny, but distracting actions. I guess I missed the importance of the Code.

Story Tokens .. These never seemed to be quite as important as I thought they would be, but I guess that’s going to change as we settle into the game. As I understand it they can buy another action, introduce a new character or start a new conflict. Are we missing anything?

I don’t know what to do .. A couple of times several of the players had their turn come around and not know what to do with it. Maybe they just weren’t ready to start authoring conflicts, but the bumping of inspirations happened a fair bit. One thing not mentioned in the rules, but how about letting a player change character as his action, retiring whoever he started the scene with and pulling someone new in?

As a ‘lessons learnt’ kind of thing, I’d say the things I would go back and do slightly differently are:

Generate all the spotlight characters first, possibly including a hero and a villain per player, even if they won’t be in the first episode.
Get the Comic Code down straight away, and down cold.
Get right into the directorial stance, making sure to use the ‘And Then..’ rule for all it’s worth.

Capes definately lives up to its hype!
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Dave
Jack Aidley
Member

Posts: 488


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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2005, 03:40:21 AM »

Quote
I *think* the problem was that a player felt like he had to generate a scene without really thinking about how if fitted in with the story.


Nah, it was more I was thinking about where the story could go without actually discussing that at a between player level. My impression was very much that it would have run better if we'd talked about where the story was going between scenes and ideas we were having. The idea behind the scene was to give some structure to what the molemen were doing at all - so far moleman had adopted the only continuous role in the story (although not present in the third scene, it was about his role) - I thought them trying to capture the bum might reveal what they were up to. And bringing the bum back in did introduce the "chip-the-bums-brain" storyline, after all.

Quote
Humour and the Code .. we sort of established a loose code, but didn’t put any limits on the style of humour in the game. As a results one of the players took a much more light hearted approach than the others and this lead to some very funny, but distracting actions. I guess I missed the importance of the Code.


Yeah, my bad really. Trouble is, at the beginning of the game there wasn't any clear idea where the story was going or what we were supposed to be doing. And it's easier to create silliness than seriousness. If we play again (which I hope we will) I'd definetely try to keep a straighter line.

Quote
I don’t know what to do .. A couple of times several of the players had their turn come around and not know what to do with it. Maybe they just weren’t ready to start authoring conflicts, but the bumping of inspirations happened a fair bit. One thing not mentioned in the rules, but how about letting a player change character as his action, retiring whoever he started the scene with and pulling someone new in?


That seems a good idea to me. More than once the scene started and resolved quickly down to something that essentially only involved a few of the characters - everyone else was then left trying to find something to do. I think swapping out characters or simply bowing out of the scene would be useful options.

It was, overall, a lot of fun however and some of the best sections of play did come out of some of the sillier moments (the whole GX-15 is subdued thread was brilliant) but, if played again, I think it'd be better to concentrate more on building a plot. I think a bit more up-front design in terms of who the main characters are to be would help, a clearer idea of the tone we're going for (a well-defined comics code) and more willingness on the part of the players to veto stuff to keep it in line would all help.

But, yeah, overall - great game, Tony!
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- Jack Aidley, Great Ork Gods, Iron Game Chef (Fantasy): Chanter
Stickman
Member

Posts: 63


« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2005, 04:34:51 AM »

Quote from: Jack Aidley
My impression was very much that it would have run better if we'd talked about where the story was going between scenes and ideas we were having.


Definately, there was a story in there somewhere, but I think we mostly spent time destroying scenery and enjoying ourselves :)

Quote
Trouble is, at the beginning of the game there wasn't any clear idea where the story was going or what we were supposed to be doing. And it's easier to create silliness than seriousness.


I agree, we should have tied things down more, both at the start and between scenes. Still ... 'Goal - GX15 Gets The Girl' was pretty damned funny, even if his giant computer brain hadn't worked out who / what the girl was, and how he'd get her

Quote
That seems a good idea to me. More than once the scene started and resolved quickly down to something that essentially only involved a few of the characters - everyone else was then left trying to find something to do. I think swapping out characters or simply bowing out of the scene would be useful options.


If we'd have spent time designing 'heroes' at the start of the game, then I think that would be mitigated somewhat, for example when Pinpoint was in a scene then his sidekick or buddy heroes could always turn up, and even better his Exemplar could be involved, follwing genre staples and adding some more conflict.

Quote
But, yeah, overall - great game, Tony!


Absolutely, I'm happy to claim all the mistakes as pretty much mine and all the good stuff as part of Capes :)
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Dave
TonyLB
Member

Posts: 3702


WWW
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2005, 09:11:05 AM »

Wow!  That sounds like a terrific session!  Six scenes in one session may well be a new world-record for Capes (though I'm hoping to best it at this wednesday's session of my own group).  Certainly for first-time players, going through scenes quickly is more the exception than the rule, so you are to be congratulated.

In terms of creating a metaplot that would give people more inspiration on how to make characters relevant to a scene, I recommend creating a network of Exemplars.  I don't know whether you've done so already, or to what extent, but I've always found it very helpful to be able to say "Okay, I have no idea who to play in this scene... but Chris has a whole pile of Hope debt on the character he's playing, so I'll play his Hope Exemplar and get myself in trouble!"

I really enjoyed hearing how the chipped-bum story evolved retroactively to justify the events that had already been seen in the story.  I think that's one of the ways that Capes really shines.  In fact, I would recommend that you not judge your current story too harshly.  In my experience the story of your first session will improve as you play your second session, and continue to "reveal" the justifications for why things were as they were at the beginning.
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