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[Breaking the Ice] Return of the N00b

Started by Jason Morningstar, July 05, 2005, 12:49:34 PM

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Jason Morningstar

It's funny, I guess my wife isn't really a n00b any more, now that she's played both D&D and a cool indie game.  I had a good time playing Breaking the Ice at Yuki-Con and, when I described it to her, she indicated that it sounded like her kind of game.  So we gave it a try last night.

The most interesting thing, for me, was the fact that she immediately took director stance and had no trouble narrating events for both characters - this was the opposite of her reaction to D&D, where she waited for cues.  I think it was partially due to her comfort with the subject matter, as well as the structure of BtI.  The Guide concept sort of went out the window.

While the rules were clear and she immediately "got it", we both had trouble actually playing our roles - there wasn't as much in-character interchange, and we tended to observe the situation in a detached way, with a lot of "he's doing this" and "she's thinking this".  It was almost tactical, in a way.  I didn't fight this and just rolled with the style of play that was developing, and it turned out OK.

Also interesting is that my wife expressed some frustration in having to come up with positive things - from the beginning, she was far more interested in seeing the relationship fail disastrously, and would often start her turns with bad things happening.  I encouraged her to wait for the re-rolls to introduce that stuff, and to think about the character's conflicts.      "These people are losers," she said, "and they don't have a chance."

She was right, and the man she created was no prize - his conflict was "thinks he's smarter than he is", and it came into play regularly.  We had a good time, and it was also fun to see our characters shed some light on the players perceptions and views.  At one point I described my lady showing up for a date, and after I narrated her appearance, my wife frowned and said, "that's so totally *not* how she'd dress, you dork - she'd be wearing a broomstick skirt and a tank-top, like every other sorority girl."  We had a good time, but our poor characters never got beyond three compatibilities.  She said that BtI would be very fun to play with her female pals, and I hope she'll do this and report back!

Emily Care

Hi Jason,

Thanks for playing again! Glad you & your wife had fun. Your game raises some interesting issues.  It's great that your wife (what is her name?) "got" director stance, but it sounds like a bit more back & forth might have been more desireable, yes?  Something I recommend is for the Guide to literally hold all the dice.  This would help support the interplay. The active player is meant to be in dialogue with the guide, that should help keep the story vital to both participants and help involve each of them in the process.  I also need to be more explicit about what can be narrated by each, especially with respect to the other player's character.

QuoteAlso interesting is that my wife expressed some frustration in having to come up with positive things - from the beginning, she was far more interested in seeing the relationship fail disastrously, and would often start her turns with bad things happening. I encouraged her to wait for the re-rolls to introduce that stuff, and to think about the character's conflicts. "These people are losers," she said, "and they don't have a chance."
Fascinating.  I wonder if there should be a "countdown" variant of the game where you chart the demise of a relationship.  The players would have to collude to _not_ award dice to reflect a badly matched couple.  Since bad things and good alike send you hurtling toward love, it doesn't nec. support an intentional mismatch as it stands.  I'll be interested to hear further comments if she plays with friends.  

Best to you,
Emily
Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games

Jason Morningstar

She's Autumn, and she rocks!  Since gaming is really new to her, I'm reluctant to check her impulses or guide her behavior - I want her to have a good time and, frankly, new players often have really great ideas about how things should work, so I watch what she does.  I knew right away that we were veering from the rules, and it sort of messed things up, but not in a bad way.  

I'd definitely be clear about what's expected of Guide and player, both in terms of story elements and interaction, but also on a physical level, related to control of dice.  

If you were going to make a destructive version (Freezing the Pond?) I'd think about just reversing the meaning of the dice - that was what Autumn wanted.  So you are mechanically rewarded for introducing bad things, and then can earn re-rolls by (reluctantly) introducing genuinely nice things.  I think it could be fun, if nothing else a good way to let off steam and enjoy some schadenfreude, and I know that if Autumn picks this up with her pals, this is how they will work it.  

--Jason

Emily Care

Freezing the Pond, that's great! The most important thing is for you to have a good time with the game.  My thanks to Autumn for her inspiration about it. And to you both! If she does more play with her friends, I'd love to hear about it.

best,
Emily
Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games