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Author Topic: [Shock:] Digging for Mold in the Company town  (Read 3353 times)
Joshua A.C. Newman
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the glyphpress


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« on: September 23, 2005, 12:56:58 AM »

The first campaign designed and played in Shock: Social Science Fiction is now underway. C. and Vincent played with me.

There's a planet. It's called Eck-R-P30: a designation, not a name. Its soil is acidic, its air heavy and moist. Clouds cover the sun at all times.

Humans live clustered in Company towns at the bases of huge towers, poking above the clouds. In those towers are the offices for the Company and its managerial employees. Those who live outside the tower live only with the aid of The Mold: a Company-designed organism that protects them from the caustic environment. The genetic makeup of The Mold is a company secret. Approaching another tower will leak this secret. Leaving the planet will leak this secret. No one may leave. So the Company towns are overpopulated, crammed in artificially small spaces.

The planet's environment is used as a purifier, pulling non-reactive materials out of asteroids that are hurled onto the surface from afar. When the asteroids hit, they dissolve over several months, leaving only the nonreactive elements. The employees sift through for the good bits. Eventually, they die either from the hostile environment or from The Mold that protects them from it.

One of the managers - a fairly high-level dude - is Max Henderson, played by Vincent. His character lives at the crux of The Mold and Corporate Ownership, and the Stakes for this character's story is that Vincent wants him murdered. He's off to a good start: Max is in trouble. His boss, Dr. Hestor Ye, "the smartest man in The Company", is making a surprise visit. He'll be here in 45 minutes. He lives on another planet, and that means he's been traveling at least for weeks, not telling Max he was going to arrive.

He drops down from space, five minutes early, clearly in order to make Max sweat. Max wins the conflict by Cooperating with Dr. Ye's android majordomo, who doesn't manage to sufficiently fluster Max. Eventually, Dr. Ye emerges and acts disarmingly chummy with Max, who's not falling for it. Max is putting Hestor on the spot at every opportunity while Hestor is telling him he's gotta quiet down the rabble downstairs. Max shoots him in the head. The majordomo hears the gunshot, comes in, folds up the corpse - perhaps a little too casually - something's up - and disposes of it. The android - I'm imagining him played by David Spade because I can't stand that guy - says "You'll be hearing from the Company." Max shoots the android (winning the Conflict: does he get the android to fuck off?), who advises Max that the damage will be deducted from his next paycheck. Max says, "Oh, I don't think so." as the android goes back up the elevator. Max prints out a bunch of bonus checks and hands them out to security guards as he goes down to leave the building. They don't know what to do: they've just been told to arrest him, but he's their boss, and he's giving them money. And Max walks out into the crowded shukh of the Company town.

I'm very pleased. We started kinda late, but still managed to tell all of Max's first chapter.

The Social Issues were: Overpopulation (owned by me); Poverty (owned by C.); Corporate Ownership (me).

Shocks were: Living on Eck-R-P30 (Vincent), Mold (C.).

Praxis Scales were: Cooperation vs. Coersion and Buying & Selling vs. Violence.

Protagonists: Max Henderson (Vincent); Brak (C.); Akiba (me).
Antagonists: Dr. Hestor Ye. (me); Officer Graham (V.); Boss Nelson (C.)

Each of those Antagonists are for the Protag above them.

Notable Traits:

"Rich. Buy/Sell 2"
"I have a gun. Violence 1"
"Android majordomo. Coercion 1"

The world generation went well. Ideas were thrown out and the distributed authority made it so there was no bickering at all. People were smiling as they made up layer upon layer of trouble for these poor Mold Diggers. It's notable that Vincent's character's a prick, but his boss is a worse prick, so I found him surprisingly sympathetic by the end. By "sympathetic" I don't mean that I didn't think he was a bad person. I just thought I'd think he was a really bad person, and it turned out he just wanted to be free. I guess he'll get it. He's sure lining himself up for gettin' hisself gut shot.

Trait bidding has proven interesting. Vincent, I'd like to know your impressions of conflict res.

Scene framing is a little hazy to me. I'd like some kind of guarantee that everyone will get a turn. It could prove to be difficult if all the Protags are separate and everyone but two people gets to play for entire sessions at a time.

This was also the first time using the Props mechanic (as C. called it). It's fan mail, basically. It's encouragement to make up cool stuff for the environment. You can give it for any good idea, but I encourage it especially for description. Science fiction should have really concrete imagery, so if you describe a device, or artifact, or whatever, you get Props for the description from the other players. Only one was given - to me for describing Max's office - of the three on the table. More are supposed to go on the table when an Antag wins, but Max was takin' no guff. He was just steamrolling the situation. Nothing could stop him. So there were no Antag triumphs to test the mechanic, really.

The token bidding for Traits is really interesting. It has everything to do with narrative control and only a little to do with success. I'm happy about that.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Meguey
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Meguey


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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2005, 01:42:42 PM »

Vincent gave me the blow-by-blow of this game, and it sounded basically solid. Count me in for next Shock playtest.
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2005, 09:45:59 PM »

You're on!

... and tell Vincent to put some comments on this thread, already. I want stuff to chew on for the next playtest.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
lumpley
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« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2005, 06:44:52 AM »

Yeah yeah. I've been out of town all weekend, keep your trousers on.

Setup = excellent. Characters = excellent. Premise = excellent.

I've been thinking about my guy. He and I have a plan. I've also been thinking about C's guy; Officer Krupski (whose real name I forget just now) and I have a plan for him.

I have resolution questions and criticism. Want 'em here or in person?

-Vincent
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2005, 07:18:45 AM »

Questions, here, criticism in person. How about that. Just because the questions might be easier to answer and the criticism may take some time for repair or explain.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
lumpley
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« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2005, 08:09:10 AM »

Cool.

As protagonist-player, do I have any use for 1 coin? Seems to me I'll always be bidding even numbers.

Here's a suggestion disguised as a question: can I get props for making my character move toward my story-stakes for him? Pretty please? It'd work just like the props for good details: whenever anybody thinks I've moved my character toward my story-stakes for him, they give me a coin.

-Vincent
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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the glyphpress


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« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2005, 08:32:02 AM »

As protagonist-player, do I have any use for 1 coin? Seems to me I'll always be bidding even numbers.

Ah, well, you gotta bid at least one, so if you only have one, you should probably bid it if you want the stakes. Particularly if you're opening the scene. Also, say I reeeeally want to bid my Coersion +3 trait. I might bid two to make sure it gets up there, plus the one it takes to bring us up even. So that's three.

Quote
Here's a suggestion disguised as a question: can I get props for making my character move toward my story-stakes for him? Pretty please? It'd work just like the props for good details: whenever anybody thinks I've moved my character toward my story-stakes for him, they give me a coin.

That's implicit in the Props mechanic, but I'll be sure to mention it explicitly. Maybe I'll have a list of stuff you can give Props for: good Color, Stakes progression, what else?

Maybe you get Props at the end of your scene (for Stakes progression only; otherwise, it's on the fly), when you jump to everyone else. It's a way of applauding mechanically.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
lumpley
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« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2005, 08:36:25 AM »

As protagonist-player, do I have any use for 1 coin? Seems to me I'll always be bidding even numbers.

Ah, well, you gotta bid at least one, so if you only have one, you should probably bid it if you want the stakes. Particularly if you're opening the scene. Also, say I reeeeally want to bid my Coersion +3 trait. I might bid two to make sure it gets up there, plus the one it takes to bring us up even. So that's three.

Hm.

I clearly don't understand how the bidding and the die relate. Don't try to explain it to me here - I mean, you can if you feel like it - but I'll need you to show me.

-Vincent
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2005, 09:09:05 AM »

Actually, I just got it cleared up in my own head, so I'll write it down:

Let's say you're playing the Protag in this scene and I'm your AP.

Your Praxis Scales are

Coersion XX0XXXXXXX Honesty
Violence XXXXXX0XXX Negotiation

You roll 3, 4, respectively.

That three sucks: you're starting out on the null point, which is pretty weak unless you have some monster Honesty Traits to bring into play. So you take that 4, Violence, cuz you want to succeed at this conflict.

You're bidding to change that number so that it stays in Violence, or at least you can shift it over to Negotiation later.

I, meantime, want to alter the die be be a negative number or play a Relationship that will allow me to make you fail by Honesty, cuz that roll sucked monkey.

You let me open. I say, "Trait x, Violence +3" and bid two coins on it and I narrate the Antagonist making things more violent than your character wants. In this case, it's more violent that you want, too.

First, you put down coins to equal my coins, two coins. You narrate diffusing that violence.

Then you put down a coin that says "Trait y, Negotiation 1". You narrate the Protag talking to the Antag.

Let's say I'm out of coins now. You've won by violence. You narrate shooting the Antag in the nuts and you get your stakes.

Assuming the stakes weren't the Antag's life, he'll be back in some way, maybe with newly installed Robonuts.

Does that clarify?
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
ScottM
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Fresno, California


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« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2005, 10:17:05 AM »

This still sounds good (I've liked the general idea since it was first mentioned).

What shape are your documents in-- still largely unwritten or hand scratched? Or are you tweaking documents that are approaching playtest status?

Scott
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Hey, I'm Scott Martin. I sometimes scribble over on my blog, llamafodder. Some good threads are here: RPG styles.
Joshua A.C. Newman
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the glyphpress


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« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2005, 10:21:22 AM »

Scott, I'm taking a break from rewriting some changes in CR to answer this post. Stop by the glyphpress forum for a playtest announcement when it comes.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
joepub
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Joe Thomas McDonald


« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2005, 09:58:37 AM »

Just a question... doesn's this system mean it's always possible to win the fight?


I mean, if you fail honesty, doesn't that just mean you've SUCCEEDED in winning by lying?

Or do you declare which direct you move in? how does this work?
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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the glyphpress


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« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2005, 10:09:45 AM »

Just a question... doesn's this system mean it's always possible to win the fight?


I mean, if you fail honesty, doesn't that just mean you've SUCCEEDED in winning by lying?

Or do you declare which direct you move in? how does this work?

Ah, this has changed. We were using v. 0.0.2 or something when this was posted. Watch out for old threads.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
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