*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 25, 2017, 09:31:27 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4284 Members Latest Member: - Nicholas Mizer Most online today: 190 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Shab-al-Hiri Roach] Convention Play  (Read 7968 times)
Jason Morningstar
Member

Posts: 1428


WWW
« on: November 14, 2005, 06:39:55 AM »

I ran The Shab-al-Hiri Roach three times at MACE, our local gaming con in High Point, NC.  I'll save the mechanical feedback for another post in the design forum, but there were some interesting things going on I'd like to tease apart here.  But first, Regina Sutton:

Amazingly, Pemberton's most popular co-ed survived two of the three games, her soul (if not her virtue) intact.  In the third she was Roached (more on that in a minute) and used as a Squeaky Fromme-esque assassin, trying to take out the President of the Board of Trustees with a revolver hidden in her pom-pom.  She, along with an entire military marching band, were aerosoled by a shaped charge hidden in the bass drum.  Good times.

One thing that came up - and that is definitely going into the rules - is the notion of having a lines  and veils discussion before play.  Particularly in the third (and most fun) session, we hit on some very mature themes (rape, racism, and anti-Semitism to name a few).  Clinton stopped us and made sure where we, as a group, stood on including these themes, and I'm very grateful.  It just hadn't occurred to me, since I'm usually ready to play until the wheels fall off myself.  In this case the players were uniformly "bring it on!", so we all knew that anything was fair game. 

Interestingly, in two games players narrated their PCs giving the Roach to various NPCS - in one it was Regina Sutton and in another, a player created a squad of black widow flapper suicide bombers.  In both cases it was great and I don't see any reason not to allow this, but it caught me off guard a bit. 

Now to the crux of the matter - for the first time, I had a generally flat session.  It wasn't not fun, but it didn't really hit on all cylinders like I was expecting.  I'd like to figure out why the Saturday night session didn't really rock. 

We were playing in a noisy hotel lobby surrounded by LARPers and regular folks admiring the LARPers, which was obviously a huge distraction.  The other two sessions were also very loud and played in suboptimal conditions. 

The composition of the group was mixed - three hard-core Forge people (speak up, folks) and two guys with a more traditional background.  One of these two (let's call him Bob) had played other indie games during the con - Eric's Dogs game (in which he seemed to have a good time) and Luke's Burning Wheel game (which he walked out on - something worth exploring in itself).  The other guy (let's call him Kenny) had gotten the hard sell on the Roach from Lisa while playing card games.  I'm not clear on his gaming background, but he really struggled with the Roach and left after the third Event, saying he had another thing to do.  I saw him later and thanked him for playing, and he said he had a good time, so I don't have much data to go on with Kenny.  Ultimately I don't think player mix had any influence on the result, but I thought it was worth mentioning. 

I think the problem was two-fold: 

1.  There was not much role-playing - players were not assigning NPC roles to other players.  Scenes were framed, PCs were committed or not, and the conflict was played out, followed by a bit of narration.  All the roleplay really took place between PCs.  Honestly, I didn't really notice this as it was happening, but in retrospect it was a problem. 

2.  Many of the characters had romantic and sexual hooks, but there was not much cross-over or interaction among lustful PCs, and very little violence overall.  NPCs were not being abused in horrible ways, which is something that really drives play generally.  There were few "challenge" conflicts, in which something important to another PC was at stake.  Some of this may have stemmed form the mix of Enthusiasms chosen, and I wonder if this needs more attention.  We discussed changing some of the more passive Enthusiasms after the session. 

I'd really like to hear from the participants (Adam, Eric, and Lisa) to see if they agree with this assessment, and if so, what we should have done to correct it in play.  I'd also like to hear comments on why the third session (Clinton, Remi, Andy, and Lisa) rocked so hard.  Lisa, since you played in both, your thoughts are particularly useful.  Of course everyone's comments are welcome. 

Thanks,

--Jason
Logged

Clinton R. Nixon
Member

Posts: 2624


WWW
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2005, 12:38:57 PM »

... But first, Regina Sutton: Amazingly, Pemberton's most popular co-ed survived two of the three games, her soul (if not her virtue) intact.  In the third she was Roached (more on that in a minute) and used as a Squeaky Fromme-esque assassin, trying to take out the President of the Board of Trustees with a revolver hidden in her pom-pom.  She, along with an entire military marching band, were aerosoled by a shaped charge hidden in the bass drum.  Good times.

Man, that was fun. Nothing quite so dark as using your easily manipulated love-slave to try to kill the husband of the woman who has spurned you.

Quote
One thing that came up - and that is definitely going into the rules - is the notion of having a lines  and veils discussion before play.  Particularly in the third (and most fun) session, we hit on some very mature themes (rape, racism, and anti-Semitism to name a few).  Clinton stopped us and made sure where we, as a group, stood on including these themes, and I'm very grateful.

That discussion was nice, mainly because no one felt like they had to hold back afterwards. We knew that no one was going to get offended by terms like "Jewess" or scenes like "I'm going to force him to have dirty roach man-sex with me." 
 
Quote
Interestingly, in two games players narrated their PCs giving the Roach to various NPCS - in one it was Regina Sutton and in another, a player created a squad of black widow flapper suicide bombers.  In both cases it was great and I don't see any reason not to allow this, but it caught me off guard a bit. 

I'm replying to every paragraph, and apologize for that. Anyway: this worked well, but I think if you formalize anything about it, make sure not to give those NPCs Roach dice. We didn't in our game, and that worked well. Otherwise, it's just an excellent way to cheat.

Quote
I'd really like to hear from the participants (Adam, Eric, and Lisa) to see if they agree with this assessment, and if so, what we should have done to correct it in play.  I'd also like to hear comments on why the third session (Clinton, Remi, Andy, and Lisa) rocked so hard.  Lisa, since you played in both, your thoughts are particularly useful.  Of course everyone's comments are welcome. 

So, I can't comment on why one session fell a little flat. I can offer the knowledge that, as you know, one of my TSOY sessions fell very flat, too. It's a danger of the con setting, and it's nothing to worry too much about. That said, it's worth exploring, as it's like stress-testing your game.

The third session rocked hard because we knew our limits (or lack thereof) and pushed them as far as possible. Games like the Roach rely on "wiggling the loose tooth," so to speak.
Logged

Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Eric Provost
Member

Posts: 581


WWW
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2005, 01:32:32 PM »

I sat and thought on the flatness of the session quite a bit today.  Mostly I tried to consider what was different about the flat session vs. the really excellent session we'd had previously.  And while I'm still inclined to say that I think the enthusiams could still use some polishing, I cannot say that I think the enthusiams really had a dang thing to do with it.  I really do think it was the NPC-assignment rule that we missed.  There's some magic element in being told to play an NPC which, five seconds ago, you didn't know jack squat about.  I think it forces you to be really creative really fast.  And I think that's exactly where the cool NPCs come from.  And once you have cool NPCs then you've got something powerful to frame your PCs against, making them all the cooler too.

I've got other ideas brewing in my noggin to suggest for roach-polishing, but I'll hold off for your other thread.

-Eric
Logged

Adam Dray
Member

Posts: 676


WWW
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2005, 09:10:28 PM »

Clinton, tell me it wasn't the TSoY game that I was in that fell flat. It wasn't, right? Cuz then the common factor is me and that would suck. ;)

I totally think it was the lack of real role-playing. I was talking to Andy about this (and I think Eric and Lisa and Andy and I discussed it over Mexican food). When Jason explained how to play, he did so by example. He took the first scene and walked us through the procedure and he didn't mention assigning NPCs or role-playing. I had the second or third scene, and I followed his example. Frame, explain, some smack talk to discourage players from betting against me, roll, narrate. I think, if Jason had shown us role-playing in the first scene, we'd have followed his lead. Next time we see that happen in some other game, though, we'll all know better and speak up earlier. ;)

Logged

Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Jason Morningstar
Member

Posts: 1428


WWW
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2005, 05:04:29 AM »

Oh nice, blame me, Adam - as though, as the game's author, I should know how to play it or something!

It's actually reassuring, because I remember being pretty keyed-up about making sure that Bob and Kenny, who were a little out of their element, understood the procedures and had an opportunity to contribute and have a good time.  I was so focused on this that I sort of forgot how to play my own game, I guess. 

So naturally I blame Eric and Lisa, who had played previously and should have caught it and called me on it.  Spread the blame around. 

--Jason
Logged

Adam Dray
Member

Posts: 676


WWW
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2005, 08:13:57 AM »

I have to play it again now! See, I had a lot of fun once I figured out what to do (in Act 3 or so). If that was the worst Roach game you ever played, I'd love to play in the best. =)
Logged

Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2005, 09:50:48 AM »

Hello,

One thing we did a lot at the last GenCon was "boot camp" some of the newer publishers through their own demo scenarios - and in most cases, it was a little shocking to see how they needed coaching on teaching play.

Jason, if you come out of this with a mental, or better written guide on "what I gotta tell people" while setting up for the Roach, then you've just written a key part of your game text.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Steve Segedy
Member

Posts: 97


WWW
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2005, 12:08:16 PM »

I think it's important that we get playtest results back from sessions in which Jason hasn't participated, so that we can figure out which essentials of the game are written down and which aren't.  That said, I also think the game is pretty solid as written, and I'm eager to see it go to print...

Another element that would probably be useful for such demos (and maybe for general play) would be another cheat sheet listing the "sequence of play".  This would take care of making sure important steps didn't get missed (drawing cards before a scene), but it would also provide a space to say "take a moment and talk about the story's boundaries...", or other such statements.
Logged

The Shab-al-Hiri Roach and Grey Ranks, available now at IPR!
Jason Morningstar
Member

Posts: 1428


WWW
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2005, 12:20:54 PM »

Good point Steve (welcome to the Forge, dude!)  - there were several occasions where I jumped into demoing the initial conflict before drawing cards.  Nervous, I guess.  A sequence of play in front of me would have helped.  I think my novice demo chops really came through, as Ron suggested. 

All, Steve is my partner in Bully Pulpit Games and attended MACE, so he knows of what he speaks.

There have been several actual play posts by people who are Not Me, but I'd love to see some more.  I considered sitting out of a session at MACE and observing, but the number of players didn't really support it.

Logged

Steve Segedy
Member

Posts: 97


WWW
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2005, 12:38:34 PM »

One of the things I admired about Luke's Burning Wheel games was his well-practiced delivery.  I gather that he has something of a reputation for this, but in general he's doing a good job of marketing the game.  The formalized demo scenarios worked well to get the play moving and let him largely watch from the outside, stepping in to guide players as necessary.  Next time we get a chance to run a playtest (at this point I hope that's after the book goes to the publisher), we should plan to just get the ball rolling and watch the chaos.

Logged

The Shab-al-Hiri Roach and Grey Ranks, available now at IPR!
Lisa Provost
Member

Posts: 52

aka urbanpagan


WWW
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2005, 12:28:25 PM »

Jason,

I've thought about this long and hard (tis why I hadn't posted sooner) and here are my thoughts:

1.  There was not much role-playing - players were not assigning NPC roles to other players.  Scenes were framed, PCs were committed or not, and the conflict was played out, followed by a bit of narration.  All the roleplay really took place between PCs.  Honestly, I didn't really notice this as it was happening, but in retrospect it was a problem. 

I whole heartedly agree.  I think this was one of the 'problems' with the Saturday night game.  It seemed so mechanical to me.  In the Sunday game, we were all playing the NPC's.  Trading them back and forth and fleshing them out more to our liking.  But it leads me to:

One thing that came up - and that is definitely going into the rules - is the notion of having a lines  and veils discussion before play.  Particularly in the third (and most fun) session, we hit on some very mature themes (rape, racism, and anti-Semitism to name a few).  Clinton stopped us and made sure where we, as a group, stood on including these themes, and I'm very grateful.  It just hadn't occurred to me, since I'm usually ready to play until the wheels fall off myself.  In this case the players were uniformly "bring it on!", so we all knew that anything was fair game.

Okay this was definitely the crux of it I'm sure.  While we did touch on some sensitive subjects in the Saturday game as you mention below:

2.  Many of the characters had romantic and sexual hooks, but there was not much cross-over or interaction among lustful PCs, and very little violence overall.

...but nothing like the Sunday game.  Come on... forcible anal rape of another PC in under 15 minutes!  It was great! 

I really, really think it was the consensual confort level for the game being laid out for everyone to see before we got into the really hard core stuff of the game.  Once that was out of the way, I knew I could bring everything out that the other gamers might not be offended to hear coming out of the mouth of a "lady".  ;)
Logged

Adam Dray
Member

Posts: 676


WWW
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2005, 12:39:37 PM »

Yeah, it never occurred to me to draw lines. I knew a few of you guys already and felt comfortable enough being myself with you. We killed Kenny -- er, scared him away or something and that left Bob, and I'd been in a few games with him and nothing we were doing seemed over the top.  The Saturday game had some sexual themes and some very vague sexual notions but was anything really over the top? Some vague descriptions of sex with a co-ed in the closet, that's about it.

Logged

Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Jason Morningstar
Member

Posts: 1428


WWW
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2005, 01:10:53 PM »

...but nothing like the Sunday game.  Come on... forcible anal rape of another PC in under 15 minutes!  It was great! 

Great for you, maybe.  Poor Dr. Shuttlecock is still sore.  But I took this experience to heart and revised the rules a bit - see the Design forum post for more on that.  Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Lisa and Adam! it didn't occur to me that the "lines and veils" thing was a major impediment inthe earlier game, but it very well could have been.

--Jason
Logged

Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!