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Author Topic: [BtI] Breaking the Ice in Sweden  (Read 3453 times)
Jonas Ferry

Posts: 111

« on: November 15, 2005, 05:16:58 PM »

I just finished the first date in Emily Care Boss' Breaking the Ice. Me and my girlfriend Helena created characters at a café this Saturday, and finally found time to sit down and play this evening. I'll write how we did things and anyone can comment on if we did it right or not.

Character creation was fun, mainly the creation the Word Web for each character and setting up the situation for potential attractions and conflicts. Mainly conflicts and incompatibilities we would find, but that makes their future together the more unsure and interesting.

First we decided to have a PG-13 rating for the game; they probably won't have sex anyway, but if someone does have it we'll probably just state it as a fact and move on. We wanted a dark humour game, like Groundhog Day (or is that a standard romantic comedy?), and that the game would take place in Gothenburg, Sweden, where we live. The characters would meet through Spray Date, a Swedish dating site, and meet for the first time at a café.

We switched gender and travel interest. Helena's travelled a lot more than I have and she's more eager to explore the world, where my interests are closer to home.

The rules
I had read the book before, but Helena hadn't. She skimmed the overview page, and thought it gave her a good picture of the game. I then described stuff in more detail.

The first trouble was when we tried to figure out the different types of dice and when they're awarded. We decided that you award all the Attraction Dice together and not one by one, and that you do this when the Active Player suggests something that will attract the Guide's character. You can't start the scene without the Attraction Dice being awarded. Did we get it right?

The second thing was the difference between Attraction and Bonus Dice, but I think the main difference is when they're awarded. You get Bonus Dice for doing attractive stuff as well, but you get them one and one throughout the scene. ALso, you can get Bonus Dice for a lot more stuff than the Attraction Dice.

The third thing was that you can award Re-Rolls for things "true to life, creative or well done", but it's not all clear if it has to be a disadvantage to the Active Character or if it's just a catch-all reward for describing something cool.

Character creation
Anyway, we ended up with these Word Webs (pdf). They were done in Swedish, if any of the associations seems farfetched. Check out the Swedish word fika (Wikipedia) if you're not familiar with it, it's hard to translate, but very useful.

These are the characters we ended up with. By the way, is the character sheet available for download? It would be nice to be able to print it before playing next time.

Charlotte (played by me)
Self: Scared of getting fat, hyperactive.
Work: Studies to be a travel guide, works extra as a hotel cleaner.
Play: Shopping, goes out dancing.
Conflict: Has a jealous Indian guy called Rajamahewdha as an ex-boyfriend. Met him while traveling in India, convinced him to come here as an exchange student and then dumped him.

Fredrik (played by Helena)
Self: Shy, does what's expected from him.
Work: Works in a greenhouse, likes the plants more than the coworkers.
Play: Watches vampire movies.
Conflict: Is still interested in his high school crush Lisa, without her ever knowing about it.

A question on the Word Webs: the words that aren't used to generate traits, should they still be considered part of the character, or have they served their purpose as potential traits and should be forgotten? I argued for the latter, as some of the words in the web wasn't as interesting, but I can still see how you could use them as descriptors even if they aren't mechanical traits.

After finishing the characters and our coffee we strolled to the tram station, already discussing Charlotte's and Fredrik's chances of becoming a couple. They seemed quite far from each other, and it was a bit hard to picture them falling in love. But who knows? We decided that the almost blind-date thing with a dating site was perfect, because neither of them would probably pick the other one up otherwise.

Date 1
So today it was finally time for their first date. Me and Helena reminded ourselves of the rules and discussed how and when we would roll dice. We decided that we would roll dice immediately as we earned them, Attraction Dice at once, Bonus Dice one by one and Conflict Dice as the conflict entered the scene. We would award Re-Rolls on Attraction and Bonus Dice as soon as something bad happened, so good and bad stuff could happen in any order. Re-Rolls that turned up as failures would be put aside, with un-rolled dice still at the table.

It was Fredrik who had asked Charlotte out on the café date, since "that's what you do on dates." Helena was the Active Player and described the place as cozy and inviting, so I awarded her the Attraction Dice. Fredrik was the perfect gentleman when he wanted to get Charlotte something to eat and drink, but she, concerned about her weight, only wanted a glass of water. He insisted, Helena used his "does what's expected" trait, but she didn't want anything else. Before drinking she removed the cucumber slice and put it in her napkin. So eating dates are probably not the best thing with this girl.

Helena wanted more dice so she had Fredrik's crush suddenly walk in and ask if Charlotte was Fredrik's girlfriend. Fredrik was lost for words and didn't really manage to say anything, and of course I awarded Helena the Conflict Dice. After a couple of Re-Rolls we had three successes and Helena ended her turn, with one temporary attraction earned.

I chose to continue my turn at the café, with Charlotte suggesting that they'd do something else, like catch a movie. She just had to use the bathroom first. After waiting ten minutes outside the ladies' room, earning me a Bonus Die for "true to life", she had to use the men's room instead. I described the place as having two urinals and a toilet that was too dirty for Charlotte to even consider. She would instead stand over one of the urinals when Fredrik entered the room, earning me a Re-Roll for something really bad happening to the poor girl. The thing was that Helena didn't let me do it, she said that it was so unbelievable that a woman would do something like that, that it couldn't happen.

I must admit that this made a bit irritated, since I was the Active Player and she was supposed to support me. We had a brief argument as to whether this could possibly happen somewhere at some time to someone, when I said that it could surely happen in a movie. Helena agreed, but said that she thought we were playing a bit more realistic than that. That was the source of the disagreement: that I set it up like a scene in a movie and she was picturing it as it would look in real life. After some "we can do it your way, no, we can do it your way," we decided to skip the whole toilet thing and move on with the date.

Now when I think about it, perhaps Helena should've used one of her unused Bonus Dice to suggest something else than my proposed thing? That would've worked, and I would certainly have felt like it was more friendly than the "no, that can't happen" thing we had now. And if the Guide doesn't have any Bonus Dice or Re-Rolls left to use for suggestions, the scene should be over soon anyway so it shouldn't matter.

My turn continued as they walked to the cinema. They arrived there and started choosing a movie, when 15-20 loud Indian guys showed up; the ex-boyfriend and his friends. Raja, the ex, walked over and asked who "that guy" (Fredrik) was, and Charlotte quickly answered "no one" and earned three Conflict Dice. The Indians of course chose to attend the only vampire movie, and our couple joined them. My turn ended with the new compatibility "same taste in film."

The next turn was Helena's, which started out with Fredrik saying that he didn't usually have snacks at the movies, but asking if Charlotte wanted some. Fredrik not eating snacks made her more attracted to him, so Helena rolled the Attraction Dice. We followed them when they watched the movie, with Fredrik having to stop a guy from kicking their seats from behind and for some compatibility chatter about the scene in Interview with the Vampire where the young Kirsten Dunst cuts her hair, a horrible thing to do according to Charlotte. They earned one more temporary attraction.

My next scene was when they left the movie theater in rain and headed for their trams. They were taking different trams, but Charlotte wanted Fredrik to wait with her and talk about the movie. This made him more interested in her, and I rolled their three Attraction Dice. I'm sorry for not remembering how many successes I rolled each time, I didn't write it down. Anyway, the 20 Indians were of course waiting at the same station, so Charlotte's conflict was nearby if needed. As they talked about the movie a tram entered the station and threw a cascade of muddy water over Charlotte's turquoise coat. That earned me a Re-Roll, since it was something bad happening. As they cleaned it off, the ex-boyfriend's best friend came over and talked about Charlotte and the ex getting back together. Three Conflict Dice later we had the four successes necessary for a new compatibility: both use trams. Charlotte gave Fredrik a quick hug and boarded her tram, and they parted with the promise of seeing each other again later.

We ended tonight's game with rolling for the two temporary attraction points to become permanent. We rolled one die each, with no successes. To get to re-roll I decided that Charlotte had to go pick up her stuff at Rajamahewda's place while his uncle was there, with Raja commenting what a bad person she was. We decided it was ok, as it seems that you can re-roll if either something bad happens to the character or if it's something that makes the relationship harder to continue. This was bad, all right. For Fredrik Helena suggested that the café incident had inspired Fredrik's crush to invite him to a party, since seeing him with someone else made him more interesting to her. He went to the party and we re-rolled both dice for two successes! Lots of cheering from both me and Helena, and a very nice moment of the evening. Fredrik and Charlotte ended up with a new permanent attraction of 3 and two new compatibilities. We'll see in the next two dates if it continues this way.

One Can Have Her, film noir roleplaying in black and white.

Check out the indie RPG category at Wikipedia.
Emily Care

Posts: 1126

« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2005, 09:10:26 AM »

Hi Jonas,

Hooray for Fredrick & Charlotte! Thanks so much, Jonas.  I love the characters. Charlotte got Raja to move here & then dumped him! Wow--that's some conflict to explore.  And Fredrik: I so identify with him.  It is so sweet that Lisa got jealous--we probably all wish that had happened sometime in our lives.  I love the little things too: stealing the cucumber & having the seats get kicked in the theater. 

Now let me see if I can clarify your rules questions, though what you did seems perfectly workable.

What are Attraction dice rolled for?
Attraction dice are essentially free dice that you get for framing a scene, though I love how you decided to award them: for moments when you can just see the character feeling attracted to the Active Character.

When are the dice awarded?
There are different ways to do this. 

1) When I play I do the following:  narrate & describe the good stuff happening, while amassing a big pool of Attraction dice + Bonus dice.  Roll all of them, and then see if I want to pull in the other dice.  If I do, I might narrate for the Re-Rolls & roll them all at once, or do a few at a time until I've played them all out.  Conflict or Compatibility dice are rolled at any time.

2) A perfectly fine variant, which is closer to what you did is to roll each die independently, keeping track of how many can be rolled (only Re-roll failed Attraction dice and failed bonus dice etc), but perhaps rolling one Bonus die and then immediately narrating something going wrong that can give you the Re-roll.  I believe that this way takes longer, so it's harder to fit in more turns, but if it feels better to you to have the bad & good mixed up, then by all means, go for it.

Who has final say? What is the Guide's role: to support or edit?
Excellent questions. I'm sorry it got you tied up.  Here's the low-down. 

The Active Player can narrate whatever they want, but the Guide has final say on what gets awarded dice.  So Helena was within her rights to deny you a die for the infamous urinal scene.  Though I can understand how that might not be completely clear, since it is not written about as much as could be in the rules.

The Guide is there to support the Active Player, but absolutely has the right to ask for more/different/better.  It sounds to me like you put your finger on the issue you were having though: different genre expectations about what kind of story you were telling.  Resolving this kind of conflict will have to be something I address in revised versions of BtI. 

In an earlier versions, Helena could have taken a die away from you for it! I think that is too harsh, however.

What do we do with left over words from the word webs?
You're not required to use any of them.  Feel free to continue to look to them for inspiration, but you're not limited to them. But by all means, if you use them as descriptors, may as well write them down as traits.  You're free to do so & the more the merrier.

Where can I get a character sheet?
The will soon be available online, but for now I'll email you one. 

Thanks again.  I look forward to hearing how the next date goes.

best to you,

Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games
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