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Author Topic: [WGP] Second playtest  (Read 1097 times)
Paul Strack
Member

Posts: 46


« on: March 08, 2006, 08:21:58 AM »

I ran my second game of "With Great Power..." last night, and now have a much better grasp on the structure of the game. I stuck closer to the rules as written; what house rules I used were aimed at simplifying the game. I had 3 players, all new to WGP. I gave the players pre-created characters with 9 or so suggested aspects, and let the players pick the actual aspects they would use in play.

1) Mike played Doctor Evans, a semi-crazy genius inventor that fights crime and funds the hero group. Mike chose Dr. Evans' friendship with the philosopher/mystic Cecile Snow as his Strife aspect. Mike is an old-school role-player, having played traditional RPGs for years. He picked up the game mechanics very quickly, and was focused on keeping me honest, rules-wise.

2) Sonya played Blue Static, an electricity-power heroine with an unpleasant past. Blue Static got her powers from a government program called the Project, but in the process and went on a rampage. When Blue Static recovered, she became an independent hero. Sonya chose Blue Static's "Thrill Seeker" conviction as her Strife aspect, which was tricky to integrate into the villains' plans. Sonya was my most sympathetic player; she is relatively new to role-playing, but I had time to talk up the game to her in advance, and she was keen on playing.

3) Caephren played Captain Freedom, a patriotic hero who also got his powers from the Project. She chose the Captain's origin as his Strife aspect. Caephren was my least sympathetic player, and it was probably a mistake having her play. She is a new and primarily social role-player. The storytelling parts of role-playing don't appeal to her; she would prefer to just hang out with the gaming group and beat up things. I was hoping that WGP might get her to stretch in new directions, but it didn't work.

I spent more time on the villain's plans time around, which made the story flow better. I put together a "Plan Worksheet", which was a big help. It had blanks for all the important info about the Plans and the villains, so I wouldn't forget anything. I had two villains, the Winter Queen and Mazer. The Winter Queen wanted to use her cold magic to control heroes, using (a) information she stole from the Project (Captain Freedom's Strife aspect) and (b) the mystic knowledge of Cecil Snow (Doctor Evans' Strife aspect). Mazer was the Winter Queen's flunky, but she wanted to convince her old pal Blue Static that being a villain is more thrilling than being a hero (Blue Static's Strife aspect).

I ran through the basic rules and started off with a set of Enrichment scenes. The players really struggled with how to start these scenes, more so than the first time I ran the game. I had to prompt them with suggestions for what the scenes might be about. Once we got through these initial scenes, the story flowed more smoothly.

E1) Blue Static's first enrichment scene was saving a bunching of kids on a school bus. Her stakes were that all the kids would be fine; my stakes were that she would get carried away with her electrical powers and hurt the kids. Blue Static won this.

E2) Doctor Evans' first scene was between him and his friend Cecil Snow, playing Go. Cecil was trying to convince Doctor Evans to take his business partner, Wanda, out on a date. Doctor Evans was being oblivious. Doctor Evans' stake was to get Cecil to drop the subject; my stakes were that Cecil would get annoyed at the Doctor's obtuseness and decide to take things into his own hands. Doctor Evans lost.

E3) Captain Freedom's first scene was a press conference where he was getting an award from the city. Crazy Mary, his obsessive "greatest fan" was in the crowd, making trouble and trying to convince the Captain to pay attention to her. The Captain's stakes were to leave the scene gracefully; my stakes were that the press would interview Crazy Mary and make the Captain look bad. The Captain lost.

E4) The GM's first enrichment scenes was about Mazer and her flunky Johnny Mack following a security card to steal an access card to the government's Project facility. My stakes were that the villain would knock out the guard and take the key. The players' stakes were a bit outlandish: having the guard knock out Johnny, Mazer screaming and generally making the villains look like idiots. Anyway, the villains won.

C1) The first conflict scene was at the government Project base, where the heroes were called by the military because the villains were stealing the Project files. The villains present were Mazer, Johnny and a bunch of ice-men flunkies of the Winter Queen.

C1-S1) I was picking a fight with the Captain. My stakes were that the villains got away with the Project files including information about the Captain. Caephren's first counter-stakes were that the Captain would capture all of the villains. After I pointed out the other heroes needed something to do, she toned it down to the Captain capturing one of the villains and learning who was behind the scheme.

C1-S2) Mike made Doctor Evans' stakes using his new laser-blocking invention to stop Mazer. My counter stakes were that his device would fail badly and that Cecil Snow (who showed up at the end of the scene) would be hurt in the process.

C1-S3) I can't remember Blue Static's stakes (capture a villain, I think). My counter-stake is that Mazer would set up a future meeting with Blue Static so I could further Mazer's Plans.

Due to some early Cancellations, I completely dominated in this conflict and all of the heroes lost. They were somewhat upset with this until I pointed out that they got to fill three spots on the Story Arc and took away a lot of my advantages.

E5) Doctor Evans went to the hospital to see Cecil Snow and basically acted like an ass (which was in character). The Doctor's stakes were that Cecil apologizes for being in the wrong place and getting hurt. My stakes were that Cecil would be furious with the Doctor and open to the Winter Queen's advances. The Doctor lost (both me and the player wanted this), so after the Doctor left, the Winter Queen showed up and recruited Cecil to her cause, promising him magical power. The Cecil aspect was devastated at this point.

E6) I had a GM enrichment, with the villains in the Winter Queen's snow cave, working on the Project data. I revealed that the data was encrypted, and made my stakes that Mazer remember that Blue Static's electrical powers could be used to decrypt the data. The players' stakes were that the ceiling of the cave would collapse, destroying the computer (at first Caephren wanted the collapsing ceiling to destroy the villains, but again I had her tone it down).

E7) Blue Static's second enrichment scene was between her and Mazer, where Mazer revealed that they had been partners back when Blue Static was running from the government. Mazer tried to get Blue Static to admit she had more fun as a villain than she did as a hero. Again, I can't remember Blue Static's stakes; she lost anyway. Interestingly enough, I forgot to make the data decryption part of the stakes, so I let the player decide what she wanted. She gave the decrypted data back to Mazer, but with Blue Static's and Captain Freedom's data removed.

E8) Captain Freedom's second enrichment scene was between the Captain and Crazy Mary. Caephren wanted Mary to have a rock hit her head and make her forget about the Captain. At the other players' suggestion, my counter-stakes were the reverse: that the Captain would get hit on the head and think Mary was really his girlfriend. I played a neutral card so that the player could decide what happened, and the Captain won. Exit Mary.

C2) I started to set up the next Conflict scene, when Mike suggested that the now converted Cecil bring Dr. Evans and the other heroes to the Winter Queen's ice-cave for an ambush. That was more interesting than what I came up with, so we went with that. It was getting late and I wanted to move things to some kind of resolution, so I picked fights with all the heroes and set the initial stakes.

C1-S1) My stakes against Blue Static were that she be convinced that villainy was more thrilling than heroism (this was the same as the last Enrichment scene, but I was getting tired). Blue Static's stakes were that she remains heroic. Sonya then immediately devastated her "Thrill Seeker" aspect, giving me what I wanted anyway.

C1-S2) My stakes against Dr. Evans were that Cecil demonstrate magic was more powerful than science. Dr. Evans pushed for the reverse.

C1-S3) My stakes against the Captain were that the villains would manage to retrieve data about his origins from the files. The Captain's stake were that he would capture and destroy the files.

Because of the number of the Devastated and Threatened Strife aspects, I drew an insane number of cards, and didn't think I could possibly lose the fight. After discards, my hand had 4 wild cards, 11 face cards and 6 other cards I picked at random because I didn't think it mattered. Boy was I wrong. The players also had more cards, and did a much better job of playing to my weak suits. They also had a few well-timed cancellations, and stole some wilds from me. I had to make a lot of villain aspects suffer just to keep up.

This scene was hard fought, and Mike in particular derived a lot of satisfaction from the number of cards he forced me to play. In the end, Captain Freedom and Blue Static both won their stakes, but I was able to get Dr. Evans to yield.

If we had played it out, very likely we would had another round of enrichment scenes and one more conflict, but it was getting late so we decided to call it a night. I am a lot more comfortable with the pacing, now. It seems like 3 rounds of Enrichment/Conflict are about the right length for the game, and maybe 6 to 8 hours of play. This would be two evenings in my regular group, or about one Convention gaming slot.

My biggest mistake in this game was coaxing a player into the game who clear wasn't interested. Caephren didn't like this style of game at all. Although the other two players generally enjoyed the game, it was a lot more work for me, because one of my players just wouldn't cooperate. She was constantly setting stakes that would immediately resolve the situation if she won, and generally complained about the rules and the gameplay. This would clearly be important for a Convention as well: setting expectations and getting the right players is critical.

The things I liked most about WGP were still present. All the players (including Caephren) got into playing minor characters in the Enrichment scenes, and the level of player engagement was very high. Once again this was the best part of the game.

I still had problems with Conflict scenes. They went better this time around, because the villain's plans were more defined and I did a better job of making sure stakes were properly set. The conflicts still went on too long. There were between 6 and 9 exchanges between me and each player to resolve their part of the Conflict. Towards the end it was hard to come up with new and creative ways for the heroes and villains to hurt each other, and the amount of switching going on was also confusing. Since it was hard to time the end of a fight, it was also hard to tie in the stakes to the fights resolution.

The next time I run the game, I intend to use the optional rules for switching players, so that switches only occur with suit changes. With fewer switches, I think the fights will flow more smoothly.

My biggest problem with the game is the sheer number of rules and moving parts to keep track off. With the strain of dealing with a problem player, I had a trouble keeping everything straight. Juggling rules, stories and teaching the game was too much, and I forgot a number of important rules in the process. I think this is another reason I enjoy enrichment scenes more: the rules are more straightforward, and it is easier to concentrate on the story.

I am still gung-ho on WGP, but my player reactions were more mixed this time. Caephren didn't get it, Sonya enjoyed it, and Mike was neutral. I think I need at least one more round of rules digestion and simplification before I am really comfortable with the game.
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Michael S. Miller
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Posts: 846


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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2006, 12:15:30 PM »

Hi, Paul!

Thanks for playing and for posting! Sounds like you folks had a pretty good game. My favorite scene:

E5) Doctor Evans went to the hospital to see Cecil Snow and basically acted like an ass (which was in character). The Doctor's stakes were that Cecil apologizes for being in the wrong place and getting hurt. My stakes were that Cecil would be furious with the Doctor and open to the Winter Queen's advances. The Doctor lost (both me and the player wanted this), so after the Doctor left, the Winter Queen showed up and recruited Cecil to her cause, promising him magical power. The Cecil aspect was devastated at this point.

The heart-wrenching-ness of it all! Brilliant!

Quote
My biggest mistake in this game was coaxing a player into the game who clear wasn't interested.

Yeah, if a person refuses to care about what they've created, there's really not much WGP, or any game, can do for them. It also took me quite a while to figure which of my fellow gamers might like some of my indie games and which ones wouldn't. No game is a perfect fit for everyone.
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