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Author Topic: Galactic!  (Read 46159 times)
Matt Wilson
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« on: July 12, 2006, 07:14:46 AM »

Hey, school's out for a while, and I finally took care of that giant printing job, so maybe I have a little time to spend online for the next couple months.

I'll start off by sharing. Here's my game in the works, Galactic. I've been agonizing over it for a really long time, but I'm gonna be playing it this weekend, and Clinton and Remi and Jason started playing it this week. Want to play it too? See below.

At its heart, the game is about human beings in crisis situations. It's also about making uncomfortable choices. You know how in Trollbabe you have to risk the well being of a relationship in order to try again in a conflict? It's like that, kind of, except that down the road is the welfare of the whole human race.

It's meant to be nar facilitating, and it may be walking a fine line between N and G. You have strategic resources, but your resources all have faces, so to speak, and how you apply them makes for fun reactions and judgments around the table. Was it necessary for people to get hurt? Maybe you think so. What about the other players? At least that's my intended "fruitful void."

The necessary files to playtest it are here: http://www.dog-eared-designs.com/g_playtest.zip

I'm keen on answering any questions, and I'm dying to get some AP reports, but I'm totally not interested in speculation about what might happen in play.

Oh, and just in case this comes up: I originally imagined this as using some cool color tiles, and they still have kind of a vestigial use in this version, but they're something that I can't effectively package without putting a big burden on the players to print out and so on.
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Michael McAleese
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2006, 01:49:22 PM »

Hi Matt. First off, let me say this is a facinating work. I love the overall arcing storyline and its inherent wargame-like aspects.

I'm a relative newcomer to narrative/conflict resolution games. I've only run one session of Primetime Adventures (which pretty much worked and was enjoyed by all) as the conflict resolution format doesn't seem to engage my regular players. Galactic seems to have a nice balance between conflict resolution and task resolution which may be more appealing.

It took a few moments for me to understand the conflict resolution mechanism from the text. It may be a common resolution form in other CR games, but being new to me it took a couple of readings to understand the little dice battle mini-game. It seems the object is to knock out your opposing dice until one side either realizes they have little hope and conceeds or gets all their dice knocked out. Correct?

The idea of each player having a captain and the other players crewmembers on their ship is a great way to offer everyone the spotlight and hero role equally. However, it seems the idea of play is to focus in turn on each captain, completing a story for each captain in every gaming session, yes? I would expect that to be very jarring and make following the thread of the story difficult, wouldn't it? It would be hard on the GM who still holds the responsibility for the story no matter how much is delegated to the players. At first glance I'd be more comfortable with spending an entire game session with one captain and rotating between sessions, though that would slow down the pace of the overall campaign story somewhat.

I'd like to see some sort of starting event or story to kick off the captains in their quest to save mankind if possible, even if it's just a suggestion to have such an event. Something has to light a fire under them and make them start this quest, since the Scourge doesn't even show up for quite a while (the cliffhanger ending of season one maybe). Something to tie their storylines together?

The resolution event seems to be logically focused on one captain saving the universe. Of course by that point you might be down to just one captain, but it might be interesting for there to be some game mechanic around all the captains joining forces for the endgame. Or even a mechanic around their teaming up from time to time during the course of play. The switching captain gameplay does kind of look like a bunch of separate adventure story lines, one of which may go on to save the universe. On the other hand, since every player would be playing multiple characters at the same time, having them meet seems to be a nightmare.

Thanks for posting it, it's certainly given me something to think about.
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Matt Wilson
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2006, 05:48:48 AM »

Michael:

Thanks, and welcome to the Forge. Long-time lurker? I gotta run to the post office, but here's some quick responses...

Quote
It seems the object is to knock out your opposing dice until one side either realizes they have little hope and conceeds or gets all their dice knocked out. Correct?

Yup. It's kinda like Risk. Credit Ben Lehman with pointing me in that direction. Or blame him, depending on how you feel about it. It can be very rewarding to point at him and screech like a body-snatchers pod person, regardless of your feelings.

Quote
I would expect that to be very jarring and make following the thread of the story difficult, wouldn't it?

I dunno. Trollbabe plays this way, and some people might find that jarring, but a lot of groups seem to like it as well. My response is this: "try it and see." How coy of me, huh?

Quote
I'd like to see some sort of starting event or story to kick off the captains in their quest to save mankind if possible, even if it's just a suggestion to have such an event.

As in a kicker from Sorcerer. Funny thing is, I was thinking about this very same thing yesterday, and I'll probably use it for the game I'm going to start tomorrow. My thought is that you describe the circumstances that get the captain going, and you provide a tiny hint about the Scourge, like a color or sound or smell or something. The GM has to use that.

Quote
The resolution event seems to be logically focused on one captain saving the universe. Of course by that point you might be down to just one captain, but it might be interesting for there to be some game mechanic around all the captains joining forces for the endgame.

I agree. It's something that lazy Matt needs to attend to. I have stuff in my head, kind of. Does that count? I'll follow up on that maybe later today.

And thanks again for posting.


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Thunder_God
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2006, 07:21:22 AM »

Trollbabes is often described as a good game for One-on-one though, how does that figure in?
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
Michael McAleese
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2006, 07:28:28 AM »

Michael:

Thanks, and welcome to the Forge. Long-time lurker?

A few months anyway. A post on Slashdot mentioned Prime Time Adventures, so I checked it out and then delved into the forums.

My thought is that you describe the circumstances that get the captain going, and you provide a tiny hint about the Scourge, like a color or sound or smell or something. The GM has to use that.

The classic incident would be some brush with the Scourge that causes the captains to feel responsible for the coming storm, such as awakening a long-dormant probe.

Maybe Isabel's great ship still holds some secrets even after five generations. Maybe some researchers find something very different in a section of the ship that has been walled away, almost protectively secured. When tinkering with it something horrific is released, and several heros (who happen to be on or near Isabel's ship) step up to save the day. As the thing dies it sends out some sort of energy burst barely understood by the surviving researchers except that it was FTL and directed to the Core.

You might even add a psychic element where the thing/entity/construct probes the minds of our player characters such that a) they have a clear understanding that the Scourge is real and coming and b) they are personally marked/doomed in some way, while at the same time gaining some form of personal protection or defense against the Scourge.

That might be more Scourgy-ness than you might want at the beginning. Still, you have to open a story strong and give motivation.
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Matt Wilson
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2006, 09:33:03 AM »

If you haven't checked out Sorcerer, I recommend that you do. It's pretty much the godparent of all the games produced by people who frequent this site.

Kickers are a player-provided setup, where that player introduces a situation that the character can't ignore, something that the player is really interested in.

So for Galactic, you as a player would write up something like, "my captain was on Severus colony and found an ancient recording that showed a confederation-era settlement under attack. The footage was corrupted, but there was a distinct whirring noise in the background. It could only have been the Scourge. Now she's out trying to find people who will believe her and join her in finding a way to make sure they don't come back."
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Michael McAleese
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2006, 12:12:59 PM »

I see, making the responsibility for motivating the character part of the player's job. That would tend to make things easier.
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Matt Wilson
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2006, 12:30:06 PM »

Exactly. There's just no reason for any game to put a burden like that on the GM.
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hix
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Steve Hickey


« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2006, 09:21:02 PM »

Really enjoyable read. And a couple of questions.

1. How many episodes/adventures do you reckon a ... campaign (?) of Galactic will run?

2. Could you expand on your aims the 'unlimited travel on charted routes' / 'always stop at a planet' rules?
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Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
hix
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Steve Hickey


« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2006, 02:18:33 PM »

Hey Matt, just to clarify my second question - could a captain take their ship along a charted route and branch off it at any point into unexplored space, and that's the point at which their 5 hexes of travel starts being counted?
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Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Matt Wilson
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2006, 02:47:19 PM »

Steve:

It's hard to know what you mean without a map to look at. The deal is you can reach any world for an adventure that's within 5 hexes of a world where you (or any other player) have already had an adventure. Does that answer your question?
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Doyce
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« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2006, 07:26:39 AM »

Matt,

Holy crap this thing is cool. 

I wanna run this straight... I wanna kitbash it to run X-Com... I want to convince someone else to run it so I can *play* it.

How soon do you need AP and feedback? 

Doyce
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--
Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Matt Wilson
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« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2006, 08:07:46 AM »

Quote
Holy crap this thing is cool.

Thanks. I'm putting that on the back cover.

X-com... what an awesome idea. I loved that game.

Quote
How soon do you need AP and feedback?

I want to get a lot of feedback on this game, what with the currency and finale stuff being kind of intricate, so whenever you can play it, I'm happy to get feedback.
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Glendower
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My name is Jon.


« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2006, 10:12:57 AM »

Do we toss APs in playtest, in this forum, or PM you?

I just tried it last night.  Short version of it is Factions yay, Galaxy map yay, Captain generation yay, GM hazard huh?, crewmates huh?.  I can elaborate, just don't know where.
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Hi, my name is Jon.
Michael McAleese
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« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2006, 11:54:33 AM »

On page 20 under Building the Adventure - Hazard, it states: "In addition to gaining Hazard from Fortune spent by other players..." I can't see anyplace in the rules where this happens.

From my analysis of GM Hazard, you only earn Hazard in two ways:

1) Rolling the Adversity dice for the world being explored at the start of the adventure
2) In Conflict between players and specific GMC's, in a similar fashion to the way players earn Fortune (i.e. roll eliminated dice, odd give a Hazard point).

There are some meta-objectives to keep in mind for the GM it seems.

1) Save up 25 Hazard for the first Scourge event. Saving 2-3 Hazard per adventure for it might be prudent.
2) Save up another 25 Hazard for the second Scourge event. Again, 2-3 Hazard per adventure seems reasonable.
3) Save up 35 Hazard for the Scourgyness of the endgame.

This does mean the first few adventures will be a bit easier as the GM is holding back Hazard points. Once the reserve has been met you can go all out, so there's a bit of a dramatic buildup there. Nice.

It seems the player meta-objectives center around gaining connection dice, which are essentially their re-rolls. They want to explore planets and complete goals to get connections. They want to explore planets with high Adversities to gain the higher value connection dice.

By the time the map is mostly explored you could expect players to be holding maybe 7d6 and 7d4 or so in connections. That's a lot of re-rolls, but they'll need them to save humanity.

The rules mention several times the player affecting planets they "influence". It's not spelled out anywhere I saw, but I suppose that means they can only spend Fortune on planets they've had adventures on.

Regarding explored planets, I assume you could have further adventures on that planet with other captains if they wished? Part of me is thinking that achieving a goal "eats" that Adversity die, thus limiting the number of connection dice there are available to be won in the map.

Maybe a Disorder event could add Adversity dice to an explored system, needing them to be resolved before the disorder is ended?
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