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Author Topic: [The Roach] Actual Play, Koalas, Incest and Gunfire  (Read 10902 times)
Jeremiah Lahnum
Member

Posts: 16


« on: August 11, 2006, 07:46:30 AM »

Last night I got play Shab-al-Hiri roach with a bunch of my friends.  Bret already posted a little bit about what he felt about the session, but I wanted to go over the play and highlight the cool moments, etc. 

My group consisted of three of my good friends, Bob, Bret, Jeff and myself.  I've gamed a lot with these guys and as a group we have a pretty good dynamic. We had a ton of fun with this game and will probably be playing it again sometime.

Due to time constraints on when we started and when people had to get up for work the next day we only had about 2 hours of play and so game ended at the close of the Pemberton Follies.

The characters were:

Professor Bartholomew Weslington III (Full Professor of Biology), Bartholomew was an expert in the breeding and migration of deer ticks.  He was a pretty standard academic who's enthusiasms lie in Wit and I believe Debauchery.  Bob played this guy and he can correct me if I'm wrong on that. 

Professor Quincy Wilson (Assistant Professor of Biology),  Quincy was from Australia and was an expert on the eco-systems of the Australian continent.  He was a fairly vindictive man who took great pleasure in causing trouble for his colleagues.  I think his enthusiasms were Sport and Cruelty.  Quincey was played by Jeff.

Professor Harvey Billingsworth (Assistant Professor of Anthropology), Harvey was a world-renowned expert on the alcoholic courtship rituals of Sub-Saharan peoples.  He was also a bit of a ladies man and had been dismissed from his previous university for having a liaison with a particular female student.  His enthusiasms were Creativity and Cruelty  Harvey was played by Bret.

Colonel Wesley Smythe Farthing III (Assistant Professor of History), Wesley was a war veteran who after being wounded in Algiers came to teach British Military History at Pemberton University.  He's the author of the book "People Britain has Sorted Out." and is soon to publish the second in that series "People Britain needs to Sort out Right Quick."  The Colonel was played by me.

Play proceeded from here and I would find that I should've refreshed myself on the rules because I screwed up a few things.  Luckily Bret was good at looking things up and getting us on track when we were confused about something. 

Right off the bat, Bret, Jeff and I all drew roaches, Bob managed to avoid it and in fact would remain free of the roach for the duration of the game. 

I chose to frame the first scene and was going to try and work in my command to face the sunrise and praise my master, but I didn't manage to do so.  In fact it turned out to be better that I didn't, as when I did it later in the event it was much funnier.  My stakes for the first scene were a bit weak and the scene in general was in my opinion.  I think it was because we hadn't gotten a feel for it yet and were testing the waters. 

Anyway the first scene involved me trying to make Quincy look like a young upstart who wouldn't respect a man who was senior in his years.  This was to gain a little in the eyes of the Chancellor who was also in the scene.   We had an argument about the seating arrangements for the Convocation ceremony and I managed to win the roll, and gain some quick reputation.  Nothing entertaining really came out of it and it just seemed a little flat compared to the other scenes. 

In fact, the second scene framed by Bret was stronger right from the start.  His character's "liaison" had been with the Colonel's niece and that was why my character disliked him.  The Roach had commanded Harvey to slander someone and Bret had chosen the Colonel.  So Bret set the stakes at whether he could convince the crowd of parents and students that the Colonel had slept with is own niece.  I should note that Bret's played his character as perfectly frank and straight to the point the whole game.  He didn't waste much time on verbal sparring with the Colonel before openly speaking about his own tryst with the Colonel's niece and mentioning how that gave them some common ground.  As the Colonel sputtered and began to grow red in the face basically every other PC at the table chimed in to add such things as "No wonder you have a picture of her on your desk, dog."  The dice were rolled, Harvey succeeded and the Colonel stomped away sputtering and mentioning the service revolver he had in his office.

This scene really worked because Bret didn't screw around with the stakes.  He went right for the throat and basically made the Colonel look like a total pervert in front of an assembled group of freshman and their parents. 

The next scene also involved a roach command and this was Jeff's command telling him to stuff himself till he burst.  He set the scene in an auditorium with a spread of food and wine.  Jeff's stakes were whether he could convince Bob's character to get involved in an eating contest with him and despite the massive gluttony on both ends make Bob's character look bad in process.  Reverend Talley played by me made some weak protests about gluttony being a sin, but didn't do much else in the scene.  Jeff chose to have the quarterback for the Panthercats in the scene and tossed him to Bret, who spent most of the scene yelling "Whoooo Panthercats are Number 1".   The die roll gave Jeff the scene and he narrated Bob's character vomiting all over himself as he couldn't keep up with Quincey's ability to gobble down food.

Finally Bob framed a scene involving his opportunity which was Shoving Match in which his stakes were whether he or the Colonel (His chosen target) ended up being shoved off the stage during a speech and into the crowd.  This is also the scene where I had to bring in the Colonel's command to praise the master before event's end.  As it turned out the Dean of Students (played by Jeff) made a vague speech about the next speaker being a stand up member of the Pemberton's faculty and asked the students to welcome him.  Without motioning to anyone to take the podium he stepped away and that set the scene for the confusion and shoving as both the Colonel and Bartholomew thought they were the ones the Dean meant.  We rolled, Bob lost and as Bartholomew tried to shove the Colonel out of the way, the Colonel neatly sidestepped and gave Bartholomew a shove of his own, sending him sailing into the crowd.  As he had the podium now, the Colonel asked everyone to join with him for the traditional Pemberton greeting.  He asked the crowd to stand and face East with him and repeat the following "Praise be to the Dark Master, for he gives us strength!" Dead silence greeted the Colonel as the scene ended. 

So ended event 1 and things were beginning to ramp up into crazy town.  I think we were starting to realize how crazy we could be and get away with it.  Once The Wine and Cheese Social hit, the Roach led us down a dark and insane road that would only get worse at the Pemberton Follies.

New cards were drawn with no change in roachedness.  None of us drew cards to let us shed the roach and Bob was still roach free.  Bret lead things off with his command in which the roach told him to commit murder and would give him a personal die boost if he did. 

So, targeting the president of the Faculty Senate, Gordon Bompus (played by me).  I'm not sure who Bret targeted originally, but this card was weird as it seemed as though the command was optional and only needed to be followed if you wanted the die bump.  Also, he couldn't actually murder a PC, so he targeted an NPC instead.  I wonder now if he should've still gone after his original target, but failed to murder them and maybe taken out a bystander? 

Anyway, stakes were whether Harvey gets away with murder or not.  He confronted the rather rotund Mr. Bompus who was busy chatting up a young freshman and stuffing his face up on a balcony in the auditorium.  Harvey asked Bompus if he could speak with him in private about something and once the two were alone he told Gordon to look down at the auditorium floor to see something interesting.  Stuffing a handful of cheese and crackers into his mouth Bompus looked over the side and Harvey gave him a shove.  The dice were rolled and Bret lost.  So, Harvey went over, but due to his large size the balcony railing cracked and gave way.  In a spray of cheese and crackers, Gordon managed to yell "Why Harvey, why?" as he fell to his death and took out a buffet table in the process. 

Our first murder of the game took place on event two and I think this is when we began to realize that even though Bret's character had just committed murder and that people knew about it there was no accountability for that unless we framed scenes where he was being held accountable.  This definitely ramped things up in terms of crazy behavior from here on out.

Scene two involved Jeff's character Quincey following the roach command to Protect this person.  He targeted Bob's character who had been a witness to the crime.  We narrated in some police officers and the stakes were set as to whether Quincey and Bartholomew could get out of there without the police growing suspicious.  Not much happened here of note.  Jeff won the roll and the two ran off.  The young radical was in the scene antagonizing the cops to the point that they started roughing him up and the two used this distraction to get away. 

Bob's scene was in the Chancellor's office with Harvey and it was to see if Bartholomew could bring Harvey's murder out into the open.  If it hadn't been for the presence of the Colonel (I brought him in on this one.) this would've been a weird conflict.  In the end there was only the colonel as opposition to Bob's side.  Bret gleefully threw dice in on Bob's behalf and had his character in that same earnest fashion he'd proclaimed his affair with the Colonel's niece confess to murder in front of the Chancellor.  He told the chancellor how lucky he was that with Gordon Bompus dead the chancellor would be able to pursue his affair with Bompus's wife more openly.  Basically Bret convinced both the Chancellor and Bartholomew that it was in everyone's interest to cover up the murder.  Bob won the roll and even though Bret confessed, Bob chose to let the chancellor cover it up, reflecting his reputation gain as gaining favor in the Chancellor's eyes for keeping his mouth shut.  The Colonel stormed out upset that these gentlemen would engage in such subterfuge.

Final scene of the event ended at the newspaper office with the Colonel trying to break the story of the murder loose.  The stakes were whether the Colonel got the paper to run an expose on the murder of if he got written off as a nut.   The chancellor and Harvey had followed the Colonel in an effort to run damage control at the paper.  They immediately began pushing the idea of the Colonel's incestuous affair with his niece.  The reporter was very interested in this and why the Colonel was currently drunk.  In the end we rolled, I won and I had the Colonel sigh and say "Alright miss if you want the full story with all the truth I'll tell the whole sordid thing.  Yes I slept with my niece, but these gentleman are killers who are trying to cover up the death of Gordon Bompus."  In that the Colonel turned Harvey's fabrication about his incest into fact and the whole sordid affair at Pemberton was blown open. 

We didn't know coming into it that the Pemberton Follies would be the last event.  However, the insanity had hit a peak at this point and I think if we'd continued it would've escalated.  Bob had an early day tomorrow so, we decided at the end of the event that this was it. 

Once again the three of us maintained our roached state, not drawing a card to allow us to dump it.  Bob also managed to stay roach free. 

Jeff started things off with a play involving Koalas and incest in the Australian outback.  On stage dressed as Koalas and playing the principle rolls were the Colonel and Regina Sutton.  Jeff said this was an obvious stab at the Colonel and would be designed to push buttons about his niece once again.  The stakes were whether Jeff could convince the cast to go through with obviously screwing over a faculty member with this play or if the Colonel could make everyone uncomfortable and wreck the play.  Boy did the colonel try.  He first tore apart the script that he was obviously reading from on stage.  Declaring it rubbish he ordered the kangaroo suited extras to take up an infantry formation.  He declared that the play would now be a re-enactment of a battle near Bangladesh.  Regina Sutton began to protest the Colonel's actions as Quincey was trying to calm the situation down and get everyone back in line.  To this, the Colonel drew a revolver and leveled it Regina telling her to form up with the others or pay the price.  Quincey running damage control is saying things like "He can't shoot that thing it doesn't even work."  Colonel fires off a round into the back stage area.  "Well, that's just blanks."  The screams of the stage director about being shot in the leg follow soon after.  Dice were rolled at this point, and Jeff won the stakes.  He narrated that in the midst of the chaos Regina Sutton managed to bat her eyelashes and win over the heart of the Colonel.  The scene ended with the two kissing passionately on stage and the crowd applauding wildly.

Scene 2 framed by Bret was Harvey on stage reciting poetry about murder and flaunting his sin in God's face.  His stakes were whether the audience loved it or whether he was booed off stage.  He placed the Reverend in the audience as well as the chancellor and Gordon Bompus's ex-wife.  There wasn't a lot of resistance to Bret's roll, he won it and the audience applauded wildly as he dropped a crucifix down his pants and the crowd at that rushed the Reverend and defrocked him right there at the Follies. 

Final scene was framed by me and was a kazoo and triangle performance put on by Bartholomew and the Colonel.  I was following the roach command to betray someone and my target was Bob.  Basically I was going to have the Colonel mess up the performance and embarrass Bartholomew.  The stakes were whether I succeeded or whether the crowd realized I was purposely tanking their performance and turned their dislike towards me.  I failed the roll and the Colonel who was pretty drunk managed to make an ass of himself, including stepping on an expended shell casing from his revolver, losing his footing and falling on his ass.

Bob opted to not frame a scene and instead go to sleep.  We ended there and Bob by virtue of not being roach bound won. 

After the game Jeff, Bret and I spent some time talking.  Bret's post captures the gist of that conversation, so I won't repeat it here.

It was a great time and I'm glad we had a chance to play even what we did.  I think we've cleared up some of our confusion and we'll be trying again to get a full game in sometime soon. 

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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2006, 05:13:53 AM »

Wow, you guys rock!  That sounds like serious fun.  Regina in a Koala suit is a new one.  Incest, as you might guess, is not.

I need to post suggestions for abbreviated games and pacing, since your experience (playing 3-4 events total) is pretty common and perfectly acceptable.  Look for them soon...
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Bret Gillan
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Posts: 375

That's Bret with one 't' damn it.


« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2006, 11:32:28 AM »

So, targeting the president of the Faculty Senate, Gordon Bompus (played by me).  I'm not sure who Bret targeted originally, but this card was weird as it seemed as though the command was optional and only needed to be followed if you wanted the die bump.  Also, he couldn't actually murder a PC, so he targeted an NPC instead.  I wonder now if he should've still gone after his original target, but failed to murder them and maybe taken out a bystander?

Could someone knowledgeable about the game visit this question specifically? We're still not sure how this should have played out.
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Steve Segedy
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« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2006, 12:29:05 PM »

Jeremiah,

Thanks for this great write-up!  I'm glad you had fun playing the Roach!

Quote
Could someone knowledgeable about the game visit this question specifically? We're still not sure how this should have played out.

Unless I'm mistaken, there isn't a Command that specifically calls for "committing murder"- there are cards that involve harm, fear, and copulation (among other things), but nothing that specific.  I think this is precisely because you can't kill PCs.  Maybe Bret misread the card, or was just interpreting it loosely?

On the other hand, even if the card did call for murder, you could still obey the roach (and receive that delicious D12) by murdering an NPC important to the target PC chosen for that Command.  For example, if Bret targeted you, making Professor Farthing the focus of the Command, and drew DUL DIM AANA ("you must hurt this person"), he could attack an NPC that you were likely to pull into a scene for support.  Alternately, he could attack an NPC and frame your character for it (thereby doing you harm).

Does that answer the question?
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Lxndr
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2006, 01:25:54 PM »

Huh.  I thought you could definitely kill PCs - killing PCs just didn't change their ability to affect the game, mechanically speaking?  I'll have to dig out my copy of the Roach and check that out.
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2006, 04:14:09 PM »

Quote
So, targeting the president of the Faculty Senate, Gordon Bompus (played by me).  I'm not sure who Bret targeted originally, but this card was weird as it seemed as though the command was optional and only needed to be followed if you wanted the die bump.  Also, he couldn't actually murder a PC, so he targeted an NPC instead.  I wonder now if he should've still gone after his original target, but failed to murder them and maybe taken out a bystander?

Thanks for the questions.  Maybe he played "Kill, and feel goose-flesh"?  Anyway...

Many cards are deliberately vague, and the thing to do is to forcefully explain your reasoning and interpretation as you act on the command.  People can always call bullshit, but they won't.  (p.38)

No command card is optional, although they can be resisted (p.50).

You cannot kill "The Roach" mechanically, although you could kill an individual Roach, or even a million of them, as color - others will just take their place. (p.38)

You cannot kill a player character, full stop.  You can make that your intention, and in fact ought to occasionally.  It just won't work the way you want it to, like trying to kill somebody outside of Bringing Down the Pain in TSOY.  Anybody else in the game - Pembertonian, NPC, Bonnie the mascot - is 100% fair game.  The accidental death of a bystander is awesome.   (p.39)
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Jeremiah Lahnum
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Posts: 16


« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2006, 07:21:57 AM »

Jason, yes he had the Kill and Feel Gooseflesh card, I believe. 

I guess then what we did wasn't necessarily wrong, as it was our intepretation of the card.  Plus we had fun with it regardless of the result and that's what matters most in my opinion.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2006, 10:57:39 AM »

Word.  If you guys were having a good time, the subtle nuances of card interpretation don't really carry much water.  I've definitely heard of weirder rules drifting!  In fact, I ran a game in which I forgot the rule about limiting reputation bids for some reason.  It got completely out of control and I couldn't figure out why until later - but we still laughed and laughed. 
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