*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
January 27, 2022, 10:18:52 AM

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 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 77 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: No Rain in Galilee - Dust Devils at GenCon  (Read 2163 times)
ivan23
Member

Posts: 37


WWW
« on: August 17, 2006, 11:07:38 AM »

I’ve not written an Actual Play before, so apologies if it’s too system-light, story-heavy, or overly chatty – I’ve called my points out so people can skim. I wasn’t planning to write a formal description, and a few days and many beers have passed since playing. However, this WAS the best game I played at GenCon.


The game was Dust Devils. Of the five players, only one (Brad) had ever seen the system before. Joe and I came as a team – I’ve got Joe on Deadlands and Dogs in the Vinyard, and am slowly working indie games into my group’s Friday night routines. I think the last two players, Chris and “Guy #1” (apologies if you see this, man, I just blanked) were also on as a team, and Guy #1 knew Hans somehow. All of the players have been RPing a while.

POINT ONE: Hans set us up with a nice map of Galilee, Texas; and a stack of pregenerated characters to choose out of. First great thing about Hans’ GMing: I don’t have to get stuck with the last character option. It was clear to me that he was ready to run for any combination of pre-gens. This is unusual, in my experience. I think I spotted a relationship map behind Hans’ screen (entirely on accident, of course), and would personally love to know what it contained to get so many characters ready to be intertwined.

He asked if anyone had any lines they didn’t want to cross – I gave my usual anti-rape spiel, and that was fine with everyone at the table.

We wound up with:

Brad, playing Sancho, a Mexican brawler and tough who does work for senor Mati, a former Don and local landowner.
Me, playing Bowler Jim, an Apache too wild for the reservation. Jim also does odd jobs for Mati.
Joe, playing Sgt. Booker, a tired Buffalo Soldier with a racist officer.
Chris, playing … Seth? Who was a hard-living Texas Ranger.
Guy #1, playing … Bill? Who started out a bible salesman.

POINT TWO: Brad, Joe and I are all white guys. Hans seemed pleased that we’d taken on these new roles, claiming that few people had picked them. I think part of the reason is that a lot of western gamers want some gunplay, and when you have so many good shootists to choose from, why go with the sneaky Indian or the rifle-toting soldier? Now, even Bowler Jim had *some* Shootin’, which is why I settled on him. I’m taking notes here for my next one-shot: if I want to push a certain style, make sure none of the pregens are specialized out of the adventure highlights.

The town is split between Texas and New Mexico. Surveyors are coming soon to declare where the line is drawn. The town is also split by the fact that Senor Mati, the former Don of the area, still controls wide tracts of land, while Mayor O’Gallegan owns almost everything in the actual town of Galilee. The two men are intractable foes.

Hans sets the first scene: Seth wakes up at the bottom of a well, near the bodies of his two buddies, with a total inability to recall anything that’s happened.

POINT THREE: I think it was five seconds later that Brad looked at me and said, “Do you think we did that?” And I said, “Yeah, I think we did.” This began a great synergy between Brad and I, where we each made suggestions and acted on them on a more or less equal basis. We liked being the reckless bad guys, and it seemed to me like an immediate way to raise tension at the table. Chris went for it, Hans went for it, the other guys nodded approval and we moved on.

Seth finds a locket with a photo of a pretty girl on one of his friends, Bill lets down a rope, rescues Seth, and offers to escort him to Galilee.

Back in town, Sancho and Jim are drinking at the cantina. Jim, whose devil is recklessness, dares Sancho to cross main street and offers him a peso for every step he takes across “the color line.” I wanted to tie into the “surveying / borders” theme with this one. Hans points out an open area near a sawmill, stating that the biggest, toughest, meanest racist in town – Jimmy Malone – often sits on the porch nearby. Sancho goes across, counting loudly.

Hans asks Sgt. Booker what he wants out of the scene, and Joe replies, ”I want to have a drink and survive.” There’s a very short discussion about needing goals for the game to work, Joe says he understands but he doesn’t have anything to contribute at the moment. (Allow me to point out that this is not uncommon for my buddy Joe in early games, but he typically warms up after a few turns.)

POINT FOUR: Second great thing about Hans’ GMing: he doesn’t try to force anyone to play big, dramatic stuff. If Joe’s content to sit and watch play unfold, then Hans is fine with it. That’s hard for me to do as a GM – I want people to be giving and contributing a lot. Hans was able to put his energy into the people who requested it, and let the other folks do their own thing. I’d love to know how others work with this kind of issue.

Cut to Bill and Seth, riding down main street. Jim sees them, and ducks back. Hans asks if there’s a conflict – I say no, I want them to see Jim, though Jim wants to remain unseen. The bait, however, remains untaken. They go to the doctor’s house where Seth is treated, then Bill sends him to rest a while. This is a conflict – Bill wants Seth to lie down and take it easy, Seth wants to keep exploring. Seth wins.

Bill proceeds to call a contest against the Doctor, threatening to “mess him up” if Bill isn’t kept up to date on all aspects of Seth’s recovery. Hans wins the conflict, the Doctor gets indignant, and forces Bill to apologize.

POINT FIVE: A quick player note: It’s my – admittedly personal – opinion that there were a couple unnecessary conflicts here. That’s probably got more to do with my preference for a quick-moving plotline that anything else, but has anyone else run into this situation? More than once? I find it in a couple of the narrativist games when I’m working with folks unfamiliar with stakes and intent.

Jimmy Malone dumps Sancho in the street in front of the Cantina. At this point, Sgt. Booker walks out in uniform and rifle. “You proved your point, big man. Now head on back to your own side o’ town.” Hans asks if there’s a conflict – Booker wants him to leave, and Malone wants to look like a big man. Joe says no conflict, and Malone struts away.

At this point I decide it’s time to push some action between PCs. Jim tells Sancho that a third of our pay just staggered back into town, and we’d best get back to the Ranchero. We invite Sgt. Booker, as Jim thinks their boss might be interested to meet one of the soldiers sent to protect the New Mexico Territory. Brad and Joe immediately pick it up, and there’s a nice scene where Sgt. Booker works to “heal” Sancho by giving him a pep talk. “I got a boy about your age … good fighter, too. Just gotta remember to be ready to swing when you cross that final line, hear?”

We ride past, with a little more flavor thrown in to give Bill and Seth a chance to recognize us and tie all the parties together. Again, they decide to pass on this, and head to the bar instead. Here they meet up with Sapphire Dan, a gambler/gunfighter NPC who knows Seth well enough. Seth trusts Dan more than Bill instantly, and asks if he knows the girl in the photo. She’s the star attraction of the Parlor House, as it turns out, and they head in as a three-man team.

Hans calls a conflict here. The girl wants to shut herself in her room and not speak to Seth. Seth wants to play on her sympathy to get answers about what he was doing in town, and what happened to him. Bill wants to get answers and a way to distract Seth for a while. Hans gets some bad cards, folds, and the girl faints.

POINT SIX: I *believe* Hans was the only one to fold in the game, at all. Everyone else either didn’t call for conflicts or went ahead and took the hurt afterwards. Hans was very careful to be sure we all understood that we could; but again, I think most of us either avoided conflict per se or were willing to take the damage in return for the chance to get what we wanted. Personally? I love that. It’s very Red Harvest to me, the characters playing cat-and-mouse or threatening one another without necessarily making actual moves. A strong point for Dust Devils, in my opinion.

Back at the Ranchero, Senor Mati upbraids Bowler Jim for leaving a man alive, even accidentally. Player note, I wish I had called a conflict there in the man’s house to back him down. Instead, going along with the flow of the story, I just promised we’d take care of him tonight. Mati then introduces Sgt. Booker to the Texan Surveyor he is entertaining – something Hans points out is very unethical. The surveyor should be neutral, not drinking with landowners.

Hans does a quick but well-done lead-up to what I assume will be the big moral scene – will Sgt. Booker betray his uniform and duty, and throw in with Mati’s mob? Joe surprises us all by saying, “No conflict. My officer’s nobody to me, and after being a slave I’m looking to buy land of my own. I need the money.” At least, he surprised me. I think he surprised everyone. Sgt. Booker turns informant for Senor Mati, and drinks to success with Sancho and Bowler Jim. The final question – will he ride with Jim and Sancho to take care of the stubborn Texas Ranger? In for a penny, out for a pound, and the three ride hell-for-leather back to Galilee.

POINT SEVEN: I think this is right around where Hans let us know we should think about getting things wrapped up. This seemed to be a very good thing to me, as it set *everyone* on the path of getting to our “battle stations” as it were. We all knew we wanted a big showdown at the end, but seemed to be having trouble getting there. I think some people might decry this as railroading, but in my opinion it was the best things that could have happened to the game. It kept Brad, Joe and I from spending hours planning an elaborate ambush, and it galvanized Chris and Guy #1 into really pressing forward with their agendas rather than waltzing Matilda.

In the Parlor House, everything becomes clear. Seth was living hard with his buddies, including the Federal surveyor, waiting for the Texan surveyor to show up. When they’d first come into town, a Mexican and Apache (Sancho and Jim) had offered to take them to receive hospitality with Senor Mati, but the Texans spurned them with racial epithets and threats. After their whoring, they were drunk and ambushed by Sancho and Jim, who beat the two others to death and tossed all three into a dry well miles from town, across the county line.

Seth has some papers showing boundary lines, suggestions, maps, etc. He’s hidden them in town, and now he remembers where. That’s when Bill draws on the prostitute and threatens to blow her brains out if he doesn’t get the papers. Yes, Bill’s working for the corrupt mayor O’Gallegan, and those papers will let the Mayor redraw lines to his heart’s content.

Seth promises to take him to the papers. As they leave, Sapphire Dan draws on Bill, stating that Seth needs rest. The papers can wait. Hans loses the conflict and the three head for the papers.

At this point we’re running low on time. Sancho, Jim and Booker come riding down Main Street. They see Seth make a break for some barrels (looking for cover), Bill and Dan running with guns drawn. They attack – by which I mean, Jim and Sancho attack, whooping and hollering like they were demons from hell. Sgt. Booker ducks back into the fricking cantina, abandoning his no-good pals in their moment of need.

POINT EIGHT: WE RAN OUT OF CARDS. Six players total, one deck, high combinations and plenty of chips meant that we ran out of cards. There's nothing in the rules about how to handle this situation. Hans was looking for a good way to resolve it, since Joe was short two cards, but Joe said, “I think I’m good. Don’t sweat it.” It turns out he’d gotten a Straight Flush on the cards already dealt.

On top of this, Jim and Sancho draw *terrible* cards in the conflict. With Seth, Bill and Dan all pumping lead into the air, the two desperados are brought to 0 in as many as three stats in a single round.

Final combat round, we have narration (since our characters are dying). Brad says he doesn’t mind if I take it, and I draw a Full House – winning my stakes, which are to destroy the papers before I die to let Mati and O’Gallegan fight it out like men instead of hiding behind contracts and forgeries. Jim and Sancho go out instantly, but they manage to ignite the papers with the point-blank black powder blast of Jim’s old revolver.

Jim dies, not following the light but dropping away from it, as if falling down a well. Sancho dies, riddled with bullets as he screams wildly and Sapphire Dan, tired beyond belief, calmly walks through the hot lead fanning his revolver to the end.

With the papers gone, Bill and Seth scatter, I think. Dan is left with a thousand-yard stare as Sgt. Booker walks over with a bottle. The final scene is of two men, one black, one white, standing over the bodies and the haze of gun smoke and agreeing that this is their last fight - the final line drawn between decency and savagery.



That’s how I remember it. Everyone had a fabulous time – Joe and I tried to buy the new version but were stymied, and Chris has apparently joined the Forge on the strength of the game. It was a pleasure to play with the group.

I’ll want to bring it to my regular gaming group’s table at least for a one-shot, though it may be a stretch. They have a lot of Western fun with Deadlands, and generally enjoy the dramatic / heroic style more than grim and gritty tales of redemption.

-- Ivan
Logged
Hans
Member

Posts: 576


« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2006, 11:34:16 AM »

He asked if anyone had any lines they didn’t want to cross – I gave my usual anti-rape spiel, and that was fine with everyone at the table.

Ivan is being nice here.  HE is the one who brought this up, not me.  It is something I plan to do in future, though, for every game, because it is such an excellent idea.

Guy #1 was Gary, by the way.

Quote
POINT FIVE: A quick player note: It’s my – admittedly personal – opinion that there were a couple unnecessary conflicts here. That’s probably got more to do with my preference for a quick-moving plotline that anything else, but has anyone else run into this situation? More than once? I find it in a couple of the narrativist games when I’m working with folks unfamiliar with stakes and intent.

I think some of this was the fact that this was the first time Gary (the player of Bill) had ever played in a true conflict resolution system.  The whole idea of NOT using the randomizer to decide things (through negotiation of mutually agreed upon stakes) takes time to get used to.  On the other hand, it gave me a chance to use more of the strangely wavering pan-European accent Doc Rudy has...is he Jewish?  Polish?  German?  Spanish?  Will Hans ever get the accent right?

Quote
POINT EIGHT: WE RAN OUT OF CARDS. Six players total, one deck, high combinations and plenty of chips meant that we ran out of cards. There's nothing in the rules about how to handle this situation. Hans was looking for a good way to resolve it, since Joe was short two cards, but Joe said, “I think I’m good. Don’t sweat it.” It turns out he’d gotten a Straight Flush on the cards already dealt.

ACK!  This was embarrasing.  Next time I play Dust Devils with more than four people, I'm definitely shuffling two decks together, even if it means I have to forego my 1888 Grover Cleveland presidential campaign deck.  But that brings another raft of problems (can you get five of a kind? what about ties on narration rights?)  I'm going to be asking about this over on the Chimera forum.

Thanks for your comments, Ivan.  I'm glad you had a good time.  More comments can be found here.

Logged

* Want to know what your fair share of paying to feed the hungry is? http://www3.sympatico.ca/hans_messersmith/World_Hunger_Fair_Share_Number.htm
* Want to know what games I like? http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/skalchemist
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!