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Started by Ron Edwards, August 30, 2006, 02:15:18 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards on August 30, 2006, 02:15:18 AM... play as a whole is only composed of repetitive cycles, with no endgame or what I like to call "screwdown," which is a more general phenomenon. I actually have been wondering since my demo at GenCon and my reading of the game, whether it contains a "fruitful void" that is only expressed through play, and the only one I could anticipate, without playing, was the possibility of a vigilante group forming via making Trusts. Anyway, in comparison to the other two games, Perfect lacks that extremely clear large-scale, session-defining reward structure that is so important to people who are not gamers.
QuoteThese guys were indeed primed. Fairly quickly, they chose Perfect, which I described as a combination of V for Vendetta and A Clockwork Orange. "That's fucked up!" said Brian, which in guy-hangout mode, you understand, is a ringing endorsement.
QuoteNow, due to my mental state, this game session featured the most pitiful SIS that I can remember that still ended up being functional. There were no NPCs to speak of, and play consisted of almost nothing but pure resolution
QuoteTry asking questions like "Why would he do that?" or "How does he pull that off?" Do not contest what the players are saying, but instead help them explain it in a more complete way. Use questions that get to the heart of the matter, finding out motives and mindset. (p62)
QuoteNeville, Brian's characterStatus = high (gold); Freedoms of Passage, Creativity, Practice, and PrivacyArchetypes: Hedonist + VandalIntolerance: lawyers (I guess "barristers")Belongs to the Order of Abigail and the Art Traders GuildStarting AspectsChiseled handsomeness ("like Tom Cruise," Brian said): set at Gain 2 Alcoholic: set at Gain 2Barbed wire secretly wrapped around calf: set at Gain 32 Build points(I'm not listing out the various Gains and Fallouts of the Aspects; they were all merely taken from the lists anyway. Also, I built all these mechanics for the players after they defined their Aspects. All those options were way too much for me to walk them through, especially since they had no idea how the system worked.)Mordecai, James' characterStatus = crude (brown); no FreedomsArchetypes: Anarchist + Idealist + SadistIntolerance: bankersBelongs to the Craftmason's Guild and has a Drinking Hall MembershipStarting AspectsDagger: set at Gain 2Black boots: set at Gain 1Daughter's teddy bear: set at Gain 32 Build points
QuoteAs for the system, they fucking loved it. Both of them totally got into the crimes, pushed the envelope, and repeatedly stated how much they were enjoying their characters. "I'm wearing my black boots!" James would announce proudly, when invoking his Aspecct. A little later than I should, more-or-less after the first crime-bits, I realized who I was playing with, and stated, very strongly: "it's all about the Payout." They tuned into that like sharks.
Quoteframed the scenes myself using a lot of consensus and suggestions, which bent the rules about trading-off scene framing a little (which the text calls "narration" for some reason), but not much considering that I think they'd have floundered a bit, and that I called for so much consensus before officially starting a scene. Admittedly, this wasn't a clear decision, because I merely forgot the rule.
QuoteCrime Cycle #3 (collaborative): Now, we used the collaborative rules. It was easy to point out that Neville needed a new source of booze, and that he also might have tracked down Mordecai via the poisoning incident, as a peer of the people who'd been hit by it. So! This crime is best described as "bootlegging absinthe together." And the bastards got away with it!! Both players had the system down pretty well at this point, and I found that what looked like a clear GM advantage in Opposition Points initially, in the first Cycle, didn't stand up so well once they could hammer my rolls with multiple Aspects. I even used 7 Opposition Points I'd banked, to no avail.
QuoteAnyway, in comparison to the other two games, Perfect lacks that extremely clear large-scale, session-defining reward structure that is so important to people who are not gamers.
QuoteThey both insisted we play again, to continue the story. Well, for this to be fun, I probably need to work up some NPCs, and to look for screwdown mechanisms or SIS-elements as strongly as I can. The rules offer no "finishing state," though, neither for characters nor overall, no climactic crime or anything like that ... seems to go on and on, unless some totally-SIS thing leads people to say, "well, that's it." Or at least not obviously, which may be all right ... if the fruitful-void exists. I'm actually a big fan of not holding readers' hands about that, so if it's there, I am absolutely not saying it should be explicit in the rules
QuoteBrian provided a classic example of a Line in play, too, when he alluded to something he could think of defining Mordecai's daughter as, but wouldn't say and didn't want it in the game. I asked at first, "What, he keeps her in the basement?" and Brian just shook his head firmly. "I don't want it in there," he said. This was very important, because it doesn't really matter what it was - the point is that Brian was making clear that our game would indeed have Lines, and that's pretty key in a game like this, in which crimes may automatically succeed.
QuoteI didn't use Intolerance scenes, mainly because I forgot about them, but as far as I can tell, they gravitate toward acting against their intolerances anyway, especially the second Crime Cycle. I'll get them in there better next time, because I know they'll slaver after the new Aspects, and that way I can get some cool NPCs going.
Quote1. How about resolving inter-character conflict? I kind of like the idea that "I kill him" can be simply done, because it may well be functional given the consensus-based advice in the rules.
Quote2. What content is added by Certifications and Freedoms, in practice? I can see some ways to do it, but I'd really like to know what you actually do in play, Joe.
QuoteMy final point concerns one overwhelmingly confusing element in the rules which will be sure to trip anyone up. Joe let me know that it was due to a late rules-change, which I'm not really sure I think was a good rules-change anyway.The original rule was that every single Crime Cycle requires both a Calm and a Discovery Test, with failure in either leading to a subsequent Interrogation or Conditioning Test, respectively. Apparently, late in development, playtesting led Joe to permit cutting off a Crime Cycle in the middle, if you failed either the Calm or Discovery Test (whichever came first), because someone didn't like getting hammered by both Interrogation and Conditioning.I like the original way. Yes, it sucks hard to get both Interrogated and Conditioned. Yes, Brian pouted when it happened to him, first thing. But the immediate effect was to throw himself into committing real crimes with full resentful fervor, because now it had become personal.It's really easy to change things that shouldn't be changed, in playtesting, just because your friend pouts when his character gets kicked in the nuts. Old experience: avoid deprotagonization, listen to your friend. But new principle: adversity is your friend if it fuels the reward system. (This also leads me to state that I think the "losing Payout" options for Fallouts are not well-considered, and should not be present. Payout should be a given. Yes, I know you don't suffer Fallout if you lose, but still.)Best, Ron
QuoteNext run: I'll work up a list of NPCs, make explicit uses of Intolerances, and be more clear about the by-the-rules scene creation. I also plan to explain what I'm doing with the Tension Points, so they can see it's a good idea to run me out of points in Calm and Discovery Tests, and that way even if they lose, they can thumb their noses at the Inspectors in the Interrogation and Conditioning Tests, with full-up Aspects. Given the very strong interest in the daughter throughout the group, I'll work with that too, from their suggestions, including the possibility that she's an Inspector or that her mother is an Inspector.
Quote1.) How hands-on was your GMing? Did you fulfill my vision of a GM for Perfect, or did your role vary from that?
Quote2.) How much did you ask questions, and prod them to narrate deeper?
Quote3.) Did you enjoy the game?
QuoteEveryone seems to think I've advocated setting them through discussion prior to play. And bluntly, I think that's a fucking terrible idea.
QuoteAside from the deviations I mentioned above, I think I accorded with your advice in the rulebook quite well. A lot of it dovetails with my personal style anyway
QuoteQuote3.) Did you enjoy the game?Yes, I did! The fun part was seeing the two guys get so much out of it. For example, I have no trouble at all understanding why they chose to loathe bankers and lawyers - as intended I'm sure, Gaillist society is not being treated as a disconnected fantasy by our impromptu group, but rather as a medium through which real-life frustrations and confusions can be acted upon.
QuoteThe reason why I like setting some Lines before play is this: A player gets this cool idea, and narrates his character acting it out. Suddenly someone states a Line. And the player has to go, "Okay, my cool idea involved killing a defenseless person. That's not cool at this gaming table. Crap, how do I re-work my scene?"
Quoteto state, upfront, "We all need to watch each other's comfort levels."
Quote from: Ron Edwards on August 31, 2006, 10:58:28 AMThose points seem to me to be coming from the idea that being either Interrogated or Conditioned are punishment mechanics, like taking damage in D&D. Whereas I think that negative consequences to the character in Perfect are the source of adversity, in the sense of "what I must face." Also, as I saw last night, character improvement is so rapid and effective, that new sources of adversity (new Fallouts from Interrogation, Conditionings from Conditioning) are crucial.Ultimately, as I see it, it's the turnover and evolution of a character's Aspects, including Trusts, which make the game interesting, beyond (and more important than) the immediate vicarious rush of the individual Tests.
QuoteThe rules don't situate the crime relative to the Tests. It can come anywhere - before both, between them, or after both; plus, the two tests can be conducted in either order....Regarding the terminology, I am not trying to refute you (David) but rather offering another data point. As I see it, calling it "completed" rather than "successful" seems like a big shrug. The original phrasing didn't cause any conceptual bump for me. Best, Ron
QuoteFurther, I believe there is even an example that talks about the order of Discovery and Calm being reversed--the one with the rose for a lady. Guy tests Discover to steal the rose and put it on lady's doorstep, but must test Calm the next day to make sure he doesn't come off as a stalker and freak her out or whatever. [That one, in fact, might be what first made me cry "double dip."] One example, however, does not a system rule make: perhaps the rule text needs to explicitly state that the crime, Calm, and Discovery may occur in any order which can be reasonably framed into a scene or series of scenes.
QuoteI stuck to my guns regarding always requiring Calm and Discovery Tests. I even wavered at one point after a really vicious Interrogation, but steeled myself and continued on to the Discovery Test anyway.
QuoteNeville's first crime: to establish an underground fashion of wearing colorful leg-warmers, as Brian was apparently enjoying getting some surrealism into things.
QuoteNext, they ran a collaborative crime which didn't screw around: to murder the "false" pastor plus smearing shit all over the crime scene. James suggested the killing, because this is the pastor of the church that kept getting on his nerves. Brian impressed me mightily - he insisted that Neville would only collaborate if James could come up with a reason that the pastor was a lousy religious-guy. James had to work at it, and then suggested that the guy was having an affair with Heloise! "That's enough!" proclaimed Brian and they proceeded to suffer greatly via the Inspector points.
QuoteHowever, for this cycle, they were hard to catch! I did get Mordecai into another Conditioning scene, in which the female Inspector, Elaine, sent the others out of the room where Mordecai lay naked and strapped to a table, then proceeded to screw him in order to Condition him. James set his teeth: "I am gonna be totally impotent," he gritted. "She gets nothing from me." To my disappointment, he succeeded, even though he couldn't use his black boots and dagger - I let him use the teddy bear, as a memory.
QuoteSo each character-arc seems to be a little more coherent, in the casual sense of the word, than it did while in the middle of running/playing them. Mordecai turns out to be an Inspector in deep cover, who's effectively gone native. Neville turns out to be a religious fanatic, hyped on the excesses of the "contact with God" rituals he embraces, rather than the bloodless, endless, everyday Masses of Gaillist life. Amay-zing what a couple of female NPCs will do, given our starting point without any except the hinted-at daughter.
QuoteSteve, I was as dubious as you were, but am now pretty happy with it. If one does check into the "hey guys, let's do this" level, it's there to be found. The key from the GM's point of view is to run a few cycles and get a lot of stuff in there as content, whether features of the setting as described, or made-up stuff and NPCs along the way. Then, one can look back and cross-reference that stuff with the character's weak spots or breaking-points, when making up new Fallouts (from failed Interrogations), Conditionings (from failed Conditionings), Aspects (from Intolerance scenes) and Trusts (from collaborative crimes). It may not work for everyone but seemed to fly well with Brian and James.