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Author Topic: [Best Friends] New to gaming... Bring It On!  (Read 5125 times)
Gregor Hutton
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« on: September 19, 2006, 04:53:56 PM »

I ran a couple of Best Friends games at the weekend at the gaming club in Edinburgh University. It was the first session of the new term and so we had a mix of veterans (who likely hadn't played Best Friends, but maybe a few that had, or at least knew of the buzz) and newbies (who perhaps had gamed before, and most excitingly those who hadn't).

The first game featured 4 players and me, so I played a character and took on the majority of 'GM' tasks at the start, though gradually over the session I moved them on to other players, as we'll see.

The players were me, Iain McAllister (Mob Justice writer/Best Friend veteran), Stuart (long time gamer, don't think he'd played BF before, though), B'ara (exchange student girl, who has gamed a little before, and played in a Geisha version of it a few days before at an "Intro To Roleplaying" session with Malcolm), and Anna (Canadian exchange student, never gamed before "Is that the Dragons game?" and had wandered in looking for coffee after finding out the Photographic Society meeting had been cancelled).

So, I go through the start spiel about the game and all that stuff. We're all on board and we're all ready to play.

They decided on High School Cheerleaders in the style of "Bring It On!", etc. and so we created the characters. (By the way, I'm scanning the circle-triangles for this one in, they were tres cool.)

So we have...

[Anna] I am... Candie and I... cheerlead, but I can't write
Pretty: 3, Cool: 1, Smart: 0, Tough: 0, Rich: 1
Pretty: Emily, Cool: Carol, Smart: Tiffany, Tough: Tiffany, Rich: Winona
Stuff: 3 boyfriends, a huge make-up bag, a secret "Hooked on Phonics" book, very low-cut shirts
Nonsense: Too dumb to keep track of boyfriends, dyslexic, oblivious to others having crushes on me, held back a year, jealous of winona's fashions

[B'ara] I am... Tiffany and I... an Eastern European exchange student
Pretty: 0, Cool: 1, Smart: 1, Tough: 3, Rich: 0
Pretty: Candie, Cool: Winona, Smart: Emily, Tough: Carol, Rich: Emily
Stuff: a javelin, gym bag, a unabrow
Nonsense: has taken lots of self-defence classes, has a crush of Candie, used to abuse steroids, real name in Hilda

[Stuart] I am... Emily and I... am a pretty geek
Pretty: 2, Cool: 0, Smart: 2, Tough: 0, Rich: 1
Pretty: Candie, Cool: Tiffany, Smart: Carol, Tough: Winona, Rich: Winona
Stuff: Laptop, geeky boyfriends
Nonsense: Is a closet roleplayer, there's a rivalry between Carol and me in tests, isn't really bothered by being a geek

[Iain] I am... Winona and I... can bluff my way through anything
Pretty: 0, Cool: 2, Smart: 0, Tough: 1, Rich: 2
Pretty: Emily, Cool: Candie, Smart: Carol, Tough: Tiffany, Rich: Carol
Stuff: my brand new Ferrari, the latest fashions
Nonsense: I wish I wasn't so vapid, I'm jealous of Emily and Carol's skills

[Gregor] I am... Carol and I... pass all my tests
Pretty: 0, Cool: 1, Smart: 2, Tough: 1, Rich: 1
Pretty: Candie, Cool: Winona, Smart: Emily, Tough: Tiffany, Rich: Candie
Stuff: Glasses, pom-poms, cheerleading play book, tattoo on my ass (don't know what it is of...)
Nonsense: Want a boyfriend so I can be like everyone else, crush on Candie

So, the characters were set and we could see the tensions and issues there. It was very pleasing for me to just be quiet and let the new players discover the hatreds and tensions for themselves. Anna, especially, found it very intuitive, perhaps aided by the fact that she hadn't gamed before?

Anyway, I said I would start by framing/setting a scene (though I had the plan that later on I would get the others to do this, and that worked well).

Cheerleader try outs. One of us is going to be voted cheerleader team captain. Oh, obviously we're going to be making sure it's one of us, but which one? And the whole football team (on the football field nearby) and gaming group (watching from the windows of a class above) are watching. Roll in the coach and an NPC on the fly (Missy, last year's captain) and we have a scene set.

This scene started with some NPCs flunking itand failing to impress Missy, the Candie stepped up and said it should be her. Winona was really opposed to this and made it a test of Cool (This isn't just about being Pretty -- she was putting her neck on the line in front of Missy and all the watchers), so she's winning. Candie pushes and really lets fly with all her reasons, and pointing out that, well, Winona might be rich but she isn't an oil painting. Winona pushes back and points out, in the nicest possible way of course, that Candie needs a better GPA to be captain, etc. causes Candie to burst into tears. A push from Tiffany as she stands up for Candie turns them to tears of joy. I think Stuart and I pushed too and Candie got the nod on my final friend-chip. This cemented an alliance between Emily and Winona, though, which was good. I then closed the scene.

Hanging Out By The Car Park I then put us outside waiting for Candie, who is held up with all her new duties. We're all bitching back and forth, and I threw in some of Candie's boyfriends to complicate matters. Anna got to play Carlos, the rather pretty and stupid Brazilian boyfriend who is the football team's kicker. I played Phil, the defensive team captain. A good bit of fun back and forth, helped by Emily's somewhat deliberately incorrect translation of Portugese saw Phil attack Carlos with his protective cup. This grossed out Candie who had arrived on the scene and this gave Tiffany the opportunity to send Phil running for the hills as she grabbed him off Carlos, before throwing him a small distance (without pushing -- she's Tougher than Phil we all agreed!). Candie then headed off with Carlos to help him get over his trauma... while we all headed off in the other direction shaking our heads. This was going to blow team chemistry ahead of the big game at the weekend for sure... and probably affect the big party afterwards.

More to follow.
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2006, 12:05:07 AM »

...and this took me longer to get around to than I'd have liked.

The Night  Before The Game...
So the Best Friends all meet up on the night before the game for a pyjama party and to catch up with each other. Well, they're all at Winona's house in the loft as her Dad has the most money, right? At this point I was letting the framing slide on to the other players. They were setting the scene and taking authority for what was there and why. Excellent. I'm finding that people new to gaming have no hang up about taking on "GM tasks" such as this, as they have no idea that it can't be a normal part of their participation.

Anyway, the girls start drinking and there's some needle over the incident with the boys after tryouts. Winona and Emily are pressing hard on Candie, and then during a game of spin the bottle we start to find out the little secrets between the group. Characters are pushing their Cool to save face and Tough to keep up with the drinking. The upshot is that Candie gets trashed but keeps her (somewhat flimsy) reputation intact. Tiffany happily glugs a load of alcohol but has to push hard and with Carol's help to fob off any suspicions of her crush on Candie, with Candie helping too in disbelief. Poor Carol being forced into a drunken corner and made to admit that she had a crush on one of the geek friends of Emily's boyfriend, which she didn't, but maybe now she does. Emily having to admit that she did play "the Dragons game", which brought wholesale derision from the girls! And we find that Winona has been held back a year because she is so stupid, though Anna outs herself asking the question ... "Have you been held back a year too?". Hilda manages to keep her name as Tiffany, as we don't believe that lie! And Candie's boyfriends get exposed for what they are, one is straight but dim (defense), one is probably straight and sleazy (the kicker), and one is almost entirely gay but only dating her for face value (Alan, the team QB and all round good guy). Lots of good lines thrown between the characters here emergent from the nonsense and conflicts. Very much fun, fun, fun.

And, of course, they still have to go to the game tomorrow. Oh, in a few hours now that we've been drinking so long.

So, what happens next, do we win the game? I threw it open to the players and I was delighted to see that B'ara ran with it and declared that we didn't win. It was the idiot kicker's fault and that, for sure, there was going to be fallout from it. Great.

Showdown
In a diner/pool hall after the game where we're all having the post-game party we set the scene. All the Best Friends at a table, keeping their heads down drinking pop and watching the boys. Well, the various parts of the football team are squaring off. It ends up with Alan's "closest friend" on the team challenges Candie on playing the field. Well, Tiffany is not going to put up with this and challenges him to an arm wrestle. So, we're betting heavily that Tiff is going to clean house with him, and we put our money on it. This dude's pals back him up and now we're seeing if we can win some cash -- Winona has most to lose as she puts in the most money. We all agree that Tiff wins without having to push (she has Tough 3, he's got Tough 2 in our opinion). Ouch. And so the rest of the team form a queue. Well, Tiff you can't beat them all without pushing so she does. But she declares that she loses to Alan to save face for Candie's boyfriend. Alan, looks into her eyes knowing what she's done and it looks like he's just left Candie for Tiffany -- the eastern European steroid-girl! Wow. And she didn't care about the money.

And we ended there.

Afterwards the players were enthused about the story and "what ifs" for their characters. We didn't continue the next week, but new nonsense had appeared to drive further stories forward. Will Candie play the "Dragons game"? What about Tiff and Alan? Carol actually having to go on a date with a geek, and how will Emily react to having Candie move in on the geeks? Winona just saw us lose a load of cash on a sure-fire bet that went wrong, uh-oh. What's dad going to say?

It made me think of Freaks and Geeks the TV show actually.

And I think we got great play out of a mixture of player experience levels. But crucially for me, valid input from them that wasn't correlated to their previous gaming experience (though I wouldn't go as far to say inversely correlated).

(Oh, and I have a couple more of these to go through. One worked pretty well and one didn't, mainly because the players had a skewed view of how to conflict in the game.)
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2006, 09:57:53 AM »

Oh, things for me to note here about this game and how it played.

* We all got how hatreds and friendchips worked quickly
* We pretty much started to see the nuances in our hatreds in the game and script the fiction to fit our hatreds, so I was very pleased about that. These were not just paths for tokens, but actual lines connecting characters and fiction
* I guess I took the role, hard, at first of framing scenes and framing conflicts
* I was pleased to note that people began framing conflicts for themselves and framing scenes, too
* Adding to the fiction to accompany each push seemed intuitive to all the players, the one that flubbed the most was one of the more experienced gamers
* One of the players got short-stacked in friendchips frequently and for long periods of time, never really replenishing his tokens before using them again.
* Most of the other players didn't stack chips too much and kept the flow going, rarely touching 0 (which is unusual, normally I've seen one "stacker", at least, on a table)
* I felt that as a group we reached a nice comfort level of allowing framing and so on to switch between players, we never really conflicted over it. So in this case we didn't need any rules for who had the next turn at framing or whatever, though I am interested in whether this is something that there should be.
* stuff and nonsense ebbed and flowed quite freely, people seemed to have soft and hard items of stuff/nonsense (i.e. ones that they were happy to see come/go, and others that were more permanent in their vision of their character)

Any questions about this game? I'd be happy to try and recall any particular details of exchanegs if people want them?

Oh, and I'm scanning in the images, but I've been superbusy at work. :-/
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Graham W
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2006, 11:23:21 AM »

Hey Gregor,

When you said...

Quote
Poor Carol being forced into a drunken corner and made to admit that she had a crush on one of the geek friends of Emily's boyfriend, which she didn't, but maybe now she does. Emily having to admit that she did play "the Dragons game", which brought wholesale derision from the girls! And we find that Winona has been held back a year because she is so stupid

...where did those admissions come from? Did Carol's character decide that she had the crush or did someone else set that as stakes in a conflict? If it was stakes, that's interesting stuff: it means that someone else decided some of Carol's backstory. Which would be rather fun.

It sounds as though it came together into a coherent story fairly well. Did that flow naturally? Did you guide the story at all? Did the end come about naturally?

Graham
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Gregor Hutton
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Posts: 274


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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2006, 02:13:23 AM »

Hey Graham

Thanks for the question. These admissions came from conflict resolution, fiction supported by either a winning value (I am cooler than you), or a push/counter-push, etc. It wasn't hashed out before we resolved the conflict at all.

For example, I was playing Carol and Stuart was playing Emily.

Emily asked me the question of whether I had a crush on anyone (supported by her Cool of 0), perhaps with the implication that all of us except Candie knew I secretly had a crush on Candie, or was it one of the geeks?! I guess his goal was to peer pressure me into admitting a crush.

With my Cool of 1 I was in the winning position to fob her off with a non-committal answer and so I did, I have no crushes! Stuart then pushed and suggested it really was one of the geeks. I think I was down to 1 chip, so I took the hit rather than push over and, say, declare that I have no crushes, "don't be stupid!"

Of course, I would have then been down to 0 chips and someone like Winona might have stuck her nose in and pushed to support Emily.

So, in the end Emily has won and got me to admit that I have a crush on a geek. And as Stuart had won he could declare it hard.

Stuart was wary of outing my crush for Candie I guess, as Candie's player had a stack of chips and I'm sure she would have pushed to support me in my denials, or maybe not.

But these things came out with each win or push, not before any conflict was initiated.

I think as a group we were happy at these fictional inputs by other players, I guess they "paid" for them in either their friendchips or in our hatreds for them giving them the permission to do so.

The story evolved fairly naturally I think. We set-up the scene and then we got into the fiction quickly and it pretty much wrote itself. Describing each goal or push worked well too. We also found it quite easy to say "ah ha! that's this scene done.'

There were some slight issues with (the more experienced players) wanting to switch the focus of conflicts -- like, we all feel this conflict right here is about Pretty, but they were angling for Cool as that's their "high stat" -- I wonder if that's a slight mismatching of our CAs?? And similarly, when a conflict is "won", someone can't then ignore that win and try to reset the conflict in different terms to their mechanical advantage. (Like trying to string tasks together, or something.) But, we got that on track quickly and said, here's how it is.

Oh, and because I keep forgetting to mention it. We were using 2 friendchips each to start. I find that this gives the chips more value, and cuts down on the number of people pushing in a conflict. I suspect with 3 chips that more people might be tempted to spend their chips supporting sides in a conflict. It's something that I'm going to investigate further!
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