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[Rifts] GNS my session

Started by Settembrini, October 01, 2006, 11:26:26 AM

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From this thread:

QuoteI never fully grokked the three Creative Agendas, therefore I renounced them to be of any practical value, and I personally think they don't cover what I get out of the hobby.
I realize, that this is not the place to argue about that.
I also realize, that only actual play can be categorized into the CAs, not systems.

So here is my request:

Please analyze my actual play, and tell me what CA our game was. I will not "fight back" or "argue" to "prove" how GNS is utterly flawed. I just want to see the methodical tools of the Big Model in Action. Maybe you (all who care to post) can even convince me of it's merits. I will be reading with an open mind, and am looking forward to your analysis.

If you need more information than already covered in the old thread, go ahead and ask.


I'm sure Ron will have more indepth analysis but since he said he's busy for a few days yet I'll give you my cheap and easy analysis of your con game.

You want to know what Creative Agenda was active in your game session? Gamism pure and simple.  It was a solid and clearly understood focus for everyone in both groups.  You can even see it in your writing on the sessions, you praised their smart decisions and criticised the foolish moves.  What is clearly the focus of the game is the ability of the players to resolve the situation through strategic and tactical decision making.

I'll try and lay it out step by step for you.

-You set up the situation with conflict.  Several groups wanted Mr. Bingles.

-You provided obstacles along the way. Distratctions, other groups of interest, discovering exactly what they were after

-How the group overcame the obstacles determined success or failure of the mission. Speedy actions allowed them to get Mr. Bingles first

-Resolved the game through use of combat abilities.  The big shootout between the groups at the end, decided by choice of tactics.

It's a great gamist romp.  There are some moral aspects that give weight to the actions for some of the players but what's really pushing the game is the quest to win the mission.



Thanks so far.

Some things to consider:

I have started designing the adventure with themes I wanted to adress, then I built a story engine around it and took all challenges from the workings of the antagonists in the story engine.
The challenges where a direct outcrop of the emulation of the Rift-o-versum (except for the distractions, they were added to spice up the travel part).

So the "stuff that was important to me" during adventure design does not equal wit CA?

One thing nearly all twelve players lauded afterwards, was the cool background.
Nobody said: "I like your challenges."
The "losing" side also had tremendous fun.

Callan S.

Quote from: Settembrini on October 02, 2006, 06:49:13 AMOne thing nearly all twelve players lauded afterwards, was the cool background.
That was afterward - CA focuses on what happened during play, rather than what people feel about the event, after the event.

That said
QuoteI just want to see the methodical tools of the Big Model in Action.
They are tools - tools need to be used toward a purpose. You can't just ask to see a hammer or saw in action. You have to have an intention for the tool (like cutting a log in half) and then say 'I'm going to try this saw and see what it does in action'

Set a problem, try using GNS to break it down to whatever degree you need and we'll try (were not the R man) to tell you if your holding the hammer at the wrong end.
Philosopher Gamer


QuoteSet a problem, try using GNS to break it down to whatever degree you need and we'll try (were not the R man) to tell you if your holding the hammer at the wrong end.

Actually, I don't perceive any problem.
Is that the probelm?

Callan S.

IMO, yes.

But you can't think of any problems at all? I have to say, for my good sessions no problems jump out at me, but if I actually nose through my memory of them a bit I could list some. But yeah, if you don't have any wood to cut, then the saw is always going to be useless to you.
Philosopher Gamer


Problems I encountered during prep:

- no good maps; Kevins pencil coastlines are whacky to say the least
- statting the PCs took hours
- not enough pre-statted adversaries, many Palladium Products give you ultra-inspiring OCCs, but you have to level and stat them     yourself

during play:

- the problem player: he was making inexpedient decisions, was hesitant, and I generally did not like him. He was a very bad choice for the commanding officer, and I wouldn't want to be in a group with such a low-skilled player.


Quote from: Settembrini on October 02, 2006, 10:11:40 AM
- the problem player: he was making inexpedient decisions, was hesitant, and I generally did not like him. He was a very bad choice for the commanding officer, and I wouldn't want to be in a group with such a low-skilled player.

If you don't like him, you don't like him and I dig.  I've been at that table with a guy I don't like; we all have.

But low-skilled is interesting.  Skills can be learned, yes?  What could be done to teach him the proper skills?


QuoteSkills can be learned, yes?  What could be done to teach him the proper skills?

Personalities are a matter of taste.

Playing skills are definitely only meaningful in a specific playing context.

In the specific case, he had no decision making, no problem solving and no "inspire the group" skills. And those can be learned.


Quote from: Settembrini on October 02, 2006, 10:39:32 AM
QuoteIn the specific case, he had no decision making, no problem solving and no "inspire the group" skills. And those can be learned.

Right, right, I've totally been there.

So, can you give me an example of what he would do when faced with a decision and how did it effect the table?

Ron Edwards


Everyone who's replied, despite your good intentions, please stand down. I will also give you advice: review my dialogue with Levi Kornelson in Frostfolk and GNS aggravation and the current one, [Frostfolk] Carrying on.

What will you see there? Will you see my wielding the magic GNS-stick? "Beep! You're Narrativist!" No. You will see me asking questions. You will specifically see me asking about what happened in play regarding the characters and what worked in play regarding the people. I will tell you now that saying "So where did it go wrong?" is a tremendously bad idea; people routinely interpret that as meaning they must play poorly. You will see me begin with Color and proceed to Reward.

As for you, Andreas, I am 50% considering your initial post to be, effectively, spam. I am well aware you are playing to an audience as well as entering into a dialogue here. I'm interested in conducting that dialogue only insofar as you really are interested, which as I say, is about 50% on my part. Here is why.

My time is limited and at least to some people, valuable. If you want dialogue that is worth that time, then you need to do more than show up and demand some kind of analysis while you sit there and grin at your friends. You need to leave that juvenile internet persona called "Settembrini" outside the Forge and participate here, in this thread, as Andreas. I met Andreas in Berlin. He's a decent guy in his twenties who shared Nimer's ice cream with me and helped me understand more about the incredible city. I don't know or care anything about some sarcastic construct called Settembrini, and neither does anyone else. When you acted like Settembrini to real people, in my presence, you were instantly told to fuck off by someone who had no time for juveniles.

That's why it's 50%. I don't know yet, at present, whether I'm talking to Andreas, with the ice cream and so on, or Settembrini, who was told to his face to fuck off. I will know the difference very easily as this thread progresses and will respond accordingly.

I suggest you take a look at those threads I linked to. I am not giving you a study assignment for you to memorize. Instead, I suggest looking at Levi's initial posts and seeing two things.

1. He provides his reason for posting. He was frustrated with the concept of Creative Agenda. He did not see how it applied to his role-playing experience. He also was willing to accept, for purposes of discussion, that there might be something of value in it that he was not seeing. By contrast, your initial post here forces people to jump about, trying to guess what you want. They didn't help themselves, certainly, but you gave them nothing to work with. You may not want the same thing Levi did, but you want something. Let's see what it is.

2. He provides information for that thread. I know you have a parent thread here with lots of information. But you need to isolate information, here in this thread, which you think is or might be relevant to the topic of Creative Agenda. Levi did that in his first post in the first thread. It demonstrates his good faith effort to apply the idea, and it also shows me or anyone else where he did or didn't apply it successfully.

Without those two things, there's no dialogue here. I look forward to you providing them.

Best, Ron


QuoteYou may not want the same thing Levi did, but you want something. Let's see what it is.

This is, in fact a bit complicated. Not in telling or understanding, but in implication. What I really want, is to make sure, that there is no hole in my take on RP-gaming. I strongly believe in a concept I like to call "adventure gaming". As the theory forum is down, I can't go there. But more importantly, people with their pet theory have come and gone to these forae more often than established readers might care to count.
This, the forge, is a place where GNS and the Big Model are established, thereby I have no right (and intention) to come here, and say: "I don't believe it, it's not covering what I do. Change your theory". There`s always theRPGsite if I want a "Clash of Gaming Civilizations"
Especially, as some of my arguments would be in the "done to death" section of discussions like: "No, my games has all three agendas in it!"

So here I am, heavily reflecting on gaming. Heavily reflecting on gaming culture and the history of gaming, but no way to go the direct route, as shown above.

Thusly, I came to the conclusion that I could use the already written Actual play thread to understand what GNS is good for in the context of my gaming.

"Why don't you read any of the existing Actual Play threads?", you might ask. Easy answer: I don't understand them. I cannot follow them, as the motivations for play seem to be vastly different from my own. So vastly different, that I'm inclined to call those Thematic Games a whole different hobby. But the forge is not there to talk about Andreas R. Bumquists own pet theory, so instead I want to understand GNS by means of talking about a game I understand.
Don't get me wrong, I intellectually understand what is written in those Actual Plays.I don't relate emotionally to what people express here. Due to this, there is a constant emotional force pushing me away from those threads. I'm very inclined (and already have) handwaved those threads and their motivations out of my intellectual radar screen, as being of no value and import to my gaming.
This is my attempt to verify I'm not missing a big something. Of course, I'm open to accept there might be something valueable inside the Big Model and GNS. Otherwise I wouldn`t have come.

In regards to "playing to an audience", that doesn't interest me. Actually I've pissed off enough people by being brutally honest and sometimes obnoxious to make a point, that there should be more people against me, than "grinning friends" around.

Ron Edwards


I'm going back to 2001 for the next part and I'm going use Forge Jargon From Hell. For anyone reading, fuck you if you don't like it.

Imagine a little platform made of green-painted wood, standing a few inches high off the ground on its little legs. That's Exploration, the necessary imaginative communication for role-playing to occur at all. Perhaps it's a very pretty shade of green or particularly well-crafted in terms of pegs and glue. Doesn't matter. It's not the Creative Agenda.

Now imagine a secondary wooden structure built on top of it, reaching a whole foot off the ground at its tip. That's your game in action. Whatever shared goal or priority puts it there, or (in the analogy) whatever shape or material it is, that's your Creative Agenda. It's what you and the group do with the platform.

A Simulationist CA happens to be made of wood and happens to be painted green. That's why people are always mistaking Exploration for Simulationism, when it's not. It's still a secondary structure on top of the platform. It also so happens that Gamist and Narrativist CAs are always brutally, recognizably distinct from the platform that supports them - made of plastic or aluminum, and always painted a different color or not painted at all. That's why people are always forgetting that no matter what, those agendas need the platform too.

Andreas, I'm going through this kindergarten imagery because, in your post, I see a lot of rhapsodizing about "wonder moments" and all that. I anticipate that you are going to claim that's some kind of Simulationist presence in your group. Well, if you think that's Simulationist, lose that mistaken idea right now. That's foundational Exploration, the platform. Maybe your group's CA on top of it is "the same stuff," and hence Simulationist, and maybe it's not. We have to look at it to see.

That's the point from 2001, the essay "GNS and other matters of role-playing theory."

Now it's 2006 and I have the Big Model. CA exists as the goal or priority that ties together the features of the Big Model, during play. So the question about your game is (a) whether you guys had any goal or priority tying the Model of your play-experience together, and if so, (b) what was it? And no, you can't point at the platform. We're talking about the thing you all built on top of the platform, what you do with it.

Answer to (a) is easy: yes. The evidence for that is that people had fun playing, specifically in investing in what happened; as opposed to (i) not having fun or to (ii) just hanging out together. It's also important to point out where and how people did not have fun, and what happened because of it, which in this case shows me how strong the existing CA was (it doesn't always). The answer to (b) is easy too. I'll go through the Model first and then state how the thing (goal, priority, agenda) tying it together is plain as day.

I anticipate that once I suggest the CA for the instance of play you describe, you'll object that it's obvious and trivial. My answer is yes, if as a role-player you utilize a strong CA, then it is trivial in the sense that it's not a problem or matter for corrective attention. One of the most frustrating misunderstandings about CA, internet-wide, is the perception that "Ron says (a) this is his personal special wonderful insight, (b) you have to know it or you're Stupid, and (c) it will blow your mind like nothing you've ever heard of." I claim none of those things. I have said from the beginning that understanding CA is necessary to understand the activity at an analytical level, but that it is also easy and (if you use it already) will in fact be trivially obvious. Why it persists as a matter for emotional controversy is, as far as I can tell, based on the fact that people are socially threatened by me, in the most lame-ass internet context imaginable, and make up shit I'm supposed to be saying, in order to object to me.

I'd much rather be discussing the technicalities of resolution and reward at the Techniques level relative to an obvious and easily-identified Creative Agenda, as in the second Frostfolk thread, than fucking around about what Creative Agenda is. Well, I'll fuck around with it anyway, because that's what you asked about.

Next post comes tomorrow. All this was merely set-up.

Andreas, I have one question: was anything I said here unfamiliar to you? Or is this all review?

Best, Ron

Ron Edwards

Hi Andreas!

I recommend printing out a copy of the Big Model and referring to it throughout what follows.

SOCIAL CONTRACT - who the people are, how well they know each other, what existing social dynamics occur among them, and anything of that kind that affects the gaming experience. This encloses every other part of the Model.

The most obvious aspect of this Social Contract is that everyone understands the convention context of play. You won't have to live with another player throughout all your role-playing, forever and ever; it's circumscribed in locale and in time. In many cases, that means people actually relax a little and can be more honest about what they want.

Another important aspect is that you organized play into two separate-group sessions plus one all-play-together session. This is key - it automatically brings in the concept of teams, and as you said, you did hint in the invitation/description that the groups may be opposed.

And finally, it's not one short session, it's a big time commitment, especially since the final session is held at midnight. This is also key - you're saying, and by participating people are agreeing, that this is going to be worth such a time commitment. In the States, anyway, the typical four-hour single convention slot carries no such commitment, socially speaking. This is a different and significant way to organize convention play.

Those are the features of Social Contract which seem most relevant, which I can point out from your posts. I'm not going to go back and highlight every bit of evidence for these comments. However, I'm not making any of them up. Everything I said above, you said yourself at one point or another in your posts.

Here is one bit about this Social Contract which directly extends down into the "deeper" or "inner" parts of the Model: it raises the interesting issue of character death. In a lot of Rifts play, the extensive character creation process may go poorly with an outcome like "your guy is now splattered into a 1-mm thick film on the far wall." However, with this three-step convention-play structure, and with pregenerated characters, that possible disconnection might be minimized - a lot of chance to see the character shine, but also not as much pain/loss of effort in seeing him die. At this point in the discussion, this is a hypothetical possibility; it means, "keep an eye on player behavior and character death" when we get to the inner parts of the Model for this game.

EXPLORATION - the imagined material, the platform I talked about. This is everything that is described, and "what happens" in the sense of the fictional, made-up material. It encloses (and is composed of) all the stuff which is done during play.

Exploration is organized like this:

Color * [System * [Situation = Setting + Characters]]

Color - no problem! Rifts is a bucket of Color. If it ever moved or breathed in pop culture, then it's in Rifts. Like all mixes and blends, Rifts Color acquired its own qualities as well. This is what you were conveying in your pre-play discussion with each group. "From now on, everything we do will be Colored like this." Blood, explosions, berserking, bullets, and crazy-ass dimensional scheming are all going to be involved. Plus cyber-arms, ley lines, and drugs. Or as Jared Sorensen would say, "Are there monkeys?" And yes, there are!

One important point about Color in your game: "good" and "bad" are Color, for this game at this time. Maybe people cared about them a little bit, here and there. That's why they're not absent ... but they are present as Color, not as Situation. That's apparent in your posts over and over about how this game was played.

[Situation = Setting + Characters] - as with many convention scenarios, this is clear and well-integrated. The characters don't have to get into a situation, they're simply already there and things are already turning into crazy conflict. Your stated summary of "what would happen without them" is synonymous with "they are very important in the situation."

Easy summary: Setting is Rifts Canada supplemented by some outside research on your part, and enriches by putting the setting elements (organizations) into conflict, which then translates into an immediate situation with the whole Mr. Bingles nab, necessarily including the characters.

At this level of the Model, Situation is static, nothing is happening (yet). A group needs System for things to happen. System is how the Situation of play changes in any way because of what the real people do. Someone gets shot. The characters change location. Someone's skill value goes up a few points. Fictional time passes. When you look at people role-playing and they do something like roll dice, that something is part of the System in action. We're going to have to go into detail about the play itself to talk about System.

And even before play begins, your posts show the GM busting his ass to make damn sure the System is going to work right in line with (a) the Situation and (b) some specific goals of play. If you look at the diagram in the Provisional Glossary, you'll see the Creative Agenda arrow going right now through System, specifically. That's what "System Does Matter" means - it's incredibly relevant to the Creative Agenda. I'll try to point out how during play.

Here are some of the points about that which I saw in your preparation:

1. The "world obeys to the RAW" - this means setting and system don't require hitches to factor together; you're saying Exploration is going to be strong (specifically the multiplication symbol that follows System in the equation)

2. You reorganized the textual rules in order to analyze the System. One result is that you repair some broken parts relative to your anticipated actual System (in play). Another result of your analysis was to find that a part that you thought might be broken for that purpose, wasn't broken, so you left it unchanged. My point here is that you laid out this analysis, with substantial effort, for a reason. You even state the reason - to make sure that no one would get a disproportional advantage from expending or using a particular kind of option.

A key aspect of System is the reward element. It's hard to see this at the preparation stage, but there's a hint of it here in that although you assigned equipment, you did not dictate that they must only start with what you give them. In other words, a certain level of early effort on the players' parts to acquire equipment exists as something to be rewarded. It doesn't mean much here, but when we get to the real play-account, it shows up in big bright letters.

On/in to Techniques next.

Ron Edwards

TECHNIQUES - these are the procedures of play, what the group really did to make stuff happen in the game. Rules in a book are written-down Techniques, but what really matters is which Techniques are actually employed. Techniques are found within the Exploration box, pretty much as subsets of System.

All of the Techniques I see throughout your play account are about adversity. You frequently give them opportunities via the situation to hang themselves (make bad decisions), and they are expected to avoid those or pay the consequences - this is key to my upcoming point about the Creative Agenda.

One family of Techniques concerns "authority," which I break into content, plot, situation, and narration (see Silent railroading and the intersection of scenario prep & player authorship for the definitions). This one's easy but significant. You were the authority for content and situation, and narration is, I think, relatively trivial in this case. The most important one for present purposes is plot authority ... and I submit that you left this up to the resolution mechanics. If they wanted to find something out, they had to hunt for it and figure it out, using the resolution mechanics. If they wanted to shoot someone, they had to use the resolution mechanics. If they wanted bigger guns, they had to use the resolution mechanics. You as GM did not take the plot authority, and in fact, no one did. It was permitted to be solely an outcome of many people interacting. This way, you as GM did not act as a safety net to protect characters or in fact anything from players' decisions, either smart ones or dumb ones.

The most important part of Techniques are the rewards. One thing about con play for games that were designed for multiple-session, even infinite play is that the usual reward mechanics may not be relevant. Rifts reward mechanics include improvement of the characters over time, often quite a bit of time. That didn't apply here. Here, only the shorter-term tactical and mission-based rewards were most relevant ... and the all-important social (real) reward system. Why were most of you playing, and continuing to play? I gather from your posts that mutual recognition and respect gained from good strategy and tactics were the primary rewards, moment by moment, scene by scene, and for the experience of play overall.

There are lots of other things to talk about regarding Techniques, but they'll make more sense in context below, I hope. I'm going to summarize the play sessions as I see them, partly so you can tell me if I'm perceiving them well or missing important stuff about them.

First group's session

I think this group got the point right away. I see three steps, beginning with a time-sensitive decision. They knew they were trading off less risk for a time-crunch later. After that, in regard to offering them chances to investigate more, and considering that they knew the other group would be on their ass, it makes good sense not to waste time and move on to the mission. They were smart and didn't let you sucker them into losing still more time.

The next steps were first a "feel it out, few consequences" scene, and then a hard-core tactics phase with the big fight. This part was "for the prize," i.e. Mr. Bingles, so they were fully committed.

In this session, I appreciate your attention to how you GMed time in the game. It was a huge issue. Time concerned how the two groups were going to interact (eventually), when the Slaver ship was going to arrive (for this particular fight), and more. My point here is that you employed a highly specific resolution mechanic in order to make sure that no one, including yourself, was going to prejudice the time-sensitive outcomes.

One strong and obvious technique was handing control of the adversarial NPC over to the player whose juicer PC was killed. I see this as a bit of the reward system in action, potentially, and was sort of disappointed not to see the same thing occur in later play.

I'd like to know more about the details for the player with the borg character. Your writeup completely confuses me about exactly what the player did and what the character did. For example, how can a non-consent from the player be an example of player decision-making? I am pretty sure I am simply understanding and hope that you can re-state the events in more detail.

Second group's session

Obviously, this group began behind the curve in terms of what this is all about. They started with their lousy tactical failure to grasp for more weapons, and the Lt player was totally clueless in the sense of being "team leader." That knocking on the door scene must have immediately shown the others that they were going to be in big trouble. It's no surprise at all that after that, the other players basically evicted him from play, nor is it surprising that another team member (the Dog-boy player) stepped right up to fill in the gap. The grenade launcher incident must have been the last straw.

The pimp & octo-man fight is important too. You rewarded them fairly for having the balls to fight with megadamage and for winning, with quick information. This saved this team massive time and allowed them to catch up with the other group. This is key, the most notable moment of reward/consequence in the entire game.

From that moment on, I betcha this group was leaping into play as much as or even more enthusiatically than the first group ... and look, they were! No wonder they weren't bored about "following in the other team's foosteps" - of course not! They were reconning the competition and doing what they could to pick the right battle. Awesome.

The Showdown

Let's look at players leaving. The couple and the one guy with the prior commitment - that's easy, just one of those things, probably predictable given the time constraints of play. The important example is the guy who started with the Lt player. Of course he left. This was a classic Agenda clash, he didn't want to play for the reasons everyone else was there. He was totally not into playing tactically, and totally not ready for the necessary constraint of "losing." In Gamist terms, he couldn't get his way by arguing and wimped out. Notice that he interprets such a clash as a personal insult ("doesn't talk to me again, ever") - a typical reaction. By the way, who played the Lt character in the final session? I gathered that the character did "return from leave" to participate in the third session. Did anyone comment on the different (i.e. functional) approach that I assume the new-to-Lt player took, either overtly on in the in-game sense of "gee, the Lt. must be back on his meds" or whatever?

The juicer player puzzles me a little, as he'd seen you deal very nicely with his PC death during the session, apparently it had filled him with "great delight," and there was at least one "unoccupied" PC ready for him to play in this session anyway, right? The statement that he couldn't play because his PC was dead is totally inconsistent with any of that; it makes no sense. I'm interested because the team-competition context for play, which to my thinking means he could have kept playing, apparently did not override the single-player-single-character model in this guy's head.

That points out an important aspect of this game's Social Contract, though. If someone doesn't want to keep playing, specifically because he doesn't like it (the Lt. player) that doesn't mean everyone else has to stop or to consider the endeavor as a whole to be a failure. That's key because it resembles functional pickup sports very much, definitely not the clique-y "we're friends no matter what, so we'll adjust to suit you" contract that often encompasses incoherent play.

Unfortunately I did get a little bit confused about what characters were in action for the showdown - Lazlo started with the Rogue Scientist, Burster, Juicer, Mining Cyborg, Ley Line Walker, and City Rat; Chi-Town started with the Special Forces 1st Lt., SAMAS Flight Officer, Technical Sergeant, Psi Stalker Sergeant, Dog Boy Cpl., Soldier Cpl. The Juicer was dead ... you now had three players for each team of player-characters ... so which characters actually went into the third session, played by players? Did any of them become NPCs? Did any player take over more than one character? Please let me know.

Finally, I can talk about the action itself. Wow! That's great combat - a hard core, raw skirmish and teamwork situation. I only have a couple of questions to round out my understanding.

The first concerns the highly significant role of the glue + flame tactic, which I notice is discussed further in the parent thread. Do I understand correctly that you, when preparing for play, did not anticipate what a fight-stopper it was? It's always hard to say whether you "would have" not included it if you had, so I'm not asking that. Do I also understand correctly that the group's use of it in this session, should be seen as a commendable demonstration of what they learned in session 2? In other words, they deserved its benefit specifically because they had noted its earlier effectiveness.

I'm interested that the wizard didn't sacrifice himself in some way to knock off some of his foes, but I don't know whether he had that option via his powers. What I'm thinking is that, if I had been playing that character, and if I could have taken out a lot of them even if my guy got killed ... well, at this point, PCs are totally expendable and winning is winning. It seems like the player of the City Rat did exactly that. But I'm not entirely sure about that either. How significant to the fight was the death of the Chicago Lt? If it was notably significant, then the City Rat player was certainly trading off PC-death vs. team-victory, and your description of him as "valorous" seems to indicate as much.

The writeup confuses me slightly in terms of which player-characters were still alive on the Chi-Town side at the very end, and how the dead ones met their ends (did the soldier, dog-boy, TS, and psi-stalker all die from glue + flame?).

The ending interests me as well. This is what might be called a "we're losing? I pop the ball!" climax, meaning that if we can't get Mr. Bingles, well then, neither can you. Apparently this was acceptable as victory in the accepted parameters among the group. I'm interested to know how the players at that time (six of them) reacted to that specific decision, right there in the heat of the moment.

EPHEMERA - these are the moment to moment, actually expressed or actually done bits of play. One might say "we use the skill roll for resolution," but in play, any relevant details about picking up dice and exactly how they are rolled is part of the Ephemera.

I'm getting really tired, typing all this, so I'm going to skip over these a little. I can see lots of things to comment on and to ask about, but really, Ephemera are only bits and pieces of Techniques, so they're not that important for present purposes. They can be awfully enlightening, though, and if I had been watching your game, I would have probably commented on:

1. Whether you reminded them of both in-game time limits and out-of-game (real world) time limits

2. How people showed their appreciation of one another's good decisions and tactics, and conversely, how they used body language or comments to signal to one another that certain approaches to play were not going to be appreciated (especially early, especially in the Chi-Town group)

3. Something you mentioned - when and how people chose to forego an action; I agree that's incredibly important in a tactical game like this one

4. And just as a minor but at least illustrative example, your use of bookmarks in the rules - it's minor, yes, but it's not trivial

That's it for the Big Model. Finally, next, Creative Agenda.