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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)
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Author Topic: [Grey Ranks] Full Playtest, Session Two  (Read 4521 times)
Jason Morningstar
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« on: March 09, 2007, 05:14:49 AM »

We had our second session last night and it went great.  It covered chapters four, five, and six, 2-7 August 1944, the high water mark of the Uprising.  Everyone returned excited to play and we had a great time.  Once again I just facilitated and took notes but didn't actually participate, which was hard at times!  I wanted to jump in there and mix it up. 

Each chapter took about 50 minutes to play, which pleased me.  The quantity of content and pacing seemed close to perfect to me.  If you have three hours, you can play a complete session, and if you have four hours, there's ample time to reflect, have snacks, and so forth. 

Mike was the MVP of the evening.  He's pushing his character strongly toward hate, and figured out that he can narratively pressure other players to work against their own best interests to help him.  Here's a nice example of this:

In chapter four, somebody chose A Panther tank.  The crew is forcing women to walk along side them as protection from partisan attack as a situation element.  The mission became "stop the tanks!"  Mike framed a mission scene for Joel that had a Home Army squad setting up an anti-tank weapon to destroy the Panther, oblivious to the collateral damage.  And he told Joel that Henryk (Joel's character) saw his mother among the human shields. 

So Joel had two options - contribute a big die to the mission to help ensure success (which he wanted), but requiring him to narrate a collective disaster for the crew, or contributing a small die to the mission, which would lean toward failure (which Mike wanted) but narrate a positive achievement and probably save his mother.  He chose the latter and the mission failed.  This happened a couple of times, and each time the recipient really squirmed and rose to the occasion with entertaining decisions and narration. 

There was another beautiful scene where Steve's character, Elf, had befriended a sympathetic German clockmaker and his pretty daughter.  Steve really wanted to make them his surrogate family ("My Family" is the Thing He Holds Dear).  But in chapter six, his personal scene made this an explicit goal, and he failed.  He used a d8 reputation and still failed.  He threatened his Thing Held Dear, got a d12,and still failed.  Finally, as Elf he said "Making you my family ... condemns you to death.  I won't do it."  And walked out. 

The biggest at-table problem the game has is effectively indicating who has scenes left, and of what sort.  There's way too much polling - "OK, who has a personal scene to do?".  I think I can solve this with individual character sheets that have spaces for dice on them, but it was especially noteworthy last night.  One related thing that helped (and that I'm going to recommend in the rules) is tossing mission dice in a bowl as they are contributed to the pool. 

Another concern - I realized that the way the game is set up recalls the Czege principle, in that in personal scenes, characters define their own goals and both good and bad outcomes.  I'm not sure if this is a huge problem, but I need to think about it. 
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Steve Segedy
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« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2007, 12:31:33 PM »

I don't think I'm familiar with the Czege principle as such, but I agree that it can feel a little loose to be doing all the set up and resolution for a Personal scene.  As it stands, it's entirely up to the player to jump in, frame their own scene, and then bring in other players (or not) to give the scene some life before rolling to resolve it.  I think it's worked fine for us, and almost all the scenes have been great, but I could see how players in other groups might let those scenes fall flat.

Perhaps one solution is to require that another player introduce a complication into the scene after it has been framed.  This is a bit of a reverse from Mission scenes, where the complications are in the initial scene setup.  For example, Player A (Mike) sets up a scene where his character is tricking his rival and some innocent scouts into shooting each other, to eliminate his competition.  Then player B (Joel) says "yes, but, Josek hadn't counted on the fact that the girl he loves would be coming along as well, and possibly getting caught in the crossfire".   
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2007, 02:22:17 PM »

I was thinking along those lines as well, Steve.  Currently the way the rules are written you are just supposed to declare a goal - you either get your goal, or you fail to get it.  You guys were definitely "setting stakes" in the if/else mode, which wasn't really my intent.  So I sat there and thought, what if somebody else decided the fail condition?  Or the group did by consensus, but you only had control over the goal you wanted to achieve?  That seems like it would work better.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2007, 03:16:00 PM »

Just to keep up my documentation, here's the session sheet for chapter's four, five and six, and here's the character sheet at the end of the evening.  Photos of actual play and grid positions tomorrow, hopefully.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2007, 05:29:24 AM »

Session two photos: 

The grid, after chapter four and after chapter six.  Somehow I missed chapter five.

The table during play.  We ate some brownies; they were delicious.
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