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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 140 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Raspberry Heaven] All About Friendsheep  (Read 2351 times)
Filip Luszczyk
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Posts: 746

roll-player


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« on: September 17, 2007, 07:10:47 AM »

I playtested, or maybe rather crashtested, Ewen Cluney's Raspberry Heaven with Jacek and Kamil yesterday. The game is pretty interesting and we've been curious how it works. I believe it has potential to become something quite fresh and innovative - the first playtest draft, however, is still full of weaknesses that make it largely unplayable at this point, in our opinion.

I've already e-mailed the conclusions from our pre-playtest discussion about the game to the author, so I'll try to avoid repeating parts of that feedback in this report. Suffice to say that the session did confirm our initial impressions, so all the suggestions stay as they were. Instead, I'll focus on the immediate problems we've encountered in actual play.

We had some trouble fully getting into the right mood as a group, it seems, as initially we had to restrain ourselves from making hentai-related jokes. This might have affected the quality of the game a bit. Only after a scene or two we truly bought in, as the story started developing in rather unexpected directions, with some funny gags emerging from the evolving fiction. The main problem, though, is that it happened despite the system rather than thanks to it. Our general impression was that we could have achieved the same end results freeforming everything or playing PTA. Most of the cool things were reliant entirely on our agreement and the rules were getting in the way more often than supporting it.

Creating characters took us a bit more time than I expected, but I can't recall how long exactly.

Picking Quirks was rather easy. We wound up with two rather similar characters, but we left it as it was, as we figured out it might be interesting. Someone complained that the Quirks don't seem to be meaningful, though, and that the list is more constraining than helpful (I think they were providing some nice inspiration later in play, however, helping to focus the story a bit). After choosing Quirks we double-checked them for compatibility, and it turned out we had some non-legal combinations. Maybe some chart with Quirks compatibility could be helpful here. Also, later it turned out Jacek was choosing Quirks suggesting himself with names only, and he misunderstood Cool as "awesome" rather than "calm".

We had some issues with the remaining details the document asked us to come up with. First, Blood Types confused us a bit, and since they seem to have no gameplay impact whatsoever we weren't sure if we need them. Choosing favorite and least favorite subjects and things made sense to me, but we were somewhat undecided about this stuff. Also, I wasn't sure if it's legit to leave some of these blank, as it was more logical for my character not to have a favorite subject. Note that none of these things came up during our session, though (maybe we didn't really feel any need to focus on that, maybe it would start coming up in prolonged play, dunno).

Writing "I likes" was pretty difficult, as for the most part we weren't sure why our characters could like each other. We totally overlooked the suggestion about leaving this part for later, however. It would certainly work better if we did, as we wound up with "I likes" that didn't come out in play in any way.

The characters are here.

We wrote up our homeroom teacher according to the advice from the document. We weren't sure if we should fully flesh her out or only pick the subject Quirks. However, at this point it seemed strange that she needs Quirks. Later in play none of them was used mechanically, as we didn't roll for her even once - they did work well as descriptive details, though, and sparked some story ideas.

Also, we decided to write up an animal, for purely game breaking purposes. The suggestions about animal NPCs were given in the playtest document but none solid rules were included. We wanted to check if the game would work with a pet, so after pondering some possibilities we came up with a class sheep. It turned out to be central in our game.

We picked the First Day at School Episode.

Kamil framed the first scene, with our characters checking out class changes. We learned about Anna, the new [STRIKE]smuggled[STRIKE] transfer student (Kamil's character) joining our class. Thruth be told, we've been a bit clueless about what to do. But then, someone suggested that we notice our names on a list of students assigned to feeding the new class sheep (and some collective stupidity ensued, as we started figuring out what could have happened to the old class sheep). Watching the sheep's arrival in terror, we tried to remove our names from the list. We utterly failed, being caught by the principal during our attempt.

Note that at this point we weren't fully sure if it's legit for the current tutor's character to be included in the scene - later on we've been assuming that it's ok. We've been wondering about the spotlight's distribution, too, as the game doesn't specify who exactly the scenes should be created for. In the end, all the characters were present in all our scenes - but I think at least once the tutor dominated the spotlight.

We weren't sure if more than one character can be challenged in the same scene. I don't feel the resolution works well - in the first scene Kamil set the difficulty at 10, and we had no chance to succeed, rolling 1d6 due to our Busty Quirks. This exposed another problem, too - in almost every scene we had some trouble figuring out Quirk's applicability, and there was some look-up involved. It wasn't always clear if we should roll 3d6 or 1d6, as some good/bad overlap became apparent in later scenes (e.g. Lazy's bad side seemed to apply in most challenges). Such interactions weren't obvious during character creation, though, and I think it can be pretty situational.

Anyway, in the second scene I framed Anna's introduction to the class. We went to the challenge almost instantly, as the teacher couldn't help but hug her. Being caught in her bust, the delicate transfer student struggled for her breath. I made Kamil roll 1d6 due to being delicate (now that I look at it, the challenge might have hit the quirk's good side, but I'm still not so sure about it). I set the difficulty at 6, and my character was helping out by trying to separate them (seemed physical enough). Still, Kamil failed the roll.

w00t! It's only the second scene, and the PCs are already dying! Well, not quite - blue all over her face, Anna was transported to the nurse, and you can imagine the sweat drops over students's and teacher's head. Note that this is more or less when we started buying into the events.

As for helping out, we didn't see much of it - as it happened, the challenges we've been coming up with rarely hit our good sides. Also, I can't think of a challenge in which helping out actually made a difference.

In the third scene, we visited Anna in the nurse's office, and we brought the sheep with us to make her feel better. Someone suggested that Anna is allergic to sheep. And so, her life was threatened again. A challenge - I think I managed to drag the damn sheep away from her, but Jacek narrated how she pursued us around the school, and we've found ourselves basically cornered in the bathroom, with sheep's frightening shadow moving on the wall.

I think there might be something wrong with how the resolution affects play. First, it felt like the tutor's decisions were more important than actual mechanical results, and it all felt awfully loose as we weren't always sure what to expect about success and failure. It felt a bit empty. All in all, the rolls sometimes steered the game in unexpected directions, but there's still a question if the mechanics added anything that tossing a coin or playing rock-paper-scissors instead wouldn't (and with all the confusion about Quirks, difficulties and helping out, it would probably be less cumbersome, too).

Also, the restriction about "off-camera" actions started getting in our way in this scene. Maybe it's because of our habits, I'm not sure.

Next, there was a scene with the whole class gathered in front of the school, around the sheep, with our characters away from the rest, still trembling. We decided that we need to do something about the monster, and I tried to steal the sheep's glasses while Aoi (Jacek's character) was distracting the students. Blind sheep wouldn't be able to pursue us, obviously. Surprisingly, we managed to succeed at last.

In the fifth scene, I framed picking a class rep. Anna suggested the sheep, as a joke. Other than that, all our characters were candidates, along with some boy, apparently not very bright. We rolled for every character involved, including 1d6 for the sheep and 2d6 for the boy, but we weren't really sure if we were doing it right. No real helping out here, I think, but again, we weren't sure of we should roll 3d6 for our Busty's or 1d6 for our Lazy's. We did the former and Aoi won, in the end. Lots of confusion about the resolution mechanics again, handling competition and NPCs involvement wasn't very clear (and it wasn't apparent if we should set normal difficulty on top of all that, too).

In the last scene we've been standing in front of the school after lessons and discussing whether we really did right taking away the glasses. I don't recall the specifics of the challenge any more, but we wound up chased by the sheep again.

We increased our bonds as per the rules for the episode (we weren't sure if we should actually come up with the key scene, as episode's description vaguely suggested). It seems we totally forgot about adding the memories, though.

I'm pondering the incorporation of the kishoutenketsu structure in the game. It seemed logical at first, but after seeing it in actual play I feel it wasn't much different from how PTA and similar games structure scenes. Now I think it might be a bit tacked on, as it's basically labeling something that in itself isn't new. I'm not sure if it's really a problem, however, but I figured out it might be good to mention it.

To conclude, the first version doesn't seem to work well, but I believe the game can work with additional, uh, work. It's definitely a difficult project, though, and I'd certainly like to see how it ultimately develops.
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ja-prozac
Member

Posts: 41

nerd with an attitude


« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2007, 09:10:33 AM »

Hi,
while I agree with the post above I'll write my thoughts and ramblings about the game.

- The Quirks conflict with a difficulty of the scene. I can have high difficulty from the situation and
only one d6 because of side effect of the quirk. This means I'm penalised twice.
- Not only that - there's no suggestions about what to set a scene about but I can't make the scene
about some specific quirk beacuse it sets number of dice before the conflict.
- Where's the friendship? We led the game toward this direction only because we were told it's about it.
Nothing more. The game plainly doesn't do what it suppposed to. The four part structure dissolved almost
immediately and haven't brought anything constructive. Basically we were just freeforming scenes anyway.
Also, anything we could say about friendship between characters came from our input, the mechanic is
just set of broken rules to resolve scenes which doesn't mean anything to characters/players.
- Whole prep and character creation was just exercise in color, nothing we could choose meant anything.
I could play the game without knowing my blood type, subjects and things I like or make it up on the spot.
The quirks proved to be hard to use in scenes - troubles with deciding which qiuirk should be used or what to
do when onequirk calls for bad side(1d6) while another for good side(3d6) were common thing.
- Helping each other was just ineffective. Besides other troubles with quirks it was just soft and didn't bring
much friendliness to the game.
- I likes are my pet peeve - what are they supposed to do? Ok, my character likes another for something.
What does that mean?

I get that writing a game without visible conflict and friendship as a theme is hard but right now rules don't do
nothing to support any of the goals - they do not support comic strip structure, don't lead to any conclusions
about the theme instead the game tries to emulate japanese high school and customs/genre. It misses the point
imho.

Kamil Wegrzynowicz
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