*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 26, 2019, 02:26:38 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [The Infected] The worst school trip ever.  (Read 5125 times)
MikeSands
Member

Posts: 124


WWW
« on: October 27, 2007, 11:14:06 AM »

Last night I ran another game, this time at a one-night horror con. I used the same setup as in the "anger management" game, but this time the players decided that they would be a school group - three teachers and ten students in their late teens.

Overall the game went very well.

I varied the scene framing from the text, doing that myself most of the time. We had a few player-framed scenes when they had a strong idea, but I found that the GM doing this kept the story moving along much more effectively. I could keep the pacing where it should be for the reel we were in and it kept the pressure on the players in working towards their goals. Reel one was almost wholly suspense and character development, with a single zombie encounter near the end (well, they ran another down on the road, too). Then they had a siege in a small town service station, before escaping and making it to a farm belonging to a student's uncle. Nobody was there, but there were some powerful scenes as they rested and took stock (more below). They then made contact with the authorities, which had them taken by the military to be checked for infection and debriefed on the situation - this was interrupted when one of the characters made a break for it, incidentally letting zombies into the base and thus having all hell break loose in the final scenes.

We had some great intra-group conflicts, too. Two players set themselves up in a love triangle, and there was some good conflict between the teachers and students about what to do.

One of the most powerful plots we had was that of Jurgen the visiting Danish assistant teacher. With a 'love' motivation, he had fallen for one of the students, Hannah. Tragically, she was an early infectee and became a monster as they drove from the siege at the service station. He made everyone stop the car and - realising was she was becoming - attempted to make his attempt on the goal ("she would want me to kill her before she becomes one"). He succeeded, but was left despairing and suicidal. This led to some great scenes at the farm, particularly as his erstwhile rival for Hannah's love attempted to make a connection - possibly just to vindicate the decision to take his own life. This led to possibly the biggest problem we had with the rules - as Jurgen had not become a monster, he was not actually able to be killed at this point. Can I suggest that a player may put their own character's death up as a stake regardless of infection level? I think that this would have led to a better story for Jurgen, although he managed to get himself shot later, and achieved his release.

The other good conflict that split the PCs was that Ben, the rugby team captain, had 'power'. He wanted to be the one who led the group to safety. He tried to get this at the farm, but failed. This was a great scene, with pretty much everyone against him, and some desperate and crazy actions to try and make it. Good stuff.

One of the other players had 'Escape' as a goal. This character steadily built up tokens by using all opportunities to grab things and prepare for an ultimate escape from the zombies, and succeeded in the end.

The final player goal was a little problematic - 'faith'. The player took a while to get a handle on this, but ended up going for a kind of 'God will guide me through safely' plan. This one also succeeded in the end... and, strangely, the character's epilogue had her looking after zombies in the back country, like some kind of strange mission.

In terms of the mechanical bits and pieces, I think that the game is pretty much ready for action now. It ran very smoothly, paced well, and we had a good time.

Rules stuff that came up:
 - After trying it, I definitely think that letting the GM frame scenes is the way to go.
 - The idea of a token for who gets infected is good, but has a bit of handling time and is easy to forget. My intention was that it moved at the end of a scene and also after someone get infected. However, this got forgotten a few times. I suppose you could just randomize which character gets it at the time (i.e. via roll, etc). However, having the token there was a nice reminder of the threat. (especially as I used a pretty much life size resin skull).
 - It seemed a little easier for the characters to get things done this time around. This may just be because the way the game played out - a few scenes I kept the monsters away just because there was so much going on without them, they were not actually required. Maybe tweaking down the available dice a tiny bit should be considered (like, NPCs only max out at 4 instead of 5?)
 - Having the NPCs start at zero dice seemed a little mean. I think that in the early stages, we would have had a bit more NPCs in central points if they gave a bonus on that first roll too.
 - Let players have their characters kill themselves if they want. I think that other people should still only be allowed to put PC death as a stake after they monsterize, but it should be available to the player earlier if desired.
 - Going for goals early - the two players who did this both said they felt somewhat directionless afterwards. I wonder whether saying this can only be done in the final reel might help? One the other hand, the first one that came up - kill my beloved before she turns - was so perfect, delay would have been worse. I guess maybe this is just the hazard of trying early.
Logged

Malcolm Craig
Member

Posts: 263


WWW
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2007, 12:47:10 PM »

Thanks for taking he time to post this up, Mike.

Just for the sake of clarity, I was playing Jurgen, the eventually suicidal Danish exchange teacher.

The point that Mike makes about not being able to kill your own character stemmed from the experiences that Jurgen went through. After he had to kill Hannah and was infected, I felt that it would be really cool for him to end his own life, seeing no way out of the situation and being thoroughly despairing after having to kill someone. However, the mechanics seemed to be set against this. I think that Mike hits upon the solution, that you can choose death for your own character, but it can't become a choice for the GM or anyone else until you are a monster.

I should add, that this was not because I wasn't enjoying the game, it was great fun. it's cool that if this happens, you can take on the role of NPCs who are floating around.

Is there the possibility that you can take a new goal once you have achieved your (or not, as the case may be)? Both myself and Steve went through our goals (with differing degrees of success) somewhere between halfway and two thirds of the way through the game (at, what I can safely say, were really dramatically appropriate moments). I kind of figured out this 'suicide' sub-motivation for Jurgen, but I had the feeling that Steve might have felt a bit lost once he'd burned his motivation (and failed). I'm hoping Steve will also pop in to give his insight into this.

Cheers
Malc
Logged

Malcolm Craig
Contested Ground Studios
www.contestedground.co.uk

Part of the Indie Press Revolution
hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2007, 07:04:12 PM »

I played Ben, the alpha-male rugby captain.

First off, it's a good game, Eric. I really like the idea of the infected dice, and how they grow more important as the game proceeds.

As both Mike and Malc said, I went for my goal early - around the end of Reel 2. Ben wanted to lead the group to safety (and then rule over the survivors like a king). Well, I failed (in a very cool conflict), and for about the next 40 minutes, I cast around for a new motivation for Ben.

It strikes me that this sense of 'What do I do now?' after a failed Goal roll might be a common reaction in the one-off con games that The Infected seems perfect for. A player who's defined most of their characterisation around the Motivation card, and then it's stripped away from them, is a player who's adrift. If this is a reasonably common reaction, then you could suggest a few things to the player:

Ideas for what happens after you've rolled for your Goal:

-- draw another Motivation card (just for inspiration; not to try for another Goal roll)
-- redefine your current motivation (that's what I ended up doing - Ben decided that he wanted to be part of another, smaller group that'd try and reach safety)
-- assist (or oppose) another player in reaching their goal
-- follow up on a sub-plot that's developed in play
-- choose to Monsterise right then and there, ... or in the next scene
-- voluntarily take another level of Infection.

A list of options like that would probably give players who were adrift like me something to hook into.

---

I have some other thoughts as well (on the escalation from Desperate to Crazy, combining player and GM scene framing, the power levels of NPCs, and when exactly you should turn into a Monster). Gotta go right now, but I'll get to those soon.

Fun game!
Logged

Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2007, 10:42:45 PM »

Another thing I should mention, Eric, is that I really respect the amount of playtesting you're doing on this game.  Here's a couple more notes:

Balancing Player and GM input: As Mike said, he varied the scene framing from the text, doing most of it himself, with a few player-framed scenes.

It's a strong technique, one that contributed to the game's good pace. I'd like to see it balanced with a more structured way of allowing players to introduce their conflicts into the game. So, I'd propose:

-- The GM sets the 'arena' for the next round of scenes. The arena is the physical environment and all its trappings. In our game, we had the tourist centre in the middle of the bush (forest), the service station convenience store/workshop, Ben's uncle's isolated farm, and the military base with lots of guns, quarantine zones, and humvees.

The GM maintains responsibility for introducing the Infected, determining their numbers, providing hints and clues for the players to follow, and all that other stuff.

-- There's a round of player scenes once the arena's been established, and there's been an opportunity for some general role-playing. Each player has the opportunity to frame (or decline to frame) a scene.  The skull token gets passed around between people who are framing a scene, and consequently they have the opportunity to become infected if a conflict arises.

The GM can introduce bangs, or the infected at any time during these player generated scenes.

-- At the end of this round of player scenes, the GM has the option to change the arena if it seems appropriate.

Powerful NPCs: Our NPCs had a strong influence over the conflicts in our game.  Personally, I felt they were too weak at the beginning and too strong at the end.  My suggestion is that they give you 1 die for the first two conflicts they're in, 2 dice for the second two, and 3 dice for their fifth and subsequent conflicts.  Season to taste.
Logged

Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Eric Provost
Member

Posts: 581


WWW
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2007, 09:50:27 AM »

Hey guys,

Excellent feedback.  I'm happy that the game went well for you, and I really appreciate the time you're taking to help me refine this thing.

Last night I'd gone and made a nice long post with all sorts of detailed thoughts on how I can improve things, based on your experience.  But my silly ass accidentally hit the 'refresh' button while I was working on it, killing my post.  I'll have time again tomorrow for trying for that detailed post again, but until then, I do have one question for you all;

Concerning the value of the NPCs; Were non-infected NPCs being used primarily as a player-only resource, or was the GM regularly picking up those freshly-created NPC cards and using them against the PCs?
Logged

MikeSands
Member

Posts: 124


WWW
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2007, 10:14:07 AM »

The NPCs were pretty evenly shared out, as I recall.

I think one major concern with the NPC dice pools was when going for a goal. If one or two people opposed the roll, that seemed okay. However, the moment that they started bringing in NPCs worth 3+ dice, it began looking pretty much impossible to get the goal.
Logged

hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2007, 12:50:49 PM »

NPCs were pretty evenly distributed between the GM and the players.  If there were a couple of NPCs being used in a conflict involving (or between) players, then Mike as GM was often picking up another NPC to use as opposition.

Some other thoughts:

Make earning tokens count: It seemed odd that some players could earn tokens for their characters just by narrating stuff that was consistent with their motivations -  without engaging in a conflict.  I think that's because there is a disparity between different Motivations.  Some of them will nearly always be opposed (like Power), while others quite often won't be opposed (like Escape).  I'd prefer that tokens could only be earned as a result of winning a related conflict.  That'd make the choice of whether players wanted to frame a scene or not (see above) more meaningful, I think.  At the very least, I think the GM should put up some token opposition [/weak pun].

Becoming a Monster: I wonder whether you should give the GM the option of activating a newly-Monsterised NPC in either (1) the current scene, or (2) the next scene.  I think this would make things a little more unpredictable.  Currently, scenes felt like many of them could have a similar dynamic - a big conflict, followed by someone turning into a monster, followed by attacking that monster. If you have the option to delay becoming a monster until the next scene, then you have the opportunity for it happen during quieter, more character-based moments.

---

I still haven't decided what I think about using Desperate and Crazy to reroll conflicts.  My feeling is that the longer conflicts go on, the more there should be an absolute guarantee of Infection.  I didn't feel that was happening in our game, and I'm interested in Mike and Malcolm's thoughts about the extended conflicts we had. 

Eric, is that dynamic of 'choosing to continue a conflict, leading to more certainty of infection' one of your goals for this game?
Logged

Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
MikeSands
Member

Posts: 124


WWW
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2007, 01:05:15 PM »

I was pretty much using story logic to determine when I opposed attempts to gain tokens. Basically weighing up whether any NPCs/zombies would try to stop it and the drama that opposition would bring to the scene. In general, I assumed that all attempts to gain one should be opposed, but in some cases there was no logical/dramatic reason to oppose the gain, so I let those ones go for free.

The monsterizing of NPCs is not mandated to be instant, as occurred in our game. Again, the rapid change was a reaction to the fact the game worked out that way. To be honest, I would have liked to have a monster NPC turn more slowly, so that they could accompany you for some time causing more havoc, but that just didn't happen.
Logged

hix
Member

Posts: 531

Steve Hickey


« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2007, 01:58:53 PM »

Ah, I see. Thanks, Mike - I guess that's what comes of not having read the ashcan.

By the way, I love that cover image of the red six-fingered hand, Eric.
Logged

Cheers,
Steve

Gametime: a New Zealand blog about RPGs
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!