[Dreamation 2008] Shock: Overflow - The Clone Civil Wars

Started by Judd, January 28, 2008, 07:36:19 PM

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Joshua got a bunch of overflow for his Saturday night Shock: game and rather than turn people away he set up three other fellas to set up games.  We grabbed an open huge room at the con, divided up into four groups and went to it.

We decided to all play under one shock and decided on The world is on the cusp of a civil war led by human clones.

I like shocks that have a bit of situation in them.  The four tables' shocks came from our table, from when Joe said, "How about human clones?" and I asked if we could insert some color into it and the civil war was born.

The shock and the minutiae are mostly color; its the issues that make the game really hum.  That said, we had some amazing minutiae.  Clones were built with defects that would eventually cause their doom and they were grown with brand names.

The game was with

Me, Judd
Jason, an old gaming buddy I've known since junior high and was a roommate in college; he is probably the person I've gamed most with out of everyone else on earth
Joe, who was in every game I played this weekend, a Durham 3 regular and a great guy
Dave Cleaver, a familiar face on the con circuit who I'd never been able to sit down and game with.  It is neat how things change once a familiar face shares a game with ya.

Things from our table that lept out at me:

  • Joe's child-soldier clone just broke my heart.  Joe has this thing he does with his eyes and his body-language that just made me want to cheer for his character and weep when he lost.

    I got to play Jason's antagonist, which is cool because I know how to push his buttons in fun ways.

    I was rooting for Dave's clone-slave and Jay provided a truly despicable master for us to hate.  When Dave's slave dropped a piece of furniture on the bastard in order to run away with the guy's daughter, I couldn't have been more pleased.

The characters were only linked by the world.  There wasn't a whole lot of inter-connectedness going on but I was riveted during scenes where I wasn't a protag or antag.

It was fun being a part of a group of games.  I liked watching other games operating under the same Shock: go on during water/bathroom breaks.  And I really liked getting together after the games and talk about how the games went and what everyone's favorite moments were and what issues they chose.  It is neat how Shock: games really come right out of what's on people's minds in the daily news.

Something about this game made Shock: sink in for me.  I get it now in a way that I didn't before, which is a relief because this is definitely the game I want to use to introduce my dad to gaming if we can get him and a few of his buddies together.

Mel White

It was neat to see the large group of players surrounding Joshua as he held up the bright orange Shock: book.
My initial thought reading the shock as 'the world is on the cusp of a civil war led by human clones' was that this is too detailed to be a shock--at least, too detailed for my preferences.  Thinking about it, though, it's easily a shock (clones) combined with a bit of minutia (brink of civil war).  So I appreciate this as a new way to approach shocks. 

Virtual Play: A podcast of roleplaying games


Super Shock: was hellafied fun. It was really interesting to see how the concerns of the four different tables flitted around one another without being the same.*

*There were two orbital weapons stations, this is the only exception as far as I recall.

Joshua A.C. Newman

Man, I'm still humming from that session. I'm so pleased with everyone's awesome input.

Mel, the amount of detail in a Shock is totally up to a particular group. In this case, coördinating 15 people with a very specific Shock really highlighted the differences between the groups' ways of approaching the subject matter.

I took a little poll at the end and discovered these things:

• The clones in all of the groups were a downtrodden underclass.
• In two of the groups, the revolution led out of the frying pan into the fire. In one case, to a racial purity, Fascist society, and in the other to an aristocratic Stalinist state.
• In two of the games, clones represented illegal immigration into the US. In one, they represented American slaves (Hey, Julia, you might want to think about the questions you're going to get about alternate settings. That might be a good one. Vincent, this is a lot like Synthia.)
• There was never any question of the clones' humanity. Their moral challenges were precisely human moral challenges.

Sorry, Judd. This was really a no-helmet-fins game. Again. There was some really cathartic violence, though. A slave master was killed with his own armoire and a torturer was beaten to death with the chair he used to beat his charge with. I really can't stand bullies, and I like to see them get what they give. It's a weakness of mine.

Incidentally, in another game last weekend, I played a game of Shock: where the Shock was "Government Controlled Reincarnation." I played an incarnation of Guan Yin, and it was surprisingly satisfying to treat my antagonist with compassion. I think I learned something about myself.

Thanks, everyone. The whole con, I was flying high because of you guys and your creative storybrains.
the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.

Dave Cleaver

I don't have much to add, other than this was a really fun game. It was great to play with you guys, and I look forward to doing it again some time.



No other thoughts, having digested a bit?

Shit, don't mind if I do.

There was something really cool about being in a room full of people who were sharing in a similar experience, all playing the same game but coming to different conclusions from different angles and finding their fun in different nooks and crannies.  I really liked that.

There was something interesting about gaming with Jay, like dancing with an old dance partner.  I had to reign us in and make sure we didn't just go off the deep end for 40 minutes and free role-playing until everyone else's eyes started to bleed.  We kept our scenes short and punchy and it was amazing how we always ended our scenes on a brutal cliff-hanger and a spiffy moment where everything turns around and changes.

I liked my characters, both my antag and a protag in a way that I haven't liked a PC in a long, long time.  Officer Chaim Suzuki, United Planets Sanctioned Conflict Referee and D.I.C.-09, Departmental Investigative Clone were just riveting to me and I was bouncing up and down to play them.  Luckily, I was also eager to see our heart-breaking, ukulele playing child soldier (minutiae: Fast-Gro Clones: Grown Fast/ Die Fast) and our wood-hauling slave (minutiae: burning wood is a luxury that only the rich can afford!) do their thing and play audience.

That d4 for the audience is key; it changes the wait for your own scene into a wait for the scene where you aren't a protag or antag so you can have some input and decide their fate.  There were a few instances where the audience got to push the scene into an escalation and those moments are hot-hot-hot.

I'd love to hear about other clone civil uprisings that were going on.


We had only sad personal stories, but a happy world story. Our game ended with the dawn of a workers' paradise, clones and non-clones together. But it got that way by martyring the people who made it.

My protagonist, god damn it. Just god damn it. He wasn't a martyr. He was a surgeon who killed clones to implant their organs into their sick or injured ...um... what's a clone's parent called? Anyway, I was driving him toward a change of heart so hard, but when it came down to it, nope.

His kid was hit by a truck. He didn't perform the surgery, of course, but he observed it. "My intent is, when they stop my kid's heart, I can deal with it. People die; clones shouldn't die so that we don't." And I lost, and he accepted the promotion at the damn hospital, and he was an enemy of clones' rights from then on.

Man that guy was fun to play. One of our praxes was talking/violence, and he was all violence. I got to say things like "Mr Wu, when I became a doctor I swore a solemn oath to never, ever, ever, ever punch a patient in the face in a hospital bed. Stand up please."

How much he loved his kid was the only thing that could've changed his mind about clone rights, and it did.


Dave Cleaver

Quote from: Paka on January 29, 2008, 05:00:57 PM
That d4 for the audience is key; it changes the wait for your own scene into a wait for the scene where you aren't a protag or antag so you can have some input and decide their fate.  There were a few instances where the audience got to push the scene into an escalation and those moments are hot-hot-hot.
That is definitely one of my favorite parts of Shock:

Upon further reflection, this game was very different for me. My character was such the gentle giant, that he didn't actually get to say much when his master was around. I felt like I acted out the character more than I normally do.

Also, I loved the way all of our stories revolved tightly around the start of the revolution. We had the revolution's martyr, the first freed clone slave, the war ref who destroyed the only weapon that could stop the clones, and the creator of the eventual clone leader. That was some cool stuff. The fact that it didn't all sink in right away is a sign of a good game.