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Author Topic: [Dreamation 2008] Agon  (Read 4545 times)
Mel White
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Posts: 98


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« on: January 29, 2008, 09:21:54 AM »

I ran Agon at Dreamation and had a blast.  The six players were superb, balancing cooperation and competition throughout the adventure.  I want to highlight just a few ‘convention’ conventions we used for the game, plus one question. 
First, we used ‘group’ achievement scenes (rather than 1-v-1 challenges).  These ran pretty much like simple contests.  Each player named a skill and framed a scene, and after the roll the hero with the lowest score owed an oath to the hero with the highest.  I planned that each hero would owe an oath to every other hero that rolled higher, but that seemed to be too unwieldy after the first contest so we modified the impact.  A normal achievement scene would have resulted in 30 oaths; my original plan would have resulted in about 30.  The way we did it resulted in only about 6 oaths, which seemed light although it did make oaths very significant.   
Second, the group achievement scenes were part of a larger feast where the heroes were recounting tales to be recognized as the ‘Hero of the Argonauts’.  The highest roll from all the achievement contests would earn that laurel.  I thought this would spark more competition, but in the second challenge Don roll 10, open-ended it with divine power, rolled 10 again, and then 9—29 points!  There was only 1 in a 1000 chance that someone else could beat that result.  Clint pointed out later in the game that with more players, the ‘outliers’ in terms of dice results will show up more often.
Third, we used Nev’s Oracle cards idea again—with a twist.  In addition to earning a Fate card for each success in a simple contest against the Oracle, Heroes failing the challenge drew Doom cards.  Doom cards were things like: ‘You will be betrayed on the battlefield (-2 to a called oath in battle)’; ‘You will turn your back on a friend (-2 to a given oath)’; ‘the Fates weave your tale quickly (+1 Fate)’… Both the Fate and the Doom cards ‘worked’—at least, I enjoyed seeing them in play.  The players used them to adjust the game world and make them effective.  For example, Don used the Fate ‘Seek the Shadows at Night’ to narrate entering the cave to Hades at night, and played the card’s advantage die.  The cards would have had more impact in a longer game where resource management becomes more important (in order to avoid Interludes).   
We hit a bit of a snafu in an Interlude.  Here’s the question:  Can a hero make a sacrifice or heal, and participate in a different Hero’s challenge?     
One cool scene from the game:  In a simple contest to determine who could make the most significant sacrifice to earn the title ‘Most Loved by the Gods’, while other heroes sacrificed bulls and treasure, Don’s hero made a speech about how the gods don’t value material things, but rather what is in a man’s soul.  He offered Bill’s hero an Oath!
So that’s it.  My thanks to Shane, Clint, Greg, Don, Bill and Dave for being so fun to watch!
Mel
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2008, 07:34:34 AM »

Mel,

I'm glad you posted about this game, as it was one that left me thinking a lot at Dreamation. I don't have as positive of opinions about it as you, but this isn't an attack, but instead, some criticism and things I learned from playing that game.

Convention games are weird beasts. They're fun, but they're promotional, and they're usually played with people who don't know the game and don't necessarily want to know the whole game. In the case of Agon, you really did hit almost all the rules - the only one we couldn't really use was Fate because it's a campaign construct. It was too many rules, though. In particular, the Oaths were too thick in giving, and underused because they were not understood. What I learned from this is to cut away as much as possible from a con game, and leave only what's required for a good time, Highlight one good thing about the game.

The second, and biggest, thing I learned is to start in the middle of the game. I guess I knew this, but I'd forgotten. My session I ran Friday morning wasn't white-hot, and I was wondering why. Agon showed me. You had this beautiful map of Mount Olympus, with chained conflicts that led to each other flow-chart style. It was incredible. You should take a picture of it and post it. Unfortunately, we didn't get to interact with it. It was supposed to be the adventure climax, but it would have taken at least an hour and we got to it in the last 20 minutes.

Instead of starting with dinner, and oaths, and investigation, I can imagine that a game where you said, "All the fire in the world's gone out, and the gods have told you that it's because Prometheus lost his stone ring in Cerebus' gullet. You stand before Cerebus and must take it back!" at the beginning would have been three or more times as fun. We'd have had a learning conflict (with Cerebus) and immediately launched into the real adventure, the mountain climb.

I hope both of those notes help with next time you run the game.

Best,
Clinton
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Mel White
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Posts: 98


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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2008, 07:55:54 AM »

Instead of starting with dinner, and oaths, and investigation, I can imagine that a game where you said, "All the fire in the world's gone out, and the gods have told you that it's because Prometheus lost his stone ring in Cerebus' gullet. You stand before Cerebus and must take it back!" at the beginning would have been three or more times as fun. We'd have had a learning conflict (with Cerebus) and immediately launched into the real adventure, the mountain climb.
Clinton
Clinton,
I've come more or less to the same conclusion--the lead up to the climax was too long.  I wanted to balance a sense of 'adventure' or exploration or whatever--figuring out the solution--with action to enact the solution.  But I got the mix wrong.  I'm planning to run it again this weekend locally.  I was planning to start at Delphi, but now maybe we'll jump right to Cerberus... 
Mel
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Mel White
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Posts: 98


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« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2008, 08:28:16 AM »

I'm glad you posted about this game, as it was one that left me thinking a lot at Dreamation. I don't have as positive of opinions about it as you, but this isn't an attack, but instead, some criticism and things I learned from playing that game.
 
   
Clinton's post has me realizing that I've glossed over elements that didn't work so well.  He's mentioned the scene structure, which took too long to get to the heart of the situation.  I've mentioned that the Oracle cards worked mechanically, but I think it's fair to say that there really was not enough time in the game to see them in action.  Similarly, I had created a whole set of advantage cards that would be earned for 'most glory' or most kills' etc.  These, too, were too much--especially for a convention game.  Notably, these problems have nothing to do with Agon, but rather the set-up of the adventure and features I wanted to see in play.  I suppose, in a way, having gotten them out of my system, I can take a step back and pare away the excess in future games.
Mel   
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