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Author Topic: game advice for strange group  (Read 1563 times)
ronfig
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« on: June 13, 2010, 09:29:44 AM »

Objective: to find a quality rpg that could work within the following constraints:

player age range 13-18
45 minute sessions maximum
possible campaign play
players are anime fans, larpers, Magic the Gathering players
We meet once a week.

I want these kids to experience indie games at their best, but these constraints are stumping me.
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lumpley
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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2010, 10:39:07 AM »

It might be a trick to track down, but: Psi*Run.

45 minutes is tight, but doable. How many players at a time?

-Vincent
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2010, 11:22:45 AM »

Considering all the constraints, I'd have to go with 4th edition D&D. Just provide ready-made character chassises (no fluff, only the crunch) for the players to fluff up, and run one encounter per session; start each new session with a short monologue about what happened in the last session, what's going on now, and why you just go into a fight. You might even make a point of putting in a non-tactical choice of some sort before or especially after the day's session: like, the session was about how the characters beat a tribe of goblins, and at the end of the session you tell them how they found clues pointing towards both the evil human slavers from the hometown and the strange necromancer of the enchanted forest; which way will the party go when the necromancer was probably the ultimate cause of the town's massacre, but the slavers were clearly at proximate fault? Base your next session's content on the consequences of the choice the party makes. Prepare some new character chassises for each session for new players and be ready to narrate how the party met this strange bard or whatever since the last time who happens to have conjoining motivations because of X.

My reason for picking this game is that it has a good shot at enticing the sort of player demographic you describe with its mechanics and the subject matter. 45 minutes is also nigh perfect length for playing one combat encounter. The fact that you won't have time for plot or drama is something I find to be a strength of your situation for this game: 4th edition works best when you treat it as a colorful miniature skirmish game that expands somewhat clumsily towards roleplaying. What would be a weakness for any other game is almost certainly going to be a strength for this game, as you get to do extreme framing from high point to high point in your story, progressing it at an appealing pace even with the small amount of play time. Like, if you were doing Lord of the Rings (and LotR was a skirmish-based fantasy story), your first session could be a fight with some ringwraiths, then there's a Moria fight scene, then vs. Saruman, then Gondor, Shelob, some Mumakils and a finale against Sauron's hordes. All the intervening portions of the story would be touched upon as GM narration that would tie these skirmish encounters together. You understand what I'm getting at, I imagine - pacing is going to be a bitch to plan for when you're only playing 45 minutes per week.

3:16 is an inferior substitute for this plan, although it can match D&D in having a clear episodic structure and episodes that can be played through in 45 minutes. It's inferior mostly because you won't reliably find a creative accord within that demographic for the sort of thematic statements or even thematic commitment that the game requires to be interesting. D&D is much better in that it doesn't ask you to have an opinion on imperial warmongering. 4th edition D&D wins over other editions and variants in my estimation because it's practically built for hard-framed combat scenes that provide the actual meat of play. Other editions would have you spend your 45 minutes basically just setting up and exploring the encounter space.
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greyorm
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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2010, 01:33:43 PM »

True, but 4th Edition D&D isn't an indie game (which looks like a constraint -- "I want these kids to experience indie games at their best").
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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ronfig
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« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2010, 03:00:17 PM »

It might be a trick to track down, but: Psi*Run.

45 minutes is tight, but doable. How many players at a time?

-Vincent

I would like a game that could comfortably handle as many as possible...6-8-10.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2010, 10:39:18 PM »

I'm not sure the you can have a 'indie games at their best'. It implies there's a 'best' indie game, when they all poke at subjects in many different directions to each other.

And you don't experience 'indie games', that's just a name for how people have been making their games. Unless indie has become some sort of 'scene' or cul de sac.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2010, 10:45:59 PM »

Well, I don't want to second-guess Ron, but what does it even mean to "experience indie games" in general? If it means tapping into modern non-traditional design, then the new D&D is as good as any game. If it means specifically playing a game owned by its creator, how would the teenagers know?

Setting that aside, some indie games that can handle a large number of players and have a relatively short play cycle include
1001 Nights (split the group into smaller crews for the stories!),
3:16 (play the first session with reliable co-GMs, run the pre- and post-mission scenes for the whole group, but split the players into smaller teams for the actual missions),
Dread (the Jenga game, works as is but is tricky to GM to this time frame successfully),
Engle Matrix Games (split the players into groups, the rules are simple enough),
Dark Dungeons or LotFPor Mazes & Minotaurs (OSR games that benefit from the party structure, enabling a large number of players because individuals do not have individual motivations in play),
Maid (not actually an indie game, but I know you're counting it as one anyway),
Primitive,
Time & Temp.

Out of those games I'd probably pick Primitive for this application, considering the pedagogical issues and the social experience. Many of those games rely on a modicum of patience and/or splitting the group into subgroups for parts or all of play, while Primitive can handle 10 players as is with a bit of GM acumen. Teaching the players to play won't be too difficult, and the game can handle a 45 minute session. Dread is a second game that can do this, but running it requires GM virtuosity at the best of times.I suspect that Time & Temp would also shine, but its concept is complex, rules pretty original and it'd need to be shaken and stirred a bit in all sorts of little ways to figure out how to get 10 players through a scenario in 45 minutes - basically possible, but I wouldn't expect this demographic to appreciate the game's subject matter that much.
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ronfig
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« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2010, 06:41:14 AM »

First, I would like to thank all responders for their time, especially in the face of my vagueness.  I suppose what I really meant regarding my desire was to let these kids know that there are lots of awesome games out there that are not D and D, games that are creator-owned and innovative.  They would understand both of these things about the games because I would tell them.  D and D is typically all they have heard of...that and WOW.  I have read through several new games, but I am always not sure which one might work with the aforementioned nature and size of the group.  Eero, thanks for the thoughtful advice.  Believe me, Zombie Cinema is on my personal wish list.


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Callan S.
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« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2010, 07:54:44 PM »

'not D and D'

That's a phrase that gets repeated through gamer discussions fairly often. As in the gamer defining what they want by only saying what they don't want. It makes it kind of hard to discuss things when what you want is described by absence. Do you have any play in your gaming past that you thought was good or that you wanted to pursue more of, that you could describe? Just a sentence or two would be cool? :)
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ronfig
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« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2010, 08:13:34 PM »

'not D and D'

That's a phrase that gets repeated through gamer discussions fairly often. As in the gamer defining what they want by only saying what they don't want. It makes it kind of hard to discuss things when what you want is described by absence. Do you have any play in your gaming past that you thought was good or that you wanted to pursue more of, that you could describe? Just a sentence or two would be cool? :)

Sure...I enjoyed badly played but very narratively descriptive D and D as a kid and have recently come back to the hobby.  I just finished a session of Beast Hunters with my oldest son tonight.  I have enjoyed Ninja Burger No Honor Edition with him before,  and I have played a quick session of Soap with the group that I mentioned at the start of the thread.  I am dying to play Mouse Guard, Spirit of the Century, Shotgun Diaries, and A Penny for My Thoughts--all recently purchased.
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Finarvyn
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« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2010, 12:37:16 PM »

You might take a look at Amber Diceless. As a dice-free system, it's about as far from 4E D&D as I can imagine.

Character generation can be very fast, partilcularly if you decide not to specifically use Zelazny's Amber setting. (Using Zelazny's Amber setting typically requires that you take some time to expain how things work, but if you create your own setting you can tie it to more familiar things instead. On the other hand, if you understand Amber already some prefer to become introduced to the setting by experineing it rather than being told about it.)

Also, one can run short or long sessions.

The way I introduced my group to ADRP was by giving them a modern/scifi scenario where they were space explorers trying to figure out what happened to an abandoned space station. I could ignore all of the tricky powers and let the players focus on the "what do you do" aspect of the game. Then I slowly brought in elements of psychic involvement as the storyline took off.
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Marv (Finarvyn)
Sorcerer * Dresden Files RPG * Amber Diceless
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OD&D Player since 1975
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