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Author Topic: [FreeMarket] Trouble with something  (Read 4882 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: October 28, 2010, 06:44:24 PM »

Uh-oh. This is one of those times I have to come clean about why a game didn't go so well. Or in this case, why I'm not entirely sure what (or who) the main culprit was.

At the Dice Dojo, I met up with Timo, Peter, Sam, and Todd; Megan came by later as a spectator. I'd spent a hell of a lot of time prepping, perusing the rules and pestering Jared and Luke. I even made up a pretty interesting diagram to help me get my head straight about the game (apologies; it's a Word file; I'll put a PDF of it up later); any comments or questions about it are welcome. I also have a lot of beginning thoughts about Freemarket compared with the BTRC supplement NeoTerra for EABA, and about Tanith Lee's early novel Don't Bite the Sun, which I'd like to develop in this thread if anyone's interested.

Tmo and I both brought our deluxe boxed editions, and pre-play orientation and discussion went well. We moved into making the characters, who turned out to be:

Peter: Jim, a First-Gen experienced handyman
Sam: Fine Swine, a Second-Gen quester for the ultimate high
Todd: Franklin Somerset, a First-Gen old-school hobby collector
Timo: Stardate Slim, a Second-Gen mold artist

Cultivation was the main thing across most of them, with Fine Swine being the exception but still consistent with his emphasis on Printing and Ephemera. I stayed out of making up the MRCZ as much as I could, not wanting to impose, but providing setting information when asked. They eventually worked up the Pac-Men, whose purpose is to create political art. Amusingly, they didn't have any particular axe to grind so one of their Needs was to find a message, or perhaps messages from people who wanted some supportive art.

Tags: Social Engineering, Mercenary, Space Hippies
Needs: Message, Space, Following

While they worked on that, I prepped based on the memory mash-up. I messed it up a little bit, though, because I got confused over two of the ex-girlfriends and ended up with a couple of events which focused too much on single characters. In retrospect, looking over the MRCZ sheet, I now realize that I should have had that in front of me instead of scribbled notes. Its format is just right for what I was trying to do.

We were pumped! I think we really got into the light-touch but actually-significant content and everyone was happy to enjoy any incidental Color that popped up through either narration or table-talk. Opening play was enjoyable and colorful. We had a lot of fun with the four slackers who shared the living/MRCZ space with the characters and the highly fraught line someone had painted down the middle of the deck.

Let's see, going by my notes, Fine Swine's parents were trying to set him up with a girlfriend, who was part of someone else's memories, and Jim came home from the sort-of antique junk shop place with the remains of a robot sex-worker, to discover that it had been based on Franklin's ex. The Jim-Franklin dialogue about this was excruciatingly funny. I really suffered from the error I made with the mash-up as I had to struggle to get everyone into some kind of interesting scene. We ran a couple of resolutions to deal with minor hassles, and the mechanics were nearly instantly disliked intensely by Peter, and as it went along, less and less enjoyed by all of us, me included

The biggest conflict, between an NPC named Gordon, a member of the Readers MRCZ who were kind of perfect-suicide intellectual types, and three of the characters, ended up being frustrating. By this point, we'd figured out that either the system features didn't mesh with the group, or we didn't grasp the features well enough (or in a way we liked) to enjoy them. And in this case, by having Gordon wordlessly draw his katana and seek to slice up the characters on his way to Fine Swine's cache of pills ... see, none of the characters were combat-oriented, and the conflict was connected to the characters on paper, but was not articulated in play at all. So perhaps I merely called a conflict which was totally off the beam as far as the characters were concerned. Plus it was about as classic example of "monster appears, attacks" as one can get in FreeMarket.

Looking at my notes and also at the diagram, I may have strayed out of the blue zone and into the Grimjack/Post Bros area with their emphasis on butchery and family.

To clarify, this has nothing to do with understanding the basics of resolution. We got that, and grasped that card-counting played a big role, and also that one should learn to enjoy losing. I don't think we mis-played a single step in the various card-draws or card-readings.

Stardate Slim was lightly deathed by Gordon, which turned out to be kind of funny when the servo-med-robots, whatever they're called, showed up and stitched-glued his head back on, and he was fine in about an hour.

The final conflict concerned the repair of the robot, which in fictional content was actually pretty cool, and ended well with the robot being a very annoying girlfriend and Jim - after all this trouble getting her to work - switched her off. But mechanically, Peter was very grumpy about the system by that point and found it thoroughly un-fun to do; only his basic good will as a role-player and interest in the imagined material carried him through.

We discussed the game for a very long time afterwards. Here are the system features that Peter and Todd brought up:

- being good means you can only drag it out, not that you can get it done quicker
- being good can be undercut easily by the other guy calling fast
- narration does nothing - no "bounce" - especially since when you narrate, you don't know whether you're finishing the conflict or not
- if you get a lousy first draw, you're fucked, even if you're good

It strikes me that the only way around most of the above objections is to get more cards drawn at once, and there are some mechanics to do that which I'd like to see in action.

For my part, I found the different types and layers of Currency rather tiring to track

I want to stress that this group, and the Dice Dojo gang in general, does not suffer from several widespread problems with trying out games for the first time.

- we don't mind errors in play as part of learning, and I in particular do not mind being corrected by someone else at the table - such events never have that sour, demoralizing effect I've experienced in other groups
- we really like our characters and one another's characters and get excited about the issues and color involved in crisis situations
- we don't mind negative consequences to our characters as part of learning
- we don't mind taking the time to discover what needs to be said and shared as an interface or interstitial activity while conducting the mechanics
- we have a really good practical understanding of Authority divisions and how they might be organized very differently in different games
- we really learn systems, both through reading and through usage, and we help one another learn them through positive social means

So the conclusion at the table, and I agree with this thoroughly, is that something specific, embedded in the procedures of play, was definitely operating such that we didn't have our ordinary rocking-fun blast playing the game. But what was it? We fell into three or four camps.

- Timo was pretty sure we didn't go into it with enough grasp on the features and hence what we had to bring in.
- Sam and Todd were pretty sure that we didn't make it far enough along the learning curve to judge yet. (Sam and I are talking about organizing another try.)
- I was and am kicking myself for initiating a "he attacks you!" conflict with no information or memories obviously supporting it, which meant that the mechanics were being employed at a narrative disadvantage. I'm also provisionally underwhelmed about the exact role of narration during resolution, but I want to try it again to see if I was missing how to to do it right.
- Peter and Megan would take a full minute to decide whether to fellate Rush Limbaugh or to deal with this resolution system ever again. Megan described watching it as "excruciating."

As for this post, I really don't want armchair analysis of who's at fault. What do I want ... um, all I can think of to say is, Erik, help!

Best, Ron
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2010, 11:59:10 AM »

This mirrors my group's experiences with the beta pretty well. Was the system updated since then?

This, in particular:

Quote from: Ron Edwards
- narration does nothing -

I guess a system of this sort plain can't be fun without narration. FreeMarket was a funny case, since it wasn't fun with narration either.
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2010, 12:35:06 PM »

I want to address everything in your post but I don't want to do a point-by-point gloss, and let's see if chunking my responses will stave off rambling.

Responses to the Mechanics

I've
- Ryerson Crew: felt a little overwhelmed at trying to add colour with every turn of a card but they could at least come up with clever lines to make each card placement interesting
- Fan Expo Playtest: Two Forge posters were stymied by the mechanic.  Both complained that narration seemed to be icing on the cake and felt that while there seemed pressure to turn each card placement into groovy fiction, there was no reward for doing so and no lasting consequences either.  But others just whipped through the mechanics with only token attempts at in/out of character contributions to the fiction in order to role play the consequences.  During this post-resolution role play some of the individual points in the process of resolution were fictified, but this was soldering together points of contact AFTER the mechanical resolution.  They seemed to enjoy it that way and didn't worry that every moment of the resolution did not have a fictional consequence.

My recommendation: The staking of flow and the consequences of flow investment in a conflict are far more rewarding points for investing one's creative energies than in fictifying each step of the resolution process.  If a character brings in a bug from a past conflict or burns tech, interface or geneline, that deserves some elaboration.  But working out the implications of each and every step if not fun or meaningful.
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2010, 12:57:23 PM »

What does "being good mean"?

Your AP records players' impression that if your first draw is bad, you just can't win.  The question is how badly you want to win.  So your 3 in Wetwork won't help you overcome a weak first draw?  How much of your tech, interface, geneline, and experience are you willing to burn out to finish what you started?  This isn't like trading STR points for some kind of dice bounus in a hacked version of D&D.  Your allies can help you rebuild yourself, aggie can print you out again, etc.  But here and now, the decisions about what you want and what of yourself you are willing to sacrifice to get the job done, that is what matters.  A weak wetworker willing to freak out and unload a pistol into the ceiling made a big difference in my Phantasm game.

Once again, it seems as if dramatic choices made before, after, and sometimes during the resolution are more meaningful than the individual steps of the card mechanic.

If good = the ability to drag out a conflict that means you are pushing opposing players to make drastic decisions.  The longer you drag it out the more the opponent will be tempted to make drastic "burn" decisions or burn up bug chips or attempt to drawn in allies.  Drawing out a conflict provides a different aesthetic of victory than a solid knockout punch delivered right away.  I am not a fan of whiffing and waiting out an opponent but the resolution doesn't take as long as a D&D fight so it didn't really frustrate me.  For players who are still getting used to the cards I can see where it could become a tedious waiting game.


Perhaps less skilled opponents can cut their losses by folding quickly.  True.  But what does that mean for their flow.  I don't have the rules with me but wouldn't the character who initiated a conflict end up losing the staked flow if they call early but aren't winning?  Keep doint that and you will be off of the station.  If you entered the contest from a position of strength but a combination of bad card pulls and drastic choices about what to burn have made stayingin the conflict unapealing?  You can back out but your flow position doesn't make it catastrophic.

The sense that narration provides no bounce was a sticking upoint for some of my players too.  I saw them try to make nice bits of colour or definitive pieces of ficiton for each card draw, but heard their disappointment at the end of the session when they becaem aware than little of it had made any difference.  So your players are right.  Narration doesn't make much of a difference.

But decisions about the kinds of conflicts you start, discourse around the flow being wagered, interpreting the results of those conflicts and those wagers, setting up challenges that will draw in enemies or competitors, making decisions about what to burn, these seem to be the fun mechanical decisions.

Wait -- the dramatic decisions that are tied to mechanics.  That's where the fun it, not in creating fiction about every turn in your fortune as dictated by the Fortune playing itself out through the cards.
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2010, 01:17:53 PM »

Enough with the stream of consciousness:

Get to the point where you can flip out cards as fast as a poker player, not like a newbie trying to remember the difference between a straight and a flush.

Then you and your players can devote your energies to coming up with interesting conflicts that will gain you individual flow or tap the flow of rivals.  Make contracts with others to get funky tech that you can burn wastefully in flashy conflicts.

When you are riffling through the cards, at most take a second to say "Blam, blam" or "I keep pushing" but do not expect those to matter any more than what you say as your Rogue swings a sword in the Castle Ravenstein boardgame.  Where you can start laying down meaningful colour is in those moments where a character's interface saves them in a rough patch.  Dramatic decisions like the sacrifice of tech or geneline or experience are worthy of in-character dialogue or (relatively) extensive description because the results of those sacrifices will persist after the conflict.  (The ebb and flow of your strengths and the little bits of fiction that come up during most acts card laying will in all likelyhood NOT persist).

So here is my ranking of the mechanics that demand the highest amount of color when elaborating on points of contact between system and fiction:
1) Staking flow
2) Determining the fictional parameters of the flow rebates/loss as determined at the end of the conflict
3) Decisions to modify one's character during a conflict to get one's goal (i.e. what to burn and why, and the consequences of that particular act of burnification, and reactions to it, and dialogue around it)
4) The DECISION to Go For It, Support, Burn, Call, or Error Correct, or play bug chips
5) Individual moments of card pulling.  Really, at most they are worthy of an Eastwood or Schwarzenegger one-liner, not detailed narration.
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David Berg
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« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2010, 02:00:19 PM »

Hi Ron,

I can't tell from your account how much of the dissatisfaction was related to handling time or to the fictional color issues Erik describes.  Personally, I've found both of these to be hugely important to my enjoyment of challenges.  I also think group energy is consistently better when challenges are about the progress of the MRCZ, not just about an individual character (Jim's ex is part of a political thin-slicing MRCZ with some messages to support!).

As for "being good just lets you drag it out", I agree, but this also lets you accrue more victory points, so it's rewarding in that respect.  As for the Superuser calling it early, again, I agree, but I'm not sure why you would do that.  Does the book tell you to try to minimize player victory points?  Jared didn't run it that way the one time I played with him...

A bad draw totally fucks you on a solo challenge.  With a full group, I've seen some bad draws recovered from.

Finally, I found a full understanding of what "efficiency" means in context to be key to my relating the mechanical actions to the fiction.  But that may just be a personal hang-up.

Ps,
-David
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2010, 06:22:53 PM »

Castle Ravenstein

I meant "Ravenloft" the D&D 4E boardgame
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2010, 08:28:28 PM »

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the replies. You may believe me as you wish, but I want to stress that we made no mis-plays, nor was any player or me having any trouble with simply applying the mechanics. When I say "learning curve," I mean "having fun with them and grasping second-order consequences," not, "how do I do this thing." Timo and I had been studying the book for months. The others playing are system jocks with very diverse experiences and a lot of flexible, enthusiastic habits about RPG design. So none of us wondered "what does this do," or similar. We got the rules, understood Effects and other details, and played cards reasonably quickly and quite logically. A few things did get Burned along the way too.

Also, Erik, I may not have been clear about our issues with narration. It's not that we struggled to produce long monologues with every card draw. The issue is that I might narrate (to stay with a very straightforward example) "I stab you through the body," without knowing whether it's the last sword-stroke in the combat or not. That totally depends on the next player Calling or not. This created a kind of slippery feeling to talking, not knowing whether we were describing something consequential or not. Again, I am willing to discover that this is a feature and that all that's needed is to tell one's fellow players that this is how it's like, but it caught us by surprise.

David, your questions are on target - it's not handling time at all; it's fun with the mechanics and their relationship to what's going on. Also, as I see it, the book advises flexibility about how hard to knee the player-characters in the groin, which is what Calling early would be doing. (Then again, considering the consequences of a bad early draw, Calling early is the only reasonable choice, so there ya go ...) Flexibility is good, but I don't think it's a good principle to rely on GM telepathy to know whether tactic A is more fun in a given instance. I'd rather go with my own thoughts on playing this particular character and how hard & nasty they want what they want, as I see it through their eyes in a creative fugue. How this preference works with FreeMarket fun is a good question. (For instance, I'm still dubious about the Superuser making Jared's character's pumpkin hallucinogenic in the example. I like it in some ways, not in others.)

As it happened, your parenthetical description of what would be a compelling conflict was exactly what was going on. In that Gordon was there to get these very interesting drugs from Fine Swine, but was also all wrapped up with the Reader MRCZ and a female character hooked into two of the other player-characters' memories. The problem was my failure to communicate it, and also that I might have done better to have Gordon contract the Pac-Men to make something they might not want to make. Which seems so obvious now of course.

I definitely think my screwup with the kill/not-obviously-relevant combat choice contributed to that sequence being less compelling, but the problems or problematic responses showed up throughout, including in conflicts whose fictional content was exciting.

Again, thanks for all the comments. Although most of this post bitched about how some of them didn't apply, a lot did. I'll be mining the posts for specific points to carry into prep and play when I try the game again.

Best, Ron
edited to fix italics format
« Last Edit: October 29, 2010, 08:32:16 PM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2010, 11:27:01 AM »

... Erik, I may not have been clear about our issues with narration. It's not that we struggled to produce long monologues with every card draw. The issue is that I might narrate (to stay with a very straightforward example) "I stab you through the body," without knowing whether it's the last sword-stroke in the combat or not. That totally depends on the next player Calling or not. This created a kind of slippery feeling to talking, not knowing whether we were describing something consequential or not. Again, I am willing to discover that this is a feature and that all that's needed is to tell one's fellow players that this is how it's like, but it caught us by surprise. ...

Well your reply clarified how to narrate the game.  I can narrate my "I lunge at you with a classic Iaijutsu thrust."  It's up to the target to say "I can't go on with this fight, you hit me" or "Watch my Samurai geneline save my bacon."  And then finally I (or my opponent or the super user) says something like "The katana comes out, the body crumples to the floor."  I don't know who is supposed to say what and when but by default it goes to the Superuser, I guess.

So there is a lot of "I do this" and "Yeah, I do that" but no defining of the exact parameters of the action-effect-reaction-effect cycles until we divvy up flow and rebate.

And that is kinda weird.

But is that different from other games where we enter a conflict after having set stakes, determine who won the stakes, then provide some justification as to how in detail the conflict worked out?  I haven't worked that out for myself yet.

Doesn't the resolution of the conflict matter more than the detailed resolution of each task within the conflict?  If it does then why bother with multiple fiddly steps towards the resolution?  Why not pull one card and have done with it?

Just when I thought I figured how to run this game new questions are popping up.
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David Berg
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« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2010, 06:06:55 PM »

Hi Ron,

My first instinct is usually for character advocacy too.  I hope you find a way that works!  Just to throw out an alternative, though:

I've played mostly challenges where there was no NPC antagonism.  A lot of Printing.  In these, the superuser has seemed (to me) to be pushing "What else could go wrong?" to the extent that some good plays could reduce Victory points, thus introducing more compromises.  Primed by playing this way, I imagine that, as superuser, I wouldn't be advocating for NPCs in challenges; rather, I'd be pushing the task of "how much can you customize your outcome and minimize your resource-hogging (as reflected by efficiency-rewarding Flow rebate)" as far as that was reasonably in the balance.  (Or, yeah, I'll admit, as far as my GM telepathy told me the players were enjoying it.)

Part of what I love about FreeMarket's fictional concept is the drive to add value.  Accordingly, zero-sum interactions seem like something of a waste.  As superuser, I'm not Calling to minimize my guy's losses; I'm playing on to explore possible collective benefits.  Basically, I think it's possible to play as an advocate for the station

I want my FreeMarket games to be about the MRCZ and the larger society.  I don't really give a fuck about any NPCs.

I have no idea if I'm reflecting the game's actual intent here.  Just throwing another POV into the arena.  Hope something in here was useful!
-David
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2010, 08:02:41 AM »

Can any of you fellow FM veterans give me some advice?

Given the "slippery feeling" that some of us have felt during the resolution how would you advise Superusers and players to

a) narrate the steps of a Wetwork challenge?
b) narrate a challenge involving physical force that isn't Wetwork?

The result of a successful Wetwork challenge will be some kind of death, not injury or binding or knockout. 

Do I just accept that on this station people simply aim to kill in every physical fight because any lesser results would be simply shrugged off?  I can narrate all sorts of violence and so long as I hold off from the killing blow it doesn't really matter.

In that case, what kind of challenge is it when I say "I jeet kun do the loudmouth until he stops those gross insults about my significant other"?  Is that Negotiation?  One of those quick 1 flow contracts we use when we don't want to bother with the resolution system? 

What is it when I leap on someone from behind and slap on the handcuffs?  I seriously don't want to kill the miscreant but just immobilize him for 2 hours while I take his place at the party.  Do I bring in backstory and say "this is Freemarket, you just lightly death the sucker -- he'll be back in 2 hours anyway"?  Is it a kind of pre-emptive ghosting?
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jenskot
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2010, 04:57:47 AM »

The issue is that I might narrate (to stay with a very straightforward example) "I stab you through the body," without knowing whether it's the last sword-stroke in the combat or not. That totally depends on the next player Calling or not. This created a kind of slippery feeling to talking, not knowing whether we were describing something consequential or not.
Do the players have this same issue with Dogs in the Vineyard conflict resolution? If not, what was different for them?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2010, 10:06:36 AM »

Hiya John,

Finally got a moment to follow up; I apologize for the delay. I and two other people at the table have played a solid amount of Dogs, I with one group and the two of them with another. As far as I know, none of us ran into the same trouble with that game. I think that system does have some individual consequence per Go, however, specifically whether one Takes the Blow or not, so the "floatiness" of the narration isn't quite the same.

Before going on, I want to specify that I was not citing this particular feature of the game as a dealbreaker. It may have been a contributing factor in the face of some of the more fundamental frustrations that Peter experienced in particular, involving the "screwed from the start" factor. My concerns lay more in the latter realm and also some currency stuff in terms of handling time, and remember, I was in the "need to play it more" camp of the debriefing discussion. I don't think the "gah! hate it!" camp was irrational though and I want to examine their points fairly.

Also, although I am still working up the post for it, I found a thought-provoking counter-example in a recent playtest of a game design I recently brushed the dust off and started to work on again, Doctor Chaos. Just as in FreeMarket, rounds of card play and the narration that goes with each play are only cumulatively effective and don't actually "do" anything in terms of who wins, although they can certainly chew up the landscape.

So in writing this current draft and in explaining the rules to this playtest session group (which included Peter), I was very clear that all narrations during this part of play are nothing but superhero and supervillain pornography: blasts, smashes, grimaces, determined words and glares, aerial speedings about, spectacular acrobatics, and similar.* This fits very nicely with the topic of the game, which is the ultravillain, such as Doctor Doom. Like FreeMarket, the design entails accumulating successes until someone calls; it's based on a very stripped-down version of Rummy rules and so you call by knocking on the table.

A primary difference, though, is that the hands are held in traditional private card-play style, so you cannot be sure exactly where you or anyone else stands, although keeping an eye on card draws can help. Another difference is that unlike FreeMarket, you cannot knock until you achieve a minimum degree of success which happens to be pretty high. Given both of these points, knocking solely to undercut someone else's apparent success is not possible. It also provides a particular form of tension and risk to the card play which is not present in FreeMarket, in which strategy is based on full-knowledge card-counting (and this not a bad thing, just different).

I'll talk more about the game and session in its own thread when I get around to finishing the post, but here I'll say that the playtest was successful and the relatively non-consequential, and indeed genuinely pornographic narration at the steps I'm talking about did not create frustration. In fact, Peter took on the extremely important role of the lesser villain and was a standout strategist and genre-specific performer throughout.

So my point in bringing it up here is that in another design, the feature you're asking about wasn't a problem. It may be that simply making this "porn talk" factor clear to everyone the next time I play FreeMarket will be sufficient to solve that potential problem or perceived problem. Or perhaps it won't, and then mechanics issues like the definite difference between Doctor Chaos card play and FreeMarket card play will have to be analyzed and perhaps it'll boil down into a preference issue. I rather admire the design goal of FreeMarket to be a full knowledge system; there are no mechanics unknowns at any time. I haven't played it enough (or well enough!) to know whether I like that, although if I'm not mistaken, Bliss Stage has that feature too, so maybe I do like it. But anyway, maybe there are people out there who really, really don't.

Best, Ron

* "Pornography" in this case meaning not graphic sexual content, but instead gratuitous spectacle seeking OMG moments, for any topic, in this case, four-colored superheroic combat and melodrama.
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Erik Weissengruber
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« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2010, 07:55:12 PM »

I appreciate the extensive reply because I am incorporating card play and gradual build towards dramatic conclusions via "floaty" narration in my wonky space opera game In this Sign, Conquer.  And because I really have had fun with Freemarket and want to respond to the concerns of some of the folks with whom I really want to run the game.

Just as in FreeMarket, rounds of card play and the narration that goes with each play are only cumulatively effective and don't actually "do" anything in terms of who wins, although they can certainly chew up the landscape ... all narrations during this part of play are nothing but superhero and supervillain pornography: blasts, smashes, grimaces, determined words and glares, aerial speedings about, spectacular acrobatics, and similar.

In ItSiC I am looking for space opera pornography ... maybe I will go with a more color-specific term like "SFX." * Players will have the chance to narrate reversible or floaty SFX or take higher risks and actually bring about minor but still irreversible changes to the state of the planet.

...  Like FreeMarket, the design entails accumulating successes until someone calls; it's based on a very stripped-down version of Rummy rules and so you call by knocking on the table ... A primary difference, though, is that the hands are held in traditional private card-play style, so you cannot be sure exactly where you or anyone else stands, although keeping an eye on card draws can help. Another difference is that unlike FreeMarket, you cannot knock until you achieve a minimum degree of success which happens to be pretty high. Given both of these points, knocking solely to undercut someone else's apparent success is not possible. It also provides a particular form of tension and risk to the card play which is not present in FreeMarket

ItSiC is pretty much working on the same premise: there can be no moving to either a threatened or a default resolution of the planet's fate until all active parties have undertaken a number of discrete actions.  Your opponent frames the opposition you encounter as you undertake a discrete action but cannot leap in to preempt or erase that action.

And as players keep their hands secret or have access to cards that are hidden from others, there is a level of hidden or incomplete information during the gameplay that just isn't the case in Freemarket.

Heck, I have seen players exert immense amounts of energy to keep the smallest activities or objects secret from the rest of the Donut and it is damn difficult to do so.  The near-impossibility of keeping a secret works in concert with near-absence of hidden information in the mechanics, and the GM advice to have NPCs just step on up and present their agendas to the PCs' MRCZ and cut through all the coyness often used to give "mystery" or "tension" to NPCs in RPG scenarios.

Aside: Is there any chance of getting the Jank Casters to talk about their Freemarket experiences is a podcast?  The way they talk about games is right on my wavelength.
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jenskot
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« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2010, 08:11:01 AM »

Thanks for replying Ron!

I re-read the thread and I'm unsure what specifically caused Peter's reaction (beyond initial bad draws being challenging to recover from). I think I understand (and empathize with) your, Timo's, Sam's, and Todd's reactions. But given this statement...

- Peter and Megan would take a full minute to decide whether to fellate Rush Limbaugh or to deal with this resolution system ever again. Megan described watching it as "excruciating."

...I'd love to know what caused this. It seems to go much further than dislike, style mismatch, or bad experience. Maybe it sounds worse than it is but it wouldn't take me a split second to decide to replay the worst game I've ever experienced than fellate Rush Limbaugh! And I've played some comically horrifically bad games!

You wrote...

So the conclusion at the table, and I agree with this thoroughly, is that something specific, embedded in the procedures of play, was definitely operating such that we didn't have our ordinary rocking-fun blast playing the game.

I believe this. It sounds like you grasped most of the rules and have had significant experiences lowering expectations for trying out new games for the first time. So I'd love to know what specific procedures of play made Peter consider fellating Rush Limbaugh?

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