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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 23 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Dr. Chaos] and a parade of stupid superheroes  (Read 989 times)
Bret Gillan
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« on: January 10, 2011, 10:47:56 AM »

I gathered a group of five friends to play Dr. Chaos on Sunday. I was super excited and, in retrospect, should have put a little more thought or discussion into the choice of game for this group before pulling out Dr. Chaos. I think we did test the rules pretty successfully, but the fiction got so silly that at a certain point I said, "Guys, I have completely stopped giving a shit about this story." Embarassing highlights include Lawyerman, The Parachute (who wore parachute pants), and Easter Sunday (a woman with a katana in a Catholic school girl outfit). The group didn't know each other that well, so it seemed to devolve into a contest to get yuks. In the future, a pre-game discussion about the comics aesthetic or outright begging my players to make some effort to play it straight might be necessary.

So, from the playtest document, I'll answer some of the playtester questions:

Dr. Chaos does consistently win. She trounced the heroes pretty repeatedly, especially since the some of the superhero concepts at the table were so unappealing that nobody was bringing heroes back. We ran into some trouble towards the end game where the game dragged a bit. She kept being beaten by heroes, but not ALL the heroes, so her last condition kept being delayed over and over and over. I wasn't sure if this triggered a loss condition (all her conditions being beaten consecutively) but it didn't seem like it so we kept going. Eventually, she won.

The players did not find the humiliation of their characters deprotagonizing. Everyone seemed to be totally okay with it. The only person who felt deprotagonized was the player of the lesser villain. He was frustrated because he felt as though the lesser villain was playing their own game, and did not get any of the benefits of either Dr. Chaos or the heroes, and so he just got beat on through the whole game. We were unclear on how, if the lesser villain is choosing to aid Dr. Chaos in a scene, the lesser villain's melds affect things. Are they both comparing individually against the heroes or stacking melds? Same with if he chooses to oppose Dr. Chaos.

Dr. Chaos's extra card draws seem fine, though Dr. Chaos's ability to casually cruise to a Gin concerns me a little bit. Even though many of the superheroes in our game were ridiculous, there were a few I worked to develop and enjoyed being in the game. Having Dr. Chaos completely wipe them from the rest of the session bothered me a bit.

Having Dr. Chaos's number of conditions as a dial would be nice. I think we would have been content with 3 for a shorter game, and I could see 5 or 6 conditions if you want to do a multi-session mini-campaign.

I have some notes written down at home and have a few other things I was fuzzy on, but figured while I had a break at work I would take a shot at the things you were most concerned about.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2011, 11:16:02 AM »

Hi Bret!

Thanks for trying it out. I want to hold off on the stupid-hero and genre expectations issue for a little later. The design has proven quite tricky along those lines, and I am convinced that making Doctor Chaos is more central to solving it than anything else. So I want to discuss it but not until we iron out some of the other details.

1. I think your Doctor Chaos' Plan was defeated. One of the ending candidates is indeed that if all of the conditions are sequentially defeated. That changes some aspects of your experience, I think.

2. A Gin victory over a hero doesn't mean the hero can't come back. It only means that Doctor Chaos stomped him or her quite handily during the episode in question, and that the hero cannot be developed when seen again.

3. As currently written, if the lesser villain is aiding Doctor Chaos and beats a hero, then Doctor Chaos' current Condition is preserved from being utterly defeated. In other words, you don't stack melds with Doctor Chaos, but the lesser villain provides some insurance against crossing off that Condition. Also, if the lesser villain is beaten by one or more heroes in this circumstance, then it doesn't count as a defeat against the Condition.

I am still working out precisely how this part flies. It's a bit hard to say until I get a better understanding of the baseline success or failure of Doctor Chaos.

Let me know the names of the folks you played with, so I can add them to the playtester list. Email me if you don't want that information to be publicly on-line.

Best, Ron
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Bret Gillan
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« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2011, 08:03:45 PM »

So I'll tell you how the scenes turned out, and you can tell me if the heroes should have won:

- Objective 1 successful.
- Objective 2 successful
- Objective 3 delayed.
- Objective 4 successful.
- Objective 3 delayed. <= This is the point where I thought maybe the heroes should have won, but since the other objectives were completed I wasn't sure that it counted as "all objectives defeated sequentially."
- Objective 3 successful.

I misunderstood how the Gin victory works, thank you. I was thinking Development was synonymous with bringing a hero back.

I think the majority of our rules confusion came from how the lesser villain interacted with the other characters when it came to resolution which may have been a part of that player's frustration.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2011, 08:33:02 PM »

Yeah, the heroes won after the fifth round. That was make-or-break for them and for Doctor Chaos, which is part of the design intention. Doctor Chaos gains no momentum toward victory due to prior successes.

I can definitely see how that wasn't clear from the current text, so a big textual revision goes right there.

Did you guys do the post-Episode step which focuses on Doctor Chaos' issues? I'm asking because I'm wondering whether the key feature of an ultra-villain - that he or she is at least partly right - was part of your experience with the game.

I totally agree about the lesser villain. That is, at this time, exactly the most important part of the game to review and revise, so I appreciate the player's frustration, but also thank him for his efforts which provided me with valuable information.

Best, Ron

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Bret Gillan
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That's Bret with one 't' damn it.


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« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2011, 04:45:39 PM »

Ron, we did do the post-Episode focus on Issues but we weren't always sure how to accomplish this. We brought up that Dr. Chaos had a grandfather that she cared about and was trying to protect. We stumbled on this though. I'll have to go back and reread the rules for that. Since we didn't have to come up with it during the beginning setup, it was a lot fuzzier.
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