Harlequin/Arnold, tell us about Indie by Storm at MACE

edited November 2010 in Actual Play
The subject speaks for itself. How'd it go?

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  • Callin me out, huh?

    Well, as it just so happens, I just got back home, so here goes:

    I had three players show up initially. I went through the basic pitch for the six games I had highlighted, and walked them through the "menu" I had printed up to chose from. Each game had one page in it with the "back of the box text," some quotes from the website, etc.

    The six games were:
    Annalise
    Ganakagok
    Kagematsu
    Misspent Youth
    Remember Tomorrow
    Zombie Cinema

    I had also included basic blurbs on Maid, The Mountain Witch, Mouse Guard, and Dogs in the Vineyard, but stated my preference was to show the other six if possible.

    Before they decided which game, we had another arrive. He was supposed to GM a game at a nearby table, but didn't get any players so he threw in with us for a while. The group decided on Misspent Youth.

    I told them we would spend an hour on it, and reminded them about every ten minutes. We got through all the world-building steps in about 35 minutes. Sadistic, Freedom devouring, State Authority who's agenda was to grow under-class people in vats to experiment on/torture for entertainment.

    The clique was called the "bullet boys." They were "employed" by the Authority to run ammunition to the totalitarian "shoot on sight" police arm of the government. Brutal, but everyone bought in. Their Exploit was a series of sewers and old streets from the Undercity that was before, places where the Authority didn't care to survey.

    They grokked the Authority Figures and Friendship Questions really quickly, and threw in some good ones. I was optimistic that we would get in two scenes, so I only grabbed an Authority Figure for framing scene one. She was the younger sister of one of the characters, but a tattle-tale for the Authority. The Bullet Boys had all just gotten off shift and returned to their underground lair. They were buzzing high off the Authority Mandated compliance drugs (another of the Systems of Control the players had created) but they knew the crash and the withdrawals were coming.

    They role played this interaction, and helped each other through it really well. I almost didn't want to interrupt the scene, but little Bekkee did. She shouts an insult at her older brother, then tells him she's telling the Authority about their little hidey hole now that she's found them.

    Launch Conflict.

    The Authority wants to discover and deconstruct the hide-out. Bounce (Bekkee's older brother) wants to scare the sh*t out of her so she won't (directly) threaten them anymore. She starts by revealing her Authority issued cell-phone (and the fact that she's already dialed in to control.)
    They taker her wallet (with her precious badge) and she nearly bursts into tears. "Do you know what they'll do to me if I lose that?"
    The Authority squawks back that they are deployed and ready, boots trodding overhead as Bekkee smiles sadistically.
    They snatch the phone and run down the tunnel, "Do you know what they'll do if you lose this?"
    The Authority starts following the moving signal, confused as to what's going on. But just to be sure, they throw gas down the manhole into the hideout.
    They win the conflict with the next roll, and disable the gas and the cell-phone.

    We were already at an hour, and had many more games to try out, so we stopped there. We paused long enough to explain what would happen if a player landed on the Authority's square, and I reminded them about selling out. We tossed out an example from a previous game, and I talked about the 7 scene arc, and what happens between episodes, and what triggers eventual end game (or the series finale if you want to continue the TV metaphor.)

    Next up we rolled into Remember Tomorrow. We were down to three people at this point. Because Remember Tomorrow is GMless, and the three left were really getting into the creative elements, I just started them off on the rules and advised them as they went. I don't have their sheets in front of me, but they instantly grabbed in to the concept. One of them had already bought the book, but hadn't played just yet. Pretty much everyone got two successes on their intro scene, and almost all the factions got one on theirs. We had two scenes after that was all said and done.

    One was a deal scene, and they found their own balance on how to execute it. The controller let the player playing the Faction to name the conditions of the Deal, which we recorded on both sheets. The controller picked up a PCon as a result of the rolls.

    Then we had a face-off scene. It wasn't guns, so much as bruiser influence. The controller was trying to impair the player character's ability to do his hitman job, but outing his appearance on the news and such. What made this scene tense and cool was that the player got two successes and the faction got none, but then the faction burned a PCon and got two successes. So there wasn't a loser.

    I explained what they could spend their successes on, told the controller about the bonus die he gets for "winning" with a faction in a face-off, and they co-narrated a good end to the scene.

    Then on to explanations of what an "exit" is, and how those exits pace the session. And also about ending a character or faction if they get to three exits, to keep things fresh. I think they really liked the freedom there.

    Then we took another small break, and suddenly three more people showed up. We had previously talked about trying out Annalise or Mouse Guard, but with six people, the majority voted Zombie Cinema. I didn't play, just facilitated with rules and structure here and there. They went modern, and the majority of the cast was movie or TV actors (including one of the Jonas Brothers, and Mr. T.)

    We had some groping in the dark in the beginning, and I tried to help find or drive conflict a few times, but most people got the habit withing a scene or two. The background noise level in the room had died down a bit, but we still had some "What did you say?" moments here and there. We got into a situation where two players sitting next to each other died (meaning we had two zombie players in sequence.) The Zombie Pawn moved up at the beginning of Zombie one's turn, then that scene ended in a tie (meaning the Zombie moved up again.) Then the pawn moved up at the start of Zombie two's turn, and wiped out the remaining three players. Sacrifice wasn't really a pleasant option, as they were all three huddled around the same square.

    We got through an entire game, which was pretty cool. I talked about the other boards and how flexible the game was, and one of the players and I discussed the game as a kind of learning tool for driving toward/finding conflict which he seemed keen on.

    Three (hour long) games, the sales pitch at the start, and a few bathroom breaks, meant I was out of time. Plus it was midnight, so that was that. Thinking back on it now, I meant to get email addresses from people, but I let them keep the information packets I provided so they could follow the web links and see more of the games.

    All in all, pretty good show, I'd say.
  • It sounds like everyone had a good time and learned a bit about indie games! Success!

    Would you do it again? Was it exhausting for you?

    Had these guys played any indie games before? I usually ask the players what experience they have with these games or indie games in general to take a base audience reading.

    Did they find the pace all right? I can get a "complete" play experience into 45 minutes but it's very rushed and I run roughshod over the players for the entire game. At Ice Station Nerdly, we enjoyed a much more leisurely pace and played two games in four hours.

    You'll find that you've done all the hard prep and can generally be ready to play any of your portfolio at any time now. It's kinda awesome. Sometimes you might need to spend an hour making sure you have all the materials printed, but that's no huge deal.

    I also learned to categorize my dice by number of sides into individual containers. This speeds up the start-up for games like Dogs, Roach, and Carry (and MLwM to some extent), which have specific dice pool requirements.
  • As for prep, I carry most of my gaming supplies in a craft/tackle box, including my Ganakagok deck, so I was ready to launch soon as I got seated.

    Two of the initial four had heard of most of these games, but hadn't tried them yet. The other two were interested to hear the pitches and willing to try about anything. Everyone had some measure of role play experience, even if it was mostly with popular fantasy games.

    I was really happy with the pace, myself, and since I told them at the beginning how it was going to be (time-wise) I didn't get any complaints (nor did I pick-up on any non-verbal cues.) I really think an hour hit all our buttons. Especially in Remember Tomorrow where they can pretty much pace themselves. I was pleasantly surprised that we got so much actual roleplay in Misspent Youth. I know it can take some time, but at the same time I really didn't want to rob them of the world building. I loved getting it done in 35 minutes.

    I would have done the same for Ganakagok, if given the choice. The ground-work is integral to the way I want to teach the game, so I would be sad to skip over it.

    It wasn't nearly as exhausting as I thought it might be. This may sound terribly smug (but I can't think of another way to phrase this, and I mean it in all humility) but almost every game I run, and certainly every game I run at a convention, requires me to explain the rules to new players, so I'm really used to the task. I got to throw in some commentary about how I play the game, and what parts I really enjoy, and where I think the game really shines. That was my favorite part, and for that I would do it again many times.

    I'm really tempted to start doing exclusively this at conventions, rather than throwing a lot of work into just one game and having it maybe make or maybe empty.

    I AM SUPER INTERESTED IN DOING THIS ALL DAY AT GENCON IF THAT OPTION IS AVAILABLE. (I am not the master of subtlety.) I wouldn't mind putting it in my Dragon*Con schedule as well.

    Also, I had the benefit of having some IPR books in the dealers' room. I hope it boosted Sunday sales a bit, but I didn't get the chance to stop by and check. Admittedly, I could have worked the "And you can go buy this game just over there" line into things as much as I could have. Must remember to do that more next time.

    Or at least included an IPR/Design Matters/UnStore/etc. page in the packet. Still, each game page had a url on it, so maybe that will be enough.
  • Posted By: HarlequinI was pleasantly surprised that we got so much actual roleplay in Misspent Youth. I know it can take some time, but at the same time I really didn't want to rob them of the world building. I loved getting it done in 35 minutes.
    I'm really happy that you were able to get in so much game, too. I also usually do world creation (or at least partial world creation) at con sessions. I wind up only getting in 2 or 3 scenes usually, but I've decided that that's good from a "leave them wanting more" perspective.

    Arnold, was the experience fun/rewarding for you?
  • He wants to spend all of GenCon doing it. I'd say that was fun and rewarding. =D

    If I can get to GenCon this year, count me in for much Indie by Storm action, too. I need to expand my portfolio of games before then.
  • edited November 2010
    Heck yeah I did. They had some awesome ideas, and I felt much more confident in my intro than I did with my more local friends. I would have loved to keep playing that game all the way through, or picking it up at home. Their ideas (Systems of Control, and Authority Figures) gave me confidence to be way more aggressive with scene framing and color in my narration, which led to them fighting back harder. I don't know that it comes through my above description, but their actual RP and dialogue was intense for a con demo.

    I've gotten world creation and 6 or 7 scenes in before at a con, but only in a 4 hour slot. I would ideally like to accelerate to 2 scenes, to get "The Question" in, but I gave them a preview of what that is and what it meant. We talked out the next scene or two without rolling, to wet their appetite.
  • I'd be tempted to brave Gencon to do this all day. And of course I hadn't played Remember Tomorrow before, I bought it on a whim about an hour before this game!
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