DANGER PATROL: Dark Rockets from Pluto

edited July 2009 in Actual Play
Another successful playtest yesterday. The cliffhanger and previously ons are very consistently producing great fictional stuff for us all to grab onto. The self-policing of narration is working very well. I missed one of the changes to the 7.12 version, which is that extra moves cost 2 power tokens. I liked the flurry of extra moves we've been having and will miss them.

Aside from the Scene 2 transition I posted about in a separate thread, I'm not having too many bumps as a GM. Over the course of the alpha playtest I expect we'll see some really good info emerge about threat levels and how to push just hard enough to encourage derring-do and the like. Not having that down pat isn't really messing up play, but the games I've played don't make it much farther than the interludes, so I dunno how much it matters to be bumped and scraped at that point.

The other players in this game, John, John and Eric, all had a good deal of feedback of their own. I want to get out of the way and open the floor up to them.

Comments

  • early battle board for the Dark Rockets from Pluto

    image
  • Thanks for running Matt!

    I’ll post quick observations and fill in details by request.

    The design, theme, feel of the game is spot on. Very enjoyable. Love character creation. Danger dice are fun. Enjoy most of the special powers. Using cliffhanger, previously ons, and interludes to foreshadow future threats was great. Total disasters are my favorite parts of the game! There is a lot more that I like but it’s probably more helpful to go over areas we had problems or concerns.

    Concerns:

    - Our game ended in a total party kill after 3 scenes; fight, interlude, fight. And my first character was vaporized after the first fight (I made a second character). Spawning new threats seemed like it can spin the threat level out of control. In the new rules, John gives advice against spawning new threats if there are already too many threats. So this could fix the problem. Maybe spawning threats could have a graded cost. Maybe 2 Danger spawns a minion threat that can only take 1 hit. 3 Danger spawns a threat that can take 2 hits and so on.

    - It felt like a lost opportunity to roll 5 hits when you only need 3 and then have the 2 remaining hits do nothing.

    - Helping was fun. But it sometimes felt like playing a priest in older editions of D&D. You help and then don’t get to look cool yourself. One easy solution would be to allow overflow hits to count as helping dice that can be shared. Or now that it costs 2 power ups to do an additional action, maybe doing a support action only costs 1 power up.

    - My second character was a Psychic / Agent. Telekinesis as a power seemed out of place. Since we can narrate so many crazy things, it seemed strange to choose a power that lets me narrate more vs. a power as potent as Psychic Blast. It didn’t seem like there was ever a reason to actually use Telekinesis. Unless there were elements in the environment that I could use to my advantaged with that power. Say throw someone off a cliff. Covert Ops also seemed like a strange ability. A group I lead uses my Agent trait to sneak and hide gets a bonus when they ambush. What does this mean mechanically? Are there rules for having a sneaking scene before a fight scene? Putting this power aside, what does an ambush mean? Is that me using my Agent trait before a fight to gain helping dice before the fight starts? It’s unclear.

    - When Matt used Danger 1: Escalate the threat, it didn’t feel threatening. Sometimes it was threatening but it didn’t feel that way. A more dangerous feeling escalation would be ticking down count downs. If we have 5 rounds to save someone, escalate the threat by shortening how much time we have. Or add effects to an existing threat. Say make it so that the escalated threat becomes a staged threat and you have to deal with it first now before you can move on.

    - We wanted more power tokens! We loved our powers and wanted to use them more often. But that meant getting close to being vaporized. Which then led us to a total party kill. Maybe there is a way to gain a power token via an interlude scene?

    Rock,
    John
  • Since we only played 2 fights, and both were climactic, it didn't seem like we had enough interludes to heal up. Maybe we can steal a page from 4E. An interlude between encounters heals you X danger (short rest). But if significant time passes (extended rest) you heal more danger?
  • edited July 2009
    Thanks for the feedback, John! I'm taking notes for the Beta version and this is all really helpful.

    One quick comment: Vaporized does not have to mean actual character death, just a different adventure as the team goes into the 5th dimension to rescue you (or some other crazy mystical/scientific mumbo jumbo). That's why it's "vaporized" and not "dead." Of course, calling it death and making a new hero is fine, too.

    Question: When Matt did Danger 1 Escalation, did he do the thing where that threat gains a point of mandatory Danger for all future rolls against it? That was the new rule I wanted to try out.
  • Matt actually made it so that after I died I was captured in the 5th dimension instead which I thought was pretty cool! Great rule. The last fight scene was us trying to save my first character. But we all were KOed or vaporized. Hahahahahaha!

    Matt did use Danger 1 Escalation as you described above. He even placed a danger die on the escalated threat. And it was dangerous mechanically (we did get our asses kicked!). But it didn't feel dangerous because (I think, not 100% sure) we were able to determine the level of danger in many cases. Which was usually high.

    But it's difficult to attribute what details led to which feelings since a lot of things were happening at the same time. For example, since we were overwhelmed with threats due to new threats spawning, escalating an existing threat seemed non threatening in comparison. But if it was a situation where we were fighting say 1 major threat, and then they were escalated, that might have been a different story and felt very dangerous.
  • I love the artifacts in the picture. So inspiring! Two-tone Danger Patrol member tokens are a neat idea and I've got the circle punch and wood tokens to make them - did anyone have trouble remembering anyone's character's name?

    I bought 10 colors of astrobright paper this week and am in the process of creating all the planets and moons of the solar system with some nods to relative scale. Then I'll start in on spaceships and such.

    My first playtest was pretty bland visually (except hopefully in people's minds), but I have grand intentions for future sessions!
  • Posted By: Matt WilsonAnother successful playtest yesterday. The cliffhanger and previously ons are very consistently producing great fictional stuff for us all to grab onto. The self-policing of narration is working very well. I missed one of the changes to the 7.12 version, which is that extra moves cost 2 power tokens. I liked the flurry of extra moves we've been having and will miss them.
    First, Thanks to Matt for running and John for hosting.

    The game was a LOT of fun but there were some hiccups as noted here and elsewhere. Pacing beyond the fight scene was the most obvious confusion. Jason's mention elsewhere of running it as intro-fight-outro feels like the best balance for the game in its present incarnation. Which, makes it about a two hour game, and i don't think that's the intention. Would love to give it another go-round with some examples of threat level pacing; and escalation limitations (our opening fight scene at times felt like it could have gone on forever. again, it was awesome but probably not intended to dominate the rest of play.)

    From my understanding, we played a hybrid between the first and second alpha. We used single chip buys for extra turns. In our game it provided more awesome and with the buys at present it seemed to have better pacing for events and powers.

    Most of my wish-list for further iterations of the game are around the character mechanics. My Alien Commando could have been played very similar the other two characters in the fiction. My extra-dice flavor was for riffles and grenades, which was awesome. I would have liked to have had maybe a list of a few Commando things i could have done per round at no cost that separated it from the other class/races. It would have helped steer my fiction and reinforce the character. True that further play would help me get used to the character and my color would become more individuated but having some guidelines would have kicked it over the top for me.
    Posted By: nemomemeTwo-tone Danger Patrol member tokens are a neat idea ... did anyone have trouble remembering anyone's character's name?
    Matt went overboard on the props. It was incredible. He glued the DP badges to some wooden craft counters and then handed them out to us and threw a box of crayons on the table for us to color our own counters in. Surprisingly, we each colored the button differently... some splitting the lightning in half, etc. Who doesn't like to kick off gaming with crayons? the cloud was a vector drawing printed on purple paper stock.

    Remembering names wasn't any easier or worse than any other short game. It helped that our Robotron player (other John) spoke his IC voice into a hollow tumbler glass the entire game. That was so great!
    Posted By: jenskotTotal disasters are my favorite parts of the game! There is a lot more that I like but it’s probably more helpful to go over areas we had problems or concerns.

    - It felt like a lost opportunity to roll 5 hits when you only need 3 and then have the 2 remaining hits do nothing.

    - Helping was fun. But it sometimes felt like playing a priest in older editions of D&D.

    - It didn’t seem like there was ever a reason to actually use Telekinesis.

    - We wanted more power tokens! We loved our powers and wanted to use them more often. But that meant getting close to being vaporized. Which then led us to a total party kill. Maybe there is a way to gain a power token via an interlude scene?
    Agree with all of that in spades! Really wanted MORE MORE MORE total disasters. The world could have been melting around us. Not sure how that works mechanically yet. I get that in the fiction you don't want the world to die or the office tower of crippled orphans to die but you have a somewhat arbitrary decision as to whether or not you're going to let that happen. Curious if there could be a world clock tied to the total disasters (immediately the endgame in Roanoak comes to mind.)

    Overage in die rolls were a big issue with us. My character had a buy power to spread the hits across the field but we house ruled that successful rolls could be fanned off to a nearby target. That was a good solution for us. The negative stuff all seems to have a zero sum total where everything nets out and it feels right that the positive should too. I like John's idea to turn those overs into helper dice for the next round. We didn't try it that way.

    Power tokens and powers were big during play. My position above is wanting some free buy powers that help me define class/race. But maybe this could be solved also by just starting off the game with either a few more tokens in the bank or if the intro scenes provided some deeper play where you could generate Danger.

    Anyway, Tons of fun. Look forward to my next outing.
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