Barf Forth Apocalyptica

powered by the apocalypse => Murderous Ghosts => Topic started by: judson on October 07, 2011, 04:35:41 AM

Title: LA Gamers: 3s
Post by: judson on October 07, 2011, 04:35:41 AM
We got together last night, with the intention of running Murderous Ghosts while some of ate and then move on to Durance.  Outcome was the 4 of us played 3 times and nitpicked afterwards.  Josh took good notes on our thoughts, which I hope I won't miss much of.

3 Games: Josh -> Mark, Judson -> Tony, Mark -> Judson.

We were playing with the "pencil in" rules of more violent ghosts.  I'm not sure it helped a whole lot.

I'll note first that we worked out after play the the way that the "involved in the ghost's story" paths are meant to work, once the Player knows how many times they can ask about their interaction, the GM should be on page 10, watching for one of those things happening.  I think every time we actually hit that path, the player busted, and there was a brief awkward scene until we strayed from expectation and got assaulted - the GM didn't have the Interacting with Ghosts choices in mind, and I don't think any of us as players considered them in those scenes.

We definitely hit on "loops" in the graph.  It seemed like there are a few places in the graph of "player draw" node that form a 3-cycle, and where the turn-to directions align with the hands such that reasonable play will lead through the loop.  Does that make sense?  Something like, A) draw: low-hand -> B draw: high-hand -> C draw: bust -> A.  (It's really hard for me not to use graph theory jargon here.)

Part of that was also that the "reasonable" actions of a character were often "run the fuck to the exit," and once the player realizes that that's the only way to not be murdered (or otherwise lose), they tend to align with the "fucking run" tactic.  

Tony sort of nailed the problem we had as a result, and that I recalled reading in other playtest reports: the player's goal is to survive, and is playing against the mechanics.  The GM's goal is to give herself the wigs.  Once we start falling into loops in the mechanics, Tony especially (the rest of us somewhat but less so) got frustrated, and so weren't interested in playing to the wigging.  "I give the giant bloody slavedriver a hug."  That moment was pretty sudden and irrevocable, I think.

Likewise, the decisions the GM makes for the ghosts, and about evidence and how they behave didn't feel significant, since it's the player's job, essentially, to run away from it, regardless of what it is.  

We wanted, as a result, for there to be opportunities for the player to confront the backstory somehow (as well as running away), so that we'd engage more over what the ghosts were like and why.

Final note: Mark seemed to have the smoothest time as GM.  He was flamboyant in his descriptions, and direct in the threats the ghosts represented despite because he wasn't paying much attention to his booklet and frequently was getting off the track with things.  (E.g. GM - 3, described the ghost being in the location still, player draw: high hand, so no ghost.)  Awesome junkie pimp ghost, complete with a separate victim already in thrall.  Result: murdered.
Title: Re: LA Gamers: 3s
Post by: lumpley on October 07, 2011, 12:39:11 PM
Thanks, guys.

I know exactly what you mean about the reasonable play loops. You should have seen the first draft!

Title: Re: LA Gamers: 3s
Post by: joshroby on October 07, 2011, 03:03:11 PM
Judson forgot my favorite suggestion: we had a lot of times when a player says, "Turn to 14!" and then we all have to double-check if they turn to 14 or if the other player turns to 14.  This would be totally obliviated if the Ghost book was lettered A B C D E instead of 1 2 3 4.

I'd also be a fan of calling them the Ghost book and the Haunted book, not GM and Player.  Especially if you're aiming for non-gamers.  But that's nearly cosmetic. ;)

But mostly, we hit those loops and the thing that stood out most to me was that while we were going around and around and around, no new information was being added to the story.  I had just watched Pitch Black earlier that day, and most of the movie is going around and around the same sorts of loops (what's in here? / oh no, monsters! / run away!), but each of those loops yielded more information, and the characters needed that information to finally escape and the audience needed that information to understand what was going on.  I don't think the loops are really that much of a problem—there are only so many paths on a graph with 24 nodes—as long as following the loops does something useful to the story like develop the ghost's backstory.
Title: Re: LA Gamers: 3s
Post by: lumpley on October 07, 2011, 03:08:54 PM
That makes good sense. Thanks, Josh.
Title: Re: LA Gamers: 3s
Post by: mease19 on October 07, 2011, 03:24:49 PM
Ghost vs Explorer books?
Title: Re: LA Gamers: 3s
Post by: lumpley on October 07, 2011, 03:44:38 PM
I was thinking the same!
Title: Re: LA Gamers: 3s
Post by: pseudoidiot on October 07, 2011, 04:10:01 PM
I'll do some more detailed write-ups, but at the moment I'm going through two pb-email games and I did one session via Google+ hangout.

In one e-mail game I definitely started to fall into the reasonable play loop. I can tell the player is interested in maybe trying to help the ghost or get some kind of closure. And looking through the playbooks, it doesn't really seem like that leads anywhere. Which is totally cool.

I was stuck for a bit on how to move away from that, but I tried to start amping up the creepy factor and sure enough the player started trying to get the hell out. I can tell he's still interested in communicating with the ghost and helping out in some way, but I think keeping up with the creepy imagery and making the ghost unpredictable will lead to a conclusion.

Agree absolutely on final draft being something other than GM/Player's handbook. Ghost and Explorer would be awesome.
Title: Re: LA Gamers: 3s
Post by: judson on October 08, 2011, 05:15:54 AM
One thing I keep thinking is that Josh is right: there's only so many ways to go through 20-50 pages, and you can't really escape the loop.  What you can do is turn what is now walking around in a circle into climbing a spiral staircase.  (I suspect that may be too extended a metaphor.)

What I keep thinling is to add some kind of state to the game.  The player's hand is some of that, but because it keeps getting reset, it isn't a large enough scale to drive play out of loops.  There's a little tiny bit in the form of the losses the player incurs (but we kept getting high hands there, so they kind of got nerfed.)  There's a pretty strong state in terms of the GMs hand, but: it shrinks, and it isn't entirely clear to the player what makes it change.  The evidence and the ghost's stories hint at a direction, as well.

One thing we'd talked about was a collection of cards that marked the availability of various outcomes - enough red cards, for instance, and you now know enough of the ghost's story to resolve it for them.  I like the idea of the player throwing one card out of every discard (or every large bust, or...) into the "outcome pile," which would inevitably grow towards some finish state.

Possibly there's a mechanic that makes options available or takes them away depending on the state of the game, as well?
Title: Re: LA Gamers: 3s
Post by: Chris on October 10, 2011, 02:48:12 PM
I don't see anything in there that points to "resolving" the ghosts. I'm not sure that's a play path that game goes down, regardless of the player intention. Is that on purpose, like to Say Something, or is it just not a ending that fits with "style" of horror that you're going for, Vincent?
Title: Re: LA Gamers: 3s
Post by: judson on October 10, 2011, 06:52:09 PM
The new wave totally does have a "resolve a ghost" outcome.  It remains opaque to the player, though, since it only appears in two places in the MC book.  However, the "6,10,14,16 they're all good" choices seem to exist to encourage further non-murdering interaction with ghosts, so maybe that will help.

Also, the wording amounts to: "MC, decide if the player has resolved a ghost's unfinished business.  If so, you lose." 
Title: Re: LA Gamers: 3s
Post by: lumpley on October 10, 2011, 10:46:17 PM
It also appears in the intro to the player book as a win condition now. It's a trap, though. I give the player 1 in 3 to escape, but like 1 in 20 to win by resolving a ghost's business.
Title: Re: LA Gamers: 3s
Post by: judson on October 10, 2011, 11:05:48 PM
Yeah, well.  Winning as the Renegade in Bang! is nigh impossible,  but that makes it so sweet when you can manage it.