Author Topic: After action report  (Read 2648 times)

Kuzco

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After action report
« on: July 30, 2014, 05:09:56 PM »
Allright. We did our first session last night. From 19:20 to 23:30, didn't have a lot of time. 3 players, with two more absent.

First thing was character generation. Players knew what job they wanted and that helped a lot. Since we come from playing an earlier campaign using another game system, I offered the players a choice: keep your old PC's with a free advancement, or roll new ones, no XP. Two made new characters with the same jobs.

The setting in a nutshell: argentine city of Buenos Aires suffers a deadly pandemic, becomes quarantined, secedes from the rest of the country. Corps roll in to provide a life-preserving serum against the virus, and lots of goods and services. A part of the city is walled and is called the Citadel, where the rich elites live. The UN deploys vaccinated troops. A merchant fleet supplies some consumer goods and a lot of contraband.

We had Magnetic, a communist wannabie pusher, medium gang, crime and activism. He was totally knew to *World so I went a little slower with him (he got it real fast). Second came Dead Eyes, a Killer with a custom rifle. Last was Jin Woo Park, a corean Tech with a Directive to research and synthesize serum for the virus.

We spent two hours creating chars. Mainly because so many terms were new to them, and had to check many times what the tags and basic moves alluded in the playbooks meant. They also took time creating the links. And I asked questions, like “Who did you screw to get hunted for that cyberware? Why did you do it, how does it feel?”

When we started playing it was a blast. First of all they loved the balance between contacts and obligations, and intel/gear and legwork. They also liked that every failed move had tangible consequences. So a contact named Gardel called Magnetic and offered him a job, fixer was in a club named Sinaxis (ancient greek for 'gathering'). They were surprised that I asked a lot of questions and that fiction mattered so much.

Dead Eyes: "I enter the club."
Me: "You are wearing Body Armour, it's like composite polymers and kevlar, you look like a Belltower guard from Deus Ex 3. You sure you wanna bust in a night club like that?"
Dead Eyes: "No... I'd better change into civvie clothes in my van... And leave my rifle."

Me: "You find a small place to sit next to a couple, they are making out with quite some passion."
Magnetic: "I put my gun on the table."
[He forgets and later calls out loudly for the waitress]
Me: "The couple turn their heads towards you, see your gun, freak out and get away ASAP."
Magnetic: "Oh yeah... that."

I thoroughly described the bar and set the mood. The fixer, in a wall niche, offers an extraction job: Rescue an “unjustly” imprisoned man nicknamed Rome, ambushing the prisoner truck as it goes underground in an street tunnel, the truck is travelling towards a police VTOL and then a prison ship. Magnetic rolled Get the Job, with Dead Eyes helping (D.E got a 7). They got a 12, so 3 choices: +intel, Pays well, Doesn’t attract attention. But they’d lose the “pays well” if Rome got hurt (my feeble attempt at a soft move against Dead Eye’s weak hit).

They accepted and drove away to investigate (Research) the tunnel for the attack. While at it...

Jin Woo: “I sing a corean folk song.”
Me: “Ok. Sing it.”
JW: “Ah, eh, I’d rather play it on Youtube [shows me his cellphone].”
Me: “ ‘If you do it, you do it’. Sing. It.” [laughs]
JW: “... Jin Woo uses the van’s audio instead of singing.”

Magnetic decided to hire men (hire a small gang) from his political movement, for the job. I explained that since he wasn’t the boss, he’d have to pay them. He rolled Hit the Street and got a 7, asked for a fair price (1 cred for an unreliable gang) and not attract attention. So they told him that he’d have the team ready-ish for next night, which was the time of the op. Magnetic tried to force them to be hasty to little avail.

At that time we had to call it a day. Magnetic’s player was a little frustrated that the Believers move wasn’t more powerful; I explained that, in their current state, the gang works more as a reliable super-contact with guns and protection, and that nobody else knew anyone that could provide a well armed gang.

All in all, they liked the system. They are a little confused about combat, specially gang combat. They liked my MC moves, made them take careful choices; they were gladly surprised about my abundance of questions and the coherent fiction it produced. They also liked the appropriate number of gear and weapons.

I realized that I had to be really paying attention to make the most of the session. That meant listening to Pc-to-Pc chat and provide flavor descriptions (all the dancers in the club were on synth drugs, an old lady screamed at Jin Woo for money for the antiviral serum, etc).

Next session is the mission proper, and one new player, probably a hunter or fixer. I also saw, mid-session, that you'd posted 0.3 rules. So I asked them to read them, see any changes to their jobs, and the new, changed basic moves.

Anarchangel

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Re: After action report
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2014, 05:40:39 PM »
Sounds like a great session, Kuzco. I have updated my list of sample playbook names to include Magnetic and Dead Eyes (I live the double meaning on the latter). If you email me a list of your players as you want to be credited, I'll update my playtest credits too.

You don't have to worry about adding consequences to weak hits on helping; it just means that the helping character is exposed to danger if the main roll fails. But that said, adding an extra condition like that to the mission is a cool twist.

Combat is definitely something that can confuse experienced roleplayers who are new to PbtA games. I'll be writing a section about that this week.

PbtA games definitely keep you on your toes as the MC. You really have to cut down on unfocused cross chatter between players and emphasise that everything everyone says and does is important.

I look forward to hearing more!

Kuzco

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Re: After action report
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2014, 07:33:28 PM »
Ok, second session. Magnetic is retired and replaced by Hacker extraordinaire DeadBit, who is contacted by fixer Malcolm and asked to help in the exfiltration mission. We decided to use the 0.2 matrix rules for this time.

DeadBit inmediately set himself to research online everything he could about Malcolm, the intercept tunnel (where the characters had planned to stop the police truck) and Rome, the target. He found out both men form part of the same insurgent group, the Hussars, bent on overthrowing the Citadel (the elite’s city-within-a-city). Additionally, Rome is a fervient jewish rabbi of african descent.

Everyone decided to sleep for a while (it was 4am in-game). Upon awakening, Dead Eyes the Killer found out his contact was in dire need of him (got a weak hit on Obligations roll): some gangers stole some combat drugs and the contact needed them back for a private transaction. D.E decided to avoid the issue, not wanting to risk himself or his resources, but that -1 on Hit the Street started to itch him, still on the need for some resources, so they decided to tackle the issue. It was here that Dead Eyes’ player said he didn’t want to spend our precious little session time in a side-mission, but then I offered him a godsend: the Conduct an Operation move.

Even with DeadBit’s help (he provided a live stream of the ganger’s joint, an abandoned skate park), Dead Eyes and Jin Woo got surprised ugly (missed the Operation roll) by the still-not-hostile gangers. D.E then improvised and froze one of them (Real Badass) and scattered the rest with a threat of a drone attack (Fast Talk). The gangers returned the drugs and left, shivering and weeping. Side-mission accomplished.

Jin Woo’s player asked if he could spend +gear before it became necessary (for example, AP rounds or a blowtorch). I said that sure, no prob as long as you can explain how you got it, but I advised against it as +gear is esentially like a Joker card, which may save you from any difficulty, and you can get things pre-mission using Hit the Street. So they spent just one of their three +gear in a blowtorch. Jin Woo also welded this blowtorch with the drone in order to remotely command it to force-open the truck doors.

Next came the attack itself. The plan was: DeadBit hacks the tunnel from a service terminal above it; he sets the cameras on a loop (via Control Systems) and turns the traffic signals to warn drivers to avoid the tunnel. Dead Eyes and Jin Woo kill two guards inside it (hiding the bodies in the van and spending +gear to produce a product that makes blood turn into gel, for fast removal), then wait for the prisoner truck (traffic is enabled again, then disabled for the attack) with the van driving in front of it.

The plan went more or less smoothly. DeadBit had problems passing all those Control Systems rolls, particularly since a weak hit forced him to choose "no alarm is triggered" and try again. Console Cowboy came in very handy. The rest went well and the truck crew (which, players found out, had an escort armed drone) was surprised. They couldn't reach out for help since Jin Woo had jammed all traffic (mission clock was frozen at 21). Dead Eyes made tremendous damage and killed the driver (used a piece of +intel to 'remember' what someone told him about weak spots in the armoured windshield, and used the +1). He and Jin Woo suffered damage (DE marked XP from his Masochistic directive) from the armed drone (the van was unarmoured) and Jin Woo accidentaly hit the brakes (got a weak hit on Harm move, lost footing) and made the truck crash against the van at low speed (around 50kph). Dead Eyes killed the shotgun-seated guard and then the drone.

Then the truck started moving of it's own, and JW observed that something was amiss: there was a rigger remote-operating the vehicle, for emergency escapes. They shot all four tires and the truck crashed against a tunnel column.

Meanwhile DeadBit had been busy. He decided to fall for his fame directive and inserted his skull-and-bones signature in the traffic signals, making the drivers exit their cars and collectively enter the tunnel, thinking it was all a publicity stunt. When they saw what was happening they panicked and fled in terror, thus alerting the Metropolice HQ. DeadBit heard VTOL turbines in the distance and alerted the team.

JW activated his blowtorch drone and melted the hinges on the truck's back doors. Inside was Rome, big and calm, and a small panic room where the rigger was hidden. Rome exited with dignity, quoting the book of Job, and DeadBit picked him with his bike (almost too small for the passenger), and exited the tunnel. DE and JW realized that with the random commuters gone in panic, their cars were blocking both tunnel accesses, and the van was too big. They used their final +gear to pop a dirt bike inside the van (which had the first two dead cops, and I forgot it had the cramped weakness); they both escaped on it. Then the metrocop VTOL arrived, and decided to go after the second couple. JW Maneuvered and hid himself long enough to abandon the bike and separate from DE, deciding to meet for the pay with the fixer Malcolm.

DeadBit took Rome to a clandestine clinic, where a medical team prepared to check him for tracer implants (possibly) or cortex bombs (unlikely, it's the police after all).

The team met with their employer inside Sinaxis (the club) and got payed fully (everyone waged 2 cred, so they got 6 each, for a surplus of 4 each). They also chose not to be ambushed, and to mark XP. But they couldn't help someone (maybe an undercover) noticing the whole scene... so I started a Metrocop corporate clock.

All in all, it was a blast. I really enjoyed creating situations and handling failed rolls. We faced all different kinds of situations so we got around most of the rules (hacking, social moves, combat, even some stealth).

Some things to consider: DE's player noted that with high armour and the benefits of passing Mix it Up, he can gain a lot of XP with the Masochist Directive.
DE's player wants the new Matrix Rules.
JW noted how important contacts are:
JW: "Ok, I Hit the Street for explosives."
Me: "Sure, tell me how your single contact, the restaurant-owner, has bombs for you."
JW: "Errhh..."
All players agreed the game is fast and dangerous, and liked it.

I made slightly harder moves and situations (like at the end, being trapped in the tunnel) and rejoiced at the resourcefulness of my players extricating from danger. I'm starting to get the hang of this game, thus enjoying it more.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 08:01:51 PM by Kuzco »

Anarchangel

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Re: After action report
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2014, 01:36:05 PM »
Another great report, Kuzco!

About the Masochist Directive, the latest version says that you only mark xp when you take 1 or more harm. Is that the one you're using? (Note that you still roll the Harm move when you take 0 or s-harm)

That's the perfect use of Conduct an Op. How did the players like it? Was Conduct an Op easy to use? Did the Obligation add to the story in a fun way?

Kuzco

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Re: After action report
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2014, 04:02:45 PM »
Masochist: Yes, we got it right. Except we didn't know about rolling with 0-harm, thanks for that!
Conduct an Op: They found it resolved a lot of time consuming, munchkin issues like making the perfect ambush. It ties with the action logic of the game. I decided that the first option (time and equipment) gave you +intel and +gear only usable for that op; the second option gave you a +10 in maneuver; the third option made the enemy unable to answer coherently for a few moments (like a super "get the drop on them"), depending on fiction.

The Obligation was cool because it really tied the characters to the setting. Dead Eyes kept trying to use his phone but it rang with his contact's calls constantly. One thing his player noted is that it can happen that many players roll obligations every mission and end up investing significant time in solving them (in our experience, we can resolve an obligation in half an hour with Conduct an Op).

Something I did last night: I did a mission that seemed too easy for the team, so I made a hit squad show up, hunting Jin Woo (he has a hunted tag for his cybereyes). It complicated everything perfectly.

Anarchangel

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Re: After action report
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2014, 09:35:15 PM »
Masochist: Yes, we got it right. Except we didn't know about rolling with 0-harm, thanks for that!
Conduct an Op: They found it resolved a lot of time consuming, munchkin issues like making the perfect ambush. It ties with the action logic of the game. I decided that the first option (time and equipment) gave you +intel and +gear only usable for that op; the second option gave you a +10 in maneuver; the third option made the enemy unable to answer coherently for a few moments (like a super "get the drop on them"), depending on fiction.

I'll think about this and see if I can streamline and/or formalise the Conduct an Op move a bit more.


The Obligation was cool because it really tied the characters to the setting. Dead Eyes kept trying to use his phone but it rang with his contact's calls constantly. One thing his player noted is that it can happen that many players roll obligations every mission and end up investing significant time in solving them (in our experience, we can resolve an obligation in half an hour with Conduct an Op).

Yeah. I might adjust the move to say "at the beginning of a mission" to stop multi-session missions from contributing to this potential problem. The MC can (should!) always use moves to add more complications as needed anyway.


Something I did last night: I did a mission that seemed too easy for the team, so I made a hit squad show up, hunting Jin Woo (he has a hunted tag for his cybereyes). It complicated everything perfectly.

Perfect indeed! I wrote a section about doing just that in the MC chapter earlier this week!

Kuzco

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Re: After action report
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2014, 01:41:59 AM »
Conduct an Op: It was my way of cutting it short. In my case they can choose my syggestions or stick to your classic options.