Tuesday, August 10, 2010

On the Mark

Third session of my Cold War game, and conclusion of the first plot arc, and I think things fell into place. Not going to do a full on recap, but I want to hit on a few points that I think are generally useful.

  • Found a solution to the Fate Point problem. First off, by generally raising the stakes and making thins harder, there were more rolls that were harder to make, so they saw more use. I also budgeted them based on which of the character's aspects I'd used to plan the adventure, in this case 2,2, and 3. I'm pretty happy with this because it also serves as an informal spotlight mechanism, and as a GM it makes me check that I've included everyone. If one player is starting with zero fate points, that's probably a bad sign.

  • Morgan got to demonstrate the power of a concession. His super-soldier was fighting a guy in an exo-suit who was slowly kicking his ass, and it was looking bad, he offered the concession that he lose, but that he dragged it out. I went with that, and his opponent eventually resorted to gassing the room because Bull just wouldn't go down. I think the net result was a loss that was also satisfying to Morgan. Bull did get a rematch later, which went somewhat better by opening the fight by hitting his opponent with a jeep.

  • It is good to plan, but sometimes unnecessary. The bad guys had an elaborate double cross planned, and had many contingencies in place to try to get Anne alone (she's the one who got 3 fate points because many bad things went here way this time) but sometimes your players will just do all the work for your.

  • I did have one badass NPC ally, which I always feel uncomfortable about, but I think I kept his contribution to a minimum, and I think people were ok with it because a) he's an important part of Anna's backstory and b) through a sequence of bad luck, Anna was the only person who didn't actually get to see him, which annoyed the player (in a good way).

  • One big trick I'm finding with espionage is that I need to quash my instinct to answer questions. I normally like to make sure things are tidily wrapped up, if only to show that I didn't cheat, but not for this. Every improbable coincidence or strange-seeming turn of events is fodder for play, and the answers need to be _earned_.

  • Similar, I'm happy that the cast of supporting character has grown. That this session ended with a still-breathing enemy inspiring profound hatred is a good sign.

  • I got anchors from people right before the game, so I haven't even looked at them yet, but I look forward to folding them into the next session.

  • I added a little bit more mechanic to the fight scening, enough that I feel it covered Bull's fight, but Grey ended up in a gunfight with some guards which ended up, mechanically, kind of flat. Next thing to fix, I think.


  1. I wasn't perturbed by the goon fight being flat, for what it's worth. I mean, yeah, it coulda had more pizazz, but I got to burn the fate point on just ending it decisively with a combination of my psychic observation power and an inappropriately held machine gun, so it still qualified as "Gray gets to show off here."

  2. (That said, I do like a little more traction in my combat mechanics, but I do not NEED it; and I fear that if I got what I liked, it would render something that Deborah likes less. So honestly I'm happy with games run exactly the way last night was!)

  3. I should have known better the moment Morgan and I glanced at each other and said, "Let's split up the party to be less conspicuous." We just didn't say the flagging words: "We'll cover more ground that way."

    I had a moment of concern when Anna started to get stuffed in the containment unit - you know, the kind of unit used to contain a living, breathing nuclear device. I hope I did not overreact or annoy you or the other players. I *did* stop what I was doing to ask the other players if I was being obtuse - if there was some way out of being stuffed into the box that I was just missing. Fred dropped the hint about a flashlight that led to me thinking, "Fine, I have super tiny dremelesque tools taped to my person! Take that!" and coping.

    In spite of the fact that Anna was *stuffed in a box*, I really really really enjoyed the session. Especially as I got to get out of the box, and the guys didn't show up to rescue a helpless box-stuffed-chick but a pissed off Anna who had already gassed the room with the box and was laying in wait for the next bastard to come after her. (Admittedly, she did this in the box - which is what cost her seeing Uncle Peter. Not getting to see Uncle Peter - or even recognize his voice!! - is thematically apt to the story, and I suspect it will take Grey a bit to connect him with 'Anna's Family' - at least until he hears her accent, or some such minute clue. I have decided that I really enjoy that Anna has No Idea.)

    The two - no, three - eh, four - highlights were: Bull's fight (which I maintain is the kind of fight that shows up in an RPG for justifying Bull's insane stats: 'they had to *gas the room* because the man had multiple broken ribs and Would. Not. Go. Down.'), Bull and Grey ramming the basement in Jeeps, Grey's amiable chat in an airduct, and Anna not getting to realize that it was Uncle Peter on top of the box.

    Fred remarked that I always seem to get really really really mad at the villains. He's right. I do. I hope that this is not an issue, and I can certainly tone it down. (In my defense, Davis is not at the 'make a list of the reasons I want to see him spiked, flattened, drawn, quartered, privities cut off, etc etc' stage. He's just at the 'Anna is definitely holding a grudge and wants to ruin the son of a bitch who tried to feed her to an alien and keep her in a *box*' stage.)

    I tend to be an emotional player, and my characters are rarely unemotional. Anna started out feeling bad for Davis when we were duct taping him to the windshield and when her boss tied him to the back of a horse and tugged him round the field. That was a little ungracious of us. But. Dude. He told her she would do a great service to her country by being _fed to an alien and kept in a box_.

    On a different note, it has suddenly dawned on Anna that it is possible that her employers do not have her best interests at heart. She always assumed that, being such a low level psychic, she wasn't worth using and thus had nothing to worry her about. Apparently, they will use anything, even the snow on the fields in Siberia. This worries a girl.

    I enjoyed this session. More, please.


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