April 9, 2010

Supers Inc and a 10 year old

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , , — bilbo @ 9:40 am

I ran an intro at a neighborhood store the other night and had a range of folks at the table. Amongst them were a 40ish engineer, a 20 something comic fan, a 16 old store attendant and a 10 year old girl. I ran a pretty standard Supers Inc game where they had to do a high profile rescue of a Senator’s son. He was 20 and they were terrorists holding him for the release of a list of prisoners. The team did not know it at the time but their corporate sponsors were broke and were sending them to their deaths to recover the insurance money.

Engineer spent most of the time trying to convince me that my physics were wrong. Comic boy moaned about how this was not silver age and I had it all wrong. Store attendant would rather have been getting a root canal. But this little ten year old girl played it to the friggin hilt. She was playing a 10 year old much the same as here but with intangibility. She barely could grasp the system but it did not bother her, she would do stuff like “I want to go through that car and break the engine” and I would tell her what to roll and she would ask what she needed and get really excited about the outcome.

I want to stress, this is not about “getting Supers Inc” but about getting the game. She was having fun. I think there are just some gamers that don’t get that anymore. I cannot for the life of me understand why you would continue to play if you had lost that joie de vivre that games should give you. This is not work, it should be entertainment.

So, next time you are feeling down about your game, sit down with niece, nephew, son, friends kid, who ever of the appropriate age and get your game on. You may be surprised just how much they get, how much fun they have and how refreshing it is to just play.

March 15, 2010

20 Minutes of Fun in 4 hours of Play

Filed under: Games — Tags: , — bilbo @ 11:18 pm

At the Who’s Yer Con in Indianapolis, I played in a demo by Mike Noorman from the MU Skulls. In the group was a guy who made this statement crystallize and understandable to me. I had seen the elements for years before this but not put it together until that night. This guy was a “Serious” gamer. I have encountered this type before but never connected it to Dancey’s “20 minute” remark. He probably only had about 20 minutes of fun. Now, ask him and it would be a litany of reasons including but not limited to the system, the group not taking the game seriously, the guy who was drinking beer or having the designer sitting in. What it really happened was a mix of game styles, on a fundamental and incompatible level.

You see, he was there to play a game, a certain kind of game, and no other would matter. This could have been defined by system or setting or attitude of the group (are the laughing and cracking jokes about the A-Team or immersing themselves in their character roles) but in the end, it was like he was sitting at the table alone. That is not fun for anyone.

So how do we fix it? I mean, I have seen this problem many a time. I have seen the guy who just takes it all a bit too seriously or more to the point, more seriously than those around him. This can work if it is not too big a delta…or it can make for a guy who is terse, “a dick” or even gets up and leaves early. Unfortunately, the only thing I can thing of is to ask the guy to leave. This is not very practical in a demo game and can be hard to determine in time to make any difference. Unfortunately, by the very definition, it is almost impossible to set up the level of “serious” play that will satisfy the “serious” gamer and not alienate the rest of the group. There may be no solution to this one except for the “serious” gamer to find a group that engages in the same style of play but in the interim, a fair number of games may be destroyed by a bored player.

Who’s Yer Con

Filed under: Games — Tags: , , — bilbo @ 11:05 pm

I went to Indianapolis and it was a pretty good time. Mostly, I went to see Mike Noorman from the MU Skulls who has done a great job Demoing Shades of Earth. He ran an adventure called Thor’s Hammer. We were a group of Department 12 operative recruited by from the British military and some Americans. We were parachuted into Germany where we were set to meet Annette and Anna, spies already in place. They were to help us find Thor’s hammer and keep it from the Germans who hoped to harness it for a weapon in the upcoming war. Hijincks ensue and I end up stabbing an SS soldier int eh face and draining him of all his spirit points while the rest of the team take care of finding the magic belt, gauntlet and book that will allow us to open a gate in the ancient Oak that is the source of all this trouble. It is hoped that the Hammer is hidden inside the Oak but it turn out to be a gate to another world where there is a blue oak with blue pseudo-humans guarding it. We also find some German soldier who went in before us and we enter the fry with me throwing grenades with abandon and the others reading the book to get the hammer. In the end, the thing nearly kills the engineer but we drive off the bad guys and leave the strange land.

All in all, a good demo and a fun time. The criticisms I have, upon reflection, are ones Mike has mentioned himself. This was a combination of two adventures. I think it suffered a bit from the compression and his knowledge of the uncompressed version. I think it would have worked best to go through the tree and ended up in the past (part of the adventure had us finding German weapons from 1200 years ago and the tree obviously acted as a portal), tracking a band of rogue Germans (or even a group of German soldier who joined with the local tribe) to recover the hammer. The problem being you would need to compress the leading a bit in order to get it all in a 4 hour slot.

Overall though, it stressed something I have always believed. There are people who run games like I do. That is to say, in an almost system-less manner. He could have run that game with any system and made it work. The fundamentals were there. Mike is a great GM and I am very lucky to have him demoing my games. I cannot tell him how much I appreciate that (although I sure tried).

Here is a picture.
Mike and MU Skulls

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