Gaming After Action Report 8/16

Lessons Learned

  • A good group of people makes for a good night, even if the game derails–or never includes a moment of interesting challenge.
    • Self: You know how you write against bait and switch game pitches? Then you provide half a setting, leaving out the twist? Prime example, dude!
  • If you don’t take the time to get everyone on the same page, you won’t be playing the same game. That only frustrates everyone when the action comes.
  • Character creation in Fate is fun. Aspects are great, as is collaborative story building. (After the initial “crap, brain freeze” that everyone gets their first time generating their adventure.)
  • A setting of intrigue and betrayal is very hard to build in two hours of game play. Duh.
  • Following the setting’s logic leads to boredom. When in doubt, let drama determine what happens next and cobble together a matching explanation.
  • When your wife presents reasonable limitations (such the tunnel and portal size restricting the availability of the helicopter that will derail your prep), thank her and say, “Yes, that”.
  • On the other hand, you know how the original setting had everyone uploading languages so easily? That was clearly to avoid the situation from the game where the talky character couldn’t do his thing because he didn’t speak the language. Total failure there.
  • Even more: when you’re working from an existing setting and modifying it, write down the modifications. I kept wrestling with Schrödinger’s organization–it was simultaneously a 30 person startup with limited staff and budget that needed to prove itself to survive another funding cycle AND the powerful, somewhat corrupt bureaucracy that it would become.
    • Speaking of which: Yes, you need to establish a base where I’ve prepped–we need a proof of concept before we invest several billion more! We need to demonstrate our relevance, or SDI will steal our budget. Etc. Lots of bureaucratic reasons were available to limit the adventure to the prepared area, but I spaced on them all in the heat of play.
  • While prepping, I kept thinking I that I needed to make org charts, names, and relationships withing the agency. Instead I researched historical information (that wound up being leapfrogged). Yup, I needed that prep, more than just about anything else that I could have prepared.
    • Speaking of which: I should have shown the ‘uploading data’ scene on camera, not just hand waved it. Yes, I needed to get to the adventure… but it missed a great grounding piece of setting.
  • Dude, you know and love European history. Just set it there with hand-waving. Plus, that doubly reinforces the requirement to keep the site that’s picked–it’s the only place that the host countries will permit, or that we can sneakily create overseas.

Long story short: Don’t fall in love with a setting and shoe horn it into a format and story length that don’t play to its strength. Prepare a setting that works in two hours and save your haunting setting for a long form game down the road.

Again, it was a fun night, even though I spent the actual “game play” part of the night beating myself up about the lack of interesting action and interaction. I picked up the wrong setting tool.