January 27th, 2012


Exit Wounds

I ran Hollowpoint for a couple of visiting friends and a couple of their friends yesterday. Once again I read the book immediately beforehand and still missed a couple of things. This time I caught them after a short time though.

The Era was a pulpy-WWII, the Agency was the OSS, charged with defeating the Nazis and the enemy was, as one would expect, the Nazis. having established that, I quickly whipped up a mission while they made characters: A Nazi Scientist was building Das Wunderweapon, they had to find and destroy it. This time I remembered Complications and had them write them on the back of their character sheets.

The conflicts often seemed to drag, but having just checked the rules again, it seems I was doing it wrong... again. This points to the main problem with Hollowpoint: It's much more complicated than it appears, there are lots of fiddly little rules that hobble the game if not followed, the book is poorly laid out to explain the importance of all those rules, and it requires a decent amount of system mastery from everyone at the table to play.

Right now, I think the two most important rules are:
  • The Agent special ability.
  • Asking for help.

If the players don't prioritise using these rules to manipulate the dice sets correctly, over taking actions appropriate to the fiction, combat drags, and in fact, if catches are played correctly, they could just lose all the conflicts through bad luck and dice mismanagement.

That makes it a really hard game for a GM to learn and teach. I've now played it twice and read it three times, and I think I'm starting to get it... And I'm a systems guy. Usually I get games on the first read or before the first dice roll.

It's just as well the premise for Hollowpoint is so awesome.

Third time lucky.

(EDIT: Aaaaaand, I just realised that not every conflict needs to have a required skill...)

2012 Gaming Resolutions

As my post from the start of last year indicated, I didn't do a very good job on my 2010 resolutions. How did I do in 2011?
  1. Play the RPGs I have with me in LA that I have yet to play.
  2. Get A Certain Kind of Decision to the external playtesting stage.
  3. Submit Echoes to the 2012 Kapcon SDC.
  4. Play more board games than 2010. That won't be hard.
  5. Finish my Parthians and paint one more army.
  6. Run at least one prep intensive game per con.

A big bucket of fail. This is why I don't make New Year's Resolutions, clearly! The exception was #4, I played a bunch of new board games. I'm not sure how I did on #1 as I don't have my shelf nearby, but I didn't buy very many games, so I'm at least treading water there. That one is still an ongoing goal, although I probably should expand it to include PDFs in my gaming folder. In particular Blowback (which I'd like to run) and Remember Tomorrow (Which I'd like to play) have been on my mind recently.

The inspiration for this post came from coffee with mashugenah which crystalised a number of thoughts I've been having since Kapcon, in fact off-and-on for even longer, judging by this list. I couldn't get motivated enough to work up Echoes into a form such that someone else could run, so despite the delayed SDC deadline, that one fell by the wayside. So, less specific is the way to go for this year. That also neatly ties in with #6 from last year, which I still want to do. This one will be hard as I may be at quite a few cons this year, but I'm not too bothered if I fail these goal, so I'll set them high.
  1. Play the RPGs I have with me in LA that I have yet to play.
  2. Get Cyberworld (and A Certain Kind of Decision) to the external playtesting stage.
  3. At every con I attend, offer at least one prep-intensive game.
  4. Submit one of those games to the 2013 Kapcon SDC.
  5. At every con I attend, offer at least one game that I haven't run at that con before.

I think running Living Dungeon World and CyberWorld will fulfill #3 and #5 for OrcCon 2012. Next will be Hyphen-Con (depending on date), Nerdly Beach Party (depending on vacation plans), Day of Games (depending on vacation plans), Buckets of Dice, and Confusion (depending on date). Then in the second half of the year: probably Gencon and Gateway, and maybe another Nerdly Beach and Big Bad Con. Phew. I might need a spreadsheet...