10 April, 2012

Post Eye-Con Report and new Considerations

The Con was good.

The sessions I ran were, on average, good.

Each session had its highlights, and each had it's lessons.

The most valuable lesson from this particular con was that FUBAR is a dangerous beast.

It was designed to embrace the concepts of Dadaism, with all its non-sequiturs, absurdity, and questioning of an authoritative voice.

The game system does this well.

Perhaps too well.

Providing the Oracle/GM role for FUBAR is like preparing for a rodeo, where you know that you'll be the cowboy strapped to the meanest bull in six counties. You might hold on, you might get flung into a wall, you might come through it all unscathed...but you'll definitely come away learning something about the others who shared your experience in the ring.

I never got to play the game with two players, as I had hoped during my last session (which is a shame, because I have a habit during prizegiving for providing each member of my two player sessions with an award). The four player games were a little slower, with players having the chance to rest a little and delve into a bit of characterization between the mayhem, the six player sessions were a struggle for spotlight with players screwing over one another for a chance at getting into the action.

The notion of lowlifes calling on one another's negative traits is a great thing when the players are into an interactive mode of play. But in some sessions, it's only in the last few scenes that this really starts to click.

But having run convention games for almost 20 years now, I had a good feeling that this is where this would head. Some of the deeper lessons from FUBAR are more directly appropriate to my redesign of Walkabout.

Walkabout began as my game chef entry in 2010; and since that time, it has sat in the back of my mind as one of those games that I really need to reconsider. It is a special project, perhaps it's my heartbreaker...the game I always wanted to play as a kid but no-one ever really produced a product hat lived up to my expectations about what roleplaying "should" be.

FUBAR is a wild ride through vengeance and rebellion.

But, Walkabout should be a game of careful meditation and forceful rebuilding.

Both are about picking up the pieces of a shattered world. In FUBAR the world of the protagonists is shattered when they are forced out of their daily lives by antagonistic forces that are hidden, mysterious and powerful. In Walkabout, the entire world has been turned on it's head, it's not just a few people wondering what went wrong and then deciding to seek vengeance, it's an entire planet.

If the protagonists in FUBAR die, the rest of the world moves on.

If the protagonists in Walkabout die, the world loses one of its last glimmers of hope and slides a bit further into oblivion.

The basic concepts are similar, but there is a fundamentally different way of thinking between them.

The core FUBAR rules encourage gonzo action, which is good for FUBAR but not for Walkabout. The essence of storytelling through the distributed randomisation process is still important, but it needs some more careful reining. FUBAR is an open sandbox of possibility, Walkabout is a journey.

A reasonably elegant solution struck me during one of the sessions played over the weekend. It links back to something I've done in almost all of my FUBAR sessions but have never formalised in the rules.

Put simply, some players have a better chance of acquiring certain traits due to their background (occupation, heritage, genetics, etc.), players in specific circumstances should have a better chance of acquiring certain traits when in specific circumstances (as a positive example, gaining "information" when stealthily infiltrating an office; as a negative example, gaining "injuries" in combat).

Since Walkabout is far less freeform in nature, it might make sense to limit the available traits that could be acquired...specifically offering a certain range of traits that could become available when certain keywords are used in a challenge situation. You can't buy trait from outside that range unless you change your location, or temporarily acquire a skill through other means (you might need an in game chain of events to achieve a goal...an unstealthy character might need to go where it's dark to gain a stealth advantage before making a sneak attack...while a stealthy character has a better chance of achieving this right off the bat).

There are better ways of describing this I'm sure, I haven't quite captured the ideas that are going through my head, but certain scenes in various sessions across the convention have set my mind thinking.

I'll write again shortly once I've had a bit more time to focus.
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