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Old 07-25-2017, 12:32 PM   #21
L.J.Steele
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

More player feedback (if it is easier to do this off-board, PM me with an email address.)
We did use Stitches to do some refreshes. (I don't recall personally ever having more than one Stitch available to me early on which I used to avoid taking some Chronal Stability damages. I would have saved it and spent from the RP perhaps.) Don't think we used them on GA pools. I could be wrong. We got the basic clues as I recall. My issue here is with GUMSHOE design itself. If I have to spend my Investigative Abilities that don't refresh, that's a real annoyance. I'm not necessarily going to waste on a simple boost. I suppose spending a point from an IA pool that I wasn't expecting to use to boost a GA roll might help.

So on the briefing point, it was not clear to me that it's a "go here". That's in keeping with the genre being "temporal beat cops" but against my personally preferred play style. I'm much more accepting of that in a convention run. You don't have a lot of luxury and there's pressure to finish the game within the slot. In essence, you have to start in Florence in this adventure, and in any future adventure you'd also be starting at a fixed point. That's great for the author having a known start and it seriously reinforces the breadcrumb trail nature of GUMSHOE. It's kinda terrible for players if you like the sandbox approach.

I do think that the flashback to the prior mission would have "anchored" us a little better ha ha if only to give context to jumping ahead to a time where we didn't start once we figured out how this all came about. No worries. That's how one learns the system. (I saw the other email need to think about it.)
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Old 07-25-2017, 02:15 PM   #22
Piratecat
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

Good feedback.

It looks like players were handing out Stitches to each other at a somewhat lower rate than the game expects (in games I run, I see people spending 5-10 Stitches during the game). Getting fewer than that constrains resources. That's not a problem per se -- it ramps up scarcity tension and it's easy for GMs to compensate by handing out stitches or refreshes themselves, if they so choose. And of course, handing out stitches is controlled by the players, so if you're low and you do something clever, you'll probably be rewarded by someone at the table.

<Note that I'm not necessarily sure that scarcity tension, like you'd want in Trail of Cthulhu, necessarily jibes perfectly with pulpy sci-fi. It's why I built in a player-controlled refresh mechanic.>

Pointy-headed reflection about chronal stability and travel tests: in lieu of fuel, Agents with a reality anchor of less than 8 make a Travel Test when they time travel. This works out to losing an average of 1 Chronal Stability with every time jump. You can obviate the need for a roll by spending a stitch, but you actually get 4x the benefit from that Stitch if you heal any travel damage with Reality Anchor, then use the Stitch to refresh that pool by 2 points. But you know what? In my experience, eroding Chronal Stability is scary as hell.

Regarding Investigative ability spends: it interesting to take a look at your character sheet at the end of a game and count how many IA points you didn't spend. In one sense, those are all unrealized potential. I tend to find that it's not much of a hardship for me to spend an IA for points when I really need to (I once saw someone save their entire group's bacon by duplicating their Agent with a Paradox Prevention spend, then spending their military tactics on more points so they could go to town on the bad guy. Sometimes, it's the right choice.) But as always, this is an issue of player choice and preference.

I think that if you have enough game time, there's lots of opportunity to start somewhere other than Florence, where clues then point you towards Renaissance Italy around 1500. Or hey - the whole game still works if you excise Florence entirely, although you miss out on steam-powered robots. A sandbox runs the risk of a much slower start, but it's doable with some plot-hacking.

And as always, this conversation is fun and useful for me. Thank you.

Last edited by Piratecat; 07-25-2017 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 07-25-2017, 06:08 PM   #23
L.J.Steele
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

If any of the other players weigh in, I'll pass it along.

I'm hoping to inveigle them into trying Behind Enemy Times -- suggestions , thoughts, landmines to avoid advice, would be welcome.
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Old 07-26-2017, 08:24 AM   #24
Piratecat
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

I highly recommend Recruiting Day in the main book, playtested by me more than 20 times during development. It's tight (especially if you take out the subplot involving Fred Noonan), high action, and a whole mess of fun.

Most of Beyond Enemy Times makes fine one-shot adventures that don't need connection, so you can pick and choose the adventures that look like the most fun. For instance, I used Thief in the Night and Hatchet & Axe as my convention games.
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Old 08-27-2017, 08:04 AM   #25
L.J.Steele
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

So how did the GenCon version of this go? Any new insights?
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Old 09-05-2017, 12:06 PM   #26
Piratecat
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Default Re: Some help with Timewatch's Free RPG day Font of Knowledge

The GenCon version went wonderfully. Made a few tweaks for better play:

1. Started off with a quick description of the end of the war against BREEN - computer cluster in future Singapore, orbital lasers destroying buildings all around them, half the team dead on the floor, flying robotic drones closing in, just as a PC triggers an EMP that fries the system. Then narrated the clean-up crew handling details and had the PCs describe their 2 week vacation. This made them aware of BREEN without any real game time distraction.

2. Florence and the Killing Grounds worked really, really well in all three scenes. Lots of good RP.

3. Not all groups head back to St. Beneficio. Whether they do, or whether they figure it out and head back to 920s Africa instead, they realize that the nanobots appear everywhere at once. Brilliantly, one group triggered a solar electromagnetic flare to fry all electronics on the planet, which in 920 AD is pretty much only BREEN. Really clever.

4. Timing- and tone-wise, we didn't need a final fight over the computer -- but there were some fun shenanigans retrieving it regardless.

Play-wise for Gen Con, I give it a 7.5 out of 10. It won't be one of the few adventures I fondly remember in my dotage (there's no one shining climax), but for us it was solid, fun gameplay with particularly fun PCs.
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