Sunday, October 18, 2009

Frozen War Session 3 After Action Report

Treachery

Another solid session, I dare say better than the last.

The session consisted primarily of PC/NPC interaction for like 90% of the game, with a wild, swift and very bloody battle at the end (2.5 seconds of complete and total death for the other side). I find it interesting that my players respond best to these, as the first session reminded me much of that, while the second session was far more mechanics and had less of a visceral response, in my opinion. Even so, some players commented that it was "alot like NCIS," by which I believe they mean "It has a mystery!"

We're starting to hand out "Whiney" awards, and Byler earned it this time, though honestly, it wasn't as bad as last sessions. Even so, I note a trend: My players, while they most certainly love the hell out of this game, and others express interest in joining, they sure find alot to complain about during the game. Today, we had a gun against a player's temple, he attempted to throw the guy, and was shocked when he discovered that a man with a gun at your temple can pull a trigger faster than you can position your entire body for a throw. Fortunately for Byler, the guy liked him, so lowered the gun last minute and hit him in the shoulder (They were trying to recruit him). This did not stop Byler from wishing death on him.

The problem, I think, is that they have grown used to very high powered games: 7th Sea, Marvel, Weapons of the Gods, where character point totals would range from 500 to a couple thousand points. Let's be honest: putting a gun to Spider-Man's temple wouldn't slow him down, but putting a gun to James Bond's temple would (he'd surrender at that point). At 200 points, the players aren't even on James Bond's level, but I think they have a hard time grasping that mortality. GURPS is not a happy happy feel-good system, it's a lethal, scary system where mistakes can get you killed (and the thrill comes from repeatedly not dying as bullets are flying, as Roomie commented on as he waded through partisans completely safe in his armor. A critical hit might have killed him, incidentally, but I'm sure he'd point out that he could be struck by lightning too). So there's a tendency to approach every problem with a sudden, awesome act of violence or a big speech, and that doesn't fly as well in this game as it does in a supers game, and so there's a disconnect.

As Roomie mentioned, the players are still getting into their characters. They're still getting into the world too (Byler was far more conscientious of this during the first two sessions. It's easy to forget this sort of thing after a month of not playing). Still, the complaints lasted until he had a smoke, then he was fine, even happily commenting on the fact that even with, what was it, four bullets in him (He's taken the most damage in the entire game so far), he managed to subdue his attacker. If he hadn't passed out from blood loss, he probably could have kept going.

No serious rules problems. We used Maptool as an actual minis game at Walter's request, and it went rather well. I'm a little leery of getting too dependent on Maptool, but I must admit, it really highlighted some things well: I didn't forget anyone, provided they were already on the map. I was able to show the players how many enemies they faced, and they more cleanly stated things like "I spray my fire at those four guys," and the players got to see how fast a Quetzali in power armor really is (though I made a mistake: He attacked with his full skill, and that was a move-and-attack. I believe you can make that a Heroic Charge, which would have exhausted him even more, but that would also just highlight how much less endurance a Quetzali has, which I'm fine with).

There was a debate about Luck, though. Byler and Roomie both have a tendency to call out "Luck!" whenever a roll goes bad, and I called him on it, and there was a disagreement. The roll in particular wasn't that important (do you go unconscious now or later? Once you get out of combat time, it's basically certain a negative HP character will pass out), so that didn't matter much, but what about next time? What if I'm wrong and I disallow someone their luck roll in the middle of the battle because I mistake one player's use of luck for another player's use? I need to find a way to mark this. I'll look in maptool, and when someone calls luck, note on their character the time they can use their next one. Since maptool is already there, that's not very hard (just glance to see if they can).

Shawn wants to play. He claims he didn't make a character because "he heard this was going to be a one shot." I think the real reason is, as usual, a hypothetical game is less appealing than a game right in front of you, and listening to people battling and falling in love and kicking ass made him yearn to join in again. In a couple of weeks, the game returns to being hypothetical, so this fervor might not last. We'll see. Even so, it was very nice to hear him laughing and hanging out again. This is more the Shawn I remember from years back. Perhaps he's getting his groove back and pulling out of the depression that has been haunting him for awhile now.

EDIT: Woah, strange error. Anyway: Seems like I can add notes to PCs during Maptool, provided I add them to tokens. I'd rather add them straight to "characters," but this will have to do. This way, I just mark the time when their luck recharges, and if there is a question, check the time. If it has elapsed, they may use their luck again.
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