ysarius
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Re: The ALPHA PDF - questions, comments, errata

Sat 31 Dec 2016, 14:13

I was guessing that it could be "old times" but I didn't know that "times" could be omitted.

On the contrary, I didn't found the missing word (if there is one) in : "and the ? and fancy Christmas".
 
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Jynk
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Re: The ALPHA PDF - questions, comments, errata

Sat 31 Dec 2016, 14:58

It's an older way of saying it, I think. Kind of like  "days past" instead of "days gone past." English is a weird language, even for us native speakers.
"What matters most is how well you walk through the fire." - Charles Bukowski
 
Vargtass
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Re: The ALPHA PDF - questions, comments, errata

Sun 01 Jan 2017, 11:32

Feedback after playing through Summer break and killer birds
We had a great time playing Summer break and killer birds the other day. I had four players: a troublemaker (14 yr, played by 16 yr), a rocker (13 yr, played by 14 yr), a weirdo (12 yr, played by 45 yr) and a hick (11 yr, played by 15 yr). They are experienced roleplayers, mainly from Dungeons and Dragons, using miniatures.
The rules are simple, great for beginners, with a storytelling focus that is interesting and engaging also for experienced players. The players had no problems at all adapting to "theatre-of-the-mind" roleplaying, without miniatures or round-to-round action.
The setting was very nice according to all players (and kindles strong nostalgia for people over forty, like the GM and the player of the weirdo). The younger players were happy to play Kids of an age they had no problems remembering, but in a past age with a twist.
The principles are great guidelines. After GM:ing I really appreciate how all six reinforces the themes of the game while facilitating the storytelling aspects. In particular, we like the way the principle that no Kid can die mirrors the conviction of every Kid this age that they are immortal ... It is easy to imagine that this is what changes at sixteen. That Kids can't die really helps making them willing to take risks and not get stuck in planning limbo (which I have suffered in other storytelling games before).
It is good that the Anchor drives the Kids on their own volition to the dull and unforgiving everyday life. As a GM, I prioritized the Mystery, so we only had the introductory scenes, the ending scenes, and two other everyday life scenes, of which one was an Anchor scene. Had we not been a bit short on time I would have prioritized differently. But there is a strong feeling anyway that everyday life will become a serious obstacle over a campaign unless the Kids balance it well with the Mysteries – especially parents will demand attention, timekeeping, school results, etc. Already in the end scenes for this Mystery, the angry father of the Rocker demanded she spend less time with her friends, and the mother of the weirdo did likewise but in a more well-meaning and concerned manner.
Scene cutting was very efficient, especially between scenes with a split party. I was a bit worried when the individual scenes at the start segued into the Pigeon nest with half of the party (weirdo and hick) and a visit to Stenhamra for the others (rocker and troublemaker). My concerns were however unfounded; splitting the party proved both natural and straightforward and set up very dynamic and focused scenes, with lots of action too at the Pigeon nest. Later, I therefore had no problems splitting the party again, with the troublemaker and the hick on a second tour to Stenhamra library and the weirdo and the rocker trying to find out about Lena Thelin (aunt of the Rocker) and getting to Mats Tingblad.
I found it surprisingly easy to set up action scenes, one successful or failed roll leading into the next. For example, the entire sequence at the Pigeon nest was a chase scene of sorts. First, the weirdo and hick hurried down their treehouse (Climb, success with a bought effect for help) to chase after the strange talking pigeons on their bikes (Move, success). Sneaking up on the nest (Sneak, once again with a bought effect for help) they found the magnetrine ship's ID (Investigate, Calculate) but were discovered by the pigeons (Comprehend failed, with consequence). When turning tails to get away, they spotted a glint from Majsan's binoculars on a nearby naze before she also disappeared on a bmx bike (she is cool)! They got away on their bikes (Move, success) but were rediscovered by the hundreds of pursuing pigeons when they tried to head off the mystery cyclist (Sneak, failure), so they had to rush again (Move, success). This brought them spurting out cross-track in front of Majsan, forcing an evasion maneuver (Move, success, bought effect from hick: Impress Majsan)! A perfect sliding stop and turn!
The concept of success with consequences or conditions on a failure worked very well in driving the story forward without railroading it – the Kids's choices still mattered most.
NPC relations connected the Kids well to the setting and specific Mystery, both those of their own invention and those picked from the suggestions.
Pushing a skill roll proved to be a strong temptation, and a slippery slope threatening to quickly break the Kids. With one die less per condition it becomes increasingly hard to succeed on any roll ... In this way, we found the Conditions to be a good balancing measure to the smooth solution of the Mystery, overambitious risk-taking, and too many ways of overcoming Trouble (pushing, luck, Pride). With some practise, we will be better at keeping in character while under a condition, too. Especially exhausted and injured were tricky to show in the roleplaying. An honourable mention to our angry troublemaker in this respect – very consistent roleplaying. For example, after failing a Contact roll to meet up with his Anchor at the library (to be let in the closed building), he checked Angry, pushed, failed again, and broke the window in his anger (getting in with a consequence).
Contact was fun to use for me as a GM, and a skill the players used very well, establishing contacts on the go and getting good results out of it. I really liked how a contact roll could mean a lot of different things, for example: the weirdo and the rocker are stuck bordering on broken with Mats Tingblad in his house, with killer birds outside. For help, they decide to call Gunnar's number to get hold of Majsan. Roll Contact – a successful roll means the relevant page in the phone book has not yet been used in Mats's birdcages. Eventually, Majsan picked up the phone silently (after all, the roll was succesful), and angrily snapped at her friend the weirdo for calling. But she came with Bullen and saved them!
The players were a bit confused by the rules on helping – they feel it should always be a good idea to help each other. In retrospect we realised a possible interpretation of the helping rules that we like – you should need to have the skill both to help and to be helped. Also, you should not suffer conditions or consequences for failing a help roll. For some actions, it could be possible to help if you are unskilled, like heavy lifting (Body) or accompishing a simple collaborative task under time pressure (packing a tent, Move). In such cases, a possible system could be to actually pool the dice, roll once requiring one success to overcome trouble and have all suffer the consequences on a failure.
In this Mystery in particular and in Tales of the Loop in general, some skills tend to dominate. Comprehend, for example, is used as a catch-all understand-what-is-happening skill in the Mystery. According to the descriptions, it seems Empathize should be used to understand animal behaviour and motives (as well as humans). We find that it is very important to uphold clear boundaries between skills as much as it is possible to balance the use of them and avoid super-useful skills that seem to duplicate whole areas of applications of other skills. Furthermore, some skills found only marginal or no application in the Mystery as played by us, mainly the two Tech skills Build and Tinker which made the player of the hick concerned (though he was happy to save the day at the end with a successful use of Tinker).
Other skills that were often used were Contact, Investigate, Force, and Move. Skills that were useful but not as often was Sneak, Calculate, and Empathize. Lead was never used, but I guess it was due to lack of experience with the system.
Iconic items were used, mainly in fights (three of four had "weapons", knife, razor-blade and drumsticks) while the fourth was a pet calf ...
Two of the players successfully used their Prides. The troublemaker (I sustain myself and my dog) successfully searched Gunnar's house for valuables (Investigate) and found the diary in the process. The rocker (I'm a drummer!) successfully fought the Goshawk (Force) in the showdown, adding one success to the one rolled for the required two. I made that interpretation, not sure if it's intended that way – how would you use Pride if more than one success is needed?
The disposition of the Mystery was a bit confusing to the GM at times. For example, what Majsan knows and under what conditions she tells it is spread over three entries: the Pigeon nest, Gunnar's house and her character presentation.
I didn't really use the maps of locations, it would have been more useful to have exterior views of the houses. For the finished product it would also be great to have handouts of useful illustrations, like character portraits, said exteriors, and the magnetrine ship. I used the original illustration from my copy of "Ur varselklotet" to show the wrecked ship, and the map from the same book was a much appreciated centrepiece at the table.
We have some suggestions for rules expansions and new Types that I will post in the following posts.
Last edited by Vargtass on Sun 01 Jan 2017, 14:32, edited 1 time in total.
 
Vargtass
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Re: The ALPHA PDF - questions, comments, errata

Sun 01 Jan 2017, 11:40

An idea for diversifying the Types – preferred skills.
We tested to have the Kids put up ho three skill points in skills connected to their Key attribute and up to one in other skills. We preferred this to the English rule version as it gave more weight to the Type selection. It does not, however, make any difference between Types with the same Key Attribute. After some discussion and puzzling we propose an alternative system of preferred skills. The idea is that each Type has a set of four preferred skills that the Kid may put up to three skill points in at character generation. Any other skill can have up to one point. Two of the preferred skills are in the Key attribute category, the other two skills are from two other attribute categories. This leaves one "weak" attribute without any preferred skill (but it is still possible to take up to four in that attribute and up to one in any skill connected to it, of course). Primarily, Types with the same Key attribute should not have the same pair of preferred skills connected to their Key attribute. Secondarily, they should not have the same weak attribute or other preferred skills. From a set of four there is also room for different Kids of the same type to customize.
We suggest the following draft preferred skills:
Body – Troublemaker: Sneak, Force, Tinker, Contact. Weak: Mind
Body – Jock: Force, Move, Lead, Empathize. Weak: Tech
Tech – Hick: Build, Tinker, Force, Comprehend. Weak: Heart
Tech – Computer geek: Build, Calculate, Contact, Investigate. Weak: Body
Heart – Rocker: Contact, Charm, Force, Empathize. Weak: Tech
Heart – Popular kid: Charm, Lead, Move, Calculate. Weak: Mind
Mind – Bookworm: Investigate, Comprehend, Calculate, Contact. Weak: Body
Mind – Weirdo: Investigate, Empathize, Move, Tinker. Weak: Heart
Last edited by Vargtass on Sun 01 Jan 2017, 14:20, edited 1 time in total.
 
Vargtass
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Re: The ALPHA PDF - questions, comments, errata

Sun 01 Jan 2017, 11:57

An idea for Iconic abilities.
If further diversification of the Types is needed, this can be accomplished by Iconic abilities, one for each type. The idea is to formulate an Iconic ability – something the Kid can do once per Mystery or session that would normally not be possible, like figuring out a password (Computer geek) or knowing something complicated by heart within your special subject (Bookworm). The principles for the Iconic ability are the following:
- nothing supernatural. The feat is only very improbable.
- still requires a successful roll. Which roll depends on the actions of the player (varies with circumstances).
- possible to personalize. Not all bookworms have the same special interest. Not all hicks are tuned to the same vehicles. An amount of selectability should be included.
- narrow application. The final application of the Iconic ability should be rare enough for it to come in play occasionally, probably not even once in every Mystery.
Examples:
Bookworm – The Ten-thousand-krona question: Every Bookworm has one specific field of knowledge where they rival an encyclopedia. With a successful roll, they may forego the need of a library to get information.
Hick – Talented mechanic: The Hick is adept at repairing and operating a specific class of vehicles, for example heavy machinery, cars, motorcycles, bikes, etc. With a successful roll, the Hick can repair or control a vehicle with what is available.
Computer geek – Blatant security breach: A Computer geek can figure out the password to a computer or the key to a code or something similar by socializing with the user of the system and succeeding on a roll.
Troublemaker – Criminal masterwork: A Troublemaker perfects skills in a particular criminal activity, for example cat burglary, lockpicking, auto theft, forgery, disguise. With a succesful roll, the Troublemaker can accomplish a task within this specialty without tools or information that would otherwise be required, using what is available.
Rocker – Take one for the team: It is easy for everyday people to assign blame to the Rocker. The Rocker can use this to take the blame for anything the team or a team member gets in trouble for – with respect to a specific authority, for example law reinforcement, school officials, parents – with a successful roll.
Weirdo – Social drama queen: The weirdo tracks all relationships of a certain kind – relatives, lovers, work relations, etc. With a successful roll, the Weirdo knows about a relationship of the selected kind without finding the clue for it.
Popular Kid – Scott free: No-one wants to think ill of the Popular Kid. With respect to a particular authority – law inforcement, school officials, parents – a successful roll lets the Popular Kid go free.
Jock – The long shot: Every Jock obviously has their own favourite sport. With a successful roll, the Jock succeds on a real long shot, a feat normally not accomplished realiably, somehow coupled to the skills of the selected sport.
 
Vargtass
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Re: The ALPHA PDF - questions, comments, errata

Sun 01 Jan 2017, 12:00

Four new Types – the Outdoors Kid, the Animal Lover, the Science Wiz, and the Activist.

The Outdoors Kid: A Kid at home in the outdoors, perhaps in scouting, Friluftsfrämjandet, Field biologists or driven by a personal urge to get out.
Key atttibute: Body
Preferred skills: Sneak, Move, Lead, Investigate. Weak: Tech.
Iconic item: Knife, Backpack, Flashlight
Iconic ability: When the going gets tough – The Outdoors Kid recognises and knows how to get through emotional and physical hardship. With a successful roll, the Outdoors Kid lets another Kid ignore the Broken condition for one scene. The Kid still suffers from its other conditions.

The Animal Lover: The Animal Lover feels more at home with pet animals than with people. Riding horses, dogs, cats, birds or even fish can be an all-consuming hobby
Key attribute: Mind
Preferred skills: Comprehend, Empathize, Build, Contact. Weak: Body
Iconic item: Pet, Pet food, Cap with for example "I love horses".
Iconic ability: Horse whisperer – The Animal Lover is very good at handling the animal he has made his hobby – for example horses, dogs, cats, birds, rodents, fish. With a successful roll, the Animal Lover can calm an animal or get it to momentarily do what the Animal Lover wants.

The Science Wiz: How things work and how to build them is all-important to the Science Wiz Kid. The Science Wiz could be a member of a local Young researchers association, or driven purely by her own curiosity.
Key attribute: Tech
Preferred skills: Build, Calculate, Force, Comprehend. Weak: Heart
Iconic item: Calculator, Pencil & graph paper, Glasses
Iconic ability: Young Einstein – The Science Wiz is especially knowledgable in one field of exotic science or engineering, for example a class of robots, a class of magnetrine ship, or cyborgs. With a successful roll, the Science Wiz can forego the need for blueprints or a library concerning the chosen specialty.

The Activist: The activist is found in the school council, political youth organisations, the budding environmentalist movement or on the barricades on any issue warranting a protest or demonstration.
Key attribute: Heart
Preferred skills: Contact, Lead, Sneak, Empatize. Weak: Tech
Iconic item: Campaign button or party pin, Spray paint can, Fake leather briefcase
Iconic ability: Making a difference – Each Activist has a core cause they burn brightly for, for example gender equality, the environment, lower taxation, better welfare, protecting the rural economy, preserving an area, etc. With a successful roll and for the chosen cause, the Activist can sow the seed of a public protest against something in the local area.
Last edited by Vargtass on Sun 01 Jan 2017, 14:52, edited 3 times in total.
 
Vargtass
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Re: The ALPHA PDF - questions, comments, errata

Sun 01 Jan 2017, 12:02

Four new Types – the Outdoors Kid, the Animal Lover, the Science Wiz, and the Activist. With these four Types, all Key attributes have three Types, one of each pair of preferred skills.

The Outdoors Kid: A Kid at home in the outdoors, perhaps in scouting, Friluftsfrämjandet, Field biologists or driven by a personal urge to get out.
Key atttibute: Body
Preferred skills: Sneak, Move, Lead, Investigate. Weak: Tech.
Iconic item: Knife, Backpack, Flashlight
Iconic ability: When the going gets tough – The Outdoors Kid recognises and knows how to get through emotional and physical hardship. With a successful roll, the Outdoors Kid lets another Kid ignore the Broken condition for one scene. The Kid still suffers from its other conditions.

The Animal Lover: The Animal Lover feels more at home with pet animals than with people. Riding horses, dogs, cats, birds or even fish can be an all-consuming hobby
Key attribute: Mind
Preferred skills: Comprehend, Empathize, Build, Contact. Weak: Body
Iconic item: Pet, Pet food, Cap with for example"I love horses".
Iconic ability: The Animal Lover is very good at handling the animal he has made his hobby – for example horses, dogs, cats, birds, rodents, fish. With a successful roll, the Animal Lover can calm an animal or get it to momentarily do what the Animal Lover wants.

The Science Wiz: How things work and how to build them is all-important to the Science Wiz Kid. The Science Wiz could be a member of a local Young researchers association, or driven purely by her own curiosity.
Key attribute: Tech
Preferred skills: Build, Calculate, Force, Comprehend. Weak: Heart
Iconic item: Calculator, Pencil & graph paper, Glasses
Iconic ability: Young Einstein – The Science Wiz is especially knowledgable in one field of exotic science or engineering, for example a class of robots, a class of magnetrine ship, or cyborgs. With a successful roll, the Science Wiz can forego the need for blueprints or a library concerning the chosen specialty.

The Activist: The activist is found in the school council, political youth organisations, the budding environmentalist movement or on the barricades on any issue warranting a protest or demonstration.
Key attribute: Heart
Preferred skills: Contact, Lead, Sneak, Empatize. Weak: Tech
Iconic item: Campaign button or party pin, Spray paint can, Fake leather briefcase
Iconic ability: Making a difference – Each Activist has a core cause they fight hotly for, for example gender equality, the environment, lower taxation, better welfare, protecting the rural economy, preserving an area, etc. With a successful roll and for the chosen cause, the Activist can sow the seed of a public protest against something in the local area.
 
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Tomas
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Re: The ALPHA PDF - questions, comments, errata

Sun 01 Jan 2017, 12:13

Awesome report, thanks!
Fria Ligan
 
zargas
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Re: The ALPHA PDF - questions, comments, errata

Sun 01 Jan 2017, 13:23

Quick glance spotted a few small mistakes, not sure if mentioned:

page 9: game example:
Some references are spelled "Gamemaster" and some are spelled Gamesmaster

page 9: Custom dice infobox
"...but they support the game mechanics and are nice addition."  Should it be an "a" inserted here before "..nice addition" ?
 
edd
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Re: The ALPHA PDF - questions, comments, errata

Sun 01 Jan 2017, 17:38

 
Page 19:
"The personal computer can be found in most homes, most often in the form of the Commodore 64."
- That depends on what year one talks about. There were over 3.6 million households in 1985, and some 100,000 C64s were sold in Sweden, making it the most common computer. Still a far cry from "most homes", even if other brands are taken into consideration.

"Going on all inclusive charter vacations becomes a national pastime."
- All inclusive destinations, while not unheard of back then, are a more recent development. Charter tourism had been a thing since at least the 1970's. Vacationing in the 1980's was still either staying in a summer house, going camping in a caravan in Sweden or abroad, or going to the Canary Islands, or Spain, Greece, and other destinations in the Mediterranian.

"VHS tapes of the latest American movies are copied and distributed among friends,"
- Movies appeared on VHS about a year after the theatrical release; the "latest" movies were hard to come by, unless one wanted to watch a poor-quality bootleg. Copying was rather common.

-- etc --

-- especially;
Page 20:
"The 18-year-old age minimum for getting a driver’s license make cars a distant fantasy, but as you only need to be 15 to use a moped, this is often the vehicle of choice for cool, older Kids."
- The A-traktor ("EPA-traktor") was an alternative for 15 years olds. It's an old car, shortened and converted, making it able to take two passengers (+ driver), and not going faster than 30 kph (19 mph). More common in rural areas.
Björn,
Thank you.
This is really useful setting feel stuff 
- Fria Ligan; 
Please I would love to have more details for both Sweden and 80s for us non-Swedes. Especially cultural domestic uniquenesses of Sweden in the 80s (in the Loop); i.e. I would never have known about Snus unless I hadn't been chatting to some Swedish smokers once, But also things such as would the average home in the Loop be wooden? brick? prefabricated? How much is there a class divide? would it be noticeable in the house interior (i.e. wallpaper vs wood, type thing). 
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