27 October 2010

Time gets away from you.

  So here we are, having spent every Saturday and Sunday, and even a few weeknights in Foster Parent Training.  Here's the part of the blog where I talk about parenthood for a moment.  I think they're trying to scare off the folks who aren't dedicated to becoming foster parents, because a lot of what you hear are worst-case scenarios.  Developmentally abnormal, taking psychotropic drugs to control mental issues, associative or cognitive disorders...  Sometimes you have to take a step back and remember that this is precisely why these are the kids that need a good, loving home to call their own.

  That said, I am tired.  Exhausted.  Weekends are classes and mandatory bonus fun, since the only way I seem to be able to unwind and relax is gaming with friends.  This means very little downtime - and we've been hit with some pretty strong emotional punches in this last few days.  Two weeks ago, my wife's cousin took his own life.  This was followed by my oldest uncle going into the hospital for cancer surgery.  Then my wife lost her job to a layoff, along with many of her work friends.  This was then followed up with finding out that my uncle's test results had come back, and he's been diagnosed with stage four cancer.  The worlds 'pallative care' still make me shudder.

  If there's anyone at all out there in internet land who reads this, I apologise first off for not updating in two weeks.  Second, I'm sorry this one is such a downer.  It's not all bad, though.  I'm still rolling dice here and there, and doing some maneuvering and planning to get in some of the game ideas I'd really love to see played out.  My MechWarrior campaign has shed about half its players, leaving me with The Nine - players who are not only excited to be involved, but are now having an amazing time since I'm no longer experiencing GM overload.  Having a large, well-organized club centered around an RPG is still an idea I want to explore in the future - but for now, we're going to lay the real groundworh with The Nine, and see where it goes from there.  At the very least, we've got some amazing roleplaying to do.

  My Space Romans game, blogged about earlier, needs to happen someday.  Likewise my Robotech II : The Sentinels treatment, and an as-yet-undefined fantasy campaign.  I've finally run into how frustrating it must be to have myself in a game situation, in that now that I've found that I actually like Dungeons and Dragons Essentials, I seem to be unable to convince one of my best players to give it a shot.  As my gaming has become more and more like work, and less like fun, I've been giving some real thought of what to cut and what to keep, and what players I want in whatever part I keep going post-parenthood etc.  I have a "Dream Team" in my head, the problem is getting them all together in the same room regularly.

  I'm going to try and do a post soon on Strands of FATE, as I've gotten the PDF and it looks brilliant.  We'll see where time and mood have me over these next few days.  As my mental health deteriorates from all this stress and worry, I've asked my boss for two days of vacation, and he's agreed.  So tomorrow, and Friday I'm off work.  Mental Health Days, here I come.

12 October 2010

A Grognard's Conundrum : To Crunch or Not To Crunch

  This week's installment of ODB - have my tastes in game systems begun to swing completely the opposite direction?

  I cut my teeth on Mentzer D&D back in 1985.  This was followed in rapid succession by Marverl Superheroes, Gamma World, Star Frontiers, Palladium Fantasy, TMNT and Robotech, Traveller...  Coupla years down the road we added Call of Cthulhy, the original Cyberpunk boxed set, 2300 AD, Top Secret/S.I...

  Traditionally, I like a nice, crunchy system.  I had a geek-gasm when I first laid eyes on Millennium's End.  MERP and Rolemaster/Spacemaster were things of beauty.  BRP Runequest was aweseome because it tracked armor by hit location and had fatigue points.  Aftermath!  The Morrow Project...  crunch.  Systems that were complex, and to my younger mind 'realistic'.  I loved the much-maligned system Leading Edge used in their RPGs, which was basically a streamlined version of the overcomplicated Phoenix Command rules set.  It was just crunch enough to do something like Aliens, and it scratched that itch that made gun combat relentlessly deadly.

  Here we are twentyish years later.  I've found myself playing games like Remember Tomorrow and 3:16.  I've found myself looking over the spreadsheets I use to keep XP and character info for my 17-player MechWarrior campaign, and I start to wonder to myself "Why didn't you use a simpler system?"  I find myself more and more concerned for the story and the plot than I am for encumbrance totals and strict XP expendatures.  Now, one might think this was a sign that I'm going soft in my old age, losing my love for overly crunchy systems.  Well, if only it were that simple.

  At the same time I'm having all these thoughts about the plot-smithing bliss of system-light storygames, I still have the urge to play games like a Star Wars campaign using Star Warriors for ship combat, or Legionnaire with Interceptor/Centurion.  I want to play a game that tracks fatigue points so my players have a fuel gauge to tell when and how much their PC is tiring, because so many of them have the action hero mentality that their PCs are the Energizer Bunny and require no food, sleep or rest of any kind.  I like the complex endeavor of playing a Shadowrun decker and designing my own Cyberdeck.  I like the adventure spelled out by the need to get a chip burner, the proc, the other raw materials and artifice my deck from the components up.  Maybe one of our runs will be specifically to steal this drek-hot chip that I need to build my deck!

  So here I am, completely at odds with myself.  I've begun to stop worrying and love storygaming, but I still have a yearning for some of those overly-fiddly subsystems that help pull a player into a game.  One of the things I have been told is that these sorts of things pull players OUT of the game by making them think about game mechanics.  I guess it depends on the kind of player.  I've seen players who would love to use Star Warriors in a Star Wars game, because choosing the bank, roll and jink options before rolling their pilot dice helps them visualize what's going on with the battle.  Alternately, I've had players who just want to roll their dice pool and see who came out on top.  I have D&D players who love the mini-centric 3e and 4e games, and feel that being able to see the location of the monsters is a good thing, and feel satisfied when their burst-2 attack pushes a throng of minis away from their caster.  Alternately, I have players who feel that using minis and counting squares robs them of the cinema of the mind, because their imaginations paint the battles so much better than maps and minis ever could.

  It will be interesting to see which direction I go when I get my next campaign organized.  Crunchy, or storygame.  Is Retrogaming a mixture of both?  Just enough crunchy rules for combat, but make up the rest as you go?  Hmmm...

04 October 2010

Renegade Legion Reboot

    Renegade Legion was one of FASA's in-house properties, the one that got less love over the years than Battletech.  I had a LOT of fun with this game world, back in the day.  There's a great summary of the History in-game at Kannik's Renegade Legion page, one which was one of my frequent stops back when I first got my own dial-up access.  For a history of the game line itself, check out the Wikipedia page on it.

  Recently, I've pulled out some of my RL books, partially due to a player spotting the Interceptor boxed set and asking about it, and partially because I'm looking back over games I had a lot of fun with in the 80s and 90s.  I started working up some campaign pitches for the RL universe, and the more I worked on it, the more ideas I had.  The clinching moment was last night, when we were at a local theater production of Julius Caesar, in which one of my more talented players had the title role, and the whole Roman thing clicked.  So, without further adieu, here's my tweaks and ruminations and stuff about running the Renegade Legion campaign I'm wanting to run.

  Hopefully, those of you interested in hearing my thoughts already took a quick look over the history I linked to.  What I'm going to suggest is a tweak to the established canon to set up this particular campaign.  The idea is to have the story set in the very last days of the Terran Republic, just before the assassination of First Consul Kershaw and most of the Senate, and the subsequent ascention of Ivanolo Buntari to the position of Caesar and the declaration of the Overlord state.  To do this, the inception dates of a lot of equipment from the fluff will be changed.  Why?  Because unlike the Battletech line, we do not have 300 years worth of technical readouts to tell us what the front-line equipment was in those days.  A lot of the ground tanks in the Centurion Vehicle Guide were around then, and we'll roll with most of that.  We'll also roll with the idea that the grav tank, while not a new concept, is a hideously expensive one.  They're not rare, as such, but there's a lot more conventional armor than grav armor out there.

  The next canon change will be the sheer scale of the setting.  While most players of the Battletech game have scoffed at star empires with over a hundred worlds whose militaries amount to less than a hundred regiments of 'Mechs, the opposite is true here.  When General Constantine defects to form the Renegade Legions in the official canon, he leaves with 150,000 Battleship groups.  Not Battleships, Battleship groups.  Even assuming a BB group is a single Battleship with cruisers, destroyers etc. as escorts, that's still a staggering number of ships.  Remember that each of these vessels is either nearly or more than a kilometer long.  For those of you who have been aboard the USS Texas with us, this means even Frigates and Destroyers are THREE TIMES the length of the WWI Battleship we stayed aboard.  Their Battleships are more than double that length, 1.2km long and up.  My fellow GM and old-time Renegade Legion player Andy did some quick calculations in his head and came up with a figure that had something like 12 billion Legionnairres under arms- not counting the TOG Navy.  Against such numbers, how does one make the PCs matter?  How do you not succumb to the hopeless nature of your situation?  So we scale things DOWN.  Way down.  Less worlds, less forces - make the sandbox somewhere that's not quite so crushingly large.

  The final changes are in the times of certain world-defining events.  The standard RenLeg game starts out well after the defection of the Legions to the Commonwealth.  I think it would be much more interesting to start the story as the Republic begins to come apart, and Buntari rises to become the first Caesar.  It gives an opportunity to immerse the players in the game world, show them by action why the TOG is the "bad guys", rather than just telling them the TOG is the "bad guys".  Imagine this setup:

  The PCs begin the game as loyal sons and daughters of the Republic.  Perhaps they're on the KessRith front.  Let's put them in a situation where they will have some prominence in the storyline.  The RenLeg universe has single-squadron 'pocket' carriers, like the Pharetra.  So we're going to build the opening scenes around a convoy action.  We'll choose a planet near the action, this will actually be the homeworld of a lot of the PCs and NPCs invovled for reasons we'll discuss later.  Perhaps one PC is the captain of an armed freighter.  To make it more interesting, I'd like this PC if possible to be a female.  A sibling of this PC is in the Republic military, and happens to be assigned to the escort forces.  If the players want to get this detailed, let's posit that due to the VAST nature of the Republic, while capital ship crews in the regular Navy are comprised of people from all over the Republic, local units and lighter vessels that can be constructed at less than a full-on kilometers-long shipyard are generally crewed by personnel from the planet that constructed them.  This explains the "home guard" feel of the escorts.  As a side note, when my Great Grandad served on the USS Napa (APA-157) during WWII, most of the enlisted men who came aboard as newly trained seamen came from around La Grange, Hallettsville, and points nearby in Texas.  It was easier to round them up, send them to boot camp, and assign them to a ship in a big lot.  So the conciet holds.

  We open the story with the convoy delivering supplies and ammunition to a Republic battlegroup licking its wounds a system or so away from 'home'.  We let the players get the feel for the operations of the Navy, have the freighters conduct UNREP while the fighter pilots in the campaign join in the Fleet CAP, and give a feel of the humdrum activities of day-to-day Navy and merchant sailor life behind the lines.  During this visit, they start hearing news about First Consul Kershaw's reforms, and news of Ivanolo Buntari's debacle.  In fact, it could be inferred that the convoy was placed in danger due to incompetent orders from General Buntari.

  On the way back "home", the convoy is jumped by a KessRith fighter squadron, and must defend itself.  This gives our players the opportunity to bond as a fighting  unit, as even the merchant sailors will have a change to man some guns, raise some shields, and try to help fend off the KessRith marauders.  After all, these are the bastards that enslaved Earth, the Republic still owes them for that.  Play up the nationalistic propaganda that paints the KessRith as monstrous, inhuman things that would eat your grandma's liver with fava beans and a nice chianti if given hald the chance.  Think WWII propaganda posters, etc.  In this case, the enemy really isn't human, so it makes it easier to pull off.

  In the first few sessions of the campaign, you continue with the convoy operations and the team building, but you hit the following points as you do so...
  • The convoy meets the aging captain of an escort or frigate, massive compared to the convoy but not at all a ship-of-the-line in the capital sense.  Dwarfed by the cruisers and battleships, it in turn dwarfs the ships of the convoy.  He's competent, genial, and it should seem entirely odd that such a professional naval officer's career should stall with so minor a command.
  • The convoy stops planetside to deliver some equipment to a ground-based Legion.  They witness firsthand the brutality of the Legionnairres against the KessRith enemies.  We play with the player's morals a bit here.  Play up the inhuman brutality on both sides.
  • The players hear of the Senate explosion, and the death of First Consul Kershaw.
  • The war effort seems to stall a bit, due to the decapitation of the government.  News of General Constantine's 'issues' regarding censure or execution of General Buntari reach the players.
  • A KessRith fleet emerges at "home", and is only scarcely driven off by the Republic Navy.  During this time, preparations are made to evacuate the upper-class citizens in the avialble ships (the government/Navy may try to appropriate the PC-owned merchantman for this).  Make it clear the government is making no effort to save those of the lower classes.  To make it even better, be clear that the bureaucrats invovled see no malice in these actions, they are simply prioritizing the way they have been instructed by the Senate in case of invasion.  Nothing personal, and certainly those with the most worth to the war effort will be the first ones evacuated.  Those who contribtute nothing but a drain on state resources are so far to the bottom of the queue as to not be on it.
  • Invasion averted, the evacuation plans are cancelled, and the PCs have the opportunity to spend more time with their Captain friend, who is terribly relieved his family, who live near Rome, have messaged him of their safety that they were not among those killed in the senate blast.
  • Ivanolo Buntari is named Caesar.  Offensive actions against the KessRith resume immediately.
  • Another convoy mission, this one recklessly far into KessRith space to keep up with forces pushing rapidly forward.  The convoy is placed in grave danger, and is saved through the quick arrival and action of the Escort/Frigate captain they've befriended.
  • Buntari releases his news that he's found the diaries of Alexander Trajan, and will be working to make the Republic more like what Trajan "intended".
  • Wartime missions continue.
  • Buntari declares the TOG, announces the Overlords, and reverses Kershaw's civil reforms.
  • The convoy is called to the site of a major KessRith offensive, and sees the fallout from the KessRith brutality.  They find evidence that the KessRith have been inflamed by the treatement of prisoners on the Republic's part, and never violated their version of the Geneva Convention until AFTER these Republic atrocities started to occur.
  • The Patria Protestus is issued.  This should cause some MAJOR interesting fallout for the characters.  Female military personnel will be limited in rank.  If a female PC owns one of the merchantmen, it will be stripped from her.  Let the fallout begin.
  • News comes that General Constantine has been branded a traitor.  The PCs hear from their escort captain friend that Constantine is making a run for the Commonwealth.  (Idea- maybe Senator Novick travels with the PCs on his way out to General Constantine, and they get to meet him and hear about how awesome Kershaw is, and how he's trying to reform the Republic into a kinder, gentler gov't and seek a peace with the KessRith.  Then, when Novick is blamed for the senate explosion, and Constatine implicated... they can have a personal interest in matters).
  • Word arrives that a Buntari-loyalist group is on their way to the 'home' system to impose TOG order and it is carrying orders to replace all female commanders and purge anyone showing disloyalty to the new Caesar.

  Now, the ongoing, BSG-esque part of the campaign is set up.  The PCs have the opportunity to stay and serve the TOG, stay and face the overwhelming TOG battlegroup, or strike out for the Commonwealth across KessRith and TOG-held space to link up with General Constantine and Senator Novick (who I am keeping around as the figurehead of the Republic-in-exile government).  The latter will probably be the choice of the PCs.  As their convoy, laden with dependents and families, gets underway - the TOG battlegroup arrives.  Their captain friend, who cannot go with them because he and most of his crew still have family on Earth, make a suicide run to hold off the TOG units long enough for the convoy to jump to T-Space.

  Now, the Ragtag Fugitive Fleet of Neo-Romans has a whole campaign ahead of them of running from both the TOG and the KessRith.

  I'm  reading GURPS Imperial Rome and some other sources to get some atmosphere and feel for the neo-Roman setting, but one thing that's interesting to think about is that this isn't Rome in space...  it's Alexander Trajan's version of Rome in space.  Trajan's father was a professor of history with a specialty in the Roman Empire, but Trajan himself was a soldier.  It is possible that between the two of them what they came up with was a rose-colored glasses of a devotee, possibly with some well-meaning social engineering to smooth out the historical bumps.  See, Trajan, as a soldier, used the glories of Rome to inspire the population to rebellion, so naturally the initial push of the movement was for the glorious martial traditions of Rome.  This emphasis survived the war, and became ingrained in the populace.  What was accepted as 'necessary' for the war effort became facts of life, and anything resembling even a restricted freedom seemed like total liberation after the KessRith were kicked offplanet.  It's like a kid having the choice between being totally grounded, or having a six PM curfiew.  The latter sucks, but it's infinitely better than the former.  With the current events of our own time, we've seen how slippery the slope of privacy and freedom can be when curtailed or revoked in the name of security in the face of external threat.  These were a people totally conquered, in the heady moments of liberation who is to say they didn't move straight into the more fascist or militantly nationalistic facets of the Terran Republic without even noticing what they were doing?  It's not that hard of a mental leap.

  So what we've got are folks who have been indoctrinated to be more Roman than the Romans were.  They probably even use the so-called "Roman Salute" even though the Romans themselves most likely didn't.  It was popularized through paintings and media long after the fall of the Roman Empire, but today it is equated with Fascist Italy and Ancient Rome, though it was only really practiced by the former.  We'll hear a lot of Roman and faux-Roman names.  Military Hardware is named in Latin, specifically names of weapons and armor of the Roman Empire.  The symbolism is everywhere, and new examples of 'period' artwork are all over the Republic.  It's a concerted propaganda effort to put a single view of the national character into every citizen's mind, so we end up with the Romans that never were.  The idealized, stereotyped, optimized-to-be-spacefaring-Romans folk of the Republic and later TOG aren't Romans at all - but rather the twisted perception of Romans.  Kinda like Battletech's House Kurita are feudal Japanese turned up to 11, because some Coordinator somewhere thought life was really like a Kurosawa samurai movie.

  So there's my campaign idea for Renegade Legion.  The PCs can have prominent positions in a small operation like this.  I can see fighter pilots, merchant captains, perhaps the CO of the pocket carrier or one of the two corvette escorts...  Have one of the transports carrying a century or two of grav armor and an infantry cohort, and you'll have some ground forces to do planetside 'episodes' based on answering distress calls, gathering supplies, etc.  I think this game could b really kickass, given the chance...

02 October 2010

Remember Tomorrow : A Playtest

  Tonight I ran a trial of Gregor Hutton's Remember Tomorrow for some folks here at the Ogre.  RT is a cyberpunk game, but it's certainly not Cyberpunk 2020 or Cyberspace or Shadowrun...  See, I'm kinda a crunch guy.  I'm the guy that loves Shadowrun 1e and 2e.  I love MERP/Rolemaster.  Runequest.  I even like running Palladium Fantasy and AD&D 1e.  One of the first comments I got from one of my long-term players was "Would you really run THAT?", referring to my love of rolling dice, math and subsystems.  So, after trying and loving 3:16 I started looking at some more if these so-called Indy Games.

  RT is cyberpunk in design, but don't expect pages of nifty gear.  In fact, there's a direct shot at both Cyberpunk and Shadowrun in the text, poking a bit of fun at the traditional way most folks play these games.  First of all, the name of the game in RT is concept.  You choose to have a Cyberpunk archetype, but there's no mechanical value in it.  In fact, we had someone who conceptualized as a hacker, but ended up more of a razorguy ('torpedo' is the term used in RT).  Was this a problem?  No.  Character gen boils down to a concept and name, choosing an archetype which is really more of a way to solidify the concept in your head, choosing a motivation, and dividing points between Ready, Willing and Able.

  That's right, sports fans.  Like 3:16 with its Fighting Ability and Non-Fighting Ability, this game has three stats.  No STR, INT, etc. to be seen.  These stats range from 1-9, with 4 being average.  They can and will change, sometimes dramatically, during the course of the game.  The die mechanic is a simple roll-under, but the twist is that you toss 3 (sometimes 4) d10s, and assign them to RWA to make successess.  Successes then allow you to either succeed or fail a scene, and sometimes allow you to raise attributes, buy positive traits, get rid of negative traits, or tick goals- which is, well, your goal.

  See, this is where my players brains started to break.  It got worse when I told them we would be taking turns GMing.  Heresy!  But bear with me... they did.  The trick to this game is that players take turns being the Controller (GM).  Here's a very basic overview of how this game works.  Each player has a "Held PC", which is what we'd recognize as a normal PC.  Each player also creates a faction, which can be a person, a group of people, a corporation, and army... pretty much anything.  What's neat is that as play goes on, a player may use their turn to introduce a new PC or another faction.  It's an exercise in communal world-building, and it became a lot of fun for us as we tried this out.  Each faction adds depth and detail to the game world.

  The first thing that happens in the game is that each player sets a introduction scene for their character.  They toss the dice and use the outcome to help guide that scene, which may result in an improvement of situation for that PC.  After each player has tried this, another round is made as all the factions are introduced in the same fashion.  At this point, we had information on our characters, and details on the world were starting to come out.

  Our first PC was Cortez, a former merc from South-Am who drove a Datsun 960Z to the bad part of town, where he encountered some toughs who wanted his ride.  He killed one, and chased the others off.  This scene established that there was a bad part of town, brazen gangs, lots of rain, and a semi-recent South American conflict.  Also established a bar, which we called the Forlorn Hope in homage to CP2020.

  Our next player introduced Suzanne, her Private Investigator, who was at a high-class social event following an unfaithful husband.  This established the Walker Hotel and the presence of the well-to-dos in the still unnamed city.  Unfortunately, the dice rolled poorly for Suzanne, and she lost her target in the crowd.

  Arizona was next, rolling across the wastes in search of... what?  He's a fixer of some sort, and says he's making a delivery.  He checks out some deserted locations, an abandoned delivery van and a gas station.  He's attacked by wild animals (Zebras, he says), and fends them off, heading on toward the city.  This tells us that the spaces between the cities can be deserted, or some kind of wasteland...

  309 is next.  His scene begins atop the tallest skyscraper in the city, where eleven humans are suspended in some kind of medical equipment.  They apparently form a living computer network that is plotting... something.  309 is part of them, their servant.  His cybermods allow him limited antigrav, and he leaps from the building to do the bidding of his master-things.  Now, I have to stop here and say the player for 309 surprised us all with his creativity, but moreso with the gonzo nature of his declarations.  It's perfectly all right in RT to tell a player his ideas are a little too crazy for the game, but we rolled with it just to see where he'd go.  See the "bullshit" rule for more on this.

  Our final character was Paul Yamamoto, an activist trying to shine the light of truth on the decrepit and corrupt Dome Pollution Service.  This established that the city was under a dome- which made us all fanwank a bit to explain how all the rain that showed up in the previous scenes happened... but OK, dome it is.

  Now we've finished introductions of the PCs, we go around the table again and introduce factions.

  The Xanatos Corporation (which is exactly what it sounds  like) introduces is to Corwin Xanatos, who is hoping to discredit the governor of the city and run against him in the next election.

  The Walker Hotel becomes its own entity as a faction, as it survives a local earthquake and shows that there is more to this pre-dome building than meets the eye.

  We are then introduced to Bablo, a client of Arizona's, who allows him entry to the city once he's been paid off with "this week's shipment".  We find out here that entry to the city is restricted, and the city is defended by walls and other passive defenses.

  The Council of 11 is fleshed out, and we find out they are seeking to control the subterranean powerplants that run the city.  This establishes the underworld beneath the streets.

  Last, we meet Vladimir Green, CEO of the Dome Pollution Service and bitter rival of Corwin Xanatos.  Green, too, wants to live in the Governor's mansion.

  So, we've each had two turns at this point, and we've now got a pretty good handle on the place we're playing in.  Somewhere along the line, one of the player started sketching a rough city map, and the city acquired a name - Santo Cuchillo - and a location - the California coast.  The current coast, you know, the new one sice a lot of Western Cali dropped into the Pacific.

  Here's where I think the game stumbled a bit for us.  It was very difficult to break the players of the habit of trying to play their PCs, all the time.  When it is your turn as controller, you can set up scenes involving any faction or PC.  The tendency here was to involve one's own PC and either another PC or a faction.  I don't think this is the wrong way to play, but the rulebook does seem to infer that you should involve others, and play your Held PC when another Controller involves you.

  As we went around the table again, we had the Xanatos Corp hire Suzanne to find the organizer of the anti-DPS rally that helped to discredit the Governor and the DPS.  This was a "Deal" scene.  Next, we had a "Face Off" scene involving Suzanne versus Paul Yamato, with her trying to find him, and him trying to remain hidden.  He stays hidden, but she tags his "Humiliated" negative trait to reduce his margin of success.  In the next scene, Arizona does some wheeling and dealing, achieving his first goal.  This is followed by 309 showing us the zombies living beneath the surface of the city.

  Wait... zombies?  Yeah, this is where we *could* have called bullshit.  But we didn't.  We wanted to see where this goes.  It is important for me to mention that there is a certain amount of veto power the whole group has.  If we wanted to stick to non-supernatural Cyberpunk... we could have.  But, what the hell, right?  It's a test-run.  Now I will admit that at this point things started to get wierd when 309's player started to add some more Shadowrunny-elements that may not be to the taste of everyone at the table.

  We went around the table twice more, and were surprised to see Paul Yamato achieve his first goal, and get written out for the game.  See, when you achieve your goal for the episode, your character is written out until the next episode.  Other players, when acting as Controller, can challenge you with setbacks and other fun situations.  It's just that, being unfamiliar with the game, nobody did.  At that point we decided to stop and debrief about the game.

  The consensus was that the team-based world-building was FUN!  So was sharing the GM duties.  The light, almost transparent system was a lot of fun and never got in the way.  We never had looooong shopping trips or had to worry about how many nuyen we had in the account.  All in all, it was a BLAST and well worth the price of the PDF.  I've gotta say this surprised me just as much as 3:16 did.  It was a story-game, light on system and heavy on roleplay.  Now, my wife disagrees with me here.  Not that she didn't have a good time, but she does draw the line between storytelling and role-playing.  It seems that because we spent a lot of our time narrarating scenes with our own PCs in them, it felt more like storytelling than traditional RP.  I get the feeling that this would morph into more familiar RP once we all got the hang of being a controller without playing our own PCs while controlling.

  We're going to try this again with a different group mix and see if it's just as much fun next time.  I really recommend giving this game a whirl if you've got any players at all that use the phrase "...but it's good for the story..."