I wouldn't orient her beforehand, no. Just be ready to help her out during the first few minutes of play if she needs it (which she probably won't).
For my testing purposes, I'd love it if you'd give her the GM book first, not the player book. My plan is for people at seriously all levels of roleplaying experience to be able to GM the game out the gate, and I'd love to hear how she does with it.
quick rules question, hope here is ok: 1-5 is a bust, and when you bust you discard your hand. So this means that, from an empty hand if you draw a 3 of spades, you bust and discard the card immediately?
Terry GMed. I played. The 27 minutes included reading the rules.
We printed out the "murderghosts-bothforcutting" version, double sided, cut it in half, and stapled the booklets together.
Although it's obvious now, I didn't realize the GM had a BEFORE PLAY section so I immediately went to START and started the game.
I didn't know exactly what an urban spelunker was. Terry explained it. Otherwise I would have looked it up to be sure.
Terry had no problem describing and GMing. Granted she's an experienced GM but as a player I kept wondering "is she just making this up or is it in the book." It was seamless. Terry went into GMing blind (no pre-reading).
The GM playing cards face down, the player playing cards face up, and flipping through the booklets, not knowing what was next, was creepy. I felt a little exposed as a player. Rolling dice would have detracted from the feel.
When I turned to 1 (saying turn to 1 out loud was awkward, we kept saying "page 1" instead of "1") the game asked me to choose what I thought the worst thing going on was. Nothing immediately on the list seemed right, but then page 1 says, "you can ask the GM questions before you choose" which is brilliant. I did, and then the answer became really obvious.
I chose "Madness. Turn to 7." The game said, "Draw. On turn 1, this is a free draw: count it as a high hand." That was confusing. Is this turn 1? When is turn 2? What is a free draw? The confusion only lasted for 30 seconds or so, then I followed the instructions under "high hand." But now I realize? I skipped a step! It said the hand counted as high, so I completely skipped and didn't read "High hand or low hand: Tell the GM who is your most important role model."
Terry was impressed how the rules followed the fiction, and covered most of the fictional situations we roleplayed.
I drew. High hand. My hands couldn't stop shaking. I decided its hands were the worst part as they did awful things to me. I drew. Busted. Panic! Drew again. Second Bust in a row. Dead!
Terry was caught off guard that I died so suddenly. She was a little disappointed she never drew any cards after her first face down draw.
We both enjoyed the game. Not at all what we expected? in a good way. I LOVED that at any time I could stop playing and turn to page 22. I'm curious to do so, just to see what happens.
I had to flip to the back of the book to read "The Player's Draw" a few times to remind myself what a high hand, low hand, and bust was. Not a big deal. After busting a few times, I now know to beware of 1-5 and 21+!
I forgot that I could discard my hand before a draw. That would have avoided my first bust.
Just spoke to Terry again about the game and she's pretty excited to play as a player.
I ran it twice! I didn't wholeheartedly try to give myself the wigs due to watching Blindness the night before and feeling adequately wigged out, which was on your recommendation in a AW thread so I'll technically lay the blame on the designer.
Neither me or my player got serious wigs, I was mostly amused at the game's design and the player was somewhat frustrated. The player recognized playing the game as something they'd rather watch other people do.
We played again, I GMed this time. It went almost an hour!
The game ended with Terry escaping / winning, after I drew my 5th card (after the 4th card, I had 3 suits).
Terry busted at least 5 times, lots of Low hand results and I believe 2 High hands.
We kept looping back to player page 17. Which confused Terry at first with the starting text, "the ghost expects you to fit yourself into its story". Most other player pages say things like "you do this but...". Where this was odd in play. She busted on page 17 at least twice which tells you, "do not ask the GM what this ghost expects you to do next" and then it doesn't prompt either the player or GM to turn to any specific pages or to do anything specifically. After some awkwardness, I figured that the intent was for us to roleplay back and forth till a specific mechanic was triggered on my original page.
There were also at least one point where it wasn't instantly clear who is turning to a specified page. I believe it was in the player book. Usually it says, "tell the GM to turn to X" but I think there was a spot where it says, "Tell the GM to do X, and to turn to Y." Going back to it, it was clear. But in the heat of play (especially scary play), we first misread this as telling the player to turn to a specific page. We didn't make that mistake but it was a point of temporary confusion.
After 30 minutes we were frustrated and a little worried the game was caught in a loop. I think part of the problem was that Terry didn't commit to 1 type of action. She didn't keep trying to escape. Sometimes she interacted with the ghost, sometimes she attacked it, often she tried to escape, 1 time she went backwards. Part of this was my fault. I describe victims that the Ghost was doing horrible things to, which kept giving Terry reasons to hesitate and consider helping them or finding out more.
In the end, both of us had chills. The story we experienced was brutal.
I would love to see this run by someone who has never roleplayed before. I will possibly find out this Saturday.
Just got back from playing in my lunchbreak (I love that this is possible). The game was sadly cut short when we discovered we hadn't printed one page of the player's book.
My only constructive feedback at this point is that it might be useful to have some compelling reason why the protagonist can't just go back out the way they came in. Maybe heavy rain is making the sewers flood?
That's certainly a possibility, although I feel like that might make it harder for the GM to tie things to the history they've invented. Also it might make it easier for the player to come up with "try to escape" options which don't engage with the scary ghost stuff. I haven't played enough to know for sure though.
I have to say, the way the game makes the player's "try to win" agenda mesh with the GM's "give yourself the wigs" agenda is pretty damn intriguing. I was sceptical at first, but I'm coming around to it.
Making ghost less subtle greatly improved the game. 3rd game was 35 minutes long, 2nd game was 22 minutes long.
One of the new players became very frustrated when they kept looping to the same pages. We talked about it afterward and their frustration was because: they felt trapped, they thought the game may have broke, they wanted to see more of the book. They also noted frustration that 21 was a bust and not a good thing (due to black jack). I personally enjoy breaking expectations with 21 being bust but they didn't share my feelings.
New players still had problems determining if they flip pages or if the GM flips. It's almost always obvious but in the heat of play can become confusing. One new player who GMed also felt frustrated when they turned to a page that then instructed them to turn to yet another page without any roleplaying or card play involved first.
Hopefully I will have someone with minimal GM experience run tomorrow.
Disclaimer: Haven't played the game yet, although I will have a chance to play a few times this coming week, and I'm looking forward to it!
Is there a particular reason why you've chosen to give the protagonist a character identity (urban spelunker and all that) instead of just saying "imagine YOU are in the following situation..."?
The "character" is pretty thin, right? What is its purpose? (If the character gets developed in more detail later in the game, then you can safely ignore my question -- I've decided to test how the game plays with no prep, so I'm not reading the booklets.)
Played 2 more times at Recess on Saturday. 1 thing of note: games went better when the ghost was obviously a ghost. If the ghost was similar to a zombie, or seemed like a person at first and wasn't immediately recognizable as a traditional ghost ghost... when the booklet asked the player, "is a ghost here", they answered no, which slowed the game down.
4 other people also played with my copies but I was busy and couldn't observe their games. I'll try to get feedback.
Passed the first playtest documents off to a couple waiting for a LARP to start at the con this weekend. Maybe it was the unfamiliar format, but they struggled with the thing and handed it back after 15 minutes. One said something like, "We got lost real fast and there's someone here who will explain a board game to us."
I sold the game concept to a friend who has never GMed and only played 1 RPG ever. She agreed to GM.
Unfortunately she gave up after 10 minutes.
I tried to study what was going on as best I could. And asked a few neutral questions after to understand what the issues were. As best as I can tell, it felt too overwhelming.
She started reading the "TO PLAY" section. The part that said "Your job is to create an unexplained terrifying experience for yourself, and leave troubling unanswered questions" caused her anxiety. The word "your job" felt like a lot of pressure. And "create an unexplained terrifying experience" sounded simultaneously too big and too vague.
She then moved on to the "USE THIS BOOK" section. This completely confused her. I LOVE that in the MC book, all the page numbers are odd now (and even in the player book). This made playing the game much easier. But when she read that the top number was "all odd numbers", she had no idea what the context was. It was confusing but she didn't blame the text for being vague but blamed herself for not getting it. Causing more anxiety. She skipped pass most of this section.
Then she moved onto the "THE PLAYER'S DRAW" section. This made things worse for her. It was a lot of information that didn't relate to her job or responsibilities. She was still waiting to read something that would calm her anxieties... something that would tell her in easy steps how to do her job.
She moved to the "YOUR DRAW" page. She drew the card face down into her hand but was confused. In most cards, face down would go on the table, not into your hand. If she held them face down in her hand, the face of the cards would face the other player which seemed weird. Then when she read "whenever the other player moves closer to her eventual escape, draw another card..." she assumed that this happened whenever she wanted, not dictated by the game rules themselves (which isn't the case). The section ends with, "for complete details, see 3 and 23 in the book". So she flipped to 3. It starts with the words, "CORE LOOP", she got even more confused, and her anxiety increased.
She flipped back to the "BEFORE PLAY" section. This repeats some of the info in the previous "YOU DRAW" page. It says to draw a card into your hand again, so she ended up drawing 2 cards.
We were then about to start and she said, "I can't do this."
We then played Dungeon World, no problem. Most of the info on the Dungeon World / Apocalypse World style character sheets didn't confuse her at all. Partly I think it is because she didn't feel alone in using them.