[The Scalopus Project] OOC thread

This is the out-of-character thread for the group playtesting The Scalopus Project. (In-Character thread here.)

Thanks to UserClone, Niko, and LlamaNerds for joining me in the first-ever play of my game!

Please email me at gamesonthetable [at] gmail, and I'll send you the PDF of the game.

|== About the Game ==|

The game uses the Lady Blackbird system. Once you have the PDF, please

- familiarize yourself with the story and setting, and
- look through the 5 characters and decide who you'd like to be.

One thing you'll notice is that I've created some Event cards (last page of the PDF). Though you probably won't require these cards, I'm willing to test them. So, if you ever want to use one in the game, just say, "I'd like to use an Event card" and I'll randomly choose one. I had intended them as aids for people who may not be accustomed to story games. But who knows? Maybe they're also fun for experienced story gamers. That's why we're playtesting. =)

|== What I Want From You ==|

I'm trusting you to play this game as well as it can be played.

As we go, please provide feedback about the game. If you think of something that might help to improve it, let me know in this thread, or by email. Things I'm particularly interested in are:

- Are the characters balanced?
- Are the characters interesting and fun to play?
- Are there any Traits, Keys, or Secrets that tend to go unused? What would be good replacements?
- Do you like the Event cards?
- Is there any information missing that should be included in the PDF?
- Does the story work for you? Would you change anything? Would you add anything?

Please try to post at least once per day so we can get through this at a good pace.

|== What You Get From Me ==|

1. Hopefully a fun roleplaying experience.

2. Playtester credits in the final PDF.

|== My Content Requests ==|

In our game, please avoid any content that is

- sexual, or
- mentally disturbing.

I like a clean, creative game.

(Sorry for the long post. I'll post the link to the IC thread when I have it. Once you've read this, please post to check in.)


  • edited November 2011
    UserClone or Niko, will you please explain to LlamaNerds and me

    - what to type for rolling the dice (in the LB way), and
    - best practices for formatting dialogue and narrative?

    For instance, should we use different colors, or quotes, or what? I'm not sure I have a preference at this point.
  • I'm pretty limited in BBCode use, honestly. User is probably the better one to answer this question. Regarding characters, I'm most drawn to Arthur Vanguard.
  • Scratch that, I'm going to go with the giant.
  • this is just a test:
    #DiceRoller( 1d6 )
  • Okay, one more test:
    #DiceRoller( 5d2 )
  • Llama brings up a good point with his roll above, namely: d2s work just as well as d6s in the LB system, since it's just success or failure. I'm fine with you rolling either d2s or d6s in our game. Your input on the matter is welcome.
  • I'm game for some play and happy to play either character that is left over.
  • If you think of something that would make your character better, please mention it. I am counting on all of you to help me solidify good starting characters by the end of our adventure. This includes their stories, stats, and relationships.

    If you look at a character and say, "I wouldn't want to play him or her", please tell me why, and let me know what would make that character interesting to play.

    mease19 has already sent me a good load of feedback. I'm sure we'll end up changing things about the game on the fly.

    I'm also open to a different starting scene than what is written, if you have any ideas.
  • I guess I'll take Arthur. I haven't played a tinkerer in a while.
  • Here's a question for you all:

    Would you prefer to

    a. play the game out in chapters? (Prison break in New Cambria -> Transportation to Roanoke Island -> Drill down to the subterranean realm)


    b. forget the first two chunks, and just start the game on Roanoke Island. (Face the dangers of the island -> Face the dangers of the journey down -> Deal with the Forgotten and their realm)

    mease19 pointed out that the story, as written, contains a whole lot of suggested plot elements. I'm willing to chop it down, if you think it would be more fun.

    Or, do you think it would be fun to keep the chapters, and let groups play through them in order, but each one takes as long as one play through Lady Blackbird? (Imagine if Lady Blackbird came with 3 chapters instead of 1.)

    Here's another question:

    Should I scrap the whole thing about Arthur being mysteriously imprisoned by the government?

    I do like the idea of a corrupt government against which there is a growing resistance. And I do like having an innocent convict, but maybe it doesn't work all that well as written?
  • edited November 2011

    Arthur Vanguard suggestions

    Here are some suggestions for changing up Arthur's keys and secrets. Feel free to adopt any or all of these.

    • Key of the Innocent, seems like it would be limited in scope to use within the country of New Cambria. I think a key should be more universally important to the character.
    • Key of the Architect: As the designer of the Scalopus, you have a special, semi-parental relationship with it; hit your key whenever your are forced to choose between the Scalopus and some other good.
    • Key of the Tinkerer (but not along with Secret of Tinkering): As an inventor, your instinctively want to touch, explore, disassemble and/or improve every mechanism and machine you see; hit your key whenever you take time to tinker with something to figure it out or "make it better". Hit your key twice if you end up breaking an important device, instead of improving it.
    • Secret of the Cache: You are an expert at recognizing and hoarding obscure bits of this and that. As long as you can reasonably gain access to one of your caches (unsearched pockets, a duffel bag, the cargo hold on the Scalopus) or a likely source (junkyard, wrecked car, etc.), you can procure some of the most obscure bits and pieces for use in tinkering, embellishment or bribery. The size and specificity of the object is determined by the size and specificity of the cache (and GM discretion).
  • mease19 and I have been talking about some possible rearrangement of characters.

    Maya is a paleontologist (and zoologist?) - the animal expert.

    Josephine is a diplomat (or maybe an anthropologist or archaelogist?) - the expert on people and cultures.

    Maya is Professor Oakstead's daughter. I'll rewrite her attraction to Arthur a bit. As it's written, their different backgrounds make her attraction feel strange to her (mountain woman + rich city man). But now, I'm thinking I'll make it that she's still attracted, but also either competitive in some way, or maybe totally frustrated by him. So she has mixed feelings about him. That might be fun to play. Her relationship to Oakstead would also make her Key of the Mission make more sense.

    I still want Josephine to be someone's sister (either Jonas or Arthur). But if she's not a thief / rebel, I'll need to have a new conflict between her and her brother that is interesting to play.

  • edited December 2011
    Am I the only one that consistently misreads Scalopus as Scapulas? (Scapulas are your shoulder blades)
  • yes, you are the only one... or well, you were the only one. dangit
  • Posted By: composertpHere's a question for you all:

    Would you prefer to

    a. play the game out in chapters? (Prison break in New Cambria -> Transportation to Roanoke Island -> Drill down to the subterranean realm)


    b. forget the first two chunks, and just start the game on Roanoke Island. (Face the dangers of the island -> Face the dangers of the journey down -> Deal with the Forgotten and their realm)
    If everything moves more slowly in PBF (this will be my first experience), then shorter chapters might make sense. Whether we do several shorter chapters and cover the whole "campaign" (if you will), or just skip to a certain point...not sure I care.

    Here's another question:

    Should I scrap the whole thing about Arthur being mysteriously imprisoned by the government?

    I do like the idea of a corrupt government against which there is a growing resistance. And I do like having an innocent convict, but maybe it doesn't work all that well as written?
    This does seem a little tacked on to me, especially since the whole adventure isn't going to be taking place in New Cambria. If there is a way to add a global "police force" or some other form of antagonists, that would make more sense. On the other hand, given that it's a story game and not a "combat" game, letting the characters do more problem solving type things without the constant threat of "random encounters" could be fine too, and any combat type conflicts that need to happen could happen with locals in whatever region of the earth they are in.
  • Thanks for the feedback, Llama!

    You're right.

    Here's the backstory for how I got there (after which, I plan to scrap that part of the story and send you an updated PDF):

    In the very, very early brainstorming phase for the game, I thought, "It would be cool to have one of the party members be an innocent convict - someone whom the government had imprisoned under false charges. He could be driven by the desire to clear his name."

    So I had an interesting conflict and an interesting motivation. And it would be cool to have the authorities always on his trail (enter Inspector Boggs).

    BUT, I realize now that it would only make sense in a story that takes place in a more social setting, not underground. So, I agree with Llama.

    I'm wondering now if I should keep the same idea as a follow-up chapter, after the party returns from the subterranean depths. While they've been gone, the New Cambrian government has gotten more corrupt, and have some reason to go after the Scalopus crew when they arrive back in the country. So they spend the adventure against the government, maybe even joining up with the pirates in rebellion, fighting for New Cambria's once-enjoyed freedom.

    So, I'm thinking of sticking with the idea of starting in Roanoke Island, and letting more of the adventure happen there.

    Would it be interesting to start the story with the need to get the Scalopus transported to the Island? Or should they already have it there?
  • edited December 2011
    So, has everyone read the documentation (including the new Maya)? Are there any other comments/questions/curse words regarding the text, as is, before we get started?

    Did anyone else have ideas about where the story should start? Another option might be to have the story open at the mouth of a river on Roanoke Island, with everyone and the Scalopus aboard, heading inland to the drill site. Alternately, could everyone airdrop to the site? Either way, it would open up the possibility of one or more other expeditions racing to get to the drill site first and then sabataging competing to drill down. Can the Scalopus travel across land or only dig straight down?
  • edited December 2011
    We still haven't heard from UserClone, so we don't know who he's going to be. And we don't know who you're going to be, mease19.

    Realistically, the Scalopus would probably have to travel by sea on account of its weight. So either:

    a. The Scalopus was pre-shipped, and the party is now arriving by airship.

    b. The party is with the Scalopus being dropped off at Roanoke Island now. OR

    c. The party and the Scalopus arrived at Roanoke Island recently, and are now taking the Scalopus to the dig location (as mease19 suggested).

    The question is: "What is the starting conflict?"

    Whichever of the above options makes for the most interested starting scene - let's do that one.

    I think the idea of competition will work. I had toyed with that in the design process, but ended up scrapping it. So, we could say that some other unscrupulous fellow found out about the Professor's secret work ("But how?!" The group can uncover that mystery as they play.). This other guy will take the role that was written in for Inspector Boggs: He's always on the Scalopus team's tail, taking advantage of their dig holes, hoping to gain some benefit from the Professor's work - maybe the credit and fame for the discovery, maybe artifacts and treasure, maybe power over the Forgotten. This will add constant pressure, which is good. The party will never know when to expect sabotage or other encounters with the opposing team.

    The first part of the adventure can involve the journey to the dig site. If they are going to encounter the dangers of Roanoke Island, that's the time. No one lives on the island (that we know of), so there won't be many social conflicts.

    To answer your question, mease19: The Scalopus can probably travel a little bit on land, but not a lot. It's meant for drilling downward. The compartments inside are set such that they swivel. So whether the machine is drilling down or sideways, the people are sitting up. (Though, the seats probably rock back and forth with sudden changes in direction.)

    Any other input?

    NOTE: Niko had to bail on account of life. So it'll just be mease19, LlamaNerds, and UserClone (once UserClone contacts me).
  • UserClone, I think we're just waiting for you now. Please email me so that I can send you the current PDF. We can start up soon.
  • I'm here! Just now getting back to Snail's Pace. email sent and awaiting PDF!
  • edited December 2011
    I sent you all an updated PDF.

    I've started the in-character thread here.

    Please post here to let us know what character you're taking. Then, head on over and start posting! Come back here for any OOC talk.

    LlamaNerds has already claimed Arthur.

    If you have any questions, suggestions, or feedback, post them here. (Or you can email me if it seems more appropriate.)
  • edited December 2011
    As I suspected, I will be going with Maya.
  • UserClone, thank you so much for getting us off to a fabulous start! I especially like how you immediately brought Maya to life, just as we might expect her to act - climbing and looking for animals. Great posts so far!
  • Well, it sounds like Arthur/Maya are spoken for and I think someone mentioned playing Jonus before. I guess I'll go with Josephine...
  • edited December 2011
    Actually, no one has taken Jonas. (Niko is out. He was the one who had wanted Jonas.)

    If you want Jonas, take him!
  • Josephine is fine by me. Too bad we can't rouse 2 more players so we can see how all the characters work. I'm assuming the characters are still there, just not PCs.

    Also, I like to put a [character name] tag at the top of each post. I think it helps keep track of which character is acting/speaking. I hope it catches on and would be thrilled if others did the same.
  • Yes, the Professor and Jonas are still there. I agree that it would be cool for someone else to join us as the other players. If anyone happens to be reading this thread and wants to join, it's not too late!

    Good idea about the character name tags!
  • Timothy - Could you describe the beach a little more. I gather that the machine is attached to a shipping pallet on the beach, the beach is pretty rocky but there's sand too, and that the tide is coming in.
  • edited December 2011
    Yeah, that's how I imagined it. I've been leaving it open to player input. Whatever you guys say, goes. I'll add more detail in the IC thread though.

    Do you prefer me explaining stuff like that, or leaving it open? I prefer to let players create the scenery in a way that they like it. But if you want more GM input, I'm okay with that too.
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