Saturday, April 12, 2014

Someone Else's Game

Last night we had the kick-off of the new Mass Effect campaign using a hacked version of the Cortex+ rules.  PC creation was done as a group (ala Fate), with the GM guiding everyone through each step en masse.  So for example we would all pick our races, then be informed of the impact it has on your PC, and then pick a background, be informed of the impact it would have on your PC, etc.  By the time it was all done we had one gun-berzerker, two snipers, one engineer (me), one medic, one Vanguard (whatever you want to call them--I call him a Jedi), and one diplomat.

Now one thing I saw during this process was a couple of players getting frustrated with the fact that they didn't know what would happen as a consequence of picking a certain option.  For example, say you decide your PC has the "Colonist" background.  What skills would you think you would get?  Tech?  Survival?  Medicine?  You don't know.  Some players started asking the GM questions like "which option would boost my combat abilities?" etc.  At least one wanted a "do over" on his decision.

Now I don't mind having a little less control of PC creation; I kind of enjoy playing someone out of my comfort zone who may not be totally optimized for whatever role he is supposed to have (I even like Traveller, where you have almost no control whatsoever).  I saw my really undeveloped concept take shape as the process went on.  But I could tell that a few people found the experience a little different from what we are used to.

What was really good was the establishment of the relationships between the PC's, which seemed to help gel the team together.  In the meantime, the GM has asked me to help put some minis together, so that will give me some things to work on.


  1. I don't know if I could get into that.

    As much as I love many elements of New School gaming, I prefer to have as much control over my character's creation as possible and so do my players. This is why Champions and Mutants & Masterminds are reoccurring favorites among the members of my group.

    With Traveller, I have always viewed and pitched it's character generation system as a sort of mini-game on to itself. Picture the kind of character you want to play and see how close you can get to that image. Certain choices you make will bring the character closer to your vision, others, further away. Perhaps a particular combination of choices begin to alter the initial picture you had of them.

  2. Yeah, I would not have tried this with a random group of players. The benefit of a long term gaming group is knowing what they are willing to try and having enough trust to try something a bit different. I will readily admit this game is in part an experiment to build a game specifically for this group. I did offer a few suggestions to people that said specifically what they wanted, just not to the guy looking for a way to max out his stats...