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[Kapcon] The Farm
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hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 406
Location: Poison'd

PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:15 pm    Post subject: [Kapcon] The Farm Reply with quote

I want to share the highlight of my Kapcon - 'The Farm', a game that for me totally justified the Games on Demand model.

In this game, you play ‘residents’ (aka kidnapped prisoners) of the Farm, a small city located on a remote island. If your group of 6 characters manages to survive for 6 weeks, they will be killed and eaten by the Headmasters who run this place. The Object of the game is to escape.

And that's right - I said 'eaten'.

Attracting players for a prison-horror-cannibal game is a pretty hard sell. I've been wanting to run this since I first read it three years ago. (Here's my review of it on rpg.net). Once I'd pitched The Farm at the final session of G.O.D, I had 5 players who were totally into it. What that showed me is how awesome it is to pick a game based on a particular group of people and what they're into at a particular moment. It's what G.O.D is all about - following your enthusiasm.

As far as I can tell from Google, our play of the Farm at Games on Demand is either a world first, or damn close to it.

I want to talk about how I decided to run the game (which is extremely short on GM advice), but that'll have to wait till tomorrow. In the meantime, I invite the players to talk about the game - things that happened, things they noticed, anything really.

I also want to thank them for being so supportive of me figuring out the game as it went along, and for their total buy-in to the premise. When the players made up their characters they were told to use their own first name, and then given a two-digit code based on the weeks left until they'd be eaten, and their sleeping position in the group. I want to acknowledge them here:

Jamas 2-1 ... who resisted at every turn.
Aaron 1-2 ... who died on his own terms.
Manuel 2-3 ... who never gave up planning to escape.
Antonia 2-4 ... whose ingenuity repeatedly stunned all of us.
Alex 2-5 ... who never gave up hope.

The Farm was awesome. More later.
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Steve

Gametime! A Kiwi groupblog about RPGs. Come and join the conversation.
multi-dimensional: my script-writing blog.
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thad



Joined: 21 Jan 2008
Posts: 84
Location: Wellingtonian

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Firstly, yay to Steve for being gung-ho about playing this, and yay to the other players that helped make the game fun.
And yes, it was fun. Which brings up the first point: I don’t quite think we got the atmosphere right for playing it, the last game of the con, another game going on the same room, all of us finding out what the game was about as we played it… I never really felt the creepy horror of the impending flesh-eating, so in some ways it was more ‘Escape from Stalag 13’ than ‘Cannibal Run’.

Another caveat: I’m not sure that running this game during a con is the best way to go. Steve did great work to come up with a modification to the timeline to get the game developing well, but that is another aspect to the atmosphere that we couldn’t get the full intricacies going.
In my comments below, an experienced ‘The Farm’ GM(*) might say “oh, you just do this”, but we were all Farm-virgins, so we did what we did.
(*)Given that this was (as far as can be told) a world-first, Steve is now an expert Farm GM. Smile

One problem I have with the game is that the more important aspect of the game mechanics aren’t reflected in the game itself.
Each week (as it worked out) we voted in a leader (who was Alex each time), which was a useful way for us to pool dice. However, that’s all it really was, I certainly never got the feeling that the leader the mechanic made us have meant anything in the game. (Maybe it was supposed to be the leader of the group for that day who was supposed to be responsible for the group, or something, but this is just me now thinking of how it might work.)
Another important mechanic was “The Pig”, in which a player can grab successes that other players have. At one point, we were stealthing around, and I grabbed Manuel’s successes to ensure mine (partly to give the Pig a go, but mainly ‘cos I wanted to succeed Smile ). As it happened, nothing negative consequenced because we had nice players, but any repercussions were because the players knew I was the pig rather than any character interaction.
(Thinking on it afterwards, it could have been done as “Jamas pushes Manuel out of the way”, so that there would be an in-game consequence, but it’s easy to think of things afterwards.)

Skill debt was a confusing mechanic, had to have a few reads to work that out. And there didn’t seem a proper way to allow us to have a community activity (we quickly came up with a ‘pool success’ rule). (Again, an ‘experienced GM’ might know what the right thing to do is.)

Um… that’s it for the moment, but no doubt other observations will occur to me. So some points to think about, but, yeah, as I said, I did enjoy the game. I suspect the main thing to work on is the atmosphere, and wonder just how con-suitable it is (from the point of view of trying to play it in three hours).
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broan496



Joined: 12 Jan 2008
Posts: 11
Location: Levin

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was great fun, thanks.

thad wrote:

... wonder just how con-suitable it is (from the point of view of trying to play it in three hours).

I was thinking that if you wanted to run it in a three hour con slot you might want to arbitarily cut a week off it, so it starts with people in cell 5 and there is no cell 6.
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thad



Joined: 21 Jan 2008
Posts: 84
Location: Wellingtonian

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

broan496 wrote:

thad wrote:

... wonder just how con-suitable it is (from the point of view of trying to play it in three hours).

I was thinking that if you wanted to run it in a three hour con slot you might want to arbitarily cut a week off it, so it starts with people in cell 5 and there is no cell 6.


Or could get really psychotic, and play it all weekend, one week per round Twisted Evil
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broan496



Joined: 12 Jan 2008
Posts: 11
Location: Levin

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

yeah I would love to play it as a mini campaign. Out of character I was tempted to go into there private compound and see if they were pigs but found no in game reason to.
Perhaps the leader and group mechanic can be brought into the game by the punishment system?
When we get caught and punished it is only the group that followed the leader that would get punished and the loners would get off.
hypothetical example)
James, Manuel, and Antonia decide to follow the Alex the leader and group pool there dice. Aaron hangs out on his own because there is a conflict in numbers. Lets say I failed to hide my worm sized tinfoil from the butcher boys and get punished and goto to torture. Also the butcher boys are suspiucious of James, Manuel, and Alex as they were seen hanging around in a group a lot of the time and they have a punishment of say a few missed meals.
However Aaaron doesn't get punished by he wasn't seen hanging around the guilty party.
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hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 406
Location: Poison'd

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's how I tried to fit all six weeks of the residents' stay on the Farm into one 3-hour session.

I decided that the farm has a regular routine for residents. As the game went on, it became more and more obvious that the routine was designed to keep the residents exhausted, separated, and healthy (delicious). I figured that residents would be completely left alone unless they broke the routine, and that any break in the routine would require a skill roll.

This is the schedule I wrote up on our whiteboard:

0730 - Wake.
0800 - Morning feed.
0825 - Wash.
0900 - Exercise.
1100 - Free time.
1200 - Midday feed.
1230 - Exercise.
1500 - Sleep (short).
1545 - Exercise.
1700 - Free time.
1800 - Evening feed.
1830 - Wash.
1900 - Bed time.
1930 - Lights out.

We only played through one day from each week.

In the interests of pacing, I declared that this day would represent the big action that each character would try to take during the week.

Starting with feeding time, which was an opportunity for the characters to talk freely, we figured out whether there was going to be an election for leader of the group. We also went around the table declaring our goals for the day - things that would require a skill roll.

Next we figured out who was going to work alone (roll their dice separately), and who was going to align themselves with the leader (creating a group dice pool). Everyone rolled, then I went round the table rolling their opposition.

We focused on each character's "scene" one at a time, calculating net successes, and then narrating the outcome. One thing that emerged very quickly in the game was that it was useful to think of one success as equalling one fact or achievement. For instance, a resident who was scouting out an area of the island and who got two successes was allowed to add two details to the map of the island we were drawing on the whiteboard.

Then we cut to a few minutes before lights out, and another opportunity for characters to talk freely.

After that we all discussed what would happen for the rest of their week in broad details. I said that each player could achieve one extremely generalised thing that didn't require a skill roll. for example, make friends with someone, roam around a particular section of the island during free time, or size up another group.

Finally, I crossed a week off the board and we began the cycle again.

... oh, and I should talk about that map a little bit. I started it by drawing a very vague isolated section of coastline and the buildings and their immediate area. We only added to the map as a result of specific players successes on skill rolls, or general unhampered activities during the week. As the game developed, it started to become very obvious that the island was being resupplied from its upper north-west corner. That's where our groups escape attempts began to focus ...
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Steve

Gametime! A Kiwi groupblog about RPGs. Come and join the conversation.
multi-dimensional: my script-writing blog.
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hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 406
Location: Poison'd

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's the link to the RPG.net thread where I asked Jared Sorensen how he'd run this as a one-shot. That thread also includes a link to the free online version of the game.

Antonia, that pig idea would have been hilarious!

Jamas, I think you're totally right about the moods we achieved and didn't achieve during the game.
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sophmelc



Joined: 10 Jan 2008
Posts: 782

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Hix,

This game sounded really interesting (but I had to go with My Life with Master, it just sounded so twisted). So if you ever want to play this more long term, let me know. I'd be keen to try and fit it in.

Soph
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morgue



Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 556
Location: Lower Hutt

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am so jealous.

I've been wanting to play The Farm for years, and it was me that brought it along, and then that traitorous HIX decides to run it when I'm off bargling?

Noooes!

Smile
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broan496



Joined: 12 Jan 2008
Posts: 11
Location: Levin

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

heh I was wondering if to add an element of paranoia the leaders could be taken and talked to privately by one of the guards each week/day?
where they could spill etc to the authorities.
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thad



Joined: 21 Jan 2008
Posts: 84
Location: Wellingtonian

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've now had a read of the rules. Some things we did well, some things we missed... certainly a lot of scope for development...

(That all said, doing this same thing again and again for six in game weeks might get a little... repetitive...)
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hix



Joined: 25 Jan 2006
Posts: 406
Location: Poison'd

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Antonia, that's a brilliant idea! Actually, I'd start taking everyone out of the room, one by one, for a little talk ...

Morgue, don't think of it as me deciding; think of it as the stars aligning. Just after I pitched the game, it became obvious we had the numbers to run it. As soon as that became clear, I seriously considered dragging your arse out of GMing your Bargle game ... figuring that the players would be able to take care of themselves (and maybe think it was part of the plot).
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morgue



Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 556
Location: Lower Hutt

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hix wrote:
Morgue, don't think of it as me deciding; think of it as the stars aligning. Just after I pitched the game, it became obvious we had the numbers to run it. As soon as that became clear, I seriously considered dragging your arse out of GMing your Bargle game ... figuring that the players would be able to take care of themselves (and maybe think it was part of the plot).


Hee hee Smile

Sometime we should, together, run a full-length game of The Farm. We should do it over a weekend, with no less than four groups of six players, all working at once... so they can strive against each other...

and then they all get eaten. Yum.
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netwomble



Joined: 22 May 2007
Posts: 17
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

morgue wrote:


Sometime we should, together, run a full-length game of The Farm. We should do it over a weekend, with no less than four groups of six players, all working at once... so they can strive against each other...

and then they all get eaten. Yum.


This should be the LARP next year. The GMs could play the Headmasters and the lucky people get to play the minders.

I'm sure nothing would go wrong with this experiment...
________
Honda RC51


Last edited by netwomble on Sat Feb 05, 2011 9:03 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jenni



Joined: 24 Jan 2006
Posts: 378

PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

NOoooooooooOOOOooooOOOOO!
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