Monday, April 14, 2014

Take me out, to the Black (Pt. II: Critique)

(Part I, with a synopis of the adventure I ran, is right here).

You can usually tell how much fun I had in a session by how much I'm willing to write about it. If I didn't like the session, usually a paragraph or two is all it gets. This, however, is part two of an already-massive post about the Firefly game I ran yesterday. So, yeah, it went really well.

So the big centerpiece of this whole adventure was the idea of starting at the end and then working towards those crazy scenes through the rest of the adventure. It fell together really well, and though I will (lightly) pat myself on the back for making it happen, it was the brilliance of the Cortex Plus system that really allowed it all to come together. I've written recently about how the mechanics influence the storytelling and vice versa, and that was a running theme throughout the entire game. I used just about every opportunity I had to influence the story and work it towards it's pre-determined conclusion. For example, when Enzo was working on the ignition coil, he rolled multiple 1's on that roll. Immediately, I thought "Bam! THAT'S why the door was open!" and described how he took a part from the cargo door that resulted in the unfortunate situation of flying around with that ramp down! During the firefight, when Sally got taken out...BAM! That's why she was in the fruit container! And because she was in the fruit container, someone needed to pilot the ship...BAM! Peaches at the wheel!

Another incredible strength about the game was its tremedous flexibility. At one point, Q wanted to do a Chuck Norris-style roundhouse kick to take out all of the goons at once. In another RPG, I'd be worried about handing out bonuses and penalties and whether mechanics are being broken, but here, I simply said:  "You tell me how many guys you want to take out. For every extra dude you want to take out, I'm going to add another d8 to the opposition's dice pool. If you beat whatever the final total is, you'll take 'em all out." Was that the right call? Who cares! It worked, and it allowed us to continue to focus on what's important: being awesome and telling kick-ass stories.

As one may expect from reading about the game, Firefly (and the Cortex system as a whole), is pretty loose and rules-light. Some of my players more used to "crunchy" games fumbled a bit with the mechanics, but even they had a really good time. I do think Cortex can accomodate a more granular crowd, though; Marvel Superheroic, as well as its generic fantasy equivalent found in the Cortex Plus Hackers' Guide, have a lot more dials to fiddle with. 

Inevitably, the notion of similarities to Fate Core came up during the session. With Assets being created and Complications being handed out constantly, the game did very much feel like a Fate Core game. Is that a bad thing? Of course not. But the begged question is: why play this when you could play that? The answer, invariably, is going to depend on the person. Currently, I'm leaning more towards Cortex these days because of the straight-forward, physical nature of the rules. If I had run this adventure with Fate, I would, for example, write Fruit Juice all over the Gorramn Floor as an Aspect. That Aspect would have rules that go along with it; you spend Fate Points to invoke it, offer Fate Points to Compel it, add numbers to dice, reroll dice, etc.. But Cortex? You hold up a D6 (or D8 or whatever) and you say "this is fruit juice all over the gorramn floor." That's it. Whomever it would help (good guy or bad) will add it to their dice pool and there it is. Is that better? Not necessarily. In this respect, you could call Cortex a more streamlined type of gameplay than Fate Core. Wheras Fate will give you all kinds of bells and whistles to tinker with and create a game as light or as heavy as you want, Cortex will always come back to "roll a bunch of dice and hope you roll high." 

So I look forward to continuing to screw around with Cortex and seeing where this Firefly story takes us!

1 comment:

  1. When all is said and done...EPIC Salad D6 asset saved the day!


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