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[Don't Rest Your Head] The Pooh Bear, Part I

thwaak

Little Wooden Boy
Validated User
#1
Heya,

Well, I'm freshly back from the game and I want to write this all down before I forget. We had a fantastic f-----g time! Three out of the six gamers in my group couldn't make tonights game, so I decided to run DRYH for the other two who could make it. That was decided last week. I got a white cotton t-shirt, and used a sharpie to haphazardly write quotations about madness and craziness all over it, and wore it while running the game.

Me - 35 Years old, long time gamer, and most often the GM.

Ken - 39 Years old, also a long time gamer, and has done a fair share of GMing.

Colin - 17 Years old, only gaming within the last three years, but has also done some GMing.

I make note of the GMing because with the players narrating success in DRYH, it was apparent that some skill in making up story on the fly was needed.

OK, so the characters.

Daniel Derwood (played by Ken), is an actuary, and he's been kept awake by the Numbers. The Numbers don't add up, except when they shouldn't. He's had a rotten day, one thing after another: Automobile accident. Slipping on stairs. Cat being killed. The odds are all wrong, and he needs to know. He needs to make it all make sense.
His Exhaustion Talent is Extreme Mental Calculation. His Madness Talent is Manipulating Probability (whereby he can force something to happen, no matter the odds). It was left unsaid, but the player seems to be setting up a circular pattern, where the numbers don't add up, which keeps him awake, which gives him the talent to make numbers not add up, which keeps him awake, which....

Throughout the game I slipped in odd things about numbers such as:
1) Getting a one gallon jug of Vodka that had it's contents listed as pi (to the 33rd place) gallons.
2) Seventeen stairs going up, but only 16 going down.
3) Receiving a dollar bill in change that had a number on it which he'd never seen before.


Jon Thomas (played by Colin), is a fraudulent paranormal investigator, who cannot sleep because he now sees ghosts (real or not) all the time. They are ever present, and it's driven him to abuse drugs and alchohol. To make matters worse, his wife was apparently raped and murdered, based on evidence, but also currently missing. He wants to find the truth about his wifes abduction/murder/rape and also make peace with the ghosts. His Exhaustion Talent is Superior Recollection (being able to remember anything), and his Madness Talent is Sensing Nightmares by type, number, and kind. Again, left unsaid, the character is delusional and drugged and hallucinating ghosts, but can also sense genuine Nightmares. So which is real, and which is the illusion.

I slipped in ghosts at every opportunity, and wove his missing wife into the adventure by having her car show up in Mad City first as it was careening down streets, and then later found abandoned in a park.


There was a strong current of "What exactly is reality vs. perception" running through the game that I really dug.

So, I had a set up for a small adventure to bring the players into the game, and their characters to be partners. That's in Part II.
 

thwaak

Little Wooden Boy
Validated User
#2
Re: [Don't Rest Your Head] The Pooh Bear, Part II

The small adventure centered around a Nightmare known as the Pooh Bear, and an NPC Awake known as Roger Dodger. See, when Roger was a child, he won the 4' tall stuffed bear at a carnival, and loved it and treasured it. As Roger grew older, he had less time for stuffed animals and put it into storage, where it was left, and forgotten. The animal made it to Mad City where it was given life as Nightmare. It took over a playground in the city park, and subsists by eating the memories of Childhood (Pain: 7) from adults (it leaves children alone, letting them get 'fat' for the kill). Once a person has had all memories ate, the Pooh Bear guts them, and restuffs them, and they become the Snuffed, a Pooh Bear minion (Pain: 3) that uses it's stitching to bind targets and drag them back to the Playground.

The Pooh Bear becomes more powerful as he eats, and if he can ever find the first child memory of itself, it shall become possibly more powerful than Mother When.

Roger eventually found his way into the Mad City and recognized the Pooh Bear, and so promptly hid his memory of the Bear in a safe place. However, Roger was captured, and every childhood memory ate, except the one, and it denied Pooh Bear. Roger's Madness talent is being able to deliver a message anywhere, instantly (he works as a courier in Mad City). He delivers notes to the heroes asking for help (having established Roger as a mutal friend). Note: To add a surreal quality to the notes, I first typed them in english, then babel-fished them into another language, then translated it back to english.

From there, the highlights include the heroes tracking down information about Pooh Bear, Roger, and the Playground from locals and other Awake, while at the same time being plagued by numbers which don't add, and evidence, even in Mad City, about Jon's wife. They make their way to the Park, and get into a small combat with a couple of Snuffed, find Jon's wife's abandoned car and then create diversion at the playground itself (a molotov cocktail on the wooden play structure) to get to Roger...who was tied to a merry-go-round and being spun by 4 Snuffed for hours. Daniel used his Madness Talent to force the probability that some of a Snuffed's stitching got caught in the merry-go-round and yanked it around in a circle, knocking the other three Snuffed out. However, his Madness dominated and he ran away as the nightmare was launched like a catapult at him, after the stitching gave out.

Roger, barely alive, tells the heroes about the memory, which takes the shape of a carnival ticket and is hidden on a bus that rides the Sigh Way. He needs the heroes to find the ticket and destroy it before Pooh Bear gets it.

The Sigh Way is a raised high way that flows like water around the edge* of Mad City, changing course, and having disappearing/reappearing on/off ramps. It's packed with traffic going 100mph, but is whisper quiet, with only the thrum of tires on asphalt. It's filled with locals who constantly drive, never stopping...couples, families, truckers...still making the journey that got them to Mad City, and always on that Journey. The characters get a car, and take some time, but get onto the Sigh Way and ride around looking for the bus. They find it, but at the same time, some nightmares called Muscle Scars (car and man eating automobiles) find them. Jon used his Madness talent to sense their approach like sharks in water and then ensues a car chase/fight, with Jon leaping onto the Bus while Daniel crushes one Muscle Scar between his car and the bus. Jon finds the ticket on the bus (it was in the change box), but another Muscle Scar does a head on-collision on Daniel who manages to jump to the Bus (with Jon's help) at the last minute, though Daniel gets brutally banged up and uses a Hope Coin to avoid crashing.

It's now the thirteenth hour, so the heroes spend the hour in flashback. Jon recalls meeting his wife for the first time on a bus, and Daniel recalls the day he started noticing that his calculations were coming up in error, and then they burn the ticket with matches.

After a while, they jump off the speeding bus into a river as the bus goes over the bridge. Jon nearly dies, but Daniel saves him. They hitch a ride back into town, find Roger dead (he died when his last childhood memory burned up), but at least he was spared becoming a nightmare.

We ended the session there. Next...Part III!

* When I told the players the "Edge of Mad City". Colin asked, "What's beyond the Mad City?", and I said, "The Mad Country...Don't Rest Your Feet". At which point we all agreed it needs to be a supplement for DRYH.
 

thwaak

Little Wooden Boy
Validated User
#3
Re: [Don't Rest Your Head] The Pooh Bear, Part III

OK, now for some short observations and hyperbole.

1) DRYH kicks ass! It's a wicked little game that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go until either you crash or snap. It was a phenomenol role-playing experience . It has one of the best dynamics I've seen in a game, with dice pools that inter-relate, crossbreed, and produce a ton of fun. Wow!

2) The mechanics, while at first appearing daunting to the players and myself, were picked up quick and ran beautifully. The only issues we had were when I forgot a rule or had it wrong.

3) Colin was in the process of buying DRYH on-line when I left his house.

4) We agreed we need to play this Now, Now, Now, and bumped the other games from our usual routine to play more DRYH. We were also fairly agreed that the remaining players who weren't there tonight would want in on this. This game is just amazingly fun!

5) The Character Sheet works like a charm. I was sort of worried about getting everyone's situation into play, but the questionairre did all the work for me, and it was surprisingly easy to involve everyone's backstory, and foreshadow events, by making everything up on the spot.

6) Fred Hicks kicks ass.

7) The only downside? It's now 2am, and I, sadly, must rest my head. :(

Thank you, Fred...I had a lot of fun tonight, and I owe it to you.

-Brent Wolke
 

Tancred

All over the shop
Validated User
#4
Re: [Don't Rest Your Head] The Pooh Bear, Part III

thwaak said:
OK, now for some short observations and hyperbole.

1) DRYH kicks ass! It's a wicked little game that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go until either you crash or snap. It was a phenomenol role-playing experience . It has one of the best dynamics I've seen in a game, with dice pools that inter-relate, crossbreed, and produce a ton of fun. Wow!

2) The mechanics, while at first appearing daunting to the players and myself, were picked up quick and ran beautifully. The only issues we had were when I forgot a rule or had it wrong.

3) Colin was in the process of buying DRYH on-line when I left his house.

4) We agreed we need to play this Now, Now, Now, and bumped the other games from our usual routine to play more DRYH. We were also fairly agreed that the remaining players who weren't there tonight would want in on this. This game is just amazingly fun!

5) The Character Sheet works like a charm. I was sort of worried about getting everyone's situation into play, but the questionairre did all the work for me, and it was surprisingly easy to involve everyone's backstory, and foreshadow events, by making everything up on the spot.

6) Fred Hicks kicks ass.

7) The only downside? It's now 2am, and I, sadly, must rest my head. :(

Thank you, Fred...I had a lot of fun tonight, and I owe it to you.

-Brent Wolke
Sounds like a cool game! I can't wait to run it, I've just got to find a free slot for my rping group...

Got a few questions about how the system worked if you don't mind:

- How did the characters end up after 2 sessions? Any permanent madness or high levels of Exhaustion dice?

- Are you using the Scar rules and if so, did any of the characters end up with some?

- How did Hope and Despair coins play out? Used a lot or not so much?

- Did you apply consequences to protagonist failure very often? Combined with the chance of Madness, Exhaustion or Pain dominating a roll, it sounds like regularly applying failure consequences might be pretty harsh - on the other hand, scars, Discipline dominance and Hope coins counter this, so I'm interested to know how it balances out in play.

Looking forward to hearing about Session 3. :)
 

iago

www.evilhat.com
Validated User
#5
This sounds phenomenal. You hit all the notes I'd want you to hit with those as your protagonist characters, and I like the merging of the whimsical (carnival backhistory, stuffed animal Nightmare) with the horrific (ghosts of murdered wife).

I really want to hear more about how this game goes, and I'm thrilled that the mechanics all worked as well for you as they did!

Other than that, I'd like to strongly echo Tancred's questions. I'm really curious as to how the mechanical specifics of the game played out for you -- exhaustion and madness dynamics for the protagonists, how the despair and hope economy played out, etc.

Awesome stuff. Thanks for posting it!
 

thwaak

Little Wooden Boy
Validated User
#7
Re: [Don't Rest Your Head] The Pooh Bear, Part III

Heya Guys,

Tancred said:
- How did the characters end up after 2 sessions? Any permanent madness or high levels of Exhaustion dice?
Actually, it was only one session, but I can see how I wrote it making it sound like two sessions. We spent 4 hours playing, spending about 40 minutes or so in character creation. The players stumbled a little during creation with the character sheet questionaire, but once they had an idea, the rest came easy.

No permanent Madness (yet), though Jon came REAL CLOSE to snapping, but was able to make it through. Daniel on the other hand would have crashed had he not used a hope coin. Both Exhaustion and Madness worked really, really, well for us, and what really impressed the players and myself was (and I mentioned this above), how the dice pools interact and force the players to make tough decisions.

Example: Daniel was close to crashing, using 4 Exhaustion dice, as well as his 3 Discipline dice. To better his odds of not crashing he added 3 Madness dice into the pool, because he was far from the possibility of snapping at that point.

Tancred said:
- Are you using the Scar rules and if so, did any of the characters end up with some?
Yes I am, and yes they did, though I might have to modify one players Scar. Colin took for Jon a combination physical/metal scar. When he lept from the speeding bus into the river, he failed his roll and Pain dominated. I narrated how he hit the concrete pylons at the base of the bridge and a series of pipes crossing over, and got seriously injured. So Colin took the scar: The Leap of Madness to represent both the lasting physical pain, and the unhinged mentality that it took to take that dangerous leap.

In reviewing the Scar that Ken took for Daniel, I really don't think it's worthy of a Scar, so I'll have to talk about it with him. It's basically a mental 'oh shit' moment, the first time he used his Madness Talent.


Tancred said:
- How did Hope and Despair coins play out? Used a lot or not so much?
Quite a few Despair coins got put into the bucket, but honestly I forgot about them most of the time, so I only ever spent one into Hope. That's my fault entirely. However, that one Hope Coin was crucial in preventing Daniel from crashing. Next session (this coming Saturday), I'll be adding three more players in DRYH, and I'm eager to see how a group of five people cooperate in this game, and the dynamics of Despair/Hope Coins with that many players.


Tancred said:
- Did you apply consequences to protagonist failure very often? Combined with the chance of Madness, Exhaustion or Pain dominating a roll, it sounds like regularly applying failure consequences might be pretty harsh - on the other hand, scars, Discipline dominance and Hope coins counter this, so I'm interested to know how it balances out in play.
Mechanically, I applied the consquences of Failure, and I would narrate physical wounds or otherwise, and then later, would either deny or increase the difficulty of an action based on those previous failures: Jon hurt his foot badly at one point, and was dealing with the limp, so when he went to jump from the bus, I added an extra Pain die above what Jon had to deal with.

It worked in reverse too. Basically, anytime the character succeeded, I would explain what pool dominated, and frame the situation for them: 'Ok, Colin, Jon succeeded in jumping to the bus, but madness dominated. Tell us what happened." Then Colin would narrate the scene however he wanted, and he could add anything he wanted into the scene within that framed context, and later, could draw upon it again to increase his chances.



I'll write up the next session here as well. Hope this was all interesting. :D
-Brent Wolke
 
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iago

www.evilhat.com
Validated User
#8
Re: [Don't Rest Your Head] The Pooh Bear, Part III

thwaak said:
I'll write up the next session here as well. Hope this was all interesting. :D
It was. Keep it coming!
 

Tancred

All over the shop
Validated User
#9
Re: [Don't Rest Your Head] The Pooh Bear, Part III

thwaak said:
Basically, anytime the character succeeded, I would explain what pool dominated, and frame the situation for them: 'Ok, Colin, Jon succeeded in jumping to the bus, but madness dominated. Tell us what happened." Then Colin would narrate the scene however he wanted, and he could add anything he wanted into the scene within that framed context, and later, could draw upon it again to increase his chances.
One thing I like about the optional narration rules that give rights to the player whose pool dominated is you get the chance of narrating both failure and success situations. I don't know any other system that has this built into it, and I'm really looking forward to giving it a spin.

I'll write up the next session here as well. Hope this was all interesting. :D
Definitely - it helps tide me over til I get the chance to actually run DRYH :D .I'd love to hear what happens next.
 

iago

www.evilhat.com
Validated User
#10
Re: [Don't Rest Your Head] The Pooh Bear, Part III

Tancred said:
One thing I like about the optional narration rules that give rights to the player whose pool dominated is you get the chance of narrating both failure and success situations. I don't know any other system that has this built into it, and I'm really looking forward to giving it a spin.
Prime Time Adventures has something a little like this -- it's entirely possible that the person narrating a given scene in PTA isn't the one who won his stakes. I think some other games out there in the indie space do this as well.

But original to me or not, I like it. :)
 
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