Hitting the Right Balance + Organizing

August 8, 2008

Continuing my series of little things I’m adding to the Geiger beta.

Here’s some stuff that helps keep characters alive:
– Gathering more advantage dice.
– Having scenes without confrontations.
– Teaming up in confrontations.
– Keeping the group together.
– Not pursuing Goals / confrontations with other characters.

Here’s some stuff that helps kill characters:
– Pursuing Goals / confrontations with other characters.
– Taking on the menace by yourself (without help).
– Not grabbing all the advantage dice.
– Having lots of confrontations when the menace has lots of dice.
– Splitting up the characters.

Hitting that sweet spot where most of the characters are dead, but one or two of them just barely get away or beat the menace… that takes some active balancing between doing things that keep the characters alive and doing things that will kill them. That balancing act… that’s the core of the game.

In fact, four things really make play sing:
– premise, setting (map), and characters that excite everyone
– scene framing with good pacing (mix of different things + timing)
– the right balance of getting killed and surviving
– a satisfying conclusion

If you got those four, Geiger Counter should work every time.

All the players should consider themselves responsible for making these four things happen, but the player(s) organizing the game (the one(s) reading this book, in all likelihood) has even more responsibility, namely, demonstrating how to achieve these four things and trying to shepherd the group through their first game. Sometimes, nobody else will be willing to throw their character under a bus for pure entertainment and the good of the game unless you do it first. Sometimes, folks won’t figure out that they should feel free to frame a 10-second scene solely containing the ominous sound of water dripping unless you do it first. Sometimes, folks won’t realize they’ve reached the final confrontation with the menace or need to step up the inter-character conflict unless you make that suggestion or just have your own character flip out.

Everybody’s equal at the table and you should remember you’re not the Game Master, but, at least until the group gets comfortable with the rules and play of Geiger Counter, it’s your responsibility to make it work. Often that means listening and trying to figure out what everybody else wants. Sometimes that means pushing the group in a particular direction. Good luck!

3 Responses to “Hitting the Right Balance + Organizing”

  1. Willow Says:

    Hey Jonathan-

    Will you be at Gencon? It sounds like you have some similar play goals as I do with Escape From Tentacle City, but very different play techniques. We should play each other’s games!

  2. Hey Willow,

    Actually, it turns out that I can’t actually be there this year, unfortunately.

    But I’m very interested in your game. Do you have a version posted somewhere?

  3. Willow Says:

    Actually, I don’t have it posted, but if you send me an email to willow@willowpalecek.com I’ll hook you up.

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