Friday, 19 May 2017

Pubfinders play Icar and I shed a tear

Friday, 19 May 2017
They say don't blog in an emotional state. Oh well, here goes.

Coincidences can be powerful. They can cause cognitive dissonance. They make you stop and think.

I've been struggling to keep motivation on Version 5. With kids in the house (Felix, 7; Naomi, 5 months), I snatch morsels of time at random. To make best uses of those small blocks of time, you have to keep organised and force yourself to do work. I don't play weekly at the moment (due to Naomi) so getting my brain back into it is hard. And then, out of nowhere:

Pubfinders play Icar

Watch live video from Pubfinders on I know that others have played. DOC Argen on the forums is part of a group that plays and his feedback has always brought about a flurry of output. After Chris from Pubfinders kindly tweeted me: I stopped what I was doing and sat, I watched. The player handouts, the deviant wheel... it hit me in the feels. I teared up. My ribs hurt. These three guys - unsolicited - had picked it up and were playing my game. I'm writing this having watched three and a half hours and I can't wait to see it through.

Icar's failings in sharp relief

Chris (the GM) gets Icar. Not just understood or read but he gets it. I could tell from the language he used, where the focus was. I enjoyed the characters and the story as it played out as he, John and Corey delved into a wreck.

I could see more clearly than ever before that Icar was failing at some very core things. I've known about them for some time, even writing a blog post about it but seeing others play shone an oblique lamp, bringing it all into sharp relief. They weren't eccentricities anymore, they were problems.
Every GM has their own take...
That is a sentiment I agree wholeheartedly with but being an invisible, virtual, future fly on the wall I could see that the system repeatedly hung poor Chris out to dry. He did astoundingly well given that some core things are just bonkers.
You're being a bit harsh, you've played it for years...
Yes and my players too. They could play the game without any character sheets or rule books. Byrn literally knows the game better than I. I am writing version 5 now and as such I look at the current version under a microscope. I don't want to fail the GMs who dare to download and print my game and spend their precious free time playing it. I owe them more than that.

Things I learnt

  • It's not obvious when to roll an attribute and when to roll a skill.
  • There are two many overlapping skills, especially in technology.
  • When pre-building characters choosing the Psychotheatrics is a really good idea and avoids difficult to play characters.
  • Meat is still a funny attribute.
  • Droid origins may be well known if you grow up under a normal Imperium colony but if you grow up in a backwater they might be seen more as a myth.
  • Players will always assume that the Imperium is evil.
  • "Are the Droids a species?" A concept I need to explore.
  • Need more pictures showing simple things such as using Gaia.
  • Keeping track of ammo and stuff is boring.
  • Encumbrance is worth keeping as it forces an in-game choice.
  • GM needs more ideas on what to do on a wreck so there is choice.
  • There needs to be a list of antique swag - it's too difficult to come up with things off the top of your head.
  • Need a better cheat sheet of Shift and distance per turn.
  • All the spacecraft look like willies. This isn't something I learnt but it's worth repeating!

A thank you

Thank you to Chris, John and Corey for playing Icar and entertaining me. It's given me energy and enthusiasm back! I'm looking forward to joining you on the text chat for the next one. :)
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