Sean, Jon and I have, for a few months now, been playing Heavy Gear — a science fiction role-playing game set on a futuristic planet where a cold war is turning hot, with a high emphasis on armed combat between the titular “heavy gears” — human-shaped fighting machines inspired by Japanese comics and cartoons (Appleseed and Armored Trooper VOTOMS are a couple of obvious inspirations).
In that time, I’ve been recording all of the sessions (except one, due to operator error) and I’m finally starting to go through the tapes and get them uploaded to Youtube. Accompanying this post is a link to the video for “session zero”, where we talk about how we’re going to approach the game and make up some characters for Sean and Jon. Some things that stood out to me, rewatching this session after a couple of months:
1.) We spend a lot of time trying to parse the difference between choosing to start with what the game refers to as “gritty” or “adventurous” characters, which relates to how many points you get to spend on your characters’ skills (dice rolled for different kinds of pass/fail situations) and attributes (flat additions to the number rolled on your skill dice). I’m really fixated on the difference in starting skill loadout, but as we’ve played, it’s become clear that experience points earned during play can bring a “gritty” character to the “adventurous” skill level really quickly. The real difference is in attributes, which are very costly to raise with experience points, and extremely impactful statistically.
2.) More significantly: Jon did some character groundwork here and in some written notes, particularly about Fica’s family background, that I’ve neglected to address through situations in play. There are some reasons for this, going back to my prep for our first session. I immediately put Jon and Sean into a combat mission, for a selfish reason, but one that I don’t regret — given that we had decided to focus on characters who were going to be involved in gear combat, I wanted to know sooner rather than later if I was actually going to enjoy the experience of playing those combats. If I hadn’t, I would have pulled the plug pretty early — but in fact I found a lot to enjoy about that part of the game, as did Jon and Sean. As a result, though, Jon’s character Fica went in the direction of following up on the aftereffects of that mission, and I never went back and reviewed what was originally meant to be going on with the character — until now. Fortunately, it’s a good time in the game to really try to bring some of those ideas into play.
3.) We talk a little bt about the possibility of having each player play multiple characters, either as a fixed feature of prepping the game or on an impromptu basis throughout it (like in Star Trek Adventures). So far, this hasn’t happened, possibly because everyone feels like they’ve got enough on their plate already? Jon and/or Sean, thoughts?