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Trope High, the Designer's Overview by BeckyBecky Blogs

Trope High: the Designer’s Overview

by BeckyBecky

So now that the dust has settled after my second original megagame, I’ve decided to write up a short overview of what went well, what went not-so-well, what I hope to change and what I will definitely be keeping for the next run (as well as when the next run is likely to be).

What went well

Overall I am insanely happy with how the game went. It was incredibly experimental, and the fact that it didn’t fall over immediately is pretty awesome.

Game Control - Trope High, the Designer's Overview by BeckyBecky Blogs
Image credit: Hubert Hung

The majority of the cliques ran very smoothly. I have received some small feedback for a number of them – make sportball more challenging, solve the lag when the cheer cards are being reshuffled, etc – that I intend to implement, but overall they mostly worked as intended and I don’t see the need to completely overhaul any of them.

Charades in drama club - Trope High Megagame in Photos by BeckyBecky Blogs
Image credit: Hubert Hung

The teacher’s secret plot I will also count as a win – they enjoyed haggling over which of their personal theories about teenagers was most correct (I won’t say any more in case I do reuse this plot in a later game). I only wish they’d had more time to focus on this around lessons (see below for why).

I think one of the great triumphs was the theme. The players embraced it thoroughly, and the game had all the moments that I wanted – forgetting about finals to finish casting a curse, gossiping about who is a werewolf… basically all of the clashing priorities of being a teen-supernatural and not enough time to do everything they wanted to do.

One surprise hit was the best friends, rivals and crushes. If you read any of the after action reports or speak to any of the players, you’ll find a lot of their stories dominated by these relationships, which were actually a very last-minute, off-hand addition. It always amazes me how creative players can be with even simple roleplay prompts.

Dancing at Prom - Trope High Megagame in Photos by BeckyBecky Blogs
Image credit: Hubert Hung

Most of the secret roles went exactly as planned. The werewolves were alternatively resisting and turning; the supers were parading around being super, the normals were blending in as well as they could. Some roles need a few small tweaks here and there, and some need clearer instructions, but only one or two need complete overhauls.

Even small aspects such as using overdoor shoe holders as lockers were incredibly well received by players and control alike – although while letting players put their own locker stickers on helped short people not end up with top lockers, it would have been good to have them in some semblance of alphabetical order.

Checking lockers - Trope High Megagame in Photos by BeckyBecky Blogs
Image credit: Hubert Hung

And finally… I am really pleased that 40% of attendees were female or non-binary, which I think might be a record?

What went not-so-well

The game start was incredibly shonky – I forgot to print out class schedules, so people had to wait for me to put them in their classes, then I forgot to tell people to collect their effort. There were inconsistent rulings on how many study tokens you can buy a turn, which did affect some player’s games all day long. I should also have made it clearer that the Night Actions hand-in was a hard deadline, but they were free to submit them towards the end of the previous turn if that was easier. Just a whole list of things I should have covered in the pre-game stuff.

Lessons were manic. Despite making them as simple as I thought they needed to be, they were definitely overcomplicated, and my MVC (Most Valued Control) Ben spent the entire day in the Staff Room inputting marks and grading papers. Not fun for him, and not enough payoff for that amount of effort. Lessons definitely need a rethink.

Start of Turn 1 - Trope High Megagame in Photos by BeckyBecky Blogs
Image credit: Hubert Hung

Cred was great as a resource/mechanics, however the majority of players were topping out the cred chart, so it definitely needs a rejig before the next game! Probably more ways to lose Cred rather than a complete rework of the system.

I’ve received pretty extensive feedback that the cultist game, while it did have enjoyable aspects, was too complex for a mid-megagame puzzle. It took players away from other, more fun, parts of the game, and was virtually impossible to solve without perfect performance and cooperation between the cultists. Luckily Stuart, one of the cultist players, has sent me a bunch of suggestions I hope to incorporate.

Changes and new additions for the next run

Seumas, one of the character controls, created the mystery of the Modern Foreign Languages building early in the game, purely by chance. The MFL building will be playing a role in the next game, though what the role is may well change.

Despite some lovely players not giving the game away in their AARs, next game I will be shaking up the teacher’s plot with a whole new secret. I have two ideas currently vying for the next run.

Academic Decathlon - Trope High Megagame in Photos by BeckyBecky Blogs
Image credit: Hubert Hung

A couple of player secret types didn’t make it into this game (and were in fact advertised as deliberate red herrings, as I never planned to include them in the first run). However I will be changing up the secret types for next game, as well as probably inventing some new ones.

When is the next run?

So Trope High will hopefully be returning next year for Trope High: Class of 2020. Location-wise, I am hoping to take it down south… watch this space for more.

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