Headspace

And the winner of tonight’s one-shot slot is…Headspace!

I had a chance to play this with Mark Richardson at Dreamation earlier this year and I’ve been noodling over the hardcopy version for a while now. I remember the setup being wicked-long, but we’d had 5 players and I’ll only have 3 tonight. Fingers crossed.

It’s an interesting take on PbtA when you sit and really study it. I mean other than the PC/GM asymmetry and the (relatively rare) 6-/7-9/10+ roll, it looks little like what I think of as PbtA-style. The killer app of the game is the shared consciousness (Sense8 style) rules, which make the game very nearly diceless: the types of moves you make and the kinds of situations you find yourself in are what drive the five stress tracks shared by the whole team, and maxing any track out triggers a team-wide cascade of consequences. I think I’m gonna need to teach my non-PbtA folks how to play plain old Apocalypse World after this and Undying.

So…no real planning for tonight at all other than to give the book one last read and just follow Mark’s instructions. Happily the prep stuff is spelled out well.

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0 thoughts on “Headspace”

  1. I really like headspace and the way they break down corporate projects. That the game starts with high stakes. After the intro mission they can try to stop the first project that they’ve already messed up on, or they can try to get a leg up on the new project and do that well. But making the latter choice means you’re allowing the corp to do as they please with the first project. Nicely sets the tone of hard decisions to come.

    Also clear events happen when projects are completed, which I enjoy.

    Headspace did strike me as similar to undying, in that the setting takes a bit of prep. Headspace provides some wonderful premade settings, but it does stand apart as different from say The Sprawl, as far as world building goes. Do you think you’ll be using one of those premade settings? Or since you’re only doing a one shot you’ll just wing it?

  2. Man I dunno. Probably use a premade setting.

    I had a similar feeling when I was in Mark’s game, no idea how things fit together and why anyone cared about any thing we were doing. But it’s a one-shot and it was a learning game, so I kind of didn’t care.

  3. I think the premise is basically “you are against the corporations” so you need enough buy in there for the players to motivate themselves.

    I’d maybe have each player name a corporation that has wronged them, and how, at the beginning. Maybe present the corporations by name/mandate first, get everything all tied together?

    Problem is, a setting seems to suggest 4-5 agents / 4-5 projects / 5 events / 5 issues / 5 secrets. It seems a lot like TechNoir in that way where you need a big table of stuff to start connecting dots.

  4. Its less about corporations that have wronged you, and more about how you have fucked things up for the downtrodden. The big selling point that I drive home to people when I run this is that Headspace is about vengeance and reconciliation: you’re playing bad people who did bad things and god oh god they’re just trying to do one right thing (or punish the right person) before they inevitably go down in a hail of PMC gunfire. I, personally, wouldn’t simplify that down to “you were wronged, now get back at them.”

    The Agents aren’t needed until Session 2, so they can be ignored, and you only need 1 Project to start the game. The biggest time-sink is sorting out Skills, Baggage, and making up your shared history that answers those questions. I wonder about the viability of only setting up those emotions and answering those Qs when they come up in play? Like, don’t bother doing all the skills for everybody, just start playing, and when someone tries to Hack, turn to the Tech and suss out that Skill question and baggage, and return to play. Rinse, repeat.

  5. Alfred Rudzki¬†I’m thinking about that! In the game I was in, it was kind of important beforehand because it was literally the only fictional context we had. I don’t know that I made any specific decisions based on all the baggage questions, but it gave me a framework to think inside of.

    Weird aside, apropos of nothing at all: the paper stock for the book is very weird. Slick magazine stock. It’s a much longer game than it looks because the paper compacts down so tight.

  6. Its a similar paper stock (or the same) as Technoir, I think? Yeah, it surprised me when I popped the book open.

    Hmm, yeah, if you have no fictional context, then going through all of that set-up is going to be really important to anchor you. Absolutely give your players a brief history lesson of the hell they’re getting into, I would say. Vancouver Aftermath is a good one.

  7. Paul Beakley I went with gloss as it seemed more hi tech it also gives much better definition to the line work in the layout and the art. It does compress a lot, page size the book is the same length as sprawl.

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