XP: Dirty Secrets

23 May

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I was really skeptical of being able to have a positive gaming experience with Dirty Secrets.

I had to read the text three times just to be able to order all of the information in my brain. There is so much paraphernalia. The mechanics are anything but transparent.

But, despite all that, the game rocked.

Many of the procedural conventions which may seem a little arcane at first dove tail quite nicely into the other mechanics and this in turn helps to establish a sense of genre. In particular, I’m thinking of the first person narration and the witness grid (though, the witness grid will be hard to work with if you neglect the first person narration).

The liars dice resolution system is a very fun was to emulate the experience of solving a crime, and it lends strongly to the feel of the game, but the players will need to be prepped on how to play that effectively. Also, the Advisors have got to be contributing to the fiction – the Investigator and their opponent will have their hands full with statistics and trying to bluff and call bluffs.

One of the strength of this game, which takes just a little bit of faith, is the function of the witness grid. The witness grid ultimately determines the pacing and conclusion to the story. But, in the meanwhile, the events get very convoluted as it asks you to connect dots farther and farther apart. But this is a great boon, even if its not clear from the get go; we would not have had a story about the stolen remains of a mass grave any other way. Every player gets to have the experience of discovering the details of the mystery as the game progresses. This is not often so well achieved in a table-top game.

I find that I have less to say about my positive gaming experiences. All of the game components are much more invisible when they aren’t clashing with each other, the fiction or the players. In any case, Dirty Secrets is definatley worth your time if you enjoy the crime genre at all.

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2 Responses to “XP: Dirty Secrets”

  1. Jason B May 24, 2013 at 3:53 am #

    I really enjoy reading these reflections/play reports, but with some of these games I have to search for it to get the context of what you’re talking about. Could you add links to a description of the games you are talking about, and/or the game itself in future posts? Keep up the good work.

    • readysetgamepdx June 1, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

      Yeah, I hear you. For many of these games there is hardly any info to be found, but I usually try to post a link so something in the event description. So, for now, if you are really interested just find the event post and you can see the description there. I can include links with the XPs for now on, but sometimes there just isn’t much to find.

      The other big difficulty is that I get so far behind on posting these things that it just kind of compresses the process. This is something I need to do better with.

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