Players: Sean Nittner and Daniel Wood
System: Housebreakers (playtest)
These are my playtest notes. Some of them won’t make any sense unless you’re Jackson Tegu, or someone else who is playtesting this game right now.
My setup time was about 40 minutes rather than 10. 20 of that was spent getting to an appropriate place and back, and I spent another 20 reading the setup and answering the questions.
As soon as I started reading the text, I started feeling watchful of my surrounding and like I had something secret that nobody else knew. This was a contrast to my experience just before playing when I told the cashier at whole foods that I did need the receipt for my cookie because I was going to use it in a game about breaking into my own home.
When I was reading I looked around me for sources of inspiration. A man a few tables over had a yellow jacket with SECURITY written on it. There was a napkin being blow around by the wind and stuffed into a corner. My dog was on the bench next to me sniffing at something. I wrote down these notes: “Security”, “Lost in a corner; fluttering in the wind”, and “Smelling a mark”.
Those were my sources for my thief’s identity.
I didn’t remember to bring sunglasses or another object that would make me feel more hidden, so I flipped up my collar instead. That worked well.
As I was walking back up the hill, I texted Daniel, with just this text. “The search will being at 3PM. I will call at 3:07. I’ll be the Call. You’ll be the Answer. Confirmed?” He texted back just with the word “Confirmed” a few minutes later. If felt very conspiratorial.
I also noticed that everything seemed more suspicious as I walked. Like everyone and everything was hiding something. I saw a sign that said “no unauthorized parking” and I thought “I wonder who is authorized, and what they had to do to secure it?”
Across the street from me walking in the same direction was an elderly couple. The man was holding his hands together behind his back and whirring something with his left thumb. I couldn’t tell if there was something in his hand or not, but it looked like a nervous tick. The woman wore a smile the entire time I saw them. I noticed that even though they looked 30 years older than me, they were almost keeping pace up a hill. More spry than I would have expected.
The landscaper who walked past them has a large bag of tools. I wondered if he passed anything off to them that I didn’t notice.
Then I went back to my normal work and soon forgot about my suspicions.
At 3PM my alarm went off and I realized I was late. I should have already been outside on the street corner. I grabbed Emmett’s leash and quickly made it out to the corner.
There I looked around, waited until nobody saw me and walked quickly to the door of a residential apartment building.
I examined the lock and noticed that the engraving didn’t match that of the key. It was newer than the key as well. I wondered if the old lock had been broken into in the past.
When I got in the building I looked back outside, the coast was still clear.
I made my way down the hall and unlocked the door to the only apartment there. I didn’t notice that the deadbolt was already unlocked. It was a mistake a I made as I locked int on my way back out.
Inside I noticed the creak of the floorboards and the sounds of neighbors above. I was glad this apartment didn’t have anyone below it.
I saw a room with two beds that had been stripped of their sheets and clean folded sheets on top. I thought the inhabitants were preparing to have a guest over. Some part of my mind knew I was wrong, but I didn’t listed to that for long.
I inspected things. Noticed which things were covered in dust, and which were used. I spun the globe exactly 360 degrees. I looked at the rock collection in the jar, the lid also had a thin layer of dust.
I found a receipt on the counter. I flipped it over, unfolded it and noticed that it was for two tickets to see Dr. Strange the day before. Two people went together. I folded it again and flipped it back as it was.
I had my faithful hound at my side. Never did he err from me, nor was he distracted by a bone the inhabitants had left out. He always stayed close, always quiet.
I passed by a pair of forged dice and looked at them for a long time. I saw many other personal artifacts as well.
At 3:07 I called my partner. It rang once. There was silence for a moment. He said “hello” which I thought was a mistake, but realized that he was waiting for me. We each said our script perfectly and then I hung up.
I felt a rush of exhilaration. What I was doing would be punished if I was caught, but it was not wrong. I was an explorer on a mission more than thief.
Quickly now I looked at the room again found myself drawn towards the dice. Touched them, they had dust around them, but on on them. I was concerned that they would be noticed but knew they were what I came for. I took them and then said my first works to my canine companion “let’s go.”
We left quickly and made it outside and around the corner before I looked at my prize. Two forced dice, faces 5 and 3. I put them in my pocket but missed. My unerring companion walked with me.
I stopped, realized Emmett might have to pee on this walk and let him sniff a bush. Then I said lets go home and turned toward the house. There I saw my dice on the ground and Emmett did too. He went and stood between them. The had the faces of 5 and 2 and I thought “oh, that’s either a winning or a losing roll at craps”.
I went inside and texted Daniel. “My search is complete. Debrief at 3:25?” I wasn’t sure if I should be formal and secretive or not. He replied back “Sounds good” which felt casual, so I felt casual too.
Daniel and I talked for about 20 minutes. We had a lot of similar experiences, but many different ones too. Neither of us were very interested in who the thieves were, nor did we feel remorse or guilt when we played them.
We kept cutting each other off while talking because we were very excited.
We noted that we weren’t sure what to read and when to read it. Neither of us carried a copy of the game with us during the search phase and thought it would have been distracting to do so, so we weren’t sure we answered all the questions, or followed the procedure completely after the phone call, but felt okay about that.