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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Michael S. Miller on March 16, 2005, 09:37:23 AM

Title: [MLwM, InSpectres, WGP] Ubercon Spring 2005
Post by: Michael S. Miller on March 16, 2005, 09:37:23 AM
At UberCon this past weekend, I ran four sessions: 2 sessions of With Great Power..., 1 of InSpectres, 1 of My Life with Master.  All of them rocked. A few points about each, in no particular order:

1) InSpectres: We played three missions. I started the game with six agents, but only ended with five. The kid (high schooler, I think) who left after the first mission hadn't really contributed much anyway. Every time I asked him what he was doing, he'd give a nervous chuckle and say "I watch what the other guys are doing." Luke has said he does fine in Burning Wheel, so I'm thinking that there are just some people that thrive better at having a larger number of smaller choices for their creative contribution to come forth.

What I mean by "smaller choices" is that in BW's combat script, you have many decisions, but each is relatively limited in options and scope (i.e. "What are you going to do for the next volley? You can choose one of these dozen-or-so options. Your choice covers the next few seconds of game time."). This is far different than InSpectres where there are fewer decision points, but they're very large (i.e. "You rolled a six! You succeed very well. Tell me what happens.")

In any case, the other five players had a good time. As will happen in a convention game, distributing Franchise Dice wasn't that big of a deal, and some people volunteered to NOT take Vacation so that the business could grow, and so they could keep playing their characters as being stressed out.

They very nearly summoned me in the game! Evidently the ghost of gamers needed a great GM to complete their game so they could rest in peace.

2) My Life with Master: Players were Al (who had played in InSpectres), Don Corcoran (posts as Eruditus), Thor Olavsrud, Drozdal, and a guy named Toby that's played in a number of my games. As always, lots of dark, beautiful stuff. The Master was Dr. Czas (Dro let me get away with pronouncing it "Chess"--it's Polish for "time"--he was trying to control the flow of time as it affects living beings) A few highlights:

The Most Darkly Beautiful Connection: Thor—his character, Elias, was the Taskmaster of the Master's slave laborers. One of his connections was a little girl in the town whose father he had worked to death, but she didn't know it was him. I knew as soon as I heard that, that she was the Innocent.

Evilest Action: Dro's character, Bruno, had a connection with a blind little girl in town. Of course, the first thing the Master commands is that the new experiment needs a young girl who is already blind for it to work. Dro fails at resisting the Command, but opts for an Overture before carrying it out. He uses the Overture to take his little girl to safety in the woods. On his next turn, he steals some sweets from the bakery, and goes to the schoolhouse to lure away another little girl so he can blind her and take her to the Master. Lots of horrific shudders around the table.

Most Evocative Minion Description: Don's character Kelt was a dwarf who had lost his legs and sped around on a clockwork wheelchair. Kelt could not, of course, reach his own winding crank One of his contacts was an oil merchant who imported exotic oils to keep his chair in tiptop shape.

Most Overkill: The Master informed Caspar, Al's character, that the oil merchant (one of Don's Connections) had seen too much of the Master's work in the clock tower, and the knowledge he had seen must be neutralized--either frozen in time or destroyed. Since Al had defined him as a fetch-and-carry guy, I expected him to kidnap the clockmaker and bring him back to be experimented upon. Instead, he rolls Violence to kill the clockmaker and succeeds! Not only does he kill the oil merchant, but sets the warehouse full of oil on fire. It was a nice set up for several Horror Revealeds that followed.

Most Creative Use of a More Than Human: Thor's character was ordered to fetch a "comfort woman" from the village so that the workers could "refresh" themselves. He tries to lure her back to the compound using Villainy, but fails miserably. However, his More Than Human is "Can intimidate anyone" so he intimidates the woman into going with him. Mechanically, he had expended his required die roll, so there was really no reason not to let him have it.

Just Didn't Get It: Toby spent nearly the whole game trying, in vain, to complete his first Command. He kept failing Violence after Violence and his Weariness increased so much he was eventually captured. Every time the turn came around to him, I pointed out his other options (Overture scenes, or just admitting failure and getting a new Command), but he just kept right on doing it. I suspect he's drawn to indie games (he also played in InSpectres, and at Dreamation he played With Great Power... and the Universalis Furry Sixties ( game), but doesn't seem to know what to do when he's supposed to contribute. I can't figure it out

Players relished the juggling of the three types of scenes: Overtures, Doing the Master's Bidding, and reporting back to the Master/being Commanded. Everybody tried to resist every Command the Master gave (except Toby) and they all failed, right up to the end when LOTS of Providing Aid dice came out. Don's character Kelt ended up killing the Master, even though he had lost a Connection. Both Al and Thor were eligible to trigger Endgame in the same round, but Thor lost his turn to a Horror Revealed and Al failed to resist the Master's Command because no one Provided Aid. In postgame chat everyone liked how, near the end, you desperately want your minion to fail, so that your Self-Loathing wouldn't go up, but that you were so powerful, you almost never did.

3) With Great Power... Ran it twice, once with 2 players and once with 4. Both times went very well and reassure me of the game's solidity. It keeps doing what I want it to do.

The card mechanics becoming intuitive once clearly summarized. I'll put up the summary on the site soon.

The new role of GM as "the guy that plays the villains" helps the GM role a lot, as well as the concept of the players volunteering their Aspects to be on the villain's hit list. There's still some refining necessary to the GM's role, but it's out of the danger zone.

As always, the Thought Balloon is a massive hit. I had requests for a dry-erase version. And this will be in the Full Edition, likely in bold: "The Thought Balloon is not optional. It is a vital part of making the game playable and enjoyable, skip it at your own risk."

Title: [MLwM, InSpectres, WGP] Ubercon Spring 2005
Post by: Thor Olavsrud on March 17, 2005, 12:15:09 PM
Hi Michael. Just noticed your post. A few more points on the MLwM game.

1. Michael excels at pushing the buttons to horrify the players at what's happening. When Dro chose a random little girl to lure with sweets and blind, it wasn't, of course, a random little girl. It was my character's Connection (the one whose father my character had worked to death). I'm not sure that anyone else at the table realized that at first, but I knew immediately and was wincing in anticipation as Dro made his Villainy roll. I think it drives to an important point when running MLwM: never use a random NPC when another player's Connection will serve.

2. I had a sort of lightbulb moment when my character confronted his second Connection for the first time. It was the character's brother, who had, as the game opened, been thrown in one of my slave cells. This led to an interesting situation. My character approached the brother as part  of an Overture, the only problem being that my character's Less Than Human was, "Cannot show kindness unless shown compassion first." Pretty tough for a slave taskmaster whose More Than Human was "Can Intimidate Anyone, Except Children."

Anyway, Michael opened the scene with the brother pleading for water. Of course, my character can't just give it to him unless the Less Than Human is taken care of first. So as my Overture (with some suggestions from around the table), I had my character force a ton of water down his throat, leaving him choking and sputtering, and then "forgot" to lock his cell up afterward.

I was really pleased with the way the system's use of limitations on the character combined to create an interesting, dynamic scene.

3. There was another interesting moment a bit later on that resulted from a combination of the limit on Overtures and the requirement to make at least one roll in support of the Master's orders following a failed Resist. The Master had ordered my character to retrieve the little blind girl that Dro's character had hidden out in the woods. I did not want to succeed in that Order, but by that time I had accumulated so much Self-Loathing that it was almost a foregone conclusion. I decided to have an Overture with my own little girl first, while I figured out what to do. During that Overture, I learned that my character's brother was now holed up in the Church. My little girl offered to take me to him, and I accepted before thinking through the ramifications.

At that point, I was very near to becoming eligible for End Game, and I realized I had made a mistake when the scene came around to me again, because I couldn't make an Overture to the brother since I made one to the little girl in the previous scene. So I decided to make a Villainy roll on the church priest instead, forcing him to tell me where Dro's little girl was.  That actually killed two birds with one stone, as I wasn't forced to use Villainy/Violence on the brother, and I also fulfilled the Requirement that I make at least one roll toward fulfilling the Master's Order.


Title: [MLwM, InSpectres, WGP] Ubercon Spring 2005
Post by: Victor Gijsbers on March 19, 2005, 05:23:12 AM
Quote from: Thor Olavsrud
the limit on Overtures

Is there a limit on Overtures? I have never played MLwM that way, and can't find it in the book - but I might be simply missing it.

Title: [MLwM, InSpectres, WGP] Ubercon Spring 2005
Post by: Michael S. Miller on March 19, 2005, 05:57:07 AM
Quote from: Victor Gijsbers
Is there a limit on Overtures? I have never played MLwM that way, and can't find it in the book - but I might be simply missing it.

Curses! Over-ruled by the rules, am I? True, the rules say nothing about how often Overtures can occur, but they do say that while a player may always request an Overture, they are granted at the perogative of the GM. And my perogative is that you can't have two Overture scenes in a row.

"Why not?" you may ask. Because I've found that it drives better play to do it this way. Otherwise, the game can rapidly become about the minions saying "I'm going to be nice to this guy, then I'll rescue the little girl from the well, then I'll pet the puppy dog...." ad nauseum. BAH! The Master has his hooks in deep to the fabric of their lives. At least half their scenes must be carrying out his work (Violence/Villainy), or getting new Commands. The Master will stand for nothing less!