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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Matt Wilson on June 06, 2003, 11:11:50 AM

Title: Played Urge
Post by: Matt Wilson on June 06, 2003, 11:11:50 AM
I played a game of Urge last night, which is a Sorcerer mini-supplement by Clinton R. Nixon. There were two player characters in the story, and John "Feng" Harper was GM-ing. Maybe he'll post about it as well.

My guy:

Roger Neufeld

Stamina: 3
Will: 4
Urge: 3
Urge's urge: despair

Cover: public defender

Price: passive
mark: lazy eye

Humanity: 4, dropped to 3 in game

Urge's need: to hurt the feelings of the people Roger cares about.

I got to thinking about the urge being a dark part of Roger's personality. His Urge powers are mostly about perception, and I tried to work that into his self-perception and self-hate. He's meek and non-confrontational, and doesn't like that about himself. His powers are usually spawned by fear.

Urge powers: perception (sight), skulk, attraction, frighten.

It worked out pretty well to play him as a frantic, scrabbling non-hero, whose abilities came out of fear and desperation. It made for a great moment in play where something terrible was happening in a location he had just escaped from, and he was probably the only one who could save the people there.

Bingo: cool story if he leaves (more self hatred at his cowardice), and cool story if he tries to help (a moment of stumbling bravery).

As for the rules and all that. It was definitely a different kind of play with powers being part of the character rather than via a relationship. Great for an introspective kind of story. I dug it.

Title: Played Urge
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 06, 2003, 11:21:16 AM
Hi Matt,

One of my concerns with Urge is how fast characters bottom out. It's a tricky question; without the risk, where's the fun, but with too fast & sure a slide, it's no fun either ...

Sounds like your character is in need of a great NPC who has better judgment and values, but also gets in a lot of trouble that he has to save him/her from.


Title: Played Urge
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on June 06, 2003, 03:06:05 PM

Thanks for posting this. I'm big enough to admit that I didn't playtest Urge, and it was the first and only time I've done that. I'll be very, very interested to hear how it worked out in play, as I've been reading a lot of books lately that remind me of it, and make me want to pull it out and re-polish.

Did you use any advanced Urge abilities in the game?

Title: Played Urge
Post by: John Harper on June 06, 2003, 06:36:35 PM
Urge was indeed a lot of fun to play. Inspired by X2, I decided to run a "mutants" kind of story with the Urge system. A bit less "monster inside me", a bit more "fear of those that are different." The mutant phenomenon is just beginning to make the papers (all bad press), and the public is afraid of these dangerous beings that look like normal people.

Our main characters are two such mutants. Matt's character, Roger, is a public defender, and only recently discovered he is "one of them." Mark's character, Dr. Kraus, is a psychiatrist for the criminally insane that has been studying the mutant-phenomenon for some years (in secret), searching for a cure to his "condition." Unknown to the players initially, there are two groups vying for control of the mutants: 1) A government black ops unit, 2) A pro-mutant 'terrorist' group called Cancer.

These two shadow-groups were all I had prepared before the game. I figured that simply by throwing the PCs into the deep-end of the struggle (between pro- and anti-mutant factions) we would have a good story. Then the players came up with Kickers that just rocked my world.

Dr. Kraus's kicker:
"For years after getting his first 'urge' Dr. Kraus has hoped to discover the root of this power by prying into the darkest corners of the human mind. In the last few weeks, he has become convinced that this approach is not feasible. But that was before the phone call. That changed everything. Now someone else knows what he was looking for and they said they were coming to stop him."

Roger Neufeld's kicker:
"Roger returned to his apartment to find the dead body of a previous client -- a repeat offender -- dead on the floor. There was no sign of a break-in. On the body was pinned a note: First Warning."

Hell yeah.

Given these kickers, I decided to start the game with the obvious Bang: The mysterious force behind the threats and warnings was going to make its move. Roger was assaulted by government-issue buzzcut goons while waiting for the late-night subway. This could have gone either way, but after the dice hit the table, Roger had a syringe in his neck and it was lights out. Dr. Kraus was working late at the Institute when he discovered that the place was on fire. Someone had let his test subjects out of their rooms. He escaped the burning building only to run into the buzzcut squad. More extremely unlucky dice rolls put the doctor to the needle as well.

I'll cut to the chase here. The black ops unit was of course behind the abductions. Before they could take the PCs to their base, however, the pro-mutant group Cancer interfered and freed the characters. We started the next scene with a dead Cancer member, dead agents, and the PCs conscious again in a freight car of an Amtrak train. The PCs got out of the freight car as the train slowed and stopped at a station. It quickly became clear that Cancer members had attacked the train and taken the commuters in the passenger car hostage. We had an interesting showdown scene between the PCs and the zero-Humanity Cancer cultists. The Cancerites displayed nothing but a detached kind of pity for the pathetic, lingering human feelings displayed by the PCs. It was clear the Cancerites were planning to murder all of the humans on the train, as a demonstration to "The Man" of what happens when mutants are abused and abducted.

So we had our second Bang. The Cancerites had already displayed their power (zero Humanity Urge characters are baaaaad news) and it was clear that if the PCs wanted to stop the massacre, they would really have to let their inner demons out to play. But in doing so, they would probably lose a little more of their tenuous hold on what it means to be human. Of course, if they stood by and did nothing while innocents were butchered, what would that say about their connection to Humanity? A tough call, either way.

It's stuff like this that makes me love Sorcerer.

In the end, Roger hurled himself into the fray. Dr. Kraus turtled up (denial was one of his qualities) and refused to connect with what was happening. We decided that the decisions were the important part, and since it was late, we didn't even play out the resulting bloodbath.

The game was a complete success, I think. Everyone seemed to have a good time. I discovered that I still have some polishing to do on my Scene Framing skills (the middle portion of the game dragged a bit) but otherwise it went off without a hitch. The Urge mechanics felt just right to me. There's enough power there under the surface to tempt the player, but the consequences are harsh. However, there is always the opportunity to play the hero (in a variety of ways) and regain the humanity that has been lost to the monster.

Title: Played Urge
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on June 06, 2003, 07:39:27 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hi Matt,

One of my concerns with Urge is how fast characters bottom out. It's a tricky question; without the risk, where's the fun, but with too fast & sure a slide, it's no fun either ...

I know Ron won't see this until Monday, but: what gives you the impression that Urge characters bottom out quickly? Re-reading the rules, I note that Humanity can be lessened pretty easily, but can be gained pretty easily as long as the character either (a) puts others' needs ahead of his own or (b) does something antithetical to his Urge aspect. What this does is bring the big hammer of "ok, your story better involve some struggle against your Urge" down, but I don't see it as bottoming out the character unless the player wants that.

Title: Played Urge
Post by: John Harper on June 06, 2003, 11:56:36 PM
We had a case of b) in the game on Thursday. Mark's character Dr. Kraus acted against his Urge's aspect of "Chaos" when he tried to talk the Cancerites out of their act of mayhem. His Humanity went up by a point, and then Mark said, "Wait... it just got harder for me to activate some of my powers. Hmmm. I'm not sure if that was good or bad." Heh. I love that.

Title: Played Urge
Post by: Hafaza on June 07, 2003, 03:26:06 PM
I agree with Clinton above. I had the feeling at the start of the game that the limits were pretty well known. I was wrong. The realization that my character (Dr. Kraus) had in some way become less effective due to an act of kindness was an interesting development, and one that I was willing to follow in a role play sense wherever it lead. I think it is a cool idea that players have this sort of currency to deal with. You can do whatever you want, but you will pay a price for it. I like that.

Oh, and hello y’all, first post here….

Title: Played Urge
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 08, 2003, 06:56:29 AM
Hi there,

Welcome, Mark!

Clinton, that's a valid point, and on checking the text, you're right - Urge isn't a one-way slide any more than Sorcerer itself, which is to say, players' choice. My impression was probably driven by reading about the effects of Humanity 0, which are pretty dramatic. If (and when!) Urge gets its re-write, maybe some examples of the two Humanity-positive approaches could balance that out.