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Demos and Convention Games of MLWM

Started by epweissengruber, June 20, 2005, 01:35:55 AM

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Dear Paul

I will be running a demo of MLWM at a convention.
You offer some advice about running 1-shots in the book.  But what about short 1-shots.
Is there any way I can run MLWM in a 2-hour slot that involves more than just saying "look, here are some neat things to do with 4 sided dice"?

Can I deliver the emotional twists of the game in 2 hours, or am I kidding myself?

Paul Czege

Two hours? I dunno. I don't think it's enough time. And I'd be exceedingly reluctant to ditch Master and minion creation in favor of pre-gens, because so much of the intensity of the game derives from it. How about a game with just two minions? You do Master and minion creation in twenty minutes, with the difference being that the minions are created and owned collectively by the players. And they start with two Love each. Give the players a ten or fifteen minute break, during which you prep some adversity for the minions. And then you do round-robin scenes. On each turn, the player gets to choose which minion he'll play for the scene, and what kind of scene he wants to have.

And I'm still not sure it'll be enough time.

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans

Eero Tuovinen

I've run MLwM in convention circumstances. My take on it is not to try for maximal emotional impact, but rather give the players a stylistical experience of how the game runs and feels. The typical MLwM-interested guy will figure out for himself how intense the game can get with the proper setup. It's an unreasonable standard to expect that intimacy in a convention game.

My strategy here is to have a couple of pre-created masters and minions that are extremely intuitive for the players. With Finns that means Dracula. He's famous, everyone knows what he wants and needs, and there's room for interesting minions. Set the game in a Transylvanian castle and have the players choose if they want to play the gypsy chief (superstitiously fearful of the Count), loyal retainer (a half-ghoul, apparently), the vampire beauty (enslaved by blood) or Jonathan Harker (employed as a property clerk by the Count). Each is an interesting archetype, and the players will already know what they do for Dracula, and why. Have some detail on their life ready, like how the gypsy tribe respects their chief even when he took their wagon wheels on Count's orders, or how the vampire maiden's horribly used and discarded periodically by the Count.

Have those characters ready, except for Connections. After picking the characters, let each player specify what kind of person they want for a connection. In a short ½-hour scenario one's enough, but you could create two each. Don't let them slip in a comfortable character visualization routine at this point, trying to detail all kinds of excess stuff. Just run with the first thing the player lets out of his mouth. Detail, if any, is to be created when the characters get in a scene together. If a player locks down, suggest one of your own default connections (my favourite is to give Jonathan Harker a pen pal, his fiancè, while giving the gypsy chief a beautiful daughter).

After that you're ready to play. I can get the first scene running with this setup in under 15 minutes, and that's with several minutes of exposition on each character's horrid position and general Dracula lore, as well as some rules basics. Two hours will be ample time to run through a couple or three cycles of play, I feel. You still won't likely finish the game, but at least you'll get a solid feel for the game.

I've not bothered with tuning the scenario for actually reaching end-game, but I guess that it's possible. For two hours I'd start with Van Helsing in the village, just to give the players even more immediate stimulation. Except, this Van Helsing is an old and frail man, who begs help against the Count and likely gets killed horribly. Anyway, a couple of points of Love, low enough Fear, and a couple of sentences of backgrounds on each character so it's clear that the dysfunctional situation has continued for a while now.

Of course this methodology won't feel very personal, but if the GM works magnetically and with passion, it'll give the players a feel for the game. Just the fact that other games have pansy NPCs will work for the benefit when the GM starts touching, moving, screaming and generally method acting his vision of what Dracula is.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Mike Holmes

I agree with Eero that you just have to "fake" it. Much like the demo mode for the game.

That said, I'd be wary of using Dracula. While it's obviously something that people can grab onto fast, I'd worry that they'd see the game as not being able to run without this easily grasped situation. Almost as if you were saying that the game can't run without one of the best set ups in literature behind it.

I'd just make a master up myself that I could personally relate to, and show how much I like the master that I'd created in play.

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