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Author Topic: Beef injection: Sean Demory's Le Mon Mouri  (Read 2474 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: April 17, 2002, 06:21:16 PM »

Hello,

The Beef Injection series of threads is my bid to focus our attention and effort on some game presentations that got swamped in the recent wave of posts at Indie Design, as well as to provide a model to newcomers about the purpose of the forum. I've passed over some very good game ideas that were presented in isolation, in order to concentrate on the ones which were presented in playable or almost-playable form.

I can’t believe I never got to this game before now. It’s right up my alley, lots of interacting attributes, weird shit left and right, and setting material which gives me all I need without a single aggravating extra over-written detail.

The only version I have is the freeone on Sean’s website (see the Resource Library for the link), but I am given to understand that he has produced a spiffy, illustrated, hard-copy version as well. I shall state here, in Big Voice, that Sean should put that thang up for sale this minute, with some of his color text and a picture to hook’em. I will buy it, and even pay postage.

There seems to be an endlessly shifting rock-paper-scissors among the three attributes, as they affect one another, roll vs. one another, and change their values over time. I like that. A long time ago, I wrote up some fragmentary rules for a 3-die game with the dice being Man, Beast, and Demon, and frankly, Sean’s design and presentation is way better than mine ever was, plus it’s got all this Voudun freaky-shit setting and concept material.

I’m not surprised that Paul Czege likes the game. It’s right in his line of vague-ass, disturbing, drifting symbolism, with lots of raging passion and yet disconnected from “regular life.” (I am discussing Paul’s aesthetic tastes, not his actual life-style.) Played in the way I envision it, which I think is consistent with Sean’s text about that, it would at its best produce Gene Wolfe style fiction, especially those short stories like The Dead Man, and The Other Dead Man – or maybe that wild, incoherent Thomas Ligotti style of fiction that somehow manages to be good. M. John Harrison at his best … Robert W. Chambers. Some of you are nodding, and those are the people who’ll like this game. The risk is being too fru-fru drifting-vague; the payoff if it works is immense.

My only concern about the game is that it could easily slide into two not-so-great modes of play. Now, if I’m reading it wrong and that would be fine by Sean, then OK, so let me know if I’m out of line in saying this. The two modes I’d like to see it avoid are (1) endless petty politicking and bitchery, without thematic meat; and (2) superheroes doing superheroic battle. Time and again, the prose emphasizes that horror and romance are the point of the game, but frankly, that prose is weak – it’s almost begging the reader to “do it right,” without really providing any reason to do so. Using Amber as the model, I predict that players will slide into the modes I describe unless the game acquires something Neat to Do in some way.

Here’s my suggestion. A long time ago, I wrote a little game called The Human Machine, and one of the key features was the fragmentary memory of the cyborg/android characters. I used a bit of that thinking in the recent VR-Sorcerer thread, and Le Mon Mouri already gets halfway there, in that each character begins with a few disconnected memories. Well, spoo. I suggest milking that a bit – have scenarios (adventures, whatever you wanna call them) be “kicked” by a character connecting any of those memories, in any way, with a concrete aspect of the world they currently live in.

Say my character, um, Vivianne, has a memory of a music box going “tinkle tinkle” in some tune. Fine. Well, for the first session of play, the player gives a memory-Kicker: she heard that very tune, played on a guitar, coming from one of the windows overlooking the city square. Ah! Stuff to do.

So how will it turn out? Will her experiences clarify the memory for her? Or will the memory remain unclear, but the experiences turn into a whole relationship-map worth of interactions, decisions, and personal change? Either way is fine, because either way the character is going to run into others full of their own agendas, traumas, and needs. Romance and horror … and identity. Now I’m ready to go. See, that’s just that kind of vague-but-meaty thing I was looking for: supposedly engaged in the hunt for identity via memory, you form and define identity through action.

Anyway, that’s my call so far on this one. Sean and anybody, any and all comments would be most welcome.

Best,
Ron
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2002, 08:49:09 PM »

Hey,

I am given to understand that he has produced a spiffy, illustrated, hard-copy version as well. I shall state here, in Big Voice, that Sean should put that thang up for sale this minute, with some of his color text and a picture to hook 'em. I will buy it, and even pay postage.

I have the hardcopy, and I agree. I haven't had it long enough to evaluate how much the text is changed from the online version, but I can say that Aaron's illustrations are terrific. He has kind of an Eddie Campbell style that suits Le Mon Mouri perfectly. I love them.

And I absolutely love the captions!

The book is every bit as nice as the WYRD ashcan that Scott printed up for GenCon last year. Sean, I agree with Ron. I think you should put together one nicely designed web page with a few of the illustrations (with captions) and the "Idle Thoughts" text, and put the game up for sale.

Paul
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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
sdemory
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2002, 08:57:26 PM »

Joke. I was awakened by Josh Neff, who called to tell me that I got commented on, so I'm a bit disorganized.
    Thanks so much for the comments on the game, and thank you for your kind consideration in looking the beast over.
    In beating the beast down, I knew that I wanted to deal with conflict internally without being too angst-y. Not sure if I achieved that, but I think I've gotten close. If it's done right (and, from what I gather, it can be done right), the game allows people to actively combat themselves at all points. Ideally, it creates constant quiet drama, as one's other parts work against one's desires at all times.
    The one big problem I've had with the game is the "what do you do" issue. I fall into a cold sweat at the thought of the "three hours of bitchy sniping" or "dead superheroes" mode of game-play, but I don't know that the game would draw people who would be willing to go those routes.
    Actually sitting down and running the thing is a daunting proposition, though, partially because there's the illusion of depth to the beast that falls apart upon closer examination.  Memory-based kickers are really ideal, and will be put forth as major plot jump-starts.
    Rather than setting forth "this is how to make the beast dance" dictums, I'm planning to expand my tips section to include more "Here's how to start the beast running... stay out of its way" stuff. I'd like to keep the thing vague, but my pleas for romance and horror do seem a bit desperate. Actual examples would help drive the point home.
[A total aside at this point... my dog's gotten addicted to Altoids. Whenever I sit at the computer, she sits beside me and begs until I give her one. Sad.]
    I do, indeed, have a spiffed-up print version ready for sale at some point, laid out and illustrated by the lovely and talented Aaron Houx. The book makes me grin like a fool... much like the comments I've gotten thus far, which have been largely helpful.
    My fingers are getting numb. I'm apparently quite tired. Off to bed. More commentary later, if warranted. Thank you so much again for looking at the game, and I send most heartfelt thanks to everyone who's looked at it on the screen.


p.s. A large inspiration for the game was the work of Jack O'Connell, a pomo-noir author who's terribly hard to find in print. His Quinsigamond stories are what I'd like to see done with the Beast at some point, as they deal with passion, desperation and fixation in a way that's both tough, lyrical and very strange.

p.p.s. I have no website, and yet I must scream. The version posted on The Forge was hosted at my request by Clinton Nixon, who's a prince for doing so.

p.p.p.s. Once again, I have to state that the game's based on Voudoun imagery, rather than the actual religion... not that Ron implied such, but still. Voudoun is a rich, beautiful and really, really rational faith, while this is a husk of that belief structure.  

My eyes are crossing. Bedtime for Sean.
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sdemory
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2002, 09:09:58 PM »

Hey, Paul. Glad you got the book. There are significant rules changes, stemming from my own playtest.

I have the hardcopy, and I agree. I haven't had it long enough to evaluate how much the text is changed from the online version, but I can say that Aaron's illustrations are terrific. He has kind of an Eddie Campbell style that suits Le Mon Mouri perfectly. I love them.

And I absolutely love the captions!


   As far as the design goes,  I can only take credit for the concept... the execution was all Aaron's doing. His work was top of the line, and he took to this project like a duck takes to water. No one should know how many drafts of the beast he ended up tossing out when I'd replace one word seven or eight times. I'm not an ideal collaborator, because I tend to fidget.
    Our original intention was to make the hardcopy look as much as possible like a penny dreadful, of the sort published in Amou-Ri. Hence, the design's a little lurid and the prose is a wee bit purple. It worked out so well... I carry my copy with me everywhere I go. Sad.
 
Sean, I agree with Ron. I think you should put together one nicely designed web page with a few of the illustrations (with captions) and the "Idle Thoughts" text, and put the game up for sale.

I'm planning to do exactly that, actually. We've got two versions ready: an e-mail version and the penny dreadful. When I learn how to program well enough to whip up a page, I'll post and sell. I'm also looking at having some available for sale at GenCon, hopefully. We shall see.
 

Sean
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2002, 09:55:20 AM »

Sean,

I'm very curious as to how you perceive game play to follow during, say, a personal scene between a Sans Souf and a lover, when the other player-characters (let's say two) are not present. Using Rob's model as presented in this thread, how do you imagine it might go?

The reason I ask is that such a emotionally-driven game, especially given that the characters are dysfunctional both emotionally and in terms of memories, relies strongly on all the participants caring about all the characters. I'm interested in how you see that happening, and then, depending on the details, seeing if existing mechanics can be used to reinforce the process.

Best,
Ron
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sdemory
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« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2002, 02:07:06 PM »

I'll give it some thought away from work and post something tonight. A few things to acknowledge, however:

1) By the nature of the San-Souf, the other two players would probably seek out some way to be part of the ongoing drama, whether as supporting cast or eavesdroppers. That's too much Aspé to be overlooked.

2) The image of the comedy of manners, behind-the-curtain thing has a lot of resonance within the game. That's something the Aspé mechanism hopefully addresses as well... I watch the drama unfold, I feel shock at my inability to turn away, I gain Ti-Bon-Ange.

More to come shortly...
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2002, 10:23:51 AM »

Sean,

I was continuing to think about the game, especially after chatting with Josh over the weekend, and here are a couple of notions that cropped up.

1) Some entity or personage in the city, or nearby, who can help a character get a handle on his or her memories. Obviously, a cure-all isn't appropriate, but I am thinking of some kind of medium, or maybe even a process, that permits a Sans Souf to deepen or explore the fragment.

2) It might be interesting for the San Souf to be able to "cancel" a memory, in the sense of it becoming less emotionally significant. This would correspond, I think, to an experience that resolved or otherwise "worked out" the memory. I specifically do not refer to explaining the memory. For instance, say that one of my character's memories was a child's doll. A whole series of events and interactions during play might be providing a child with a similar doll - after that, the memory just doesn't hold the power for the character any more to prompt further story events.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2002, 10:34:57 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

1) Some entity or personage in the city, or nearby, who can help a character get a handle on his or her memories. Obviously, a cure-all isn't appropriate, but I am thinking of some kind of medium, or maybe even a process, that permits a Sans Souf to deepen or explore the fragment.


Great Googly-Moogly, that's it. An oracle. I'm seeing a misty seaside grotto with a pool of memories guarded by...what?

"We're off to see the wizard!"

Mike
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rafael
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« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2002, 10:47:02 AM »

some suggestions:

1. psychopomp
2. corbeau
3. fantome
4. houngan


[.rafael.]
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Rafael Chandler, Neoplastic Press
The Books of Pandemonium
sdemory
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« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2002, 11:44:35 AM »

Still haven't written up my example of play yet (in its entirety... life's pushed its way forward, alas).
    Re: comments. Early discussion with Hanrahan brought forth the possibility of San-Souf who are ridden by the spirits of the living.  That's one of those things I've got in the Big Book of Plot Points, and I think it'd help quite a bit.
    Resolving memories is also an area with potential. To a degree, I'd expect that the process would occur in-story, as the player lost interest in certain threads and began following other threads. However, I think it needs to be codified in some way.
    Thanks for the discussion points. Looks like another version of the game may be in the offing soon.

Sean
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sdemory
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2002, 11:53:43 AM »

Just out of curiosity... do you think that the Big Book of Plot Points should be a part of core rules? I'm loathe to include too much as far as setting elements in the game, as that seems like it unfairly shackles GMs. On the other hand, a lot of points that people have brought up as being worthy of inclusion seem to hit that plot point/rule boundary. Thoughts?

Sean
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2002, 12:29:39 PM »

Quote from: sdemory
Just out of curiosity... do you think that the Big Book of Plot Points should be a part of core rules? I'm loathe to include too much as far as setting elements in the game, as that seems like it unfairly shackles GMs. On the other hand, a lot of points that people have brought up as being worthy of inclusion seem to hit that plot point/rule boundary. Thoughts?


Such setting is not metaplot, but rather stuff in place for the characters to bounce off of. As long as they're static, and mentioned as stuff that can potentially protagonize the characters, its all good.

Mike
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Buddha Nature
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« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2002, 03:28:51 PM »

So I may be blind but I can't seem to find this game anywhere in the library, nor does it seem that Sean has a website.  Anybody want to be kind enough as to clue me in to where I can find this game?

-Shane
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sdemory
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« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2002, 03:37:45 PM »

I don't have a site, yet... it's in the works, though.
The game is here:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/hosted/sdemory/monmouri.doc

Advance warning... this is an early, pre-revision version. There have been some changes (as chronicled in "Take a swing, please.")

Sean

[Edited to close my parentheses.]
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Paganini
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« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2002, 06:01:10 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

The only version I have is the freeone on Sean’s website (see the Resource Library for the link), but I am given to understand that he has produced a spiffy, illustrated, hard-copy version as well. I shall state here, in Big Voice, that Sean should put that thang up for sale this minute, with some of his color text and a picture to hook’em. I will buy it, and even pay postage.


I can't seem to find it in the resource library. I searched for "Le Mon Mouri" and nothing came up. Is it listed under another name, maybe?

--
Paganini
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