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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 192 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [The Mountain Witch] At Forge Midwest  (Read 3140 times)
greyorm
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Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« on: April 14, 2006, 08:46:17 PM »

I should note right off that the game was not as fun for me as I had hoped it would be. I don't mean to say the game itself wasn't fun, but the play was not because I went into the game hungry and exhausted. The whole starving and exhausted thing is never a good combination when trying to play in or enjoy any sort of game, or much else besides eating and sleeping.

I don't know if anyone else noticed me drifting off at the table, but I noticed I had to keep prying my eyes open for around the first hour of play. Now you know why. Once I finally started to wake up -- caught my second wind, so to speak -- the game perked up (though really it was just me perking up). After that,  I was better able to get into play.

I played with Tod, Aleksander, Dave, James and someone I had not met before the game -- and though I can clearly picture them their name unfortunately escapes me now (very sorry!). Character creation was fairly quick and produced some interesting ronin such as a half-demon, a gambler, and a would-be warlord.

I liked that everyone's motives for being there, and what they wanted to do with the money, were openly discussed -- with the realization that anyone could have been lying through their teeth about their motivations and goals. That realization was my first moment of, "And I'm going to fight a witch at the top of a mountain with these guys? Erm."

My ronin ended up with the Revenge Fate. Originally, I had settled on Dave's ronin as the possible victim of my revenge -- since his ronin was my one and only enemy Zodiac at the table -- but by the end of the game, I had changed my mind and switched it over to James' ronin, who was ironically also my one and only friendly Zodiac and who also maintained a two-way relationship of trust with me throughout the game.

The first really effective scene for me was early on, when our group stumbled upon a group of slain samurai and two survivors who fled from or tried to attack us. At the end of trying to convince one of them we were not the ones who had done this to his group, the survivor whispered to Aleksander's ronin that he believed one of his group had been a traitor, then he ran off.

Though we all heard this private conversation as players, Aleksander did not have his character tell the other Ronin about it! Oooo. Talk about taking a Trust hit! Of course, at the same time I could understand...would YOU tell a possible traitor that you knew he was there? No. So that nicely ramped up the tension.

Upon beginning the ascent up the mountain, my character ran off on his own, dropping the trust of the rest of the group in him even further...except for my loyal ronin buddy played by James. I privately explained my actions to him before leaving, and he then defended my honor when someone shot an arrow that looked like one of mine at the ronin who trusted mine the least (Aleksander's). Nice touch, Tim. {shakes fist}

Unfortunately, I ended up being stuck in a box for most of the rest of the game. Yes, a box. My character entered the spirit-world and ended up mistakenly trapped in Tod's ronin's lacquer box -- which he used to capture spirits! He was finally released at the end of the game, as a gift to the Witch...which could have turned out badly.

I would have been more proactive about escaping, but I knew we had limited time and the game was winding down as it was, so I sat tight. I also noticed the Trust mechanics really made me pay attention to what everyone else was doing and saying, even though I was not involved -- I still had to know who I could trust or wanted to trust as a player.

There were, of course, a bunch of interesting moments for everyone else while I sat in my box, such as Aleksander's use of his Fate to describe the bit about the guardians' eyes and his own -- on the fly, on the spot, which really solidified the use of the directoral power Fate gives players. I'll let him tell all about  that and the aftermath, though.

The ending felt somewhat kludgy because we had to bring it to stop quickly -- it was very late and most of us were hungry, or had to leave -- despite the rush, play definitately had its moments. My ronin did not do much, honestly, other than contribute some Trust to helping out James in the final conflict. I would have liked some more time to work out the "James' ronin murdered my family; what would keep me from taking revenge?" idea I had developed in regards to my Fate, but we just didn't have it.

Tim and I also discussed the session after the game when we all went out for pizza etc., and I let him know the game had moved a bit slowly for me: I normally like a bit of snap in my play while Tim explained how he prefers a little slower, more subtle build-up for TMW. And that's totally cool with me.

I suspect the pace would not have been as high on the radar for me, except for the aforementioned problems I was having at the start of the game. And despite the difference in our playstyles, I bought the game because I could see how it worked, and I really liked what I had seen of it.

Final impressions: The Mountain Witch is definitely not a game that can be played with complete effectiveness in a couple hours time, and I could see that in our game. In fact, the rules suggest a complete game of TMW take up a few long nights for your group. I can certainly understand why: more time to build up tension, reveal Fates and mix up Trust. Despite the limits, Tim did a good job with the time we had, and I was definitely into it by the end game, wondering who had what Fate and what everyone else was going to do.

I do suggest to Tim, and I hope he doesn't take this in the wrong spirit, that for short games like this event he ramp up the action and the timing of events thrown at players. Try and get fast and furious with it, toss things until they can't breathe, then let up for a minute -- then back at it. I am curious if that tactic would be as effective in the Convention environment as the slow build-up is over the course of evenings. I say that as I can there being not enough time to think things through and the players just having to react: trust this guy or not right now?

Anyways, I want to thank Tim for running the game for us and for signing my copy of TMW -- and I recieved one of the proofs! Rock! Next time, I will play fed and fully rested!

BTW, I haven't said much about the other player's characters, as (again) I prefer not to steal their spolight before they have a chance to post about their play experiences themselves. I would also love to hear everyone else's impresions of the session!
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Jason L Blair
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Posts: 636

Nothing is sacred.


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« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2006, 10:42:35 PM »

The other player was me.

I had a blast, despite the kinda rushed play. I was looking at what was happening in those few hours and comparing/contrasting those events with what I had read in the book. I agree that the game doesn't really shine in short-term play but you can see the initial sparkles. I'm looking forward to playing the game fully, as intended. I think it'll be pretty amazing.

My ronin had the Deal fate. Throughout the game, Aleksander and I had developed a bit of trust with each other. His was the only one I consistently increased. As it turns out, I was just ensuring that Aleksander's ronin made it to the Witch as to abolish my father's gambling debt and attempt to rebuild my family name. In the room with the Witch, I confessed to Aleksander why I was there, then told the Witch my duty was fulfilled, my father's debt was paid, and I was leaving.

"Give me his eyes," the Witch responded.

"What?"

"I asked for you to bring me what I wanted. And I want his eyes. Here, put them in my hand."

I looked at Aleksander sullenly and the other ronin just nods, says he felt the same pain previous* and can handle it. I place my hand on the ronin's mouth, and with a single action, I pop out his eyes, sever the nerves, and drop them into the Witch's hands. I immediately sheathe my knife, then walk, hands dripping with blood, out of the Witch's chamber and past the other ronin, out the door...and out of the game.

*I'll let Aleksander explain that part.
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Jason L Blair
Writer, Game Designer
greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2006, 12:09:08 AM »

Hello, I'm Raven. Leave it to me to me to sit next to Jason-frickin'-L-Blair, whom I've done illustration for in the past, and not know whom I'm sitting next to. Hi Jason. Nice to have finally met you...and only now realized it. You may now return to your regularly scheduled thread; ignore the sound, it is merely me beating my head against my desk.

Yes, though, the eyes thing was intense, one of those "Is he going to...urk. I can't believe he just DID that! MAN!" moments; I think it was definitely THE moment for that particular game. BTW, I also liked the "calming flute" your character had taken as an ability.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
timfire
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Posts: 756


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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2006, 12:41:22 PM »

Hi y'all,

I had fun. As I've said elsewhere, I love playing my game, but actually I don't get to to do it very much. Time was definitely a factor with this game. I think we played for... 3.5 hours, was it? Like, 5 scenes, depending on how you want to count "scenes". When we got through the forest and up the mountain, I was actually planning on at least another hour, hour and a half, but somebody (Jason, maybe?) had to leave soon, so I had to try and bring things to a close real fast. I was panicking a little, because at that point a few people had hinted at their Fate, but not a whole lot had come out yet. I had no idea how I was going to close things.

But once again the game proves that the GM doesn't really do a whole lot. You guys did a good job of bringing things out in a way that didn't seem (overly) forced. I was happy with the resolution of Jason's and Alexander's eye-cutting scene with the Witch. You know, one of the difficulties with the Witch at the end of the game is that everyone always wants a piece of the action. So I was very happy when you guys lost your first roll against the Witch and I was able to keep playing him. (That was a very lucky roll on my part---was it 3 ronin using trust against the Witch and one betraying ronin?) Without that I wouldn't have been able to have that duel with Dave's character. Which, again I won so I was able to keep playing even longer. Without that I'm not sure how the end of the game would have felt. (In a longer game, many of the Fates would have been resolved before reaching the Witch.)

One thing about the pacing, which didn't work so well. The problem with short Con games is that the players don't get many chances to flesh out their characters and build alliances/grudges, which is really the driving force behind the game. So what I was doing wasn't trying to build adversity per se---I figured you guys would do that. I was trying to provide opportunities for exposition. But I wasn't doing a very good job of it, or you guys weren't picking up on it. Either way, because that didn't work, that's why the game felt "slow". It's a tough balancing act in a short game to provide enough time for exposition and external adversity, and it's why I always say short games don't work well. If I had provided alot of external adversity without the exposition, you guys would have just stuck together and the game would have fell flat in another way, lacking alot of inter-character conflict.

But I did enjoy the game quite a bit. It would be nice if Tod could chime in, since he played in one of my long playtests, he could contrast how this game felt compared to a regular game. I'm happy to hear that playing this game made you guys want to go out and play a longer game.
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--Timothy Walters Kleinert
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2233

My name is Raven.


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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2006, 07:20:17 PM »

Heya Tim,

Thanks for that overview of how play normally works out and feels in longer games. I've only played tMW once (but I definitely plan on playing it again in the next couple months), so don't take my suggestions/observations above too seriously if they seem unwarranted (plus consider my hungry/exhausted state).

I have to admit, I didn't get that we were supposed to be exposing our Fates during the relevatory scenes -- I kept waiting for something to happen I could respond to and wondering what I was supposed to be looking for/getting from the scene. That may have just been my unfamiliarity with the game at work, but how do you normally open up expostion scenes? That is, could you describe times it has gone well and the players have picked up on it? Anything you do differently?

Also, I'd love to hear Tod chime in with his experiences regarding this short session and a longer session, if he doesn't mind.

Finally, I don't know if this is the thread for it, but have you ever used the mechanics for non-Mountain Witch scenarios? It seems like they might work for any "group of strangers confronts their destinies while dealing with high stakes and the chance of betrayal" sort of game. (I ask because, after the game, I was thinking about how my character still had something to work for -- the whole "gather an army and become a warlord" background -- and it seems tMW might work for that sort of situation too.)
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
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