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[Mountain Witch] Eight Person Session

Started by Nick, July 03, 2006, 08:48:26 PM

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So, about two months ago I moved back to my  home town for summer. My first few weeks here saw a number of failed attempts to put a Mountain Witch game together amongst my old friends. A drastic overcompensation for this led to eight people arriving on my doorstep looking for a game to play. After discussing the option of splitting into two groups with the other guy who new the system enough to GM it, we resolved to go ahead and try it out with this many, as an experiment. This led to the hasty creation of two new fates, which ended up working out pretty well in play.

Blood on your Hands

You have the blood of someone important on your hands. Whether it was murder, death in battle, or assassination, somebody knows you did it and is not happy about it.

Criminal Past (the text of this one is a tad proscriptive for my taste... I'll want to modify it eventually, but this is the one we played with)

You've engaged in some sort of intense criminal activity. Someone wronged you and you dealt with it outside of the permission of the law.

These were drawn by Andy (an old dnd friend who had no experience with Mountain Witch) and Phil (similar background, but who had played a single game before.) They ended up blending in with the rest of the fates admirably, and those who hadn't played the game before expressed surprise that we had made them up. Specifically, here's how all the fates worked out (excuse the imprecise wording, I don't have access to the book right now so this is from memory):

Nick (Greatest Fear)- Fire. His master's fortress had been burned and his inability to help gave him an intense fear of fire.
Dillon (Romantic Obsession)- The Witch. Dillon had been in love with the witch and had taken the job as a safe way to get up the mountain to see him again.
Alex ()- Bad memory, I actually can't remember Alex's fate. Incidentally, she was one of two people to survive the mountain, and kill the witch.
Phil (Criminal Past)- Arson. Phil had burned down Nick's Master's fortress because that master had killed his own in battle.
Jacob (Secret Allegiance)- An Enslaved Demon. Jacob took the mission to set a particular demon on the mountain free.
Annzi (True Motive)- Find out what happened to her father. She believed the witch knew.
Andy (Blood on your Hands)- The Patron. Andy had killed the man who hired them because he believed him to be in league with the witch.
Eamonn (Dark Pact)- Eamonn had pacted with the witch to destroy the part of Ronin who were climbing the mountain to slay him, in return for his own Daimo.

Another interesting thing that happened in the session (something that I was dreading beforehand) was a limited amount of silliness. Jacob is perhaps one of the silliest people I know in real life. I was surprised that he expressed such interest in wanting to play Mountain Witch in the first place, but happily invited him along for it.

Once actual play started and he got more used to narrative control, he (predictably) used it to mildly silly ends (usually after a bit of negotiation.) But interestingly enough, this actually ended up increasing the drama in much the rest of the group, as the innocence of the silliness met the reality of the rest of the mountain. For example, after the group slew a huge water snake that rose out of one of the lakes surrounding the Mountain, he cut it open to see if anything was inside. he used his double success to find inside a still living mischievious spirit that sat on his shoulder for most the rest of the game and seemed to be in love with him. Much later, he and Annzi were fighting some ghoul-like creatures. After killing one of them, the goblin started screaming and sobbing- they had apparently been friends beforehand. Annoyed, and generally fed up by a few other things that Jacob's character had been doing, Annzi strangled the creature to silence it. It's death was actually very legitimately sad, and the two were on the brink of duelling before another character came in and convinced them to carry onwards.

Overall, the eight person session was successful. The anticipated difficulties in keeping up with everyone's story didn't actually realize, as the players' enthusiasm to engage their characters in the story made their contributions memorable.

Ron Edwards

You know what's interesting? That mildly-silly stuff fits right into the kind of myth and literature that The Mountain Witch is inspired by. I mean, right in there, chapter and verse.

I think that's a testament to the power of the game and also, perhaps, to the ... I don't know what to call it, the "innocent integrity" of your friend in putting it in there. What would be disruptive in so many RPG experiences in which the shared-imagined-space is fragile, is a source of strength, thematic contrast, and setup for traumatic drama in an RPG experience which has such a robust SIS as The Mountain Witch.

It's another illustration that the shared fiction and personal imaginative commitment to it are stronger due to mechanics like Trust, rather than weaker.

Traditional view: "Don't touch the SIS or talk about it! It might break!"

TMW view: "No one can 'run' or 'provide' the SIS to everyone else. Our shared, organized ownership of it makes it so strong that it cannot break. This overt mechanic, [Trust], glues our contributions together, no matter whether it increases or decreases among our characters, and even when the individual contributions at first seem too diverse."

Best, Ron