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My Life with Mde. Michelle DuChamps (GenCon 06)

Started by Lisa Provost, August 16, 2006, 12:49:51 AM

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Lisa Provost

This was the third time I'd ever run MLwM (as well as my fourth time ever running -anything-) and of course I was nervous as hell.  This was also the first time I ran anything at GenCon so that doubled the nervousness.

I originally had four slots available but I took six players as the first two that showed up were desperate to play.  Out of my six players I had one person that had played once but never gotten to end game.  One person that had his own copy of the rules (not the same as the previous player).  And four noobs.  They had seen the description for the game in the Event Catalog and thought it looked interesting.  Yeah... no pressure.

We made the Master as:

Madame Michelle DuChamps.  A Brain/ Collector.  Widow of the town undertaker.  Lives in the old chateau which is also the town's mortuary.  Infatuated with the passage of life to death since the demise of her husband.  She decides to start collecting the eyes of the dead and with a combination of a potion and the use of a special made machine, she plucks the eyes from the dead to view their last moments.  Of course, she convinces herself that these deaths are not the best to study as she can never be sure of how they die as well as not getting the 'freshest' of eyes and thus she begins to take the townsfolk for her own experiments. 

We described her device as two steel forks, which stuck up on either side of a basin of pure water.  She would impale the eyes up the spikes, quaff the potion made by her minion and then submerge her face in the water to view the passage of life to death through the victim's eyes.

The time/town is 1880's -1890's French town. 

Minion 1:  Olivier.  Played by Alex.  He is the carriage driver/butler.  Can intimidate anyone except when in a crowd. Can not speak until spoken to. 
Connections:  The town farrier and the chateau's grounds keeper.

Minion 2:  Ralph.  Played by Josh.  The town doctor.  Knows when a patient will die only when high on morphine.  Dependent on morphine unless a child has died.
Connections:  The sickly crippled boy and his nurse.

Minion 3:  Claude.  Played by Liz.  The 'harvester'.  Can move undetected through shadows unless seen by a child.  Stutters helplessly unless talking to the dead. 
Connections:  The little girl who's mom almost died and the blind homeless veteran who's eyes he harvested when she thought he was dead.

Minion 4:  Johanna.  Played by Beth.  The lab assistant/categorizer of the Madame's eyes.  Can craft potions only in complete darkness.  Can't hear anything unless everything in sight is perfectly aligned and neat. 
Connection:  The blind homeless veteran and the town's apothecary.

Minion 5:  Peter.  Played by Alex 2.0 (we had two obviously).  The elderly make-up artist for the dead/glass eye crafter.  Can make anyone look beautiful unless alive.  Hands are useless claws unless applying makeup.
Connections:  The town's beautician and a widower who's wife he made up when she died. 

Minion 6:  Muck.  Played by John.  Cleans up/burial man.  Intense strength unless clean.  Utterly terrifying except to children. 
Connections:  The town's orphans and a woman who looks like his mother.

I tried to start the game out strong.  Well as strong as I could muster considering my stomach was full of angry butterflies. 

The Mde. DuChamps requested the eyes of a child.  Say one of the orphans since no-one would miss one.  She sends Peter and Muck (who has the connection to the orphans in the orphanage) to retrieve a child.  When they return with little Pierre, upon praising him for being such a strong and helpful boy, she offers him a sweet and as he approaches, she slashes his throat.  Cradling his head in her blood soaked hands, his body twitching as he dies, she begins screaming for Claude to rip out his eyes.

I really tried to pour it on.  Screaming at the top of my lungs "Rip out his eyes damn you!  He still lives.  If you do not rip them out now, I will have yours on the spikes next!"  I really tried to keep up this level of sound and violence.  At one point I was very nearly nose to nose, grinding my teeth, hissing at Alex playing Olivier that he began to back up and the others at the table began to yell that they would "go right away Mistress!"  I know for a fact I was distracting to some other tables.  Sorry guys!

Back to it, I sent the minions after each others connections as much as I could.  I think we ended up killing three all told but of course they made other connections including Flora, a stupid girl that was the recent orphan of an old man.  She thought only of cooking and the joy there-in.  It was a bit of twisted humor that I tried to put in and I can honestly say I was thoroughly happy when after having the Madame command them to retrieve her, I had one minion against it, one all for it and trying to trick the other minion into thinking she would help hide Flora.  And then two other minions that were under the impression the other two were trying to escape with Flora and hunting them down. 

When end game came, it ended surprisingly by the one minion I never expected to do it.  Johanna.  She ended up throwing pure acid into the Master's eyes and killing her.  One minion, Olivier, never left the master's side and died with her when her skirts knocked over a candelabra that immolated him.  One other minion died and for the life of me I can't remember how.  One minion ran off into the hills and soon took up as a minion of a new master and the other three all ended up integrating into the townsfolk. 

It took about three and a half hours and when it was all done, I was exhausted. I had pounded my hands so hard on the table that one of them was throbbing for about two hours afterward. 

I can honestly say, I very much enjoyed this particular session over the others.  I had read a few people's manifestos and ideas/advice for how to be a good master.  I really tried to keep certain mannerisms up when in the role of the master that I was pleased to see made a few people cringe on more than one occasion.  The one thing that I was disappointed about was the fact that I didn't really bring in any of their "more than human/less than human" traits.  I really almost forgot about them and of course they all being new players to the game (save one) they forgot about them mostly as well.  This was definitely my failing.  I had them as notes right in front of me but after a while I was so focused on making the master just a retch and horrible person that I lost focus on the rest of their traits.  Any advice here for how I could change that?  Was it too much immersion in the Master?  Should I have stepped back?  Or should I just take notes in other ways?  I seemed to be able to keep track of their connections and send them after each others connections like sharks to chum... but I couldn't get those traits in there it seems.

If anyone else was in this game that reads the Forge, I would greatly appreciate their input.  I'll cross post this on my blog and Story Games as well.

Lisa P