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[Bacchanal] What, more?

Started by Ron Edwards, September 15, 2006, 01:59:19 PM

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Ron Edwards

Before our first round of Best Friends, the same group limbered up with a session of Bacchanal. Some of you are probably relieved to learn that this was my latest Bacchanal game to date, meaning I've finally caught up on posting about them. Paul tells me I'm now the person who's played the game more than anyone else, and I hope that you guys out there depose me from that title as soon as possible, because it's a good game.

One thing I really like about this group is that we always make good use of our physical venues. We were out on my back porch on a nice afternoon. Oh! And this was the first time I've used a real cheese tray and real glass wine glasses (so far they've been plastic). They make a really distinctive ringing sound when you (gently) shake the dice in them.

I made up a soldier character. Maura made up a young woman with a lover (I forgot her Accuser, which never came up for her), Julie made up a wife who'd been accused of harboring a traitor, and I don't really remember Tod's character well enough, as he got Accused and Soldiered and killed really fast.

I also fell down a little on my job in coming up with a good Companion. After all, I'd improvised a bunch on the fly during GenCon, and played Bacchanal several times since. I'd used a parent's child, a slave's master, a girlfriend, an estranged wife, all of which worked really well for me and made for enjoyable ideas of play. I think I'd basically run out of Companion ideas beyond "slightly ethereal girlfriend/boyfriend."

What I came up with, slightly experimentally but not successfully, was a student who'd denounced my soldier-guy as having brutalized him and his friends. As you can see, I was also experimenting with something weird - he was also my Accuser. On the face of it, that's a pretty neat idea because I could imagine the Companion and Accuser dice determining how the same character behaved. On the other hand, it drastically reduces the actual number of ways to do scenes - you're basically stuck with this one guy doing stuff all the time. So I really don't recommend it. Maybe I'll try it again with a better Companion concept, but I doubt it. Bacchanal really benefits from attention and distinction among as many NPCs as possible.

Let's see ... Julie's character was Accused and Soldiered and killed, but it took a little while and made for a good story. Tod's, as I say, was eliminated practically out of the gate (to Julie's dismay, as she'd put the Soldier in his glass to start). I'm trying to recall what happened to mine ... I think I put the Companion in my glass when I got a double Wine result, and eventually rolled the Companion high. This particular game (like one of my demos) turned out to be no-sex except for one character, which in this case was Maura - with a glass full of Wine, Bacchus, and Satyrs. I think she managed to get Minerva into her glass (not through the gift, which I've never seen), and by using Minerva against the Wine, was able to eliminate all of it.

Her narrations of sex and/or decadence were hampered, I think, by the fact that none of the rest of us had had to do any, except for a tiny bit I did at the beginning with my double-Wine result. It might be kind of hard to be the only one. Especially since the rest of us were out of the story, so she was really all alone. Her character had gone to meet her lover on a mountainside, but happened upon a Satyr-led dance-and-sex party. Stuff happened, as her character joined in, but all veiled, which is OK by the rules but nto quite as intimate as I'd hoped this group could get.

As you recall, Maura's glass had only two dice in it: Minerva and a Satyr. She rolled the Satyr high, so she could remove one or the other, which if you think about it, is an interesting choice. She decided to remove the Satyr and rolled Minerva high ... which means she got a vision of her Companion, but also that she had to remove Minerva from her glass. Result: no dice!

This wasn't accounted for in the rules, and I was surprised to have discovered any such result at all. Solution: we called Paul. His response: "Heck." Well, as it turned out, Maura had already come up with a solution through her Minerva-narration. You see, most of her narrations of the wine-drenched orgy concerned how her character had thought the man she was with was her lover, then knew he wasn't but fantasized that he was, and finally just abandoned the pretense. (Actually, that's a little more erotic to write than it seemed at the time, during play!) So her Minerva-inspired vision of the Companion was really brutal - he was happy, safe, and content in his marriage, far away from her, not even thinking of her. She sat alone on a mountainside, having totally debauched herself partly in his name, and it meant nothing. Damn!

Paul said, "Well, that's a Minerva ending then," and Maura called out, "The cold light of day!" holding up the die. So I think that's going to be the phrase he uses for the title of that outcome.

I want to play Bacchanal with this group again, perhaps next time in the evening, inside, and after consuming wine rather than just using the glasses. I'm also interested in whether Paul's upgrade of the game, if he's doing it, will alter the die size for the Soldiers or Accuser. I'm not sure just which it ought to be, and I'm not sure whether it needs to be changed for sure, but I will say that the existing combination (d8 for both) is absolutely deadly.

Best, Ron


The Cold Light of Day definitely needs to be in there for the possiblity of a Minerva end game.  It was pretty wild watching the Minerva die kick out all the wine while the Bacchus die remained high. Starting out with the Accuser high on my first roll pretty much jump started my story.  And then soldiers took over; it was disappointingly easy for Tod and I to roll soldier high.  My knee jerk reaction is that I wanted the solder dice to be d6's rather than d8's, but I think I really need to play more to see how different combinations work. 

I'm trying to remember -- even though Tod was killed early on, didn't he have Venus high at the very end?  Can that be right?


Ron Edwards

Hi Julie,

You know, that sounds familiar. After he rolled the Soldier, his next scene was his last, and on that scene, you do roll to see what comes up high to guide your final narration. I think it might indeed have been Venus.

I remember you were disappointed when your final roll turned out to be a Soldier high, when we were all rooting for Pluto to come up, for you to have some kind of dark and awful ending.

Best, Ron