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[Mortal Coil] Matthew and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Game Session

Started by Matthew Glover, September 15, 2006, 12:26:37 PM

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Matthew Glover

Quote from: Tim Alexander on September 15, 2006, 09:12:38 PM
When I'm dealing with a new game I've started making it a habit to build myself a sort of procedures of play document. I've recognized, like you it seems, that those additions in other games makes for a really useful reference during play when things get crazy. It also has the added benefit of organizing my own understanding of the game. I'll find sometimes while working one up that I don't know what to do when 'blah' happens, and it makes me go either find the rule or rethink how the game works. For really complex books I tend to flag important stuff with post-it things.

Good luck,


Hi Tim,

You know, I'm really glad you said that.  I was on the verge of constructing something along those lines myself and your advice on it has pushed me to go ahead and commit to it.  If I come up with something that I'm not ashamed to show the world, I'll post it in the Galileo Games forum for comments and revisions, then on the wiki.

If I was less of a fetishist about books I'd crib notes in the margins.

I feel the same way.  My mother was a librarian and I cringe at the thought of writing in a book.  Or dog-earing a page.  I got in serious trouble for that particular offense when I was a kid.  In my own book.

Matthew Glover

Quote from: Brennan Taylor on September 17, 2006, 07:41:30 AM
The scale of the villain felt daunting to the players, and so they didn't engage him. (This is all speculation based on what you wrote above, so feel free to contradict if I get something wrong).
No, I think that's exactly right.  Also, I believe that they felt like there needed to be some sort of build-up rather than starting the game out by simply attacking the villain.  So I think your next bit:

Here's a technique I would suggest in this case: Make a henchman of the villain who is trying to damage something directly related to the player's passions. This is a smaller scale guy, but working for the person they hate. He will seem like a smaller bite to chew.
Quote excellent.  I considered something similar, but wasn't sure this was kosher.  The rules lay out the creation of the villains during the preparation phase and it seemed to me that to go through those steps and tie the villains into the PCs' passions is a really powerful thing to do.  Then I'd create another villian without the input of the players and have that guy, a total stranger, showing up first?  I thought that might break something.  I know, it seems like an obvious thing to do to get the game rolling, but I've made a lot of "obvious" assumptions about stuff in other games and gotten myself into stupid situations because I didn't understand the particular game well enough. 

I do see how this would work, though.  You introduce a henchman and even though he's a stranger, he's an extension of the Villain mentioned in the PCs' passions, and not only that, he's threatening their other passions.  I get that.  Good advice, thanks.  I feel like I have a better understanding of this now.


Quote from: Matthew Glover on September 18, 2006, 09:54:49 AM
If I come up with something that I'm not ashamed to show the world, I'll post it in the Galileo Games forum for comments and revisions, then on the wiki.

This makes me happy.

Also: yeah... I've got a game starting up this coming weekend, so... hey, I'll take whatever thoughts you draft up.  As it stands, I'm tweaking Judd's "My Pattern" notes on PTA for use in the first session of Mortal Coil, just because there seems to be a lot of similiar goals in making the theme doc.

Than again, if Judd had a similar post to make about Mortal Coil, which I know he's run a fair bit... *pokes Judd*.
Doyce Testerman ~
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.


Quote from: Doyce on September 18, 2006, 11:11:24 AM
Than again, if Judd had a similar post to make about Mortal Coil, which I know he's run a fair bit... *pokes Judd*.

Honestly, I haven't played enough Mortal Coil to sift through and pick out patterns that I have noticed when I run it at cons or among friends.  Sorry.

Mike Holmes

I'm going to speculate off in another direction, based on the AP account.

I'm getting a vibe from what you wrote that in being unfamiliar with the rules early on, that you felt that you were losing the players while doing the many preparatory steps? They were wandering off, and apparently not really into it? So that you felt you had to just dive in?

With something like Mortal Coil, I think you have to have everybody very invested in the fun part that is the prep. It's not just a bunch of "work" that you have to get through in order to get to the fun stuff. Its supposed to actually create a rising interest in what the play will be. But you don't dive in, until everyone seems comfortable...nay, dive in.

If, in fact, the players don't seem into the prep phase, then they're never going to get to the stage where they are excited about the situation, and ready to engage with it. So forcing yourself past that point, in the name of getting to play which you hope will engage them, is simply not going to work.

Does any of this seem to make sense to you?

When you mentioned playing Mortal Coil, explained what it was about, what were the player reactions to it? Were they enthused? Or just agreed to play because they trust you?

A game like Mortal Coil requires a bit more buy-in, up front, than most RPGs do. If that's not there, I think it's pretty doomed. Given that buy-in, however, it becomes a very potent experience.

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Matthew Glover

All of that makes perfect sense, Mike.  I think I just misspoke a little.  Everybody was excited about playing Mortal Coil and excited about the prep we came up with.  I think we all had good up-front investment.

The parts where the others really seemed to get bored were when I was trying to find something in the book or figure out how to do something.  "How is foo related to bar?  How do we do this thing?"  "Urm, hang on, I'll look."   Fifteen minutes later, everybody has gotten bored or frustrated.