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Author Topic: Meg, Emily & Vincent's Playtest  (Read 5367 times)
lumpley
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« on: November 21, 2002, 08:20:50 AM »

Our Master: Pharus Oriens (Collector Brain)

Let's see.  Pharus believes that he's the Antichrist, destined to rule the Earth in apocolyptic fury.  He's the third son of a like fundy Satanist whacko.  His oldest brother was raised to be the Anti-John the Baptist, his second brother was raised to be the Antichrist but failed and rejected the title and claim and everything.  Pharus inherited the mantle and also failed, I mean, he's not actually the Antichrist of course.  

But instead of acknowledging and facing it he's built this elaborate defense for himself: he claims that the time is not yet right for him to rise up and seize power, and that he must wait until the omens tell him to act.  He kidnaps townspeople, eviscerates them, and reads the omens in their entrails.

He has a very complicated scheme for choosing his victims: "I need a woman born at night in Taurus," he might say, or "Bring me a man born in Gemini who was raised by a woman not his mother," or things like that.  His sanctum is wallpapered with complicated matrixes of astronomical and elemental and circumstantial influences, all in code in his miniature hand, and he's working his way through them.  Oh plus wallpapered too with all the drawings of all his disembowelled victims and their intestines, annotated.

He has one significant NPC minion, his scribe and illuminator, who makes the drawings for him.  I'm imagining this guy as nasty, pale, pasty, giggling, and exempt from any other work.

So that's him.

We chose Fear 4 and Reason 2, but just sort of randomly.

Meg's minion is Martha, whose duty is to chop up the bodies and feed them to the (feral) dogs that live all around.  Martha's got Self-loathing 2, Weariness 1, and:

More than: I don't need sleep except for the nights before, of, and after the full moon.

Less than: I can't speak unless there's a cat in the room.

Less than: Abject fear of dogs except when carrying "meat."

Her connections are to the woman in town with 15 cats (because of the cats), and the butcher in town (out of a sense of professional fraternity).

Emily's minion is Arturo, Pharus' apprentice.  Arturo's got Self-loathing 2, Weariness 1, and:

More than: People must truthfully answer any question I ask them unless we're making eye contact.

Less than: I have to insult people (except Master) unless the town's church bells are ringing.

Less than: I have terrible nightmares about Master's victims unless I pray to God before sleeping.

His connections are to the village priest and the butcher's beautiful daughter.

So with his More than, his duty is to find out who in town meets Master's arcane criteria.

I dig the church thing going on with Arturo, where he like turns to Master's big enemy for solace.

---

I want to say a bit about some lines we're drawing.

1. Our group has a longstanding policy against putting children in danger, because kids in danger are used so often and so broadly (and so clumsily) to manipulate an audience.  So I expect Pharus to victimize mostly or only adults.

2. Our group has a longstanding unspoken convention against sex, which huh.  There aren't any sexual connections or conflicts between Master and minions, and I'm not surprised.  Odds are it'll stay that way but we'll see.

3. Meg asked us to draw a line explicitly: no violence to cats.  The cat lady in town is fair meat, but not her kitties.  (Maybe I'll play it that Pharus likes cats and wouldn't dream of hurting them, or maybe they're simply beneath his attention, or maybe it just won't come up.)

---

And we're playing in our ongoing, longstanding game world, which complicates things a little.  It's the thirteenth century, not the nineteenth, but we aren't sticklers so I expect that to be just color -- Master's place is more like the monestary in the Name of the Rose than Frankenstein's lab, for instance.  We're still in Eastern Europe, right down there in Romania or wherever on the Black Sea.  There's a grand order of wizards, Pharus is a member, but I think that'll just provide Outsiders.  We had to work and negotiate a bit to decide that Pharus would be Master (not, say, Unamo or Lucere or whas'name, Toad-butt, I forget), but we did.  I expect the worst complications are past.

Making up the Less thans was hard.  It was a group effort.

This game suits my sense of humor like no other yet.  When Emily wrote the village priest on her character sheet I almost fell off my chair.  Such doomed pathos!

Paul, what rules should we use?  1s and 2s or 1s, 2s and 3s?  Delegating to other minions?  Snapping?

-Vincent
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2002, 10:06:52 AM »

Very Cool. Playing soon?

Mike
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lumpley
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2002, 10:30:12 AM »

Next week?  Emily, Wednesday again?

But yep, soon.

-Vincent
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2002, 11:14:57 AM »

Hey Vincent,

I love the whole bit with the arcane selection criteria for the victims. We had a similar thing going with Attor Fuseae in our game, in that he needed to consume a subject whose specific character and life experiences would contribute to his performance in an upcoming production. Specifically, the minions were required to find a "sympathetic rapist who could sing" for a bizarre musical about a pastor of a sanitarium who had become obsessed with one of the patients. This put the minions in the difficult position of having to use their abilities to orchestrate experiences for townspeople that would make them suitable candidates for the Master's cannibalism. Whereas victimization of innocents seems trite and tedious within the genre, it's hard not to be struck by the monstrous freshness of unjust selection.

Making up the Less thans was hard.

I'm pretty certain to nix the requirement for two Less thans. We went with one each of More and Less than for our game.

Paul, what rules should we use? 1s and 2s or 1s, 2s and 3s?

Definitely 1s, 2s, and 3s.

Delegating to other minions?

I'm going to leave the decision on this one up to you. My concern is that once the mechanic is used, player interest in minion vs. minion conflicts will eclipse the minion vs. master conflict. If your group won't be too disappointed by this, then use the mechanic. I'm definitely curious to see if my concern has any validity to it.

Snapping?

No...I need to think about this one more.

Vincent, Meg, Emily, I love the doomed pathos. I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes.

Paul
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Emily Care
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« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2002, 02:01:48 PM »

I'm looking forward to playing this.  

It's odd that the humor we encountered doesn't come through too much in the descriptions.  Vincent tells how he nearly fell off his chair when he saw that one of my character's contacts was the village priest.  And Meg's character is hysterical already: can't talk except when a cat's around and deathly frightened of dogs, except when she has meat in hand--so the village dogs follow her and crowd around her, scaring off the cats that she loves so much.

See, it's hard to describe it.  It was actually part of the fun of making the characters, coming up with these horrible ironic things about their lives and what happens to them.

--Emily Care
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Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

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lumpley
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« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2002, 06:24:14 AM »

Just an update: we haven't been blowing MLwM off, except insofar as we've been blowing us off too.  We haven't gamed a-tall since this time last month, when we set up the game.  Dunno when we'll have a chance to play, what with the insanity here upon us, Christmas and New Year's I mean.  Soon, I mrrfin-frffin hope.

-Vincent
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lumpley
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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2003, 09:03:32 AM »

Ha!  We played about half a session last night.  It was fun.  Master Pharus decided that for the next cycle of The Work his subjects will need to have eaten human meat.  He had the PCs dress his most recent subject and take parts of him down to the town's butcher, to sell.  Martha made a failed overture to the butcher and left the meat without explanation; later on she saw that the butcher had given it to his dogs.  Arturo found out that the town priest could draw -- master had taken him aside and asked him to find someone who could, which bodes ill for Viktor, Pharus' illustrator.  Arturo pissed the priest off by insulting his faith and talent both.

Reporting back, Martha didn't come out and tell master that the meat had gone to the butcher's dogs, but she did say that she wasn't sure this scheme was going to work.  Master willfully misunderstood and said that yes, she was right, in order to make sure his future subjects had eaten human meat, "there must be a glut."  Martha said that Arturo had talked to the priest, and master didn't say anything for a long time.  He didn't mention it to Arturo, though, nor the drawing assignment.  Instead he just said that Martha thought they should kill more people and feed them to the town, and that he agreed.  He assigned Arturo to take Martha and choose a likely victim.  Then we joked a bit about sausages and turned in.

Observations:

Fear 4 Reason 2 means that, for overtures, I'm always rolling 2 dice vs. Meg's and Emily's 0 dice.  Pretty much their only possible shot at successful overtures is gonna be the intimacy/desperation/sincerity bonus, and even sincerity'll be iffy, odds-wise.  Which, okay.

Master is fun to play.  He's completely bugfuck and I don't always get to play such a character.  I like his style.

We didn't laugh as much as I expected, although looking back I'm filled with cackling glee.  Maybe we were just too tired.

-Vincent
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xiombarg
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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2003, 12:33:42 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
We didn't laugh as much as I expected, although looking back I'm filled with cackling glee.  Maybe we were just too tired.
My experience was you laugh before and after the game, but not during, as being a minion is so deadly earnest...
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2003, 11:04:53 PM »

Oh, I dunno, I laughed my ass off at Josh Neff playing the rat-faced boy trying to get a kiss from his sweetheart, the mortician's daughter, while holding the corpse of a recently deceased infant that he had just dug up. Ok, laughing and wincing simultaneously. But that's good. The game certainly doesn't leave you unentertained.

Mike
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Paul's Girl
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« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2003, 12:04:21 PM »

Being the only person to have played in two games besides Paul, it is very strange that so much humor comes out of a game based on horror, but it really seems to generate it.  In the last game we played, it was great to hear what new decaying dead thing Scott had in his reticule. Matt was awesome in coming up with Shakespeare quotes that fit the circumstances so well.  Tom had the scene where he was killing a young woman (stabbing repeatedly) and at the same time cursing himself for offering his connection a gift of meat on a sunday.  My best addition was instead of helping a young woman from being taken to the master to be raped and maybe murdered, I took her shoes.  I think it has something to do with our general reaction to things that are in horror movies. We may scream or shout, but afterwards, there is a little chuckle of amusement. How many people have laughed after a particularly scary part, or when the movie was over? It seems horrible that a woman is constantly followed by dogs because she throws meat to them, and that is exactly why we laugh, because it is horrible.

Like Mike said "laughing and wincing"
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hardcoremoose
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« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2003, 04:40:21 PM »

Hey all,

You know, I'm always reminded of a quote from Stranger In A Strange Land (and I paraphrase):

'We laugh, because if we don't, we'd cry.'

Or something like that.  

- Scott
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