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MLwM: Irish Mines (game setup, Long)

Started by ScottM, November 06, 2003, 12:05:21 AM

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We managed to coordinate a creation session for My Life with Master.  It didn't go exactly as I'd imagined, but it worked out well.  It 'stuck' in places; some things took a lot longer than I'd expected (like figuring out the Outsiders, the Master as a whole, and More than Humans & Less than Humans).

It started about two weeks ago. We'd been playing Vampire and it wasn't going well.  Jen was ignoring most of the sessions, etc.  I suggested that a break might be fun-- why not try this crazy game I've got, called MLwM?  Jen was quite interested and read it on the spot.  Wil flipped through it a bit, willing to give it a try since Jen was interested.  So we tried to schedule a creation session, but had some trouble due to shifting work schedules.  Last night the stars aligned and we got together.

I passed around the book while we waited for the last few people to show up.  Everyone skimmed at least the Master Creation (either this week, or in Jen's case, a while ago), and most read through minion creation.

So we started with a very unfocussed discussion... what kind of Master interests everyone?  Wil suggested something like an eighth generation Tremere; I suggested that a Vampire might not be a good idea, cause it probably wouldn't work the same under a different system.  (Also, I wasn't excited by the idea, and most of the others seemed a bit leery).  A few other suggestions followed, but nothing really stuck until we hit werewolf.  It didn't stay that way, but that's what we charged ahead with.

So I suggested we try running through the book, answering the questions in order, to get things kind of straight.  We decided on a Feeder/Beast type of master, kind of.  There were strong elements of Brain (a hybrid was definitely desired), and elements of Teacher snuck in at the edges.

We came up with the idea that he might not be a Werewolf yet, but that he was trying to become one.  (This set up a number of promising things later).

The village was defined as a mining village, with a very small population (mid 200s).  Political corruption was suggested, then pushed off to the big city a half day's ride away.  Moving on to the demesne, we decided that he lived in sprawling manor house (about 20 rooms, including servants quarters and such), on a hilltop overlooking the city.  Continuing the eco-friendly subtext, I suggested that the surrounding gardens and hedges were wildly overgrown.  Later we added that the mine tailings that were poisoning the river were stunting and warping the hedges.

The outsiders were initially werewolves, but the idea of an English gentleman's club was popular (sprung from descriptions of leather chairs and cigars).  This fed back and led us to set the game in Ireland, with the master being an English landlord.  At this point, I was very happy... we undid a lot of the werewolf overtones and made what remained our own.  In the end, the Gentlemen became the Master's English landlord peers who were interested in 'ancient druidic lore', a kind of Masonic lodge.  We also decided that they sneer at the Master behind his back for the poor upkeep and rural life; he's in because his father was in.

In the process, the master had become an occultist, trying to use druidic rituals to gain power (perhaps becoming a werewolf).  He was also the landowner for the area; the locals are almost all dependant on him for their land and their jobs (he owns the mine too).

We set Fear at 4 and Reason at 3.  Satisfied, we moved on to minion creation.

At this point I was a bit concerned. Jen had been a big reason we'd moved to this game, but she wasn't contributing much.  I tried to draw her in, but she kept her involvement limited.

So, on to minions.  We started off with vague job concepts.  Jim decided that he'd play a mine foreman. Wil wanted to be the butler. Zack was thinking a big guy, something like Oddball (the Bond villain). Jen didn't have any good  thoughts, but she reacted well when we tossed out a slew.  She rejected school marm, but ran with book keeper.  

I explained More than Humans and Less than Humans.  Wil and Zack got these straight off, but each had little problems.  Wil was thinking that a good 'Less than' would be that he always did what the master ordered.  I told him that that was the way the game typically worked-- until you gain much love, you'll almost never resist the master.  He pondered for a bit longer.  Jim came up with a Less than Human that he couldn't stand up to anyone, unless he was in the mines.  (We actually had a lot of trouble getting this settled, since he started off with "he's meek except in the mines".  I reminded him about the crippling, and he explained that he'd intended "meek" to mean he couldn't get the guts to talk to just about anyone.)  Jen decided that her More than would be incredibly fast reading and translation; it worked out well.  (At this point, her 'duties' expanded to translations for the Master, a nice fit). Zack had a More than Human that he was Physically Unstoppable, except when he's sober.

Everyone had one, but was having trouble with the other.  Zack was thinking about a Less involving sobriety, but nothing seemed to work out.  He soon stumbled onto "Incredibly dim unless trying to please others."  Wil was going to take some of the master's grizzly sacrifices, but this seemed too narrow.  He'd previously said he had to take souvenirs... it worked out.  He ended up with: "Must take souvenirs, except from children."  Jim thought that his minion would be incredibly perceptive... able to predict people's actions.  It finalized as "Can understand people completely, except when he's in the mines."  Jen had a lot of trouble with a good less than... nothing really appealed to her.  She didn't like the 'hypnotized by candles' that seemed an extension of her Greater than's limitation "only in daylight."  But she was quite happy with "Drools and Stutters, except when reading."

Then I had them set Self Loathing and Weariness; Wil revised his self loathing down to 2/1 when I mentioned the Horror Revealed and how it triggered,

I sketched out die mechanics, and we did a couple of example rolls.  Then they assigned names.  Finally, I mentioned connections and told them that I needed two apiece.  They were initially reluctant, but I told them that the big thing about connections is that they're not just NPCs for me-- they're people that they get to insist are around.  At that point, for some people two seemed almost too few.  The started talking about them, and I was scribbling about as fast as they were talking.  A little name coordination (giving them back the names they'd given me) and we were done.

I mentioned the whole "sequence of quick scenes" concept and everyone was interested.  It was late, so we packed up.

As we walked out, Zack and I spoke.  He told me that he was interested from the very beginning, but that he found it hard to get his thoughts going, to get into it at the beginning.  This was due to our circling around and around during master creation, mostly.  By the end, though, he was hooked and was looking forward to our play session.

I'm looking forward to it too.  If I'd had to run it immediately, it might have been OK... but as soon as I stepped out into the cool air, hooks and bangs started flowing.
Hey, I'm Scott Martin. I sometimes scribble over on my blog, llamafodder. Some good threads are here: RPG styles.


The Characters:
(Jim) Roddy McCorley. Mine foreman.
M: Can understand people completely, except when in the mines.
L: Can't stand up to anyone except in the mines.
1- Meghan O'Flarety: Miner's sister, brings lunch into the mines.
2- Father O'Mally: Parish Priest

(Wil): Alfred Montgomery. English butler.
M: Unnatural stealth, except when the Master is mad at him.
L: Must take souvenirs, except from children
1- Jeffery: the Master's carriage driver
2- Ria MacDonald: the cook

(Jen): Selina Dickens. Bookkeeper and expert on translating Ogham (the druidic language.)
M: Can read and translate incredibly quickly, except at night
L: Drools and stutters except when reading
1- Kelvin O'Leary: Runs the store, orders books, He may have a private stash.
2- Colleen Kennedy: School teacher

(Zack): Conall
M: Physically unstoppable, except when sober
L: Incredibly dim, unless trying to please others
1- Paddy O'Shae: Bartender
2- Shannon O'Shae: Daughter of Paddy, age 9. She brings him beer out the back door, so her Dad doesn't have to leave the bar.
Hey, I'm Scott Martin. I sometimes scribble over on my blog, llamafodder. Some good threads are here: RPG styles.

Paul Czege

Hey Scott,

Woohoo! I'm really glad you guys were able to synch your schedules. Passive resistance when someone brings a new game to a group, in my experience, often materializes, as mysterious scheduling difficulties. So I was really pulling for you.

But you know what I like the most? It's obvious from your write-up that you're all really immersed in the WoD perspective on conflict and story, yet by following the Master and minion creation rules in the book you were able to create something everyone's excited about that departs from your ingrained regular context in original ways, even though getting there was clearly difficult at times. Honestly, you did the work. You sold everyone on the game so they made time for it. You provided brilliantly effective guidance during the session that pushed everyone's creativity outside your usual context, and that overcame resistance to defining Connections. But I'm completely and utterly thrilled that my game text was strong enough to facilitate it.

Thanks so much for posting it.

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans

Paul Czege


One thing, upon reflection, that I'm not clear on. What exactly are the Master's Wants and Needs?

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans


The Master's needs changed throughout the process, and ended up a bit muddy.  He needs sorcerous components, so that he can complete the process the Druid's texts hint at.  (The players mentioned an interest in blood and bile).  I'm thinking that his needs will begin relatively small (sweat of a Righteous defender), and will ramp up (the heart of a priest) as failure (or incomplete progress, or impatience) makes him more desperate.

His want is to be acknowledged as the craftiest practitioner of magic; to be known as "he who wrestled the secrets of old from the Druids" and as the one who had the courage to master them.  I'm thinking the ongoing translation of texts will hint at the powers of nature (and over nature).  As he continues his experiments, he will become more beast like (to match the werewolf idea that we started from).
Hey, I'm Scott Martin. I sometimes scribble over on my blog, llamafodder. Some good threads are here: RPG styles.