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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 177 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: two player universalis: like tennis  (Read 1540 times)

Posts: 167

« on: March 24, 2004, 08:06:44 AM »

just finished a short session of universalis that dropped from three to two players right at the beginning

I found a very different dynamic with two players than the usual (for me) four or more - it was very much like batting a ball between us, setting something up and seeing where the other guy took it

(as opposed to larger play groups where there has been enough downtime for people to generate ideas and take the story places, without as much emphasis on riffing)

we never discussed it much, but this happened at various levels:
- within a scene, simply riffing off ideas and losing track of turns
- within dialog
- between scenes, ending with a bang and hoping the other guy knew where to take it

and it worked amazingly well - there were down patches where we were both just plodding the story along, but we managed to wrap up with a bang (pacts between the barbarian hero and a star-faring race, yeah!)

we also managed to incorporate every story tenet, some in unexpected but pleasing ways (the portentuous comets were spaceships, the mind-talking turned out to be imperfect ("your globe-on-which-you-stand") which brought up the agricultural emphasis, (the alien spoke "seedlings" which the barbarian knew as "demon people", creating the foundation for understanding)) - I mention this only 'cause I don't think I've done it before, and it was satisfying not to have forgotten them

Posts: 5574

« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2004, 08:19:37 AM »

I'd love to hear other peoples experiences with two player Uni as well.

The first couple of playtests Mike and I did were two player, and there is a different dynamic there.  But I haven't played two player since.

Interestingly, our second ever playtest (at Origins I think) was two player and had profound impact on the direction of the game.  The story itself was a pretty uninspired cattle drive western, but it was in an earlier version of the game which still had specific player characters.  Mike had the drive master, and I had an Indian Scout.  But during play I spent more time playing the cook, and the rustlers than I did my scout (hardly played him at all).

I credit that as being my first inkling that the game really didn't need PCs, that players could simply hop into whatever character they found interesting.

I mention this because I really think I made that discovery largely because of the two player riffing effects David notes.  If that test had been a 4 player game, I think it would have been played more formally and that would have resulted in me staying in my own character more and just manipulating NPCs like pawns.  Because the two player game became much less formal, I started playing much looser than I would have otherwise.

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