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[MLwM] Vlad the Kommissar

Started by Eero Tuovinen, March 14, 2004, 09:49:05 AM

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Eero Tuovinen

We finally played My Life with Master. A lenghtier analysis will have to wait for the article I'll write for a Finnish fanzine, but meanwhile... it's great. I GMed the thing, and I've almost never played anything more intensive, as far as GM experience goes. I had to exercise my gming muscles more than ever, with the quick pace and heavy framing. For me it was very demanding and fun, compared to some other games where the GM gets bored out of his skull.

The game is about a crazy commissar of a small Rumanian town in the seventies, who thinks he is (and maybe he is) the last heir of Vlad Dracul, the monarch of Wallachia. There's ignorant peasants, rabid communists and even crazier nationalists in the mix, with the count/commissar playing all sides in his nebulous bid to the throne of Romania. Type: Beast/Teacher, Fear: 4, Reason: 2.

The characters are a maid (or "personal assistant" in communist talk), militia captain and a tax collector (or "purveyor of agriculture"). Most of the play was pure improvisation for us all, with the following as some highlights:
- The maid torches the records of the town because they, according to the commissar, include revisionists literature (apparently pornography) that can't fall to the hands of the Inspector. Saves the librarian from burning by throwing him from a second floor window. Really there's no porn, but the illiterate maid doesn't know it, and torches the records that implicate the commissar in embezzlement.
- The militia captain fishes in the swamp for the parents of the tax collector, as the commissar had them murdered some fifteen years ago and now thinks the counterrevolionists know about the place.
- The great heredity of the commissar is revealed to the tax collector, and he is forced to swear fealty to the rightful king.

The players took to the macabre portrayal of the Ceaucescu era small town like fishes to water, and no wonder, as we designed the setting together. There's nothing supernatural in anything as yet, and probably won't be. The more than humans and such are all quite natural and understated. My favourite is the maid, who cannot eat if not near the tomb of her parents. Of course the whole town now assumes she's a ghoul, which explains her having zero love for her fiancé.

The game kept a nice pace, we had time for some four to six rounds (can't remember) in a little less than four hours, and that includes explaining the rules.

I'm a little worried about time, though. We probably have time only for one or two sessions more, and the Fear and Reason values are a little tough for getting the game to end. I could just change them, but then there's the dramatic problem: the characters are actually entranced by my intensive, friendly, manic master, and I feel that they are not nearly ready to destroy him. I can handle that given time, with increasingly attrocious missions. The maid was ready to scream when the commissar commanded her to seduce the old inspector from the capital ;)

What, by the way, should one do if a player wants to defend the master in the end game? There's no way to do that, but if one allows aiding the master, the game could easily freeze in the way earlier discussed. With all the sympathy, I don't think it impossible for one of the characters to choose going out with the master.

I'd write more, but time presses. Maybe some other time. In the meanwhile, thanks for the great game.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


Hello !

In our game, the players started off pretty much doing whatever Master told them to as well; there are two main in-game things that start them rebelling against Master naturally as things progress. First, their self-loathing gets progressively higher, and second, Master starts sending them after each-other's Loves, which will tick everyone off.

- James