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[MLWM] Advice for a one session game

Started by andrew_kenrick, August 05, 2006, 04:17:12 PM

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Hi guys -

On Tuesday I'm running my first game of MLWM as a stopgap for our usual weekly game. I'm hoping to play a complete game in the space of a single session probably about 4 hours long. Thing is, I've never ran MLWM before, let alone in a single session. So can I ask for some advice?

I've read some of the other threads, including the one collating data from sessions. I think I'm going to go with Fear 3/Reason 2, and start everybody with 1 Love.

But what else should I consider? How can I stack everything in my favour so that we can get through a whole game in one evening?
Andrew Kenrick
Dead of Night - a pocket sized game of b-movie and slasher horror

Michael S. Miller

Hi, Andrew.

I think you're in for a good time. My advice on running a single-session game is in this thread and my Manifesto on Mastery. Good luck.
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Thanks for the advice Michael. I notice Paul says in the back of MLWM to begin the story at the point where the social structure begins to collapse. From your experiences, would you suggest doing the same?
Andrew Kenrick
Dead of Night - a pocket sized game of b-movie and slasher horror

Jonas Ferry

Hello Andrew,

Yes, listen to Michael; I've learnt a lot from reading his posts and the Manifesto.

I've run MLwM on conventions a number of times, in sessions between four and five hours. I think it's an excellent and very rewarding single-session game. Especially the epilogues give a nice sense of ending, with the players being able to end the game in a way that satisfies them (*).

There are a couple of things I've done to speed things up a bit. The first thing is during Master and minion creation. You should take the time necessary for the group to be able to invest something in the characters, but shouldn't let the thing drag. I usually introduce the different parts of the game gradually:

1. A general introduction of the game, the default setting and the kind of story arc that's expected (perform evil orders, befriend townspeople, kill Master).

2. Master creation.  It's more important to have a grasp of who the person is and what the group finds most disturbing about it than to try to figure out exactly if it's a Feeder or a Collector. I announce the numbers for Fear and Reason, and explain roughly what they represent. I use Fear 2, Reason 3, with groups of three to four minions.

3. Minion creation. Here I explain the character sheets and the different scores. I have them start with two Connections with one love each. One thing I've learnt is to not spend too much time hammering out More and Less than Humans. I've noticed they are rarely used as anything more than color, so you don't have to know every possible use of the power before the game starts. If someone's stuck I use the examples from the book, or neat ones from previous games. I also encourage the players not to try to tie everything to the same aspect of the character (More than Human: Super strong, except when hungry. Less than Human: Super slow, except when recently fed. Connections: Town baker and butcher), because it's more important that it's interesting and fun than that it conforms to some single idea. The players should also know that there's no need to try and to figure out how "useful" something is compared to something else; a power that's off during the night is no less useful than something that's off when it rains, as you as GM decide in each instance whether it's night or raining.

4. Formulae. I describe all formulas briefly, without going into details exactly what scores are used and what their relationships are.

5. Brief pause. Michael is right in that you want 15 minutes or something to come up with the first couple of orders. I look at the Connections and ask myself how they can be used for the Master's plan. I write down a bunch of orders on a piece of paper without assigning them to a minion, and then I tick them of as I use them in the game. New orders will present themselves as the first ones are being carried out unsuccessfully (the Master is never happy).

As the game progresses you have to know that killing a connection can severely limit the chances of that minion to trigger end game. If you don't keep their Love scores yourself it's good to check with the players from time to time to see who's the closest to end game and perhaps help that minion to more overtures. I think it's better to have a shorter session with some discussion afterwards than running longer than expected and risk losing the players' attention. Make it clear that they are the ones that can end the game, and they do it by performing overtures and resisting the Master. I sometimes allow multiple overtures for a single character in a row, say three in a row, as the minion is bringing a kidnapped victim to the Master. I cut to scenes with other minions in between, to mix things up a bit. Remember that the minion gets a point of Love both if they are successful or unsuccessful.

As the game is coming to and end, it's important to know that just because a minion has enough Love to trigger end game, it's not certain that they can refuse an order. I allow the other minions to help the one triggering end game by passing dice for disobeying the Master. If time's running out I usually skip the back-and-forth scene framing, and instead focus only on killing the Master. I also allow minions to pass dice for helping, which can lead to multiple Sincerity or Desperation dice on the side of the minion killing the Master, as I've found that's sometimes needed to stand a chance of defeating the Master.

Finally, the old suggestion to take a break if you don't know what to do works great. Take a coffee or toilet break and figure out the next couple of orders for the Master. Remember that the Master doesn't have to make complete sense, and if the players find orders illogical and can't see how they furthers the Master's goals in any way, it's all the more fun when their minions are forced to perform them.

Good luck and have fun!

(*) A fun incident in one of the sessions at a convention during the Easter weekend was a woman that turned from obviously not enjoying the game to really liking it because of the epilogue mechanic. Her minion was the Master's quite headstrong maid who after the Master's and the town mayor's deaths was integrated into society, and she described how the minion became the new mayor of the town. The player didn't like the constrictive nature of the mechanics (violence or villainy as the two only ways of performing orders) or having her character looked down on by the Master or townspeople, so she really liked the feeling of liberty and revenge as the game ended. The fun part is that she praised the "scenario" for the cool ending for her character, when all the game did was step out of the way and let her describe how she thought it should end. It was cool.
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Thanks for all the great advice. I'm running the game this evening, and have just printed off all the character sheets and formulae sheets I can find!
Andrew Kenrick
Dead of Night - a pocket sized game of b-movie and slasher horror


The game went really well, despite a few hiccups on my part. I've posted a report of it here.
Andrew Kenrick
Dead of Night - a pocket sized game of b-movie and slasher horror


Quote from: Michael S. Miller on August 05, 2006, 07:28:24 PM
My advice on running a single-session game is in this thread and my Manifesto on Mastery. Good luck.

The manifesto is no longer available under that address. Is there a new place for it?