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[The Fisherman's Wife] Everything you can possibly imagine

Started by Ron Edwards, August 30, 2008, 11:41:40 AM

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Ron Edwards

On the final night of GenCon, I showed up a little late to the Embassy Suites and play opportunities were thin. I could have hopped into some games but they were all stuff I'd played before, and I had a bag o' New that I wanted to get at least one more bit of mileage from. Julia turned out to be happy to see The Fisherman's Wife go through some paces, though, and I think this was the first time the game had been played one-on-one. I'm inclined to think that this is actually the optimal form for it, although I'll have to try it out with more people to be sure.

The structure is fixed. For content, there's a married couple, a peasant fisherman and his wife, and it's probable that the story includes no other people. The setting is pre-modern Japan. The personalities and marriage are set up by the players in sketchy form: in our case, the man was a bit older but very vigorous, and the wife was younger by a decade or more, and "not from around here." They'd been married for a while, as much as ten years if I remember correctly.

For fixed events, game-play uses two stories as bookends. The first, which is pretty much the first thing that happens, is a story told by the husband to the wife based on a six-word sentence she gives him (made up by the wife's player). So you basically make up a little story. The last, which occurs at the very end and in the context of whatever role-playing actions are happening, is told by the wife to the husband based on the same principle. I'm fumbling the explanation a little: the two sentences are actually made up at the start of play, and the husband's story is told to the wife as one of the first events of play. So the player of the wife gets to sit on the other sentence throughout the game; it serves as a kind of answer to the first story, although there's no need to force it.

In between the two stories, the characters are separated when the fisherman goes fishing and the wife stays home. Each undergoes series of demonic encounters, the number of which was set by a brief dialogue and card-draw early in play. Crucially, there's a transition between the end of the demonic encounters, when the couple is reunited and they have a discussion/conflict which is handled very much like the demon encounters. Only after that is the final story told.

These two stories are a really big deal. The first sets up and acknowledges, somewhat covertly, differences between the husband and wife, and what he might want, perceive, and expect from or about her. The second, coming as it does after their final "confrontation" following all the demonic adventures, serves as a reply and a capstone. Julia tells me she wrote the game as a gift to her husband, and I can really see how that is - not regarding her specifically and her marriage, but rather as a husband considering my own interactions with my spouse. Arguably, I'd prefer to play this game only with other married people.

I suppose I should go ahead and describe the physical book. Julia made some industrial-strength hard-cover ashcans, real works of art, and also had some pretty nice paper ones. The first were sold in about ten minutes, so I got one of the latter. It has a remarkably sexy cover from a centuries-old Japanese illustration of a woman having ecstatic sex with an octopus. Apparently tentacle porn is a long-standing thing in Japan, not just an anime thing, and Julia is happy to explain it in detail to anyone who's interested. She also crafted some boxes for cards to use in play, with more shocking old-school line-art on them, and I elicited many hoots of laughter by choosing the one which apparently everyone anticipated I'd choose. Sort of a twist on Cheers: "The Ashcan Front, where everybody knows your porn."

I bring all this up because explicit content may be a part of play, and as far as I could tell, the presentation encouraged doing so. More on this in a follow-up post.

We altered one of the basic mechanics pretty drastically all the way through, to reduce the chance for repeated conflict types. After all, there are only four (or rather, four for demons, four for people), and with as many as six to eight conflicts with two goals each, the chance repetition is high and a little annoying. So here's what we did: (1) Use two decks, one complete one for the War conflict mechanic, and the other for defining conflicts; (2) the way the second one works, remove all the face cards at the start and, as conflict-defining cards are drawn, don't put those cards back into the deck as play goes on.

Here are some questions and concerns about the rules and text.

1. The mechanics of conflict resolution are based on War, but using hands which are used up, and counting cards at the end. It's possible to undercut the opponent and one must guess-strategize in a way very similar to Whist. It's interesting, but I wonder if I'm just too dumb to see an obvious optimal strategy. I hope I'm not and that such a strategy isn't here; after all, War and Whist are both pretty basic. Given that it's the number of tricks taken that matters, just saving the top card for the end isn't always the thing to do. The only iffy thing for me concerns an obvious win, when you have the majority of cards in an unbeatable lead by the middle of the conflict. On the other hand, that's not so bad, as the loser can still signficantly affect the SIS by establishing things through wins from the underdog position.

2. I'll start with the symptom: in the course of conflict resolution, it's tempting to narrate your card defensively, as if it's the counter to the just-stated "attack" by the other character. The problem is that doing this stalls out the narrative of the conflict, and worse, it keeps tossing the ball (i.e. keeping the events going) wholly back to the other person. It's like one person keeps being forced to serve and the other keeps slamming it back down his throat.

Here's the cause: the way the two goals interact can be confusing. They are orthogonal, but also exclusive except in the case of a tie. It's like a footrace: one or both succeeding is possible, but both failing is not, and interfering with one another directly is not possible. Except that in a footrace the goal is the same, and here they aren't. The way to look at it is, you only "stop" the other guy's thing by doing your (different) thing first. This is a narrow and tricky context for conflicts, but if the players don't understand it, narrations get fucked up and hard to match with the mechanics of the next pass.

The key is to remember that all narrations during conflict resolution must be proactive, bringing a new goal-directed thing done by your character into the events. A specific response or defense to the previous narration is fine, but it's not sufficient. 

3. Here is my most important feedback about this ashcan game in playtest. It is not clear at all how much real consequence is entailed by an individual conflict. There are going to be two to eight such conflicts; we had six. Here's an example of the issue as it initially arose, and then I'll follow with an example of how the issue arose again and created serious confusion later.

Wait, though, here are the rules: if the fisherman and/or wife is Supplanted or Possessed, then it mechanically affects the final conflict between them, and otherwise, it doesn't. So basically, the characters can't die even if they are Devoured or whatever.

The first conflict concerned a demon trying to Devour my fisherman, and the fisherman trying to Enslave it/her. He succeeded and the demon caught fish for him in the next scene, so well and good. In the next conflict, we drew Devour again for the demon and this time, Seduce for the fisherman. Julia decided to continue the story of this particular demon. It was a pretty hard-fought card contest that remained uncertain until the end, so they did end up having a pretty erotic contest in which the demon won.

So what does "Devour" mean? The rules say that all conflict-goals are subject to interpretation by the player, and given the rules, by definition the fisherman cannot be killed during any of the conflicts. I fully get that "Devour" could be interpreted any number of literal and non-literal ways. But interpretation and consequence are two different issues, and I'm concerned about the latter. A consequence could be a long-term change in the relationship between the fisherman and demon, basically ensuring the latter a presence and perhaps a role in later scenes; or it could be a physical event that must be taken into account in at least the next scene, such as (in the case of Devour) being swallowed. However, as it happened, we basically dropped the story - once over, apparently, the Devouring (in this case, an emotional event) was treated just as a scene-specific outcome without lasting or relevant consequence.

I found this disorienting. As I saw it, reduction of consequences devalues past conflicts as the story continues, or for that matter, makes the next conflict feel trivial.

The next scene was the wife's, and as it happened, we still stuck with the same demon, who now swam over to the shore and tried to Seduce the wife; she had really lousy cards and the wife stole some of the demon's powers. One thing that puzzled me a little, though, was the question of whether this demon was still Enslaved to the fisherman. I kind of liked the idea that she/it was, and was trying to replace the wife in order to be a more complete slave when the fisherman came home. But we didn't emphasize this much, and again, I got the impression that once the initial Enslave-scene and any desired after-effects were over, the Enslavement was a dead letter.

4. As a related issue to #3, more extreme results need to be addressed as well. Character death is pretty easy: the closest the game comes to this only happens through Supplant and Possess, and there are rules for that regarding the final conflict (and I confess I'm intrigued by an outcome in which two demons face off as new husband and wife). Aside from those, the real husband and real wife will simply have to survive and re-unite for the final scene. However, more tricky things can happen, and did in our game, regarding narration of other sorts of conflicts.

In the wife's second and final conflict, she was housing the gaki-demon in her body from her previous scene. Playing the demon, I drew Possess, and ruled that YYY, the demon-catcher, had arrived in order to find and punish that demon - and was perfectly willing to take the wife too (in this case, interpreting Possess as "take" rather than "inhabit"). I won, and found myself walking a tricky line because I had to leave the wife available for the last conflict. (In retrospect, maybe the problem was that I was trying to interpret Possess so that it was a "lesser" conflict.) So I had YYY take the demon away and also rip the woman's soul from her, taking it too.

So again there came some miscommunication/confusion about consequence. I personally interpreted this outcome as not having much impact on the wife as a person, just as a kind of "your soul is in hock" situation. However, Julia was pretty rocked back by it, and in the final scene, played the wife as essentially mindless. We had to talk about it so that the wife would still be a character, as I saw it, just as the fisherman had been a character despite being Devoured earlier.

5. As another related issue to #3, the game is very vague about allowable events and transitions between the conflicts, especially playing with time elapsed. In our case, the fisherman's initial draw established that he would be gone for four days, hence experiencing four demonic encounters. I was under the impression that this was a hard-and-fast constraint, and was therefore surprised when Julia narrated an outcome, or more accurately the beginning circumstances of a conflict based on my defeat in the previous one, as including the passage of considerable time. A new demon wanted to Serve him and he wanted to Steal its powers. The demon won, decisively, and Julia narrated the next scene as beginning three months later, as the fisherman had become the prisoner of this demon who kept serving him very icky, mind-numbing soup. Whoa - I was a little bit surprised. That was a pretty serious consequence. I mean, I liked it in story terms, and ran with it as a participant, but it illustrated to me that the impact of a given conflict upon the framing of the next scene was way, way wide open - all the way from "nothing" in the previous Devour, to actually breaking one of the imposed contraints on play (the duration of the fishing trip) in this case. I realized that this aspect of play was in serious need of rules clarification.

6. The whole concept of whether the husband remembers the six words or not is problematic. In the rules, he is supposed either to remember or not remember the words because the wife wants to know whether he is or is not a demon. However, no matter what, there will be a conflict between wife and husband, and also, no matter what, the husband will tell the wife a story to close the game. By definition, unless Supplanted or Possessed, the husband has to be "himself" enough for the final conflict to matter at all. So there seem to be three choices:

- the real husband remembers the six words
- the real husband does not remember the six words for some reason
- the demonic substitute for the husband does not remember the six words because he never heard them

It is not immediately clear to me how, if Supplanted or Possessed, the "husband" can tell a story that would be meaningful at all, but I can maybe see it as possible and interesting. However, the issue of whether the real husband does or does not remember the words is even weirder, and I confess I don't understand it at all.

Here's what happened for us: she asked "Do you remember the words," and I said, "Sure." Julia didn't think that was justified because of all the husband's adventures with demons, some of which he lost. "Something's definitely wrong with him," she said, so he can't remember the words. I found this a little inexplicable, but said OK, he doesn't remember.

Then the wife repeated the words to him and we moved onto the rest of the game-ending sequence, which confused me even more because as far as I could tell, if he can't remember, the wife is going to think he is a demon and flip out or something. Apparently if the husband says "No, I don't remember," the wife just goes ahead and reminds him and we move on as if he had remembered anyway.

See, I had the husband remember because after all the adventures, he still wanted to come home to his wife. Also, since he'd been through a lot but hadn't been replaced or possessed, it seemed to me as if the primary reason for telling him the words would be preserved. But no - there seems to be a certain negotiation or appropriateness, judged by the wife player, that takes away the Husband player's actual choice in the matter.

Julia, do I remember correctly that this was the first time you'd played the endgame with these rules? If so, then I think we found a problem.

7. As we started to play the final conflict, I was surprised to find that demon characters were involved too. Bullpuckey, I said. This is the one time the husband and the wife get to draw for personal goals in a personal conflict. The demons have no place in it. The demons' chapters are over. This is about the people. Julia said that she had the demons involved since, in a three or four person game, that would mean one or two players would be sitting out. I did not think that mattered, as in such a game (3 or 4 people) the wife player had to sit out during all the husband's demon scenes, and the husband player had to sit out during all the wife's demon scenes. So it wouldn't hurt the demon player(s) to sit out for one measly conflict. This turned out to help Julia after all, because including the demons was gumming up two-person play anyway. I am absolutely convinced that the game needs to make sure that no demons (or demon players if present) are involved in this conflict.

8. The context and nature of the final story's delivery needs to be kept wide open for imaginative applications, because the nature and outcome of the conflict that precedes it are so wide open too. In our case, the wife took the husband's boat and sailed away, her last gesture pointing up the sky. This referenced his complex imagery in his initial story to her, in which the bars of a cage, the sky, and the surface of the sea as seen from below were all blended into a single concept. So I suggested that he, standing there in the surf, looked up at the sky and "heard" her story, accurately intuiting what she would say to him via the metaphor as a medium. Julia agreed and narrated her story in that context, with him hearing "the sky speak." Hence the offer he posed in his first story via this imagery, is answered by the real thing.

I suppose, we could have treated it more literally and had them meet years later or something, but I think that would have been contrived and inferior to what we did, even though what we did entailed some very abstract and non-obvious (i.e. not suitable for presentation by film) processes and images.

(more about general sex/relationship stuff in the next post)

Ron Edwards


I want to close with more general thoughts about marriage, sexuality, fidelity, temptations, and interactions at GenCon. Games about that stuff were everywhere across the four booths, and perhaps not coincidentally, the small stock of Sex & Sorcery sold out at the Forge booth rather quickly. Modestly, I think it's fair to say it was in fact that book which introduced the idea that sexual and gender dynamics at the table could be powerful motors for in-game content, up to and including rules that took real gender into account. It's been five years now, and to some extent I'm going indulge my pride that what I'd hoped to achieve is clearly, indeed most explicitly demonstrated by the range of games across the indie scene at this year's GenCon.

Three of my four play nights were extremely focused on it too. See [Kagematsu] GenCon, Thursday night for the Thursday night game; [Under My Skin]...got under my skin. Now, with pictures! for the Saturday night game. Toss in multiple conversations with women players, some of them game designers; toss in a brand-new friendship with Markus and Sarah which revved up to sixty in one night; toss in peripheral but relevant game-play like all the Space Rat and Mutual Decision demoing I did ...

Going back to the specific three games, all of those play groups I were composed of married or previously-married people, and there seemed quite a bit of willingness to be up-front about the temptations and interactions that go with being involved in a committed relationship. I am not claiming that such things were either present or not present in a given group among the real people, but that we were all willing to draw upon experiences and share them with one another, getting them into the fiction and inspiring reactions to one another's input, in ways that were pretty powerful. If I may be personal for a moment, I'll add that many of the people involved were "easy in their bodies," able to remain unflustered and imaginatively engaged while exchanging (and more important, receiving and modifying) fictional versions of tough stuff. I don't necessarily mean explicit sex, although that was the certainly the case in The Fisherman's Wife, but also things like whether lying is better for a relationship. It was a pretty deep con for me, in terms of play-experience.

Here's what I'm interested in: in regular life, verbally bringing up content as thorny or possibly-explicit as this is a big risk. If Bob and Sheila are married to other people, and if they have a shared "charge" or sense of intimate understanding between them, talking about it generally functions as a decision-point after which things have to change. Typically, the "charge" is either kept completely tacit (even to oneself, although that can be explosive), or it's brought up as a transition to acting upon it - or shutting it down. More usually, the former occurs, the friendship continues without any such conversation, and Bob and Sheila both contrive a bit (a) to spend a lot of time talking in a social context, and (b) to avoid any "chance" events in which they are alone. In my experience, both personal and observational, such friendships turn out to be an important feature of a marriage and they can generate a lot of value in terms of what the friendship can accomplish externally as well. My key point is that a certain silence about it is standard, again, because it's impossible to tell, when Bob decides to address it openly with Sheila, whether he's coming on to her or not. And in that uncertain circumstance, Sheila's reaction (whatever it might be) can't be trusted in terms of what she "really" wants to do or not. I'm going to refer to this sudden yawning-open of risk and uncertainty as "breaking the spell."

In many ways, the design and play addressed in Sex & Sorcery was a means to be more like Bob's and Sheila's charged and productive conversations in the continuing friendship, rather than a breaking of the silence that forces a transition. Yet obviously, the more time they spend together and the more charged the situation becomes, the more risk of such a transition is on the table especially if they are in denial about it. Sex & Sorcery, as a text, was aimed at breaking the denial, but not necessarily the silence. Dancing along the edge of that abyss, as I see it, is a source of powerful creativity, and as far as I can tell, the design community includes a very strong subset, now, of trying to dance with me (conceptually speaking, not with me specifically) using this very principle. It doesn't surprise me one bit that the majority of the authors doing this are female (again, that's nothing to do with me personally).

So that brings me to the one game in which, given its cover presentation of a woman, nude, her vagina displayed and aroused, having an orgasm, and its interior illustrations full of engorged people engaged in all manner of congress, explicit content during play seems to be encouraged. The rules-signal, as I saw it, was the conflict goal "Seduce" which was possible for both humans and demons. During play, when this came up (three times for my character, once with a mutual Seduce-Seduce conflict), I indeed introduced such content and tried to keep the narration in the realm of familiar sensations, told from the viewpoint of one person engaged in them, rather than fantasy/indulgence or a wide-angle viewpoint that treated it as spectacle. I think it worked. I think that Julia and I managed a non-creepy, non-problematic, non-covert-come-on interaction that nonetheless acknowledged what we felt - not about each other (we share no such experience/interaction), but in general regarding the whole range of a man and woman making decisions about their marriage in the context of such tensions. We dared a great deal together as fellow, collaborative artists, through our honesty about the topic and through listening to and working with one another's input.

Here's the thing: this sort of play seems to me to be a wholly new way to interact - a chance actually to bring in and utilize the feelings and interactions I'm talking about, up to and including wholly explicit expressions of them in fiction, and yet without the "break the spell" qualities of talking about them between two people who feel such things for one another. It seems equally possible when the people involved do not have such a relationship too, but are independently well aware of such things. "Totally hot but non-creepy" as one participant has described it to me. I like it. It produces stories that are profound and relevant, in my case beginning with the Thed material in our Hero Wars game of 2000-2002.

I do not know whether all this reflection on my part is totally a product of my own imagination. I feel the need for a kind of debriefing or after-event exchange of "what it was like for me" from others, to see whether I'm deluded or whether role-playing, as an activity, has really made the transition that I think it has. As the author of Sex & Sorcery, this is pretty important to me. Therefore, I would greatly appreciate feedback about it from other participants, both the experience itself and any specific points about material that I introduced.  Perhaps not publicly, necessarily, but if anyone can, please let me know what you think.

Best, Ron


Parthenia

Ron, thank you for your thorough and thoughtful account of our game. I'll have to respond in small bits for now, but will start with some of my impressions, ideas, and design issues with my game.

Other than the GenCon demos, I've played Fisherman's Wife a couple of times with just two players, twice with the people I typically play with, a drunken session at GenConand two sessions with acquaintances at JiffyCon. These previous games were much lighter than our game. I was really pleased to play the game with a much darker and sadder tone, and for me it helped to illustrate some of my own concerns with continuity and consistency in play. For example, how long is a demon enslaved? Two more sessions or the duration of the game? When the demons have a stake in the final act, they have the chance to escape their condition, so I would say yes, conditions remain throughout the game, and players can try to escape possession, enslavement, etc in subsequent scenes. I think it needs to be stated that certain intentions when realized must be undone in play, rather than be dropped out of convenience. I think that can be implied even if demons aren't in the final scene, or in subsequent scenes (which has been the case in other sessions). I'm jumping ahead of myself. I want to address this issue more fully in a sec.

When I've played with my husband, we play where "everyone wins". Typically we have a funny, sexy, lighthearted story full of tentacle sex and fish love. The transformations of the fisherman and wife are less relevant than the graphic action we described to each other. Chances are, this is how he and I will continue to play this game, and that's fine. He's not interested in role playing games, but he's interested in playing games with me. It is exciting to see that it can be played with more weight, that it can be played as a true ghost story, and that it can facilitate much darker stories.

Back to demons in the final act. I go back and forth with the issue. It certainly works best in a two player game if the demons aren't involved, and I like that it leaves the Fisherman and Wife to play intentions (designed to parry with demons) with or against each other. That said, in writing the game, I viewed the interactions and relationships between the humans and demons the really important relationships, because the demons were transformational events for the human characters. The question in the final act is thus, given the transformations of the two characters, can they stay together? I'm not sure I want to change that focus for 3 and 4 player games, and I think excluding the demons in the play in the final act changes the focus. But as I said before, it worked much better not having the demons in the final act.

I have to stop for now. Back later.

Julia

Ron Edwards

Hi Julia,

I was curious about the darkness and sadness. As far as I could tell, I contributed very little of that; my character was a vigorous and relatively cheerful guy, in a gruff peasant fisherman way. Although the wife was younger by about 12-15 years, and although her back-story hinted at the idea that she'd had a shot at finer things, there wasn't any inherent rift that we built in from the start. Your six words were really brutal: I can't remember exactly, but something about how the swallow stares at the bars of her cage. The story the husband tells her basically meant, "Bars are what you make of them," or perhaps "True freedom is beyond all of us." In the final conflict and your closing story, it seemed to me as if the wife had written off the husband from the start.

What I'm saying is, if your games with your husband are "everyone wins," then what's the final conflict about in those games? And out of curiosity, given that you've played the game with others besides your husband, why haven't final conflicts been about whether they break up or not, in those games? Have the cards simply always fallen in favor of a character who wants to keep it together? And, most importantly for thematic purposes, have you ever seen a conflict in which one character wants to stay together, one wants to split up, and the former wins?

To shift topic slightly, in games without your husband, has graphic sexual content been included?

More-or-less hidden in those questions is a more personal one, which asks, why was our game so dark and sad? As I say, all of that seemed to come from your end of the table.

Here are some the issues I was able to get from your post.

As for whether demons are involved in the final conflict/meeting, either your post got a little garbled in the typing, or you might have some designer-dissidance going on. You wrote,

QuoteThe question in the final act is thus, given the transformations of the two characters, can they stay together?

I completely agree. As far as I can tell, that justifies having the final conflict be only about the husband and wife, no matter how many players are involved. I can't make any sense out of your statement that if the demons are evicted from that conflict, it changes the focus away from the husband's and wife's decision about one another. What am I missing?

Best, Ron

Parthenia

I'm not sure why it was so dark and sad, but I have a few hypotheses. I was tired, it was the end of a long weekend, but I was in a really cheerful mood. I find it easy to play dark characters and games when I'm in a good mood. Perhaps, too, it was just the elements and the chemistry. Your character was Hydrogen, my character was Oxygen, and the chemical reaction (that particular game) produced water. I don't think it was a bad thing, though. (For the record, my six words were "caged mockingbird sings for her freedom." I have a database of six words in my head, after doing demos and writing for months. I think about them all the time! They seemed to fit the wife's disposition.)

But really, why was our game so dark and sad? All those things I just mentioned. And after weeks of writing and days of demoing and talking about the game, giving the preliminary defense of a thesis as it were, I started to really understand the game myself. Japanese ghost stories are dark and sad. In the game, the intentions aren't things like fall in love, befriend, offer salvation, or kiss and make up. What the characters try to do to each other aren't exactly bright and happy actions. In the last game of GenCon, all of this really started to hit me. Dark as it was, it was easily one of my favorite sessions.

While the wife hadn't written off the husband, but there were a couple of details about both of them that emerged which caused me to imagine that she was someone who hadn't lived up to her own expectations. The one I think of immediately was when we explained an inconsistency. At first I said that the wife was not from the area, but then she knew the ghost as a childhood friend, as did the fisherman. So it became something like everyone expected the wife to leave town. Also, I imagined that the wife knew that the fisherman had enslaved and seduced the demon who possessed her. Supernatural infidelity! From the wife's perspective, Shoki the Demon Queller took her soul while extracting from her a ghost which her husband had brought into their lives.

In previous games the fisherman and wife haven't stayed together. More often than not, they part ways. If I recall correctly, all players have agreed to the outcome. We did play a 4 player game where the fisherman and wife were happy to be reunited, only to have one of the demons who returned with the fisherman eat him.

Games between my husband and me are extremely graphic. :) If there is a conflict, it's mostly how does the fisherman or wife adapt to the transformations. For example, in one game, the wife was supplanted by a dragon, and took the form of a giant scaly fearsome dragon. The fisherman had encountered the dragon before, and had seduced it in the same form. They lived happily ever after. Needless to say, given that my husband is not terribly interested in role playing games, but is more interested in telling a particular type of story with me, we play this game with different motives.

Chris and I haven't played since GenCon. I wonder if our games would change now that I do have a deeper understanding of what I created. It's definitely not the same game I first wrote.

So here are my issues and ideas about the demons being in the final act, other than wanting the players to get their turn in the end. I would like for the part demon-human part of the story to have a conclusion, so that the transformations are clear, and the game doesn't shift perspective too abuptly. Does it create too jarring an ending (as the game is written) to shift back to the husband and wife without some sort of final demon word? Maybe a simple solution is for the players to frame their final demon scenes as final demon scenes.

Another way I'd like for demons to function in the final act to be like the angel and devil on the shoulder in Under my Skin. It hasn't really happened that way yet, though.

Julia

Ron Edwards

Hi Julia,

QuoteFrom the wife's perspective, Shoki the Demon Queller took her soul while extracting from her a ghost which her husband had brought into their lives.

That makes a lot of sense, or rather, it also made sense to me at the time of play. I really thought the story was a knockout, fully internally consistent, step-by-step character development, and all that stuff. You've also helped me understand that it did in fact emerge from play, rather than suffer from any pre-loading. Thanks for answering so clearly.

As far as structure and demon scenes are concerned, I do have a recommendation, which is no more than to agree with you. So for our game, in which the husband had four demon conflicts and the wife had two, the whole game would look like ...

OPENING SCENE (wife and husband only) + HUSBAND'S STORY
FISHERMAN + DEMON
FISHERMAN + DEMON
WIFE + DEMON
FISHERMAN + DEMON
FISHERMAN + DEMON (conclusion)
WIFE + DEMON (conclusion)
FINAL SCENE (wife and husband only) + WIFE'S STORY

That makes perfect sense to me. It's also pretty much how we played it; the demons were booted out of the story in those final-demon scenes anyway.

I think that the angel/demon concept is better left where it is, in Under My Skin. It's cool and neat and nifty and all that stuff, but for the game that Tales of the Fisherman's Wife has turned out to be, I don't think it fits.

Best, Ron