Author Topic: A fun first session!  (Read 7901 times)

Steve Hickey

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A fun first session!
« on: January 09, 2011, 03:05:17 AM »
Hi Joe,

So we played today. I was MCing (I've played about 10 sessions of Apocalypse World, and read the main AW rules about 3 times). Emma, Jenni and Ellen were playing. Emma's played one session of AW; I don't think Jenni or Ellen had any prior experience with the system.

The session was pretty much a success. A story emerged pretty naturally out of asking provocative questions, asking what do you do, and (especially) picking up on the players' cues from what they were saying and the moves they chose. As an example of that, Ellen chose to play a Fay, which immediately brought the idea of promises into play. Not only did I write that down, I actually added it to my list of MC moves ('Make a promise to the Fay').

Ellen's Fay was also firmly committed to having sex with humans while she was in the mortal realm; after the third time she mentioned that, I started using that as a filter for describing things to her and deciding on other people's reactions. By about 2/3rds of the way through our session, she'd built up a little coterie of people who were starting to get obsessed with her, which almost turned into a dangerous mob at one point.

All three of the players found it easy to stay in-character, and said that calling for conflicts didn't really break them out of that. It was pretty fun to see, by the end of the session, Jenni say some in-character dialogue as her Mortal (to try and get away from her unbearably sympathetic parents), and then just look at me - and that look told everyone at the table that she wanted her Mortal to shut his parents down.

Hmmm. Jenni (who's a huge fan of the genre) also felt like there was a move missing from the Mortal. Something to do with 'Curiousity', finding out secrets, figuring out what's really going on. She said that was a huge part of the literature.

I'll write more later, but it was extremely successful: everyone had fun and is keen for a second session - so I'll post some stuff about Fires in a new thread soon.

Oh yeah, and the Mortal is great. We all agreed that the game wouldn't work nearly as well without one.

Steve Hickey

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Re: A fun first session!
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2011, 06:27:20 AM »
Here are the Skins we've got in play:

Emma is playing Alba the Witch, and chose the origin of 'Gifted'.

Ellen is playing Seed the Fay; she chose the origin of 'Fae born'.

Jenni is playing Vincent the Mortal. The whole table cracked up when she chose her origin ('Your barista').

I made two good decisions when I started MCing. First I asked, "Who's died recently in the town that you care about." I think it was Emma or Jenni who proposed that it was a classmate of theirs. We agreed that the death was ambiguous: perhaps a suicide, perhaps a tragic car crash. Ellen added that there was an inquest into the death going on.

I originally had it vaguely in mind that this death would give us a funeral or a wake to base a few scenes around, but I threw that out the window after the second scene when I saw how interesting the relationship between the Mortal, the Witch and the dead classmate (Simon) was going to be.

Instead I decided that Simon was going to have come back from the dead somehow and for some reason. Just a gut instinct at this point, with no idea what was really going on, but it proved pretty damn effective.

My second good decision was to ask Emma about her Witch's origin story right away. 'When did your gift first manifest?' Emma said she was about 11 or 12, not very popular and her mum had just died. She cast a hex on a bully at her school so that she could only tell the truth.

Brilliant! Twenty seconds in to the game and I already had an excellent NPC, damaged by magic (still being affected by the hex, I decided) who I could throw in to some other situations.

From there, I wanted to see more of the Mortal's love story (he's in love with the Witch). I asked Jenni what her Mortal does to demonstrate his love for the Witch, and we had a scene where he showed up at her house after work wanting to hang out. To start with, this scene didn't seem to have much of a conflict to it. I suspect Jenni and Emma were getting used to their characters, figuring out who they were.

I asked a couple of questions about how they felt about Simon's death, and it quickly became apparent that the Mortal was really torn up about his close friend dying, while Alba was fairly indifferent.

The Witch invited the Mortal inside for some dinner before her dad got home, and I took the opportunity to look at my list of moves. 'Herald the Abyss', it said. So I described the wind rising and speaking to the Witch, telling her how Simon had died with some of the Mortal's possessions on him. Those possessions were sympathetic tokens, in fact, and there was some sort of magic involved in Simon's death.

It didn't take long from there for tensions to emerge in the Mortal/Witch relationship, with the Mortal getting kinda disturbed by how his girlfriend was talking about the wind whispering secrets to her. [Edited to add: Oh, and he got more and more upset that the Witch wouldn't stop talking about Simon's death and the things that were weird about it.]

At this point, I was still a little uncertain that I was identifying when the players were making moves, but I think we'd made maybe one or two rolls. I became more comfortable with the moves as the three hour session went on.

I felt like we were off to a good start. It was time to get to know Ellen's Fay a little bit, so I cut forward to the next morning at school.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2011, 07:06:36 AM by Steve Hickey »

Jenni

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Re: A fun first session!
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2011, 08:36:47 PM »
Jenni here, I had never played Apocolypse World before but this was awesome.

In regards to the curiosity thing, I found that I wanted to dig deeper into what was going on at several points but didn't have an obvious way to do so. If there was a move that allowed me to find out something supernatural, but put me in danger or something...that would work perfectly.

These stories are full of mortals pushing too hard, moving into this world that they don't understand and it would be neat to have something to reflect this. The 'Downward spiral' move does this to an extent, but it's not tied to another character. I wanted something I could use to get my girlfriend to explain stuff...

Steve Hickey

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Re: A fun first session!
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2011, 09:20:57 PM »
Jenni, I'd also love to know what it was like playing the Mortal. What were your general impressions? Oh, and what Moves really worked for you?

Jenni

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Re: A fun first session!
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2011, 10:43:25 PM »
The Mortal was so much fun to play, I really liked it. Something about not having any secrets when the others did was quite liberating, plus it's heady to play someone the others 'want' in some way. I can see it all going very bad in the future and I can't wait!

The move I love the most is the 'sympathy is my weapon one'. I just loved it so much when me and Alba were talking about her having a token of mine and I started saying it was okay. You were like 'well, it's a pretty massive betrayal.." and I said "Yes, but if I forgive her I get a string on her."

You and Emma were both like O_O

Of course, I only got to use it the once, since Alba was so sweet and nice, but we'll see for next round. I really wish I'd taken the ignore the blatant problem and get XP though, that one looks awesome.

Steve Hickey

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Re: A fun first session!
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2011, 07:28:37 AM »
Thanks, Jenni. That moment between Vincent and Alba that you're talking about, I was just about to trigger your Darkest Self ... but I was gobsmacked at how appropriate the 'gain a String if you forgive her' move was.

Actually, Joe, Strings are one place in the game where I felt there was something odd going on. I can't articulate it yet but first I'll ask you a question and then I'll bullet-point a bunch of observations.

The question is: how will using Strings feel when you've got the game working perfectly? How often are they going to be used? How do you want them being used?

Now some bullet-points:

+ I found Strings difficult to keep track off just using paper. Perhaps there's a case for using Mountain Witch style tokens.

+ No-one adjusted another character's stats as Strings changed. I wasn't focused on monitoring for it, but it also wasn't really obvious when (or if) it happened, ... and it felt like it would interrupt the flow of the game to keep asking, every time a String was awarded.

+ In another thread, Nils mentioned that the MC can make a move where s/he takes a String on a character. I didn't see that in the list of MC moves in your draft; on several occasions it would have been a perfect move to make.

+ Where do Strings come from? What are all the sources of them in the game?

+ I'm not sure how big a part of the game you want Strings to be. I think we might have awarded ... um ... 5 or 6 Strings between the players during our 2.5 hour session.

+ I'm working on a little diagram, trying to figure out the currency of the game. It's got a little loop between Strings, XP, and gaining moves (which give you more Strings and XP), and another, bigger loop where XP increases your stats which gives you increased fictional effectiveness but (I think) decreases the likelihood that others will gain Strings on you. I'm not sure if that's right yet, though; I'll have to re-read the rules.

Maybe discussing Strings belongs in another thread, but - Jenni, Emma, Ellen - I'm interested in how important Strings were to you.

Oh, and if you want to summarise any of the plot, please go for it! I'm going to post some more thoughts later.

---

Some books and movies got discussed while we were playing, as well. While talking about the Ghoul, everyone shivered when Practical Magic (movie and book) got mentioned, especially about the resurrection of a particular character.

Jenni's also lent me a couple of supernatural romances about fairies that she says fit with the game we're playing. They are 'Wicked Lovely' by Melissa Marr, and 'tithe' by Holly Black.

Jenni

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Re: A fun first session!
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2011, 05:39:16 AM »
I really want to get Emma and Steve to read Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl because it's an excellent human boy/witchy girl romance which seemed very relevant.

I have done an in-character actual play report on my blog. Very one sided, obviously :)

You can read it here: http://wp.me/pp6oN-1tl

Margolotte

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Re: A fun first session!
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2011, 04:44:01 AM »
That's some serious IC play write up, Jenni. Glad it went so well :)

NilsH

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Re: A fun first session!
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2011, 11:59:13 AM »
Really, really fun to read about your game!!

Jenni: You can always ask questions into the abyss to get answers, thatīs one way to be curious. Another is to manipulate people to give you answers.

How did you feel about your possibilities to get what you want with moves as characters? Did you find opportunities to use the different "magic"-moves for the fay and the witch?

Were all the strings dealt between characters or did you get strings on NPCs?

/ Nils

Paul T.

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Re: A fun first session!
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2011, 04:49:57 PM »
That's some serious IC play write up, Jenni. Glad it went so well :)

Why do I feel like the "diary" should be a part of this game? It just seems too appropriate.

At least for the Mortal, for sure.

Jenni

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Re: A fun first session!
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2011, 06:28:40 PM »
The abyss didn't feel like the right way to go when I was having a conversation with someone though. I guess I was thinking more of something where the mortal deliberately puts themselves in danger in order to get answers, for example a girl in a horror movie opening the door and going outside because there was a noise and she wants to know what it was.

Strings: I had a string on the witch and that's it. The Fay was collecting strings all over the place though, she had strings on both of us and also on NPCs.

Another book recommendation for people curious about Ghoul-ish romance: Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

mcdaldno

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Re: A fun first session!
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2011, 10:24:34 PM »
Hey guys, this is awesome feedback. I've been silent so far because Im on the road, and my only Internet access is my iPod.

Based on playtest feedback from Nihls, you, and my own experiences... I've begun to re-arrange and tweak the game. For starters, "run away" and "shut someone down" are tied to a single stat: guarded. "Lash out" remains under volatile, all alone. "Cold" is gone.

I've added the Mortal curiousity move:

Down The Rabbit Hole
When you go poking your nose in affairs not meant for your kind, someone invoved in the situation gains a String on you, and you mark experience.

Are you guys going to play another session?

Jenni

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Re: A fun first session!
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2011, 10:28:57 PM »
Quote
Down The Rabbit Hole
When you go poking your nose in affairs not meant for your kind, someone invoved in the situation gains a String on you, and you mark experience.

I <3 you forever!

And yes, we will be playing another session no matter what. I am addicted to this game.

Steve Hickey

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Re: A fun first session!
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2011, 05:36:20 AM »
I'm looking forward to the next session too.

That Curiousity move looks great. I notice that it doesn't guarantee you find anything out, but it gets you enmeshed in the situation more and makes you a little more powerful. Perhaps we could call it the Sookie Stackhouse move?

I was thinking about how to summarise what happened in the game. After reading this post on Reward Cycles over at Vincent Baker's blog, I decided to describe how each character started the game, and where they finished up. Hopefully that'll give an indication of how the situation has changed for everybody and an idea of the main plot points.


Vincent the Mortal

Vincent started the session completely unaware of the supernatural, happy and content with his relationship with Alba. He was upset that his friend Simon had just died in a slightly suspicious car accident (it could've been a suicide), but aside from that everything was okay: his relationship with his parents was unproblematic, and he was uninjured.

By the end of the session, Vincent had discovered that his girlfriend was a witch, that she communicated with weird forces that spoke to her through the wind, and he'd forgiven her for the possibility that she'd kept secrets from him and had possibly manipulated his emotions.

He'd met his dead friend, Simon, who'd been resurrected via some dark pact he'd made with forces unknown. Simon obviously has intense feelings for Vincent (in fact he described Vincent as "the reason I came back"), and he's tried to sow mistrust between Vincent and Alba, and threatened Alba - indirectly, by setting the sawmill where Alba's dad's works on fire, and directly, saying to Vincent that the only way to keep Alba safe is if Vincent leaves town with Simon.

Vincent's also run away from his parents, screaming that they don't understand him or what he's going through, and he's taken 1 Harm from smashing up a mirror that Simon was haunting - however that 1 Harm was healed by Seed through some narratively described fairy magic.


Alba the Witch

Alba started the session refusing to use magic, as she was still freaked out by a hex she'd cast four years ago that was still affecting someone. She had a nice, simple relationship with Vincent, and was fairly unaffected by Simon's death.

By the end of the session, Alba was putting the finishing touches on a Binding spell to stop Simon from harming her and Vincent. She's used Vincent to retrieve a sympathetic token of something that'd belonged to Simon - who has targeted her for some reason. Vincent also knows about the wind that speaks secrets to her, but has decided to trust her.

What Vincent doesn't know is that earlier that day, Seed the Fae spoke to Alba at school and turned her on. And Seed's malicious twin sister/brother Blossom has impersonated Seed and is interested in Alba as well.


Seed the Fae

Seed started the session as an uncomplicated sexual tourist, visiting Te Anau from the Fairy Realm in order to sow her wild oats. She didn't have much reason to associate with Vincent or Alba, and she hadn't made any promises or had anyone promise anything to her.

The session kicked off for her with Nicky, the girl that Alba had once hexed, approaching Seed and saying that Seed had made her pregnant - something Seed insisted was impossible because Seed is a girl. Nicky got angry with Seed and revealed that she's a fae to a few people. Seed calmed her down by agreeing to take Nicky to visit the Fairy Realm; in exchange, Nicky promised to not put Seed in danger, and to not tell anyone about her trip to the Fairy Realm. This is a huge deal because the hex that Alba once put on her was that Nicky can only speak the truth - something I intend to play to full dramatic effect

After gazing into the Abyss, Seed also noticed something was wrong in Te Anau - and she mistook the mystical energy around Alba and the Binding spell she was preparing as the source of whatever's wrong.

Seed took Nicky into the Fairy Realm, and left her there with her father! Seed's father also gave her a mystical knife and a potion of suggestibility in order to deal with the Alba situation.

She ended the session having turned Alba on, ... and she may have turned Vincent on, too (I forget exactly what happened in that almost-final scene between them, but a crapload of moves happened including a couple of big 'Shut someone down' rolls).

Jenni

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Re: A fun first session!
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2011, 07:31:08 AM »
Vincent took another harm, from staring into the abyss. Also, Seed marked Vincent with the healing - weird tattoos that mean 'this boy is Seed's in fae'. I don't think she'd turned Vincent on...but she did get at least one string on him, and he shut her down at the end.