*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
February 22, 2020, 01:24:09 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 166 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Mortal Coil][DexCon]I Promised I Wouldn't Title This Thread That One Thing...  (Read 6430 times)
Nathan P.
Member

Posts: 536


WWW
« on: July 21, 2006, 07:03:36 AM »

Let me preface this post by saying that Mortal Coil is my new favorite game.

So, I played in the Old Gods playtest at Dreamation, and had a good time. When it came to my attention that Brennan was running a pickup of the game at DexCon, I made sure to be free at the time. At the table were Brennan, myself, Alexander, Phredd (right? I am so afflicted with non-name-memory), Shawn and Chris. I think I had played Plunder with Phredd and Alexander earlier, and I think this was Friday, so I would later play Burning Empires with Alexander and Chris. I had played Polaris and Carry with Shawn previously. So, I was pretty comfortable at the table, and totally pumped for the game. I think everyone else was as well.

We decided that we wanted a "grim and depressing" game, and we got it. In our Theme Document, we decided that we would play in an Victorian/Gaslight kind of steampunky setting, with an entrenched aristocracy holding all of the power over the working class in huge steam-powered cities. The aristocracy kidnapped all children who showed magical potential, thus making a meritocracy as well - magic-workers (or Projectors, as we started calling them) were "by definition" aristocracy. However, we decided to play characters involved with a rebel working-class organization, who snapped up children that they could get to, and used them as weapons against the aristocracy. This was because we decided that magic worked by being fueled by the degree and kind of emotion felt by the Projector. These rebels has figured out a way to bind Projectors to adults, called Handlers, who had to abuse the children in order to bring about the strong emotion required for magical effects.

So, yeh, pretty grim and depressing. In the best way. The Theme Document had us all engaged, riffing off each other, throwing out suggestions, etc. Brennan did a good job at cutting us off when we had a solid Theme, but before we started playing before play.

I played an older, entrenched member of the Organization, who was starting to lose his idealistic zeal. Alexander played the 12-year old Projector who was bound to me. Phredd and Shawn played another Handler-Projector pair, except that Shawns character was a girl and Phredd's handler was a little more "kind" than mine. Chris played a "great white hunter" type who wasn't a very good Handler (low Aptitude score), and had recently lost, or possibly sacrificed his Projector for an undetermined reason. 

The game was wicked awesome. Magic Tokens are badass. Basically, everyone has a pool of them, and at any point you can spend one to establish a Magical Fact, which means that you can establish anything you want about magic, how it works, what it can do, and so on. However, every Fact comes with a Price. If a player introduces a Fact, the GM sets the Price, and vice versa. The Price is either something negative for a positive Fact, or a positive exception for a negative Fact. So, in our game, someone (for example) spent a Magic Token to establish that Handlers and Projectors are mystically leashed together, and this link allows the Handler to control when the Projector uses their magic. The Price, however, was that theres feedback along the leash, and the emotions of the Projector, which the Handler is inflicting upon them, effect the Projector. Later, we decided that this included the fact that Handlers have dreams that stem directly from the magic they make their kids do.

Over the course of the game, we all spend at least one, and some people spent many more than one, Magic Token in order to establish Facts (you could bind the soul of a Projector into an item in order to create an anti-magic charm, but all Projectors can hear the moaning of the entrapped soul was another that stuck with me). These all built on each other, forming an extremely evocative web of context for our characters, and for the world. This was a great and focused application of the whole "harness the creativity of the table" thing pioneered by PTA. After the game, I kept on going up to people and saying "Mortal Coil is awesome. It's like PTA, but ALL THE TIME!". And thats how it felt to me - a continual, graduation, and escalating Series Pitch, with direct mechanical and fictional consequences in the game.

It also has an adapted Fan Mail mechanic with Power Tokens, which is always rockin'. Oh, and when you make the Theme Document, you establish the villains of the story before you make characters, which is really neat. It gives everyone a couple of focus points for character creation, and really helps pull you from "here's this cool world" to "here's these specific characters."

We didn't get to play for a particularly long time, and Phredd had to leave early, but we managed to get through some solid (and very harsh and intense) scenes, and I had a great time.

Other players, anything I missed? Everyone, any questions?
Logged

Nathan P.
--
Find Annalise
---
My Games | ndp design
Also | carry. a game about war.
I think Design Matters
thwaak
Member

Posts: 54

Feeling Scairy


WWW
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2006, 07:25:28 AM »

 I'm very excited about the possibilities of Mortal Coil (every AP post I've read, leaves me all jazzed up) based on the accounts of it...but I haven't heard anything about long term play. Based on your experience, how suitable is Mortal Coil for long term play/campaigns?

Thanks,
-Brent
Logged

- Brent Wolke
Currently writing Scairy Tales for Savage Worlds.
Currently mucking with Animated Heroes for myself.
Iskander
Member

Posts: 226

Alexander Newman


WWW
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2006, 07:59:22 AM »

I think we opted for "bleak and disturbing", although it did get to be distressing, also.

We eventually established that Chris' great-white-hunter guy had made his projector immolate himself explosively to permit us to escape from our failing sabotage attempt. I was revolted.

The 'disturbing' part gave rise to something interesting for me: we had established that the handlers got feedback from the emotion-based powers of the projector kids, and were looking for a way to make that a high enough price for the benefits of using their magic. I recall thinking, "you want disturbing? Alright, I'll bring it," before establishing that the feedback involved a sexual component for the handler - it turned them on. My memory of the moment has all three handlers physically drawing back from the table right then, and a chorus of "oh!" and "no!" and "yes!" and "ew!"  For me as a player, this was hugely satisfying, because it effectively raised the stakes of play: sure, I'm a 12-year-old being used and abused by self-righteous terrorist proletarians, but if you, Nathan, want to use me, you have to accept the consequences of something that I bet your character is fighting to deny... or to embrace paedophile arousal in a just cause. Have fun!

For me, the game was all about how far we're willing to go in pursuit of our noble goals: it was framed as a nasty-bad-wicked aristocracy-cum-magocray, and we were setting out to be 'the good guys', but we quickly established that - for my money - the ends were not worth the means being employed. That was reflected in my character's ultimate disposition: he turned coat big time, seduced by kind words, luxury, and the promise of power - ambrosia to an abused 12-year old boy. I could see him turning in to an even worse persecutor of the insurrectionists, especially because of one of the mechanical highpoint in my game:

I was in conflict with the Witchfinder General (Big Bad), and I ended up winning my stakes: I forced him to accept one of my passions, and in exchange would take one of his. This sort of thing is totally kosher in the rules - IIRC, I sacrificed a magic point to establish that powerful projectors could force passions onto other people, the price being that they took on their victim's passion. In the game fiction this meant that I completely lost my (strictly fraternal) passion of love for my sister (Shawn's character), which the Witchfinder gained, and instead I took on "The insurrection must be hunted down and eliminated, to the last man." Talk about the abused becoming the abuser.

One less-than-perfect note was that "8M" (the insurrectionist projectors were not given names) did not reach a satisfying resolution. Instead of merely suspending play on a (great) session that will never be picked up again, I would have like us to spend five minutes with an epilogue of what we saw happening to the characters in the world.

Brent - I don't know. It played really well in a four-hour session, and I wanted more from 8M, and the terrible world we had made. There was definitely more territory to explore between the office of the Witchfinder and the insurrection. So it would definitely work as a multi-session game. As a long-term campaign? No idea!
Logged

Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14
Brennan Taylor
Member

Posts: 499


WWW
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2006, 02:32:58 PM »

Nathan beat me to the punch. I did have an AP prepared for this one, and I will post it in its entirety. There's a little repetition from the above, but there are some other details as well.

At DexCon, I gathered some interested players for a pick-up game of Mortal Coil. I had Alexander Newman, Chris Gunning, Phredd, Nathan Paoletta to start. After theme creation, we were joined by a fifth player, Shawn de Arment, who seemed to fit in at that point just fine (although this is sometimes a problem with Mortal Coil: players not present for theme creation really need to read it).

The tone of the evening was established early on: bleak and disturbing. It said so right at the top of the theme document, and of course that is just what we got. We decided to create a fantastic world, one that was not contemporary or historical. We decided on a gaslight setting, but one in which magic is overt, if rare. What we ended up with was a foggy, cobblestone city, with immense dynamos generating electrical power, rusty tunnels running beneath the city, and a vast, black tower, home the the witch-finders, and their leader, the Witch-Finder General. Witches, or projectors, as we called them, were individuals with the ability to do magic. All magic was based on emotions, and projectors could harness their emotions and make them physically real. The ruling class of this world consisted of those who had these powers, and the oppressed proletariat were unpowered individuals who labored for the magical aristocracy.

The party was a group of resistance fighters, aiming to overthrow the aristocracy. The resistance, to gain access to magic, would kidnap children who showed signs of magical proclivity and use them as tools against their enemies. Those who controlled these magical children were called Handlers, and they used intimidation and abuse to create the emotions of rage and fear that made the most powerful weapons. Among the first facts to be established was that Handlers got their charges to create a magical leash between them, which allowed the Handler to control the child and know where the child was at all times. In exchange, the Handler felt the emotions of the child through the leash, which also caused an erotic charge. Like I said, bleak and disturbing.

This fact is where we established a very firm Line in the game. Alexander proposed the erotic element in the leash, and many of the players were clearly barely comfortable with it, if not outright bothered by it. We joked about this a bit (Mortal Coil tagline: "Mortal Coil is not pedophilia, really!"), and the joking definitely displayed the discomfort and served to communicate that no one at the table was really eager to move any farther in this direction. During the rest of the adventure, nobody touched this fact at all, and the only time eroticism came out again was when two adult characters were involved. No one came out and stated that they didn't want the fact in, but the mood at the table communicated very clearly that that was far enough (if not too far).

The players created the following characters: Nathan played a veteran Handler with deep ties to the resistance, the nominal leader of the group. He was controlling Alexander's projector, a boy of 12 (M8, standing for male #8 if I recall), who wanted to free himself from Nathan's character's control, and help his sister, another player character. Phredd played another Handler, this one tried to be kind and well as stern with his charges, and controlled another projector, F3, Alexander's sister. She was played by Shawn, and was in love with Alexander's character, but didn't realize he was her brother. Last, Chris played a brutal Handler who had no regard for the lives of his projectors. He had no current projector, because he had forced his to kill himself in an operation before the opening scene.

Using this last event to go off of, I began with the group fleeing down a corridor, pursued by witch-finders. We established our first few facts in this scene as we determined what sort of powers the projectors had. Alexander used his fear of spiders to create a huge mass of the creatures to plug up the corridor. The price was terrible nightmares, which, thanks to the leash, would affect the Handler as well. The witch-finders were mostly non-magical individuals, but they had a projector with them as well, and she tried but failed to break through Alexander's barrier.

For the next conflict, we decided to have the characters try to escape. They split up to do this, and each had an individual conflict against the witch-finders to get away. Alexander's goal in the conflict was actually to get separated from his Handler. The scene was all of these little groups running down foggy alleys and cobblestone streets, catching sight of the red-uniformed witch-finders, doubling back, etc. Alexander ended up on a rooftop, and was caught by the witch-finders. He only committed one action token to escape, so he obviously wasn't trying too hard. He was whisked off to the witch-finders headquarters. The witch-finders set a trap and Nathan was captured following after Alexander.

At this point, we had determined that the witch-finders had charms that protected them from projectors, but they were made from the body parts of dead projectors. You see, only the best projectors actually make it to the aristocracy. The others are farmed for parts to make magic items. Phredd had been terrorizing Shawn for the whole game up to this point, telling Shawn that the aristocracy were vivisectionists. When this fact was determined, we realized it was all true.

Alexander, meanwhile, a very powerful projector, gets treated quite well, pampered, bathed, fed, and made a noble. He decides he likes this, but only after getting into a conflict with the Witch-Finder General. Alexander wanted the Witch-Finder General to look for his sister, and tried to push his passion onto the other character. It worked, but Alexander lost his passion and gained one of the Witch-Finder General's passions: a hatred of the resistance.

Shawn and Phredd, meanwhile, go and finish their mission, which was to disable a power generating station. They succeed, but are injured in the explosion and also taken to the headquarters. Chris follows along, and disguises himself to sneak in. Phredd had to leave the game at this point, and Chris' intent was to kill him and leash Shawn's character himself. Since Phredd was gone, we had Chris smother him with a pillow and moved on to the next conflict. Shawn escaped Chris, and goes to destroy the tower (and get rid of those vivisectionists, natch). Alexander catches Chris in disguise, meanwhile, and this prompted a really interesting conflict. Alexander wanted to shoot Chris as he walked away, and Chris used Will to defend. Chris won, so Alexander just didn't have the nerve to pull the trigger as Chris confidently turned his back and walked around a corner.

The final scenes occured in the bowels of the tower. Lady Sarah, the witch-finder from the tunnels, was interrogating Nathan, and tried to use his fear to break him. As a veteran Handler, Nathan established that getting the kids to lash out at their handlers is how they get leashed. He leashed Lady Sarah, and the price was that you are never supposed to do this with adults, because the emotional bond is too strong and the Handler is not in control. They fell in love immediately (and made love), and then tried to escape, only to be caught by both Shawn and the Witch-Finder General, and have the situation explode in a storm of projector-powers. Nathan escaped, Lady Sarah died to convince him to run, and the Witch-Finder General captured Shawn.

I have to say that this was one of the better Mortal Coil sessions I have played, and I felt like we really took the system out for its paces. Having some really hard-bitten indie gamers in the group helped a lot on this score. Alexander mentioned to me that this game really stayed with him, and it stayed with me as well. I have some really strong mental visualizations of the characters from the game in my head, especially the red uniforms of the witch-finders.
Logged

Brennan Taylor
Member

Posts: 499


WWW
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2006, 02:34:54 PM »

I'm very excited about the possibilities of Mortal Coil (every AP post I've read, leaves me all jazzed up) based on the accounts of it...but I haven't heard anything about long term play. Based on your experience, how suitable is Mortal Coil for long term play/campaigns?

Brent,

It is possible to do a long-term game with this. I have only had one game that was long-term at all, though, but that's more due to the fact that I have been playtesting with multiple groups, rather than playing with my local group over time.
Logged

Brennan Taylor
Member

Posts: 499


WWW
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2006, 02:36:12 PM »

One less-than-perfect note was that "8M" (the insurrectionist projectors were not given names) did not reach a satisfying resolution. Instead of merely suspending play on a (great) session that will never be picked up again, I would have like us to spend five minutes with an epilogue of what we saw happening to the characters in the world.

I wish you had spoken up when we were breaking. I would have totally been down for that. So, what's 8M's epilogue?

BTW, I think the name for this session was "Spare the Rod."
Logged

thwaak
Member

Posts: 54

Feeling Scairy


WWW
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2006, 04:08:01 PM »

I'm very excited about the possibilities of Mortal Coil (every AP post I've read, leaves me all jazzed up) based on the accounts of it...but I haven't heard anything about long term play. Based on your experience, how suitable is Mortal Coil for long term play/campaigns?

Brent,

It is possible to do a long-term game with this. I have only had one game that was long-term at all, though, but that's more due to the fact that I have been playtesting with multiple groups, rather than playing with my local group over time.

Thanks!

Chris from Endgame is supposed to pick up some MC from you at GenCon, and I'm going to buy one from him at ConQuest in San Francisco. Looking forward to it!
Logged

- Brent Wolke
Currently writing Scairy Tales for Savage Worlds.
Currently mucking with Animated Heroes for myself.
Iskander
Member

Posts: 226

Alexander Newman


WWW
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2006, 04:56:01 AM »

I wish you had spoken up when we were breaking. I would have totally been down for that. So, what's 8M's epilogue?
Me too! (But I'm not bitter - just something to think about with wrap-ups).

I think 8M, who had become Sir Charles ends up as Witchfinder General, and brings an appallingly bloody end to the insurrection, but dies at the hands (or mind) of his sister.
Logged

Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14
Shawn De Arment
Member

Posts: 37


« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2006, 03:49:43 PM »

I came in at the tail end of character creation, and was a little disappointed that I missed the setting creation. I was pleasantly surprised when I found that the setting continues to be created during play. F3 (my character) gets told that the witch hunters take you to the vivisection factories (which would be put out of commission if I destroyed the power plant). Next thing you know, somebody establishes (by spending a magic token) that magic items are made from projectors.
 
I loved how Passions worked. Just about the time I wish that I didn't take “Hate: my handler - 1” (who now seemed cruel but fair) I used my “Fear: going out of control - 2(?)” for the second time in the session as I blew up the power plant on top of our heads. This upped my Fear by 1, but I had to lower another passion (I chose the Hate) by 1. It allowed me to alter my character mechanically as my vision of her changed during play.
 
I agree with Iskander/Alexander about the story feeling unfinished. F3 & M8 had issues (conflicting loves) that they were never able to bring to the table, much less resolve. So to his epilogue I would like to add: But only if she is pregnant with his child.

My next step is to convince the 3 Laurell K. Hamilton fans in my regular group to give Mortal Coil a 3 session shot.
Logged

Working on: One Night (formally called CUP)
Brennan Taylor
Member

Posts: 499


WWW
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2006, 04:13:51 PM »

I guess the only thing I can say in my defense is always leave them wanting more?

My next step is to convince the 3 Laurell K. Hamilton fans in my regular group to give Mortal Coil a 3 session shot.

Mortal Coil would be awesome for a Laurell K. Hamilton type setting! Good call.
Logged

Iskander
Member

Posts: 226

Alexander Newman


WWW
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2006, 06:40:44 PM »

F3 & M8 had issues (conflicting loves) that they were never able to bring to the table, much less resolve. So to his epilogue I would like to add: But only if she is pregnant with his child.

Awesome! After all, what's a Victorian aristocracy without a bit of inbreeding?

Brennan - no excuse necessary: I had a great time. Epiloguing is a good tool, for con games, though, I think.
Logged

Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!