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[IaWA] A genetic nanopotion, mind tricks and Han Solo as a lesbian

Started by lumpley, December 28, 2007, 11:56:18 AM

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Me, Emily, Julia and Rob Bohl played space opera In a Wicked Age last night. It was fun. It was set on this aquatic alien planet with increasingly bad relations with Earth. Em's character was an alien orphan fleeing an arranged marriage. Her fiance was Rob's character, a much older guy, an expatriate Earthling, and a master of assertive mind tricks who'd trained the powerful and influential in this alien society. He'd also arranged to have a valuable mcguffin smuggled onto the planet by Julia's character with her fancy stealthy space ship and her crew of space lesbians. The two chief NPCs were a private detective called "the Amphibian" that Rob's guy hired to track down Emily's character, and a homeland security alien guy named Mongoo, who was out to purge Earthling influences from his planet.

The In a Wicked Age rules did their thing like they always do. Julia's character horned in on the Amphibian's job-turf, they struck an agreement and then shot at each other. Emily's character escaped from a homeland security cell, recovered her cyber-monkey, then considered an alliance with Julia's character but ultimately swiped the mcguffin and swam away with it. Mongoo the homeland security guy came in strong in the second half of the session, cranking pressure down on all three. The mcguffin turned out to be some kind of genetic reconfiguration nanopotion - Rob's character intended to use it to make himself young and attractive, even inhuman, for his beloved (Em's character). So when she tried to use it to buy her freedom from him he didn't bite. "Without you, what use is it to me?"

Through all this, the world blossomed, like it always does with In a Wicked Age. You start with some sketchy characters and circumstances, and with the very first scene implications start to ripple outward, so that by mid-session the Wicked Age feels alive and your own. It's cool. It's even cooler in subsequent sessions - the thing just grows.

Anyhow Emily's character went on the owe list first and only once, and stayed there. Julia's character went on the owe list lots and lots, but Julia cashed it in for advantage dice every time but one. Rob's character never went on the owe list at all, because Rob picked his fights where his character was strongest.

At the end of the session, Em's character and Julia's were about to leave the planet together to escape Mongoo, leaving Rob's poor character in a rough spot with him. Julia's character said to Emily's, "you'll have to disguise yourself," and Emily had her character go into the restroom at the space terminal and drink the genetic reconfiguration nanopotion. Emily said "I'm thinking 'human, human, human, human...'"

We don't know what it will make her into.

We Owe:
Jennevee (Emily's)
Diana (Julia's)
But we're pretty unlikely to ever play again, since Rob doesn't live around here. I liked what we were making though and I'd love to see it full-grown.

There's no oracle for space opera. We had to make it up. Here's what we did:


1. Have everybody write down two elements on 3x5 cards. If there are people around who're going to go to bed instead of playing, get them to write down two elements too anyway. Put them in a bowl. We had 10.

2. Draw four as usual, play as usual.

3. At the end of the session, the player whose character's up next goes through and chooses one, as usual. Her selection is limited but that's okay.

4. After the session, have everybody write down another element or two. Add them to the bowl. I think that for it to work long-term you'll need to add more than 4 elements per session - but I don't forsee your friends having any trouble with that.

Maybe when I'm home this afternoon I'll post the elements that we created for this game.

There you go! My big idea here is to play In a Wicked Age Over the Edge using these oracle-on-the-fly rules.

My big concern is that the events of the session will unduly narrow the new elements you create. One of the best things about the In a Wicked Age oracles is the curves they throw you, the nonhomogeneity of the elements. Maybe for an Over the Edge-y game I'd want to introduce some kind of exquisite corpse play into the element creation ... and THAT is serious Sign In Stranger territory. Huh.

Anyway we'll see.

I bet that at most fifteen people here could even follow this post, it's packed so full of things specific to a game that's not publically available yet. Sorry about that! I'm happy to answer questions though, anybody who's got 'em.



I could follow along just fine, but then I'm a huge fan of the original rules.

Are masteries gone? If not did they come into play in any way in what we read about here?

I remember reading about you very consciously using your strengths and not getting on the owe list during an early playtest; would you say (or would Rob say, is he around) that Rob made the same choice or did it just happen that way?

Cause there must be a way to double a character using the strongest stats all the time, right? (For example by using masteries if they're still in.)

I think I'd like to be able to pursue that as kind of a statement. In a game we played once, one of the "strong" characters (he might not have used his best stats exclusively) was whipped and became a recurring, and increasingly interesting and tragic figure.

Creating the oracle on the fly is cool. Is this going in the book?

In the game I mention above we did the oracle collaboratively, but wrote it down beforehand.

I'd love to see your elements. Even the one that didn't get drawn.
Anders Sveen


The cyber monkey, the mind trick discipline, and the cool spaceship were all masteries. They're called particular strengths now.

Let's see what we had in the oracle. These are the ones we drew:
A small community of Christians, humans and alien converts, on the aliens' home planet
A blue skinned orphan fleeing an arranged marriage to her elderly tutor
Smuggled goods of rare fortune, small enough to slip in a pocket
An alien princess asking for asylum (she never came up in play)

Here are the other original entries:
A young fertile planet with a newly awakened consciousness
The rotting hulk of a spaceship, flagship of the old empire, found at the end of a beacon
A gunship sold at the end of war into private hands
A daring young explorer, fresh from her stint at the academy, eager to prove herself and taking on all comers
A sassy spelunker looking for an alien god's heart in the depths of a planet made up entirely of millions of space ship derelicts that have accreted over time
The galactic savior-child stolen by pirates who want a planet as ransom

And here are the ones we added at the end of the session:
An ancient temple defiled by a swarm of insect-bots, sent by a disillusioned adherent
The first interspecial child is born
A colony of refugees in an asteroid belt
...And I must be missing one somewhere.

And yeah, using your best dice is absolutely no guarantee of success. It just gives you an advantage, and keeps you off the owe list.


Robert Bohl

Yeah I wasn't consciously choosing not to appear in the Owe list, I just was playing my character to his strengths. It was interesting. It was also interesting that I did so and utterly, thoroughly lost in the long run. My character did not get what he wanted at all.

So I got handed this guy who was set up to be a cross-special hebepheliac[url] (the orphan girl was 17) and decided it'd make him simultaneously creepier and more sympathetic to put his best dice in "for others" and "for love." We had this great moment, the only one in the entire game where the girl and my character spoke directly. He poured out all his love for this girl, how he didn't choose the relationship but wanted it to protect her, so she could practice her cult-like religion safely, how the universe was particularly cold and harsh for her species, etc.

It was this really moving and powerful bit where I couldn't look at Emily directly. In fact I spent most of the conversation not looking at her at all. The orphan was definitely affected as well. However, in the very next scene she chose to leave the planet, and it stabbed my poor little letch in the heart. It was awesome.

What was really interesting to me was how I wasn't at all upset for him. In fact I was happy for her, because we took this really great and moving scene where in most media she'd be won over to him, but Emily had the character risk killing herself for a chance at freedom. That was beautiful.

Thanks. I can't wait to own this. I also like collaborative Oracle creation.
Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG

Robert Bohl

Grr. Sorry about the messed up failure to close the url tag.
Misspent Youth: Ocean's 11 + Avatar: The Last Airbender + Snow Crash
Oo! Let's Make a Game!: Joshua A.C. Newman and I make a transhumanist RPG

Emily Care

That was a great scene, Rob. I will also never forget when your character put the muscle on Julia's Lesbian Han Solo, Diana, and her crew to find her or else. He was all business about helping Jenevee. Really tragic that he didn't get his chance to do so, though so perfect that she took the genetic potion instead.

That was one great game. It is too bad we will likely not play again. The way the new elements for the oracle were inspired by the events of the game is hot. I so want to see that first interspecial character born.
Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

Black & Green Games


That sounds like a super-fun game!

I put the oracle elements listed here into a new oracle at; please add any more you come up with if you do have the chance to play more chapters this way, or if your mind wanders to this game from time to time.
David Younce

dave dot younce at gmail dot com