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Author Topic: In Utero con play recap  (Read 4647 times)
Paul Czege
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« on: August 26, 2002, 10:32:26 AM »

Hey Ron,

I'm interested in any responses from people who got a chance to play the In Utero scenario at GenCon.

I have a question. How many times have you run In Utero? Our session ended with the real Jennifer giving birth to the fetus in the demon Jennifer. How often did you get this outcome? What range of other outcomes have you had with it?

Paul
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2002, 02:32:48 PM »

Hi Paul,

I ran the scenario at least six times, possibly seven. I took great care not to provide only one possible outcome, although the extent to which I explained that pretty much any "physical" outcome could be achieved via sorcerous rituals did vary. I tried to open up the possibilities more and more with each game.

However - and this is interesting - every single group reunited father, mother, and child. I stress that I did not dictate this to be the idea or desirable outcome, rather, it simply happened to be what every single group seemed to want to occur. In each case, it arose out of key decisions made for each player-charcter, although whose decision really punched it did vary around all three, from session to session.

What varied a great deal among the sessions, however, were the following.

1) How much of a bastard Robert (the father) was - some people played him as a complete prick who simply used all the female characters against one another, others as a pretty good guy who instantly accepted the return of Jennifer and his new status as a father, and still others as more of a victim.

2) What happened to Stephanie, the girlfriend - in one scenario, Jennifer and the Jennifer-demon killed her with their bare hands; in another, Robert endangered himself to get her out of the condo safely; in at least two, she was taken out of the picture (knocked unconscious, etc) and wasn't important to the climax.

3) How sympathetic the demon-Jennifer was - I played this character pretty consistently (especially once I had a couple reps under my belt), but it was very interesting how in some sessions, the player of the fetus-demon sympathized greatly with the demon-mom, and in others, she was perceived by all the players to be a plain and simple menace.

There were a few other nuances too, as with the characterization of Jennifer (ditz, victim, or determined heroine?), the actual nature of the rituals involved (usually a Banish, but not always), and more, but these three were the most notable.

Best,
Ron
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2002, 03:19:58 PM »

Hey,

However - and this is interesting - every single group reunited father, mother, and child. I stress that I did not dictate this to be the idea or desirable outcome, rather, it simply happened to be what every single group seemed to want to occur.

Are you sure about that? That ending certainly happened during our demo, but it wasn't even close to where I was headed with Robert. When I Contacted the fetus demon, I told it that there was no reason the comfortable womb life it loved really ever had to end. My intent was to convince it to help me banish the Jennifer demon. Had that happened, I would have let it continue to inhabit the Jennifer mom, or helped it sorcerously in some way if that was required. I absolutely wanted Robert to end up with Stephanie. What happened was that as soon as the Jennifer demon got banished, the whole situation changed to where Jennifer was in labor, giving birth to her own child. And when that happened, you closed your notebook and held your hands up in the air. And it totally seemed to me that the reunited father, mother and child ending was what you wanted to have happen. I left the table thinking, where did that come from?

But it was a demo, ostensibly intended to show off the game mechanics, and I didn't question it. I could see how maybe the two demons were linked somehow, so that if you banished one, they both went. The earlier Contact had worked the same way; when I Contacted the fetus one, suddenly I could talk to both. But it seems to me if you've got that construction, that any overt anti-demon act is pretty much going to get you the same father, mother, child reunion. The scenario seems designed for it.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2002, 06:57:46 PM »

Hi Paul,

H'm, good point. I should clarify: following that session, I decided not to dictate the desired outcome via GM fiat, like I had done in that one. My own assessment of it was that I'd pretty much taken over the story at that point.

So in all the following sessions, instead of just saying "how it works out" following a successful ritual, I took a few minutes out-of-game to explain to everyone about all the rituals and let the players work out how they wanted to do it.

'Course, I could be wrong, and the rigors of "forced closure" that make for a good con demo could have intruded as GM-fiat throughout all the sessions. However, as I say, following the first (or second, can't remember) in which you played, I did try hard not to do that.

Best,
Ron
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Michael S. Miller
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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2002, 03:46:15 AM »

Quote from: Paul Czege
What happened was that as soon as the Jennifer demon got banished, the whole situation changed to where Jennifer was in labor, giving birth to her own child. And when that happened, you closed your notebook and held your hands up in the air. And it totally seemed to me that the reunited father, mother and child ending was what you wanted to have happen. I left the table thinking, where did that come from?


That came from me. IIRC, we banished the Jennifer-demon together, and then I realized what I was carrying. My reaction could really have been anything: "Now that I have Robert back, he can take care of (a pregnant) me forever," as Jennifer's time sense is screwed up; "Well, he's been cheating on me, had no problem acting violently against something that looks like me, and has ignored me for a really long time, I'm taking little Robert, my other little Robert, and leaving!" However, I wanted the family unit to be restored (call me a fan of the nuclear family). I guess that's what Author stance is all about.

Quote
I would have let it continue to inhabit the Jennifer mom, or helped it sorcerously in some way if that was required. I absolutely wanted Robert to end up with Stephanie.


You heartless bastard! 8-)

I enjoyed the demo immensely. Gotta get to work, but perhaps I'll be able to post some commentary tomorrow morning. Ron, do you have specific questions of things you'd like me to comment on?

FWIW, on the long drive back from GenCon, I clarified my image of what Stephanie is doing 10 years later. The camera shows a lovely Christmas-card portrait of the Scurlocks: Robert, Jennifer, and 10-year-old Bobby (complete with missing tooth). A hand takes a bloody X-acto knife and begins to cut Jennifer's face out of the picture. There is soft but rising chanting. Jennifer's picture is replaced with Stephanie's. The camera has zoomed back so we can see Stephanie chanting at the demonic altar.
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2002, 08:11:43 AM »

Hey Michael,

Yeah...I remember you were totally angling for the reunion resolution. I'm not convinced, though,  that it was achieved for our game through an act of Authorial power on your part. The key factor in the reunion resolution, in my mind, is the link between the demons and the way that as soon as the Jennifer demon was banished, both demons were gone and your Jennifer character was giving birth to her real baby.

Consider that if I'd had Authorial power over the resolution, the Jennifer demon would have been banished, leaving Robert with screaming infant in his arms. He would have handed it to Stephanie, "Please hold my baby." Robert would have proceeded to put one of his old coats on your Jennifer mom character, who would have still been pregnant with the fetus demon, walked her down the street, and helped her onto the bus. Perhaps he would have aided the demon sorcerously to re-establish your previously hazy and deluded state of mind.

I think the demo showed the Sorcerer game mechanics very nicely, which is what demos are supposed to do. I only brought up the ending I was angling for on this thread because I know Ron is developing Sex & Sorcerer and planning a chapter on In Utero, and I wanted to raise a concern with basing theory in that chapter on the coherence of the outcomes of the demo games. He says he didn't orchestrate the outcome of the other demo games, so my concern is addressed.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
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