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Author Topic: Shadows - Actual Play from indie-netgaming.  (Read 2247 times)
Trevis Martin
Member

Posts: 499


« on: August 02, 2003, 12:20:33 PM »

Last night those of us hanging in the indie netgaming social irc (#indierpgs) room did a pick up game of Zak Arneston's Shadows. A creepy good time was had by all.

We decided to set the game in a WWII Romanian orphanage.

Chris Edwards was the GM

I played Mihai, a blonde 8 year old boy whose shadow was a big shadowy spider with a top hat.

Shreyas played Konstantyn, a 7 or 8 yr old boy with brown hair who was small for his age and who's shadow was 'a thing of darkness with too many eyes and too many teeth which often appears as a sillouhette of a man.

and Lxndr played Sorin, a 10 year old redheaded boy who squints all the time because his glasses aren't quite right.  His shadow was 'a bunch of babbly voices and grabby hands, it doesn't have a form you can SEE, but it's always there all the same...  you can hear it whispering, you can feel it grabbing you...  '

I will state for the record that I had never played the game before, I don't know about the others.  For a complete overview of the rules, see the above link, but the game is pretty simple.  Basically you have two dice and three tokens.  One die is your 'good' die and one is your 'shadow' die.  In any situation in which the GM calls for a roll you state what you want to have happen and what your shadow wants to have happen and roll both dice.  Whichever die is higher decides which outcome occurs with ties always going to the good die.  If someone doesn't like the result they can give you one of their tokens to make you reroll one of the dice.  They can continue to do so until they run out of tokens.  You can never spend tokens  on yourself, only on others.

We started off asleep, and are awakened by a noise (The rules say that's how this game always starts off.)  In our case the noise was the sound of a song as if it were being hummed on a summers day.  All three of us creep out of bed to see where it went.  Sorin is the first to reach the door  and he wants to peek outside.

Chris called for a roll.  Lxndr defined his good as he wanted to see where the music was going, and bad as we would be caught out of bed by one of the 'mamas'.  Shadow won the roll.  Shreyas gave a token to Lxndr to make him reroll the good die.  He did and succeeded.  For the most part we are narrating the success or failure, much like TQB's monologues of victory or defeat.  The rules don't specify narration and Chris is a lazy git.  (:


We avoid the Mama who was walking by the door and creep out into the hallway following the music towards the staircase towards the kitchen.  Mihai opines that this isn't a good idea, and they should go back, but gets called a scardy cat by the other two.  They both want to see if they can swipe some cookies like they did last week.  Sorin nudge Mihai in front of him to make him go down first.  Mihai opens the kitchen door. Chris calls for another roll.

I state for good: I open the door quietly to see what's in there, for shadow the door smacks loudly against the wall bringing adults out to investigate.  I win the roll.

Mihai looks into the kitchen which seems filled with an odd golden light but doesn't have anyone in it.  We creep inside.  We catch a veiw out of an unshuttered window (which is letting in the golden light of automobile headlamps) of Mama Lafka talking to a man in a Nazi uniform.  Sorin wants to hide as does Konstantyn.  Sorin pauses by the cookie jar though, wanting to snag some cookies. Mihai is curious and wants to watch the interaction outside.  Chris calls for another roll for all three of us.

Me first for Mihai.  I state that good die =  Nazi has Mama sign some kind of papers, shadow die = Nazi's grab Mama and drag her towards their cars and the big Nazi sends soldiers into the orphanage.  Shadow wins, no one challanges.

Shreyas then rolls for Kon.  Good= He can hear what's going on outside and has time to hide, Shadow= the Nazi's hear all the skittering around.  Shadow wins.  Lxndr makes him reroll hero.  Good wins.  

Finally Lxndr rolls for Sorin.  Good=get cookies and hides in the foyer, Shadow= drops cookie jar and is caught.  Good wins.

So Nazis come towards the building.  Konstatyn hears them in time and takes refuge in the old dumbwaiter.  Sorin grabs the cookie jar and hides in the grandfather clock in the foyer just as the nazi's come in the door.

Chris calls for another roll, this time in reverse order.

Lxndr: good=Sorin, munching on purloined cookies remembers secret passages and goes through the one in the back of the clock before the germans search it for valuables.  Shadow= The germans catch him when searching the clock.  Good wins.

Shreyas: Good = Kon remembers he's in a dumbwaiter and wheels himself to safety.  Shadow = His shadow scares him causing him to freak out and the Germans catch him.  Shadow wins. (Note on this roll Shreyas gets a 6 for his shadow and a 1 for his good die.  We figure it would have taken two tokens to get him to win the roll, so we abandoned him to his fate...besides it sounded like fun.)

Me: Good = I manage to open the latch to the cellar door and hide in it, Shadow = being caught by nazi's Good wins.

So Sorin remembers while muching on cookies, about the secret passages and opens the back of the clock and crawl into it just as the Nazis reach in to search the clock for something.  He continues to crawl through the cobwebby passageway until he discoveres that it is blocked, having been bricked over many years ago.  There is a hole in the brick through which he can hear the song that woke us up to begin with. Mihai makes in into the cellar and tries to go down the pitch black stairs as fast as he can.  Konstantyn freaks out when his shadow starts winking at him and is discovered in the dumbwaiter by two Germans.

Chris calls for a roll for Kon. Shreayas states good = the dumbwaiter collapses and drops him into the cellar.  Shadow = he scares his shadow which comes boiling out of the dumbwaiter into the Nazi's faces.  Shadow wins.

Konstatyn scrambles backwards from the Nazi's causing a little steel mirror  to fall out of his pocket, which lands in a little pool of shadow causing the twisted shape of blackness and eyes to come boiling out of the dumbwaiter towards the surprised Nazis, hissing.

Lxndr decides that he wants Sorin to break down the crumbling mortor and crawl on.  Chris calls for a roll. Lxndr decides good=breaking it down and crawling on, shadow = pile of brick and mortar collapse on him.  good wins.  I give Lxndr one token to reroll the shadow die, hoping it would win, because I liked it better.  Good won again. I decided not to spend another token (thought in retrospect I should have) Lxndr narrates that he is able to break it down and crawl on towards the sound.  He senses that their is more open space somwhere in front of him and calls "Hello?" into the blackness

finally cutting to me.  When Mihai reaches the bottom of the cellar steps he can hear laughter somewhere on the other side of the cellar.  When he goes there to investigate he finds that the wall is dirt with roots sticking out of it, and the humming is coming from instide the wall.  He puts his ear to the wall to try to hear better.

Chris declares a roll.  I decide good = the laughter/humming fades off but I find something on the ground, shadow = the wall grabs Mihai and pulls him into it, throught the dirt.  Shadow wins, no challenges (everyone liked it for a cliffhanger)

I narrate that the laughter gets suddenly louder and the old tree roots, creaking, reach out for him like twisted claws and pull him into the wall.  He finds it hard to breathe and blacks out.



All in all I found the game very enjoyable and creepy.  Again rather like the pool but without any sort of 'guided' option in the outcome.  Tension ran high for me and we all groaned appropriatly with good shadow outcomes.  There were, maybe too many 'they catch me, or dont' choices made for the positive negative outcomes, and I think I would be more confident in adding stuff to the story next time. I think by the end, especially after the Nazi decision I made (which had nothing, per say, to do with my character's actions)  I saw the mechanic in a wider framework and was able to give more interesting options.

Shadows is extremely easy to make character for (though we had to settle for descriptions over IRC where drawing it as per the rules suggestions is something I would like to try.)  Playing this makes me want to run it for my live group for a session or two.

All that said.  Here is another example of a great game I got to experience with fun, like minded people by hanging in the indie netgaming group.  I encourage anyone who is interested in experimenting with something to come on over and chat or message.  Who knows, you may be introduced to something fun!

regards

Trevis
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C. Edwards
Member

Posts: 558

savage / sublime


« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2003, 01:13:44 PM »

Shadows is great fun, especially for a pick-up game where you don't want to spend a lot of time with character creation. It's also incredibly easy on the GM which, as Trevis points out, is right up my alley. :)

A couple of observations. The players may also call for rolls, but this probably wasn't apparent because I called for rolls machine-gun style, not wanting to miss any opportunity. When I called for Trevis to roll for Mihai as he looked out the window I could sense that there was some hesitation due to not being sure why exactly he was rolling. That's when I stated that the roll was to see what happened outside with Mama Lafka and the Nazis. I tend to forget that not everybody may be used to having such a wide berth when it comes to exerting control on game-world elements.

Hopefully we'll have an opportunity to finish the game soon. Shadows never ceases to amaze me. It's very 'rule-lite' with a simple approach that is very powerful in play. If you're a game designer you should familiarize yourself with this game. It's a perfect example of how just a few simple elements can be put together in a way that leads to a solid game that offers hours of enjoyment.

-Chris
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Lxndr
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 1113

Master of the Inkstained Robes


WWW
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2003, 07:53:03 PM »

Here's the actual, unadulterated log of the narration window.  We had a good time, and I'm hoping to see what'll happen later.  My shadow was a pitiful weakling!  Konstantyn's shadow, on the other hand, NEVER lost a confrontation.  Mihai had mixed luck.  I'm looking forward to the continuation, and perhaps resolution!

(Oh, and unlike Trevis, I breathe a sigh of relief that I didn't have to DRAW anything... I'm more skilled with words than any sort of picture)

[21:10] <GM> Shadows
[21:10] <GM> .
[21:10] <GM> An orphanage in World War 2 Romania...
[21:10] <GM> .
[21:10] <GM> .
[21:22] <GM> The unrelenting wind drives the snow against the windows of the orphanage where it makes a sound like the beating of a bird's wings against the glass. Even with a little extra coal in the furnace of your room, the air is chill and threatens to turn exposed flesh into patches of numbness.
[21:25] <GM> You lay, sleeping fitfully in your semi-warm beds. Every so often the window is filled with a radient brilliance as the headlight from a Nazi patrol vehicle goes slowly by. Unlike many a night, it's not the Germans that wake you from your sleep. There's a sound... no, more like a song. A song being hummed on a summers day... the smell of flowers and the flash of sunlight off of golden hair.
[21:26] <GM> Suddenly, you find yourselves with your eyes open, staring at the cracked plaster of the ceiling. The last echo of that melancholy humming drifting away from you and out your bedroom door.
[21:27] * Sorin3 rubs his eyes and gropes around for his glasses. After putting them on, he looks around, seeing who else might have heard the humming.
[21:27] * Konstantyn3 pitches a whisper to carry to the next bed. "Did you hear that, Mihai?"
[21:28] * Mihai3 sits up and looks around
[21:28] <Mihai3> yeah...that was weird
[21:29] * Konstantyn3 shivers and pulls a discarded sweater from the floor. "Let's follow it."
[21:29] * Sorin3 squints at the two boys. "I'm gonna see where it went." He sidles off his bed and creeps towards the door.
[21:29] * Mihai3 crawls carefully out of bed and follows Sarin
[21:30] * Konstantyn3 tiptoes along behind.
[21:32] * Konstantyn3 is now known as Konstantyn2
[21:32] * Sorin3 is now known as Sorin4
[21:35] <Sorin4> Sorin hears one of the Mamas walking down the hall, and turns to the other boys and puts his finger to his lips.  "Sssshh," he says.  After a few moments, he cracks open the door.  Safe!  Quickly, he darts into the hall.
[21:37] <GM> <As you enter the hall you catch a faint whisp of humming towards the stairs to the kitchen, and as it fades light and bubbly laughter.<
[21:37] <Mihai3> "I dunno if this is a good idea" Mihai says following Sarin
[21:38] * Konstantyn2 chuckles softly. "You scaredy-cat. That's what you said when Sarin and I stole the cookies last week. Did we get caught? No."
[21:38] <Sorin4> "Oh, c'mon, it's fun.  Besides, what's the worst they can do?"  Sorin looks towards the kitchen.  "Besides, maybe we can get in the cookies again.  Let's go!"
[21:39] * Mihai3 shivers at the 'worst they can do' line but follows reluctantly
[21:40] * Konstantyn2 wonders if he remembered to tuck Yasha in before he left... the bear mihgt catch a chill.
[21:40] <Sorin4> Sorin nudges Mihai in front of him, letting him be the first to walk down the stairs.
[21:41] * Mihai3 looks at Sarin with wide eyes
[21:41] <GM> <You avoid the usual creeky places on the stairs as you make your way down to the kitchen. You come to the swinging door at the bottom of the stairs leading to the kitchen. You can hear the "pip-pip" and whistle of a boiling kettle>
[21:42] * Mihai3 opens the door
[21:47] <Mihai3> Mihai cracks open the door very quietly and peeks around it into the light of the kitchen
[21:49] <Mihai3> the kitchen seems filled with an odd golden light, but the kitchen seems abandoned of people, Mihai sneaks forward
[21:49] <Mihai3> for a better look
[21:52] <GM> As you pass the monolithic table where the children eat their meals you catch a view out of an unshuttered window. The golden light is streaming in and you recognize it as the headlights of an automobile. You can make out a form in a threadbare heavy coat, this must me Mama Lafka, handing a steaming cup to amn dressed in the uniform of the Nazis.
[21:53] <Sorin4> "Oh... oh... ohhh.... Germans!  Hide!"  
[21:53] <GM> <you also notice the other door to the kitchen, the one that leads to the foyer, swinging slightly even though there is no breeze in the house...>
[21:54] <Sorin4> (in that case) Sorin heads off to the foyer for a better hiding spot.
[21:54] <Mihai3> curious, Mihai, watches Mama Lafka and the Nazi for a minute
[21:55] * Konstantyn2 hides in the shadowy place under the window seat, where he might be able to hear better.
[21:55] <Sorin4> On the way there, Sorin pauses in front of the cookie jar.  He reaches for it.
[21:55] <Mihai3> "Whas he doin here in the middle of the night?"
[22:02] * Sorin4 is now known as Sorin3
[22:03] * Konstantyn2 is now known as Konstantyn3
[22:06] <Mihai3> Mama continues to talk to the Nazi but she is shifting nervously from foot to foot as she speaks. Suddenly the big Nazi makes a guesture and a couple of solders grab her and drag her away towards there cars.  At another gesture a group of several soldiers starts trotting towards
[22:06] <Mihai3> the building
[22:09] * Konstantyn3 finds the knothole in the kitchen wall, and when he hears the footsteps approaching, he casts about the room for a place to retreat to. There! The dumbwaiter, unused for years, was still kept scrupulously clean by the maids. He steps inside it and shuts the door as the crunching of gravel gets ever louder.
[22:12] <GM> <The jackboots sound like gunshots as they slam against the frozen front steps. A shadow passes flittingly beneath the door to the foyer and a faint bit of laughter can be heard. Then you can hear rough hands at the front door...>
[22:13] <Sorin3> Sorin, cookie-jar in hand, dives towards the foyer when suddenly, he hears the soldiers coming inside.  He has no time!  He stumbles into the foyer, and clambers into the grandfather clock.  He barely pulls it shut when the front door opens.
[22:19] <GM> <Sorin can hear the the bits of ice and snow falling from the door as the latch turns and the door is pushed open. The foyer is filled with the sound of heavy boots and the breathing of cold men.>
[22:19] <GM> <Snippets of whispered German add to the chill...>
[22:23] <Sorin3> Frightened out of his wits, Sorin takes a cookie from the jar and begins to munch on it.  Sugar always helped soothe his nerves.  Suddenly, he remembered - the passages!  The orphanage was riddled with crawlspaces, probably used during the last war.  And one of them was inside this clock.  He quickly fumbled with the catch and slipped inside, closing it barely in time to hear the nazis, on the other side, open it to paw through for valuables.
[22:24] <Sorin3> Sorin crawls towards the cellar.  Nothing down there but musty bottles.  The Germans certainly wouldn't look for him there.  Would they?  He stops, and listens...
[22:25] <GM> As Mihai wrestles with the heavy cellar door he can hear the Nazis moving towards the kitchen door. That darn sticky latch is going to get him caught...
[22:31] <Mihai3> With a final shove the latch comes free and Mihai opens the cellar door just enought to slip inside.  He shuts it after him and, in his fear of the Nazis makes his way down the pitch black staircase as fast as he can...
[22:33] * Konstantyn3 fumbles around in the tiny closet, trying to figure a way to escape. Something makes him stop - a breath of warm, moist air. Eyes bloom before him, their slit pupils glittering with emerald malice.
[22:34] * Konstantyn3 shrieks at the sight, then freezes - he is caught between Something Bad that he doesn't understand, and the Nazi soldiers who must now know where he is.
[22:36] <GM> <Suddenly, the door to the dumbwaiter is thrown open, revealing Konstantyn to two gun-toting Germans. They look at him with surprise and amusement. One of the Nazis lowers his machinge gun and reaches into the dumbwaiter...>
[22:42] * Konstantyn3 scrambles backward, knocking a little steel mirror out of his pocket. The mirror falls into the pool of Shadow darkness and cuts through it like a red-hot knife; a twisting shape of blackness and eyes boils out of the dumbwaiter and into the kitchen, hissing.
[22:43] * Konstantyn3 cowers as the shape coalesces into that of a skinny man, dripping smoke from one cradled arm.
[22:43] <GM> .
[22:43] <GM> .
[22:43] <GM> Split Scene/Sorin
[22:45] <GM> <Old cobwebs stick to your face and small pieces of debri threaten to send you sprawling as you shuffle through the dark and narrow corridor.>
[22:45] <Sorin3> "Now I remember why I don't normally sneak around back here.  Ugh."
[22:47] <GM> Abruptly, you come to what feels like a brick wall. Somebody has bricked up the passageway. Your groping fingers reveal cracked and crumbling mortar, and your ears pick up the faint sound of a summery song through a fist sized hole in the wall.
[22:51] * Mihai3 is now known as Mihai2
[22:52] * Sorin3 is now known as Sorin4
[22:54] <Sorin4> Sorin, tired of this winter hell, pulls down the crumbling mortar.  The bricks topple easily for someone with his stature (all scrawny ten years), and he crawls beyond.  In the distance, slightly, it seems as though there's a more open space.  He crawls towards it, wary, knowing things lurk in the darkness.  He whispers, "Hello?"
[22:54] <GM> .
[22:54] <GM> .
[22:54] <GM> Split Scene/Mihai
[22:57] <GM> As you make your way down the worn and uneven steps you hear a shout of surprise from the kitchen. Reaching the bottom of the stairs you can hear oh so faint laughter echoing from somewhere on the other side of the cellar
[22:58] * Mihai2 makes his way towards the other side of the cellar
[22:59] <Mihai2> looking for the laughter
[23:01] <GM> <you can feel a slight breeze coming from your somewhere on your right. You move across the cellar until you come to the back wall. It's earthen and in less than great shape. There are several old roots protruding from the wall. You can hear the humming INSIDE the wall...>
[23:03] <Mihai2> Mihai listens at the wall, timidly pressing his ear to the dirt.
[23:09] <Mihai2> the laughter gets suddenly louder and there a creaking noises all around him.  Mihai looks around in terror as the protruding  roots turn and claw at him like mishappen hands, dragging him into the dirt wall. It becomes hard to breathe, and things suddenly go black...
[23:09] <GM> .
[23:09] <GM> .
[23:09] <GM> end session !
[23:09] <GM> 1
[23:09] <GM> :)
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
Maker of many fine story-games!
Moderator of Indie Netgaming
C. Edwards
Member

Posts: 558

savage / sublime


« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2003, 10:08:17 PM »

Edit: Pay no attention to this post. The problem has been fixed.

Just a note about the play log in Alexander's post above. There are a few entries missing in the post but if you highlight the text and use the 'quote' button you can read the full log in the reply window. This is apparently some strange artifact of me using <> to surround bits of narration.

-Chris
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Lxndr
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 1113

Master of the Inkstained Robes


WWW
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2003, 10:13:50 PM »

I edited it again and fixed it... removed the <> brackets in the offending spots...
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Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
Maker of many fine story-games!
Moderator of Indie Netgaming
Trevis Martin
Member

Posts: 499


« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2003, 10:18:19 AM »

The numbers after the character names on the narration log are the number of reroll token that each player has at that point.  You can see the places where they change.

For those of you who've not gamed in IRC we kept a seperate window for OOC interaction and kibbitzing.  That was where Chris called for rolls and we discussed options.  Its one of the interesting features of IRC gaming, I think.  That the software reinforces the different conceptual 'rooms.'

regards

Trevis
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