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Author Topic: [MLwM] Dr. Sweet's Clinic  (Read 7633 times)
Christopher Weeks

Posts: 683

« on: January 23, 2004, 09:11:49 AM »

We played this game in one sitting.  It was on a Sunday afternoon and I think actual play ran from around 1:00 to around 6:00.

The Master:

Dr. Leopold Sweet—runs a clinic (a former asylum) and makes living art that supplies the sideshows of several of the circuses that roam Central Europe. He has big, blocky hands with thick fingers. He greatly enjoys the feel of surgery.

Dr. Sweet Needs:
•   Townsfolk brought
•   Townsfolk tended
•   Supplies and literature for library brought
•   Logistics & cover-up

The Town:

A significant crossroads town with several satellite villages.  There is enough local population to support multiple circuses stopping in town and provide patients for Dr. Sweet’s clinic.

The Minions:

FIDDLER—slim, small
   More Than: Plays alluringly beautiful music except when being watched.
   Less Than: Can’t speak unless spoken to (This has to be my favorite Less Than!)
Starting Connections:
   Arlo Zimmer: The town musical instrument craftsman.
   Renee: A little blind girl who likes Fiddler’s music

OZZIE—big, ugly
   More Than: Can surprise anyone, except in the presence of animals
   Less Than: Repulsively ugly, except in the moonlight.
Starting Connections:
   Elaine: The woman Ozzie had a crush on before he worked for Dr. Sweet.
   Harry: Son of one of the circus lion tamers (about 10 years old). Had to stay behind in town because of a broken leg.

GREGOR—is 26, looks 42. His suit is 25 years out of date.
   More Than: Can persuade anyone of anything, except in a crowd.
   Less Than: Uncontrollable kleptomania, except on holy ground.
Starting Connections:
   Karl: An old Prussian war hero who attends every circus.
   Emily: The devil-child! The doctor grafted horns to her head, but she is not healing very quickly, which is why she has not left with a circus. (She is the INNOCENT).

Played Scenes:
•   Ozzie is ordered to bring Karl
•   Gregor is ordered to silence Harry (since he is spying on the master and will tell his father that the master supplies other circuses, as well)
•   Fiddler to bring a little girl to be grafted with Karl
•   Ozzie & Gregor negotiate & both travel to Harry’s house together. They enter his bedroom while he’s sleeping to look for evidence he is (or is not) a spy.
•   Fiddler intentionally breaks one of the strings on her violin so she can see Arlo (Overture)
•   In Harry’s room, Ozzie calms Harry, even as Gregor fails his Villainy check and sets the desk ablaze. He puts out the fire and they go, not before Ozzie makes an Overture to Harry. They discover that Harry is indeed writing a letter to his father about going to another circus. Ozzie claims his intentions are innocent and he should not be harmed.
•   Fiddler lures a little girl fetching water up the hill and into a “trap room” in the clinic.
•   Ozzie & Gregor go to Karl’s cottage. Ozzie insists that Karl accompany them, but Gregor subtly warns Karl. Ozzie fails Villainy & Karl comes downstairs w/ musket & saber & drives them off. Gregor sneaks back later to warn Karl to flee town.
•   Fiddler plays a lullaby for Emily in the dungeon (Overture)
•   Ozzie is reprimanded for failure. Dr. Sweet spends some time belittling him & orders him to prep the little girl that Fiddler brought in.
•   Fiddler is praised for a job well done. She is told that Karl will be heading for a stagecoach today and he must be brought here.
•   Gregor explains that he did not silence the boy because the boy is no spy. The Master does not agree, but he has more pressing matters. The Munchausen circus is in need of new drums (they are played during animal tricks & such). Gregor is ordered to fetch Arlo Zimmer here to make some very special drums.
•   Ozzie finds the trapped girl is blind. However, she still manages to bite his hand and crawl off.
•   Fiddler finds Karl and tells him that Gregor is in trouble, he must come to the clinic immediately. “And come armed.” Karl follows, along w/ the 2 boys who are carrying his trunk for him (one of them is Harry).
•   Gregor writes a letter from Dr. Sweet to Arlo inviting him to tune the piano. Arlo readily agrees. Gregor makes an Overture by being fascinated with drums.
•   Ozzie searches for the girl, and sees that she slipped down the storm drain that empties into a stream below the clinic.
•   Fiddler & Gregor and their charges meet on the road. There are several attempts by each to shoo their connections away, but to no avail. Upon the group arriving in the foyer, Fiddler summons the Master. Gregor takes Arlo to the conservatory & locks him in (with Fiddler who makes another Overture by helping tune piano).
•   Ozzie finds the blind girl flailing in the stream below and being pulled to safety by Elaine, his old crush. He sulks back to the clinic.
•   In the foyer, Gregor stresses to Karl that the clinic is a dangerous place and he must flee. Dr. Sweet arrives. Karl pulls his musket from his trunk and levels it at the Master’s chest. Gregor stays out of the conflict. Dr. Sweet, with one hand, grabs the musket barrel, bends it, and swings it, hitting Karl square in the chin with the stock. Karl is left lying unconscious across his trunk.
•   Ozzie enters foyer. Dr. Sweet orders Gregor to take the two boys downstairs. He is unhappy at Ozzie’s failure and bellows “I want a young girl prepped and ready in operating theater #2 in half-hour!” Dr. Sweet goes to conservatory. Gregor fails to capture boys. (This brings Weariness above Reason, so we facilitate the capture as follows) Gregor chases the boys toward town.
•   In the conservatory, Fiddler is reluctant to leave Arlo w/ the Master until he orders her to go take Karl downstairs and prep him in theatre #3. She resists the command, but leaves anyway. She fetches Karl’s pistol and heads downstairs.
•   Ozzie is left with no alternative. The blind girl is gone and the only little girl that he can prep is Emily, the devil-child. He enters her cell to grab her, but the rat in the cell gives her advance warning and she scurries out, closing the door behind her. (It locks, as this brought Ozzie’s Weariness above Reason.)
•   Gregor is in the town gaol. He pleads for mercy from the townsfolk, confessing the horrible things the Master made him do, and makes a successful Overture to Sheriff Reiter. Sheriff: “I thought he was up to no good up there. That building is a place of evil.” The Sheriff begins to gather a group of armed townsfolk to storm the clinic, to be lead by Gregor. (Someone suggested the idea that there had been a previous Master to live in the clinic many years ago, and that the Sheriff and Dr. Sweet were two of his minions and that this was their epilogue. We all  thought it was cool, so we went with it.)
•   Ozzie is locked in the cell, when he hears voices. It is Elaine & Renee! Elaine confronts Ozzie in the cell. He pleads for mercy, but the Overture fails. She sees the wound on his hand where Renee bit him. “You’re a beast!” They flee. Fiddler releases Ozzie from cage.
•   Fiddler sees Emily sneaking into the dumbwaiter. She attempts an Overture by playing for her. Emily sticks her head out, sees Fiddler, recognizes the music that lured her here in the 1st place, and crawls back into the dumbwaiter.
•   Gregor, outside a church, makes Overture to Harry by returning a wooden toy lion he stole from his room the previous night.
•   Fiddler enters conservatory. Arlo is unconscious in the corner, a drum broken over his head. Dr. Sweet reprimands her for failing to take Karl downstairs. “Mr. Zimmer did not appreciate my ideas of how to build a better drum. I’ll have to graft something loyal to him. Perhaps a dog.” He orders Fiddler to prep Arlo in Theatre #3. She cannot resist. She wrestles the slowly-awakening Arlo into submission.
•   Dr. Sweet orders Ozzie to take Karl downstairs. Ozzie goes to foyer, but Karl is no longer there.
•   Gregor and Sheriff, Harry, and mob approach clinic. Karl is staggering out, leaning heavily on his cane. He collapses in Gregor’s arms. Ozzie exits clinic, sees mob, rushes to grab Karl & is clubbed by the Sheriff.
•   Fiddler is downstairs, strapping Arlo to the operating table. “You have to trust me. This is the only way to get you out.” Overture succeeds. Arlo trusts her.
•   Ozzie makes Overture to Sheriff  “I will guide you through the twisting halls of the clinic.”
•   Gregor Overtures Harry by sending him and the other children away.
•   Dr. Sweet enters the operating theater. Fiddler is pointing gun at him. “Put that gun down and hand me a scalpel!” Fiddler cannot resist!
•   Gregor & Ozzie and mob make their way into the dungeon of the clinic. Gregor & Ozzie stand in doorway of theatre #3. Gregor says “Fiddler will not help you hurt Mr. Zimmer. They have a relationship.” The master looks enraged for a moment. Then, very gently says to Fiddler “I understand that you can sometimes get confused—sometimes think that someone else could love you. But no one can possibly love you except for me. You have a simple choice to make.” He picks up the pistol, gripping the barrel in his massive hand. He rests the muzzle against Arlo’s head, offering the handle to Fiddler “Pull the trigger and tell me you’re mine.” Fiddler says “No!” She snatches the gun from his hand and Endgame begins!
•   At that moment, there is the shout from the hallway “Kill that freak! It’s a demon!” Emily is in trouble and Gregor & Ozzie rush to save her from being struck by Karl & the Sheriff, throwing their bodies in the path of the blows.
•   Fiddler leaps on top of the operating table & points the pistol at the Master. “You’ll never hurt him. You’ll never hurt anyone ever again!” He swats her down with a single blow, and the pistol goes skittering off into the hall.
•   Ozzie has an Overture by telling Emily she must flee and telling her of the storm drain. He blocks the mob from following her.
•   Gregor rushes down to theatre #3 and picks up the gun.
•   The master has climbed atop the table. Fiddler is lying helplessly on the floor. Things go into slow-motion. Gregor throws the gun. The Master leaps toward Fiddler, his massive shadow dwarfing her, then his bulk blocking the camera’s view of her. We see the gun sail through the air toward her, and disappear from view behind the Master. He falls upon her, then a beat, then there is a small bang. He rolls off her, limp and dead.
•   The mob tears Ozzie apart in their failed attempts to get to Emily.
•   The Sheriff takes Gregor & Fiddler by the hand. “This evil is finished. Let’s go home.” And leads them to the village. Emily escapes through the storm drain and sneaks off into the woods.

Epilogues: Gregor and Fiddler integrated into the town and Ozzie…um…didn’t.

I think we started kind of slowly in crafting the master.  We’d throw out ideas and most of us would say “yeah, that would work…but so would the opposite!”  Eventually there was a critical mass of opinion, spurred on mostly by the GM and then embellishments came more readily.  Is finding the initial footing to get started a common choke point?

The assignment of the special dice was interesting to watch.  I never tried to play to earn the dice, but I did end up with the sincerity die three, I think, times and the others maybe once or twice.  Have y’all observed trends in certain players or groups for assigning/receiving these dice?  Our GM is estimating having given a bonus die for ~80% of the rolls.  I would have guessed lower, but they increased in likelihood as we played.

I’m really impressed by how little attempting to steer the game was needed.  The mechanics are so incredibly tight that the game is inexorably propelled toward the climax.  I’d guess this is the most oft noted aspect of the game, but it has to be worth mentioning again.

I am now excited about getting a chance to run My Life with Master after having played it once.  I’m also interested in hearing/seeing how differently it plays with a different group.  Does anyone with broad MLwM experience (Paul?) have interesting observations along these lines?  Is one group likely to play similarly even with different masters/minions?

Also, I have found myself quite interested in what happens to these characters after the camera fades away.  For being all off-the-cuff, I’m impressed with how remarkably the characters (PCs and NPCs alike) in our story "came alive."  

Chris (Gregor)
Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 2341

« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2004, 09:53:22 AM »

Hey Chris,

What a great game! I love the interpretation of Gregor's failed Villainy as a failure of nerve, meaning that he puts the fire out.

I'm also interested in hearing/seeing how differently it plays with a different group. Does anyone with broad MLwM experience (Paul?) have interesting observations along these lines?

My fiancé Danielle is convinced that if an all-female group ever played MLwM, that it would be very different in character to how guys play it. She cited her character Ambrose's theft of Miss Molly's shoes during our http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=3494">playtest game as an example. Danielle thinks the game would be played much more subtle and psychologically creepy like that by an all-female group.

So yeah, now I'm on a mission to get an all-female group to play and post about it, or for one of the participants to write a review.


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
Michael S. Miller

Posts: 846

« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2004, 09:57:15 AM »

Quote from: Christopher Weeks
Our GM is estimating having given a bonus die for ~80% of the rolls.  I would have guessed lower, but they increased in likelihood as we played.

Yeah, I'm just a big softie. But I also was trying to use them to lure impassioned performances out of the players. With some success, I might add.

It was a great game. Thanks for posting this, Chris.

Serial Homicide Unit Hunt down a killer!
Incarnadine Press--The Redder, the Better!
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Posts: 16490

« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2004, 10:56:16 AM »


I can't give a solid percentage estimate, but having GM'd this game twice and played a character in an extensive series of sessions, I can say that the bonus dice get used well over 50% of the time in my experience.

I think that's a good thing - "bonus" doesn't necessarily have to mean rare, and in the case of this game, I don't think inflation (decreased enjoyment-value per bonus) sets in at all.

joshua neff

Posts: 949

« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2004, 05:16:23 PM »

Having played (playtested) once & run it once, I'd say in my experience, the bonus dice do get used a lot. As with Ron, I don't see this as a bad thing at all, since the bonus dice require a certain pushing of PC behavior.

This game sounds great. But then, gothic European carnivals are always cool.


"You can't ignore a rain of toads!"--Mike Holmes
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