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Author Topic: [Under My Skin]...got under my skin. Now, with pictures!  (Read 10587 times)
EarthenForge
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Posts: 12


« on: August 21, 2008, 04:41:28 PM »

img]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3041/2783879415_ef98b6074e.jpg?v=0[/img]
We started out discussing our own relationships, lines and veils, etc. to get us all more or less on the same page and establish a baseline of trust. Then we created our characters, decided on partners and randomly determined who the New Flames would be.

Meet Kelly, a Renaissance History professor who’s great in the classroom but has trouble relating to people on more personal levels. Her main issue is Superiority. This issue affects or is affected by other areas of her life. I chose Neglect, and my fellow players added Alcohol, Conversation, Friendship, and Rage. Brutal!

Kelly is married to Martin, a Library Assistant, who enjoys volunteering, intellectual discussion, and toes at his Muslim faith. Kelly’s friend is Dean, a journalist, whom she met through their regular writers’ group. Dean and Judy are partners, but they practice an open relationship. Judy’s Best Friend is Claire, a single mother whose life is radically different.
Because there were five of us, one person had to be left out of the initial partnerships. In this case it was Clair, but she had Best Friend status with Judy, which meant those two often had scenes together.

Kelly and Martin had low levels of intimacy (1) because they were both rather terrible at sharing their feelings and such with each other. Their passion was very high (3) however – sex was great and they often turned to it as a “feel close” temporary patch. Their commitment was middling (2) – they shared the common ground of intellectualism and domesticity, or, being fairly equal partners in thought and keeping the house. Kelly’s lines for Martin (line’s she couldn’t bare for him to cross) included having sex with someone else, spending too much time away from home, and expressing anger. Martin’s lines for Kelly also included having sex with someone else, as well as drinking with others, and criticism. Kelly and Dean had middling (2) Intimacy as friends – she felt much more comfortable talking about personal things to her friend than with her husband.

Dean and Judy were an interesting flip of our numbers. They were high in Intimacy (3) – they felt comfortable talking with each other about anything and everything. This left their Passion low (1) because they often overanalyzed and talked their Passion to death. Because they practiced an open relationship, they did not have the same “having sex with someone else” lines that Kelly and Martin shared. But Dean’s lines that he did not wish Judy to cross included spending too much money and having sex with others w/o protection. Judy’s lines for him included kissing someone else on the lips and dancing with others, because they had shared some wonderfully intimate dances.

After all of this, we had to roll to determine whom would develop New Flames with whom in play. It was a tense couple of rolls. The results: Martin & Judy and Claire & Dean. Kelly was the odd one out on this – a difficult position to be in. I felt like she needed a hug before we even started.

The scenes followed a set chain of events that gave the game a bit of structure and direction. I don’t remember the order of everything, but we started with scenes to depict “a day in the life of” before the New Flames were introduced. For Kelly and Martin, that scene was busily tackling chores together while cheerfully discussing work. Kelly was quiet pleased about the lecture she gave on Leonardo da Vinci as an inventor. Martin brought home some rare sketch books of Leonardo to surprise Kelly. She was blown away by his thoughtfulness and quickly ran off to pour through them. It was a sweet beginning, but it had some subtle tells, I think. Kelly was delighted, but she didn’t show the extent of her pleasure, and she quickly retreated to her own quiet place.

Dean and Judy’s scene was cuddling before bed, watching TV and chatting about their days, other people’s problems, etc. It was truly delightful to watch – Rob and Sarah played this out so naturally.

Claire and Judy had a scene, chatting just like any long-time good friends would. There was honesty, warmth, and encouragement in their words and expressions and we begin to see Judy urging her friend to find ways to enjoy life a little more and ask for help with the girls. They set a date to go shopping.

In the next scene, everyone is together at party hosted by Claire. They all attended her younger daughter’s ballerina rehearsal and came to her house afterwards. Everyone is introduced to each other and the little party begins. Kelly and Dean explain that they’re in the same writer’s group, and Kelly praises Dean’s efforts at his first novel. Everyone wants to know what it’s about and Martin jumps in with his intellectual take on the topic. Subtleties abound. Kelly is dismissive of Martin. And Dean and Martin are having this sort of passive-aggressive exchange (Kung Fu would surely have followed if this were Mist-Robed Gate). Then the conversations steer towards the New Flames. Judy is fascinated by Martin’s ideas, and Claire and Dean begin discussing some sort of collaboration involving dance, music, and written word that is NOT a musical. Kelly gets up awkwardly for a second time to get people drinks. When the scotch comes out, she relaxes a bit – finally something she can relate to.

This is where I get really murky on the order of scenes, but Kelly and Dean have a scene a day or two later, at a bar, after their writing group. Kelly is reluctant to drink at first, because she knows it’s a line for Martin (drinking with others). Dean plants seeds of doubt in her head by pointing out her husband’s flirty behavior with Judy at the party that she had previously dismissed. He does not like Martin. Then he wonders what the big deal about drinking is. Feeling a little disgruntled at Martin and tired of defending him, Kelly waves it off as “some Muslim thing” and orders a beer.

Martin and Judy meet up accidentally, in the park, I think. And they continue flirting and learning about each other.

Claire and Dean meet up to try out some of their creative ideas for the music project. The New Flames grow.

We then have scenes similar to the opening scenes, but now with new information. Kelly and Martin are at home, getting ready for bed. She’s reading in bed. He’s getting changed. Strain in their relationship becomes quite apparent as she gets snippy and critical and he, stuffing his anger, just shuts down.

There is strain beginning between Dean and Judy as well. They discuss other people’s problems, some past issues, and Judy does not share her meeting with Martin. Dean also expresses his frustration with Judy for spending so much money shopping with Claire. Their love is still apparent, but the strain seems very real.

Judy and Claire continue their lovely relationship, laughing with, and confiding in each other. Claire is beginning to really listen to Judy and take more time for herself.

Scattered between the structured scenes are flashbacks to give more depth to the issues each character carries:

Claire (Anger) – about 8 years ago when her youngest daughter was just an infant. Her older daughter sits on the floor drawing a sweet picture of mummy and daddy together while her husband lamely explains that he’s leaving them. She is demanding more from him and he weakly replies that he needs to go – his girlfriend is waiting in the car. Then he hands over the baby and tells her she can keep the girls – she seems to need them more.

Kelly (Superiority) – back in high school. She sits at the kitchen table glaring at her older brother. Their mother comes in, full of praise for Kelly’s straight As. Kelly soaks it in and she and her brother have a tense exchange. With utter disdain, she calls him out on his substance abuse and how he’ll never go anywhere in life. She hates him for ruining his life and causing such trouble at home. With equal disdain, he dismisses her. When a neighbor comes over and chimes in with more praise for Kelly, she betrays her brother and grabs the failing report card he’s hiding to show their mother.

Dean (Honesty) – earlier in his relationship with Judy. He confesses to her that he got carried away and kissed another woman on the lips (crossing one of Judy’s lines for him). He was trying to be honest and apologetic. She, surprised and angry, pushed him away for a while.

Martin (Anger?) – this scene was more about how he and Kelly first met and fell in love. He had organized an anti-war protest, which she participated in. Afterwards, they went around trying to get signatures together. Frustrated by others’ apathy and seeking shelter from the rain, they found someplace dry to discuss ideas and make plans for dinner later on.

Judy (Desire to Play with Fire) – in high school, after a belly dancing performance that she starred in. She sees the awed and awkward reaction of a boy she’s crushing on and begins to understand the power she holds.

Back to the current story. The New Flames then have scenes where they are given the chance to cross one of their partner’s lines. Other participants play angel and devil consciences. In the first scene, Claire and Dean enter a martini lounge. They are quite enjoying their time and Dean eventually shakes hands with the Devil to go dancing with Claire.

Martin and Judy meet in a quiet, private place and really open up to each other. Their passion is growing quickly. As Martin confides to Judy about his frustrations with Kelly, he avoids getting too angry, but he ends up sleeping with Judy. And Judy succumbs to the passion, knowing that they don’t have protection (“Martin’s monogamous – he’s totally safe!”).

Kelly and Martin then have a scene where he surprises her by showing up at her office. She’s very busy and stressed – the semester’s about to begin. He leaves, feeling more tender towards his wife, because he can see a less selfish/harsh side of her – she’s clearly doing all of this work for others.

We have another group scene – a birthday party for Claire at Dean and Judy’s place. There are several scenes where they all get progressively more drunk. Judy wonders if Kelly would be able to tell the men apart if they were naked and she was blindfolded. Kelly cannot believe that Judy is being serious and both she and Martin are a little weirded out by it. So they all just drink more. No one is sober enough to drive home so they all stay over. Judy and Dean and Clare all sleep together. Kelly and Martin stay on the pull-out couch and end up talking for a while.

Martin is expressing gratitude for their relationship, but includes Judy a few too many times in his conversation. Kelly’s suspicion grows (plus, we were nearing the end and no one had confessed yet – I wasn’t about to let this story end like that!) and she keeps prodding Martin about what he mean by this and that. At some point it becomes pretty clear that something went on. She gets up and rounds on him, “You slept with Judy!” He confesses and tries to explain, but it falls on deaf ears. Moments later, so full of rage that she can’t even speak, she storms out of the house, smashing her glass, and slamming the door.

A few days later, Kelly and Dean meet up. Kelly is still furious with Martin, but this time she does defend him to Martin. Especially when he suggests the she leave the scum bag. Then he confesses that he danced with Claire and never told Judy about it.

The final scenes take place some time later. Claire and Judy are still good friends, and Claire has loosened up a bit, even though she has no intention of repeating anything like the drunken threesome again. I’m pretty sure that Claire never tells Judy what she did with her partner, although Judy admits to Claire that she slept with Martin without protection.

Judy and Dean are still lovingly together, but neither of them have confessed their relationship sins to each other.

Kelly and Martin get back together after a time. They go traveling together and she’s okay with him getting more in touch with his faith. They are more open with each other now. He tells her that the biggest mistake he ever made was in not expressing anger with her. This sits oddly with her and she thinks to herself, “that is NOT your biggest mistake,” but she gives him the benefit of the doubt. “You mean that because it you from being open with me?” “That’s right. Is there anything that you’re angry about?” She smiles sweetly at him and says, “Nope!” And then they make plans to have some together time.


The End.

So elsewhere I mentioned this was one of the most quietly disturbing happy endings of any game I’ve played in. 

First, Judy and Dean, the modal couple for openness, never confessed their relationships sins to one another. On one hand, they still had a good relationship and confessing would have damaged it at least in the short term. But on the other hand, knowingly hiding something from your partner can subtly hurt them whether you realize it or not.

Which leads me to Kelly. Afterwards I wanted to shake her (even though I was the one playing her) and yell, “What was that about?! ‘Nope!’ Are you kidding me?! Tell him that your still f**king angry about the affair!” But alas, it didn’t happen in play, so it didn’t happen. I don’t know why I didn’t say it. I think Kelly was responding to the earnestness in Martin’s face, but she wasn’t giving him credit in return for being able to handle the depth of her feelings. So clearly they still have a ways to go.     
 
I would also like to add that it was really difficult to play the odd one out on the New Flames. Not in the sense that it was a design flaw of the game, but in a very personal sense. I really began to understand in my heart (and not just in my head) by the end how extraordinarily hard it is to be that person deciding between the imperfect world one knows and a world where nothing is certain. The others could have pursued their Flames – there is a lot of uncertainty there too, but it’s not as hard, I think, to decide between two lovers (or ways of life) than to decide between a lover and the Unknown. Kelly decided to take the known path. I find that a little heart-breaking. She stayed not because she was hopelessly in love or had completely forgiven Martin, but because she wasn’t strong enough.

Whew. Good stuff. I would really like to play this again. It brought up so much food for thought and it was an absolute pleasure to play this out in such talented company
We started out discussing our own relationships, lines and veils, etc. to get us all more or less on the same page and establish a baseline of trust. Then we created our characters, decided on partners and randomly determined who the New Flames would be.

Meet Kelly, a Renaissance History professor who’s great in the classroom but has trouble relating to people on more personal levels. Her main issue is Superiority. This issue affects or is affected by other areas of her life. I chose Neglect, and my fellow players added Alcohol, Conversation, Friendship, and Rage. Brutal!

Kelly is married to Martin, a Library Assistant, who enjoys volunteering, intellectual discussion, and toes at his Muslim faith. Kelly’s friend is Dean, a journalist, whom she met through their regular writers’ group. Dean and Judy are partners, but they practice an open relationship. Judy’s Best Friend is Claire, a single mother whose life is radically different.
Because there were five of us, one person had to be left out of the initial partnerships. In this case it was Clair, but she had Best Friend status with Judy, which meant those two often had scenes together.

Kelly and Martin had low levels of intimacy (1) because they were both rather terrible at sharing their feelings and such with each other. Their passion was very high (3) however – sex was great and they often turned to it as a “feel close” temporary patch. Their commitment was middling (2) – they shared the common ground of intellectualism and domesticity, or, being fairly equal partners in thought and keeping the house. Kelly’s lines for Martin (line’s she couldn’t bare for him to cross) included having sex with someone else, spending too much time away from home, and expressing anger. Martin’s lines for Kelly also included having sex with someone else, as well as drinking with others, and criticism. Kelly and Dean had middling (2) Intimacy as friends – she felt much more comfortable talking about personal things to her friend than with her husband.

Dean and Judy were an interesting flip of our numbers. They were high in Intimacy (3) – they felt comfortable talking with each other about anything and everything. This left their Passion low (1) because they often overanalyzed and talked their Passion to death. Because they practiced an open relationship, they did not have the same “having sex with someone else” lines that Kelly and Martin shared. But Dean’s lines that he did not wish Judy to cross included spending too much money and having sex with others w/o protection. Judy’s lines for him included kissing someone else on the lips and dancing with others, because they had shared some wonderfully intimate dances.

After all of this, we had to roll to determine whom would develop New Flames with whom in play. It was a tense couple of rolls. The results: Martin & Judy and Claire & Dean. Kelly was the odd one out on this – a difficult position to be in. I felt like she needed a hug before we even started.

The scenes followed a set chain of events that gave the game a bit of structure and direction. I don’t remember the order of everything, but we started with scenes to depict “a day in the life of” before the New Flames were introduced. For Kelly and Martin, that scene was busily tackling chores together while cheerfully discussing work. Kelly was quiet pleased about the lecture she gave on Leonardo da Vinci as an inventor. Martin brought home some rare sketch books of Leonardo to surprise Kelly. She was blown away by his thoughtfulness and quickly ran off to pour through them. It was a sweet beginning, but it had some subtle tells, I think. Kelly was delighted, but she didn’t show the extent of her pleasure, and she quickly retreated to her own quiet place.

Dean and Judy’s scene was cuddling before bed, watching TV and chatting about their days, other people’s problems, etc. It was truly delightful to watch – Rob and Sarah played this out so naturally.

Claire and Judy had a scene, chatting just like any long-time good friends would. There was honesty, warmth, and encouragement in their words and expressions and we begin to see Judy urging her friend to find ways to enjoy life a little more and ask for help with the girls. They set a date to go shopping.

In the next scene, everyone is together at party hosted by Claire. They all attended her younger daughter’s ballerina rehearsal and came to her house afterwards. Everyone is introduced to each other and the little party begins. Kelly and Dean explain that they’re in the same writer’s group, and Kelly praises Dean’s efforts at his first novel. Everyone wants to know what it’s about and Martin jumps in with his intellectual take on the topic. Subtleties abound. Kelly is dismissive of Martin. And Dean and Martin are having this sort of passive-aggressive exchange (Kung Fu would surely have followed if this were Mist-Robed Gate). Then the conversations steer towards the New Flames. Judy is fascinated by Martin’s ideas, and Claire and Dean begin discussing some sort of collaboration involving dance, music, and written word that is NOT a musical. Kelly gets up awkwardly for a second time to get people drinks. When the scotch comes out, she relaxes a bit – finally something she can relate to.

This is where I get really murky on the order of scenes, but Kelly and Dean have a scene a day or two later, at a bar, after their writing group. Kelly is reluctant to drink at first, because she knows it’s a line for Martin (drinking with others). Dean plants seeds of doubt in her head by pointing out her husband’s flirty behavior with Judy at the party that she had previously dismissed. He does not like Martin. Then he wonders what the big deal about drinking is. Feeling a little disgruntled at Martin and tired of defending him, Kelly waves it off as “some Muslim thing” and orders a beer.

Martin and Judy meet up accidentally, in the park, I think. And they continue flirting and learning about each other.

Claire and Dean meet up to try out some of their creative ideas for the music project. The New Flames grow.

We then have scenes similar to the opening scenes, but now with new information. Kelly and Martin are at home, getting ready for bed. She’s reading in bed. He’s getting changed. Strain in their relationship becomes quite apparent as she gets snippy and critical and he, stuffing his anger, just shuts down.

There is strain beginning between Dean and Judy as well. They discuss other people’s problems, some past issues, and Judy does not share her meeting with Martin. Dean also expresses his frustration with Judy for spending so much money shopping with Claire. Their love is still apparent, but the strain seems very real.

Judy and Claire continue their lovely relationship, laughing with, and confiding in each other. Claire is beginning to really listen to Judy and take more time for herself.

Scattered between the structured scenes are flashbacks to give more depth to the issues each character carries:

Claire (Anger) – about 8 years ago when her youngest daughter was just an infant. Her older daughter sits on the floor drawing a sweet picture of mummy and daddy together while her husband lamely explains that he’s leaving them. She is demanding more from him and he weakly replies that he needs to go – his girlfriend is waiting in the car. Then he hands over the baby and tells her she can keep the girls – she seems to need them more.

Kelly (Superiority) – back in high school. She sits at the kitchen table glaring at her older brother. Their mother comes in, full of praise for Kelly’s straight As. Kelly soaks it in and she and her brother have a tense exchange. With utter disdain, she calls him out on his substance abuse and how he’ll never go anywhere in life. She hates him for ruining his life and causing such trouble at home. With equal disdain, he dismisses her. When a neighbor comes over and chimes in with more praise for Kelly, she betrays her brother and grabs the failing report card he’s hiding to show their mother.

Dean (Honesty) – earlier in his relationship with Judy. He confesses to her that he got carried away and kissed another woman on the lips (crossing one of Judy’s lines for him). He was trying to be honest and apologetic. She, surprised and angry, pushed him away for a while.

Martin (Anger?) – this scene was more about how he and Kelly first met and fell in love. He had organized an anti-war protest, which she participated in. Afterwards, they went around trying to get signatures together. Frustrated by others’ apathy and seeking shelter from the rain, they found someplace dry to discuss ideas and make plans for dinner later on.

Judy (Desire to Play with Fire) – in high school, after a belly dancing performance that she starred in. She sees the awed and awkward reaction of a boy she’s crushing on and begins to understand the power she holds.

Back to the current story. The New Flames then have scenes where they are given the chance to cross one of their partner’s lines. Other participants play angel and devil consciences. In the first scene, Claire and Dean enter a martini lounge. They are quite enjoying their time and Dean eventually shakes hands with the Devil to go dancing with Claire.

Martin and Judy meet in a quiet, private place and really open up to each other. Their passion is growing quickly. As Martin confides to Judy about his frustrations with Kelly, he avoids getting too angry, but he ends up sleeping with Judy. And Judy succumbs to the passion, knowing that they don’t have protection (“Martin’s monogamous – he’s totally safe!”).

Kelly and Martin then have a scene where he surprises her by showing up at her office. She’s very busy and stressed – the semester’s about to begin. He leaves, feeling more tender towards his wife, because he can see a less selfish/harsh side of her – she’s clearly doing all of this work for others.

We have another group scene – a birthday party for Claire at Dean and Judy’s place. There are several scenes where they all get progressively more drunk. Judy wonders if Kelly would be able to tell the men apart if they were naked and she was blindfolded. Kelly cannot believe that Judy is being serious and both she and Martin are a little weirded out by it. So they all just drink more. No one is sober enough to drive home so they all stay over. Judy and Dean and Clare all sleep together. Kelly and Martin stay on the pull-out couch and end up talking for a while.

Martin is expressing gratitude for their relationship, but includes Judy a few too many times in his conversation. Kelly’s suspicion grows (plus, we were nearing the end and no one had confessed yet – I wasn’t about to let this story end like that!) and she keeps prodding Martin about what he mean by this and that. At some point it becomes pretty clear that something went on. She gets up and rounds on him, “You slept with Judy!” He confesses and tries to explain, but it falls on deaf ears. Moments later, so full of rage that she can’t even speak, she storms out of the house, smashing her glass, and slamming the door.

A few days later, Kelly and Dean meet up. Kelly is still furious with Martin, but this time she does defend him to Martin. Especially when he suggests the she leave the scum bag. Then he confesses that he danced with Claire and never told Judy about it.

The final scenes take place some time later. Claire and Judy are still good friends, and Claire has loosened up a bit, even though she has no intention of repeating anything like the drunken threesome again. I’m pretty sure that Claire never tells Judy what she did with her partner, although Judy admits to Claire that she slept with Martin without protection.

Judy and Dean are still lovingly together, but neither of them have confessed their relationship sins to each other.

Kelly and Martin get back together after a time. They go traveling together and she’s okay with him getting more in touch with his faith. They are more open with each other now. He tells her that the biggest mistake he ever made was in not expressing anger with her. This sits oddly with her and she thinks to herself, “that is NOT your biggest mistake,” but she gives him the benefit of the doubt. “You mean that because it you from being open with me?” “That’s right. Is there anything that you’re angry about?” She smiles sweetly at him and says, “Nope!” And then they make plans to have some together time.


The End.

So elsewhere I mentioned this was one of the most quietly disturbing happy endings of any game I’ve played in. 

First, Judy and Dean, the modal couple for openness, never confessed their relationships sins to one another. On one hand, they still had a good relationship and confessing would have damaged it at least in the short term. But on the other hand, knowingly hiding something from your partner can subtly hurt them whether you realize it or not.

Which leads me to Kelly. Afterwards I wanted to shake her (even though I was the one playing her) and yell, “What was that about?! ‘Nope!’ Are you kidding me?! Tell him that your still f**king angry about the affair!” But alas, it didn’t happen in play, so it didn’t happen. I don’t know why I didn’t say it. I think Kelly was responding to the earnestness in Martin’s face, but she wasn’t giving him credit in return for being able to handle the depth of her feelings. So clearly they still have a ways to go.     
 
I would also like to add that it was really difficult to play the odd one out on the New Flames. Not in the sense that it was a design flaw of the game, but in a very personal sense. I really began to understand in my heart (and not just in my head) by the end how extraordinarily hard it is to be that person deciding between the imperfect world one knows and a world where nothing is certain. The others could have pursued their Flames – there is a lot of uncertainty there too, but it’s not as hard, I think, to decide between two lovers (or ways of life) than to decide between a lover and the Unknown. Kelly decided to take the known path. I find that a little heart-breaking. She stayed not because she was hopelessly in love or had completely forgiven Martin, but because she wasn’t strong enough.

Whew. Good stuff. I would really like to play this again. It brought up so much food for thought and it was an absolute pleasure to play this out in such talented company.
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Robert Bohl
Member

Posts: 526


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« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2008, 05:21:42 PM »

This was a wonderful game. Rachel: I, too, felt bad for you for being left out of the fake infidelity. Such a strange thing to feel bad about, right? I did enjoy "safely" flirting with your character. In my mind, Dean was more teasing you than anything else, but he was also kind of rapacious and probably would've taken advantage if you called him on it.

Oh man when you kept getting up to get drinks for other people? That shit fucked with my head. I was furious at Martin for quite a while after that, mostly because he didn't even seem to notice (which I'm sure was how Ron was playing it).

One of the really strong moments for me was playing the dad who was leaving. I started off the scene thinking that the news was already out in the open, which is why I was playing it so matter-of-factly. When Paula's dialogue indicated that she didn't know what it was about, I had a moment of panic. Then I decided that her husband constructed it so that she couldn't freak out 'cause the daughter was present. What you guys didn't see is the picture Tobias was drawing. It was amazingly child-like, but it wasn't a happy family scene. It was mom, dad, and baby, but mom was crying.

Which brings me to the two horrible things I had him say. One was, "I know you want to keep the kids, and if that's what you need to feel good about this, I'm ok with it." That's a line I was told by my son's mom when we were having our break-up discussion in real life, so it was gratifying to see how evil you all thought it was. The other was the moment where I turned the guilt for making the child upset around on Clair. I accused her of being histrionic in front of the child and screwing with her head, and then left.

It was probably the most intense thing in the game. Everyone hated me so much. It was exhilirating.

There's so much more that can be said about this game. I'm so full with it, I'm bursting.
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EarthenForge
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2008, 07:53:39 PM »

Thanks for sharing, Rob! I *love* hearing other perspectives on this kind of thing. More monologues would bring this stuff out to the audience within the game, but it takes practice, I think, to process thoughts and spit them out in a timely manner in a way that makes the story more interesting *right* then.

Your take on Claire's ex was fantastic and awful.

It's funny about the flirting - Kelly was totally oblivious. I don't think she realized the options life could offer her. The "Superior" issue messed with my head - it was such false ego. A crumbling wall to protect a rather fragile creature. I could relate to some aspects of it, but I could clearly see that she needed to open her eyes big time.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2008, 08:54:40 PM »

Hello,

Here I was composing, and someone already did the heavy lifting. Thanks Kelly!

1. Martin's issue was idealism, not anger - anger was one of Kelly's words and the basis for her line that played the most important part in our story. I should also point out that alcohol was also one of her words, and not actually an issue for Martin beyond his concern for her well-being. Rob, I did react strongly to Kelly during the party scene, and paid attention to Judy to keep from blowing up about it, but I think you were interacting with others and missed it; I wonder if Tobias and Em caught it.

2. Boy, the Martin & Dean clash was pure poison, wasn't it? I have to admit that I the player really found Dean hard to take as well - for such an "open say-what-you-think" guy, he was the most manipulative, passive-aggressive twerp. Finding his good side as an audience member was kind of hard, and in fact, I was only able to do so through the lens of playing Martin, who did find a way to like him after all. Or at least put aside resenting and provoking him as not worth the effort, and seeing his talent. I also thought Claire and Martin might have had a coffee shop scene; we never did get to see that friendship in action.

3. I should point out that my current readings and feelings about Islam and the other Abrahamic religions also informed this character greatly; playing him was just as much a "dive in and see what happens" for that concept as it was for all the relationship and poly-whoosis material. That's why the alcohol thing is important. As an only minimally-practicing Muslim, Martin was not opposed to drinking as such and enjoyed it pretty much like anyone else. His line was that Kelly not drink without it being a shared agreement to do so between the two of them, based on the term on her sheet. Something, I might add, she violated pretty often - Em pointed out that by the rules, Kelly could essentially cross lines without mechanics/plot consequences.

4. I think that was a key thing for me, which hits straight at the heart of my family history with alcoholism, and which was particularly hard, yet in a productive effort sort of way, for me to express through the medium of Martin. The character was almost 90% subtext, as I look back on it, and not a whole lot of it was accessible. You don't love an alcoholic, or someone you fear is an alcoholic, simply by getting angry with them. You have to find another way. Rachel, I don't know if you tuned into this, but my impression is that you did. Maybe that's why the affair didn't actually kill the relationship for you. I think the issue between them really was about anger, and how it interfered with their (surprisingly successful) attempt to turn her superiority complex and his idealism to positive ends. Funny how this kind of uptight pair really really didn't, ultimately, have any problems regarding sex.

5. I held back a weeny bit during our initial disclosures and regretted it severely only a couple of scenes into play.

6. My temptation scene was extremely difficult by the rules, and I'd like to go over it in some detail. Kelly's line, which Martin struggled with, was expressing anger with her. Dean's line, which Judy struggled with, was having unprotected sex with someone. That was her line to decide to cross or not, and it seemed wrong to me to interfere with that content. I let that be completely up to her own dialogue with the angel and the devil, and kept my decision strictly focused getting angry with Kelly or not. So that put the character into an odd fictional space which - in terms of that fiction - actually matched the lame excuse that people make in real life, that they didn't "really" do it if they didn't mean to do it.

In reality, I am pretty dismissive of such talk, and I also imagine that Em and Tobias might disagree in game terms as well. After all, we'd already talked about how, technically, a character's decision to cross the line in question is what matters, not the act itself. In that case, the decision actually to go through with it would lie with Martin. However, that put me in a difficult space as an author/actor/participant, in that I did not want to undercut the intensity of the upcoming Dean & Judy story, which I think would be kind of lame if she merely thought about having unprotected sex (I mean, big whoop). And in the interest of full disclosure, Sarah played Judy with extraordinary charisma and I could not imagine Martin, or me, or practically anyone except Kagematsu, turning her down in that particular situation.

I do think some thought might go into parsing out how a player might be forced, or feel forced, into crossing his or her partner's line (not the one which is the focus of the scene) by validating the importance of the other character's decision. It's a system issue.

7. Regarding the sensations and issues of that scene as I struggled with the above issue as an actor (and I might add, quite nonverbally and nonreflectively), I want to point out that Martin turned wholly to what his angel was telling him, and the funny thing is, he was totally sincere - he didn't stifle his anger at Kelly, but rather, he let it go. It was silly. He was mad because she drank irresponsibly, for instance, but if that anger led him to be mean to her, why, that was just as bad as what she was doing to herself. It was then that he determined to see if she was willing to seek some help about it. (Later, when she did overdo it a bit at the birthday party, he wasn't mad - just noted it and tried to prepare for the fallout if necessary.)

8. I experienced some surprising surges of "I am married to this woman! And I'm glad!" during play, again, speaking through the lens of Martin. I dropped the ball, I think, in the scene in which I visited her in her office, because what hit me internally was that she was indeed still dedicated to helping others. Unlike many profs, here she was, busting butt to make sure her students were all taken care of. I'm not good enough an improv actor to recognize and seize such insights for immediate expression. Rachel, I'm curious - did you have any similar reactive or unreflective experiences about Martin, via Kelly? Don't get me wrong, I'm talking strictly about the fiction.

9. Here's another example of my atrophied stage instincts: when she busted the glass and walked out on me, I should have had Martin fall back on the sofa bed, cry out "oh God" in pain, and then after a second or two, turn toward the rumpus in the adjoining bedroom and shout, "Shut up in there!" It came to me scant seconds after the scene was over. I was awed by Rob's thespian skills in contrast to my fumbling about.

10. In one of the final scenes, Martin was pretty unkind in speaking of Judy to Kelly. I don't think that sat well with Em, who quizzed me a little bit about it afterwards. Here's the thing: in Martin's eyes, Judy's decisions didn't seem to concern anyone but herself and Dean. Perhaps that was tied to his annoyance with Dean, and realizing that whatever he and Judy might get up to, she was Dean's girl and that was that. But in the moment, what I was feeling via Martin was that Judy was deeply caring about people insofar as they related to her, but not about how they related to one another. This is not a general comment of mine upon polyamory, incidentally. As I mentioned in the brief after-play discussion, yes, Martin was being unfair in calling her stupid. I'd like to state here though that it wasn't about the open relationship as such, just the way that Dean and Judy both seemed to think the openness between them was somehow transitive to the relationships surrounding them.

Well, that was kind of a machine-gun fire list of stuff that has been kicking around in my head since we played.

Best, Ron
edited to fix a mis-applied person's name
« Last Edit: August 21, 2008, 09:09:17 PM by Ron Edwards » Logged
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2008, 09:02:38 PM »

Whoops, missed a couple points in reviewing your posts, guys.

Rob, I don't know if you could see it from where you were, but in the party scene, when Kelly kept getting up to "make drinks," she was knocking back shots alone thinking no one could see her. When you as Dean were pressing her to drink at the bar, I almost jumped up and screamed in frustration and anger that he was enabling a person with the beginnings of a serious problem, apparently out of the simple joy of manipulation.

Kelly, it's weird - I think I'll be reflecting on these two characters' marriage for a while. (And by the way, ignore my nosy question if you'd prefer. Don't know how that escaped deletion during my once-over.) I'm not convinced her staying in the marriage was an act of weakness. I had the sensation that the two characters had forgiven each other for not being perfect.

Best, Ron
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EarthenForge
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« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2008, 02:56:46 AM »

Awesome Ron! I'm bursting at the seams with replies, but I've gotta run off to work! I'll get back to this when I'm home.
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Niobe
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« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2008, 03:46:58 AM »

Hi people,

thank you so much for posting all this. Our UMS-session was for me one of the most intense experiences in a Gen Con packed with intense experiences. Thank you all so much!

I don't really know where to start, so I will just jump into the middle of things:

I absolutely noticed the way Martin was paying attention to Kelly in the first group scene when she got up to make drinks.

Playing a game like that so close to the chest would not have been my first impulse, but it was a big part of what made this whole thing so much of an experience. What impressed me most was the natural way everything fell into place. Best example: When Rob and I got together to talk about what our relationship would look like in the game, we independently both started out with the exact same idea of the relationship.

I learned a LOT about myself playing this game with you folk. Thank you! The one quizzing you about the negative things you said about Judy, Ron, was mainly me, because I wondered whether I could learn something from it about myself.

There was a point in the game where I disconnected a bit from my character, because in fact I as a player connected more with Dean than with Martin (and here I am strictly talking about the characters). I did not at all feel that Dean was manipulationg or passive-aggressive. My impression of him was that he in fact was very open with his opinions and feelings wich is something I like very much. On the other hand Martin with his pent up agggression and his airs of intellectual superiority (especially in the first group scene) rather frightened me.
This divergence between me and my character is what led to the "happy end" that I too find very ambigous. I was very surprised that Judy didn't at all have problems not telling Dean about her crossing his lines and still could be very emotionally open to him, because I don't think I, Sarah, would have been able to do that. I am much more like Dean and need to share everything with my partner.
I have since thought a lot about the opinions that were expressed in and around the game that this openness is not entirely healthy, and I am absolutely gratefull for that kind of input and the way it made me think, but I still think that I could not trust my partner if I could not be sure that he would tell me if something was wrong.

It was wonderfull playing with you folk and I hope I was able to show you how personally valuable it was to me. Also I am very glad that we are staying in contact.

Hugs
Sarah



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Robert Bohl
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« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2008, 03:53:46 AM »

That's interesting, Ron. I didn't see her knocking back shots in that scene. What I saw was her husband being cold to her and making her get drinks for everybody, and so I was encouraging her to break what I thought was a silly rule (because I didn't see her as alcoholic).

It is fascinating to me, too, how twerpy Dean came off to you. I totally get why he seemed like a manipulative shit to some people, but in almost every moment when I was playing him, I felt in the moment like what he was doing was as right and genuinely honest as he was capable of being. Basically, he took a good idea (being honest) too far, and had a very hard time not being pure about it, not being able to see the grey spaces between things.

I felt extremely uncomfortable with his "happy ending" being that he and Judy start to lie to each other. If that had been a movie or play or story I would be extremely conflicted about whether or not I liked it. When Sarah asked me at the end about that--challenged me on it, really--I immediately felt something like guilt. "Deception is good," was not what I was trying to say, but it was--and still is--extremely hard for me to articulate how the brand of aggressive honesty on display there is harmful, and what the other choices are that one can make in that situation.

Thorny, prickly, and fun as shit. Thanks, everybody.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2008, 07:53:57 AM »

Hi Rob,

This might be grading into a values-discussion rather than a discussion of our shared/created story, but I think it's OK as a follow-up to your statement of fascination.

Basically, I think there's a big difference between honesty and simply blurting out whatever one feels like at a given moment. I at least have thoughts, sensations, reactions, and possible utterances swimming through my mind at all time. It's not "honest" to give them all voice at every opportunity; it's glossolalia.

It actually goes deeper than that, though. I need to take it down to this next level because that's the one that's relevant to Dean. I've known a lot of people who tried to live "fully honestly," and in practice, what tends to happen is that they use an internal consult on how sincere they feel as a guide for speaking. If they feel sincere, then they speak.

The trouble is, feeling sincere is very easy to do - it's a behavior, not a condition. The people I've dealt with get so good at feeling sincere no matter what, they end up saying whatever no matter what ... and again, in practice, this becomes a tactic for influencing others' emotions and establishing control than any sort of communication from one person to another. This is the essence of hard-core salesmanship, for instance, and also, incidentally, successful spying and spy-handling in the real world. The internal sensation of sincerity becomes a whore for power.

This is what Dean was like, as I saw it; or more accurately, that's where this generally good-natured young man was headed if he didn't get some kind of perspective on it. I don't see it as about honesty at all. In fact, I now realize when I started liking the guy: when he said, correctly in my view, that he and Judy were trying to do this unusual thing on their own and kind of groping their way along without knowing whether and how people could be hurt by it.

Best, Ron
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Emily Care
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« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2008, 08:04:37 AM »

Thanks for the great play report, Rachel!  And the great discussion, everyone. It's ironic that these parallel but oh-so-different relationships ended up taking on elements of the other at the end.  The open and honest relationship turning into one where you keep secrets, the monogamous one tolerating and not acknowledging the real depth of the hit it had taken from one partner straying.  Very bittersweet happy endings indeed.

The characters seemed to hit home and feel real though. Ron, it's funny that you slip and refer to Rachel as Kelly a couple places in your posts. :)

Quote
Which leads me to Kelly. Afterwards I wanted to shake her (even though I was the one playing her) and yell, “What was that about?! ‘Nope!’ Are you kidding me?! Tell him that your still f**king angry about the affair!” But alas, it didn’t happen in play, so it didn’t happen. I don’t know why I didn’t say it.
It's crazy isn't it? In these games, you just can't decide what characters will think or feel or do. They have a life of their own, and sometimes make such bad, bad decisions. Or at least ones we would disagree with thoroughly.  I guess they are like the sacrificial lamb. We can let them do things that we would (hopefully) not do, and get to see how it plays out, or at least how it feels.

Quote
10. In one of the final scenes, Martin was pretty unkind in speaking of Judy to Kelly. I don't think that sat well with Em, who quizzed me a little bit about it afterwards.
I was busy having my own judgements about the character. We probably all have our own way of seeing the story and the characters. In my eyes, Martin was blowing smoke in Kelly's eyes by denegrating Judy, or trying to convince himself that it was meaningless because he cared so little about her. It was a chilling, and very human, moment. I think we've all done that at some time or another. The conflicts between Martin and Dean were fascinating to watch, also. I literally thought they could come to butting heads at several moments.  You guys played out some major territorial displays.

Quote
This divergence between me and my character is what led to the "happy end" that I too find very ambiguous. I was very surprised that Judy didn't at all have problems not telling Dean about her crossing his lines and still could be very emotionally open to him, because I don't think I, Sarah, would have been able to do that. I am much more like Dean and need to share everything with my partner.
I have since thought a lot about the opinions that were expressed in and around the game that this openness is not entirely healthy, and I am absolutely grateful for that kind of input and the way it made me think, but I still think that I could not trust my partner if I could not be sure that he would tell me if something was wrong.
I hope that's useful to you, Sarah. Sometimes the best way to know what we want is by seeing what doesn't work for us. Also, what people mean by honesty matters so much. Real honesty would seem to have to include taking responsibility for the effects of ones words.  There were moments in the game that felt like honesty was being used as a weapon--Dean telling Judy he'd kissed someone else and pressuring her to be okay with it since "he'd done the right thing."  The approach to being honest matters so much as well, but doesn't make being dishonest a virtue!

It was a pleasure to play with you all! Thank you so much for bringing so much to each part. And thank you, Tobias for your help and for introducing me and us all to this kind of labyrinth of the heart.

best,
Em
« Last Edit: August 22, 2008, 08:07:26 AM by Emily Care » Logged

Koti ei ole koti ilman saunaa.

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« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2008, 12:43:36 PM »

Man, I will say it again: I *love* hearing everyone's take on the events.

So Ron - to clarify a bit, I don't think that Kelly's long term decision to make the marriage work was necessarily a thing of weakness. I think it's entirely possible that those characters could have gone on to have a very healthy relationship. My sadness for her (and yes, Emily - it is so very true that these characters begin to have a life of their own!) had to do more with moment-by-moment decisions. At the time I think she stayed because she didn't know what else to do. That's not always a bad thing, but it's not a decision made from strength, which would have helped her immensely. The ending happened rather fast and I was only beginning to process the affair as it was playing out. Considering her weaknesses, it seemed like one of the worst possible things that could have happened to her. And while she was certainly beginning to forgive Martin in the last scene, I think she still struggled with a lot of rage - rage that had nothing to do with her husband. I'd imagine that it would take her a very long time to get past what happened and deal with her own serious issues. If I could have had one more scene at the end that didn't erase anything previously, it would have been for her to say something like, "Hey Martin - remember when I said that there was nothing I was angry about? That wasn't true. If we're going to be more open with each other, you need to know that I'm still very angry about the affair." and go from there. I imagine that Martin probably would have handled that very well...

Also, I'll be honest, as Kelly, I didn't have that surge of enthusiasm for Martin *until* that "how we met scene," which was pretty cool. This was almost entirely due to bracing myself for the coming hurt. As a player I knew that trouble was coming and I allowed that feeling to seep into Kelly because it felt very much inline with her issues - not allowing people to get too close, expecting others to disappoint her, etc. Thanks for bringing that up - I hadn't actually thought about that until now.

The alcoholism with Kelly was indeed interesting. I was a little surprised that it didn't end up being openly addressed, but then, if we had openly addressed everything, our game would have been quite a bit longer. So this part of her character remains a bit vague. She was clearly abusing alcohol at times (good eye, Ron - she was totally knocking back shots at the party), but to what extent she had a problem was never completely defined.

Also, Ron, I get your frustration with the crossing the lines issues. Being unsure of what is okay and what isn't in terms of game structure and mechanics can be annoying - especially in a game like this where you don't want to interrupt the flow too much. I encountered this a bit, too, but found myself not minding overmuch in the long run, because a pretty compelling story was woven even so.   

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Tobias Wrigstad
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« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2008, 08:05:59 PM »

Hey guys,

just some initial thoughts after reading through your posts.

Quote
Kelly wrote:

More monologues would bring this stuff out to the audience within
the game, but it takes practice, I think, to process thoughts and
spit them out in a timely manner in a way that makes the story
more interesting right then.

I actually think the opposite -- it would have made things easier.
Monologues are, at least to my mind, a great way of exploring your
character's thoughts and feelings. I like to throw players into
monologues for that reason -- you will discover things as you go
along. Let the monologues be the drivers, and the rest of the game
follow naturally.

Quote
Ron wrote:

I did react strongly to Kelly during the party scene, and paid
attention to Judy to keep from blowing up about it, but I think
you were interacting with others and missed it; I wonder if Tobias
and Em caught it.

I most surely did. My interpretation was that you were upset by
being poured a drink in public, and needing a smooth way out of
having to drink it. Which caused more public display than if you
hadn't touched it, which was excellent.

As a walking GM, I once approached you, stretching out my arm,
offering to take the drink away from you. My intent was to break
the invisible scenes, to make sure that your character's action
was seen, and help get the other players' attention to it. I don't
think you got that, but that's fine. It was a spur of the moment
thing.

Quote
Ron wrote:

I also thought Claire and Martin might have had a coffee shop
scene; we never did get to see that friendship in action.

Yeah, that is true. I was reluctant to suggest it because that
would have made Clare such a central figure, and while gossip
scenes can be fun, they aren't always that necessary in wholly
transparent play.

Quote
Ron wrote:

Kelly could essentially cross lines without mechanics/plot
consequences.

I think this is just as it should be. The lines are there to help
us focus on some things and to establish something that can be
clearly broken/crossed. The rest just follows naturally. I think
the game would have suffered if we had must somehow incorporate
plot consequences all the time. And oftentimes, not reacting
creates a more natural feel or interesting story.

Quote
Ron wrote:

I do think some thought might go into parsing out how a player
might be forced, or feel forced, into crossing his or her
partner's line (not the one which is the focus of the scene) by
validating the importance of the other character's
decision. It's a system issue.

I think these are important and valid points, and although it
would have been perfectly possible for Judy to hit the bar and
have unprotected sex with a total stranger following Martin's
dismissal, I don't think anyone would have been impressed by
that. I think the solution we eventually came up with was great.

I am not sure what "system issue" means here but I would agree
that the resolving of two individually designed conflicts in a
manner where they are dependent on each other is problematic. I
didn't see this in the game until you pointed it out, so thank
you. In the future, I think time should be spent before this
scene, or perhaps preferably before starting to play, to
brainstorm about the meanings and consequences of these
scenes. Maybe that is in the booklet already.

My gut reaction is that there is something to be said for this
potentially surrealistic intersections -- "how do we combine
unprotected sex and anger?" I suspect that may lead to things that
wouldn't have come out had we tailored everything from start.

Quote
Em wrote:

And thank you, Tobias for your help and for introducing me and
us all to this kind of labyrinth of the heart

My pleasure! I have told you before, and I'll tell you again, that
I am so happy to be able to come to GenCon and play jeepform games
written by others than the usual suspects! I am excited in seeing
what you will do with it, what parts that stick with you and what
you see that I don't.

Quote
Rachel wrote:

Also, I'll be honest, as Kelly, I didn't have that surge of
enthusiasm for Martin *until* that "how we met scene," which was
pretty cool.

I can totally dig this. I did not become emotionally invested in
your relationship until after this scene.

And, on a side-note, my mind started wondering -- thinking about
relationsships based on something awesome that happened initially
and how long it is actually possible to feed on that moment, spite
the fact that you are really not together with that person other
than in your mind. There is a game here somewhere.

Quote
Rachel wrote:

This was almost entirely due to bracing myself for the coming hurt

I so love this comment. I can relate and I think it is a good
thing. Sometimes, this will fuck up the story, but IMHO it is
always worth it if you realise what's going on and why you are
doing what you are doing. It is the experience of playing that
counts in the end.

I think, and this ties in to some stuff Sarah was saying in her
post, that you can learn a lot about yourself from watching how
you treat your character(s). What your impulses are, how you feel
when you are "hurting them" or "saving them" etc. This is such a
personal thing and hardly visible to other players (except if the
know you really, really, really well), but worth pointing out.
And this is of course not tied to jeepform or anything, but for me
it really stands out there, biased as I am.

--Tobias
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EarthenForge
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Posts: 12


« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2008, 06:44:25 PM »

Thanks for your comments, Tobias.

About monologues, I'm really beginning to understand how important they are. I refer to them as difficult partly because I personally struggle to spit out my thoughts on demand and partly because I'm not in the practice of doing so in other games I play. But in saying this, I absolutely agree that they can and even should have a major impact on the game. I think that a lot of tabletop story games could benefit from monologues as well. Before my next Jeepform game, I'd like to discuss using them, because I don't think the technique is necessarily obvious to the average gamer.
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Tobias Wrigstad
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Posts: 15


« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2008, 07:02:44 PM »

The notification tool rocks! I am writing job applications, which is sooo boring, so I am happy to
jump at this opportunity to think about something else for a little while.

I'm always up for discussing such things. Here, email or whatever.

The word monologue has some bad connotations, I think. I don't think they are supposed to be
theatrical monologues spat out as an uninterrupted flow. It is about finding out what you are
thinking (you = your character) and that is OK to take time. I mean, when I do monologues, I
oftentimes start out slowly, because I have little or no clue where I am going, and then, gradually,
as I hook into the character's thougt process, things speed up and I hear myself saying things
that I wouldn't have conciously thought of.

I see them as a tool for exploring the mind of the character. I guess I jump on your formulation
"spit out my thoughs on demand".

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EarthenForge
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Posts: 12


« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2008, 12:50:38 PM »

(As long as no one cares, I think it's cool to keep this discussion on the thread rather than email since others may find it useful.)

So, interesting. I'd really like to see this in practice. I don't think it's too hard to figure out, but it sure makes the way easier to see how someone else adds this technique in. How do you personally tend to go about it? Do you verbally pause, make a gesture, or something else to distinguish the monologue from the dialog? Is it usually something quick - just a sentence or two? Also, do you do these very often, or perhaps just a couple of times during the game? 

When I played in the Upgrade, I really enjoyed how Past and Future scenes could inform and direct the Present scene, often giving the players a little more to work with and respond to. It seems that monologues might do exactly that as well. There were a few times in our Under My Skin game that I was having trouble reading my fellow player's intentions - and I'm sure the reverse was true for them. It's a little frustrating to want to say "yes" to them but not know what the "yes" is. And, of course, you don't want to interrupt the flow of the scene, if possible, to have a meta-game discussion. Monologues might interrupt slightly, but they would avoid some of the above problems and I'd imagine they would ultimately make the scene more intense and compelling.
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