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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 33 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [IAWA] 3-player session, some thoughts, some problems  (Read 992 times)
scramble
Member

Posts: 12


« on: June 29, 2011, 05:43:28 AM »

Hi all,

first of all sorry for the fuzzy topic. I recently ran IAWA with my group after it turned out we weren't enough to play our regular game. I whipped out the IAWA rulebook, briefly explained the rules and the we started playing. We were just 2 player plus me as the GM, so everybody got to pick 2 characters. I'm aware that this alone might have screwed the game, but we thought we'd try anyway.

My recollection of the game is rather fuzzy and I wasn't GMing at my best. In the end some nice colourful imagery was flying around and it all ended in a great blood bath, but ultimately my players were left cold. One of them said "I can't invest into a character that I just know for a few minutes!". The other said "There was no drama, no inner conflict. Just people bashing their heads in.".

So, more specifically, some things that caught my attention:

1. When choosing their best interests, the players started making up back stories for their characters (good!) but also plotted out the solutions for their problems (bad! Czege principle and stuff). They even made some character triangles, but went on to outline the solutions for those too!

2. Well, OK, sometimes the solution was just "These two characters fight, who wins is right.". Both players involved were like "OK, bring it on!". The characters were on roughly equal footing and none of them had any moral objection of just killing the other guy.

3. There were no hard decisions. Characters had goals and also the means to reach them. There were no hard decisions, no gut-wrenching, heart-breaking stuff.

4. Characters couldn't kill each other outright. "OK, you wound me. I can still take 2 more until I'm out." Then I as the GM had to somehow prevent the characters from battling each other again right away!

After the game was over, I felt like if I just had thought about the oracle text for myself, generated the characters all by myself, choosing best interests and stuff, it might have been a great scenario. I'd have run a few scenes of exposition in order to immerse the players into their characters. And because the characters would still have been pretty sketchy, the player could still have added a good deal to them.
Basically, I wanted to take the oracle and write a scenario around it, old-school. And then maybe run it on Solar System.

So, what went wrong? Maybe we just all had a weak day, I wouldn't rule out that explanation. We all certainly felt a little "uninvested".

- Oliver
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Callan S.
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2011, 08:06:49 PM »

Hi,

I think being okay with killing the other guy probably undercuts your agenda alot. Or more to the point, the only guys that showed up were ones they'd be fine in ending the human life of. But if they are fine with murdering anyone, then best to just play a gamist game because once murder becomes a moot issue, the only thing left is to win.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2011, 05:07:54 AM »

Hiya,

My thinking is that IAWA isn't a casual-play game. I've tried it casual, and I've tried it more seriously, and the difference was notable. It's definitely written for the long haul, and to see which characters become major protagonists.

The initial investment lies in pure Color - excitement over the ancient-primal imagery, a certain zest to splatter and sex and sweat, with admittedly orientalist exoticism. Granted, the initial charactes are quite thin in story terms, but the first session is merely a starting point. The owe lists have to get moving for the system to kick in fully, so that Color doesn't carry things on its own any more.

Another way to put this is that resolution isn't actually the major part of the system. It's functional; it does what it's supposed to; but it's not like the Dogs system which places this character front-and-center from pre-play prep right up into the next session, with the resolution system as the means to get there. The major part of the system is the owe list, as far as I can tell, as well as the evolving list of particular strengths.

I'm not saying early play is trivial, but it's definitely an investment, and if the group isn't fired up to do exactly this on pure Color terms, from the start, then I can see why it might seem flat.

I'm not sure if any of this applies exactly to your group, but it might.

Best, Ron
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scramble
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2011, 11:56:18 PM »

Hi Ron,

I think you're right. I understand the game a bit better now, thanks!

The Color in our session was actually pretty good. I was mostly struggling to keep the characters from simply bashing each other's heads in. The character generation established most of them knew each other pretty well, so I couldn't frame scenes around them getting to know each other. This left us with confrontation after confrontation, with me just framing scenes, picking antagonists at random.

But as a vignette of a blood-soaked world, it worked. We could play on perfectly well.

Or, I could recycle the situation (or parts of it), explore it from a different angle, or build an extended version of it to play with TSOY or whatever. Obviously, I'm leaving discussion about IAWA now.

I think with just a teeny bit of prep I could have done more, like:
- Frame introduction scenes for each character. If need be, do these as flashbacks.
- Create more drama material. Conflicting interests, love triangles and such.
- Just get my mind together, create a stash of ideas I could use. Hold on to these ideas lightly, of course.

But then the oracles would have to be a bit different. They'd not only need to describe protagonists, but what they do. What happens or might happen. The oracle would be sort of an unreliable teaser. Play would then tend towards these fixed plot points, like it does in Snowball.

But then there's always the danger that, with my prep, I create something that is counter to the vision the player has for his or her character.

Oh well, these are just some random thoughts, about a thing that is not IAWA.
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scramble
Member

Posts: 12


« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2011, 12:01:56 AM »

Callan,

yup, I might just have been searching for drama where there was none to be found. I blame my overexposure to Indie RPGs ;)
Maybe I just should have played up the blood & sex imagery a bit more and just let my players revel in the Color.

- Oliver
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