Montsegur 1244 :: IndieCon

edited November 2009 in Actual Play
I played Montsegur 1244 over the weekend at IndieCon, a convention held annually on the south coast of England.

I facilitated the game, supplied the game board, cards and reading matter. I'd never played before, and was motivated to run the game based on reading some awesome AP reports on these boards. I'm not keen on folks who just facilitate games, so in addition to facilitating - which was easy - I played too. Yay! The principal characters were Garnier, Pierre, Phillipa (Alex F), Arsende (Graham), and Cecille (me). Cecille are Arsende are at different ends of the spectrum with regard to their role in the community, so there was friction there from the get go. Pierre, Phillipa and Arsende also have a love-sex-hate triangle built in, so we had plenty of fuel to burn.

I'll cover our story briefly, because I don't much like reading long "What Our Characters Did" posts. Arsende took the story straight to sexy stuff, convincing young Esclarmonde to seize life's flickering opportunities by sleeping with Garnier. Cecille's story was all about filling the heads of the younger women of the community with the glories of Heaven such that they walked down the mountain trail to be burned for their beliefs before the fall of Montsegur itself. Smoke and the stench of burning flesh thus hung over the castle for many days prior to the fall. Arsende did the right thing by her wards, the orphans Faye and Amiel, by surrendering them to Cecille. Faye sadly was sent down the mountain trail clothed in white to burn, and Amiel was racked and burned by the play of "The Inquisitor" Story Card. It was tough being an orphan in this game. Cecille denied Arsende Consolamentum in the final Act too. Such a bitter defeated old woman. Pierre renounced his Faith, Cecille burned, Garnier burned, Phillipa burned, and Arsende renounced her beliefs and wandered into the Crusader camp to sell her flesh which was a rather depressing "life goes on" denouement. Great!

I had a good game. It wasn't an awesome game like the AP reports I'd read, which I'm okay with since this was a "try-out a new thing" exploratory effort for me. I was a bit divorced from play, mainly because I'd never played a fortune-less RPG before and I was in detached observer mode. The other guys used the narration-right-stealing Scene Cards and Story Cards to good effect, whereas I didn't use even one, which was fine. They work really well.

I thought some of the scenes dragged on a bit because of some "let's explain how we get to the start of the scene" preambling. I'll be more explicit about framing aggressively next time I think. Also, the more LARPer-ish players defaulted into acting out the emotions and dialogue of their characters which wasn't a play style I was expecting. I'm not an actor, so I just said my dialogue and narrated stuff like "Cecille looks scornfully at you, her thin body shivering in the winter wind" and suchlike. Different strokes for different folks I guess. I liked the device of reading out a small page of text at the start of the Acts to communicate the setting. I haven't read text out loud for an audience since high school. It was also, um... interesting to listen to some folks struggle to read certain English words. I don't know what to make of that actually. Funny odd.

I'd love to play Montsegur 1244 again. The situation, themes, colour and characters are gold.

Comments

  • edited November 2009
    I loved it.

    There was an odd mismatch between players, which seems worth mentioning. You, me and Alex came from a similar mindset, I think. We also had a gentleman who was used to more traditional games, who, I think, often slipped into GM-mode. Another player was very LARPy, given to monologues about his character's emotions. None of that was bad, but it felt like a mismatch.

    I was quite glad we didn't frame aggressively. The scenes had a slow-build quality to them, which I liked. We could have been better at cutting scenes. It would have been nice, too, if we hadn't been so pressed for time.

    There were some changes in tone that jarred slightly. Arsende and Phillipa's early scenes were very intimate and relationship-oriented. We then went into the "war" section and there wasn't a chance to build on the earlier stuff. There was also a lot of stuff to get in there: lots of Story Cards didn't get used.

    Oh, and we never seemed sure how stealing narration worked. You played a card, but what could you narrate? Did the scene suddenly become about my character? Could I narrate your character wearing a strange charm?

    But I loved it. I became very attached to Arsende. Actually, I saw her scenes in a different light: none of them actually involved sex and, at the end, I thought her ending was happy.

    Graham
  • I think part of the beauty of the game is that you need to hash all the questions about who can do what to whom as a group. It pays to play with people more or less on the same wavelength, but group wavelengths (I imagine) can range pretty far in one direction or the other.

    It absolutely rewards replay, because now you know how it is structured and how few scenes you'll get. I always frame aggressively, and I'm pretty fearless about framing other character's circumstances and intentions. I began last game with:

    "Philippa and Garnier are in the hay loft, having just made love..."

    Works for me, usually.
  • I'm with Graham: slow starts and judicious cuts would be my preferred pace to the game; I presume the narration holder also determines where scenes end?

    I would play this again, soon. I was very attached to Philippa, and it would be great to see the story from another perspective.
  • One fascinating aspect for me is that primary character choice utterly colors the game's content and tone. A game with Cecille and Bertrand as primaries is going to be strongly about faith and its repercussions, for example. Frederik carefully designed the characters and their relationships, more than may be immediately obvious.
  • I'm curious: do you play this game sitting around a table, or do you act out the scenes like in a jeep game?
  • I've always played sitting around a table.
  • Thanks for posting this, Rick. It is always great to learn how people have found new ways through the game. Especially, I like this one:
    Posted By: PeteCecille denied Arsende Consolamentum in the final Act
    Ouch. Denying consolamentum to someone who honestly asks for it... it could be seen as Cecille breaking her vow, making her impure and revoking the power of all the consolamentums she has performed.
    Posted By: GrahamThere was also a lot ofstuffto get in there: lots of Story Cards didn't get used.
    Graham, do you mean: A lot of story cards were drawn, only few were played? Or: A lot of story cards were played - but only few were reincorporated back into the story?
    Posted By: Alex FI presume the narration holder also determines where scenes end?
    Yes.
    Posted By: hoogDo you play this game sitting around a table, or do you act out the scenes like in a jeep game?
    You can do both. A few scenes are likely to be action scenes (like the prologue) which can be difficult to act out. Discussion scenes or scenes where a character recieves or gives consolamentum can be very strong when acted out.

    Regarding how to frame scenes and whether to narrate or act out: Many different approaches can work out and bring different omph to the session. A slowly built scene can lead to more emotional investment in the characters. A strongly framed (in media res) scene can get the intensity high and sparks flying. A single narrated sentence can be juicy story meat on its own. Varying how to frame and play scenes is part of story gaming. So no general advice from me here.

    Then I have a question for the group: As I read the OP, no women were in the group and all of you were 20+ years old. How do you think having a woman in the group would have affected the play?
  • Hi Frederick,

    Thank you for a superb game.
    Posted By: PeteCecille denied Arsende Consolamentum in the final Act
    Ouch. Denying consolamentum to someone who honestly asks for it... it could be seen as Cecille breaking her vow, making her impure and revoking the power of all the consolamentums she has performed.
    To be fair, she wasn't honestly asking for consolamentum. Consolamentum meant nothing to Arsende: she was willing to receive it if it got Cecille off her back.

    It was an interesting moment for Cecille, though. I think she refused Arsende consolamentum because of pride.
    Graham, do you mean: A lot of story cards were drawn, only few were played? Or: A lot of story cards were played - but only few were reincorporated back into the story?
    Lots of story cards were drawn, but few were played.
    Then I have a question for the group: As I read the OP, no women were in the group and all of you were 20+ years old. How do you think having a woman in the group would have affected the play?
    There would have been a difference. It's hard to say what it would have been.

    There were some interesting gender issues in the game. The player of Phillipa's husband (I forget the character name) was pretty nasty to her, slapping her round the face and calling her "chattel". It was an uncomfortable moment.

    Graham
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