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"
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.