Got together with Karen and Andy to play Archipelago II
, a very cool GM-less Nordic storygame designed by Matthijs Holter. Rules are light, and provide just enough framework for telling really interesting stories. This game has always fired on all cylinders for me.
The game is meant to evoke the sense of isolation of living on "islands" separated by some sort of space. Although in past games we've used asteroids, South Pole exploration sites and Gold Country mining camps.
Carl Rigney was running AW a few tables over, so we thought it would be fun to do a post-apocalyptic game. The first step is to go around the table and have the players each put down some sort of encampment, or a land feature. We ended up with (among other things):
: a broken concrete highway overpass protecting a series of huts commanded by "The Chief"
: a former "romance" store, complete with video booths in the back, that had been turned into a brothel
: smelly and guarded by radiation rats, but all sort of stuff if you dig enough
-Sunny Days Day Care
: converted into a BBQ shack
: with stores like "Nails B U" and "The Littlest Hairhouse"
: overlooking the area is a clocktower inhabited by Franko, a kooky and vengeful guy with a sniper rifle
Next step is to let each player pick an element of the game fiction that they own, and have veto power over.
-Karen: man-made objects
-Chris: non man-made objects
Then we made characters. Each character has a name, a few simple traits for color, and an indirect relationship to a PC (through a shared NPC). Other NPCs are developed with just a name and a quick phrase as needed during play. We kept a part of the map reserved for writing these down.
Karen played Skip
, an expert in acquisitions. Scrapper, bare-knuckle boxer, stealthy, parkour expert.Relationships
-Chief is my illegitimate step-brother (who knows he's really a girl)
-Franko provides me sniper cover in exchange for a cut of the goods
Andy played Simon
, a young "brave" vying for the lover of the chief's teenage daughter, Lala. Young, muscle-strong, but headstrong as well, Simon lives in Ramp CityRelationships
-Lala: in love with; perhaps unrequited
-Chief: trying to win his respect to gain the hand of his daughter
-Trina: prostitute who works at Sex Shack; meets with her for relationship advice
Chris played Artie
, the annoying-but-useful tinkerer who lives in the Junkyard. Techie, wears glasses, shy and stuttering.Relationships
-Trying to bang Trina at the Sex Shack but too shy even to talk to her
-Owes serious Grub (unit of barter equal to a meal) to the Chief
The final step before scenes start is to create Destiny Points for the session. These are thematic ends that show the character in a new light, showcase a strength, or are just interesting. This is probably the most challenging thing for new players to do. But it's also a lot of fun, as each player creates Destiny Points for other players to choose from. Each Destiny Point is kept face up on the table during play so the players know what they are driving towards. Although this sounds counter-intuitive, it's actually a powerful drive to the story.Destiny Points
-Skip: takes what is rightfully "his" from the Chief
-Simon: leave Ramp City and establish a splitter group called "Tracksville"
-Artie: get the movie projector working so he can invite Trina over for a date