[IAWA] Yellow Rain in Svart City

edited March 2008 in Actual Play
We played IAWA last night. Having arrived home after a long bus ride where the driver missed a turn along the way, I am sitting in our living room, contemplating after midnight while the rest of the family are sound asleep. There were a couple of oranges left in the fruit basket, so I am sipping a screwdriver or two.

We are a number of guys running Games on Demand at Conpulsion in March, and since Vincent is the celeb guest this year I thought it would be appropriate to offer some of his games, other than Dogs that is. But not without playing them first, hence last night's IAWA.

Players were me, as GM and only one who had read the rules text beforehand, Pooka, who I've played with quite a lot lately, and Pooka's friend Raf. Raf plays in Pooka's weekly Wild Talents game and has recently been exposed to indie goodies such as PTA and Dogs, so he was more than up for trying IAWA. In fact, Raf had ordered the PDF the same day we played. I know Pooka is not entirely hot about Sword and sorcery/pulp fantasy, but he was keen anyway because he knows how ubercool Dogs works in play.

I re-read the rules in the afternoon, as I had this idea that I couldn't remember a thing. I also spoke to my friend Peter who stressed the absence of stakes or intent in the game. The only thing I was definitely shaky on was the multi-person conflict example - man, didn't I get that by reading through it twice.

Considering everything, I think we played for a couple of hours, maybe two and a half, and I enjoyed it along with Pooka and Raf, although it was a relatively quiet affair (considering the source material), especially because the two players were very...cautious? Every conflict came from me stressing or harrassing the player characters - IIRC there were no situations were a player character wanted something that I as the GM wouldn't give them.

Many things in IAWA are left to the individual group's interpretation - our first realisation of that was Pooka asking when he was writing his character down on the character sheet. He wanted to know what the different forms covered. "No idea," I said, "and it doesn't say in the book." Pooka looked stunned. "Really?" I think he was considering were it would be 'best' to place his different dice and the game just doesn't play ball like that :) Wonderful moment.

The evening's last conflict was the voluptuous wifey serpent-demoness Ku Aya (take that!) ritualistically killing her husband, the honest farmer Javid played by Pooka, to make him into a serpent-demon, right there on their kitchen floor. Or trying to kill at least, because we both rolled an 8 and a 5, I think. Re-rolling the lower dice both came up a 4! We dedided if anything was a tie, this was it, so Javid is still alive.

Pooka, Raf, chime in, as always.

Oh: the Owe list. YES!

Comments

  • Now I feel guilty that I didn't post an AP of the game we played at our end of town Per, I should do that
  • I guess I'll venture a few thoughts on the game from my point of view.
    it was a relatively quiet affair (considering the source material), especially because the two players were very...cautious? Every conflict came from me stressing or harrassing the player characters - IIRC there were no situations were a player character wanted something that I as the GM wouldn't give them.

    I suppose that one's all down to perspective. For me, it was an excellent session, as it had that classic fantasy "calm before the storm" vibe. From my experience, a great many fantasy tales start with a gentle lead in (Lord of The Rings, Earthsea, the Belgariad etc.), painting the world in broad strokes as the storm clouds gather. I liked that the game emulated that fairly well. Things need time to snowball. To be honest, I imagine part of the lack of conflict was us just adjusting to what you can actually do with the system, and judging when a conflict is appropriate. I'm finding, now that I've had a chance to read the book more thoroughly, that conflict seems to be the intended driving force, and I'm unsure about that. I'm partly dubious because I don't quite yet have the hang of the resolution mechanics, and as such I don't really see the dice as adding anything in the way of tension or impetus. In Dogs, you have clear escalating representations of what you stand to gain or lose. In IAWA, not so much it would seem. But in all fairness, I'd like to give it a fair shot with a few more sessions. Now I'm aware of the concept of advantage dice it makes a little more sense, and there seems to be implications of a mythic back and forth in the conflicts which would be nice. Whereas on the night I was just, "Oh, the NPC's get another d6. Weird." Again, nothing that can't be worked out with another session or two.So, I guess I need to let the system grow on me.

    For me, the Oracles are the high point of the game, thematically perfect, and far less forced and awkward than say, Shock's grid. Being able to make up your own intersections and interactions rather than having them dictated and parcelled out for you is a blessing.
    As for the
    Owe list. YES!
    I'm more around the Owe list: Hmm. While I like aspects of it - setting yourself at a disadvantage in order to gain advantage later, I'm slightly dubious about the concept of using it to buy a character into a future chapter. Personally, if I'm playing a character I enjoy, it's nice to just keep playing him, rather than have to orchestrate the specific circumstances in which I would be permitted to keep playing him. Again, maybe this'll grow on me.
    Looking up at that, it looks a bit grumbly. I did enjoy the game, most certainly, but I think it's yet to click.
    More thoughts as and when I take Mr. Scabb for another jaunt around the black streets of Svart.
  • edited March 2008
    Thanks for feeding your impressions back, Raf, much appreciated. I will hold my response until Pooka has said something as well, but it seems to me that we have a meety disconnect on our hands here.

    Anybody else spotting a disconnect?
  • I've been having the same conversation with my wife about Solipsist. She said in an email "I have to realise that every scene doesn't have to end with a change of reality", which equates quite well to "You can have plenty of scenes where you (as the GM) are happy to give the players everything".

    The vibe in both games is that you narrate by consent until the point where someone says "Oh no you don't!" and demands a conflict. That works on both sides. If the players like the direction of the story and what is happening by mutual consent, then they go with it. If the GM thinks that what is asked for is something he is happy to give, then go with it. I think this is what the IAWA text means by circling and avoiding conflicts. You have a conflict when someone is unhappy with what another character is doing and wants to step in and stop them. If the GM thinks the story is lacking tension, or if an NPCs best interest is not being served, then they can step and try and do something to the players and see what happens.
  • Yikes. Sorry I've taken so long to respond here, by my computer died this weekend. I nearly lost everything. It's mostly better now, though.

    Right, so here are my thoughts reflected from Per's post.
    Posted By: Per FischerI re-read the rules in the afternoon, as I had this idea that I couldn't remember a thing. I also spoke to my friend Peter who stressed the absence of stakes or intent in the game. The only thing I was definitely shaky on was the multi-person conflict example - man, didn't I get that by reading through it twice.
    I was completely confused about stakes-and-intent-less play. I don't think we covered how the system really closes conflict, and as such felt a bit adrift. I get it now (thanks for the loan, Per! I get the rules pretty completely) and totally understand multi-person conflict, no problems. It's actually quite elegant, in it's way. My concern is that a conflict where neither party is able or willing to negotiate and has to come down to Injury or Exhaustion could go on for a long time. I think that could seriously suck. Hopefully that won't happen, mind you, but if you get a really obstinate player it's almost a forgone conclusion.
    Considering everything, I think we played for a couple of hours, maybe two and a half, and I enjoyed it along with Pooka and Raf, although it was a relatively quiet affair (considering the source material), especially because the two players were very...cautious? Every conflict came from me stressing or harrassing the player characters - IIRC there were no situations were a player character wanted something that I as the GM wouldn't give them.
    Well, we were easing into a new system, and I think that accounts for a bit of our trepidation.

    More relevantly, I think we totally messed up Best Interests. The text doesn't make it very clear, but I think the reason my character didn't seem motivated was because, frankly, he wasn't. My Best Interests for Javid were both things I wanted for him, and they were not immediately actionable. Next time I suggest we make Best Interests something the character is aware of and striving for - I reckon our problems will largely dissipate after that.
    Many things in IAWA are left to the individual group's interpretation - our first realisation of that was Pooka asking when he was writing his character down on the character sheet. He wanted to know what the different forms covered. "No idea," I said, "and it doesn't say in the book." Pooka looked stunned. "Really?" I think he was considering were it would be 'best' to place his different dice and the game just doesn't play ball like that :) Wonderful moment.
    Nah, it totally does play ball like that. However dice aren't a determiner of competence, rather a statement of likely success. I mean, you're not going to let me roll Directly + With Love for a military ambush, right? ;)

    A question - pg. 14 includes an example where if the player is using violence, he must roll With Violence. But what if I want to roll Directly and For Myself, instead? However it seems that die choice just mandates colour, so it's not a mechanical issue as long as the choice is acceptable to the group.
    Oh: the Owe list. YES!
    I need to see this in action first, but I see potential greatness. Or potential irritation. Either is possible, but I lean towards liking it. :)

    and Raf: "setting yourself at a disadvantage in order to gain advantage later" think of it this way - great heroes and protagonists have to overcome overwhelming odds. This is a clever way to emulate that quality of the fiction.

    If you badmouth Shock again, I may be forced to disavow all knowledge of you. I still can't believe you feel that way! Slander! Lies! Other Bad Things! I feel like Oracles are more forced that Shock's grid, but not unplayably so.

    Actually, I'd like to see an Oracle with random syntax, where the tropes are re-organized every time you play - for example, have a collection of nouns and qualifiers that will allow a far more random answer and a bigger variety of results.

    Can I be the "serpent-demoness posessed by spirits of uncivil character"? :D
  • Posted By: Pooka
    Actually, I'd like to see an Oracle with random syntax, where the tropes are re-organized every time you play - for example, have a collection of nouns and qualifiers that will allow a far more random answer and a bigger variety of results.

    Can I be the "serpent-demoness possessed by spirits of uncivil character"? :D
    Come to Abulafia, and build one!

    http://www.random-generator.com/index.php?title=In_a_Wicked_Age

    Or if you're not into wiki-editing, plant a seed-idea for one, and see if some of the people there can help create what you want.

    --
    DainXB
  • and Raf: "setting yourself at a disadvantage in order to gain advantage later" think of it this way - great heroes and protagonists have to overcome overwhelming odds. This is a clever way to emulate that quality of the fiction.

    I think you misread me. The above is what I like about it. What I'm still unconvinced about is the manner in which it relates to character progression between chapters.
    If you badmouth Shock again, I may be forced to disavow all knowledge of you.

    My apologies. I hereby make the necessary obesiance, penance, and grovelling. I still find it overly self-conscious for my tastes.

    Anyway, going to try and run IAWA up in the Town Which Must Not Be Named shortly, so we'll see how that goes.
  • edited March 2008
    Posted By: Raf
    I think you misread me. The above is what I like about it. What I'm still unconvinced about is the manner in which it relates to character progression between chapters.
    Could you be more specific, Raf? Now that you've read the rules, I mean, we only mentioned in passing that a character needs to be on the list to have a chance to continue in the next chapter, but not much else about the Owe list rules. What's unconvincing and how would you make it more convincing?
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