[Conpulsion] Watership TSOY with 3 players

edited March 2008 in Actual Play
The Shadow of Yesterday needs a whole lotta love, more than it gets at the moment. It's one of those rock solid game designs you can revisit and still be amazed how good and flexible is it. Personally I haven't played it for years, because new games appear all the time, and I wanted to fix that on this year's Conpulsion in Edinburgh.

What gave me the last push was Jason's Watership TSOY that he wrote for and ran on Camp Nerdly last year. I decided to offer that for Conpulsion's Games on Demand, and Saturday afternoon we were three players and me, using some of Jason's pre-made player characters. The situation was this: a group of bunnies from the Heyford warren is escorting Princess Cloud Daughter to the far away Duns Tew warren, where she is going to marry their Prince Thlayla.

Players were Debbie, who is relatively new to gaming all in all, Calum, whom I played Shock with at Nerdinburgh 08, and Matt, who was the only one familiar with the rules besides me. Even though TSOY is simple, there's still a lot of information to take in if you don't know it. There's the whole system thing on one side, which I concentrated to Keys and Pools, and then on the other side getting to know the pre-made characters in this case. There were six player characters, and I quickly had to choose which to use due to being only three players, a thing I think I should have had considered beforehand. Looking at my R-map I chose Cpt. Boxbow, the leader of the warren's Owsla guard, Calla, Boxbow's sister and chaperone for the princess, and finally Rosemary, a scout from the Duns Tew Warren. I would play the rest as NPCs, and decided that the prince was waiting for his bride at his own warren, and thus not part of the story in the beginning.

The problem was that Rosemary's Keys didn't really hit the other player characters, and that made it hard for Debbie, who was playing her, to punch Keys to get XP. I should have chosen Boxbow's second in command or even better the "freelance" rabbit Privet as a character instead.

I had planned four Bang ideas, of which I used two during play: an owl attack at night and a child fishing from a bridge the bunnies had to cross.

It was an enjoyable experience altogether, I really had a good time, and the players were always attentive and willing to move the fiction along. Being a rabbit is in itself very dangerous and stressful, and having to cross rivers and railroads and marches alongside battling enemies, other rabbits out to poison you and mutiny makes it even worse. I felt truly stressed on behalf of the furry creatures afterwards.

Some of the Bangs that popped into my head during play were the princess accusing Cpt. Boxbow of trying to mate with her (not true) and Sgt. Primrose conspiring with Rosemary to remove the captain from command.

Calum, playing Cpt Boxbow, bought of his Key of the Guardian towards Primrose and acquired Key of the Leader instead. When play stopped Calum had used all of his Vigor Pool.

The premade characters were all missing the three fundamental innate abilities from TSOY, Endure, React and Resist, and I assumed that Jason had omitted those on purpose, but it seems that's not the case. We did need them at more than one point. What else was missing: Pool refreshment scenes, but IME that's very normal for first time TSOY players, because you have enough to think about already. But when play ended, I think all three characters needed them, and if we had continued playing it would have become the following steps.

Thanks for playing, guys, and chip in with your thoughts.

EDITED for correctness :)


  • Weird, a I guess a snake ate those innate Abilities. I'm glad you guys had fun.

    The pre-gens and stuff are here.
  • Hey Per, I played Calla, not Boxbow, I think that was Callum.

    Overall I think it went well, despite my being a bit zonked out until about half way through when I had a coffee boost. My main comment is that some of Calla's secrets were fairly oddly defined. That is, she could always know the answer to a question, but there didn't seem to be any context for it...
  • When I ran it there were the full six characters and the keys were more tightly bound into a proper R-map. Calla's mystical secrets made more sense in the generally political context of the game I ran, but I bet they were not very useful removed from that.
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