Give me your best advice for running IaWA

edited October 2008 in Play Advice
Chris asked it about Dogs, Jason Morningstar asked it about PTA, now I've got to ask it about IaWA. I came up with an oracle of local legends and myths, and I'll be running three sessions with it at a local con this weekend to create our local con anthology. I've played several sessions, so I believe I'm up to it, but I thought it might be wise to solicit the advice of you elders: what's the best advice to keep in mind when running IaWA?

Comments

  • edited October 2008
    The most important thing for me, and maybe even more important for a joint local myth game, is to take time to make shit up together.

    Like really, I think it says some stuff about this in the book, but its worth repeating -- when someone asks a question, answer it, and don't be stingy with the answer.

    For example, the question: "Wait, what kind of hats do they wear?" once lead to a huge plot in game. We answered about different hats and different colors and what they meant, and later that information (red hats mean looking to marry, specifically) became the crux of a whole situation in game.

    So answer things, bring in cool stuff, draw maps, describe stuff. The face stabbing will come, don't rush to it.
  • RyRy
    edited October 2008
    I've got quite a few, I'll make a few posts throughout once I dig them up.

    Test your oracle. Sit down with it and draw 4 elements making sure you know how you can support the players if -these- 4 are drawn. If you're kind of lost, take a hard look at those oracle elements. Repeat many times. You don't need to have a game in mind, just elements you know you can support, nudge, and hint at if the player give you blank stares.
  • Oh, and set expectations about playing consistently. I fell into a trap where players figured that since the structure was loose, each individual session could be skipped by any number of players, and after a dozen sessions it got really, really chaotic and frustrating.
  • I'm not an IaWA master by any means, but two important lessons I learned:

    1. Best Interests that are not easily solved by confrontation and conflict (especially violent conflict) are often the most interesting. Make sure you, as a group, have some of those, although violent/stabby ones are fun too. A mix is best.

    2. Don't get hung up on the Challenge and Answer and who narrates what thing. It's actually pretty simple.

    All that talk about theory and "inside-out stakes" and how people don't get it makes it sound kind of complicated, but it's not. It's just like this:

    Challenge: Say what you do. (It should be something important your opponent can't ignore.)

    Answer: Say what the effects of the Challenge are. How did your character take the attack/action? Are they flat on their back, or do they deftly dodge the attack and end up in a better position?

    It's totally like, "I roll to hit you" and, "you narrate what the damage, if any, looks like". I narrate the action, and your narrate its effect on you.
  • Posted By: Brand_RobinsSo answer things, bring in cool stuff, draw maps, describe stuff. The face stabbing will come, don't rush to it.
    This is so absolutely right. I've played about a half dozen sessions of IAWA, with a variety of players, and the only one that was unsatisfying was with a group that felt that, because their characters were designed to be in conflict, the game had to be all face stabbing, all the time. This meant that the session was just a blur of conflict after conflict, with no real story or roleplaying in between (despite me repeatedly suggesting that it didn't have to be played this way). The punchline was a couple of the players afterwards saying, 'I didn't like that. It was just a load of conflicts.', as if the game had forced them to act like that.

    One bit of (in retrospect, quite obvious) advice I'd offer is that, when drawing the Oracle, don't be afraid to redraw an element that doesn't seem to fit with the others or spark your imaginations at the time. The first session I played was bogged down for about thirty minutes at the start trying to make one incongruous element fit, when it would have been a lot more fun to simply jettison it.
  • The ideal set of dice for a player of In A Wicked Age are:

    Easy to read
    All the same color for the same player
    Have both 1d6 with numerals and 1d6 with pips.

    All 3 of these speed up play because the person across from you can see what the result is, whose dice they are, and so on.
  • Posted By: Scott DorwardOne bit of (in retrospect, quite obvious) advice I'd offer is that, when drawing the Oracle, don't be afraid to redraw an element that doesn't seem to fit with the others or spark your imaginations at the time. The first session I played was bogged down for about thirty minutes at the start trying to make one incongruous element fit, when it would have been a lot more fun to simply jettison it.
    This isn't actually even necessary per se. I've noticed that my group tends to filter out elements that really aren't working, generally around the time that we're selecting characters from the list. For myself, I'd recommend letting this be an organic process. Draw inspiration from the Oracle draws, tease out as many characters as possible, and let the natural interest of the players serve as a filter.

    Seth Ben-Ezra
    Great Wolf
  • Here's one of mine from another thread.
    ---------------------

    I sometimes say this when introducing the Wicked Age:

    You know how, in some games, you have Strength rolls, and Research rolls, and Charm rolls, and Haggle rolls? In IAWA, we only have "beat the crap out of them" rolls and "wear them down" rolls. That's all we can decide with the dice.
  • edited October 2008
    John nailed the one that took me several months of anguish to figure out.

    IAWA is not Dogs and playing it like it's Dogs will fuck you up good. Ideally, you should be approaching the dice like you do in something like, um, any second gen post-D&D system you can think of (Shadowrun, Rifts, Hero, GURPS, etc.). The dice are often a very bad way to achieve what you want, so you should roll them in moderation, when no other option seems viable. Unlike Dogs, they don't structure the conflict by leading you towards a conclusion or allowing you to figure out what the conflict is really about in the midst of it. They simply provide structure when you really want to take someone out, but what happens is still almost entirely up to you, whatever the dice say. That's why, as Brand mentioned at one point, you invoke the dice when someone says, "Oh no you don't, asshole!" (as opposed to just "Say yes or roll the dice"), when someone has declared an action that is so intolerable that you want to immediately oppose them hard, which shouldn't be the default.

    I spent much of my early Rifts and In Nomine years avoiding rolling the dice (because it messes up the story to have random shit happen!), but had gotten so much Story Games brain damage (rolling the dice is more better!), that it messed me up when I initially approached IAWA. If you don't have a conflict every 2-3 scenes, it does not mean your game is lame or even unexciting. If it's unexciting, it's because something else is wrong. The dice themselves don't bring excitement, necessarily.

    EDIT: This also connects to Brand's advice to take your time. Take your time all over the place, not just with set up. Let conflicts emerge on their own; don't try to force them by walking around and kicking folks in the teeth (metaphorically).
  • Here's something easy to overlook:

    IAWA is a game that you can get better at. The techniques for playing are different from traditional games, different from stakesy games, different from economy-as-premise games. As-is, the game provides fun, but it can provide more and better fun with practise. You don't exhaust the game in ten sessions - you just scratch the surface.
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