I ran a game of 'In A Wicked Age' (IAWA) last night for some friends. It was great fun, and everyone enjoyed themselves, although not all the game mechanics worked as smoothly as I was hoping.
Following is an AP from my first time running this game, posted partly in hopes that any comments might improve my next game, and partly because I'm such a fan of the game that I want to share the experience with others. The AP, being long, is divided into two posts, story generation/set-up and the game itself.
The group was a mix of gamers and non-gamers, all close friends. In addition to myself, there was James (who regularly plays RPGs), Mary (who said she thought I was bringing a board game, and said that I had "tricked" her), Edward (who has played some D&D in the past, and was not all that into it), and Chris (who has never played an RPG and previously was only willing to do so if he "lost a bet"). Part of the reason for selecting IAWA was that it was very different from traditional RPGs, which I knew would not go over very well.
Everyone was willing to play, however, and the game set-up went great. I thought I'd explain the rules as we went along, so we jumped right into generating story elements and characters. The group agreed on "The Unquiet Past" as an oracle, and each player chose a card. The elements we ended up with were:
-- The secret shrine of a temple to forbidden gods
-- A long-dead queen, still trying to defend her realm
-- The awakening of three powerful and malignant genii
-- A necromancer who steals the knowledge of the dying
There were some obvious characters in the elements (the queen's spirit, the necromancer, the three genii, and the last priest of the forbidden gods), to which the players added an evil monarch (who had overthrown the queen), the king's daughter (who loved the necromancer), and (for some reason) a magical coin possessed of a split personality. This first part of the game went beautifully. Everyone got right into creating the characters and setting with very little prompting from me, and came up with many cool bits.
-- Chris' character: The necromancer/royal undertaker, who had learned about how good things used to be back in the days of the old queen during his routine theft of knowledge from the dying (which he did merely as a way to pass the time), and who was newly dedicated to the overthrow of the evil king.
-- Edward's character: The evil king, who wanted an "interesting life" for his daughter, and had a terrible fear of the magical coin.
-- James' character: The three genii (yes, all three), who were nominally in the employ of the evil king, but who really just wanted to sow chaos and see human misery.
-- Mary' character: The last priest of the forbidden gods, who wanted to see the evil king overthrown, but did not want to get involved with helping the necromancer.
The actual mechanics of character creation went fairly smoothly. Assigning dice to the forms is pretty intuitive (once the non-gamers got past the weirdness and social stigma of polyhedral dice), as is assigning best interests. I stressed the need to have everyone's best interests in conflict, and the players did that well. We also put together a relationship map, which I started, but Mary understood and helped with (She must have encountered that concept in some non-gaming context, but I forgot to ask her about it).
The only part that was a bit difficult was particular strengths. The idea is not hard to explain, but I think I threw the doors open too wide in my examples, because everyone chose a pretty abstract concept for their strength (no fear of death, the ability to sense motives, terrible allure, and stillness amidst chaos). I put some emphasis on the mythic, fairy-tale nature of the game, and everyone made their strength a little more concrete and supernatural (for example, the king's ability to sense the motives of others was dependent on him being close enough to breathe in their breath). The hard part was assigning forms and a power to the strengths. At this point we hadn't been over the conflict rules in much detail, so those things didn't mean a lot yet. Since we had been working on this for a while, I hurried things along, and I think everyone just kind of picked something without much thought ("Okay, uh, I'll say 'broad'. What the hell, right?"). Which was not such a big deal.
Character creation was a big success, and an enjoyable part of the game in and of itself.