I played on Saturday with three friends. We played the full game in around four hours as expected (including some rules explanation on the way).
We had some troubles with the English texts, as not all the players were used to that. Thus, before playing, I read aloud in Spanish (translating on the fly) the main texts about Cathars, the Faith, Motnsegur, etc. I was also the one reading/translating the introductory texts at the start of each act. It is loosing a little of player implication, but it works.
It was clear almost from the first act that not all players were going to take the history too seriously and the tone was going to be very light. There was quite a lot of mockery. Thus, it was not as intense as the Dreamation's session in which I partipated. But it was still a lot of fun.
I noticed how the players were many times modifying the tone and events to accommodate the other players interests. Something that I never thought it was coming so naturally with such a light structure.
With four players you have three characters, one main and two secondary ones. Sometimes it was too much for the players to keep track of all the connections and names related to their characters. It was much easier with only two, as in our Dreamation session. I also noticed that, while choosing the characters, the players were not yet really aware about the connections between all characters and it was difficult to avoid getting too much connected characters associated to the same player, as recommended in the book. In our Dreamation session Frederik draw a quick relationship-map showing all the names and situation. It was helpful. I'm sorry I didn't do it this time. By the way, player's commented that the character drawings were looking like too "modern" people :-)
2. During play
I forgot about the break after act three. We were already in the middle of the following act when I remembered. Thus, we continued. A pitty.
The pace in the second part of the game was still escalating, and going too fast. At the end, the players were eager to do follow-up scenes across acts. The expected timeline between acts was not having too much sense for our case. We played it very loosely. According to our fiction, the last three acts could have happened in a couple of days.
There was a lot of unexpected alternative history. Bertrand accused Pierre Roger and Bernard of being not redeemable sinners, polluted by their killing and frenzy in combat and bringing the doom to Montsegur. He tried to convince Raimond to hand over the two sinners to the inquisitors since act two. He even tried to get control of the castle in the last act before the epilogue, and there was a riot and combat inside the walls.
Bernard was slowly discovered not to be a real believer. He had joined the Cathars only to look for revenge against the inquisition. At last he was cursing all those fanatics and fleeing with the help of a friend, a Templar knight. He wanted to take Arsende with him. But when he faced the decision of coming back to look for her during the riot, or taking the last opportunity to flee with his Templar friend, he left anyway.
Philippa was really having a problem. She was a complete mess of sexual inclinations. Near the end, it was revealed that the child was the product of an incestuous relationship with his father, somehow allowed by her mother being in denial. She killed her mother with her own hands and also tried to kill his father who went mentally ill. At the end, we discovered she was a disguised witch. She repented doing a complete false confession to save her life.
3. Mechanical issues
We had a couple of strange mechanical situations. Everything was solved with quick dialog. But it felt a little awkward and I took my notes about it. They were related to the application, by the narrator, of full plot/content authority on another player's main character.
Example: How did we discover Philippa was a witch? In one of the last acts, the player was creating a kind of complicate emotional status to explain all the weird things Philippa had been doing. At that moment, another player took the narration control and used the Witchcraft card introducing the fact that she was a disguised witch. It was really disconcerting at first. Philippa's player needed to change completely his idea of what to do in the last acts. But he bought it and worked with it.
Similar example: Philippa finally tried to seduce Bertrand himself for the pleasure of making him sin. Indeed, the player decreed she was seducing him. Bertrand's player was asking about a (mechanical) way to avoid it. The only thing that come to my mind was fighting for the narration control with the scene cards, but it seemed very silly and lame. Thus, he quickly accepted the idea, and this thing changed completely his decision for the epilogue. He was not a perfect anymore and he fully repented and embraced the Catholic church.
Another thing unexpected to me was that some players were really interested on announcing the final decisions and outcomes of (some of) their secondary characters. And also they changed the expected order in which we were narrating the epilogues to build a fiction flow.
What do you think about these mechanical issues?