[Montsegur 1244] Why, Garnier, Why?

I played Montsegur 1244 last night with my regular crew and it went well. The game's procedures are so luminously clear that I have a hard time seeing how any session could go off the rails. We did have some hiccups, though - more on those in a minute. First, a My Guy moment:

I played the mercenary archer Garnier, and it turned out he was a really nasty piece of work. He'd gotten Phillipa pregnant and then cruelly repudiated her, seduced and deflowered her sister Esclamonde, and agitated against the leadership of Pierre Roger at every turn. He promised to help Esclamonde escape the fortress, then cut her loose when the chance to steal part of the Cathar treasure arose. So, you know, total dick. Late in the game he had a road to Damascus-style conversion, hearing the voice of God and converting whole-heartedly to the Cathar faith - just in time to be murdered by the vengeful, cuckolded Pierre Roger. Total Montsegur win.

Perhaps the most interesting character choice was made by my friend Robo, who played Faye as his main. His Faye was a little girl who filtered everything through a weird, childish lens - being an orphan, she didn't really understand kinship, and decided her aunt and Pierre Roger were married "because they are often husband and wife in the woods." Naturally she asked Phillipa to explain this to her - can a man have two wives? Later, and more seriously, she distorted Cathar doctrine about earth being a hell and children being demons by persuading her brother to help her invoke the name of Satan (ruler of the world) to help lift the siege. This was not well received by the Perfects or, later, the Inquisition.

Of the survivors, only Esclamonde recanted her heresy - it was a pretty tight group of believers, and nine of the twelve burned.

Our only difficulty ws in early scene framing. The game started a bit slow, with long, ill-defined scenes. What I need to do in the future is provide a lot more backstory, and to go through the "how to make a good scene" information on the little play mats. I think this will help a lot and encourage you to do this, and maybe read the Montsegur, Faith, Consolamentum, and other info card in advance of play instead of at the stated intervals. My friends said they felt a little at sea, knowing nothing of the situation, and I played the game exactly as written.

The very best scenes were the ones most strongly framed - when Ian pimped me into accepting that Garnier was the father of Phillipa's child, that was awesome.

One final note - this is the third time I've played Montsegur and it is endlessly diverse in play. Understanding the relationships is helpful, but every person brings such a unique spin to the characters, and the mains are always a different combination. It has a high replay value despite the maniacal focus.


  • Jason, awesome Garnier story. How much of this was something you had in mind, when you chose Garnier as your main character, and how much of this was a result from playing the story?

    My personal favorites are definately the kids – you get to say so many naive but true things that nails the situation spot on.

    Wrt. providing back story earlier: Maybe you noticed that I actually provided a lot of details up front when running the game at Dreamation 2009? Stuff that was later repeated by Bertrand’s and Cecille’s players. The particular details of the faith are actually quite central to the story so bringing it to the attention of the players a bit earlier than stated in the book can be useful. Just don’t overload the players with all the details at once. Also, even if the players have read the information before the game, retelling it during the game brings it into the center of the story.

    Wrt. scene framing and scene pacing - these are story gaming skills that need to be learned. At Fastaval last year, I had a group who started the prologue with "you are sitting in an Inn" and ten minutes play time later still hadn't left the inn. With some gentle guideance they eventually got it - one player told me afterwards that he really enjoyed being allowed to participate rather than just waiting for when he could roll the dice.
  • Posted By: Frederik J. JensenJason, awesome Garnier story. How much of this was something you had in mind, when you chose Garnier as your main character, and how much of this was a result from playing the story?
    None, really - my first scene started with him trying to impress Esclarmonde in a benign way, and I immediately got pushed into an ugly corner and embraced that.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarI immediately got pushed into an ugly corner and embraced that.
    Nice. Story jamming rocks.
  • Once my path to evil had been established, I used an interrupt during a tense scene between Corba and Esclarmonde to assume narration and did a quick cut to Garnier and Esclarmonde wrapped in his cloak. "It only hurts like that the first time," he was saying. Then back to the scene with Corba with some new information to guide it.
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