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Vigil playtest with Hijos de Rol

It's almost right outta the box, with pauses and um's and stuff - but it's a great look at how topical and immediate the game is.

Contrary to the question marks, the heroes’ names were El Santo and El Ángel Caído.

 

Department: 
Actual Play
Games: 
Vigil

Comments

HijosDelRol's picture

Hey, Angel here.

I wanted to share my thoughts and impressions about this session. I intend to talk mainly of what was going through my head during the game at specific points that I remember as being particularly significant. With the help of the recording, it should give a good idea of how the game worked for me and what kind of experience it elicited in play. Hopefully it will be useful from a playtesting point of view and maybe it will lead to further discussion.

I'm going to do this over several messages, as composing my thoughts takes me a lot of time. Even more so when I do it in English.

The first thing that really resonated with me was the "is your hate pure?" question (4:02 on the video). This was what called my attention about the game in the fist place, back when I read Vincent Baker talking about it on his blog. Just the idea causes a visceral reaction in me. It's not only that it does away with the "I don't want politics in my game" idea straight away. It also talks of a kind of deep emotional bleeding between player and character I'm not used to seeing in RPGs. At least not this directly. It's a straight in the face "this is what the game is about" kind of thing. It felt daunting answering something like that after just starting the game. I'm happy to talk endlessly about the things I love, or to argue calmly about those I don't. But to reveal something I truly hate? No justification, no sugar-coating? For that I needed to expose parts of myself I normally keep hidden. To some degree, even from myself. Owning to your hate is not easy.

I succeeded partially in doing so. The state of Housing is something I hate for sure. I come from a country that went through a terrible economical crisis because of it. My family was affected by it and it had very deep effects on my life. Still, I don't think I was able to convey all that. At least, not my personal relationship with the issue. At the moment I felt as if I wasn't being completely honest. Like I was leaving something out on purpose, even if I didn't know exactly what it was.

On retrospective, I think that was fine. I was still able to get to something I really cared about, even if it wasn't as specific as it could have been. Maybe I haven't reflected on it enough on my own. Maybe playing could have allowed me to explore it more deeply. In fact, even in the first session there were hints of that, ideas I had of things I may want to explore in the future.

What I can say for certain it's that it put an image of the soon-to-be game in my head with a clarity I've rarely, if ever, felt. It took me out of my zone of comfort. And after going through it, I'm still fascinated and intimidated by the idea. It forced me to do a lot of introspection, both while I was playing and afterwards. It made me contemplate long buried feelings I had let unexamined for years. And it showed me a promise of exploring them in the future. And that's the kind of thing I want out of the first session of a game.

I think that's all I can say about this for now. I've avoided talking about what I think about this particular procedure as it relates to the experience it's suppose to provide and instead stick to the raw impressions, analyzing them and not the game mechanics themselves. But I would love to hear Ron's thoughts on what purpose he sees it as having on the game from a design perspective.

Ron Edwards's picture

My thoughts aren't much different from what you said. It's tied to the long conversation I had with Steve Long at Comics Madness, and a deep political look at how an essentially right-wing meme emerged from the tormented, clearly obsessive writings of self-dissenting, uncomfortable liberalism. When I cleared away the immediacy of certain visual tricks and statements (e.g. the romance with interrogation, the completely fantasized depiction of "street" and "street criminals"), I could see another immediacy - an accurate disgruntlement, non-entitled, but instead baffled and justified.

I ultimately found the most textual inspiration from the less-successful or lesser-known comics, like Cloak and Dagger and Hollow Girl, respectively, because they raised the question well rather than finishing (and being over). The better-known ones are not limited to, but certainly dominated by Denny O'Neil, and although that's not a bad thing, it does constrain the content of those titles unnecessarily, mistaking a particular small set of creators' personal take for genre definitions. Realizing this helped me understand that this topic, at first glance played-out long ago, was still full of potential.

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