Our rules, ourselves

“Let’s try it out” became a genuine hydra of extended play, especially for a game conceived as a swiftly-coiling drive into final conflict. We ended up with five sessions, some pretty long, and here are the last two.

My judgment calls, consulting thoughts, analysis, whatever you want to call it, are reserved for conversation with Petteri, but here are some things to throw out for general discussion.

First, what exactly is the relationship between “person A is now narrator, and says this-and-such” and “person A is now under scrutiny for acceptance by everyone else.” We bounced everywhere on this spectrum – sometimes being narrator meant your thoughts were more subject to yes/no approval from everyone than when you were just playin’ your guy.

(These aren’t rules inquiries. I’m talking about principles, not this particular rules-set.)

Second, when and how, if ever, do events coalesce into irretrievable rising action, instead of ongoing, repetitive crisis?

Third, to what extent does distributed responsibility for adversity (i.e., temporarily-designated narrator now causes trouble for temporarily-designated spotlight character) breed a crew of antagonists whose players are generally unsympathetic to the others’ characters?

Fourth, to what extent does assigning negative traits to one another’s characters (this could be at character creation, or during play, whenever) breed a crew of unlikeable dysfunctional assholes rather than anyone whom anyone is interested in?

The final session is semi-miraculous in bringing things to a close, by which I mean we were collectively not very good at it at all. The big lag between sessions wasn’t good for us – a lot of “now how do we do this again” and, in my opinion, a painful drop in commitment to a collective arc; there are even sections in which it’s not clear whether we were playing or discussing play, which is one of my personal triggers. You’ll see me get visibly upset, then come down, then get upset again, and I’ve even blanked two sections where – frankly – play could easily have ended in not-a-good way.

And yet for all that, taken as fiction, I’m proud of what we did, specifically as a collective effort which no one of us could have done alone. There is in fact a pretty good novella right there.

I also excerpted a substantial amount for a separate video which I’ve presented in the comments to the “How Long …” seminar, concerning the endings of scenes, sessions, and the entirety of play.

All of this is really not just about one game. There’s the ongoing comparative investigation among House of Spiders, Directions Storyplay, and B-Movie as well, especially as each one finds its audience and best route of promotion.

It’s also given me some room to experiment and question regarding semi/minor GMing for Cosmic Zap.

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