This post follows Daisho and dishonor to share our Spelens Hus game of The Mountain Witch. The video link below goes straight to session 4 inside the playlist. I’ve also made a couple of reflections videos, but due to the importance of hidden and incomplete information, I’ll share them when the game is completed – probably although not absolutely certainly, a couple of sessions from now. I’ll put some tags in the posts then as well, as doing so now would be telling.
Without giving details, I warn you that the events we’re playing are emotionally wrenching. Please message me if you would like some preparation for specific content.
In terms of the game’s structure, we are now into Act 3, and if I’m not miscounting, having finished Chapter 4. The apparent rigidity implied by using numbers is not actually real, though. “Acts” merely refer to where the characters are, designated as such only to remind the GM to keep going up the mountain. The Chapters merely formalize moments at which the players must showcase something about their characters’ Dark Fates, which they may do at any time anyway. In practice, you’ll play four Acts unless the whole story concludes before getting into the Witch’s fortress (which would be OK, you don’t have to “finish the Acts”), and you’ll necessarily have at least four Chapters, although more is better.
I was especially pleased to bring the distinctive geography of Mount Fuji into play throughout, but especially now, as the action is set in the crater which defines its peak. Yes, it is a volcano, and although it may be dormant, it is far from dead even today.
If you’ve been keeping up, you know we have Uno-Domo, an older man pursued or tormented by a strange owl; Kisaragi, younger but not much, who plays a magical flute and insists that he has no ulterior motives; Tagachi, a young man, barely twenty, who obsesses over a woman he’s convinced is on the mountain; and Itto-Sama, a young woman, who is much more observant of samurai culture than the others, and tends to stalk and spy on them. If you know the game at all, you will be interested to know that the events of this session (#4) have led to strikingly differing Trust profiles among them.
The leading image is by viva la revolution; click the image for source/reference.
3 responses to “Fated”
Yesterday we played our last session of Mountain Witch and it was very satisfying. Never saw a Samurai film in my life but given the little I’ve read about them we probably got pretty close. The movie I left with is a black and white one with a lot of drama and a nice amount of grit. It has a scene towards the end (spoiler alert) where my brain went “I’ll rip you in bloody shreds for that you damn ogre” and had we sat at the same table I’d probably been halfway across. Ron told us a samurais soul is in his katana, I have some doubt, I think it might be in her naginata given my reaction.
Would I recommend the game to others? Absolutely, it is not at all difficult, the rule-book gives you a lot of background and tips on where you can find even more and the rules are described pretty clearly with a lot of examples. That narration of conflicts goes to the player who rolled the highest number (if the players win the conflict) is a nice feature. Even if you roll exceptionally bad (as I did for the most part) you still have ample chance to role play your character between conflicts. The dark fates inject a lot of drama and suspense which drives the evolving story. The mountain witch is not important at all, it is the relations between the PC that is the core of the emerging tale.
We did not really explore all possibilities given by the Trust Point system but for this instance of play I do not feel that was a problem. Personally I never felt the need to “snatch” narration or oppose another player before the very last session and I do not think you have to use everything in the book to do things right. I did use up nearly all points given to me during the last session though.
Can I see where playing the game could go wrong? Actually yes. In case you do think there is something to win and both allot and use Trust in a tactical way that probably would destroy any fun within some sessions.
I’d be interested to hear about other peoples experiences with the Mountain Witch (both good and bad) so please share.
Here's the direct link into the playlist. I've made the Reflections videos from along the way public as well.
The more I look into this game, the more impressive it is. The different mechanics seem to work together in ways I did not expect.
Ron, what would you say were the most important GMing principles or tips you used for these sessions? Especially in regard to using the dark fates.
Also, regarding conflicts/combat, what were you using to determine order, if anything? Or was it not important in these situations?
Bummer about that 5th session…