We’re six sessions into the game first described in Bad doings in Bulwark, set in the fictional city of that name, continuing with the misadventures of (1) gangster widow and former cult member Gratitude and (2) and shaky, increasingly shady white-collar schnook Willy. Their troubles lie in the rising political star of one Amos Zag. Judgmental people may point out that Gratitude didn’t have to try to rob Zag’s safe or that Willy didn’t have to grow a rare vertebra and try to report Zag’s serial killer pal to the cops, but several corpses later, excessive use of scheduled substances, and even more psychos in Zag’s staff than one might have imagined, our poor little self-destructive player-characters don’t seem to need much self-destructive effort any more to get all of the way.
Still, we’re not dead yet. Willy’s managed to get himself actually protected by Zag (against Zag!) and keeps screwing things up just a bit more than he himself gets screwed. Gratitude has been beaten within an inch of her life and stolen a cop car, as well as committed felonious assault on its owner … well, I’m not too sure how much longer her “yet” can stay in that sentence. The two characters still haven’t met, although their paths of influence are much closer now, and what one does typically rebounds soon into whatever the other happens to be up to.
Is it grubby? Or existentially harsh? Or poetically dark? Or kind of funny? Six one-hour sessions have seen a fair bit of all those things. The embedded link below goes to the sixth session inside the playlist, and the attached file shows Willy’s character stories sequentially for each session.
The single-hour session lengths matter a lot, as both Sam and I have added 15 words with every session, so they’re pretty rich by now, relative to the actual amount of time in play. The transition to the sixth session brought me to a point I’ve been hoping to get to without reaching for it, in terms of the character story. You can see that for sessions 2 through 5, I’ve been adding to the end of the story with new sentences. But for the start of this one, I found things to make more sense by adding a few words here and there to pre-existing sentences or putting a clarifying or heightening or connecting sentence between pre-existing ones.
A few Pool notes: we’re playing with the technique I adoped recently in other Pool games, to begin each session with a single added die to each pool but with no other adjustments. None of us like the idea of cycling trait dice back into pool dice; we’re playing the trait bonuses as a one-way trip as far as the pools go.
For those who are interested in the math of play, I’ve been playing quite steadily by taking whatever dice that Jon and my relevant trait give me and adding a single pool die, for almost every roll. I think I used two pool dice once. The result is not a constant pool, but definitely pretty stable. Whereas Sam has been throwing most or all pool dice into rolls whenever things get hectic (Gratitude kind of “does” hectic a lot, as it happens), so he’s out of dice about half the time as far as I can tell without counting. Neither of us have found any reason to dislike wherever the dice dynamics take us at any point.