Relationship Map

I still need to write up the last session (which went well) but I figured I'd put up the relationship map as it's evolved. There's at least one reveal hidden in this, but it's not a powerful one, so I'm ok tipping my hand.

WHo are all these people? Well, that's going to wait until I have a few more minutes to burn.

Session #1 Complete

So, we just wrapped up Session #1, and I'm pretty happy with it. We started just past 8, and my wrap up instinct kicked in about five minutes of 11, so just about three solid hours, which was pretty good, especially for a first session. Yes, 3 hours is good. We're old people, and we need our sleep.

First, the bad. My notes were fairly comprehensive, but I did not have the rolls required for navigating the hedge at my fingertips, and I ended up faking them a little rather than stopping to look them up. That was fine, since one hedge visit was quite brief, and the other ended up more involved, but playing out exactly right. I also was very erratic in remembering whether the evil dogs had armor, and I forgot to capture the name of one of the NPCs on my way, so there was a hiccup trying to remember it. I also had to get in the habit of calling for a stat+skill pair, rather than just calling for the stat. Smoothed things out a little.

More neutrally, I'd meant to bring poker ships for willpower, but their absence was not a real problem. Similarly, at the last minute I made an addition to the character sheets, adding a "Perception" value (really just wits + composure) to the bottom for ease of reference. That _definitely_ paid off.

Since this was the first session, I was not pushing the character issues as hard as I could, which was the right decision, but I'll always regret it a little. The slow introduction of rules in conjunction with the extensive notes on the character sheet worked out very well, and I think by the end of the session the overall comfort level was very high.

As for play itself, I began with a scattered party, and threaded a couple plots. Walter got dragged out hunting by Vincent, another Changeling, going after some strange dogs in the park. Tom ended up seeing a kid being stalked by one of these dogs, and went after them both. Walter wounded a dog which fled into the city, and was hit by a car, causing an accident. Walter kept after the dogs while Anna and Nika were drawn to the accident, which it turned out involved Nika's father and a woman who was not her mother. Nika made the decision to take them to the clinic, rather than Neptune city hospital, so she could protect her family.

Tom and the kid ended up hiding out in a tree fort while Walter hunted down the dogs, ending in a fight as one of the dogs climbed the tree to come after them, and Walter busted into the clearing, guns blazing. The good guys won, with some blood lost, but the kid ran off, and the cops came to investigate the gunshots, so they ended up fleeing into the hedge at different points. Walter found his way to the Trod easily enough, and came out in Luke's place, but Tom had a harder time of it. He found railroad tracks in the hedge, which was a little odd, and followed them. Predictably, he nearly got run over by a train, but he lept off a bridge, narrowly avoiding the troll beneath it, and found his way back to the world.

Nika and Anna saw to the injured pair. Her father did not wake up, and his head trauma was worrisome, but the clinic lacked the tools to diagnose him properly, and a head injury was not something she wanted to risk a changeling healer on. As such, they arranged for him to be transferred to Neptune City hospital (Where Nika's fetch is chief of medicine) after doctoring the paperwork to remove any mention of the woman. The woman was panicky, but all right, and after some conversation (including a reference to her son) was drugged. Nika eavesdropped on her dreams and got a little more information before they dumper her in a cab and sent her home. While this was going on, Walter came in to get patched up.

The dream stuff required a judgement call on my part - they had no contract to allow dream visiting, but Nika has Dream ****, so I interpreted the second power to mean she could watch and edit, but not truly enter the dream, so it was useful, but not immersive.

Anyway, I'm crazily tired and need to crash. All in all, I feel I managed to really nail the small town feel of it, and everyone got some sort of strong hook except Anna, who was mostly color. However, that was at least partly intentional, since Anna's player was bone-tired, and not likely to engage too much. Her little bit of awesome will probably come to the forefront early in the next episode.

Probably will have more thoughts later, but for now, I sleep.

Character sheets

The 1 page version of the character sheets are now up in the Downloads section. I say 1 page because the actual character sheets are 4 pages long, with a page about the hedge and two pages of rules summary - the basics, combat, clarity and so on. I could probably have squeezed and shorthanded it down to two pages, but a big part of making a game friendly is making it easy to reference. (I haven't put up the full ones because they are such restatements of white wolf stuff that I'd feel like I'm skirting the pirates edge. Technically, summarizing isn't, but I have no desire to disrespect the game in that fashion.)

While I hope these will be useful for the players, this has also been a very useful for me. It's forced me to internalize a lot of the mechanics by virtue of writing them down, and it's given me a strong sense of what rules I'm going to have to tag for easy lookup, or copy into my own cheatsheet. Hell, I might even buy the GM's screen, though that's a weird thought for me. I tried using one for D&D, and it never quite clicked. Of course, WW does make these great man-killing GM screens, so I may overcome my resistance.

I'm a little worried about combat, I admit. We have a doctor, but no healer (no spring court at all, in fact) among the PCs, and I can mitigate that some with goblin fruits and NPCs, there is so little damage mitigation (and only a little more defense boosting) that I am slightly worried that I will accidentally kill everyone once the first fight busts out. If nothing else, I'm going to go out of my way to avoid enemies with guns, which should work out ok. We were discussing the system last night and I explained it as follows: this is the combat system for a horror game, not an action game. Plan accordingly.

The good news is that made sense to my audience, so if nothing else I may have accidentally recaptured one of the elements I loved about Rolemaster: fear.

First game is this friday. I'm planning on opening up right into people's issues - 5 sessions means there's no point in waiting - so i think I've got a pretty full quiver, but that knowledge doesn't diminish the nervousness.

Gilded and Prep

I've been mostly working offline in prep for the first session, transcribing characters, preparing handouts and such. I'll upload them when they're ready, but I'm infinitely fiddling with them for the moment.

I did settle on the Kith Blessing for the Gilded. I'd forgotten that the Fairest already can boost their Presence, so I didn't i need to include that. Instead, I concentrated on the idea of the gilded - lots of surface, but not necessarily any depth. Net result was as follows:

The Gilded are those fairest who have been made lovely by decoration, with skin of precious metal, eyes of gemstones and little of note beneath the surface. They are able to make a Fantastic First Impression, and gain +2 dice and benefit from 9 again on the very first social roll they make to interact with someone the first time they meet them.

I'm not 100% confident on the balance on this one. It's a very big, but very specialized bonus, and it is going to come up most often with unnamed NPCs, since the ability is of little use with any recurring cast. On one hand, this suggests that it will see a decent amount of use, since the world is full of people you'll meet only once, and only _need_ one roll for. On the other hand, those people tend to have smallish pools, so it's not like the bonus is _necessary_. The net result is that the player is more likely to get an exceptional success on that first roll and never be abel to repeat it. That feels like exactly the right sort of outcome, but we'll see how it plays out at the table.