Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Week in Stories - November 3

Over the Edge

Life has been crazy, but with any luck, it looks to be settling down enough to do some gaming on a regular basis again. For now, anyway. So, Friday night, we got to settle in to play a session of Bill's Over the Edge game. Last time we tried to play this, I was having a bad reaction to a spider bite, and took a Benadryl without thinking that I'd already had three glasses of wine, as we were celebrating my new job. So instead of me playing, it was more me getting drowsy, lying down on the couch, exclaiming "Woo, opium!" (it had total relevance to the scene I was listening to them do at the table, I swear), and falling asleep.

So, we got back at it. My character, Kit, was still reeling in the aftermath of another moon-induced three-day blackout. (Blackout in the sense that she still does things, just loses all inhibition and memory of it happening.) So she's coming down off drugs she doesn't remember taking, confronted with evidence that the blood she woke up covered in might have belonged to pretty much the worst possible victim.

For her, it's all about trust right now, particularly given that she can't trust herself. She has new evidence that points to her father's right-hand man, Fox. But no idea what he's done to her, or how to fix it. She's met three people in Al-Amarja, and only really trusts one of them, as of yet. Zilch the robot assassin she's suspicious of, and Pendergast she regards as an untrustworthy opium addict. (See? I told you the opium comment was relevant.)

For some reasons, she's decided to trust a Special Forces vet named Bruce, who served in Afghanistan and wears a tin-foil lined hat.  Maybe her choices are not the best here.

But at any rate, Amanda and I have some good chemistry going on between Kit and Bruce, and the scene where she showed him the video footage pertinent to the night before she first woke up covered in blood I really enjoyed.

There was a moment where Kit was working towards some major hysteria, and Amanda, sitting across the table, put her hand out like she was cupping my cheek, although nowhere actually near me. And I reacted as I would have had it been real, letting that contact (or the idea of that contact) ground Kit momentarily. It was interesting to see how that worked. Amanda apologized later for pulling me out of the hysteria, thinking it was something I wanted to push further, but it felt right to me in the moment.

Of course, then Kit invited Bruce to stop sleeping on the floor (he's there to stop her if she goes into another fugue state) and join her in bed. Except that he then saw in a mirror the reflection of his dead wife sitting beside Kit, making a throat-cutting motion. So Kit got turned down hard, and is hurt. Which will be interesting. She was letting herself be vulnerable when that's a hard thing to do, and we'll see where that goes from here.

That was the big character moment for me - the rest was sleuthing, using her investigative reporter skills to find out the two most likely places Fox is staying on the island. Now I have to think how she'll get in there. And what she'll do when she gets there.

One Shot

In my every-other-Monday group, we're working on how to negotiate playing GMless when it has been a role that I, for one, have missed. (Not that I want to GM. But I can sink into playing better if there's a GM to take care of overarching plot.) So we decided to do a couple of one-shots, and used the PTA card deck to come up with an idea. The cards we used were Agents/Love/Secret/President.

So, with a reckless disregard for any kind of realism, we came up with a story of three agents from two different agencies, with my character in the apex of a triangle. While insisting she was in a happy relationship, which turned out to be a lie, she had to interact with past and potential lovers. Melissa played my character's ex-girlfriend, with whom she'd had a long-term relationship but had stayed heavily closeted. Colin was her present partner, with whom there was definite chemistry and one ill-advised kiss.

Mostly, though, this was about how to GM. For last night, we were trying pulling tarot cards at the start of scenes, to suggest a new plot point, or at important moments, to guide how things would go. For the most part, it seemed to work pretty well. It particularly works well for me, because I know tarot cards so well, and it's similar to the process I already use for coming up with character ideas. I felt like I was riffing well on some of the cards to come up with plot points that I would otherwise never have thought of. However, just because it works well with my mental processes doesn't mean the same for everyone. But it seemed generally useful, with the proviso that maybe we draw cards less often, or let the person involved in the decision decide whether or not they want a card.

So it may be something we continue, although I think it works less well for at least one person than it does for me. We're going to try a couple more things, and perhaps keep using the PTA cards to come up with scenarios for another one-shot or two. I like them, anyway. I enjoy randomness.

The other part of last night was that I successfully fought a tendency I know I have. I often delay making a choice, and in this case it was clear - my character had to pick one of the other characters (or neither) by the end of the night. In some circumstances, I might have pushed for both, but in the world we were creating, a poly relationship was probably not going to fly.

So, at about the midpoint, my character had what felt like a pivotal scene with each of the other two, and I pulled a card for each one, and let it inform the scene. Then after both, I pulled another, quietly, and used it to come to a decision as to which one she'd pick, if the chance arose. Knowing that my character was going to pick the old girlfriend, I was able to throw in a couple of moments in the second half that played into that decision. (Interestingly, Colin said that one of them, a dance with the old girlfriend, had felt ambiguous in the moment - either a moment of connection, or a last goodbye. I'm pleased with that.)

So, in other words, early on, I opted for certainty instead of uncertainty, and although I like possibility spaces, it was good to have made that choice and then play towards it. I wasn't married to it - if what happened in play had altered anything major, I would have rethought. But it didn't, and there were some difficult and sweet moments at the end. All in all, a successful one shot. 

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