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per amica silentia lunae

or, across the ferny brae with the evil voodoo celt

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The Greater Trumps: Lessons Learned
archie
evcelt
In general, I was very happy with how this run went. And, as in the past times I ran Trumps, I learned a few things:

1. The casting form became essential, due to the fact that I had only a vague "name/face connection" level of recognition for about 2/3 of the players. The questions worked pretty well, although I probably want to go to web forms for any future work- there were some pretty creative interpretations of how to answer some things. ;-)

2. I'm really starting to like using "invocations" to start my games- mood-setting pieces to draw people into the right mindset. The bit I use for this game is a quote from the novel of the same name by Charles Williams. This time, I made a last-minute decision while packing to take some background music for the "invocation"- "Coelocanth" by Shriekback. It was a perfect choice... although it haunted me as an earworm for most of the weekend.

3. It's amazing what lowered lights and storm noises can do on their own- this game needs little to no stage dressing. And the wonderful costumes that the players wore were just as important.

4. The game needs to have a bit more of a structured briefing than we did on this run- there were a few things about reversals and the like that we should have covered in more detail. But we didn't really need a combat demo- mindways provided that by single-handedly using it more often than I remember in the two runs I GM'd combined. ;-)

5. I don't know if I could have done it as a solo GM, but I'm awfully glad I didn't. It was a bit more GM-intensive that earlier runs. Thank the gods for bigblackmimesis, for stepping up to the plate and floor-GMing... he did an amazing job. Also, more thanks than I can say to monsteralice, who rounded him up for me.

6. I need to look under the hood and tinker with a few things. Given the time structure, I need to bias things a lot more towards there being an earlier decision on one (or perhaps two competing) new hierarchy, and have the rest of it be negotiation on placement and power. Similarly, players seemed to fixate on the idea that all their designs needed to be tested, which wasn't really the case- I didn't realize this until too late. The abilities related to testing need to be codified. Etc., etc.

7. My GMing tipple of choice from now on shall be Irish whiskey. "Now as older I'm growin', time's ever bestowin' / On Erin's potation a flavour so fine / And how e're they may lecture on Jove and his nectar / Itself is the only true liquid divine."

EDIT: many thanks for all the praise, and also for the intriguing commentary and discussion.

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Was mindways The Rains? I was so incredibly impressed with him, both as a person and in his role, that I think he made a lot of the game for me.

I really enjoyed the game and it taught me a great deal both in and out of my head.



mindways was indeed the Rains. And he's my older brother so I can bask in familial proudness at his awesome roleplaying abilities. :o) My big brother is cool, yo.

I take it from your ROCK OUT comment below that you were the Devil? 'Cause you were awesome too, then.

And to evcelt - I already emailed you to tell you that this game was fantastic, but it bears repeating in a public place where everyone can hear the praise. ;o)

I was, am, and will always be [typecast] as the Devil, and I appreciate your comments. It was really a learning experience for me, and The Rains brought a lot of thoughts to my mind while I was parsing through what it meant to be the voice of reason coming from something most people inherently misunderstand.

So thanks, and thank your bro for me. :)

Honestly, in your case it wasn't typecasting. It was the best fit for your questionnaire answers, and quite frankly it is a difficult character that larp_tech and I knew we could trust you with. You did a wonderful job with it, too.

And to [info]evcelt - I already emailed you to tell you that this game was fantastic, but it bears repeating in a public place where everyone can hear the praise. ;o)

::glows::

Many thanks. :)

I very much enjoyed your Devil - you got that "She's right, but I hate to admit it" down cold...as well as the seductive temptation of doing whatever the hell you want, consequences be damned.

[sarcasm]That's because I never have to deal with that sort of attitude in my real life. Really. [/sarcasm]

I think both you and I had very difficult and dynamic characters to portray - it's very easy to side with a character who appears to be "good" and easy to swallow, but it's much more of a challenge to hear what something you don't fully understand has to say.

Which is part of what I took home from this experience. No matter how much I may know that what I'm thinking is right, or appropriate, or just plain worth listening to, sometimes you'll just be ignored not on the merits of your ideas, but for who people interpret you to be. It's easy to look at a character like "the Rains" in the middle of a storm and immediately assume that he has the Storm's best interest in mind. And yet, in actuality, it was a matter of trying to understand his role in the Arcana - that without forced change, some things remain stagnant forever - that his true importance would be revealed.

To me, that was an intrisic part of the game, that I think a lot of the players overlooked. It's really easy to pigeonhole the Devil as being "the opposite of good", when in actuality the character is much deeper and more complicated than that.

I get it as a tarot card reader, too - people automatically assume that Death and the Devil and even the Tower mean that tragedy is on the way, when in fact these can represent so much more.

To me, that was an intrisic part of the game, that I think a lot of the players overlooked. It's really easy to pigeonhole the Devil as being "the opposite of good", when in actuality the character is much deeper and more complicated than that.

I don't know if this came out in the game, but the Devil was one of the two Personae whose "reversed" aspect was actually what they should have been. This idea came about when I found Legend: the Arthurian Tarot. Instead of the Devil, this deck has The Horned One. People who were with me when I first saw this card will testify that I began to cry... it was so exactly right in my viewpoint.


I knew that the prisoner was the "other" one.

It was hard to convey the difference between the reversed aspect - I was only given one reversal, for less than five minutes, and at the time I was being co-opted to help with a journey. I think, as a role playing limitation I had upon myself - I found it harder than I expected to convey "male sexuality" without coming off like a lecherous lesbian, which doesn't parse the same.


3. It's amazing what lowered lights and storm noises can do on their own- this game needs little to no stage dressing. And the wonderful costumes that the players wore were just as important.

A lot of games would do well to take more advantage of the power of suggestion. There are so many that put a huge amount of work into production elements that are kinda cool and "good enough", but still have gaps to be filled by the imagination, instead of looking for a setup that requires less work and more imagination, but is more evocative.

Oh, and Hugh?

ROCK OUT WITH YOUR COCK OUT!

hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee...

I'm really starting to like using "invocations" to start my games
Agreed. We did something similar for LOTL, senex_holmes wrote up a very nice invocation for a starting ceremony that I think helped set tone.

Given the time structure, I need to bias things a lot more towards there being an earlier decision on one (or perhaps two competing) new hierarchy, and have the rest of it be negotiation on placement and power.

I don't know if that would have worked, at least in this run. I think there were enough characters who felt fairly strongly that there should be an egalitarianism to it, that it placement didn't matter as much as inclusiveness and the ability to withstand a storm.

And I also think the "testing" lead credibility to a design, which is why it became absolutely necessary to have each once tested. After the first had been tested, there was no way you could get anyone to support an untested theory.

The ability to withstand the storm was crucial, for obvious reasons.

After that - I recall hearing "the bigger the hierarchy, the better it will be" - the more power / focus would be available to all within. I'm not sure who was saying that, though.

My guess is that that, combined with a reluctance to want to deal with the confrontation that would likely result from excluding Personae, were two of the larger factors driving "include everyone".

I thought it was interesting that certain characters - the Hermit, for example, and the Star - kept asking me "if you don't approve of the current heirarchies, would you be amenable to being left out?"

Of course not, silly. As Temperance made clear to me after game wrap, even if it were everyone on one side of the space and me, alone, on the other, he still wouldn't have joined because there is no card that duplicates what the Devil represents, and without the Devil there is no true balance.


Of course not, silly.

Dur - of COURSE not. We feared you and disliked your ability to take away choice from us (I was one of the Lovers), but we realized that that was one of the reasons you were so indispensable. We talked down someone (can't remember who) that was trying to do "good" over here, and "bad" over there (and I won't even get into how silly those terms are) because it would be distressingly unbalanced without a mix of destruction/creation // static/change, etc. etc. One becomes meaningless without the other as a foil.

I will say I had an awesome time being mopey and depressed, especially when I had to go back to myself. I loved the atmosphere, dark room, music... Very evocative! :)

But we didn't really need a combat demo- jikharra provided that by single-handedly using it more often than I remember in the two runs I GM'd combined. ;-)

Yeah, I felt kind of weird about doing that, since combat is by its nature abrupt, as are the resulting consequences...but it seemed the most appropriate avenue open to me(*). So I strove instead to use combat in a manner appropriate to the Persona - persistent, patient, repeated, inevitable.

(*) = I'd have loved to have had an affect-others ability along the lines of "You begin slowly Reversing, taking about 10-15 minutes to get there. This halts and wears off as soon as you're away from my vicinity for a few minutes, or once you've been fully Reversed for a little while. Usable once every [15?] minutes." I would have used that instead, no question. Admittedly, the notion of partial Reversal isn't often come across in normal Tarot interpretation...but this Persona isn't in the standard Tarot deck, so bringing something new isn't that surprising, perhaps.

You begin slowly Reversing, taking about 10-15 minutes to get there

Gah! *laugh* - that's a fascinating idea, from your character's point of view, but it would be brain-bending to roleplay with no notice or lead-time to think about your RP choices. The middle of those 15 minutes could be very split-personality, or alternatively pretty catatonic or very confused, because what's the mid-ground between your Form's two polarities?

"You have six minutes to figure it out -- GO." :o)

I guess I would have gone from connected-love to withdrawn to connected-childish/petty, since we'd made a pre-game choice not to physically separate if one of us got reversed, as we were still one Form. I wonder how other people would've played the slow-reverse.

Yeah, for some Personae, there's a pretty obvious continuum, while others would require some rather creative interpretation...

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