Actual Play – So Much for the Afterglow (10/4/2009)

GM: Eric Fattig
Players: Cameron, Alec, Travis, Steve, Sean, and Chrissy
System: Mage, The Awakening

This is a song about Susan
Yeah, this is a song about the way things are
This is a song about the scary things
You see from the corner of your eyes
Don’t you wonder why?

– Everclear

Personal note

I think I’ve changed my mind about shadow names. While Sean is very enchanted with having just seen Wicked, there isn’t a reason for Simone (my character) to be. Instead of Elphaba she’s going to be Vogue. It carries with it the notion of change and that is important to her.

I had this fascination with playing a drug dealer, someone who survived by picking off the scraps of society. I thought I would like it but I don’t. It leaves me feeling too callous, which I don’t like. I’m fine with playing really messed up individuals but I want them to believe in what they are doing, not just do it because they can.

Back to the game

Our session started with a lot of mechanical bits. In fact the session was really Character Creation 2.0. Travis had a lot of questions about how the game works and how Arcanum work and how rotes work and… He had a lot of questions. I think they were very good ones to ask as many of the players are unfamiliar with Mage

After the questions we played two brief scenes of meeting Lawrence again (not Octavious as I thought he might be) during the FBI debriefing and then Later in his tallow museum workshop where he told us a brief history of mages and the supernal realms. Next he asked that we help him find this Octavious and get the Codex he had. Apparently it was previously safely kept by some vampires who, although dangerous, didn’t have the understanding to do anything with the Codex. Now that a mage has it, in this case a bad mage, it’s bad news unless the scooby gang can stop him.

What rocked

There was a ton of information that needed to be conveyed and I think between Travis’ questions and Fattig’s exposition, most of it came out.

Though my character knocked it somewhat, I dug the tallow museum. Very nice touch.

What could be improved

There wasn’t much “game” in our session. It was a lot of character creation stuff, which makes it hard to actually get rolling.

Our characters live in a vacuum. The only NPC we know that we have access to is Lawrence, which makes external motivation tough. If our characters have personal investment in “doing the right thing” I think we’d be better off but most of us are more interested in our own lives than in a book (except maybe Mulder). I think we need some external carrots. My suggestion to Fattig was membership in an order (or even the promise from Lawrence that he’d recommend us into an order), or the offer of being granted a sanctum or some of the other things that most Mage characters start out with but can be used in game as bait.

The system lacks a good way for player character’s to oppose each other without cutting the other down. In game one character is a pacifist (the player reasoning that if there was one game where a pacifist character would work, it would be Mage) but there is no good method for him to prevent people from doing violence, short of you know, doing violence to them, which doesn’t make you much of a pacifist. I think we’re going to work on some kind of opposed roll with the stakes set in advance for these conflicts in the future.