Actual Play – The Fight of Four: A Pale Horse (3/6/2010)

GM: Kristin Hayworth
Players: Sean, Matt, Travis, James, Justin, Shaun and Brendon.
System: Dread

Here was the challenge Kristin got: Post apocalyptic game. No Zombies.

So what happened? This happened:

Babe puts together this world that exist after the bomb. It’s all riddled with biblical references and ideology, but at the core, it’s survival.

Character creation

Each of our characters has a biblical name and a roll in the group: Sceva the Scout, Slave, Heres the leader’s son, Doctor, etc. We picked based on these simple descriptors. To show what a glutton I am I wasn’t at the table when Kristin said “This guys is the slave of the white horse” and I jumped on it “I’ll be the slave”. Good times commenced.

We each had a number of questions that started similar, but quickly became specifically about our lives. I was asked why Heres beat me but didn’t reveal to his father that I tried to escape. Why I wouldn’t become a member of the White Horse, even though it would mean being freed from slavery, etc. The characters were, for the most part, awesome. I loved walking into the game as the helpless slave who was a totally doomsayer and pissing everyone off with my pessimism. I had some immediately cool interaction with Sceva who wanted me to be free but I didn’t trust, Heres who also wanted me to be free but couldn’t say it, and the Lieutenant who kicked the crap out of me but I respected him because he was honest (if not all that bright).

A White Horse Crusade

The game started with a mission that sounded, even to those who weren’t total pessimists, like a suicide run. I won’t get into the details because Kristin may run it again, but the basic plotline was solid and filled with ways for our characters to gain and lose each other’s trust.

For me the real highlight though was after the “plot” was over. We had won; we could go home and be heroes. But do that meant living with genocide and the slave (now former slave) just couldn’t live with that. Can you live with doing something that would be atrocious from any perspective than one of absolute necessity? Can you do that even if it means killing the man who helped you do that? What if he sucker punches you and runs off?

Okay, that is a pretty “me” centered source of enjoyment, but frankly it was everyone’s reaction to my protest that I found the most entertaining. The captain gave his own life willingly for the cause, the Lieutenant and the Doctor both framed each other for betraying the mission, thus getting both of them kicked out of the community and the murderous sociopath was promoted to captain. Crazy!

What rocked

The questionnaires were awesome for creating immediate tension between the characters. Who’s been sleeping with your wife and beating her? Wow.

The players were awesome. We really played off of each other and validated the fiction each of us brought to the table. If the captain cared about who was sleeping with his wife, it meant that ALL of us cared about who was sleeping with his wife.

The moral debate was great. Especially when it involved sticking me with a needle in my carotid artery! Show your moral high ground through violence. I know I did.

What could have been improved

The pacing was a little back loaded. Not much that excited our character happened until the end. We talked after the game about spreading out some of the goals so they weren’t all completed at the same time.

There was a “random” encounter in the middle of a lion chasing antelopes. Yes, I know Kristin need to have a lion attack us. I get that but animal encounters often don’t have much meaning plot wise. I think if it had stolen some of our food and the question was to go hungry or to go after the lion, that could have had a bit more punch to it.

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