Monday, April 19, 2010

Werewolf: the Final Offering After Action Report

Success!

We started the game promptly an hour late (But this wasn't my fault: Dinner and clean-up ran long).  Even so, I bounced right into the story with my evocative beginning, brought the werewolves in and immediately hit that moment of "shared imagination space."  They never left character.

By the time we were finished, we'd killed one of the three demons, the players had identified the remaining two demons, and they had a solid idea of what he was going after.  I suggested twice (at midnight and then at one) that we stop, but they kept going until 2 in the morning, at which point the girls were nearly asleep (and one was still willing to go on).  So, it seems very clear that they enjoyed it.

The high points: As with Slaughter City, you instantly get this sense that you're stepping into a thriving world that's "in progress."  The players quickly identified with the NPCs and began to interact with them right away.  In particular, I think the fact that the spirit world was well defined (my description of the library earned an uttered "Oh wow," from one of the players) really helped create this sense of exploration and world-space.  The players had the freedom to go where they wanted, the characters worked well together, and to be frank, my players were all excellent.  One player, a hard core D&Der, was the high point of the game actually, with his pompous laziness (the player himself kept his chin up at all times) and the fact that players constantly underestimated his ability to get things done.  He was also the only player to frenzy throughout the game (getting your ass beat by a punk with a burning baseball bat will do that).

The low points: I'm not sure that this sort of sandbox design is good for a one-shot.  With a more "railroady" story, I can get the players right to where I want them, and we can explore the whole story.  This almost overwhelmed them.  One of the players commented that she could barely keep the NPCs straight for the first half of the game, and indeed, it's alot of NPCs and alot of stuff for a single session.  I also noticed that I hammered out lots of description at the beginning, and then I failed to keep it up.  The players didn't seem to notice, but I did, and I think a couple of scenes suffered as a result (one player posed as a teacher and wanted to teach a class.  I should have settled down and offered some solid description, some dynamics, at that point).  Finally, the action felt scattered and undirected, which is part of doing it sandbox-style.

Still, I never lacked for something to do, and you could see that the players adored it.  A resounding success, but still in need of refinement.  I'd like to revisit it, clean it up, and see if the Newton group would like to play.
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