Fall of Magic

Well well well. What do you know, we got to play. Three players, took about an hour. It was surprisingly quick to be honest — we kept our scenes pretty short, especially early on, not a lot of lengthy interaction or description. Took the underworld pass of course because, yeah, flipping the scroll over is nifty. 

It does play a lot like Life on Mars, as I expected. It’s very chill. The prompts are mostly interesting, although it took some effort a couple times to cook up something interesting and provocative. It was cool to pass around control of the Magus. And I thought it was interesting that we actually stopped and hung out a few times, here and there, rather than just rushing through the map. I really wanted to see where we’d go next, so I was kind of antsy to keep moving.

I also ran into a couple prompts that were genuinely challenging to address. There’s one that asks for, like, an offensive custom or something. I suppose, in retrospect, that I could/should have come at that like “what is one of our customs the locals find offensive?” Instead, I started dreaming up all kinds of offensive customs the locals might force on us! Which I’m sure is a Rorschach ink-blot test of some kind or another.

Also like Life on Mars, I felt like the ending was so very chill that it didn’t feel like it provided strong closure. I have no idea how to play the game different than we did to make the final location feel like it had more punch.

Reincorporation across the game is my favorite trick for events like this, and the map and structure in general provided lots of opportunities to reincorporate.

It’s nice! I definitely feel like I could play this with pretty much anyone with an avid interest in road-show type fantasy tales and a willingness to make stuff up. I feel like the same group could probably play it, I don’t know, two or three times before it felt same-y (there are only a couple ways to get to the ending). 

The ending snuck up on us surprisingly fast. I was ready for at least 2 hours, but when we popped back out and saw we were one location outside of the REDACTED, I was all huh.

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0 thoughts on “Fall of Magic”

  1. oh! That is surprisingly fast! In my play throughs, the players have tended to linger and interact or be contemplative, going 3-5 hours (with 4-5 players), which sometimes requires rushing a bit to the end. Depends a lot on what the players are into, I guess, but I like that about the game.

    That it works for groups who want to savor it slowly, and for groups who want to keep up the pace makes it fit nicely into different situations with different constraints. Very cool. Knowing this makes me more likely to pull it out when we’re under two hours. Thanks!

  2. I ran this at gencon.  A trick when introducing the game I found, was to point out that the character names and titles were listed in order of appearance of their hometown.  So if you’re character was from the village you knew you were coming up fast and could build up to it correctly.  So the Port city (can’t remember the name) had the longest build up and had some of the best pay off.

    I ran it in a 2 hour slot and felt like I had to rush things.  But I was also really prepared to do the campfire talking kind of thing.  Just hanging out with the characters is surprisingly fun in that game.

  3. Aaron Berger what kind of build-up did you do, related to the home towns? We actually inadvertently picked a path that bypassed everyone’s home so I never saw that resonance in play.

  4. When going around asking people why they were helping the magus or trying to save magic, I found that some trouble back home was often a catalyst.  Or they might introduce their character with a flaw that may of been an effect of their upbringing.  The pitstops, lend themselves to conversations between characters, and further probing and fleshing out of backstories.  When we reached someone’s hometown, we let that player control the magus and do the introduction scene, and they got to show how their character and hometown are pieces of a whole.

    A midwife had a prejudice against giants.  When we arrived at their village, They showed old battlefields, war memorials, and orphans.

    A warrior monk returns to their keep in the mountains.  They show old companionship with the other monks, and zealotry to an ancient cause.

    The character from the port city has the option of a title known as ‘crab singer’.  Which in my experience brought up a lot of discussion.  That player has the longest to sit back and imagine what their city is like.

    There was a frontier kind of city that was working hard to not fall into the ocean.

    Other times they were extraordinary fishermen with elements of steam punk.

    Or a city full of skeptics who blocked passage across the sea, seeing it as a fool’s errand.

    Seeing these towns and how the characters are a product of them, was probably my favorite part.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing this 🙂 

    The prompts in the middle and end of the game assume you’re 2-3 hours into play, maybe even on a second session. At that point there is enough backstory and character development that the players are ready for something chewy. 

    That “desire to reach the end” was, for me, the paradox of the game’s design. It is necessary to drive play forward but it also misleads players into thinking that reaching the Glow is the goal of the game. I’ve seen people sometimes move the Magus before their token was on the board or skip whole locations. The result is always there just won’t be enough story built up to know what to do with those late-game prompts.  

    I recommend setting expectations with the players that they’ll be making the 1st book of a trilogy, or the first episode of a tv series in a single session of play. Maybe reaching  Barley Town, or Castle Stormguard / Mistwood in a 2 hour session.

    those are my thoughts 🙂 Glad this hit your table!

  6. Interesting! I think it would have been useful to have seen this in the rulebook. I didn’t have any expectations set other than “2+ hours” or whatever it says on the box, so I really wasn’t sure how long a location might/should look like.

    I’d very much like to play again, with a close eye on careful calibration of the play time. And like I told Kelley Vanda in her own Fall thread, we totally didn’t ask questions amongst ourselves. Not a fault of the rules text, just habit (they always play, I always GM). I think that would require much longer scenes.

    Hey so Ross Cowman while I have you in the thread: there are locations that have only three narrative spots (like the Glow itself). That’s on purpose? I don’t recall reading a rule that said you couldn’t share a spot, but I think we played that way anyway and who knows why. I suppose if characters can share a location then my question is moot. But if they can’t, is the idea to kind of push folks through those spots a little faster?

  7. Totally, I say something like that in the last paragraph on the 1st page of the instructions, but it might have been better in the read-aloud text.  

    You can totally share a scene on the map. You can also backtrack, have multiple characters with the same title, and keep playing after you reach the glow.

    You are also correct that the locations with fewer Scenes are designed to push people along. But it is a soft push. Just that fewer scenes means that people will get tired of the location sooner. You’ll notice that these locations are more of the “traveling through a landscape” kinds of places. To give us some pause between the “experiencing a new culture” kinds of places.

  8. I was watching two groups play FOM at GoPlayNW this year. I saw one group had reached Stormguard Mountains. Then later I came back and they were in the mistwood. I asked them, “what happened?” they said, “the weather got too bad!”

  9. One place where I think there actually could be some clarity in the text is that you can set up difficult conflict-y scenes, and then use other scenes to resolve them. Like we ran into an ambush in the pass, and I had my guy take an arrow and was “injured.” And it stopped there. But I felt hesitant to get us into deep water, like, ohnoes the bandits have captured the Magus! or whatever. You imply, ish, that that’s something that can happen but I didn’t at all feel confident in how one might resolve that.

    And I do get that that’s kind of the point of your approach! But I don’t know…maybe an example to set that expectation? I greatly prefer having all my tools available to me on my first play rather than dredging up best practices via social media.

    The matter of establishing psychic (?) safety for exploration is kind of a different subject.

  10. I think your assumptions are reasonable. I never considered backtracking till it came up in play. I never considered having multiple character’s with the same title till Jackson Tegu  told me about his game with 2 golems and an apprentice. One golem was made by the magus and covered with these sweet runes, the other was made by the apprentice and was all jankey.

     I made a choice to not explicitly tell people some of those things so players could discover them for themselves.

  11. yeah, I tried to show that by having one of the characters get captured in the example of play but I agree the instructions only paint part of the picture. the rest you have to either get by playing or watching the videos. Maybe it should have been a book? 🙂

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