Space Wurm vs Moonicorn: Prep is Play

We didn’t have time to do anything other than prep, which is fine because prep took an awful lot of time. Super interesting and fun, though!

The playbooks we settled on, besides the eponymous titles, are The Lover and The Other. Space Wurm’s Space Tyrant move put him in charge of the Imperial Throne and the Secret Police — pretty conventional choices, and that’s fine for our first attempt. Much more surprising were the crossed-out choices: Aliens and Cybernetics. And that moved us directly out of maybe-sci-fi in the Jupiter Ascending and Fifth Element vein, and directly into something out of Heavy Metal.

The materials presented for the various fronts ask good questions! It’s a little blurry and you have to not be literal-minded, I think, in evaluating what to do with the questions. Okay so for example, for each of the fronts that aren’t under Space Wurm’s command, you’re supposed to attach a PC, who gets some narrative bennies at setup as well as getting more say in how those fronts get spooled out. We didn’t have enough players to pick up all three remaining fronts (Interstellar Travel, Religion, and The Spice), so I settled on me making all the answers for The Spice, with The Other taking Religion — an obvious choice, really — and The Lover taking Interstellar Travel. But Space Wurm’s elements still need to get worked out, right? They all start with “ask the player in charge about X” questions, usually five to eight of them. Those questions don’t make sense for Space Wurm to answer, really, because it’s things like “how have the secret police impacted your life?” and such. So I turned those over to everyone else, Moonicorn included, so they could all tell Space Wurm how terrible his reign has been. Excellent solution, worked great, easy to settle on but not RAW. Whatevs.

Because we have no aliens and no cybernetics, virtually all the regular scifi/space fantasy touchstones are absent from our setting. Which is great, true planetary romance. There is interstellar travel, but no spaceships — they went with Teleportation as the method, and tied it back into the religion front, with a small posthuman priesthood/community/whatever in monopolistic control over interstellar travel.

I really liked that my players worked hard to reincorporate and blend and merge ideas wherever possible. That involved me bouncing around a lot to keep the pot stirred. First we’d settle on the various ratings of things in, say, interstellar travel (monopolistic control over routes and mail delivery, etc.), then jump to the secret police (terrible surveillance tech, which makes sense because there are no computers), then over to The Spice to talk about what all it does (enhances biological life, bends time and space yeah no shit). Good process, and I’d recommend folks do something similar rather than grinding through one entire front’s worth of questions and details.

The moves and, well, nearly everything else about the game look hilarious, thought-provoking, frustrating and confusing. The Other’s look was like… reflecting the stars, bubbles, inhuman and winter or something. Aaaaalllrighty then. Space Wurm’s player dredged out the least lyrical choices: black hearted, burning eyes, vice-like grip, royal. At least this gave us stuff to talk about and interpret, which was fun.

The moves…well, I’m hoping the magic of having many various brains thinking about how to use them works out for us. Space Wurm’s Ceremony move (When you devise a ceremonial activity in order to change the nature of a social group you have authority over), as one small example, is provocative but we’re not really sure how to put it to work. It’ll be fine and fun to figure something out. Many of the moves are similarly open-ended and bwuh?

Now to wait two weeks until we get to play in earnest. Hoping our flaky-for-now fifth player will consider dropping in, but hell if I know how to explain the weaponized psychedelia we’ve come up with.

0 thoughts on “Space Wurm vs Moonicorn: Prep is Play”

  1. Mark Delsing that was pretty much us all night. “Okay, so the void between worlds makes you crazy but also there’s a religious sect that thinks it’s an ecstatic state, which works out great because that where The Other came from. It’s a chunk of void that either makes you crazy or enlightened or both.”

    Yeah we basically have someone playing a Great Old One that looks like Nyan Cat.

  2. I have paid no attention to this game, despite I think maybe owning it, maybe? Until now. Now I want to play, as soon as we’re done with Masks, SotI, Primetime Adventures, Action Movie World and Archipelago.

    Why do I suddenly feel tired?

  3. Also, The Lover met Space Wurm — now the most powerful being in the universe and the emperor of all the worlds — when they were in a band together.

  4. When you devise a ceremonial activity in order to change the nature of a social group you have authority over

    From now on, when you post about SWvM, you must begin the posts with “THE STARS, THEY REFLECT YOUR TRUE ONENESS”. Failure to do so means death by implosion.

  5. Aaron Griffin​ if I were your Eternal Illustrious Leader, the rule would be that you begin your posts that way. All of you. Every post.

    But more to the point, dreaming up ceremonies isn’t hard or anything. Our player is now thinking about how to use that to take over the universe.

  6. Aaron Berger neither.

    I’m not sure why everyone is jumping into problem solving mode. It’s okay, really! Exploring strategic applications is part of what’s fun about being the Space Wurm!

  7. Jonathan Perrine Exactly! But I will also note one other thing: you can get super political (ie mirroring the real world and problem s therein) with it as well. There is a lot there dealing with things like labor issues, race, etc. Or you can just go gonzo. Or something in between…

  8. That is one of the reasons I am so jazzed to try and make something happen with it: but (as mentioned in a different thread) I need to figure out a way to do that which will handle a semi-rotating cast of players.

  9. Shane Liebling this is one of the games I think is exceptionally difficult to make work for that. Everyone is tied in so tight.

    I’ve got this on my mind as well, given I have a possible occasional fifth player who might drop in. So I give him, say, The Mogul, right? If I don’t tie him into one of the fronts, he’s kind of on his back foot narratively. And it’s fun! I dig the process. Then there are all those bonds that he won’t have aimed his way.

    In a perfect world, I’d run the damned thing with 6 players, take allll the playbooks. Heck, at that point I’d even open up the space-fantasized versions of the DW books.

  10. Is there a reason you haven’t allowed any of the other playbooks? AFAIK SW and M are the only required ones. You can use any other ones you want…

    As mentioned in comments on the other post: I actually think SWvM is actually a great option for a rotating cast. The canvas is so vast and epic you totally should be able to have different story lines going with different groups of characters as long as you are willing to stagger them a bit vis-a-vis timeline. If you can get consistent attendence from your SW and M players I think you could just have M team up with different groups to fight different fights against SW. If you can’t get those players consistently I think you could totally just more massively time-shift and have SW and M be immortal aspects of sorts… Is that crazy?

  11. Shane Liebling because the new ones are awesome and colorful and I wanted to see them in play.

    Re rotating cast: could be! Hold off ’til you’ve had a chance to run through the actual setup and see some play.

  12. Another thought: Moonicorn probably is fomenting revolution on a number of “fronts” at any given point. Maybe they need to bounce from planet to planet or something to tend to those revolutions. That would be another way to handle different groups…

  13. Again, go through the setup and come back to me on that.

    One thing that jumps out is that a lot of shared narrative stuff gets established in that very first session. I think a rotating cast would be most successful if somehow everyone who will participate was there at the beginning for a “session 0” setup turn. Then, yeah, mmmaybe folks could come and go. I’m not at all persuaded it’d provide an optimal experience though — but if accommodating a varying group is the most important thing, then suboptimal isn’t so bad.

  14. Shane Liebling​​ I kind of think that Moonicorn can’t really do that. From just one session I got the idea Moonicorn’s super powers if you will are steeped in presence. The mogul and SW can zip everywhere chasing their orgs and society aspects, and moonicorn can plant seeds, but I feel they need to be there on the battlefield to make or break a danger or front.

  15. I will chime in as part of the rotating cast in Paul’s games. Story games are hard to jump in and out of as a player. I tried it in sagas and I tried it in mutant and despite Paul’s heroic efforts to include my character it just felt forced. Plus there was the ever present question of “Can we integrate a character that is “iffy” for next session.

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