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.