Session uh…five I think? Yeah. In the bag, tons of fun. Exploring another of my four faerie courts, this time the Court of Stars, filled with partying skeletons and sugar skulls.
I’m running every session like a one-shot now, and that’s a very useful head space to work from. For one, it escalates all my decisions into Big Deal space — there are no time-killing moves, no slow builds, everything is dramatic. For another, it’s helpfully detraining me from the blood-opera one-shot model that’s so very easy to fall into (at least when you’re one-shotting Burning Wheel!).
More thoughts from the session, since I’m not gonna blow-by-blow this game:
* There are just a shitton of advances characters can pick up each session. I think everyone got a regular advance and a corruption advance tonight. That’s a lot of new stuff. And the relationship map has grown so elaborate that it’s not hard at all to hit all four factions in a session.
* Players are getting really good at piecing together move combos, which gives them a feeling of more control than they had getting used to the game. Need to Circle track down a known NPC? Hit the Streets!
* I’m really appreciating that I took the time to build up a bunch of Fronts after the first session. Totally worth doing, and they totally work with the start-of-session move where everyone announces a Faction rumor and makes a roll. I should say that I’m making them work and it’s not taking that much brainpower to pull off convincingly.
* The first couple hours of tonight’s session was spent with each character pursuing their own agendas. On the one hand, yay, they’re not doing a superteam type thing. On the other hand, as a practical matter, that’s leading to some downtime. Hard to balance. It’s working, not a deal breaker, but I do have to manage that very carefully. Pull a pair of them together, break them up, pair them up differently, and so on.
* Shit has gotten so cray that I have no idea how to integrate the real world into the shenanigans going on. What do cops think when a Tainted takes his demonic form and goes to battle against another demon? In the streets, midday? There’s precious little talk about that, none really, so that’s something I need to think about. I feel like the characters are getting off really easy with what all the mortals are seeing.
* I’m not loving many of the threat/faction moves. They often feel abstract relative to what triggered them. Which can be a PbtA thing, I know: like, you missed your Escape roll so you kind of expect the MC move to be a direct fictional consequence of that, but it doesn’t have to be. In Urban Shadows especially, the MC move “conversation” feels more like a pacing tool than a conversation about the action at hand. Probably true of all PbtA games but I’m feeling it very keenly in this game.
* I don’t recall seeing anywhere that an MC move can be to advance a Front clock, but I’m doing it anyway. Works fine, keeps the background progressing.
* I deployed my first in-game custom move! As in EVER! “The first time the full moon rises over someone injured by a werewolf, they roll +spirit. On a 10+, they’re feverish and confused but the lycanthropy doesn’t take hold. On a 7-9, they succumb but they have enough time to Escape somewhere they can’t hurt anyone. On a 6-, they find out what happened in the morning!” It’s easy and obvious and worked fine.
Anyway, the game’s hit its groove and it’s easy to run and play. I think we can easily hit 8 episodes and get at least a couple of my Fronts to come to fruition.