[How We Came to Live Here] Starting a game Sunday 26 Sept 10!

edited September 2010 in Play Advice
So me and my group are going to start a five-person How We Came to Live Here game on Sunday. I anticipate playing for 2 or 3 sessions. No one has played before, the Inside (Oliver) and Outside (Me) Players have both read the rules. The other three players are going in blind (I am typing up a one-sheet for the game's setting, though, and we have plenty of reference sheets printed).

Everything seems very clear! This is troubling to me. I usually have questions, even if the book is tremendously clear (Apocalypse World, for example).

Is there anything tricky I should be aware of? What sort of stuff should I look out for as a first-time player? The two GM Players are experienced in story gaming, indie games, small press games, whatever you want to call them, but the rest of the group isn't so much. Basically, give me some general HWCtLH advice! If you would be so kind, of course.

Brennan, what do you look for in an AP? What would be maximally useful to you as a game designer? Are there any particularly relevant statistics you like to know about?

Thanks guys!


  • Hey, Joey! This is great.

    I'm really glad everything seems so clear. That's always my goal as a designer. I wouldn't be too nervous, I've run and played HWCTLH with gamers of all backgrounds and everyone takes to it pretty easily. A 3 session game is really good. I've had the most experience running one-shots at cons but that's not where the system sings.

    The set-up part is good for getting everyone on the same page, with the village creation and character creation. As Inside and Outside players, just remember to keep the pressure up. That's what makes Hero players use their resources and ramps up the fun part, Corruption. All this is in the book, though, so I'm not really telling you anything new.

    For an AP, just let me know how it went and what the highlights of the game were. If you had any problems, call them out, but also let us know what the cool parts were.
  • Cool! I've been looking forward to this game for a long time--thanks for writing it. :D
  • sweet, i'm stoked to hear how your game goes, Joey! I'm all excited about HWCtLH.
  • edited September 2010
    The die handling in conflicts can be kind of subtle. Make sure you follow the play mat and do what it says, especially about giving and exiting conflicts. You may need to remind people about the dice they will get from transgressing.
  • edited September 2010
    Jason: this was very true, and I'm glad I read your comment before playing.

    One thing: when you want to counter attack, I assume you need two dice: one plus and one other die to give to your opponent from your hand. If you only have one plus, you can't counter attack, right?

    Also, the Inside and Outside Player can spend Corruption to give players stuff at any time, right? Is there a particularly salient time for this to happen, or can we do it say, during Recuperation Scenes as part of our narration?

    Similarly, are we limited to non-mechanical stuff during Recuperation narration? Can a Player say "I rise from Rank 1 to 2 in my Kiva", or is that out-of-bounds? I think it's out of bounds, but it's bugging me enough that I have to ask.

    Oh, oh! This is an important one. When you have a Conflict, the outcome is determined solely by the Victory Dice spent, right? Nothing is assumed until you spent Victory Dice? How does negotiating an end to the Conflict work, if that's the case?

    There may be other questions. There probably will be. I'm just out for now. :)

    A player went from Rank 1 in the Arrow Society to Rank 3 in one session. He killed a bunch of boars and then managed to kill a few boars driven mad by spirits. The scenes were way more epic than I'm describing here, but my words cannot do them justice.

    Also, we have a Dog Society NPC member named "He-Is-The-Night".

    A few other choice names:

    He-Eats-Sand (challenged child)
    He-Impresses-Himself (village show off)
    She-Knows-Nothing (village idiot; a PC had an Ambition to teach her something useful and totally did)
    He-Knows-Their-Signs (master Dog Society monster killer)
    His-Arrows-Fly-Like-Wind (master of the Arrow Society)
    She-Severs-Their-Ties (master of the Moon Society, creepy!)

    The village is called Swift River Village, and it's at the frontier of the People's lands next to a raging river. Floods, cactus monsters, stillbirths, and river contamination threaten the village. There was one other threat, but I can't recall what it was at the moment.

    The PCs are...

    She-Built-a-Machine, a Corn Maiden who created a thresher to work fields faster
    He-Climbed-the-Tallest-Tree, an Arrow Society Hunter who is trying to enter a forbidden relationship with He-Eats-Only-Corn
    She-Returned-With-Husband, a Moon Society midwife who is investigating a plague of stillbirths in the village

    Other really cool scenes:

    She-Built-a-Machine used her ability to read the weather to predict a big storm that would flood the river during the epic boar battle at the end of the game.

    He-Climbed-the-Tallest-Tree flipped out and killed like, a dozen spirit-ridden boars while trying to impress He-Eats-Only-Corn

    She-Returned-With-Husband communed with a water spirit and learned of an angry storm spirit that hates the village for undefined reasons.


    We found that it was really useful to leave all of the relationships and village problems rather loose and undefined, only filling them in later. I'm not sure if this is in the book, but if it's not I think it should be. It really helped things flow and let people jump into scenes with ideas more readily. It also made for a lot of cool emergent stuff happening in the fiction.

    Make sure you have some kin in the group! We have absolutely no player relations, and it makes it hard to get people to coalesce and take interest in each other's scenes. After one session of play there's a lot of good motivation for this, but if you have at least one or two blood relations from the outset I imagine it would make this a lot easier.

    I really enjoyed this game. I like the way the scenes just sort of write themselves--I had a really flat scene involving She-Returned-With-Husband traveling for a few days, but after a little bit of thought and consideration of the Village Web and Character Sheet, we ended up having her find the possible impetus for the flooding -- an angry storm spirit!

    This was session 1 of 3. We're going to have to skip next week because there is a weekend-long bluegrass festival in San Fransisco, but we'll be playing two more sessions as soon as we can.
  • edited September 2010
    (Hi guys, I'm Oliver, the Inside Player)


    The other threat was related to the plague of stillbirths, something that obviously troubled She-Returned-With-Husband. After another failed delivery, she witnessed a woman crazy with grief start accusing She-Knows-Nothing of being behind the curse, and had to convince the woman's husband (He-Is-The-Night) not to go vigilante. (Snicker.)

    A possibly related threat was evident from a murder above the Corn Maiden Society's kiva, which She-Knows-Nothing seemed to have at least witnessed, but refused to talk about... and there's no body. In the penultimate conflict, She-Built-a-Machine engaged She-Knows-Nothing's ignorance and won! The girl slowly started learning how to function in society, and opened up about the murder. She loved the victim and was stalking him when it happened, and she's confident the culprit was wearing the ceremonial headgear of the Dog Society!


    Sorry about Batman. It's a habit, plus he transcends cultures.

    I really appreciate a conflict resolution system that work equally well with mad boars and something as abstract as the village idiot's inability to learn. Kudos, Brennan. Looking forward to the next session, after Hardly Strictly.
  • A funny thing we forgot: personal traits. And by "we forgot" I mean "I totally glossed over during character creation".

    I get a little anxious while explaining new rules to people, and in all that internal chaos I totally missed this. We still had a great time, and the players made a lot of progress regardless!

    Not having those personal traits did make the game rather gritty, though, as Oliver remarked to me mid-session. *sheepish*
  • edited September 2010
    Question answers:

    When you want to counter attack, you must have two dice: one plus and any one other die to give to your opponent from your hand. If you've got one die, you need to roll another one or flip it.

    Only the Outside Player can spend Corruption to to buy stuff off the corruption list. That said, he can do it any time he likes, even during a conflict or during a Recuperation scene.

    Stay away from anything you normally have to buy with Victory Dice outside of the conflict system. General narrative things are OK during Recuperation, but you should have to engage in a conflict to move up in a society or have any other mechanically significant thing happen to a character or a relationship.

    In a conflict, all mechanical outcomes are purchased with Victory Dice. To negotiate the end of the conflict, you are agreeing with the other character to work together for some outcome that is mutually agreed. If that is rising up in a kiva society or something, I'd leave it off the table unless they have the dice to spend. Each player could spend the dice they had earned before the negotiated end of the conflict, but they'd have to spend them on what was agreed. No cheating!

    Also, your game sounds awesome! Great stuff, it sounds like you've got some good conflicts building and your characters are really interesting. How's the corruption been so far? Anyone really far along already?
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