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I've just read through the new Universalis PDF. I'm no stranger to storytelling games so I for the most part get it. However, reading the rules has gotten me thinking. I've got some questions for regular players of the game, and I'm hoping that you might have some answers:
It seems that the game's design will result in stories that are initially very chaotic and large but that eventually resolve themselves into something more focused. How long does a typical game last? I suspect that it will span multiple sessions. Am I right? Or do you usually run an entire multi-month campaign based on one initial set of Tenets? Is it possible to run a satisfying Universalis game in a 4-hour convention slot? Does it require special Rules Gimmicks to make the game work over such a short time span?
It seems like a very tough job for the Recorder. Virtually every sentence narrated is being written down as one or more Facts. How do you handle this in actual play? Do you need a laptop and a fast typist? Do you narrate a lot of Colour that doesn't need to be written down? Does it mean a lot of pausing and waiting while the Recorder writes?
Is it easy to get confused about who controls a Component at any given time? Does using one index card per Component help?
It seems that the coin economy results in very rapid spending. There are an incredible number of things to spend coins on. You can: create a Tenet, create/remove a Rules Gimmick, bid for the right to frame the scene, change the scene location, move the scene forward or backward in time, create Components (people/places/things), Remove (killing/destroying) Components, add/remove Traits to Components, increase/decrease the importance of a Trait, describe Events (action happening in the story), take control of a Component, add/remove a Component from a scene, dialogue (speak for a character), Interrupt (steal the current narrator's turn), Originate a Complication (start an in-story conflict), create a Master Component template, create a Sub-Component based on a template, and bid in Challenges (to resolve arguments between players). During Complications (in-story conflicts) coins can now be used to add dice to your side, and during Complication resolution coins can be spent to remove coins from the loser's earnings. Yikes! Does this get confusing in actual play? Is it overwhelming? Are there lots of arguments over how much a particular narration should cost? How long does it take to get used to the coin rules?
What do people think of Fines? It allows players to punish one another by fining them a small number of coins. Do you ever use these rules? I've noticed that Fines are not mentioned in the Universalis Reference sheet.
So, any takers?