Spinning off from the "what did you play this week?" thread.
I was in that great one-shot of Union with Ben! What he failed to say is that we were adorable lemur-aliens and shit got dark fast. Terror Hawks will mess you up when you're a space lemur.
Terror Hawks! They are the worst.
Awesome table of Caroline, Marc, Marcy and me. Marcy had never played Union and I think Marc and Caroline had played it once before (but I could be wrong). We were trying out the new "trouble of the times" setup rules and I like how that's shaping up.
But real talk: when we said "oh let's be animals, but on second thought let's not be normal animals like mice or cats, but made-up alien animals", a cold chill ran down my spine. Which is what I told everyone at the table: "FYI, a cold chill just ran down my spine". Because Union is a game all about family and relationships and people coming together and raising kids and falling in love or having meaningless affairs like ships passing in the night and hating each other: all the normal human stuff.
So the farther you get from human, the potentially harder it gets, because you can't visualize what life is like for these creatures. There was a really successful squirrel Union game back in the day, but squirrels are pretty easy to anthropomorphize. But if you're playing squid or jellyfish or something exotic, you lose your grounding in human experience, and then everything gets abstract and weird. Still fun maybe, as the process of exploring an alien culture, but that's not what Union is really built to do.
So I started with "we are making a terrible mistake", but then I could not have been more pleased at how everyone brought it together and played a solid, solid Union game. We did exactly what the game was supposed to do and focused on relationships and the consequences of those relationships down through the generations. We had a lot of exploration of our space-lemurs' religious culture, since that was a major thread in the family, but always in ways that tied right back to their relationships, not as an abstract or distant thing.
I think having the Terror Hawks as a constant background threat gave us a solid anchor. We brought that looming danger back again and again as a tragic device (like the death of Storm Cloud casting a shadow of fear over her son's whole life). Which is exactly how the trouble of the times mechanic is supposed to work, so thumbs up to that.