[In A Wicked Age] Share your wisdom with a first-timer

edited July 2007 in Story Games
I'm running In A Wicked Age tomorrow, for the first time. Our goal is to do two chapters in 3.5 hours, which I think is about right. It's a four person group (including me).

I've read and meditated upon the current rules on the wiki. I feel like I have them down pat. I also read all the AP and, most importantly, this amazing post from Vincent. We'll be using the Four Oracles.

Those of you who have played: Have any advice or good tips for us? Any pitfalls to be aware of?



  • We averaged a chapter in 2 to 2.5 hours with four people, so you are being ambitious for your first outing. Unless you are totally different from us, which you are.

    The genius of the game is the way conflicts are initiated - make strong statements until somebody objects. No stakes. Start out crazy strong, because your goal will be gradually attenuated, maybe down to nothing.

    As a player, don't be afraid to give before things get awful. Getting your traits messed with by the victor is awful, so even when you lose hard, offer up a compromise that keeps that from happening. Offer to sleep with his grandma or something.

    I've played a lot and I still have trouble keeping track of the sequence of play in conflicts. So take that slow and make sure you are doing it right, especially the pipped dice as bonuses. When you get those and how they are applied is a huge deal.
  • Is there any place where all the available content for In a Wicked Age, including oracles and whatnot, is centrally linked?
  • Inside Vincent's head. Also here, although it may not be up to date. The name certainly isn't.
  • Be aggressive with scene framing. There aren't many rules or supports for this, so make sure everyone at the table is able frame a good scene, and help those who are weak. Follow the desire you state when you're creating the situation.

    Following from that, follow the situation generation rules (Oracle-> draw out characters->choose characters-> state character interests-> play). These rules will give you a really great framework if you follow them closely. Resist the urge to pre-play the situation or fill it out more than the bare essentials.

    If you're GM, you have a lot of power, but always keep in mind the story is not about your characters. One way to do constantly remind yourself that you're there to facilitate and not to Win is to be really aggressive about keeping tracking of the We Owe list. Not being on that list is a big fat flag that you're supposed to push people to action, not be the ones so pushed.
  • Yes, the Owe list is really important, both tactically (when you are on it) and as a tool to see who is really engaging hard in the game.
  • Good stuff!

    As I understand it in the rules, the GM frames all scenes and this is his big hammer. Vincent calls this out in a few posts. I know you dirty hippie improv people probably get all collaborative and shit, but I plan to be the scene framing machine. You probably mean that people pitch ideas around and stuff, which is cool. But scene framing is all mine! MINE!

    And totally not about the NPCs. Copy that.
  • Yeah, we play it a little loose with scene framing. The game does not really need a GM. I'll be interested in your take, John!
  • Note: The 'NPCs aren't main characters' thing is made harder because it is TOTALLY AWESOME to bring NPCs along between chapters. Also, don't be afraid of moving backwards and forwards in time. Justifying things that change is one of the great things about the game. In one of ours we played in the past, in the same city, and ended up finding out why, in the future (our first session), the city had no magic. Completely by accident!
  • I think it totally needs a GM. Let the cage match begin!

    Jason: Can you talk more about how goals gradually get worn down, possibly to nothing? I'm squinting at the way conflicts resolve, and I don't quite see it. Seems like if you win then either A) The thing you say happens or B) The thing you say happens and you negotiate consequences, maybe with exhaustion involved. Or you lose, and it's reversed. I don't see the gradual whittling down part.
  • Oh, the "to nothing" thing is getting doubled. That's what I meant by that. Get doubled and what you want categorically is not happening.
  • edited July 2007
    Ah, okay. Gotcha.

    Edited to say: So,in a Wicked conflict, you don't want to make giving an attractive option. You say the big nasty thing so your opponent will want to hang in and risk another roll and possibly get blown away with a doubling. Yeah? I hope that's the idea, because that's cool. We'll just have to be sure not to fall back into our Dogs/TSOY habit of setting up give-friendly conflicts.
  • edited July 2007
    In our experience here in Toronto with running and playing the game, the GM has rarely had to get too pushy with scene framing and NPC's, because usually the players have glommed on to the most obvious opposing characters from the set up and are busy beating the crap out of each other in the first scene. In other words, its like this:

    GM: "Ok, so the first scene is this"
    Player 1: "Great, my character stabs player 2's character in the throat"
    Player 2: "Oh no you don't!"
    GM: "Wow, I'll just sit back over here and enjoy, ok?"

    GM is an active participant, don't get me wrong. But if people are in the spirit of the thing, it is often best for the GM to just roll with the conflict the players are building amongst themselves and stir the pot with periodic injections of fresh fodder for that struggle. EDIT: Others have pretty much said this already, so consider this my "Testify, brother!"

    Oh, and in case it helps, we put an annotated copy of the rules here:
    That includes a lot of bits gleaned from various Forge/Anyway posts.

    Jason's comment about taking it slow at first to get the conflict right is an important one. It is confusing as all get out at first. We rephrased the rules (I won't say rewrote) on the web link above, mostly so that we could understand it.
  • Thanks, Hans! That's a great resource.
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