Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Divining Game: Part One

A recount & impressions of my introduction to, and then first game of, Monocle Society's pseudo Card-Based/Digital RPG: Weave.

For those who may not know, I am a voracious fan & supporter of Penny Arcade and most of it's projects. Including Acquisitions Incorporated, as I've been following the main game since the first podcast and anticipating episode 3 of season 2 of the C-Team. As well as PATV in general, as I long to attend a PAX(I watch the above mentioned games, Jackbox, Q&A's & the vignettes) and the wife & I were glued weekly to our screens for the entire season of Strip Search.
With that in mind, I don't usually watch the live-streams of board games or video games, as I lean towards curated content.
However, I saw the tag line "Storytelling Redefined" and the very schmexy artwork for Weave, so moused over the vid.

Tycho & Eric as players were a good indicator, it was likely to be an RPG, and then Tycho said "Tarot" and the young, stifled, darkling portion of my tired, jaded heart skipped. I saw phones were involved to scan the cards, with a visually engaging app interface, and was hooked.
I watched the entire episode in one go, and the next day, when hanging out with my friend, fellow GM and "weekend co-warrior", LoL(Nickname) I blathered on about the cool RPG using phones, dice & a Tarot deck.
Next I knew, LoL was hosting a New Years Eve party, and had ordered Weave for us to play that night. She'd also watched the PA Stream, to my surprise, so was also hooked. (Shout out to Kyle, the man with the Weave tattoo, for helping get us the game on time for the new-years shindig!).
And so, we played . . . .

I knew LoL had gotten the game with the intent for us to play, so I'd tried to do some research, watching some other streams of playtesting, downloading the App FAR in advance to read over the rules, etc.
I was not at all thrown when asked to run the inaugural game, and thought I was adequately prepped to lead us in.
We all agreed on Gloomies, I scanned in our 3 main Story cards, and told the players to create their characters, all went well enough.
I want to say there was some UI complaint, which LoL had explained away, so I do not recall what it was, and it was by no means a show-stopper, as we barrelled forward, each player introducing their characters to each other.
It was at that point, I would describe as a perfect storm of bad GM juju and misunderstanding of the potential flow of the game.
I love the concept of this system/engine and it's potential so much I now feel like I'm trying to blame myself for things, but also feel the game should have done a bit more lifting?

Let me get specific -
Right after characters were built, a player asked, "should we introduce ourselves in character?"
I should have said yes, as our crew are all 6 year steady or more RPers, so have no problem sliding into a character and getting Play going, but for some reason, I said no, and tried to get everyone to describe their characters as someone might perceive them, which sort of melded into In-Character anyway.
I then tried to set the scene, describe the location, and using the 3 story cards I had scanned in, attempted to build a story the players could engage in. The combination of information was good, but it felt like I would have to railroad the players into the plot, and was not at all sure how to add in other elements, or if that was even possible, as I guess I'd not watched enough play-throughs, and there was no prompt from the app after the first 3 cards, as to what to do next.
We fumbled through some challenges, which I started confident perception was Brooks but was talked into using Gales (should have stuck to my guns) and someone accidentally used their Ultra-Move, instead of at a dynamic moment when we could all enjoy the "earth moving" power of it. Oh yeah, and none of us understood strikes.
We DID understand the suites & the dice quickly, but I chalk that up to multiple system knowledge, as our culture has a bit of a shorthand on that, shared with Video Games.

I think it ended like a lot of younger people these days have their first sexual experience.
A little confusion, late, tired, a slight frustration for certain parties, drained batteries, and no small amount of staring at a phone afterwards, but overall, eager to try once more, just not right then.

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