1648 Playtest

Hello hello,
Last night we started a new playtest for some of the 1648 material. It’s a big group of five players—over the recommended limit of three to four PCs for M&M.

In the interest of playtesting, I allowed the players to go in two new directions: first, to pick from the new unreleased lifepaths and second, to have multi-lifepath starting characters.

Character creation for five players (guided by me) took about two and a half hours.

The motif the players agreed on is that they conspired to murder someone in their past and now must all keep the secret together (lest they all be hanged). It’s a dark motif, and not in the spirit of the rule for motifs as written, but I was game to experiment. I suspect the motif will break or won’t provide a motivating bond, but we shall see!

For player characters, we have:
Laura: a commoner Clerk, Merchant, Explorer
Madelaine: a commoner Soldier (L2), Duelist
Paracelsus: a peasant Soldier (L2), Doctor
Rotrou: a bourgeois Sailor (L2), Author
and Martin: a commoner Filou (L1), Presbyter (L2)

We had an improbable round of debts rolls. Laura is debt free and all others are owed money!

We used last night as a session zero. It felt very much like a Burning Wheel game, more than D&D. We created characters and an over-arching threat (the revelation of this murder). Now I need to develop some antagonists and some situations to bring these five into action.

My first instinct here is to pull in some dependents who can no longer bear the shame of the knowledge of this crime. Or perhaps relatives of the deceased who come looking for revenge. One has to take care with threatening dependents, though. While it is sad to see them go, their passing does alleviate some of the financial burden of life in Paris.

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Maybe make it so that those indebted to the characters know instead? You could use it as a way to attack wealth rating, and it gives the players a good reason to flesh out someone other than dependents from the start.

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Yes, the people who owe money have to be involved, tangentially or otherwise. There’s a scent of mob activity, however anachronistic.

Maybe they’re the folks who paid for the hit? But they never paid their debt!

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If I missed it in the text let me know, but if they’re found out does the campaign end? Or do they just write a new Motif?

You only get one motif ever. The campaign does not end, but you continue on without one.

And it’s not that they’re found out, it’s that in a moment of crisis, one of them confesses or reveals the secret.

Mes Amis,
We conducted our second playtest of the 1648 material. As I discussed briefly in the first post, the motif the players chose demands address in the game—or at least in a four session playtest.

During the week I thought about possible victims for their perfidious deed. I settled on vile snake of the age: a tax farmer. But rather than laying out the whole murder plot on my own, I decided I’d consult the players to see what level of darkness and villainy they were comfortable with.

It felt like a very Burning Wheel thing to do — to discuss situation before play and get buy-in from all players. But in Burning Wheel, we would discuss the situation as the players bought resources like relationships, properties, affiliations and reputations. Those choices create strong signals and flags for me as the GM. I have different signals in this game. So rather than guess the players’ interest, I had to ask.

So before we began play formally, I initiated a discussion with the group about their relationship to the one they murdered and the nature of that victim. We decided on a female tax farmer named Madame Regnard. In addition to bleeding the poor people of Drancy dry, albeit legally, she was suspected of being a salt smuggler and of murdering a poor man who could not pay what he owed. A true villain!

We also decided that the money owed to the characters was in the form of a promise of payment for the murder. I told them that they had been instructed to the task by a Msr Argouges, a local bourgeois. They liked the idea that he said something like “Take care of this serpent of a woman.” and they perhaps overreacted by murdering her.

I let them know that there are no police, but they would be sought by the echevin (a bourgeois magistrate) of Drancy as well as the Provost of the Île de France, the royal authority in the area. I also let them know there was another legal authority looking for them whom they would meet soon.

Unrelated to the immediate situation, we also decided that the explorer, Laura, and the presbyter, Martin, had come from America together (along with Martin’s wife and child).

We began on the night of March 18th of 1648. They were to gather in a park at the edge of town and await Msr Argouges to bring their payment.

One thing I decided as GM was that we needed to kick off the campaign with action. And that we needed to get the inevitable double-cross/betrayal out of the way immediately.

So after some awkward introductions/reunions from the players, I told them a group of six figures approached in the darkness. They had no lantern, but three of them held burning coals in their hands. Once they stepped into the moonlit clearing, their leader spoke in a quavering, cracking voice, “Monsieur Argouges sends his regards!” And the three figures in the back leveled muskets and fired!

We then kicked off an exciting, desperate combat that resulted in some wounds for the players, and three wounded, two dead and one fled for the opposing force.

The leader, a boy it turned out, was shot in the back by the duelist’s pistol as he tried to flee this ambush gone wrong. He writhed in agony from his wound. The duelist, Madelaine, attempted to interrogate him, threatening to kill him if he didn’t confess who sent him.

This precipitated a multi-part duel of wits initiated by the sailor, Rotrou, against Madelaine. Rotrou fell to a insult! But Laura and Martin stepped in and finished the task and educated the angry duelist in the price of wrath. This left an opening for Dr Paracelsus to attempt to save the boy using the new Chirugie rules. Sadly, the patient didn’t survive the surgery.

The boy’s dying words were “Mother, I have failed in my mission. I come to join you and my sister, sweet innocent Marie, at last!”

We played for just over 2.5 hours and left the story there for next time!

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Session 3 was interesting. In order to make sense of the plot and its participants, I drew up a relationship map prior to the session. I found it immensely helpful in weighting the pressures of the situation.

We began in the home of Rotrou in Drancy. M. Paracelsus insisted on dissecting the corpse of the young man who lead the ambush. It was clear the player was simply trying to check off an experience condition, with no bearing on the story or situation. So I pressed him for an intent. He surprised me with an excellent response: He wanted to perform an autopsy to see how his surgery failed. We all agreed that was an excellent reason to perform his vivisection. He rolled and pass the test.

The next morning, an Intendant of Finance arrived from Paris with a small retinue. A few hours after the break of day, the Intendant’s men began posting placards asking for the information in the disappearance or death of one Antoine Regnard. This must have been the young man they killed.

Feeling the heat was getting a bit hot in Drancy, our crew concocted a plan for revenge and headed into Paris. I stopped them at the (ironically convenient) Porte Antoine under the Bastille and had the customs agents search them for contraband. The players reviewed their inventory and we only found one single item on the banned list: The Protestant Bible. Martin, the Presbyter, was forced to use the skills of his thieving past—Rook in this instance—to surreptitiously bribe the customs agent to let him through. He succeeded.

In Paris, the duelist (now retconned to be called de Troyes so she might pass as a he), took up residence at an inn alone to rest and recover from her wounds.

The others set their burdens down in Martin’s townhouse. There, Laura and Martin concocted a fake letter from Regnard to the Intendant about the raising of certain taxes at the start of the next month. They then took the letter to a sympathetic Frondeur printer whom they contracted to turn the letter into a pamphlet they could distribute in Drancy.

Meanwhile, de Troyes received a mysterious letter at her inn: “Cour des Miracles — a minuit” The Court of Miracles, at midnight.

This mysterious missive precipitated a huge debate within the group about whether or not to go. Martin’s player objected the most vocally. At one point I stopped the discussion and asked him what his player objections were to going. He said, “I want to go! My character is terrified of going back to his past!” That was an excellent clarification. He then asked the group to convince him to go with a Duel of Wits.

It was a long and wild conflict. Maybe 10 rounds. Defying the group’s intent, Paracelsus went after de Troyes, telling her she was in no condition to undertake such a dangerous task when still wounded. While Laura and Martin flattered each other about how brave and thoughtful they were to cross the ocean together twice!

Permission to speak first was asked and granted. Invitations to speak were offered and rejected!

Eventually Martin knocked out Paracelsus and de Troyes. Laura’s player was desperate to go to the Court of Miracles, being an explorer after all. So she started spending years to get rerolls. Even that didn’t seem enough. Martin started to walk away. In desperation, Laura shouted after him that he was a coward! This penetrated Martin’s shell (and knocked his Will to 0). His player chose to ignore the insult victory effect and instead remember the flattery.

De Troyes remembered the shame inflicted on her by the doctor and ran from the company crying. The doctor foolishly ignored Martin’s advice to find his answers in the Bible and instead chose forgive but not forget how stubborn de Troyes was.

Exhausted with each other, but convinced that heading to the rendez-vous was the right thing to do, Martin lead the group to the semi-mythical place through an alley north of Les Halles. Being formerly a filou, Martin had visited before.

In this commune of misery, camaraderie and freedom they were greeted by none other than the young bravo who fled from their encounter a few nights ago. He and another older figure approached them from the fire-cast shadows. He said, “I believe we have mutual interests and can perhaps come to some agreement.”

We ended there!

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I always wondered what a Duel of Wits would look like in a d20 game. My copy needs to get to me faster! This report has been awesome!

We picked up right where we left off, in the Court of Miracles in northern Paris. The players confronted the young bravo who had attempted to assassinate them, but before he could say another word, an older woman stepped in and declared that she spoke for him. She announced herself as his sickly mother, Madame Brunet!

She proceeded to intimate that her son had knowledge about the group’s misdeeds and that to keep silent, he would require 1000 pistoles!

During her introductory extortion, Laura assessed the situation in the court itself. She noticed a figure sitting casually in a window above them, smoking a cigarillo, which he was using to keep a slow match lit. A musket rested in his lap. Laura cursed to herself.

Madame Brunet said, “I see you have met my other son, Alain!”

At the same time, while Madame Brunet was gesticulating, Dr Paracelsus took time to examine Brunet. Was she truly sick? If so, what ailed her? I had him make a check against his Intelligence at -4 to make this assessment at night at a distance. He failed the check but opted to spend a year of his life to reroll. He then passed and saw that she was not sick at all, but was faking her coughs and tremors while wearing make-up to give the appearance of a deathly pallor. He kept the information to himself.

But Doctor Paracelsus decided that he would negotiate with Madame Brunet. After some discussion with the group, they agreed to engage with her and her sons in a duel of wits.

This one went quite differently than the last…

Martin the Presbyter has precedence and reputation in the duel of wits for this group. So Madam Brunet politely asked him if she might speak first. He graciously accepted (and increased his already high reputation by one). Madame stepped before the group and began to speak about the troubles and tribulations ahead when she suddently fell before them in a heap, trembling, foaming at the mouth, hitting her head on the ground, beseeching Dr Paracelsus for help.

The looks around the table were priceless. It got better when I announced that “She has the Rifodé skill. She gets +6 to hit with an Implore when having a seizure.” The players started to howl. I rolled. 18 +6, a critical hit. Paracelsus’ player’s eyes sharpened and he asked, “Can I spend a year of my life to make you reroll?” Yes, yes he could. I rerolled now with only a +1 to hit and still landed the blow, but without a crit. Paracelsus accepted the blow.

Her tactic failed to knock out the doctor, so he quickly asked Martin if he could speak next. He has a bonus to damage with Implore when treating a patient and that seemed to apply here. But first he needed to get her to listen. He knelt down and examined Brunet and begged her to stop. Due to his earlier Intelligence check, he knew she was likely faking.

He rolled and missed. Spent a year. Rerolled. Missed. Spent another year and rerolled landing a triple crit! He knocked her out in one blow, revealing her act to his companions. It was a triumph, perfectly played.

Meanwhile, Martin stepped in and begged Delon to see it their way. He succeeded and scored a lucky hit, knocking Delon out. Alain declined to press the matter from his perch, as he’d be shouting into a bad situation. The duel of wits was over before the first round ended.

Martin then rooked Delon into believing that God was going to bring down the truth and, since Martin was a priest, he might as well confess. He succeeded and Delon spilled out an largely incomprehensible tale about what happened on the night of March 18th.

Eventually, they pieced it together that Delon and his crew were hired by Argouges—not Antoine Regnard. They were hired in advance by Argouges to protect Antoine should he go and decide to avenge his mother’s death. Delon also intimated that Antoine was Argouges son—making him a child out of wedlock with M. Argouges and Mdm Regnard.

Pondering this new information, the group realized they needed something more than payment for their deed. They needed revenge. They had been set up by Argouges to murder his lover. And now been set up again to murder his obstreperous illegitimate child.

Back in Drancy, they released their pamphlet into the wild and waited for it to take hold. On the night of the 23rd, they saw a crowd gather at the Inn of the Two Lanterns, near the Hôtel de Ville. They were waving the pamphlets and shouting for the Intendant to explain the meaning of this tax rise coming on the 1st.

Laura decided the crowd wasn’t heated enough. She wanted them to turn to a mob.

I had been thinking about rules like this, so I quickly sketched something out and we tested them.

The Intendant’s archers were trying to keep order at the gate of the inn, but they were badly outnumbered—though the crowd wasn’t violent. The Intendant, clearly eating his supper, stuck his mustachioed head out of the second floor window of the inn and told the crowd to disperse, that they would deal with the matter in the morning.

Laura threw a rock at the Intendant, aiming to hit the window next to him, trying to rile the crowd up. She succeeded in earning the ire of the archers who started pushing through the crowd to apprehend her.

I also realized that the crowd’s Will had been attacked via the pamphlet. I decided it was a Poison action via the press, so I had them roll to hit and damage for that. They succeeded.

Martin then attempted to rile the crowd up as the archers came through, preaching brutality. he did enough damage to the crowd’s Will that they started to waver and churn. They failed their S-F test and turned angry. They then marched to the Hôtel de Ville, shouting for answers from Monsieur L’Echiven Argouges.

It was late so we stopped there. Hopefully we’ll wrap up the situation next time!

Also, as you can see, I’ve been working on 1648. Brunet is a L6 Mercalot. Delon is a L2 Coup-Gourge, cutthroat. Both are new lifepaths that we’ll hopefully feature in the book.

I also very much want to include rules for crowds and mobs in the new book. They’re proving challenging to develop, but I’m hopeful.

All in all, it was a good playtest!

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Session the fifth.

The group insisted we begin where we left off—in the mob before the Hôtel de Ville in Drancy. The townsfolk were demanding the echiven deliver to them the serpent Regnard. They waved the pamphlets in the night air, shouting for M. Argouges to take action.

I confess I wasn’t much interested in the mob as a device for this session. The players were though. They wanted to eat popcorn while the mob tore the town apart. But it wasn’t going to happen. They had poisoned the mob against M. Regnard but the townsfolk were not yet at the point of violence.

The group insisted on watching events develop though. So I described M. Argouges arriving on the square with a small retinue of servants and calming the crowd by promising to address M. Regnard directly in the morning. I made a Parley test for Argouges and passed. The mob reverted to a crowd and slowly dispersed—they had earned a concession.

Disappointed, the group decided take a risky action on their own. While the authorities were busy dealing with the aftermath of the mob, the crew headed to the Argouges manor on the edge of town. There, they convinced the lady of the house that they were a doctor and his retinue and that her husband had dispatched them to the house in case there was any trouble with the mob. De Troyes, heavily armed, remained outside, lurking in the forest.

After spending a year of Parcelsus’ life on the Parley check, the ruse worked and they were invited in. Mme Argouges showed them to a drawing room to wait. Martin and Laura asked if they might visit the chapel in the garden—a request that Mme Argouges could hardly deny. As they exited, the lady returned with tea and pasties for the tired doctor. She sat close to him and began to chat.

The doctor learned that she and her husband had been married for ten years, but had never had children. Hearing this, the doctor immediately prescribed her a medication for infertility. He mixed it for her on the spot (failing his Physiker test! giving me an incredible opportunity for a future twist).

Meanwhile Martin headed to the chapel, but Laura stole off and found M. Argouges’ office. She searched it and found a locked ledger which she was loath to steal and unable to open. Still, it was enough evidence for their next move (we also had a moment where one player read out the refinement rule as a way to help Laura’s player through a frustrating moment in which she might do something to get them all caught).

In the garden, Martin searched the chapel. He found a sealed family crypt and a secret compartment beneath the altar. The compartment held some greasy tools, a dusty bottle of wine and a small box. The box contained a reliquary made of gold and red velvet. Martin realized that this alone was worth more than he owed. He could take it and run.

The scene in the chapel was all ad-lib on my part. I needed to pay out some rope for Martin so they would have credible levers to pull once it came time to take revenge.

It was well past dawn and the group had long overstayed their welcome. M. Argouges could return home at any moment. Acting on instinct, de Troyes emerged from the forest and headed for the manor. She played the role of messenger, saying that M. Argouges had sent the all clear and the doctor’s services were no longer needed. She passed a Parley test to avoid making Mme Argouges suspicious.

As a parting shot, Doctor Paracelsus wrote the lady a prescription for her new medication. He was sure to sign his real name. He wanted M. Argouges to know he had been to his home.

After their long night, the group decided to rest and discuss their next move.

They took a day of rest and recovery. During the break, one of the players said that he knew what he wanted his flaw to be. This seemed like a perfect time to look into that, so during the break we assigned virtues and flaws. Everyone took a flaw, and everyone except de Troyes took a virtue. We used some from the book and some we invented for our purposes. We let folks discuss their flaws, but the group had final say.

Parcelsus: Beautiful and Cruel.
Laura: Ambitious and Boorish.
Martin: Flexible and False.
de Troyes: Vengeful.

When they emerged from Rotrou’s townhouse, Drancy was buzzing with whispers about the previous day’s events. The tax farmer, M. Regnard, had indeed paid a visit to M. Argouges at the Hôtel de Ville. In front of witnesses he had declared that he would bleed the town dry of every sol, and if that wasn’t enough, they’d pay in blood.

The players were pleased. A plan began for form. Revenge seemed within their grasp.

They found that Regnard had set up shop on the outskirts of town, just across the river, at an inn. Before the inn sat a man on stump. He wore a battered hat and a dusty cloak. He carved a figurine with a knife and, when he smiled, you could see that he was missing teeth. Resting in his lap was a formidable mousqueton. He smiled and chatted with crew for a moment and then announced them to M. Regnard.

Inside, Regnard was fleecing an old shopkeeper who had come to try to get ahead of the impending wrath of the tax farmer. The ancient mercer was clearly miserable. Laura wanted to help him, but the group restrained her. Doing so would fail to earn M. Regnard’s trust.

Once that business was taken care of, the group laid out their plan. They offered to collect the taxes on M. Argouges. They said they didn’t even want the money. From outside, Regnard’s man laughed.

But Regnard wasn’t listening. He was doing calculations. He informed the group that what they wanted was a subcontract. And he offered to sell them that subcontract for 20,000 livres. Everyone in the group choked except Martin. He just coolly responded, “10,000.” We made a couple of Parley checks for the negotiation and settled on 12,500.

Martin then produced the reliquary he had stolen from Argouges chapel. “Will this cover it?” Regnard responded that he would have to have it appraised. I gave Martin’s player the option to allow that to happen or to have Martin Rook Regnard into overestimating its value. He chose the latter and, after spending a year of his life, succeeded.

M. Regnard told them to return to him at 10 PM tonight. He would have their subcontract drawn up.

From there, the group quickly ran to Paris and the Court of Miracles. They visited Brunet and her sons. They wanted to hire Delon and Alain for muscle, but Brunet forced them pay half of their debt to her before she would allow access to her sons.

But perhaps the best moment of the session came at the end. Delon wanted revenge on Argouges for duping him so he agreed to go along for 10 pistoles. Alain, however, felt it was better to not get involved with this sordid affair. Laura had a suspicion that Alain was someone special so she attempted to convince him. Her Parley is a measly 1/6 and she was hesitating to roll. Before she could, de Troyes’s player stepped in and described how Laura’s ambition to set up new trade routes shone through her eyes and that this was enough to convince anyone. Alain, being a skilled sailor, agreed to join her crew.

Our first use of virtue! It was perfect. I was delighted and we ended there.

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Final session (quelle tristesse)

The pack of ne’er-do-wells returned to the Inn of the Two Lanterns in Drancy and retrieved their contract. However, Intendant Marcel was waiting for them there with Regnard. He wanted to meet these new tax bravos and judge their character before he notarized the new contract.

Fortunately, Martin managed to charm Marcel and he signed off.

Run a bit ragged, the group decided to rest at Rotrou’s house to recover their wits before their next caper. However, Paracelsus had some unfinished business in the cellar. There he dismembered poor Antoine’s corpse. The group then hauled it down to the river that night and tossed it away. A lone bargeman, punting down the river, watched impassively as they relieved themselves of their odious burdens (as the result of a failed Sneak test).

The next day they arrived at Argouges’ residence at dawn. They informed their former friend that they were now tax farmers under Regnard and were there to collect a sol per bottle in his warehouses and cellars. A most vile tax.

M. Argouges offered them a flat price of 10,000 livres while Mdm Argouges attempted to get the attention of M. Paracelsus. Neither attempt succeeded.

However, meanwhile, Laura had stolen into the garden, climbed a drain pipe, smashed in a window pane and gained entry to Argouges’ study. Within, she purloined Argouges’ ledger and a purse full of coin from his desk.

The group then retired to Rotrou’s to examine their findings. The money they gave to the Brunet brothers. Laura, using her brief training in Finance, ran through Argouges’ accounts to find his actual tax burden. She missed and underestimated him at 15,000 livres.

Her reading of the account took days. And it didn’t take long for Argouges to come knocking with the Intendant, his archers and some armed gentlemen. They searched Rotrou’s place, so Laura made a quick dash out the window at the back of the house, hiding down by the river.

Argouges and company found nothing, but they did note the stench of death in the cellar (and the blood stains). Argouges left dissatisfied. The intendant apologized to his new subcontractors for the disturbance.

Meanwhile, Laura, in her hiding place, saw two children standing on a fallen branch arching out into the river. They were poking at wet, rotten sack with a stick, tangled in the branch. Laura broke cover and screamed at them to be gone as the young girl thrust her make-shift spear home and the sack burst, revealing the worm-eaten face of Antoine Regnard. The children screamed and ran.

Martin was determined to break Argouges’ will. The presbyter’s pretensions of holiness fell away as he became possessed by a mechanistic impulse for revenge. He demanded the group return the next morning at dawn. And when Argouges refused to pay that morning, he returned the next day. And the day after.

I told the crew that each day of delay would trigger a roll of the die of fate to see when the traumatized children would tell their parents what they saw.

They realized they had to act and returned the next morning ready to business. However, it was not M. Argouges who greeted them, but the madame. She deftly maneuvered Paracelsus into the drawing room alone, while shutting out Laura and Martin.

Paracelsus inquired after her health and if she had filled his prescription with the local apothecary. She responded that she had and, “Doctor, my pulse beats quick, my cheeks are flushed and my heart pounds. My thoughts are not my own.”

Dro, in a stroke of roleplaying genius, responded without hesitation, “It’s love, Madame!”
(We all nearly lost it laughing. It was the perfect response).

Unperturbed, he continued, “Does not this alleviate your ailment?”

“I’m afraid the current situation does not satisfy my condition, no.” She moved closer to him and let her knee touch his.

Dro then turned to us—the audience—and said, “She’s sees that I am beautiful, but does not know how cruel I am!” Referring of course to Paracelsus’s virtue and flaw.

At that point, M. Argouges came downstairs and grumbled at his servants for not having announced his good friends. He conducted Laura and Martin into the drawing room while the madame made a quick exit through another door.

Negotiations commenced. A quick series of parley checks had both parties agree to 17,000 livres for the tax bill (though Martin silently vowed he would be back next year for more). However, Paracelsus wasn’t satisfied. “What about the bodies?” he asked.

To negotiate payment for the crimes required a duel of wits. Argouges refused to take any responsibility. In the exchange, he managed to knock Martin right out but found Laura and Paracelsus tougher customers than he anticipated. In the end, he agreed to pay an additional 2500 livres for the matter to be settled once and for all (including signing a contract saying that he owed them nothing more).

Victorious but unsatisfied, the group retired to Rotrou’s and divided their truly ill-gotten gains. This wealth, for each of them, represented a major improvement of their lot—if only they could hold onto it.

Sadly, we had to end the playtest there due to my own scheduling conflicts. But before we parted ways, we tallied exertion and rolled for Mortal Coil.

Martin (8 ex) strained himself beyond endurance and was forced to convalesce for many months.
Paracelsus (5 ex) was diminished and induced to retire for months.
And poor Laura (10 ex), after all of her exertions, fell suddenly ill and quickly died before even Paracelsus realized his help was needed.

+++++

It was a great playtest. The game worked reasonably well over all, but a few issues arose:

Moment vs Motif
After this run, I am better equipped to separate the moment in which you’re playing from the motif. The moment is a problem you must live in, whereas the motif is something that binds you together and sees you through the difficulties of the age.

Pacing
I have a better sense of the pacing of the game—slower and more deliberate than your standard action game—but I’m struggling with a way to impart that into the system. The group verged on a few Scooby Doo moments where they just kept forcing the issue and pushing deeper and deeper into danger, rather than backing off and acting like someone whose life was at risk and had tomorrow to live for.

Politeness and Propriety
It’s vital that everyone wear a veneer of politeness and adhere to tradition and proper behavior. To fail to is to insult someone, and to insult someone is to invite them to remedy the slight.

Self Interest vs Revenge vs Forgiveness
I need to work on how to better evoke the underlying character of the age. Self-interest is a major motivating factor. Only the most heroic, most epic characters act in a selfless manner. Everyone else is looking for personal advantage and gain in every single situation.

When you do cross the line with someone, they never forget. And they will work for the rest of their natural days to gain their revenge, no matter how small or petty.

However, once slights are remedied or apologies made, all is forgiven. Lasting alliances of self-interest are often made in these moments.

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This is the relationship map I drew after the first session. I added to it in play as we went.