Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › What We Played: Meat, Murals and Lust (Perfect)

What We Played: Meat, Murals and Lust (Perfect)

Adrienne
user 13146674
Belmont, CA
Post #: 13
Players:
Greg as Cecil Maxwell
Jobe as Horatio
Adrienne as Francis Beaton

Plot:
Cecil owns a meat-packing plant in the north. 107 of his recently hired (and disgustingly lower-class) workers die, get ground up, packaged and sold. Cecil’s enjoys the sudden increase in profit. He realizes his destiny is to scour the plebs from the country and founds a secret society devoted to this pursuit. A food inspector comes calling and ends up as sausage himself. The inspectors bring Cecil in for questioning. It seems there is a lot evidence suggesting that people are being ‘consumed’ by the plant. Cecil leaves a guilt-ridden vegetarian.

Inspired by her spirit, Horatio paints murals of Queen Abigail’s visage using piss. Yes, it is colorful - he inserts paint capsules into his urethra, you see. His first target? A church, of course. And when the stench of urine begins to sicken him? Why a man of his caliber doesn’t give up. Feces it is - but Pollock he is not. He flounders, depressed by his lack of skill in this new medium.

Francis is an old gay who wants to experience love. He receives a card from a young man, and then a rose, and then a surreptitious embrace (though not yet a kiss). But his love rats him out to an inspector - a beautiful blond-haired and blue-eyed inspector, who entraps Francis and eventually persuades him that his proclivities go against both God and the Queen’s desires. Alone and ashamed, he burns up the card and weeps.

System:
In Perfect each player plays a criminal character and the Law character for the Criminal to their right. ‘Criminal’ in Perfect’s dystopian Victorian setting refers to anyone whose actions step outside the rigorously-defined norm. Players take turns describing their characters crimes, then the Law either gathers evidence, or attempt to capture and interrogate the Criminal, and finally the Criminals reflect on what they experienced during the cycle.

The setting is cool and I really like the progression through crimes. I would say we had mixed results with the narrated back-and-forth of token-dropping. Sometimes it worked perfectly: the Law describing their manoeuvre, the Criminal describing their response, until tension was high and the roll was made. Sometimes, though, it was hard to say how to use the tokens and what they actually represented. In those situations, progression through the scene was bumpy. However, this could have been caused by poor explanation on my part, our state of inebriation, or the game itself. I should also say that in our conflicts there was little doubt that the law player would win.


Perfect and Power:
Perfect is interesting, in that the power dynamic between the Law and Criminal is more skewed than in most games. In general, story games, and other RPGs in which a player has a single main character, put significant control of that character's decisions and actions in the hands of his player. This is somewhat true in Perfect, but the Law player is able and encouraged to restrict the Criminal player's choices heavily. Other games with an antagonistic setup generally afford a player some narrative control, even if the mechanics mean that the character's story must end in tragedy. In Polaris, for instance, there is always the option to add conditions to the antagonist's demands.

Not only is the system stacked so that the Law can dictate most of the narrative events after the initial crime, the theme and flavour accentuate this relationship. During the retribution scene, the Law attempts to create guilt or condition the Criminal. This often amounts to psychological or physical torture of the Criminal character, who has no effective means to respond. The Law generally has enough power that they can continue to escalate their abuses (to which the player consents) until the Criminal succumbs.

This is not bad at all, just different from other systems I've experienced.


This being our third game of the evening, it was pretty late when we got started and we only had time for two cycles. It was great fun while it lasted, though! Thanks for playing, guys.
Ben R
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 228
I've played Perfect twice and while I like the setting and the concept a lot, the mechanics don't thrill me. There are some parts that fall flat (like the other players judging how important they think your crime is) and there's more complexity than I prefer.

The turn structure is already a lot like Shock (rotating antagonist/protagonist pairs). I think if you kept the setting but just transplanted the entire Shock conflict system it would work great. Things like risking Links to escape the law would work perfectly (so to speak). Less mechanics, more role-playing and plot.

That'd be my preference anyway. I want to focus on sweating out my crimes and eluding the man, not trying to figure out how many tokens I should spend.
Adrienne
user 13146674
Belmont, CA
Post #: 15
There are some parts that fall flat (like the other players judging how important they think your crime is) and there's more complexity than I prefer.

I didn’t have any problem with this. I like having the Criminal assign a value to his crime, because it forces him to reflect on his character’s motivations. And when the other players discuss how much society cares about the crime, they’re engaging in a little bit of world-building, which I think is great. Sure, they could also just go ‘What do you think? 5?” “Ok.” and be done with it, but they at least have the opportunity to shape the Perfect society. Normally I dislike mechanics that ask players to ‘judge’ other players - but here it is society judging a crime, and I think it’s fine.


I want to focus on sweating out my crimes and eluding the man, not trying to figure out how many tokens I should spend.

I guess I see what you mean. Perhaps you think more tactically than I do, but as the Law I just assigned half my Tension points to the Capture and half to the Retribution. If one were trying to work out the optimal number of tokens to spend, given the Criminal’s current level of Guilt and invocation of Contacts and Aspects, I can see it being more of a distraction. I viewed the tokens less as a role-playing barrier and more as a way of pacing the exchange.

The issue we had with tokens in this recent game was different. One player would make a statement and lay down a token, the other would counter and then wonder whether to spend one token or two. Later they’d make a completely different argument and be uncertain whether the same token value should be applied or not.


Still haven’t played Shock, so I can’t comment on the different systems’ merits. But I agree, there is more number-handling in Perfect than in other story-games I’ve played.
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