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What We Played: The Playboy, The Father and The Plant (A Penny For My Thoughts)

Adrienne
user 13146674
Belmont, CA
Post #: 16
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Players:
Bryan: Kinky gay guy with a heart of stone (Alan)
Peter: Troubled family man (Bob)
Adrienne: Under-cover mobster gal (Cindy)
Since we mostly operated without names, I'll refer to the characters as Alan, Bob and Cindy.

Stories:
When Alan thinks of the feeling of being watched, he remembers how a random hook-up led to the suicide of his ex (Dmitri). He hated Dmitri and found the suicide hilarious. Thinking of an unwanted forceful kiss, gives Alan a flashback to how Dmitri coaxed him out of the closet and into a submissive BDSM relationship. He remembers how when Dmitri cheated on him, he raped both him and the other man and went home to gloat. The smell of his favourite pie, freshly-baked, is interwoven with the memory of Dmitri's mother mowing down his friends and chasing him down with a tommy gun. He gets nicked a few times, but ends up only faking the massive trauma that might have caused him to lose his memory. He chooses to remember, because he never actually forgot.

Seeing his favourite painting (of Gammy, his grandmother) reminds Bob of the time his daughter Sammy ran into the woods. He found her playing next to an old coot, but she was safe and he was relieved. When he thinks of the sound of a woman sobbing, he remembers the doctor telling him and his wife that Sammy was dead. He remembers hunting down the old coot in the woods, but finding him already dead. And he remembers his dog bringing him Sammy's severed hand. The taste of a rubber ball gag makes him think of how he was torturing himself until the vision of Gammy led him away. (Actually, a police-man arresting him.) Unfortunately he also remembers that Gammy is gone and that he himself is his daughter's killer. He chooses to forget.

Thinking of a naked body in her house makes Cindy remember Johnny (her FBI mark) waking up drunk and falling for her a little. This gave her the chance to stop him finding out about her true identity. When she thinks about not finding the exit, she remembers how Johnny became more and more clingy, knew all along about her identity, and trapped her inside his place. She remembers not taking the chance to shoot him when she could and how betrayed she felt. The smell of stale beer and cigarettes often accompanied Johhny and makes her remember how she was able to escape after he killed his partner (and her cousin). When the police came, Cindy was terrified that Johnny could get away and went after him with a knife. She was arrested for triple homicide and chooses to forget.



Thoughts about the game (free):
It's as though GM and player roles are reversed. I dictate the scenery and surrounding events for my character's story, but you tell me what I actually do. This meant that I was as devoted to other people's stories as I was to my own - which is awesome. But it also meant that I was less invested in my character than usual, because I couldn't directly plan her future actions. I thought this was really interesting and I'm excited to try it again.

The 'Guides' have a lot of control. This is especially true for the framing questions at the start of a scene. In the very first scene you have the basic outline of your character handed to you by the other players. Later in the game those framing questions still have a huge impact. If Sammy wasn't dead at beginning of the second scene, she would still be available to die in the third and that could have been the traumatic event. However, you can steer your character's story any way you want to through the actions of other people.

I think we often took the Guide's restriction to control the player's actions rather loosely and dictated not only what the main character did, but what they saw next and what happened immediately in response. This worked just fine, but I'd be curious to try a more rigorous application of the rules.

Also, I wonder about how to handle guide-responses in general. Should I be intuiting the player's thoughts about their character and phrasing actions that will reflect them (and reward me with a penny), or should I be thinking of completely different possibilities that would drag the story into new areas? Both seem reasonable, and they're not mutually exclusive, but balancing them is a challenge.

Also, we sometimes had scenes within which time advanced very quickly (hours, days and months recapped in a single sentence). This wasn't a problem - and allowed us to explicitly cover a lot more ground with the story - but I think it weakened the tie-in to the initial memory-trigger.

I have to say the penny-passing mechanic got easier over time. You stop thinking about it once enough mutual goodwill has been established.


Favourite Moments:
So many! "Alan's" mad flight for escape and his casual cruelty towards Dmitri. Bob's heartbreak at Sammy's death and touching reunion with his grandmother. Cindy's repeated failures to break free and increasing sense of helplessness.

I loved Bryan's graphic descriptions of events and inclusion of little details like the purple dildo and the yellow rain slicker. I also loved Peter's really poignant portrayal of his character. Great effort was taken to act the role of a man who is remembering events he finds truly upsetting. And it was awesome how we ended up with three completely different causes for our amnesia. I had a lot of fun guys - thanks for bearing with the long read-out portions through the noise.
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