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Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › Monsters from the id! (silver & white)

Monsters from the id! (silver & white)

Jamie F.
user 12636925
Bellevue, WA
Post #: 78
"They step into the unknown, pausing at every awkward touch, hopeful despite everything to come."

I think we went into this expecting less Unknown and more Awkward Touches.

Turns out 'silver & white' is the story of some teenagers discovering a strange Machine that presumably takes them to a silver & white City that is depicted in all these photographs.

So the relationships of the teenagers ended up taking a back seat to the mystery of the Machine and the City. As we described the weird crap in the City: people who looked like distorted versions of the photography teacher! And now they look like me! And now my hand is gone and I'm slowly disappearing! And maybe really the city is just a dream state made real, we see what we want to see! And now I've found an amazing gun that I can sell the to the Department of Defense! When you shot me with it, it made me blank! Absent!

So, with all that, the unrequited loves, friendships, and step-sibling relationships kind of went into the background - no unrequited loves were requited, no friends were really betrayed, the step-sister shot her step-brother with the blank gun but they didn't get along from the beginning ...

So maybe if there's a premise to our story it was: 'nothing changes, even when everything changes.'

Mechanically, I think it's the most free-form game I've ever played. "Here's how to do long-form improv theater. Plus there's a few little extra rules. Go." There were no scene-framing rules, no dice, no conflict resolution. There were narrative authority cards - one player gets to own the Machine, one gets to own Photographs; and there were feeling/fortune cards, which had our destinies, and when two characters touch, they can swap cards. Which is a really neat idea.

Oh! I just realized: something we played wrong: the player who owns the photographs also owns the whole City: "When someone asks about the photographs or the city itself, you make up the truth." We were all making up the City together. If we'd known that, the City might have been less gonzo.
Hmm, now I want to play it again, the right way.

user 8261819
Seattle, WA
Post #: 3
Thanks for writing this up, Jamie! I found our game very evocative, both from a story-telling and design perspective. Here are a few thoughts I had w/r/t the gameplay. Note to those who have not played it yet: spoiler alert.

I agree that the game was very free-form during the actual gameplay, but setup was highly regimented. All characters MUST: be teenagers, have 5 predetermined traits, have 2 predetermined motives, be from suburbia, and have predetermined relationships with 2 other characters. A large part of the setup also includes taking turns reading aloud from the book. And to top it all off, your starting scene and settings are completely fixed.

For a system as mechanics-light as Silver and White, that's a pretty prescriptive setup.

However, after all that by-the-book setup and color-by-number character creation, it's a bit of a shock to be thrown into the woods to create the story sans instructive gameplay mechanics.

Don't get me wrong: Silver and White is not mechanics-free. However, the mechanics seem to be designed more as tools than rules. There are, for instance, mechanisms for marking the passage of time and for determining where the characters are. However, they don't seem integral to the play, and don't structure the group interaction (by telling you, for instance, who speaks when and about what). Our group was unsure how to engage these tools, and did not use them in the scene-framing capacity with which they were probably designed. Next time I play S&W I hope to make better use of these to add a little more structure to the play.

As Jamie mentioned, every time characters touch, they exchange either their 'thinking' or 'feeling' cards. These also double as story goals (called 'fortunes'). This heightened everyone's awareness of touching, which I think was really interesting. A bold design choice that totally paid off. The difficult part about this was that, because everyone exchanged cards so often, our story goals kept changing. And because the fortunes were very specific (ex: 'you will betray one of your friends for wealth'), it was difficult to create a consistent plot arcs for our characters. This resulted in some ridiculous last-minute shenanigans to get the characters to their assigned conclusions.

All in all, this game is one of the most meta-thought-provoking I've played. I'll admit that I chaffed a bit by being compelled to play a specific character in a specific scenario with a specific conclusion; but that was more a function of my pre-conceptions and expectations than any fault in the game. The game is actually well-conceived and interestingly written, if a little mechanically wonky. I would definitely be open to playing again, knowing what I know now about its design. I'm sure this game will be an eye-opener for a lot of people, as it was for me.

And once again, big ups to Jamie for bringing the game and facilitating. Thanks!

Jamie F.
user 12636925
Bellevue, WA
Post #: 79
Another thing we did 'wrong' - though Jackson admits the rules weren't clear on that point and he's not even sure it's a good design: we weren't supposed to freely narrate about our domains - we only get to answer questions about them when asked. So even if you grab the 'machine' card you don't get to say, 'Oh, and now that I have the machine card, it turns into a giant bunny rabbit and escorts us to the land of milk' - you have to wait for someone to ask, 'What does the machine do when I press this button?' or whatever.

A former member
Post #: 10
I think the constraints actually worked out fine. Like, if we'd just been playing the characters we would still have gotten on fine, and all the relationships were pretty tense. I could see it getting frustrating to replay, but one pass through the highly constrained setting was okay by me.

I don't even think following the photographs=city rule would have helped us on the other part, though. It's not that we were talking across each other, it's that we had no freaking idea what we wanted the city to mean, and we felt obliged to keep talking about it rather than just being kids.
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