Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › 2012.03.01: Earth and Fire, Heart's Desire (Perfect)

2012.03.01: Earth and Fire, Heart's Desire (Perfect)

Erik Hamilton
user 30994922
Seattle, WA
Post #: 1
Players: Sev, Jamie, and Erik

It was Jamie and my first time playing Perfect. Sev facilitated. Perfect is set in the steam-punk dystopian land of Cadence, a sort of alternative Victorian England, but very dark and rigid, with social controls rationalized by the Inquisitors as being the wish of the last monarch, Queen Abigail.

The three criminals:

Jamie
Wendell Gallagher (archivist/idealist): dashing lower class cargo/delivery dirigible pilot and avid booklover
Sev
Edmund Holloway (romantic/archivist): prim, but lovestruck lesser class accountant
Erik
Thaddeus "Teddy" Claxton (anarchist/inquisitor): studious lesser class librarian and maniacal cult leader

We only managed two rounds plus a single go of rehabilitation at the hands of the Inquisitors for each, but for my part it felt like the setting and our characters really were beginning to blossom into something that could have gone on for several nights.

Mr. Gallagher, for his first crime, dropped several dozen copies of Queen Abigail's diaries on a neighborhood from his dirigible, using his freedom of travel, which allowed for his traveling unimpeded. The diaries were smuggled out by a bookseller contact of his, Arthur Ashdown, and printed by the Marginals beyond the Wall. The diaries had no mention of the late Queen's wish that everyone be so rigidly controlled, but did mention her strong feelings for one of her maidservants. Unfortunately, Mr. Gallagher kept for himself a copy of the book other than the one he'd read. His original copy was dropped with the rest and the section about Queen's forbidden love is what the book fell open to in the hands of Mordecai Neelands, Inspector on the case, suggesting that the perpetrator was homosexual. Mr. Gallagher reported his successful excursion to Mr. Ashdown, and let his friend know about his favorite section of the diary.

For Mr. Holloway's first crime, he climbed over the garden wall of an accounting client of his, to deliver into the garden a dozen red roses (forbidden) to the family's daughter. As they were notable class, this was entirely against the law. Grace Desmond found the flowers from her beloved and secreted them away in her hope chest. But a letter she wrote back to Mr. Holloway, ostensibly about business, smelled of lemon and Mr. Desmond, her father, discovered a love missive secretly written on it in lemon juice. The letter never arrived and Mr. Holloway was bereft. He may have cried to the heavens, had his freedom of thought forbade his speaking.

Mr. Claxton had been using his job as an archivist as a way to glean secret teachings from banned books of forgotten lore. Under the tutelage of his spirit guide, Sneferka ibn Set, he discovered that a number of ley lines converged nearby, under a cathedral of the Church of Queen Abigail. The church was blunting the power of the nexus and Teddy saw no choice but to bring the entire church down. Using his freedom of travel, he took a trip via coach to the north countries to visit an anarchist demolitionist contact of one of Claxton's associates, Bertram Holloway, a wayward Inspector. A quick study, he'd spent his time in Church each day studying the layout of the cathedral. Upon his return with a suitcase full of explosives, he placed charges on the support pillars and blew the building up while he watched a half block away from an abandoned tenement. He got away easily, but a hermetic sigil left on a stump of pillar led Inspector Horace Joplin to realize the perpetrator was an occultist. Claxton then met with his contacts, Inspector Holloway and Millicent Thorley, a widow and boarding house matron that their plans were successful and they were finally ready to form their secret society, the Ordo Templi Cimmeris--the Order of the Shadow Temple.

Mr. Gallagher, after his bookdrop, paid a visit to Mr. Ashdown, but his interest was not business, but pleasure. When the Inspectors discerned that Ashdown was the source of the original upon which the dropped book was based, they stormed in and marched up the stairs of Ashdown's bookstore, only to find the pair in bed together. Gallagher assaulted Neelands, and Ashdown ushered them to the back window. But in the alley, the pair was captured by Inspectors come from the main street.

Mr. Holloway, despondent at being spurned, showed up at the Desmond house, and in the alley, in front of God and man, began to sing (forbidden) a song of his own creation (forbidden) from the alley under Grace's window (forbidden), out loud (for him, forbidden). The neighbors threw vegetables and heckled him, but Grace was overjoyed and they made off to elope. But as they were preparing at Holloway's home, where his freedom of privacy forbade his having visitors), the neighbors had alerted the Inspectors. They came in both door and window but Holloway finally had grown a spine and attacked one, opening up an avenue of escape. However, Mrs. Desmond was with them and she begged her daughter to give up this chase. Grace finally broke and gave in. Edmund was betrayed and in irons.

The ley lines free, Mr. Claxton knew they would need to reconsecrate the ground if their society was to make use of the power. The rubble was still guarded by the Inspectors, but Claxton, now styled High Priest Aun-u'barak Shadowsun, knew a route into the catacombs from a mausoleum in the attached graveyard. From midnight until 3 am, he, Inspector Holloway and Mrs. Thorley wove a blood ritual, skyclad, among the subterranean sarcophagi. Their ritual was a success, but upon it's completion, they heard approaching Inspectors. Only partly dressed, the trio fled into graveyard with several Inspectors on their heels. Holloway shouted out coded Inspector calls in the night to confuse their pursuers, and Mrs. Holloway saw a route to the wall. But upon scaling it and alighting to the other side, they found Inspector Neelands waiting for them.


Erik Hamilton
user 30994922
Seattle, WA
Post #: 2
In the Yard, Mr. Gallagher was subjected to surgery that made it impossible for him to look a man in the eyes. Upon release, he visited Mr. Ashdown, eyes cast to the ground, insisted they should escape over the wall and begin a new life together elsewhere, but the interrogation had "fixed" Mr. Ashdown whose attraction could not be rekindled by the man-to-mouse transformation of Mr. Gallagher.

Edmund Holloway's transformation was the reverse of Mr. Gallagher's and he actually resisted all pharmacological attempts to recondition him. Upon his release he brooded on his betrayal at the hands of his inconstant lady, Miss Desmond.

Claxton used fed knowledge from Inspector Holloway, who had pretended to capture him when he saw they were trapped, tried his best to withstand their brainwashing. They demanded that he turn on Mrs. Thorley. He refused. But he could not hold out against their conditioning, and when he was released, all things occult caused him so much pain he was reduced to tears. Nevertheless, the Ordo Templi Cimmeris reconvened and though their leader wept as he did it, they consecrated their new power in a spell of darkness and plotted the recruitment of new members and the future murder of Inspector Joplin.
sev (Cheryl)
sevoo
Seattle, WA
Post #: 31
thanks for the writeup, Erik!

I enjoyed the game but I feel like we may not be doing justice to Perfect by playing it as a one-shot. Wendell's story was a nice self-contained tragedy, but I agree that Edmund & Thaddeus felt like they were just getting started. My sense of dramatic pacing really wanted Edmund to have three rounds -- one to establish his character, one for things to get awful, and one for him to find some kind of redemption (this is the pattern I often find myself walking with Shock).

Learning the game *and* learning the setting ate up enough time that our scenes had significantly more narrating & less actual role-playing than I'd like (and I'm the freakin' queen of "let's just narrate this thing and get it over with"). I feel like we missed a great opportunity on Thaddeus' capture to look deeper into the rogue Inspector Holloway, for instance.

If I facilitate this again I'm going to try to do more teaching-while-we're-playing & let the setting fall more to the wayside. (I do *love* the setting. But the stuff that's covered during character creation, plus the explanation that the Inspectors are the whole of the law, should be sufficient for a one-shot, I think.)

... it occurs to me, there's rules covering Collaborative Crimes. What if we did a four-player game, but had only two crimes per round, with the players sitting across from each other as co-conspirators? Though coming to consensus on the crime may very well eat up any efficiencies we might gain.
Erik Hamilton
user 30994922
Seattle, WA
Post #: 3
I was lamenting how this game, among others, gives everyone the role of protagonist, but no connectivity with the other protagonists. It's basically three individuals telling three disjointed stories, with limited input in any other storyline. Which I get smoothes over the issues of godmoding and people trampling one another's narratives, but it's isolating, I think.

So, I love the idea of collaborative crime as you've laid it out. I also like the idea of one player next to you playing the law, while the one on the other side playing their main character as an accomplice, or the like.
Jamie Fristrom
user 12636925
Bellevue, WA
Post #: 88
It bears repeating: joe's games incent the blowing-up of churches.

What Perfect didn't give me (which M<3s and ribbon drive do) was much roleplaying / acting in character...
Ben R
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 271
All three of those games are also completely different play structures. Perfect = rotating protagonist/antagonist pairs. Monster Hearts = GMed ensemble. Ribbon Drive = GMless ensemble.
sev (Cheryl)
sevoo
Seattle, WA
Post #: 32
I also like the idea of one player next to you playing the law, while the one on the other side playing their main character as an accomplice, or the like.

We did something like this the first time I played Perfect -- two of the characters had other characters as Contacts. I think we all ended up as members of the Secret Society one character created. That game only had one session as well (we made it through three rounds, but only by rushing the third), so we didn't get to exercise that connection to its full extent, but every scene ended up having tendrils that affected all the other characters scenes going forward, so that was nice. (we did not blow up any churches but we did torch a police station.)

What Perfect didn't give me (which M<3s and ribbon drive do) was much roleplaying / acting in character...

I think Perfect wants a leisurely multi-session game. There were opportunities for roleplaying, but there's no way we would have finished that second round if we'd slowed down to take them. When I play Shock it's similarly roleplay-light in the second and third rounds (do other people find that? maybe the problem with our Perfect game was that it needs a facilitator who talks less).
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