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Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › Filial Love and Other Betrayals (Polaris)

Filial Love and Other Betrayals (Polaris)

Erik H.
user 30994922
Seattle, WA
Post #: 12
Players: Ben, Jason, Martin, Erik

Our hearts were:
Sir Tyl
(Jason), Full Moon (Martin), New Moon (Erik), Mistaken (Ben)
Fate: Lady Ara, his wife; Leo, his son, age 10, then 20
Office: Knight of the Order of the Stars, Trainer of Jr. Knights
Blessings: Starlight Sword
Ability: Lore of Demons
New Moon characters: Naos, the son of Matar, and fosterling of Sir Tyl
Full Moon characters: Segin, the king who holds Sir Tyl in high opinion
Mistaken characters: Matar, slighted rival; Zozma, former love; Leo, resentful son
Ending stats: Zeal 1, Ice 3, Lights 2

Lady Fornax (the furnace) (I chose most of my names with meanings intended, so I included them here)
(Erik), Full Moon (Jason), New Moon (Ben), Mistaken (Martin)
Fate: Lady Ara, younger sister; fought and lost in the Battle of the Midnight Spires
Office: Knight of the Order of the Stars
Blessings: Starlight Sword; Procyon, her hunting hound
Ability: Lore of Demons
New Moon characters: Algorab (the raven), trusted friend, old soldier, unwilling fiance
Full Moon characters: Segin, the King; Gienah (the wing), court gossip
Mistaken characters: Minkar (the beak), the spymaster, Dabih Everdark (slaughterer), the slain fiance of Algorab and all around demon

Halfway through, we reversed parts, so all Hearts and Mistaken traded their roles, and all New and Full Moons traded theirs. Ben took over the role of Sir Tyl and Martin took over the role of Lady Fornax.
A former member
Post #: 3
This was my first Polaris experience. I started liking it in retrospect when I tried explaining it to some non-gaming friends at lunch the next day. However, during gameplay, I found it a bit challenging to play the good guy while introducing an interesting scene. I kept thinking of conflicts which end up putting me in an antagonist mindset, yet I was playing the role of the protagonist.
Ben R.
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 296
Yeah, I've been considering taking Polaris off the table as an intro game. It can be a great crash course in antagonism and story-forging, but it can also be a huge brick wall.

What I really want is a game that uses the dialog conflict ("But only if…" etc.) and dumps the rest of the material. It continues to surprise me that no other game has built on that mechanic.
Ben R.
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 297
And to go even further, what you say Jason highlights what I find to be a particular weakness of the game: entrenched advocacy. Lots of people complain about how as the protagonist they have to push for good things when really bad things would be more interesting. In most story games you get to pick the interesting choice even when it's bad for your guy (in fact that's part of the core definition of a story game: story trumping character ownership). In Polaris if you start swinging for the other team it breaks down because there's no tension to the conflict.

But I think that's because of the specific premise of a "fighting a tragic arc." If you used the conflict method in another situation (such as protagonist vs protagonist) you might be able to ditch character advocacy.
user 13294625
Seattle, WA
Post #: 67
Caroline fixed Polaris at Fab Real. That's all I'm allowed to say (and know). You'll have to harass her for the hack.
Jamie F.
user 12636925
Bellevue, WA
Post #: 104
Jess and Sev and I were saying we'd like to playstorm the fixing of Polaris to meet our needs. Of course, if Caroline's already done that then cool.

We had a bunch of issues we wanted to fix: the meaty parts, the stuff inside the 'yes but only if' usually gets glossed over, is expositional, and you don't usually roleplay it; and it's really like two two-player games at the same time, instead of everybody in the same story.

Actually that's pretty much it.
Erik H.
user 30994922
Seattle, WA
Post #: 13
I liked the "but only if" negotiations. The "you ONLY advocate from THIS voice in this section, and then this DIFFERENT voice in this other section" annoyed me and kept spinning me around. Some of the roles I was supposed to advocate from felt as if they were too suspiciously similar to the place a meta-gaming rules lawyer in DnD is in. That's never been my space. In the RP sections, if I approached the scene AS the character, I'd come out without ever losing zeal in that scene. If I approached it from the role of a writer crafting a good narrative, I ended up stepping into the Mistaken's role and that's no good. I felt like I was expected to ONLY view it from the role of the character, but to do so poorly so I could throw the match and lose a few zeal points.

I'm not even sold on the idea of having a "protagonist" really. Or at least, I'm not content to stay so compartmentalized very long. Interwoven stories are complex, but I'd rather come from a place where everyone is their own protagonist. I like Microscope's scene goal being a question that needs answering. Who is the protagonist? The scene's resolution is.

I feel like I'm improvisational enough and narratively focused enough that I'm great without rules. Not everyone is ok without roles. And we'll always need rules to massage out places where we as players disconnect from one another. Rules that keep things on track are wonderful--even vitally necessary. But rules that lockstep you in a process even if that process destroys what works--that strikes me as a big flaw.

A revised game sounds very interesting.
Seattle, WA
Post #: 12
I am willing to bribe Caroline with beverages if she can make me like Polaris like I want to like it.
Erik H.
user 30994922
Seattle, WA
Post #: 14
That adds a wonderful wrinkle to story game design: getting it wrong so that people will ply you with free drinks to fix it. Or just swooping in to overhaul other people's games for the same incentive.
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