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What We Played: The Stone of Epochs (Polaris)

Marc
Mistaken
Olympia, WA
Post #: 2
Thursday, Nov. 4
Players: Marc, Caroline, Fred, Cy

As one of the few surviving Knights from the razing of the Frozen Sanctum by the armies of the Hidden Moon, a magic-wielding soldier embarks on a quest to obtain the Stone of Epochs and rescue his people from captivity. A hundred years before, a Knight of the court discovers that the price of wielding the Stone of Epochs is grave indeed. Between murdering their one true love, accidentally burning their children to death, infecting entire cities with a plague, and inadvertently unleashing swarms of demons on an unsuspecting populace, our two tragic heroes strode slowly to their ends, with both of them finally meeting demise alone and unsung.

Pretty great round of Polaris! Everyone else can add more details as they wish.

I enjoyed my first round of Polaris very much. The conflict resolution system really makes the game. I'd love to try it again as an antagonist (or maybe a less clueless/morally compromised protagonist). I felt that the game's biggest strength is the room it allows for creativity--as the player, you simply make things happen. Do or do not. There is no try. That's the best thing about the game, in my opinion: you're limited only by what your opponent will allow.

Thanks very much to Cy and Caroline for helping coach us through the system, and sometimes giving us ideas even when they were supposed to be antagonizing us ;)
Ben R
thatsabigrobot
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 78
Did you guys plan to be a century apart, or did that just emerge during play? Cuz that sounds awesome.
Cy M.
user 12565307
Seattle, WA
Post #: 6
The timing emerged pretty organically. We hit a point where it was clear that Marc was going to go looking for the Stone. But Fred's character had already found it and was well into dealing with the power/repercussions of having it. We'd already said it was best not to have the Protagonists interact too strongly, so when Marc went looking for it, he got vague doom about what had happened to the last bearer. We also got two nice effects out of it: a minor young scribe who helped Fred in an early scene turned into the wizened old librarian a few scenes later with Marc, and once we'd established some fact about how the stone worked with Fred, we usually incorporated that into Marc's story. For example, Fred had a scene where the spirits of demons he'd slain were freed, but imprisoned into a city. Later, Marc ended up binding a bunch of demon souls into the ruins of his home city with the stone.

I think the shared Fate as an item separated in time worked better than shared Fates in other Polaris games I've played.

I do think Fred had some trouble getting the hang of the game. At a certain point, he wasn't quite sure about what to push for with his protagonist. A lot of this was just Polaris being a rough game to learn on. I do think maybe people want to focus on smaller, constrained goals/outcomes with new players. Some of Fred's "but only ifs" were "kill a lot of demons" them "kill a lot more demons." I don't think he was sure how to have his successes build on each other.
Shuo
user 13294625
Seattle, WA
Post #: 6
I think not knowing what to push for must be a common challenge for first time Polaris players. I experienced that a lot in my game as well. I think in the beginning I was still in the mindset of Fiasco where I was thinking "Ok, I should push for terrible things to happen to my character. What unfortunate situation can my character start off in for my antagonist to take advantage of? I know! Plunge her straight into the heart of a city full of the Mistaken." It wasn't until later that I realized I was supposed to be building relationships and letting / choosing terrible things happen to those relationships instead of just my character. By that time, I had already been burned, lost all my armor, poisoned, bewitched crazy, ditched my only companions in a deadly maze, and captured to be tried as a Mistaken. "Happily" though, it was only halfway through the game.

Also, since it's very open-ended with what a character can do since you're creating a storyline as you go, it's super daunting when faced with sooo many possibilities. Cy, I think your comment about constrained outcomes is a great one. Josh (my antagonist) and I were probably over-stacking actions too frequently. In the heat of things it got really fun (there were quite a few great deals made that I don't regret experiencing) but we probably should have scaled it back a bit so my character could develop more intimate relationships on a slower pace.
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