Summer games can be tricksy beasts. Last Monday I ran the first part of my Part-Time Gods game and I found it somewhat unsatisfying for a variety of reasons, most of which were my fault (primarily a lack of proper preparation and insufficient system mastery). This week due to a couple of absences I didn’t run the game at all, so I haven’t much to report on my Monday summer game.
Last Wednesday, however, my players had the first opportunity to actually play their Dragon Blooded characters. If I were to sum up the end result in a single word it would be: Hilarious.
The premise for this game is that the players are investigators (inquisitors, really) for the Immaculate Order. This is the state religion of the Dragon-Blooded. Their job is to go where they are told and once there to sniff out and snuff out any heresies whilst also bringing the wisdom of the Immaculate Dragons to the people.
Of course, half of my players were appalled at the idea that their characters might have to dress in the style of an ascetic monk and to shave off their hair and so I was immediately saddled with the problem of somehow shoe-horning a bunch of secular Dynasts into the plot structure I had always intended. Before too long I had managed to construct (for myself at least) a reasonable scenario that would explain monks and non-monks travelling together on the business of the Immaculate Philosophies.
So we have:
- Two Immaculate Monks of the first and lowest Coil; one is a Lost Egg and the other a Scion of his family.
- One Bureaucrat who has just graduated from the foremost secondary school for bureaucrats and diplomats and who has a particular interest in the prayer schedules maintained by the Immaculate Order.
- One Graduate of the same school who is considered by his family to be too arrogant and un-cooperative. He has been sent to learn some humility and ability to work as a team.
- One Airhead embarrassment to her family; a foolish girl obsessed with pretty colours and shiny butterflies rather than her duties as a Dynast. They had to get her out of the way somehow and they hope that perhaps the Immaculate Order can do something with her.
- A Black Sheep of his family who absconded with the family Warstrider on a joy ride and who has been sent to learn some discipline.
I began the game by reminding them of a few key details of the Immaculate Order and introducing them to the temple where they were currently staying under the care of a senior Vartabed. One of the monks was brought into an audience with his superior and informed of a mission to an outlying town in the same province.
They were to escort the other player characters (and an NPC named Nellens Castus, a propagandist and novelist studying the Immaculate Order for his next book) there and to ensure that the town continued to observe the Immaculate Philosophies.
He informed the other monk of these orders and the group then gathered for a meal during which they were introduced to each other and given details of the forthcoming mission.
As the GM I was pleased with the way the conversation here flowed quite naturally even though this was the first time any of the characters had been played. Everybody had a sound grasp of the motivations, interests and personalities of his or her character and it was a joy to watch them interacting. I also got to enjoy playing Nellens Castus, giving me an occasional voice in the scene.
After the meal the troupe split apart to pack their things and ready themselves for the ride to the destination. A very amusing scene followed in which the Black Sheep decided his mule unworthy and acquired a horse through theft (narrowly avoiding the neglected-looking stall that contained El Diablo the devil horse). The bureaucrat persuaded him to try this via an honest method instead and sent him to simply ask for a horse.
The black sheep sorta kinda almost did this by approaching a groom and complaining that the horse he had been given was insufficient. He required that another be given to him immediately. The lowly monk could not of course dare countermand the instruction of an Exalt and scurried to do so immediately.
He did however go to the Lost Egg monk and, conflicted, informed him what had happened. He told the monk that he had done correctly but asked him to re-read relevant passages of the Immaculate Texts that relate to the obeying of the Dragon Blooded. Then the Lost Egg stormed off to speak with the Black Sheep.
We got to briefly test out the Social Combat system as the Lost Egg berated the Black Sheep and ordered him to return the horse. Despite initial resistance the Lost Egg busted out a social charm that rendered his second attack Unnatural and the Black Sheep immediately succumbed rather than spend large quantities of willpower.
He returned the horse he had acquired through illicit means and requested a mount through the proper channels. Ironically he was given back the horse he had already acquired. Yes, it was tempting to give him El Diablo but I thought it best to leave that devilish mount as an unseen element for the time being…
And so the team finally began their journey.
Nellens Castus revealed his horse to have blue jade horseshoes that enabled him to stride on the air at great speed. He had just been persuaded to journey with the group when the Airhead began to make covetous eyes at the horseshoes. Not only that but she directly asked him for them and would not seem to take no for an answer. Due to this he decided to ‘go on ahead’ and galloped his stallion off into the sky.
The Airhead caused much hilarity on the way due to part of her Motivations – dislike of the colour black. The Bureaucrat and the Black Sheep were both riding horses that were largely black and she would ride up behind them and daub them with different colours of paint as they travelled.
This drove the dour Bureaucrat to distraction. After spending a few hours cleaning his tack and his horse at the river that night he forged a letter from his mount and tried to persuade the Airhead that his horse did not like being painted. She did not fall for the forgery.
At lunch on the second day, after more painting, he told the Lost Egg in no uncertain terms that he would not continue travelling with the group if such disrespect continued. The Lost Egg spoke to the Airhead and was finally able to persuade her of the horse’s ‘true opinion’, making her feel bad that she had been upsetting the horse.
I was absolutely overcome with laughter during this part of the session. The Airhead’s player was very good at portraying her character and the interaction between her and the much more serious Bureaucrat was delicious.
Everything was eventually resolved and I wrapped things up for the evening. We had barely touched the plot I brought to the table but I couldn’t have been happier with the general level of engagement, interaction and roleplaying demonstrated by the players.