Actual Play from “In a Wicked Age…”
This was my first shot at running IaWA and though we were a little foggy on the mechanics, the story that developed out of the oracles and the player interactions was very cool – it took a really dark, wicked turn when Olivier started improving with his adopted daughter’s purpose. Wow, talk about sinister. We are all anxious to run another session to see where this chapter is going.
GM: Have you tried IAWA yet? I’m really intrigued by the system but I’m not sure I get it yet.
Brennen: I’ve played it, but I haven’t run it. I’m afraid I was still a little confused by the system.
GM: Not the system, so much as the game itself. It seems so free form that it’s almost hard to tell what you’re supposed to be doing. ;op
GM: Ok, so I don’t feel so bad then.
Brennen: I understand the concept much better than the system
IndieElf: I have not had a chance to pick it up yet… been pretty crazy this week
Brennen: There are many oracles on Random-generator.com
Brennen: Including one I created for my great love of Gothic B-Movies. IAWA, if you’re willing to run it. I’d like to sink my teeth into it again
GM: Sure…. we’ll just have to put together our heads to actually figure out the system as we go.
Brennen: it’ll be good for all of us. Then give me 1 second to dig out the book.
IndieElf: ok give me a second to pick it up
GM: Let me see: First step. Consult the oracle.
GM: Blood & Sex, God Kings of War, the Unquiet Past, or a Nest of Vipers. Which one would you like?
Brennen: The Unquiet Past
Brennen: I’ll type up the char sheet
GM: Deal four cards…
The deck has been shuffled.
GM: Ok, so those are pretty weird.
Brennen: Cool. So now we all need to extract the characters from the oracles
Brennen: So, the ghost, the wet nurse, perhaps the child, the scholar, the treasure seeker, the hunter, the wolf
Brennen: perhaps some of the characters are the same
GM: Yeah, I’m thinking the same
GM: For example, the treasure seeker and the scholar.
Brennen: it’s obvious that the two spirits are the same
Brennen: Maybe the wolf hunter is a guide to help the treasure hunter find the road
Brennen: Perhaps he has fallen in love with the wet nurse, who is secretly in love with the scholar
GM: What about the child? If he has a wet nurse, it seems like a very poor character (this is an example of where the game’s concept loses me a bit)
GM: I like that idea.
Brennen: he is something to protect
Brennen: So two best interests for each character. The wet nurse’s best interests might be to a) protect the child, and b) cause the scholar to return her affections
Brennen: So Brad and I both choose a character and you play the npcs
Brennen: I give Brad dibs
GM: Ok, so Brad you choose a character.
IndieElf: Wolf Hunter
Brennen: Cool. So now you choose the Wolf Hunter’s best interests. They work best if they are at odds with other character’s interests
GM: I’ll let you guys continue working on the PCs while I start on the NPCs.
IndieElf: Protect his love
Brennen: his love for whom?
IndieElf: The wet nurse
Brennen: So that would mean getting the scholar out of the way?
GM: Brennen which character are you choosing?
Brennen: I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll be the scholar.
GM: Ok. I’m just trying to get a head start on the NPCs.
Brennen: Alright…are we going with the Sword and Sorcery setting or something else? It seems a bit Victorian to me
GM: It seems to scream gaslight Victorian times.
Brennen: I’ll be an antiquarian named Olivier St. John
GM: So that leaves me with the ghost, the wolf, the child, and the wet nurse
GM: Wait, I think I’ve got: How about something set in Africa? Kind of like Tarzan. The wolf becomes a lion.
Olivier St. John: That sounds great
Olivier St. John: if it’s cool with Brad
IndieElf: fine with me… I was going to be a safari guide… so it works
Olivier St. John: H. Rider Haggard meets R. E. Howard
GM: Yeah, something along those lines.
Olivier St. John: I’ve been doing drawings of Victorians at brennenreece.deviantart.com
Olivier St. John: if you want an appropriate portrait drawn by yours truly
GM: Ok, so here are the NPCs:
Olivier St. John: cool! I had a feeling you’d choose that one, Brad!
GM: Very cool.
William Hodsworth: yes… but here is where my lack of the system is hampering me
Olivier St. John: working on my character
GM: Ok, just checking. It was silent and I suddenly had this vision of FG having locked up and I was all by myself.
William Hodsworth: heh
Olivier St. John: we each need two best interests
Olivier St. John: I’ve finished my character
William Hodsworth: ok I’ll need help with the mechanics since I do not have my copy of IAWA yet
GM: NP. I’m still learning the mechanics too. ;o) I think I’m set. I’m rapidly reading the conflict rules again.
Olivier St. John: I’d like to have a third best interest if you don’t mind.
Olivier St. John: If you want to read my sheet, MJ, you’ll see what it is
GM: Fine by me. With only 2 players it actually makes it a bit easier for me to fit into my scheming. :o)
Olivier St. John: cool
GM: So are you two set? I’m as ready as I ever will be.
Olivier St. John: Cool. I’m looking forward to this one.
MJ: Give me just one second to type our set up. You can then give me the thumbs up or down. BTW – I’ve added another NPC – the villagers.
In this wicked age, a small village lies nestled amidst the jungles of the Congo. Oliver St. John, noted explorer has returned to the village of Ubuntu, following the journals of colleague, Sir Raymond Hillard, who disappeared in to the jungles of the Congo four years ago.
He has returned for the 2nd time, bringing along a beautiful young, doe-eyed woman named Rebecca d’Neuve with him from England to act as the wet nurse to his adopted daughter, an African child whom he adopted on his last trip after her mother died during childbirth
In the village of Ubuntu, St. John and his makeshift family have returned, to find the treasure he seeks. All is not well in the village though: A rogue lion stalks the villagers, apparently having gained a taste for human flesh. This has drawn the attention of William Hodsworth, a guide and big game hunter.
The temperature and humidity are oppressive, leaving both Kimberly and Ms. d’Neuve clearly fatigued from the long trip.
Rebecca d’Neuve: Oh dear Mr. St. John, I never expected it to be so hot. I fear this is not good for Kimberly.
Olivier St. John: My dear, one gets used to it. As for the child, she was bred to survive in such weather.
Olivier St. John: Perhaps you should consider dressing after the fashion of the savage natives rather than the latest fashions from Paris and London.
Olivier St. John displays a wicked grin as he puffs on his meerschaum pipe
Rebecca d’Neuve (blushes): Sir, that would be highly improper.
Olivier St. John: You don’t see these heathens blushing, do you? Adam and Eve thought it proper enough.
William Hodsworth arriving and seeing an Englishman in the village
William Hodsworth: Well I did not expect a woman here!
Olivier St. John: She’s barely out of finishing school, sir! Hardly a woman.
Rebecca d’Neuve: My employer flatters me.
William Hodsworth: She is certainly no man, Sir!
Olivier St. John: May I introduce myself? I am Olivier St. John, and this is my adopted child’s governess, Rebecca, d’Nduve
Rebecca d’Neuve (clearly uncomfortable): Sirs, I should be tending to Kimberly.
Olivier St. John: The Negro child you see before you, is my adopted daughter, I am supporting her out of Christian charity.
Rebecca d’Neuve (curtsies and heads off quickly)
William Hodsworth gazes off at the woman with a lusty look
Olivier St. John: And you might be?
William Hodsworth: I am William Hodsworth Sir. Big Game Hunter. There is a rogue lion in the area
Olivier St. John: A rogue lion, do you say? Well that is hardly good news.
Olivier St. John: I imagine you are a romantic expatriate with an inexhaustible income? Here in Africa seeking to find adventure and shame his family?
William Hodsworth: No sir and yo are needlessly endangering your child and the lovely Miss d’Neuve by being here. Why are you here by the way? You do not look like a hunter
Olivier St. John: I am not a hunter, but a philosopher, sociologist, and archaeologist.
William Hodsworth: I see, what brings you here?
Olivier St. John: Why I am here is due to the latter of my trades
William Hodsworth: You are going to dig in the dirt?
Olivier St. John: There are certain ruins I’ve heard about from these heathen savages. Most civilized whites consider them to be mere stories. I think otherwise.
Olivier St. John: I aim to find these ruins so they will confirm certain legends I’m interested in.
William Hodsworth: I see… Why did you bring your adoptive daughter and governess here?
Olivier St. John: Where shall I have left them? The consumption-riddled village where the poor girl was born?
Olivier St. John: A lesser man would’ve left the child to die.
William Hodsworth: So you brought them deeper into the Dark Continent instead of back to England? For shame sir
Olivier St. John: Excuse me, sir!
Olivier St. John: But I must insist that the governess is here of her own free will. I paid for her very expensive education. This is her way of paying me back.
William Hodsworth: It is a man’s job to protect his family from harm not place them in harm’s way sir!
Olivier St. John: I assure you, it is no more dangerous for her here than on the streets of London. May I ask where the family you are protecting might be?
William Hodsworth: I have no family, I have not married
Olivier St. John: Then you have no idea of a man’s job. I wonder at the depth of your ignorance regarding “manly duties.” Ahem.
William Hodsworth: (bristles) “I know more of “manly” duties than a fop such as yourself could ever hope to learn!”
Olivier St. John: My dear sir! I dare say you can barely provide for yourself from the look of you. However you smell as though you are quite capable of providing yourself with spirits.
Olivier St. John: And I venture to add that you could do with a lesson in personal grooming from a “fop” such as myself
William Hodsworth: I am.. between jobs at the moment. Bagging the rogue lion will earn me some trade goods from these natives and food.
Olivier St. John: ah…I see. In that case…what are your qualifications?
William Hodsworth rubs his hand along his stubble and glances after the departed lady “You may be right there sir.”
Olivier St. John chuckles quietly
William Hodsworth: I am a crack shot and have been on 6 safaris and lived to tell the tale as you can see
Olivier St. John: I assume you have some soldiery in your history?
William Hodsworth: Yes
Olivier St. John: Then you are quite used to taking orders from your superiors. Correct?
William Hodsworth gives Olivier a hard stare “Are you offering me a job?”
Olivier St. John: I’m not offering you anything yet. I am in unfamiliar territory, and as you say there is a rogue lion about. A man such as yourself might prove useful.
Olivier St. John: If I were offering you a job, what might be your terms?
William Hodsworth: Depends on the job
MJ: This seems like a good place to test out the conflict system. :o)
Brennen (Olivier St. John): cool.
MJ: Stakes would be negotiating terms of employment
GM: Ok, so Olivier opened the conflict by opening negotiations.
GM: So he chooses two forms that match what he’s doing and why
GM: William then does the same, choosing two that fit with what he’s trying to accomplish and why
ElfIndie (William Hodsworth): ok got mine
GM: You can announce them
Olivier St. John: I am trying to get a good deal on a strong arm. I choose For Myself, Directly, and get to use my PS of Intimidation (d10)
William Hodsworth: For myself with love
Olivier St. John: [ Aced 2 D12s for a Total:30] [3d12 = 30]
GM: Ok first round
Olivier St. John: [Total:5] [1d6 = 5]
GM: 12, 6, 5
William Hodsworth: Trying to secure an income for myself and also to get closer to the lovely Miss Rebecca
Olivier St. John: [Total:8] [1d10 = 8]
Olivier St. John: so I get 12, 5, 8
William Hodsworth: [Total:4] [1d6 = 4]
William Hodsworth: [Total:4] [1d8 = 4]
GM: Ok, so Olivier clearly has the initiative. Describe your move Olivier.
GM: 12 (was the highest roll)
GM: while Will’s highest was 4
Olivier St. John: I very firmly lay out my terms. He will work for a porters wage, carry the bulk of the equipment, and must make himself as useful as I need him to be.
GM: Ok, Will’s answer. Roll your dice once more.
William Hodsworth: [Total:1] [1d6 = 1]
William Hodsworth: [Total:6] [1d8 = 6]
Brennen (Olivier St. John): So that was round one?
GM: So, Olivier’s highest die doubles Will’s highest answer die meaning he wins absolutely, conflict over, and Olivier sets the terms.
GM: In this case, Will might cave fast because he’s got an ulterior motive for wanting to work for you.
William Hodsworth: 🙂
Brennen (Olivier St. John): excellent!
GM: By default winner exhausts or injures the loser. Winner’s choice.
GM: Or else you both can come to some agreement about an alternative outcome.
Brennen (Olivier St. John): Or you can negotiate the consequences… Right
Olivier St. John: So if a character is exhausted or injured, he loses a die size from the appropriate form, correct?
GM: So you could reduce one of the Will’s forms, or include other changes to his sheet, it can include pure in-fiction circumstances, or a mix of stuff. Trick is that you both must agree or you go back to the default.
ElfIndie (William Hodsworth): default is?
GM: Correct. Exhausted loses a die from directly & with violence.
GM: Injured covertly and for others.
Olivier St. John: from both, or just one?
GM: Injured OR exhausted though (just one condition, not both of those)
GM: Default is exhausted or injured, winner’s choice. These are metaphorical so it’s not necessarily that he stabbed you with a knife. ;op
ElfIndie (William Hodsworth): eh
GM: So once we know the consequences, Olivier can narrate the scene.
Brennen (Olivier St. John): I see. Hmmm. Brad, what do you see as an alternative consequence? I don’t necessarily want to injure or exhaust you at this time, because I might need you later.
William Hodsworth: losing a die in For myself… lowered self esteemestime for being a “porter”
Brennen (Olivier St. John):: I’d say losing a die in covertly, since I get a sense of what you’re made of. That and lowered self esteem
GM: Either sounds reasonable.
Brennen (Olivier St. John): Is that agreeable to you?
William Hodsworth: sure
Brennen (Olivier St. John): cool. So your covertly is now a d4
GM: Ok, so Olivier now narrates the outcome.
Olivier St. John: Olivier looks sternly at the haggard man standing hungry before him. He offers him a man’s share of food and water, a fresh change of clothing, and a bonus of a moderate sum of money upon safe return. Olivier accepts humbly, using the word “sir” liberally. We leave tomorrow morning. I suggest you get your affairs in order and pack your things.
Close of scene
Later that evening, Ubuntu’s village chief requests to speak with Olivier. Kimberly is asleep, Ms. D’Neuve tending to her. Olivier steps through the flap of the chief’s tent and the man smiles broadly, revealing several gold teeth.
GM: Chief Durgundo is amongst the few natives that speak English
Chief Durgundo: Ah, Mister St. John, welcome a back. You come again lookin’ for your city?
Olivier St. John: Olivier takes his seat on a crude stool across from the Chief. It is your hospitality which really brings me back, old friend.
Olivier St. John: But I admit, that city is in the back of my mind.
Chief Durgundo: Weather is good for searchin’. Rainy season is past and jungle is not so difficult now.
Olivier St. John: That’s what I’m counting on. Perhaps this time I’ll get lucky and we’ll both be wealthy men.
Chief Durgundo (grins): Yes, wealthy. Ubuntu has several pretty girls again. Maybe you like one, like last time?
Chief Durgundo (grins widely): Shame what happened to the last one.
Olivier St. John: I brought the child. I suggest we keep it a secret until we need to use the thing.
Olivier St. John: I have my own girl this time, but she tends to be a bit proper for my tastes.
Chief Durgundo: Yes, yes. A secret. Secrets are expensive Mr. St. John. Cost me dear.
Olivier St. John: We will see how things develop. I think this secret will please you. What we plan to do with the child should never be learned by the outside world
Chief Durgundo: Mayhap, but mayhap not. Coin pleases me more.
Olivier St. John: The child is the key. It will unlock much treasure.
Chief Durgundo: Agreed. Very much. But others be asking questions and me thinks they want somethin’ up front. You catchin’ my drift?
Chief Durgundo (grins again): Not me, of course. But others.
Olivier St. John: Who is asking? What do they desire?
Olivier St. John: I would hate to have to “negotiate” with them. It would be ever so distracting.
Chief Durgundo: Some thinkin’ you bring bad luck to us.
Chief Durgundo: They name this lion Manishtusu. Means “white demon”
Olivier St. John: White demon, eh? Perhaps they believe this lion is my alter-ego? A shape shifter?
Chief Durgundo: Me thinkin’ a little money up front be helpin’ their worries.
Olivier St. John: How much do you think they want?
GM: We’re at another conflict point here because the chief is clearly trying to squeeze you for $$$
Olivier St. John: I’m trying to use his superstition to convince him that I am in fact the Human form of Manistusu
Olivier St. John: Covertly, for Myself, and Intimidating
GM: He’s trying to blackmail you into paying off the villagers, and obviously is planning on keeping the lion’s share (no pun intended). He’s using Action
Olivier St. John: [Total:5] [1d12 = 5]
GM: [Total:3] [1d12 = 3]
GM: [Total:4] [1d8 = 4]
Olivier St. John: [Total:1] [1d10 = 1]
Olivier St. John: [Total:7] [1d10 = 7]
GM: Yuck. 3,4
Olivier St. John: total 7, 5, 1
GM: You get the move. Your move?
GM: 7, 1, 5
Brennen (Olivier St. John): yes. that’s initiative, right?
Brennen (Olivier St. John): so the chief has to roll for the first round and my dice stand?
GM: Yes, so you get to describe your move for the first round. . You need to be covert, acting for yourself, but still be intimidating.
Olivier St. John grins at the chief.
Olivier St. John: I know the village elders wouldn’t want to upset Manishtusu
Olivier St. John: the WHITE demon.
Olivier St. John: Money is so trivial. It might offend the spirits.
GM: Ok, now he’s attempt to answer.
GM: [Total:4] [1d12 = 4]
GM: [Total:6] [1d8 = 6]
GM: And only manages to just lose:You get the advantage die, and the fight continues. Ok, so we each roll again, but this time you add a d6 (advantage die). Shall we negotiate though?
Olivier St. John: [Total:26] [4d12 = 26]
GM: [ Aced 1 D12 for a Total:18] [2d12 = 18]
GM: [Total:5] [1d8 = 5]
GM: 12, 5
Olivier St. John: so my advantage die is added to the highest
Olivier St. John: so mine is 13, 7, 6
GM: Yes. So you’ve got a 13.
GM: So you move again.
GM: My answer first (1 sec)
GM: Errrr, yes, the white demon. The lion eats several of the villagers. The other Englishmen will kill it but he costs money.
Chief Durgundo: Err, yes, the white demon. The lion eats several of the villagers. The other Englishmen will kill it but he costs money.
Olivier St. John: He is at my service. He is under my command.
Chief Durgundo: [Total:8] [1d12 = 8]
Chief Durgundo: [Total:3] [1d8 = 3]
GM: So, the chief is still under your roll but more than half your high roll so he loses again, you keep the advantage die and we move into the 3rd and final round. His answer first:
Chief Durgundo (shakes head): You command him? How is that possible?
GM: Time to roll (or negotiate)
Olivier St. John: We can negotiate.
GM: Your terms?
Brennen (Olivier St. John): I tell him that I have discovered many secret things during my expeditions, things most mortal men wouldn’t understand. I try to convince him that I am a powerful spirit now…through implication only…I never say it directly
GM: He’ll follow whatever plan of action you layout, trying to get the villagers on board, as long as something can be done about the lion.
Olivier St. John: Don’t worry. I’ll have my man on it.
Chief Durgundo: I see, so you can deal with this lion? If so, the people will listen to me and do what they’re told to do.
Olivier St. John: Perhaps we will postpone our trip by a couple of days and solve your problem.
Olivier St. John: William! Are you about?
Olivier St. John: The Chief and I require your presence.
Chief Durgundo (smiles broadly): That would serve us both well my friend!
Olivier St. John sticks his head out the door of the hut and calls for his retainer.
William Hodsworth (grudgingly): Yes sir?
Olivier St. John: It seems there is a pest annoying the chief. A small matter I’d like you to take care of before we leave the village. A sickly lion is dining on the chief’s subjects. This must be ended.
William Hodsworth: I am not a rat catcher!
Chief Durgundo: Yes, he knows about the lion. I would not call it sickly. It is a demon.
William Hodsworth: You mean the rogue lion? t is no sickly lion sir!
Olivier St. John: But usually, only old and infirm lions dine on human flesh. This one is not so?
William Hodsworth: no… otherwise the villagers would have killed it already
Olivier St. John: Surely it is no match for British shot and powder!
William Hodsworth smiles “Not for a crack shot like myself!”
Olivier St. John: I certainly hope so. I assume you are well equipped for such an encounter?
GM: I hate to say it guys, but… I have to go to bed. :o(
GM: I’m really liking the game though: I just have to figure out the system a bit more so I’ve got a better feel for it. What we’re creating though is down right cool in a very dark, sinister way.
ElfIndie (William Hodsworth): no problem I am struggling myself..
William Hodsworth: hopefully I will have the rules system by then
GM: St. John went from being a snooty aristocrat to some kind of sinister mastermind. I love it.
Olivier St. John: I really like the way we were able to construct something really interesting form the oracle.
Olivier St. John: thanks!
William Hodsworth: heh yes
Olivier St. John: It is a Wicked age, after all
GM: Yeah, it’s crazy how the elements come together. I already have an idea of how the spirit fits into all of this.
Olivier St. John: I can’t wait.
GM: Yeah, isn’t it? My only complaint about the game is that it seems better suited for large groups due to all the PvP conflict potential.
GM: With only a couple players it sort of loses that edge unless you repeatedly beat up on each other.
Olivier St. John: You don’t mind the way I’ve been adding facts to the game, do you?
GM: I can totally see how you could run this for 10 people at the same time. E.g., you could play a mutiny on a ship amazingly well with the system.
GM: OH NO, I love that!
Olivier St. John: also, it would be easy enough to introduce some new players to this particular scenario. Snickle would likely be interested, for instance.
William Hodsworth: yep
GM: It makes things much more interesting for me since the ultimate story is as much a surprise to me as anyone else.
GM: It also makes it easier for me to figure out where all the NPCs fit into all this. See the child and the wet nurse now have a very different meaning in the game and the interests I came up for them suddenly make a whole lot more sense.
Olivier St. John: awesome.
William Hodsworth: cool
GM: I feel like we’ve mixed The Ghost and the Darkness with Tarzan and thrown in some Robert Howard for good measure.
Olivier St. John: It actually seems to be running much faster than it did when I played with Ryan Stoughton, et al on skype and Maptool
GM: Crazy stuff.
Olivier St. John: I love it!
GM: I think with 6 players the game would be humming.