Thursday, August 21, 2014

RPG Book Club - How We Came To Live Here

A few weeks ago, after months of planning, we had our first RPG book club meeting in June. I know it's late to the game for this, and I'll have more to write about later but I need to play catch up for now.

Basically a bunch of friends decided that we had a whole shit-tonne (that would make them metric, for the record) of games that we didn't play and wanted to at least try them once. That lead us to listing a bunch of games that we had and talking about which ones we wanted to play. We really only had 2-3 hours to play them so we knew we weren't going to get a whole session done but we wanted to try it out anyway.

The first game we played was How We Came To Live Here by Brennan Taylor from Galileo Games.

The game is set in a fictional land set using First Nations in the South West of the US as the foundation, and personally, with my limited knowledge of the American South West, I think it's probably the best example of what you can try to do as not a member of a community and try to make a game of it. Let me explain why:

1. The game is about people:
You play people who are living their lives and trying to carve out their existence. None of this stoic warrior nonsense, none of this weird saying magic person crap. It's about the cultural norms and how people deal with them. It's about love and relationships.

2. The game is only about the people:
Very explicitly it says that you should not, at any point in time, play the game where white people show up and try to settle the land. There are monsters in the outskirts of the world but they aren't the focus, the people are and that's great because that's where the center is.

3. The game admits that it might fuck up:
Right at the beginning, and you get a sense that there was an effort of understanding, research, and an admittance that there might be something that was missed and an understanding that there is a level of respect needed for the game.

That said, we ended up playing a pre-set up adventure. I think it went well, though it's been long enough that I don't remember too much about it. There were Snake Outsiders, and a love triangle, and some people trying to get what they wanted by letting others get taken out by the Snake People.

I was playing the Outside GM, Kate was playing the Inside GM and Rachelle, Rob and Erik were all playing their characters.

What I thought was awesome about the game.

1. No matter what you do, win or lose a conflict, you get something to spend on having an effect on the game. You can spend your conflict dice to change rules of the world, affect other people positively or negatively, change your relationships, or even upgrade your social standing. It's fucking brilliant and after one round of it I love the idea behind it because it made every single conflict meaningful. You were doing something, well there were immediate consequences that you had to deal with.

2. It felt immersive an familiar at the same time. There were conflicts between parents and children, quite little moments where others were trying to subtly affect things so that they could get the relationship that they wanted. It was great because there was a lot of things going on, and they felt really important to the story.

I'll try to get these done faster, it's been a busy few months all around.

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