One of the players described it like so:
"Tonight, Matt and I had a duel of wits as adversarial artifacts and their bearers. I played a magical finger and a scholar bearing a magical gauntlet. He played the magical gauntlet and the owner of the magical finger.
Some observations, in no particular order:
- The central tensions between the vatcha (the magic items) and the heroes worked well.
- It wasn't quite as easy to let the players generate their own stories as I thought. I may need to steal the idea of player-generated Bangs from Sorceror and my own 'take note of highly charged situations and play them immediately' technique from Monsterhearts.
- The web of social relationships in the game challenged my savannah-optimised primate brain. With four players, it was just on the edge of what I was able to handle. Most team-based games (eg. D&D, Shadowrun, Leverage) have an easy-to-track 'us versus them' dynamic. In terms of games with (fictional) social complexity, I think it
goes: Monsterhearts --> Wield --> The full version of Left Coast
- I definitely needed to create my own play aids, in order to understand the combat rules. I've broken it down into a 5-step process, which is easier to follow and adjudicate.
- Combat and overcoming obstacles are lethal. They're great situations to force vatcha players to decide whether to give the heros more power (and therefore more control).
- After consulting with some Wield GM-gurus, I can see the following player arrangements working:
- A 3-player game where everyone plays artefacts and heros
- A 4-player game where everyone plays the hero for the vatcha on their right or (for a far more focused game, you have two vatcha players and two hero players)
- For 6+ players, have half the players playing artefacts and half playing heroes.
- I found it much easier to invent destinies for all the heroes. Those destinies also gave me tonnes of NPCs and locations to track (which is a good thing). ... The rules say to randomly assign heroes to the vatchas. When I created heroes, I riffed off what the vatcha players were coming up with. That made me suspect I could be better for the GM to assign heroes to players (at least at first).
- As well as creating a relationship map, I probably need to track the history that the vatcha players create. I definitely need to track each vatcha-hero combination: I was getting really lost in doing that.
- There's nothing that really points the vatchas at each other. As a result, the stories can drift apart a bit. That's probably fine in a multi-session game. I'll need to think about how you'd optimise it for a convention game.
So, I'd run this again ... after I refine some of my player handouts and streamline some of my 'how to introduce and frame the game' notes.
I'd also think about providing some pre-generated vatchas (to speed up a convention game). I've created 'playbooks' for the vatchas but I think it probably needs to be even faster to hit a climax in a three-hour slot.