Monday, March 01, 2010

In A Wicked Age: Table Energy, and the Trouble with Wave

On Thursday night Tim Jensen succeeded in his long-running attempt to get me to play some kind of hippy indie game with a session of In A Wicked Age on Wave. Also in attendance were Trollsmyth, boytoy, and Willow. It was originally going to be a one-shot, but we took over two hours making characters and setting up the situation, so we've scheduled a second session to wrap things up proper. (More on that in a bit.)

Overall I'm pretty please with what I've seen of the game so far. It won't replace Labyrinth Lord, or that style of gaming, but it should fill a spot I've been missing in my game repertoire for a while: the no-prep pick-up game. I can get pretty close with Swords & Wizardry and a pre-made megadungeon, but In A Wicked Age is just that much better for the kind of spontaneous, at the table craziness kind of gaming my high school friends and I would like to be able to do when we get together on breaks.

I don't think that Wave is really the best format for this kind of thing, though. For one thing, I think this kind of game really benefits from the constant creative feedback you get at the table; there's no need to specifically comment on whether or not something is "cool," because everyone can tell, from posture and tone of voice and that kind of thing. Wave also has some specific issues, too. It's easy to create a very convoluted, hard to keep track of Wave with a lot of people working on it, or to bury vital information somewhere that it's not easily accessible. And because of the way In A Wicked Age uses interruption and retroactive modification, the log can become a source of confusion rather than clarification. In table play, there wouldn't be that gap between "what happened in-game" and "what happened at the table," because what happens at the table disappears.

We're playing again tonight, and this time on Skype, so we'll see if that clears up any of those issues. Of course, we weren't expecting to play by voice, so that may be an adventure in itself: we're all playing cross-gender. Well, except for me, since I'm not sure that my magical virgin-eating giraffe has a gender.


  1. Heh. Tim and Willow got me to play IWA with them on IRC a few months back. I had fun. It has some promising mechanics for my own homebrew purposes which I may adapt and adopt eventually. While it's not the sort of game I would play typically, as I'm more into the traditional style RPG, it was still fun and the adventure Tim ran was enjoyable. :)

  2. In a Wicked Age is definitely my go-to no-prep game. That said, it fills a totally different niche for me than dungeon-crawl type games. Those are all 'collaborative' - there's a party of PCs at least ostensibly working together to, y'know, kill monsters and take stuff. In IaWA, "best interests" are set up such that many conflicts are player vs player, or player vs. player vs. NPC. I really like that about it, but it is a different niche. Sort of like deciding whether to play a first person shooter on cooperative or vs mode.

    I also like the way characters earn their right to return in future chapters by being 'interesting' (eg. going up against the odds). I hope you have a great time playing it on Skype - I think this is one game that really does require as close to personal contact as possible.

  3. While I agree that navigating the Waves to find the info about characters, at least we had it somewhere to refer to. I'm curious how we're going to handle that tonight if we end up doing another round and more character creation.

  4. Hahahaha...and Oddysey begins her slide into Indie game fandom. I look forward to reading your blog over the next few months should you continue to experiment more....
    ; )