Tuesday, March 02, 2010

In A Wicked Age: "When being chased by a virgin-eating forest god, throw bees."

Our game of In A Wicked Age on Skype went well, despite boytoy's unfortunate absence on account of thesis. Any game that leaves me in fits of laughter because my character, the mysterious, virgin-eating god of the forest, has been thwacked in the face and engulfed in a horde of bees is a success in my book. Your mileage may vary, but I had fun.

Skype worked out fairly well, and was both less and more weird than I'd worried it would be. Everyone playing cross gender actually wasn't that big of a deal; that may have been because, being voice chat, it took on the quality of a spoken story, or a book being read aloud, but whatever the reason, I got used to it and it didn't throw me off.

A bigger problem was that I realized just before the game started that it had been over a year since the last time I played (rather than DMed) in person. Between that, my usual pre-game nervousness, and the fact that I was playing with new people, the immediacy of Skype brought on a mild attack of shyness. Early in the game I did that obnoxious "sit in the corner and don't do anything" thing that drives me crazy when my players get it into their heads, and there were a number of "umm... I dunno..." moments when Tim had to put me on the spot, as I slowly forced myself to actually play. By the end of the game I'd gotten into things more, which is how it always goes.

We kept Wave open to track character sheets and the Owe list, and the combination of Skype for play and Wave for reference worked quite well. Wave is a good way to approximate what you can do with an actual piece of paper at the table--write notes down on it and pass it around--and can even be superior for some applications, if everyone needs to have access to it continuously, since there's no actual passing involved. And using Wave strictly for reference purposes, rather than both conversation and record, cuts down on a lot of the confusion that can develop in a well-traveled Wave. (Not to mention the fact that needing to keep Wave open for game references cut down on a lot of the idle web-surfing I might otherwise have been tempted to do with my laptop in front of me.) If I play over voice chat again, I'll definitely look in to using Wave for note sharing.

Still, this is one game that I think is best played at the table, and while I wouldn't rule out another session on Skype sometime (time permitting; between school, my other games, and that pesky social life I'm pretty busy at the moment) I'm looking forward to getting a chance to play it with my old high school crew, as well as when I hit GenCon this summer. But Skype gaming itself ain't bad, either, and it's an option I'm glad now to have in my back pocket for when I want to play a game online for some reason that doesn't work well over text, or if I want to play long distance with one of those strange folks who don't find chat games to their taste. Neither it nor In A Wicked Age is going to replace my weekly Labyrinth Lord text sessions, but I'm never going to complain about having a little more flexibility in my gaming.


  1. Glad you had fun. I vastly preferred it to the wavechat session

  2. Just wanted to say how great I thought these last two posts were.

    Aside from being well written and thought out as usual, they addressed some ideas and issues I've been thinking about lately. I made some additional comments in a post over on my blog.

    Again, very cool posts.

  3. We're having a lot of success with using Skype-with-video to "bring in" one player who spends about half of his time at a remote location. We plonk a laptop with a webcam where he usually sits, and set the video display to full screen.

    It works so well, in fact, that some of us forget he wasn't actually present, and tend to wonder where he's gone a few minutes after the skype call ends.

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