Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Spirit of the Century: First Impressions

The game group and I played our very first session of Spirit of the Century on Monday, and it was a combination of fun, awkward, fast-paced, halting, spontaneous, creative, and overwrought all at the same time, kind of like a teenager out on their very first date EVAR!

The Arctic Club ballroom as it appears today

Everyone seemed to have a really good time and I tried to drop something into the scenario for each player. Most of the awkwardness came from the fact that I had not been able to internalize the rules having never played the game, but only perused the rulebook. This experience really made me realize just how important actual play is to the learning process for games. I had played D&D for quite some time before ever trying to run a game, and even with a system as rules-flexible as SoTC, running it cold was a challenge.

I also have certain players who like to push the boundaries of a game's rules. To their credit, they are very creative with their ideas, but as they attempt to chain action on top of action, while justifying everything as a single move, it can really test a new (to the rules) GM's resolve. "I think that sounds like too much to be allowable, so I am going to say no." *thinking: I really hope I'm not stifling their creativity!* Turns out, I may have actually been a little too lenient in some spots.

Crowds gather around the planes of the first world flight at Seattle's Sand Point
I set the first adventure in a pulp version of my home town, Seattle and centered it on a real event that took place here in 1924, the launch of the first flight around the world. The adventure opened in two locations. Most of the group was at a party at the Arctic Club (a real location, which is now part of a swanky hotel) while the others were in a secret lab behind a fictional speakeasy called the Jewelry Box. The Jewel Box Theater is a room at an actual bar, but in the story, the location had been shifted across town.

I felt like the familiarity of Seattle as the setting helped open up some of my players who are normally fairly reserved in their play. People who normally play in third person shifted to first person on occasion. Spirit of the Century's system of "Aspects" also seemed to help draw people into the game. My group really played them up, whether it was the pilot with his aspect "What a Guy!" running into a burning kitchen to rescue the unconscious chef, the German scientist with his "In good time" aspect plodding along while his companion was desperate to rescue her sister, or the grease-monkey motor head with "subtlety is not my strongsuit" plowing her car headlong into a crowd of bad guys trying to make their escape from the Arctic Club. Having aspects as a prompt did wonders to steer people's actions beyond simple move and hit mechanics that can become the norm in some games.

After the session ended at 10 pm, I was so jazzed, and determined to figure out how to smooth the rough spots, that I ended up reading the game book and taking notes until 1am! I was definitely a tired boy the next day.

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