Tales from the Gazebo – Storytelling with Spirit, Part 4

Storytelling with Spirit, Part 4
By Cape Rust

Here we are; you’ve listened to me go on and on about my gaming woes and as I have done for the past few weeks, I left you with a cliffhanger. Last week’s article ended wondering if I was going to lay on my back and beat various parts of my body against the floor until I got to game, and we all were left wondering if the married couple of our gaming group would be able to make the game.

Just before I was about to explode, our married couple walked in the front door. The mix of emotions that I felt at that point is difficult to put into words. As they sat down at the table, it was time to get things started, finally! Because Spirit of the Century is a new system to our group, I needed to discuss the setting, background, and overall feel of the game. I think taking the time to do this kind of stuff, especially when it is a new system, is important, but there comes that point where players just want to start playing. To reduce the amount of time my players had to listen to me jaw jacking, I found a great quick rules sheet online that I downloaded and printed out for each player.

To amp my up game a bit I showed the players a few clips from a few pulp movies. Then it was on to character creation. If you are not familiar with SotC’s creation system, it is easy, requires very little dice rolling, and lots of storytelling by everyone involved. The most unique thing about Evil Hat’s system is it requires the players to describe different parts of the character’s life and develop aspects that are based on those life experiences. These aspects can then be used to gain special allowances during game play as well as be compelled by the game master; it’s a really cool mechanic. The last few rounds of character creation involve the players writing a notional book back cover synopsis of one of their adventures and write one of the other player’s characters into that story. This is great as it adds flavor to the character and mechanically builds team cohesion.

I stuck with my idea of using my one player’s character as the foundation of the group. Because of SotC’s character creation system, my approach didn’t limit or railroad the other players very much. What really made the magic happen was the entire group’s level of involvement in the process. Everyone was invested the entire time. I game with this group weekly and shouldn’t be surprised at the stuff they come up with and yet there I sat, mouth agape, as I listened to each player’s back stories and watched with wonder and awe as they came together to form a really fun team. Our married couple played a married couple in the game which worked really well. In the game their player’s marriage was dysfunctional where their real life marriage is not. My third player came up with the aspect of a secret crush and you’ll never guess who it was on… to make things even more interesting I had him living in the couple’s attic. I could tell this was going to be a learning experience for all of us.

Yes you can see now, I am finally getting to the point. Please stay tuned, because the hits just keep on coming.

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