Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mountain Witch

Last night was the first session of a planned four-session game of the Mountain Witch. TMW's a bit passe now it seems, since everyone's played it so many times, and even I've played it a lot, though this is the first multi-session game of it I've played.

There are things about the game though, which I think are still very interesting in play, and that aren't really present in many other games. Specifically, the way that the Dark Fates create a frisson of secrecy around characters actions, how everything the characters do and say is imbued with a deeper significance because it all gives clues to the Dark Fates, is surprisingly enjoyable even after playing the game a number of times.

I think multi-session play definitely makes the game shine. The limited scenario makes it a tempting game for scenario play, but the development of characters that comes across multiple sessions is adding so much to the game.

With four sessions to play with, I let the first session build very slowly, with almost no conflicts at all. We started play with the Ronin showing up in a grimy sakeya in the village at the foot of the mountain. The terrified villagers make their offer, and the Ronin each accepts. This let the players introduce their character in interesting and often significant ways. Some of them were clearly just in it for the money, while others appeared to genuinely care for the villagers.

We left on a cliffhanger, with the hostess of a dilapidated teahouse who had taken the Ronin in for the night transforming into her Ogre husband. Suitably bizarre for Japanese myth, and certainly a surprise for the Ronin, who were taking an onsen after a hearty meal of the local specialty, live nore sore.