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[Slayers East] More previous entries unlocked. [Aug. 20th, 2007|12:46 pm]
More entries unlocked to players, episodes 4 to 8 including discussion of the overall season plot and profiles of the big bads.

Start here, with the prep for session four:

The most recent unlocking is this post about Augustus Langborn:

Of note in this bunch is a discussion about setting up the end of episode 12, when Zak killed Candy in fulfilment of "prophecy". That is here:

Players, and any visitors who want to check this out, will see the incredible amount of comment, useful criticism, and good ideas I received from my commentariat.
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[SE] Prep for episodes 1-3 now unlocked! [Jun. 21st, 2007|08:57 pm]

As the busy continues, things are slipping further and further away from being relevant, so it's good to get this out now rather than waiting forever...

For each episode of Slayers East I made a locked post or two, or three, or more, to toss around ideas and get feedback on my prep. SE was set up to demand good, if efficient, preparation and I found that this got me excellent comments from excellent commenters who made a big contribution to how the game was going.

I've unlocked the prep notes for the first three episodes. Clicking on this link will bring you the whole bunch:

Of course, if you're already a friend of this LJ and not a player, you'll see all the locked entries as well :-)

There will be more unlockings in due course. Players - any comments about this? Commenters? Etc...
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[Slayers East] The roundup, continued [May. 30th, 2007|06:46 pm]

A couple more things:

buzzandhum has written a pretty hardcore account of what it was like to be in the player-space for the closing episodes. He talks about what he was experiencing, what he was trying to do, and his perceptions of the whole unfolding game-thing. It's a great read; you don't often come across such detailed accounts from a player point of view.

It is in four parts, starting here.


At about the midpoint of the season, I circulated among the players this link from Meg and Emily where Meg writes about two ways of playing, "Noone Gets Hurt" and "I Will Not Abandon You".

To quote from Meg's post:
In IWNAY, the social agreements are:
I as a player expect to get my buttons pushed, and I will not abandon you, my fellow players, when that happens. I will remain present and engaged and play through the issue.
I as a player expect to push buttons, and I will not abandon you, my fellow players, when you react. I will remain present and engaged as you play through the issue

In NGH, the social agreement is that we know where each other's lines are, and we agree not to cross them.

It ended up being quite important to us, I think, making explicit a piece of our "social contract" that had always gone unspoken before and giving confidence as a result.

At the link are examples and further discussion and loads of interesting comments. One thing that comes up is that IWNAY play is dangerous - that there are genuine risks being run, even with the best of intentions and mindful, sincere players. I think that's true. We took real risks in this game, all of us I think, but particularly the players who had invested so much in these characters and could only look to me to guide them out of a horrible, horrible place.

I mention this because I took that responsibility very seriously. There are times when I will GM a bleak story. This was not one of those times. I had promised I would not abandon the players and their characters, and that promise was the premise behind the final episode; whatever else happened, I was going to show a way into the light.


Soon I'm going to unlock all the player-excluded posts in the archive, so the players can see what went on. Not just yet though - I want to read through it all first and make sure that there's nothing I want to hold in reserve... I'll post here again when the deed is done.
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[Slayers East] Candy came back [May. 28th, 2007|06:37 pm]
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So, at the end of the long run of Slayers East episodes, the girl who had died saving the world was no longer dead. She had come back to life.

Was this a mistake? mashugenah suggested it might have been, referring to some deep rules of narrative; he also deferred to the fact that the players all thought it was a great ending, and being the audience, they have a fairly reliable insight into what the audience liked. But Mash isn't wrong. His instincts, that Candy should stay dead, were also to an extent mine.

And yet she didn't stay dead. How did this come about?

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[Slayers East] After the final episode [May. 24th, 2007|09:56 am]
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Tuesday night was the final episode, episode 13, of Slayers East season 4. In a break with practice, I didn't share the preparations on this journal, mostly for prosaic reasons - I was in Melbourne, and then in a new apartment, with no internet connection.

The story that unfolded in the episode is related on the Slayers East website, here. It begins:
Everyone reels from the death of Candy. Cynth attacks Zak in a fury; Zak crumples but doesn't resist. Brian tries to resuscitate Candy, while Meryll wails and holds her body. Cass keeps it together and talks with Alison, setting things in motion to take Candy's body to the surface. Nick watches, silent... [the rest]

Everyone was happy when the game ended. There were hugs.

I will write more about this later, either here in comments or in a new post. Even though I'm too busy just now for extensive reflection I wanted to get this out so players have somewhere to post their comments and reactions, and so my trusty LJ advisers and readers can see how it turned out.

(craigoxbrow, coffee_lifeform, you may be interested to know a certain Millicent Blackhurst was namechecked by one of my NPCs, which led to Mr Escher making an off-screen phone call to one of the characters...)
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[Slayers East] Stopping the Sun [May. 9th, 2007|12:45 am]
Episode 12 finished about an hour ago. I'm still reeling. It's hard to evaluate what we did and how it all went from so close. It ran long, not massively long, but a bit; and it was intense. I think it all worked.

Candy chose to take on the essence of R'Thilliach, in order to give everyone else a chance to destroy it forever by killing her. Zak, in accordance with the prophecy from season 3, killed Candy.

One episode to go.


This was an unusual session in another way, too - I did something I have never, ever done before as a GM. I genuinely broke new ground, and I was nervous as heck about it. What did I do? I sang. I wrote a song and sang it, in-character as an NPC, to the players. I had crazy butterflies. But the players give so much to this game, they take such risks (and not always are they rewarded for their commitment), that I figured potentially humiliating myself was worth the risk.
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[Slayers East] Episode 11: "Honesty" aftermath [Apr. 25th, 2007|03:39 pm]
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[Note: this is open to all]

Well, that was intense. The spotlight episode for Jenni's Candy, the slayer at the core of the Slayers East crew, was quite gruelling. In prep, Jenni had indicated she wanted to tackle Candy's dishonesty which is one important aspect of her main issue of 'doubt'. So I didn't hold back, and as an opening salvo threw Candy, alone, against the seasonal big bad Augustus Langborn, who humiliated her and then told her exactly how he'd managed it. In order to protect herself, Candy had to start being honest to everyone.

And so the stage was set for some intense roleplaying, as Candy faced up to her unacknowledged love interest Nick and confessed her feelings to him; and later, as she came clean to her family about her troubles. And, fitting in with the general theme, Zak confessed to a number of people about the magical powers he's been quietly developing for the last five episodes.

It all came to a head with another major shift: Lex Madsen came out of his coma. He revealed that while unresponsive his spirit had spent six months journeying through demon dimensions and as a result all his foolish emotions and compunctions had burnt away. He then started a duel to the death with Candy. I was gutted to farewell this character, who has delivered me so much cool story since his debut at the start of season 2, and who I really liked for his complexity and failings and arrogance and for the fact that he was never a villain. But the theme of this season is Change, and Lex's awful change was part of that. The players should have got a bad feeling way back in episode six when the notoriously ungrateful Lex actually said "thank you" to Candy - that was a sign that things weren't going to end well with him...

The whole thing came together quite well from very scattered notes and a plan that I had simplified greatly from earlier versions thanks to feedback from the Secret Commentariat. (I only used one of the three act breaks I had in my notes, the other two arising naturally in play!) My preparation could only ever go so far - this episode was always going to be driven entirely by the character interactions and how the players explored the dramatic situations. And unsurprisingly they totally came through, and there was some truly wonderful material here.

Weak points in the episode - Langborn's casual invocation of a snake out of Josh, echoing the snake born from Lex back in episode 3, came across as a bit arbitrary and "giving the others something to do". Of course, that's what it was - Langborn wanted to clear the room so he made it happen to distract people - but it was meant to have another layer or two as well. There just wasn't quite enough space in the episode to play with the idea. Josh gets sidelined yet again! Still, it did give Cass and Cynth an opportunity to do some combat awesome, which isn't a strong point for either of them, and it led to the first ever rules-tactics discussion in a Slayers East game. A milestone of sorts!

Cass and Cynth in general are still proving tricky to engage. I haven't found good, reliable ways to get drama for these two characters, and the ways I think are there (Cynth and the band, Cass and her mother) I've been sidelining in order to push forward with the main plot. The scene-framing resource is intended to allow players to make sure their character gets some drama but it's been little-used, not least because the episodes always seem to be packed full of stuff already. Anyway, something to think about, and for Giffy and muggle to hassle me about.

If you've read this far then you definitely need to read Jenni's writeup over at Stonesoup.

In two weeks: the 2-part climax begins!
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Slayers East episode 10 [Apr. 4th, 2007|12:02 pm]
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Episode 10 is now done, and Cynth has had her turn in the spotlight. Not a lie that I found this episode difficult to prep for; in fact, I think this episode got more thinking time than any previous one. It was tricky! But with the help of my secret squirrel advisers I managed to cobble together an effective episode based on Cynth's character issues, and in the process I think I learned more about what an issue and a crisis need to be to get story out of them. More on that in due course, after reflection.

The episode dealth with Cynth's unacknowledged feeling that if she left town at the end of the year she'd be letting down her friends, who (more or less) have to stick around and fight monsters. Her unhappiness with this was manifested, in true Buffy style, in demon form. Both players and characters understand the rules of Buffyverse enough to know how this works. A favourite scene:


[after big bad Langborn mentions 'personal demons' to Cynth, she encounters a spooky critter in a bathroom, and promptly heads to the Slayers East HQ]

Cynth: Brian, do you have some spells or stuff to figure out if this is my fault?

SMASH CUT TO Cynth sitting cross-legged in a magic circle while Brian holds an old tome and looks grave

Brian: It's your fault.


And the wedding finale sequence was a great way to finish. Thanks everyone!
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Slayers East episode writeups [Mar. 21st, 2007|09:51 pm]
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Episode 9 was a blast. Funny, intense, and leavened with decent character moments and a major step forward in the season arc. Hurrah! Four episodes to go...

The short writeups for episode 8 and episode 9 are now up on the website. As usual, thanks to all the commenters on the super-sekret posts who helped me come up with nifty stuff for the game and sort out exactly what I was/am doing.

(But don't reveal any secrets here, because this is an open post!)
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[Slayers East] Augustus Langborn [Mar. 14th, 2007|05:23 pm]

More on the big bads.

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