|[Slayers East] Episode 11: "Honesty" aftermath
||[Apr. 25th, 2007|03:39 pm]
[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!