Annalise – Summary of Play

Thought I might write down what happened in the last session of Annalise, in addition to the general thoughts I posted earlier. Part of this is to record the progress for next session. If this interests you, it’s below the fold.

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Annalise – First two rounds

Met up with my group and ran the introductions and first foundation round of Annalise today. It was a slower start than expected, but the game is promising.

First, of course, everyone had to get on board with what was going on. One of the things about Annalise is that no one’s the “one” game master, but everyone takes turns, and some people really got tied up in knots about that, having not gamemastered before. It required a lot of prompting for people not to tell the whole story, or to make the story go somewhere. Once people got into the swing of it, it started working out.

The next issue, which still needs to be worked out, is that people weren’t claiming enough. In Annalise, you get extra points by “claiming” people, places, or things that you want to repeat in the story, and using the points while weaving the claim into the story to manipulate dice rolls. I warned them that this could be a problem like Our Last Best Hope, where you might not have enough story points to make it okay to the end, but people I think don’t yet realize the raw power of claims. I went last in the round, and I owned the heck out of a die-rolling challenge using points off my claims, so hopefully for the next session people will get it.

As far as I can tell, no too-crazy secrets. You know I was worried.

Annalise – Trying Not To Hijack the Game

So, hoping to get a session of Annalise together with my group (if I can corral those cats). Looking over the rules again, I’m trying to figure out how to avoid defining characters in a way that blows up the game.

For those of you who haven’t just spent a couple hours reading and re-reading the rules, Annalise is a round-robin storytelling RPG about a vampire (either literal or metaphorical). Everyone plays a character, and everyone takes a turn as a sort-of-gamemaster.

Mechanically, everyone has two stats. There’s vulnerability, a statement of a weak point in the character’s personality. When this drops to zero, the character risks becoming a servant of the vampire. The other stat is the secret, a fact that the character hides from everyone else in the game until an appropriately dramatic moment or when the stat drops to zero. Each of these stats pay for “satellite traits” which enable the real business of conflict resolution in the game.

However, you don’t get to pick your own secret. Everyone writes down two and then you pick from a stack. This gives everyone a chance to basically derail what everyone else is doing from the get-go if there isn’t an appropriate discussion of what sort of game we’re all expecting, you can end up with characters with all the following secrets:

  • “I can read minds.”
  • “I am a serial killer.”
  • “My foster parents locked me in a box for days when I was bad.”
  • “I am a space alien.”

And then we’re all over the place with our storytelling, like those old stories we wrote paragraph by paragraph on paper, leaving only the last sentence of each paragraph for the next person. I don’t think that’s going to be as much fun to play.

So, I’m going to, during the strongly recommended pre-game prep where all the players tell the other players not to do things that squick them out, try to get everyone on the same page.

If I have space aliens and superpowers in my gothic horror anyway, I’ll let you know.