Monday, 16 July 2007

Amnesia Played

NOTE: Gaming topics have been moved to Tabletop Manifesto.

So, on the weekend we played Amnesia. I've written a brief overview of it on The Voice of the Revolution forums and have copied it to here in case you don't want to click on the link. I know, clicking is such a chore.

The game worked out well. None of us had used Fate before, so that was a fun learning experience. The system and the dice were very supportive of the plot, allowing us to concentrate on the struggle that these characters had in trying to figure out what had happened to them, and then how they would react.

In order to explain the amnesia (an aspect from the beginning), I chose to set this in the world of The Matrix, because I know the setting well, and if I was going to be shakey on either the rules or the setting, I didn't want to be shakey on both.

The characters were rogue programs, unleashed into the Matrix at the start of the episode. They had no recollection of anything prior to that moment because they didn't exist. They started in the unique position of being able to interact with the world but without preconceptions of it, or skills for how to work within it. That made it a challenge to avoid meta-gaming, but we worked our way through that.

Each time they died, they were returned to a "wise man" figure in the form of a character called the Tutor, who asked them to tell him what they learned and asked them what they would like to learn from him. I treated each of these events as a phase in the character creation process. So as the session went on they filled out the skill pyramid, chose most of their aspects indirectly - always as a result of the conversation with the Tutor.

The whole story reached its climax when they learned from the NPCs about their true natures. They realised that they had a choice to make (in classic Matrix style, its all about choice and destiny). They had become dangerous to the program who had created them and believed that he wanted them to be deleted. To save themselves, they either had to sieze the power of deletion from him, or try to upload their consciousnesses into the minds of humans who were "plugged in" and escape from the Matrix.

So the game became one of moral and ethical questions.
- Is it right to pursue self-preservation at the expense of an innocent?
- What should I do with my life, if I have no purpose and seem unable to die?
- Is it right to accept service to another, simply because they have the power to take your life away?
- Is it right to kill someone because they have the power to take your life away, even though they explicitly state that they won't use it?

The last one was especially interesting. The Big Bad said to them, "When a pedestrian crosses the road, their life is in the hands of the motorist driving towards them. But just because the driver has power of life and death over the pedestrian, the pedestrian doesn't take a gun to the head of the driver to kill him first. And yet, you come in here with guns drawn, threatening me because you think I will delete you?"

It was a great climactic moment! The villain eventually escaped, wounded but alive. The protagonists were free, for the moment. As one of the players said, "It's just like a movie, they've left it open for a sequel!"

Everyone was pretty satisfied with the scenario. It told a story of discovery, of moral choices and of adventure. It resolved the big moral choices presented to the protagonists without it being necessary to resolve all parts of the plot.
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