Actual Play – Dying at the End of Nerdly Beach (4/12/2014)

polarisFacilitator: John Kim
Players: John Kim (Sirius), Sean Nittner (Fornax), Ed Murphy (Altair), and Jeff Pedersen (Persius)
System: Polaris

Long ago, people were dying at the end of the world…

Woot, I finally got to play Polaris. At least a little bit. It got late fast and we petered out quickly (we got in 5 scenes I think), but we got a chance to make characters and play with the mechanics and ritual phrasing. And so it was…

Characters

John had a bunch of blessings, abilities, fates, and offices (all character bits) printed out so we went through and pulled some juicy ones out for our characters.

As we did that, and began discussing them, connections between the characters unfurled.

Sirius the song of truth, and Persius the renowned champion were brothers, son of Duke Corvus.  Perseus was to marry Rischia, the lady reknowned for her beauty, who was sister of Fornax, renowned for her star metal smiting, and also of Altinak, the renowned huntress. All of the daughters in fact were children of Duke Indus, who had twelve daughters, all renowned for something. Duke Corvus, we decided in play must of course have 12 sons to match.

The webs continued to weave between us.

Rischia was the sister of Fornax, betrothed to Persius, in love with Sirius and loved by Altair.

Etzlitotec was the mistaken woman, fairest of them all,  loved by Persius, and perhaps the abductor of Altinak.

Four Bird, lord of carrion was the mistaken that had killed a fellow knight Lady Lyra, but was now mastered by Fornax using her color forged of star metal.

And so it was… that we were all deliciously tied together.

The Play is the Thing

But hope was not yet lost, for nerdly campers still heard the son of the stars.

The A plot was the recovery of Altinak who had disappeared from Altair’s study.  Altair, Sirius, and Fornax were all focused on finding her, though they did so alone.

The B plot involved the wedding of Persius and Rischia, neither of whom desired their fated bond.

As mentioned above we didn’t get to far into it but we did see quite a bit of the mistaken twisting our intents, turning our goodness back on ourselves and, and finding means to ultimately destroy all of us.

But that all happened long ago, and now there are none who remember it.

Polaris at Nerdly

Thoughts on the game

It became very clear quite quickly that the active player needs to advocate very hard for their protagonist. Go right for the gusto, don’t sell yourself short wondering “can I do this?”, just do it and wait to see if your mistaken counters.

Framing a scene as the mistaken is a great way to create a conflict. John opened my 2nd scene (and the final in the game) as the mistaken, telling me what had happened and dropping me into the action. It was a great way to endanger the characters and move the story forward.

This setting is so rich and ethereal, I fucking love it. I’d really like to play more.

Ritual phrasing is so awesome. I found it so natural to open and close scenes with “and so it was…” and I loved the way the conversation was handled between the protagonist and the mistaken. Such good framing here for other games as well. I was playing thinking about Torchbearer… “you can cross that narrow ravine… but only if you find a way to balance yourself, lest the galling wind will surely push you off the ledge.”  Not quite the same as Polaris, but with some tweaks it would be a good set of conversation pieces to lead to up to a roll.