Yesterday I got a chance to play in a game of Misspent Youth with my friends JR and JR, with my wife SL running.
Mostly we did character and world creation. This got quite involved. I’m not sure whether this was a bug or a feature – it’s great to have a well-crafted world that everyone understands, with antagonists created by the players, and lots of player buy-in that comes with those things, but four hours spent on character creation for a miniseries style game seems a bit too much. Ultimately, players want to play and we didn’t get to do that in the first game really, and that raises at least a small red flag.
In fairness we were playing over Skype, and not playing with a longstanding group, and SL was running the game for the first time. Both of these factors no doubt contributed to the difficulty in getting world building done.
The world we came up with was an old, dilapitated moon base, owned by an evil corporation. We were going to play moon pirates, robbing corporate ships in order to earn enough money to free out people from the chains of corporate oppression and lead them to a new and fertile land in the asteroid belt where we could prosper.
My character was a violent street tough named Breaking Monkeys (I got the name from a random punk rock band name generator). BreMo is a heavily pierced, direct physical confrontation sort of rebel – he’s the guy who punches cops, throws rocks through windows, sets trashcans on fire, overturns cars, etc. In short he’s a punk anarchist who wants to fuck up the system with his knuckles. This puts him very much at odds with the other characters, who want to fuck up the system in far more subtle ways.
Kaye (JR’s character) is a smart, sneaky, and somewhat creepy hacker. If anyone is the brains of our group, it’s Kaye. Hiro Suzuki (JR’s character) is a pretty boy looking for thrills and the ability to prove that he’s more than just good looking
Between the three of us, BreMo is clearly the odd man out – the other two are different, but it’s pretty easy to see how they could be compatible – but BreMo, on the surface, isn’t really the sort of person that either of the other two would be likely to clique up with. Yet one of the major conceits of the game is that all of the protagonists are friends. There are “friend questions” that players ask about one another’s characters at the beginning of different scenes to gradually build up a background between the characters over the course of the miniseries. I think this is a great way to fill in the blanks about background, but it doesn’t really help if one of the characters is out of place at the beginning. It was clear from the initial discussions that neither of the other two characters found BreMo particularly appealing, nor did they want their characters to hang around with him.
I do this sometimes. SL and I talked about it over dinner after the game, and she pointed out to me that I have an entire subset of characters that I make that go out of their way to be unlikable. While I wasn’t exactly thrilled to have this pointed out to me, I did have to admit that she was right – I do sometimes create characters that seem tailor made to be disliked by everyone else’s characters. I’m not certain why I do this – SL asked me about it, but I couldn’t give a satisfactory answer even to myself much less to her, but it’s something I will continue to think about.
In any event, overall it was a fun afternoon, and I look forward to actually trying the game itself.