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Journal of No. 118

March 13th, 2005

Sandman4 - The Wake @ 12:27 pm


Last night was the continuation of the ongoing saga of the Sandman LARP. My overall impressions: I personally had a good time chatting and scheming, the game was by far the least chaotic Sandman game I've been at (faint praise, I know!) and once again it seemed to me that the Endless had way too much power (at least as far as the ultimate point of what the evening was about).

So what was it about? Let Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
The game was set at the Wake for one of the Endless who has died. The point of the game was to determine which of the Endless had passed away. In a previous game, a new Endless, Design, had been created. This made things a bit too crowded, hence either one of the Endless had to go, or the whole super-megaverse would have a fatal brain aneurysm.

I was Anubis, part of a small but dedicated contingent from the Egyptian pantheon that included Becca-Bast and ladyeuthanasia as Isis. It's sad when the vast bulk of your worshippers died thousands of years ago - you start to fade away a bit. So we were seeking some new relevance. So that was one axis of my allies. On the other axis were the various gods with death-related powers: Hades, Odin, Camaxtli...
My most serious goal was to see to it that Death was the member of the Endless that got the axe. If she were gone, no doubt the powers of Death would be spread over us remaining death-gods. I worked it pretty hard and the Egyptian gods were happy to lend support. The other death gods were generally willing from selfish motives, but it was clear that our collaboration would come to an end at some point and then we would fight amongst ourselves for power. I was up for that.
Slightly related to this was the battle over Hell (which was in Aphrodite's power after a previous game). Isis wanted to gain control of the realm, so the great Egypto-Death combine went into action to try to wrest control of it away from Aphrodite. Things didn't go so well, and the coalition fell apart every ten seconds & it seemed like we'd have to cut the demons in on the deal... ah, politics.
Then, for some reason, about ten of us went on some adventure to keep Death's sigil from being stolen out of the Temple of Isis. After some tricks and traps and a ridiculous group combat with some zombies (really, the rules for group combat should not be N individual combats per round, especially when N is 10) we made it to Death's sigil. Hades wanted to take it, which caused a bit of fracas, but eventually the consensus was that it should stay with the Egyptian faction since, after all, it belonged in the Temple of Isis. So I got it. Woohoo!
Buoyed with extra Death power, I was horrified to find that Death had been placed on the 'Safe List' of Endless who could not be voted dead. The only way to get off was if Death herself took her name off. About this time, Calliope came to me, asking me for a boon: to take Hades down a peg and/or restore Orpheus and Eurydice to life. With Death's sigil, I could easily do the latter, so I told her that if she could 'convince' Death to take her name off the safe list, I'd write their names back into the Book of Life. Calliope eventually managed to get it done, no doubt through the use of the Compulsion power that was used with alarming frequency all night long. Being the gentleman that I am, I immediately set out to raise Orpheus back to life. I find out it's already been done. I ask to raise Eurydice -- too late, that's been done, too. Easiest repayment of a favor ever. I tell Calliope I've taken care of everything. She's happy, I'm happy.
Now that Death is back on the hitlist, I wheeled and dealed my ass off and got tons of votes cast to have Death eliminated. I'm sure most of the Egypto-Death axis voted that way, and I picked up a few more random votes here and there - many people were pretty open about it, and I saw them mark their votes and cast 'em.
Somewhere in here was the final battle in Hell. Aphrodite had been tricked into giving control of Hell to Isis, but the whole situation was very much in flux. Isis with the demon Lord Arux's support (supposedly strengthened by a romantic dalliance and birth of the divine-demonic baby Trog) and mine faced off against Aphrodite and a few other random Death-y gods with Hellish forces. Unfortunately, Aphrodite had compelled Arux to attack Isis. So very rapidly, both Isis and Aphrodite were eliminated from Hell, leaving Lord Arux in the strongest position. I was still there, as were Hades and Odin; the three of us Lord Arux graciously accepted as Generals in Hell. No doubt he would soon exert his power to eliminate us, but for the moment, I at least had some piece of the pie in Hell.
Death herself talked to me for a bit and offered me some of her powers, in case it were she who was destined to die. She had heard a rumor that someone had it out for her and asked me to let her know if I found out anything about it. Snicker. I think Angel was being a good egg playing dumb ( I mean, it's not like the Death of Death scene* left much room for the imagination) which is much to her credit. Dreary Despair even offered me a dreary part of her dreary powers - hey, when you don't have too many living worshippers, any power looks good, so I accepted.

A few more votes, a few more fights... we were definitely in the trash-time of the game, where many people had nothing constructive left to do -- witness the foursome on the casket (not that a foursome is not constructive).
Votes were totted, the Endless made their own final votes and then for the viewing of the body.

Curses! Design bit it. The Endless kill their young, it seems. This is where a bitter wound gets rubbed raw again. In Sandman 2, I (as Nyarlathotep in his form as the Fleshless Skull, Mictlantecutli) nearly destroyed the world twice, by convincing people to help me in a ritual that would send the Earth to the center of the universe. Both times we were foiled by Endless who had uncounterable powers (e.g. Dream made us all fall asleep in the middle of our chant). I shouldn't complain that I didn't get to destroy the world, but the GM's had set a near impossible task and I busted my ass to get it done and was thirty seconds away from succeeding, when Morpheus wanders through the room, shouts "Sleep!" and continues on to where he was actually going at the time. GRrr!
Anyway, that scabby wound was almost healed until Sandman 4 ripped it off. I obviously don't know the details of the voting, but it was telling in the aftergame discussion when the Endless wanted to know which people were working toward their individual destructions. How many people raised their hands to say they were trying to kill Death? Five. How many people raised their hands to say they were working against Design? Nobody!
Maybe for Sandman 5, the Endless can just all have dinner together and decide the outcome, and there's no need to invite the rest of us.

Minibitchfest over. I still enjoyed myself quite a lot, even if (once again) my hard work was not rewarded. As usual for the Sandman games, people were super-psyched to be there and in their roles. That's what makes for good games.

(*) I haven't mentioned the scenes. During the course of the game there were little theatrical skits that acted out the possible deaths of each Endless. These were strange visions that all of us at the Wake could see. I wrote the Death of Death, in which Anubis and Thoth (or Jacquel and Ibis, if you prefer) conspire with Loki to kill Death.
I was happy with how the scene went off, considering that none of us were off book, we had never rehearsed, and I had no warning and little time to locate some props for the scene. Angel was a trouper for kicking up her heels and in her spectacularly brief death.
As for the other scenes... I was slightly demoralized that mine was immediately followed by the Death of Desire, which was both well-written and well-acted -- the cream of the crop in my view. The rest of them have faded into a blur, and perhaps it's uncharitable of me to amplify that into 'long, tedious blur'. But a long, tedious blur it was, with rare flashes of adequacy.
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Date:March 14th, 2005 12:59 am (UTC)

Well said! Yeah, that thing where the Endless got mega-uber-voting muscle was crap. Oh, and I forgot about one particularly amusing part: where Oberon comes to confess his attraction to me and I get him to give me his Acceptance ballot. Hee!

I didn't know you wrote the Death scene! I liked it. :) I'm sorry you got upstaged by the Desire upstarts. Bastards.
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Date:March 14th, 2005 04:19 am (UTC)

The big sex

The big sex was important, well part of it, at least. The big joke that Loki, Coyote, and Puck (I) were trying to play was to get Desire to mother a child, and it FINALLY worked-I buzzed around Desire's head as Tinkerbell and told him/her that he/she should do this, it was the final influence that got the task accomplished-much to my amazement.
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Date:March 14th, 2005 05:12 am (UTC)

Re: The big sex

I stand corrected! As usual, there were plenty of plots that I had no inkling of.
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Date:March 14th, 2005 11:19 am (UTC)
Umm... if no one was working to kill Design, then how the hell did she die? There must have been some sort of vote rigging for that to have happened I would think. The one who hadn't ever managed to honk anyone off, should have been safe, especially when 5 people were working to off Death...I know I wasn't there at all, but I can't make that work out in my head.
Date:March 14th, 2005 08:27 pm (UTC)
Oberon was hitting on Isis? Rat bastard.

I suspect many people didn't have plans against anyone in particular. The Fae contingent was mostly interested in making sure Del/ight/erium survived and stayed in flux. I also wanted Despair to survive, for the health of my realm, and I rather wanted Dream to hang in there, for personal reasons. So when it came time to vote, I had to figure out who was least important to me and mine. Turned out to be Design - faeries aren't in for much in the way of planning, you know. Destiny would have been second, probably. Sorry, Design. Nothing personal.

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Date:March 15th, 2005 02:23 am (UTC)
Votes cast by the Endless were worth "more" than other people's. I have no idea how much more, but I fear it was enough to make the rest of us irrelevant, though obviously some of the non-Endless (like K) voted against Design without that being a specific personal *goal*.
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Date:March 15th, 2005 02:50 am (UTC)
ICK. Oh, sort of as an aside. There's nothing I can't stand more in live games than compulsion powers. They just ruin it for me. It's gotten to the point that when I get the choice, I invariably ask that one of my powers be immunity to compulsion.
Date:March 18th, 2005 04:49 am (UTC)

Notes from the GM

I'll post the actual voting results on the sandman4 website soon enough, but rest assured, I would never write a game in which 80% of the people were irrelevant to the outcome. For SHAME, Mr. Tice, to even think I would do such a thing!

The Endless Acceptance Ballots were worth 4, while everyone else's were worth just 1. (8 Endless x4 + 32 non-Endless = 64 Acceptance points. On the other hand, none of the Endless got ANY Bargaining Ballots, while the average # a non-Endless got was 3 or 4. The Denial ballots were all worth just 1 and everyone had just 1.

The Endless, if they could unite, had an advantage at the end of the game, but NOT so much as to overwrite the Will of the non-Endless 9if there had been such a thing). We GMs had no idea what the outcome would be.

That said, it was no surprise to us that Design bought it in the end. Many people had made disparaging comments about the 8th Endless in their character write-ups. It was also telling that so many of the scene-writers WANTED to kill either Design or Destiny.

So perhaps it was pre-ordained, but not by your humble GM's.

Andy Ashcraft
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Date:March 19th, 2005 06:06 pm (UTC)

Re: Notes from the GM

Not that you'll see this, but thanks for posting the voting results. It calmed my fears. And fears or not, I had a great time.
Date:March 15th, 2005 10:52 am (UTC)
For the record, I voted for Design to die (acceptance), because, what the fuck...someone had to go. There were three on the safe list, and I really didn't care...I didn't want Dream to go, but if he did, I (Cain) was in his will, so it's all good.

Journal of No. 118