Noah (angelbob) wrote,

Awhile back, amul mentioned a game called My Life With Master. On a lark, I looked it up, and was impressed. The concept is that you play a minion of an evil mastermind with plans to do one horrific thing or another. It's interesting to me primarily because it turns the usual role-playing game thing on its ear pretty completely, which is why it won several awards. The ideas aren't completely new, but they're remarkably original and they intrigue me. I also like the somewhat Gothic atmosphere of the game.

Your characters are fairly pathetic - not in the usual RPG way where they can't do much because you just created them, but because they are minions of an evil master who spends his time telling them to do degrading and horrible things. The players and gamemaster (GM) start by creating the master together (is he like Dracula? Like Krank in 'City of Lost Children'? What is his evil plot, and what does he need to accomplish it?).

Each player will then create a character appropriate to the setting, specifically a minion of the master. It's important to know what your character looks and acts like, but especially why they are a thrall to the master, and why they must obey him. The character should know a person or two in the local village, which should also be written down.

Each of your characters is also 'More Than Human' in some way and 'Less Than Human' in some other way, each with an exception. For instance, your character might be "Unbelievably strong, except when the moon shines on him" but "Repulsive to all who see him unless he is holding a child." For the latter, there are no dice rolls - your character automatically succeeds if aided by his 'More Than Human', and automatically fails if hindered by his 'Less Than Human'.

There are only two numerical scores for each new character - Weariness and Self-Loathing. By committing acts of villainy and violence at the command of the master, each minion will gain in these statistics... Which isn't a particularly good thing. As the character progresses, he gains in Love by connecting with the towsfolk. Naturally, the master will choose acts of villainy that will frequently endanger those objects of Love...

What's really interesting to me is that there are no ability statistics that increase, no chance of minions dying early (short of a player intentionally committing suicide), and mostly the game is driven by the story, and by the players and GM jointly contributing to the story. The scene-to-scene lives of the minions, interrupted by chances to learn to love the townsfolk, continues until a minion can resist the master's commands, and bring themselves to end their awful servitude.

There is no variation in the endgame - I mean, there are changes of *mechanics*, but the master will be destroyed, even if it takes a long time and a lot of tries. That is never in doubt at any point. It's only a question of what twists and turns the story will take in getting there. So I suppose in that sense it's more like a board game. But the story twists are, naturally, significantly more elaborate.

If you poke around a bit you can find little transcripts of people's games. It seems intense, sometimes traumatic, but like a very good little game. It also seems simple enough to introduce people to fairly easily.

So, in a month or three, anybody want to try playing a bizarre role-playing game? It looks like it takes around three sessions of around three hours each to get through a single 'campaign' of "My Life With Master", after which you generally need to create all new characters in a new setting if you want to play again.

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