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Murderous Character Ballad, a game

During the spring Nerdly Beach Party in 2009, we committed a ritual known as “Ryan Macklin’s Drunken Midnight Game” — something that happens on the Saturday night of the party which may or may not involve being drunk or playing a game. But it always involves being around a fire, because it’s damned cold along the Central Californian coast that time of night.

That year, after a bunch of us were talking about how we love Unknown Armies, I started a freeform game, one whose rules I made up on the spot. No one knew what they were in for (which made it feel appropriately Unknown Armies), including me. This ended up being a diceless[1], GM-less scene-framing game with a tight focus. I decided it was interesting enough to me to warrant writing it up as a two-page game. The two-page constraint make me tight about some stuff.

Yesterday, I suddenly remembered having made it. I present to you Murderous Character Ballad.

Since this was back in 2009, I was pretty useless at layout. This was done up with Word. If I feel a bug, I might redo it, but otherwise it is what it is: a window in the past. I don’t know if it would actually work as a game today, as something written up — perhaps it can only exist as an experience that no one truly understands. Maybe then the game is something you don’t share with others textually, but only experientially? This is getting meta. Read it because swearing in rules is funny, or something.

Of course, as I keep fucking around with an Unknown Armies & Hellblazer-inspired Fiasco playset, I’m wondering if the Murder Question should be part of that process.

- Ryan

[1] A crucial component to a midnight campfire game, I’ve learned the hard way.

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