And Game Tasting Week comes to a close, with Graham Walmsley’s A Taste for Murder. Great fun was had all week.
We played with me, Allie, Kate and Seth. Importantly, we didn’t get to actually finish the game, due to starting late. But the late start was in turn due to watching Gosford Park, so it was worth it. But it did rob us of a chance to experience the full play and dénouement.
Character creation was a breeze, despite the relative lack of support. Being told to chose a name, descriptor, position in the house—that’s all fine. But what could be hard, without some support, is defining your relationships with the other characters. But I read aloud the example, and people got the hang of it quickly. Play proceeded reasonably well, though it took a moment or three to get our feet under ourselves and figure out just what our characters wanted.
We ticked along just fine, having great fun rolling for the weather, until the murder. I ended up being murdered—the butler was the victim!—and got to take on the role of the Inspector. At this point, the Investigation action proved difficult. Not to understand, but to execute. We had, it turns out, made the situation almost too pregnant. All the characters had relationships that were just one step away from a motive for murder, but we needed three steps. Figuring out how to make the revelations of Investigation actions not lead directly to a motive for murder was hard.
The dice system was interesting; very quickly, the distribution of influence dice went wonky, and my character’s death didn’t help; of the three remaining characters, one had no influence dice after a scene or two, and the other two only had influence dice over that one. This meant that people’s mechanics-motivated actions were limited, and all focused on the diceless character, who could not, herself, meaningfully do anything.
And this is where the rightward arrows of the game came to the rescue. The Black Die and White Die, in this game, rotate around some wheels of descriptors, and are awarded in a conflict to the character who most embodied the descriptor. This made a real difference both mechanically and fictively, just as it was supposed to. In fact, it was clear that this situation had been considered in the rules, given that it is basically how all characters relate to the Inspector.
The only problem with this was that certain descriptors were sticky. We couldn’t very well fit in, say, Hateful or Bloodletting in many scenes, and so the Black Die would go unused. The general idea of the Black and White Dice, rewarding very specific fictional positioning in a rotating fashion, was quite compelling though.
And so that’s it. Game tasting week has been a great success both in terms of education and fun. Hopefully, we’ll get to do something similar in the near future. Thanks to all who made it possible, both fellow players and game authors. Now, to digest.