Vulnerable places

I talk a lot about raw, emotionally vulnerable play on this blog, and whenever I have a roleplaying experience that scratches that itch, I gush about it here. But I haven’t very thoroughly explored the issue of how to achieve a safe space for that kind of vulnerability. I’d like to examine a recent case to see what comes to light.

I’m preparing to play in an Apocalypse World campaign. I, along with Hans, my friend and MC, have been looking forward to it  with relish. We both feel that we’ve had fun with past AW games, but never really gotten at the emotional core of apocalypse world play. for my part, following my initial, very moving experience over a year ago, I’ve had a string of one-shots that were mostly just fun, casual and diverting, without a lot of emotional investment in the characters. not to knock fun, casual and diverting, but for this game, Hans and I wanted something deeper. When I hit up my friends to play, I emphasized this in an email:

“[We’re] looking for a game that really emphasizes the humanity and desperation of the post-apocalypse, with folks who are prepared to go to some emotionally vulnerable places and aren’t afraid to have their buttons pushed. “I will Not Abandon You” play, as it were. If you’re down for that, you’re welcome to play with us!

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Perfectly emotional

My friend Joe made a game called Perfect. It’s about an alternate Victorian world, where daring criminals commit acts of passionate rebellion, the only flaws in a perfect and ordered society. Relentless Inspectors track them, capture them, and attempt to break them, conditioning them to be perfect citizens. Sometimes they succeed, but sometimes the fire of defiance burns bright.

I’ll lay all my cards on the table, here: Joe’s a pal, and I’m a fan of the game, and I’m posting to promote it. He just wrapped up the final edition—Perfect Unrevised—and is taking preorders. But this blog is about my personal experience, so that’s the angle from which I’ll look at Perfect, and examine why I love the game so much.

Last year I participated in Perfect’s final playtest and played a game with my friends Hans and Harry which ended up being one of my most fulfilling games ever, joining the ranks of Burning Wheel Ireland and Shock: Science Utopia. We had a nice, tight game of about four sessions that really pushed our buttons in a great way.

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