Sunday, July 13, 2014

Better Angels: Back to Hell

Very quick end to the Better Angels game yesterday. Some thoughts first.

I like the premise of the game: You're possessed by a demon and you can make concessions to it by being a supervillain, doing stupid evil things rather than actually evil things, and wind up either fighting against your demon without doing so overtly, living the life of a supervillain without really wanting to.

My players kinda didn't do that. Three of them whole-heartedly embraced the notion of being evil, and didn't so much act like supervillains as people possessed by demons reveling in doing evil things. There was some token resistance early on to what their demons wanted, but they pretty quickly got over that and starting killing and manipulating people in terrible ways. The fourth player was playing a little kid who was possessed, and gradually figured out that the monster in her head was asking her to do bad things.

All in all, I think if I were going to do this game again, I'd do a lot of things differently:

  • Establish the goddamn setting. The book doesn't really do that very well (and owns up to that, so that's not a negative), but I really needed to firmly establish that it's a four-color setting with a specific genesis for supers. We should have had colorful costumes and nicknames and so forth. 
  • Disallow the kid. Children having bad things happen to them in RPGs make me super uncomfortable. Being possessed by a demon is a bad thing. I liked the concept in theory, I was less than happy about it in execution (but see below).
  • Use one of the pre-written scenarios. There are a whole bunch of them, and I think that had I read one and used it, it would have gotten closer to the game as intended. 
Learning the system was helpful, but I tend to learn systems best by using them, and that takes a few sessions, so I can't really complain about that. All in all, I like the game and I was happy with the way it went, and I think it was fun. I'll be glad, however, to move on to something else. 

Anyway, last time, we ended with Keys, the angel-bearer, walking into the police station where Willa had just played the golden fiddle and shunted Mammon out of Gary and into a cop. Arvo followed the angel, carefully, not wanting to get hurt. 

The cop, now demonized (claws and wings out, thanks to Mammon) wheeled on Gary and shot him down with his own Dominator Strike. Gary fell dead, his chest caving in. (Yeah, that's how this game started.) 

Willa tried to sneak out of the evidence room unnoticed, but the angel was there. He ordered the cops to run, but the possessed cop stayed, horrified. The angel ordered Willa to send Mammon back to Hell. She refused, so he punched her in the head a couple of times, and then ordered her again. She played the fiddle and sent Mammon upstairs into a prisoner, which the angel seemed not to notice. 

The angel-bearer and Willa argued a bit; the angel wanted her to play the fiddle and exile Baal, and Willa was trying to stall for time, knowing that she couldn't beat the angel physically. Eventually they went back upstairs, with cops watching, and Willa told Baal to save her once he could. She sent Baal into a cop, and the angel took the fiddle and gave it to one of the nearby cops. I rolled a die to see if it was the one possessed by Baal...but it wasn't.

The cop played the fiddle, and sent Baal, Mammon, and Nidhogg (Arvo was sitting outside) back to Hell. Willa and Arvo were arrested for multiple counts of murder. We figured that Arvo would eventually be deported back to Iceland (since making the charges stick would be hard, since he was invisible most of the time) and Willa's would be a very interesting trial - most of her crimes were committed using Dead Ringer, but there was also an angel-bearer willing to testify against her. 

But that night, the cop showed up at Livi's house, and played her demon out. Livi's parents ran over and hugged her - they'd known what was happening, since Stella told them, but they didn't let on too much, for fear of upsetting the demon. 

"But now I'm just like everyone else," complained Livi.

"Never," her mother replied. And that's about as close to a happy ending as I think we're getting.