Monday, December 15, 2014

The Necklace - Characters Enter, Stage Left

We started playtesting The Necklace Saturday. This is an alpha playtest - we are testing the rules, not the expression of the rules. The session was mostly creating the company and characters, but we had time enough to play out a bit of game in character by the time we had finished.

We decided to make a troupe of actors traveling in a showboat around the Necklace, presenting shows to customers - and doing a bit of larceny on the side. The PC actors were a Carnivale actor/acrobat, a Javan acrobat/ dancer, a brace of Puck brothers, both magician/puppeteers, and a Rasi singer/actress.

The Impresario who ran the showboat was named Harcourt Fenton - yes, after Harcourt Fenton Mudd! Fenton entered into the actors' lounge and informed them that their last show of the night before had finally paid for their deuterium fuel and docking fees at Araminta Station, the multi-cultural Trading Post they had been trapped at for a long time. They would be finally be able to leave, and perform a show for a new audience, one which hadn't seen their entire repertory already. After that, they could maybe be paid some of what was owed them.

The actors bitched. Fenton's shows were overblown and intellectual, they said. The Macbeth they played in the cat costumes was the worst. Fenton defended himself, accusing the actors of being incapable of understanding his, Fenton's, literary allusions and references. They hissed and booed, and called him a pretentious hack. Hotly, Fenton demanded they put up or shut up! Show him a better script, he said, and he would produce the play.

The two puppeteer brothers produced a script they had written. It was a comedy, and showed the lives of a troupe of poorly and irregularly played actors - with, coincidentally, the same names as they bore - forced to work under the whip of an overly-intellectual and pretentious windbag of an impresario, who made them play Macbeth dressed as cats.

Fenton took the play and scanned through it. At first he derided the script as entirely lacking such vital elements as an actual plot, but it really was very funny, so he decided to cast the play. Of course, he cast it with none of the actors playing themselves, as he thought them all wrong for the parts, and besides, he thought the audience would savor the meta humor inherent in the situation.

The actors told him where he could stick his meta humor, as the audience would just think it stupid. Fenton defended his decision, claiming that the audience were all fatuous baboons who wouldn't know real Art if it shat on their heads, but confronted with something they couldn't understand, would assign their confusion to Art, and think it deep and philosophical, and not just a comedy.

The actors agreed that the audience were indeed a bunch of baboons who wouldn't know Art if it shat on their heads, but held the position that they should therefore not bother presenting them with any actual art at all so tenaciously that Fenton eventually backed down, and allowed them to play themselves, though at their insistence, and on their head be it! He had gone to acting school, unlike this gang of ruffians, and knew what he was doing.

After he left, the actors began to plan a fond farewell mugging of the casino at the trading post - said plans consisting of "Hey! Let's rob the casino before we leave!" "Yeah! Awesome!"

End Act One, Scene One. Curtain falls.

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