Intrigue In The Clouds
by Dean Edgell
assisted by Drew Novick and Marc Blumberg (both runs), and Brian Altmiller (Saturday)
I received my character on email perhaps a couple of weeks before Intercon. With it was the dire warning to not share any character information with other players, that sometimes even a name could be a spoiler. This was not the first time I’ve seen such warnings, but it is the first time it has proven completely accurate. Such a condition unfortunately makes writing a spoiler- free review difficult.
Set in a somewhat alternate 1880s on a transAtlantic airship, Intrigue is full of pulp mystery and mayhem. The gamemasters were convinced shortly before Intercon to run a second time on Sunday morning. I had the great privilege, along with others, of playing in both runs. The contrast is, well, intriguing.
Saturday night’s run had been much anticipated, and premailings allowed us to make great preparations, as evidenced by the many wonderful costumes and props. It also benefited from the natural high energy levels I always see Saturday evening at Intercon. Sunday morning involved little premailing and much at the door casting. Many of us had not only played the night before (and sat through the debriefing), but also stayed up far too late at the dance party. Some of us were visibly droopy. But a little caffeine and promising character sheets perked us all up. The repeat players should be commended for allowing their characters’ ignorance to replace the players’ knowledge of the plots. Many facets of the Sunday run had either opposite or completely different results than Saturday’s run. That the complete plotting of the game is far too complex to take in on one hearing doubtless helped.
There was a fair amount of dice rolling, more than I like, but the mechanics (perception checks each character can make against anyone else) added a great deal to the information flow of the game, and I heard several clever ways to work it into the normal conversation. My favorite was someone “accidentally” dropping the envelope containing the information for the other player to read, and asking him to kindly retrieve it, giving him an opportunity to check its contents. Combat was fast and simple, and special abilities were likewise easy to use. There was an in-game newspaper giving a good deal of the “common knowledge” background, and a brochure about the airship company. Even the dice, in their little shaker bottles, added to the feel of the game. The only other thing I could have wished for was a short background sheet explaining a bit more about the alternate past we were in, though this was covered in the game briefing.
Without revealing any secrets, there is nothing more I can say than
“Wow! What a great game! Both of them.”
More Players Comment on Intrigue in the Clouds from Intercon 13.5
On Receiving their Characters ...
1. "Oooh.. Thank you... she looks like fun!"
2. "Received my character packet... I don't know how it possibly could have been any longer! I don't know how I'm going to get all that done! Yikes! I'm excited, though. ..."
After the game...
3. "...three cheers for Dean and friends!"
4. " In my limited view of the game, I had a blast and thought that <deleted for game security> was a very well-written character. ... Kudos. It is also a testament to the game that I had a limited view of it, as it seemed *teeming* with plot ... great game. a real jewel."
5. "Dean-- I just wanted to say that I had a really wonderful time *playing* Intrigue-- ... I hope you ... will come down often to grace us with your games and your presence. ... I'd love to play this character again if you do another run!"
6. "Without interesting characters, even the best players can't make a game - let alone one that just rocked like the first run of Intrigue.
"I've played in a LOT of games. Intrigue is right near the top of the list of my all time favorites. The first twenty minutes alone were worth the price of admission ... The rest of it was great, too. It is rare when I am caught totally by surprise in a game; I was convinced I had things figured out until <deleted for game security>. Wham - and yet another wonderful moment! ...
"It was one hell of a great game! Please pass the word on to your brother and your talented GMs that it really rocked."
7. "I also played in the magnificent "Intrigue in the Clouds" by Dean Edgell which I still maintain is the gold-plated standard of the 4-hour Freeform genre. I have fabulous memories of that game <deleted for game security> I'd have been happy doing father and daughter skits all game, but there was also the mother of all plots to keep us busy and amused."
Players Comment on Intrigue
in the Clouds after the run at Intercon 15
1. "I had a great time … and it seemed like people I interacted with were having a good time too."
2. "What a rollercoaster ride that last ten minutes was; great, great, great! … A real stunner of a game; well worth the effort. I could have played that game for a week!"
3. "It is testament to the terrifically involved and involving game you've created that I found myself so wrapped up in it …
"In my opinion you have created a masterpiece. I feel privileged
to have played in it … I had a wonderful time … I consider you
the best creative gamemasters I've ever played for. I hope very much to
have a chance to play in other games of your design in the future."
4. "I wanted to thank you again for the terrific game on Saturday night. It was one of the best that I've seen and I really enjoyed it."
5. "Thank *you* for giving me the perfect part in the perfect game...
"I desperately hope you will run it again. Although I
have the same head-reeling series of revelations now that I know the
story, it would still be the best game at any con in which it is run. …
I spent the hour after the game packing my luggage and saying "wow" a
lot, plus happily chuckling...
"I had the *best* game! I don't think my rendition of events got across the sheer dizziness I was feeling with revelation after revelation. Ask the
other GM's how many time I drew them aside to say "You bastards!" <grin>.
"… Thanks again, and you're my LARP writing hero now.
"Intrigue was the best LARP I've ever played..."
6. "You gave me a wonderful character, with a great mix of strengths and weaknesses. The game started normally (albeit with a fantastic "go mingle" mechanic), much as a roller coaster starts smoothly up a gentle hill. Then the ride took off, with loop after loop, twist after twist -- I was so dizzy with the revelations that *I* felt like swooning, let alone having my character faint dead away. I loved the game so much, I wouldn't change a moment of it, nor do I feel in hindsight there were any bits I could have played any better. Everyone should know that it's worth a long trip, yea, even
crossing an ocean to play this game. Both thumbs and all fingers and toes up!
7. "On the system side, the balance and concepts were perfect. The perception envelopes let the secrets play out perfectly, as well as the timed
contingency envelopes. While there was a bit much to carry around, it all made sense. I especially like that you needed to talk to a person in a
short conversation in order to make the perception roll...
"Damn, that was fun!!! Honestly, that was the best game at
con, and I will immediately sign up for anything else that you
8. "I had an excellent time in Intrigue…. It was great fun."
9. "I was most impressed with your game. It's certainly the best game I've ever played outside of my usual gaming group, and easily the
best I saw at the con. Your production value was amazing, and the game was quite intricately plotted, without becoming non-sensical. … overall
I found things flawlessly executed. Very Well Done."
10. "All in all, it was a great story, I truly never saw any of this coming... I would love to play again if you will be running it or any versions of it."
11 "I could tell it was a lot of extra work. It's nice to see that sort of pride of craftmanship. "
12. "Thanks again for letting me play in the ‘Intrigue in the Clouds’ game. If you write another game, I’d love to play in it as well. "
13. "I had a great time … looking forward to playing whatever you come up with next!"
14. "If you get the impression that [my character] was permanently busy - you'd be right! … I hardly stopped moving all game ... which is excellent! There were *loads* of things that I'd heard a little about, but couldn't find time to investigate further.
"Any ideas for the sequel?"
Players Comment on Intrigue
in the Clouds after the run at Continuum, in Leicester, U.K.
1. "Just wanted to say thanks for running such a great game of Intrigue at Continuum - mystery, romance, high adventure and derring-do, this game had it all!"
2. "Many thanks for running an excellent game on Friday; I enjoyed it hugely.
"<deleted for game security> is such a great character, and I'm very pleased that I had the chance to play him.
"I think it's the depth of the game that really makes it stand out. It's probably the only four hour game I've played that felt as if it had enough material to span a weekend.
3. "Thanks again for running Intrigue We both thought the background, plotting and characters were excellent."
4. "Thanks very much for writing and running the game. It was very enjoyable, and certainly kept me occupied right through to the end.
" I did really enjoy the game overall - it's the rarest of Freeforms that is without longeurs. Intrigue was the most enjoyable short game I've played for some years.
"So when are you going to run Intrigue under the Waves for us?"
5. "As one of the players I didn't have much clue what was going on either, great fun running around after everything though.
" Thanks to you all for running such a good game."
6. "Thank you for coming from Canada to run Intrigue in the Clouds I had a great time during the game. I should just say, that reading the character sheet (without any real knowledge of how the game would go) it seemed like my absolutely favourite character.
"I had a great time Thanks again for running the game. It was fun."
7. "Thanks for a great game I had a really fun time ..
"I hope you might consider bringing Intrigue Beneath the Waves to these shores at some point in the future."
8. "There was a LOT going on in Intrigue, some of which I wasn't even aware of, but I had a great time and would certainly recommend anyone who enjoys a top class LARP to play Intrigue in the Clouds should they get the chance. I only hope that we might coax you back to Blighty to run Intrigue Beneath the Waves at some point in the future.
"I was extremely impressed by the huge amount of preparation do by yourself and the team regarding props and the like. An excellent evening all round."