50 Games in 50 Weeks: Everyone Is John

Dec 16 2011

As part of DC Gameday, I volunteered to run a game of Everyone Is John.

System basics: Each player is a voice in the head of a totally insane man named John from Minneapolis. Each voice has a few skills, an obsession (something they really want to accomplish), and a pool of Willpower tokens. Whenever John is hurt, bored, or falls asleep, the voices all wager Willpower tokens to take control of John. The winner controls John until he’s hurt, bored, of falls asleep again.

The system perfectly simulates the competition among voices. The only potential issue is the absolute control of one voice and the lack of input from the other voices.

On the one hand, this system generates a very intense, one-on-one experience between the controlling voice and the GM. I’m sure it’s odd for a player to have the full attention of the GM for long stretches.

On the other hand, everyone else has nothing to do except observe. The player and DM have to be entertaining. I’d like to see a mechanic that allows non-controlling voices to give Willpower Points to the current voice, in exchange for accomplishing something the giver wants.

In our case, the system resulted in a very wacky story. Each voice had to deal with strange circumstances as they took over John–the players knew what had happened, but the voices didn’t–and had to cope.

That highlighted another difficulty: voices were often presented with situations that completely non-plussed them, because the voice has no context. I’d add a stipulation that voices remember only what’s happened since John’s most recent full night’s sleep. We may have been playing it wrong, though, by assuming that voices “lose consciousness” when they lose control.

Overall, the game itself was a lot of fun. The system provided a weird, strong, memorable experience that we learned quickly.

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