Vi hadde navn at Dialogtreff 2009

Posted by Aleksander R. Rødner On 13:08 1 comments

Session name: Vi hadde navn
Session type: One-off
Number of players: 4
About the game: Vi hadde navn (In English: We all had names) is a systemfree roleplaying game written by Matthijs Holter. He received the Norwegian state stipend for young artists to write it. It is an unconvensional roleplaying game in that each player plays different characters in each episode. The game master role rotates between players.

Another unconvensional feature is that for each episode, there are scenes whose start and end are scripted, with the middle left up to the players. I found it an excitingly different way of doing things, and think it works very well for this game.

Play resumè: Vi hadde navn consists of four episodes. In the first we meet a married couple, the Grynszpans. They live in Germany in 1938, when one evening they are told that they are to be deported. We then follow them as they cross the border to Poland. In the end, the wife writes a letter to one of their sons who lives in Paris.

The second episode features Herschel Grynszpan, who has received a letter from his mother. He first pleads with his uncle, Abraham, to help him with money, then goes to the German embassy in Paris, where he meets Ernst vom Rath. Ernst is in no way inclined to help Herschel, or his family, and briskly asks him to leave. The episode ends with Herschel shooting Ernst.

The third episode takes place in Berlin, on the night between november 9th and 10th of 1938. A gala dinner sees Hitler rush out of the room, without giving his customary speech, at which point Göbbels rises and tells them that vom Rath is dead. Although it is not said out loud, it is obvious that he wants the SS officers to take action against the jews of Berlin. We then follow an SS-officer to the synagogue in Kalberstrasse. The episode ends with a german butcher, Müller, writing in his diary about his guilt of not interceding in the riots on behalf of the jews.

The fourth, and last, episode follows three men in a train bound for Dachau. They talk between themselves about their lives, their hopes and fears. They even pray together. The episode ends with the men, along with thousands of others, entering Dachau, passing the gates and their message of "Arbeit macht frei".

Notes on the game: I played with three inexperienced players, who all took to roleplaying like fish to water. After initial giggles, the tension in the room was tangible, especially during the last episode. All in all, I enjoyed playing it, and will do so again.

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