My Life With Master's Endgame (MLWM 37-40) consists of opposed rolls between minion(s) and Master:

minion (LOVE minus WEARINESS) vs.

If the minion succeeds, the Endgame concludes and moves to the Epilogue, but if the minion fails he gains a point of Weariness. This seems problematic, as the manual admits "how protracted [the Endgame] could become if the Weariness of the minion grappling with the Master were to continue to grow" (MLWM 40).

The one time I've run MLWM, this protracted Endgame did indeed become a major issue, creating a set of scenes both boring and futile as the minions' increasing Weariness made it increasingly likely that they'd continue to fail and get ever more Weary. The Master can't win, but the minions can quickly reach the point where they're getting repeatedly captured by Townspeople or Outsiders because their Weariness has exceeded Reason (MLWM 35). My players literally revolted after an hour of this, and the game was abandoned.

I was certain we'd read the rules wrong, but I can't find anything I missed. So I looked at reviews and Actual Play records of the game, and found no reference to frustratingly endless Endgames there either. What gives? Is this a tactical error, a misreading of the manual, an intended feature, or a flaw in the system?

Are endless Endgames a mistake on my part? If not, how have you addressed endless Endgames in your play?


2 Answers 2


Your question was directly discussed in this Forge thread, where the designer says

"should it arise, my strong belief is that the endeavor of collaborative Master creation, group character creation, and the shared effort of play within the structure of the rules, being witness to failed Overtures and whatnot, actually results in game participants being eminently qualified to houserule their way out of a never-ending Endgame.

Once Endgame is initiated, the Master's death is a given. So in the event of a so-called never-ending Endgame, all we're really talking about is how long the group continues to play before deciding the minion characters have achieved Epilogue-conclusive scores. I believe groups are going to figure it out."

I guess your players revolting was the expected outcome?!

Considering the rules-as-written, the key stat in being able to challenge the Master and defeat him is Love. Endgame can be triggered when

"LOVE > FEAR plus WEARINESS" (p.37)

Thereafter, as you note, any Minion fighting the Master rolls

"Minion ( LOVE minus WEARINESS ) vs. Master ( FEAR plus SELF - LOATHING )" (p.38)

Note that the Endgame is always eventually winnable (although taking longer and longer as the Master gets more dice) since each die result is 0-3. So if/when the Master rolls all 0s the Minion can win (assuming the Minion does not roll all 0s); and the Minion can never die.

Minions who are fighting the Master can give each other aid re p.35:

"contribute LOVE minus WEARINESS in dice" and this aid is explicitly mentioned in the Endgame rules on p.40.

The minions not fighting the Master can have Overture scenes and thereby increase their love, before coming to the aid of the fighting minion.

Love across all characters is reduced when the Master kills Connections (before or during Endgame), which thereby makes the Endgame last longer. Of course the GM threatening the death of a connection can be a powerful contribution to the game. Something for a prospective GM to be aware of, summed up in this Forge thread:

"Pretty much the only pertinent place where it's useful (as in, supportive of the goals of the game) to kill off a Connection is when the character cares about it, the situation is a dramatic turning point (which in itself requires several preparation scenes) and it'll affect the character's Epilogue. In practice this means that you won't be killing more than one or two Connections in a game, at most, and then only near the end - such a death will then mean a critical turning point for the PC, who will proceed to either destruction or redemption immediately afterwards."

The Manifesto for Mastery comments:

"It is indeed tempting to Crush each and every object of Love. If you do, you will destroy the game. It may seem reasonable that the Master would want to destroy any resources the minions have to oppose him. Such thinking comes of regarding the Master as a character, not as a club. Remember that you are wielding the club for a purpose: To enable the catharsis of the players. The only method the rules give them for achieving that emotional release and taking the club away from you is to accumulate enough points of Love. If you systematically rob them of their Love points, you have stopped being a scapegoat and begun being a bully."

Considering the difference between triggering Endgame and defeating the Master, another Forge thread included this comment which may also be helpful:

"I don't think high starting Weariness or high starting Self-Loathing necessarily dictates who will trigger Endgame. However, high starting Self-Loathing does seem to be implicated in who will kill the Master. Two different things.

This is good because it means the Master has a higher chance to die in some kind of timely and satisfying way. What I mean is, the Master dies if (a) someone triggers Endgame and (b) a Minion kills him during Endgame. So it's good that the game doesn't force one character to carry the numerical weight of both (a) and (b)."

Re being Captured, this can generally only happen once per Minion. See Czege's comment in this thread:

"Regarding captures, interpret the text on page 35 to mean that Weariness must have been lower than Reason prior to the die roll:

"When ever a conflict resolution results in a minion's Weariness increasing to a value greater than Reason, the minion is captured by the Townspeople or Outsiders."

So, in general, it's a one-time event. But it could happen again if Reason were higher in a subsequent scene due to the presence of Innocents, and it could be entirely prevented if a Innocent were present in a scene where Weariness increased for a minion to greater than the unmodified value of Reason (from being equivalent to that value), and then not present for subsequent scenes where Weariness increased."


It seems like a mild flaw in the system, but one easily overcome through player or GM action. I don't think that you're reading the rules wrong.

Note that the characters not in conflict with The Master can ask to jump in, to aid one side or the other. Here's how I'd probably handle it:

  • Let the players drive The Master's conflict for the first round or two.
  • After that, if the players aren't doing it, have The Master narrate one of the other characters into The Master's conflict, even if it's to The Master's detriment (The Master doesn't have to act rationally when near death.)
  • If that still doesn't work, break the 4th wall, stop the game for a second, and directly encourage everyone to jump in and try to finish it.
  • Finally, once everyone's involved, give them additional bonuses for working together. For example, I might reduce The Master's FEAR if they all are allied against him or her. Safety in numbers after all.

Some indie games have rough edges, and you've found one. Over-ride the rules, and come up with a fun story that explains how the situation ends despite the rules as written. As long as it's fun and makes sense, your players will go along.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Seems like (aside from "ignore the rules when the rules aren't fun," which is generically useful but not necessarily helpful with my particular situation, given MLWM's relationship to rules) these suggestions will make the problem less likely but won't actually prevent the Endgame from becoming un-winnable. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Feb 14, 2015 at 0:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand your comment "given MLWM's relationship to rules". It's a game with constraining rules, but not one that stresses adherence to them, is it? I also don't understand your construction of the endgame as "winnable". MLWM is not a game that anyone "wins", really. Only one of the outcomes for the minions could even be considered "good", and the details of integration with the townspeople is driven by the player. I think there is an edge-case where the game is un-ending, but don't have a better solution than to ignore that, and try to prevent it when playing in the future. \$\endgroup\$
    – FengShui
    Feb 17, 2015 at 19:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you used this solution? If Rule 0 and participant conspiracy is the best answer, so be it, but the Stack's policies on homebrew and Good Subjective content need you to at least talk about why and how it's a solution which has worked for you. (Otherwise any answer suggesting an untested and unsupported solution is valid, and things get super cluttered super fast.) \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Feb 18, 2015 at 7:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ At this point, I don't really understand your objection to my partial solution, so I'm just going to let it stand. The suggestions to make the problem less likely based on my experience playing MLWM still have value. \$\endgroup\$
    – FengShui
    Feb 18, 2015 at 8:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not trying to explain my objections, as that'd require a discussion which the Stack is not a good place for; I probably shouldn't have engaged on that in the first place. Every answer still needs to be backed up. Editing in a bit of the how-and-why it worked for you would make it a better answer, more in line with Stack policies, and might put my concerns to rest as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Feb 18, 2015 at 8:06

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