Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Base = Touched

I haven't written in my blog in quite awhile, so I thought I'd just post some updates on stuff that's been going on:

About three weeks ago, I played my first game of the new edition of Call of Cthulhu. It was a massive, ten-player adventure. I ran my own adventure, "One Night in Innsmouth," a kinda-sorta homage to the Lovecraft short story "Shadow Over Innsmouth." The players each had to go to Innsmouth for different reasons: one group were family who were visiting a house bequeathed to them by a deceased relative; another group were searching for their lost sister, who was last known traveling to Innsmouth; and a third group was led by a bootlegger looking to start a speakeasy in Innsmouth.

I spent about half the session rolling with their various efforts, then, when night fell, I hit them with the Deep Ones. The rest of the adventure was classic survival horror: running from Deep Ones, gathering weapons and conserving ammo, and otherwise trying to escape this nightmare they fell into. In the end, almost every player died, whether in a boat that was overtaken with Deep Ones, or as a human sacrifice to Cthulhu. Only one player survived, by hiding in a garbage can literally the entire second half of the adventure.

Overall, it was one of my favorite sessions in a long time. It was great meeting new players, and the challenge of running a ten-player horror game was fun. The 7th edition of CoC is the best yet, combining decades of refinement with some new ideas harvested from current design sensibilities. On the improvement end, some of the plot hooks were lopsided; if I ever run this adventure again, I'll probably revisit the various plot threads and refine them to make them all equally-valid adventure options (until the fish-folk come after them, anyway). I'm going to post a link on G+ to the adventure as it was written, so if you, Dear Reader, would like to see more details (or possibly even run the adventure itself), please feel free to do so.

Two weeks later, I met with four of those ten players and played a first session of World Wide Wrestling, the latest Powered by the Apocalypse RPG. It was a bittersweet session, overall. The game itself was as fast, frantic, and as gloriously chaotic as I had hoped a PbtA RPG about professional wrestling would be. On the other hand, a lot of the new school philosophy (the players tell the story; the GM puts it together and makes it work) that's infused into any Apocalypse Engine game and required to function optimally was missing from my group. Two of the four players were pretty much playing it like a more traditional, tactical RPG, trying to inflict maximum damage and personal gain while sustaining minimum loss. It's not so much that they "didn't get it" so much as that's just not what they do. I can relate; I don't do it much, myself.

I'm not done with WWW; not by a wide shot. I definitely want to get this game to the table again, I think there's some real awesome potential here. But next time, I'm going to have to do some real thinking about how the game is going to go and what I'm going to have to do to make it work. Playing it in a literal fashion, off the page with little interpretation, had mixed results. We'll see what happens when I add my own take to the material, next time!

On the boardgaming front, I got in a couple of games of XCOM. I love it! It's probably my new favorite co-op. I'm not going to get into the general overview of it (Google XCOM: the Boardgame if you want to know the basics), but here's the bottom line for me: the real-time element adds tension and drama not normally seen in boardgames; the app is a bonafide game-changer that we'll probably see a lot more of in the future; and the combination of resource management and strategic-level thinking is an interesting blend not often seen, let alone done well, in other boardgames, particularly co-op games. My only complaint with the game is that the variety of content is just barely acceptable for the price point. It is painfully obvious that this is a game that will all but demand the purchase of its many inevitable expansions. Still, though, there is enough bang for the buck to make it an easy recommend, and if you're lucky enough to have a loose-pocketed friend pick it up on their own dime, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with it from your perspective!

Back to roleplaying...I am currently working on three different little projects. One is another Cthulhu adventure that is working up to being just as big and crazy as my previous one. Another is my reading of the fourth edition of Earthdawn, one of my favorite RPGs from high school and a total nostalgia trip to read; and some pre-production scouting for my next game. Right now, I'm bouncing around between The Strange or returning to WWW, but there's also a chance this weekend's CoC game will be a two-parter so there's that to consider, as well.

So that is the February recap. In addition to all this gaming, I'm still cranking out reviews for my side gig with Geek Native, so it's not so much that I'm not writing as I'm just not blogging. We'll see if that changes in the coming weeks...

The obsidimen, a playable race of rock people from Earthdawn.

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