Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Recent Gaming Shenanigans

I haven't gotten around to much blogging lately, so here's a quick run-down of recent games I've played or GM'd. Probably any of these could have been an entire blog post unto themselves, and a few might still be if I find the time and energy.

  • I played Lacuna at the Emerald City Game Fest. This nearly became part of my "A good GM can save a bad system" post, but after a couple weeks of keeping it warm on the back burner of my mind, I've decided I don't like the taste of it after all. It's certainly unique, and an admirable experiment, but not one I plan to subject myself to again any time soon. Reviews I've read since suggest that PCs can perform all sorts of crazy stunts, but our game was rather more restrained than that. Ours played more like a mystery or detective story in which all the PCs had amnesia and expectations of cause and effect were upended. I had too many questions about the setting, and the GM (not just the NPCs) had too few answers; I found it frustrating. I guess I was hoping for Inception meets The Prisoner, and would have been totally okay with The Matrix meets Blue Velvet, but what I got was more like Memento meets Eraserhead. Interesting to watch, but damn hard to game in.
  • The day after that, our Truth & Justice campaign wrapped up. I was likewise never quite rocked by that campaign. I really wanted to be challenged more. The plot was a little slow, the villains not as colorful as they could have been, and just not enough tension or drama to really engage me. I would have preferred to have the baddies be a bit more "in your face". The players (myself included) share some of the burden as well, as we never really worked together well and didn't chase plot threads perhaps as well as we could have. I guess I wanted less dysfunction, and more action. The game thankfully didn't meltdown or implode, but it also never seemed to get beyond a simmer.
  • My Continuum campaign has had a few out-of-character hurdles. Individual sessions have been really good, but since it's a game where Information Is All, I can't really blog about any plotline (like the basilisk deaths near the 1527 Paracelsus symposiums, or the part where Derren Brown was posing as Christopher Marlowe) that's still in process. And they've been in-process for a long time, as we've only been getting half as many sessions as expected. Normally, I GM twice a week for two different playgroups in the same timeline/universe. The Wednesday night group had to take a month off from play because of one player doing a lot of summer travelling. Just before the Wednesday group returned to the game, the Tuesday group also had to take a month off because a huge work deadline hitting a player. So I had a couple weeks without GMing my Time-Travel game, preceded and followed by less GMing than normal.

Knowing in advance about the month-long gaps in my Continuum group's schedules, I planned to GM as often as possible for our Thursday night one-shot group. However, between my wife getting a promotion that totally rearranged our home schedule, a friend at that game coming down with chicken pox, and me getting sucked into a video game, then mired in a short patch of writers block... well, the month shot by with me just GMing once. That puts me in withdrawal. It gets ugly. My wife came home from work one day, and found me passed out in the bathroom with 3d6 sticking out of my brachial artery.

  • The one time I did get to GM on the one-shot night was Og, which I totally only ran because I couldn't quite get the pregens finished for the Cyberpunk scenario I was planning on running. Og is a very goofy caveman game. I've run it a couple times before, more than a year ago, and worked in some Land-of-the-Lost references and time-travel nonsense which seemed to go over well. This time, though, I think I bit off more than I could chew. The PCs scattered every chance they got, and I was left with too much plot for their limited caveman vocabularies. I started grasping at straws, and pulled out of my belly  The Great Gazoo, an intervention team from the Planet of the Apes, [a Slip-and-Slide, the Beach Boy's Pet Sounds] and about half a Roman Legion. I felt like it was a huge cluster-failure, but most of the players seemed to laugh their way through it.

This past week, however, the gaming has swung back around and apparently I've been on fire (or just really obnoxious).

  • Thursday night we played Lady Blackbird. Honestly, I lack confidence in Lady Blackbird's mechanics, and I think a bit more definition to the setting (and magic) would be a huge benefit. Leaving so much up to the players is dangerous, especially when I've been role-playing deprived for a week or two. I played Snargle, the shapeshifting goblin pilot, and I hammed it up to no end. There was way too much discussion of goblin-porno and the proper inflating of boobloons.  I'm quite certain it was nothing like what the designer of the game intended, and it may very well have undermined what the others at the table wanted too, but at least it entertained the bystanders at the game store.
  • Then the night after that, dinner with friends lead to an impromptu game of Microscope. Our setting was an alternate earth with urban fantasy elements, where famous fictional literary figures became real. Dracula, Lilith, and Dr. Jeckyl all made appearances. There was this scene where I played Dr. Jeckyl (which I pronounced Gee-kell with a thick scottish accent so I could sneak past the initial round of character declaration without most people realizing who I was really playing till the scene got going) and turned into Mr. Hyde and crawled around under the table in some very inappropriate LARP-ish antics with my secretary. What happens under the table, stays under the table.

I am definitely looking forward to getting my regular fix of plot, puzzle and drama sometime soon, in hopes that it will pull me out of this over-the-top perverted character-actor spiral.


Anonymous said...

Oh, trust me, Lady Blackbird can get much weirder than that ;)


r_b_bergstrom said...

I just went and read that thread you linked to. I'm not sure I agree with you about their game being crazier than ours.

We had an awful lot of discussion and pantomime involving Snargle's inflatable boobs, and just goblinoid transgenderism in general.

Then there was the Squidfucker.

The GM asked "so this NPC needs a flaw, one that would have reached your ears as a rumor of what a horrible person they are. Any ideas?"

Much of the plot of our second session revolved around the squidfucker, and his menagerie of mistress-monsters.