Friday, June 20, 2014

Recent Ogsomeness

Just a typical day in the land of Og:
Here you have sleestacks about to sacrifice a caveman on an altar to their unholy alien god. Behind them, several more neanderthals ride up in a flinstones-style car, while a phorusrhacidae (giant flightless carnivorous "terror bird", here played by an oversized dodo miniature) and an allosaurus watch on. The weird lump in a net next to the tirepile in the foreground is yet another hominid "hero" bound and awaiting his chance to be sacrificed by a lizardman priest. Yep, perfectly average day for our prehistoric ancestors, just dripping with verisimilitude.

I've run two games of Og in the last two weeks. One session had 4 players, 3 of whom had never played an RPG before. The other session had 7 players, 2 of whom I had never met before. Both games worked bangingly well, and I've been asked to break out the game again next month.

This is a big step up in Og-GM-ing frequency for me; I usually run the game about once a year. Mainly the long cooling-off cycle was because coming up with genuinely funny plotlines is hard, and the only alternative to running a truly funny scenario in Og is to dare to run its' bare-bones ass-backwards stupidly-simple d6-only retro combat mechanics.

Anyone who's ever read those rules thinks "OMG, this system is horrible! It's too limited and it takes forever to kill anything. I don't want to ever run this part of the game, so I'll just avoid all the fights and it'll be much better."

Those people are wrong.

True, the system is ridiculously light, and the fights are all rigged against the PCs, and it takes far too many hits to kill anything of importance, and your character will probably forget how to attack three times before the combat is done... and that's what makes it so awesome. In both of these recent sessions I had multiple combats running simultaneously on different parts of the table, and the pacing was still smooth and speedy. Seriously, if you've avoided big fights in Og because it seems like the combat system is made of un-fun, you're doing your players a disservice. Break out the biggest ugliest plastic dino you can find, and let them fail miserably for an hour or so. They'll laugh themselves to death.

As you can tell, I GM Og with a lot of props close at hand. It's an RPG where characters have extremely limited, damn-near-useless, vocabularies. This results in the "party", such as it is, scattering to the winds every chance they get. There is absolutely zero tactical planning and next to zero in-character cooperation. So I load the game down with as many WYSIWYG props as I can, so that everyone understands where things are and can judge for themselves just how screwed they are. (For the record, it's "very" screwed. Just sayin'.)

Towards that end, my wife and I have thrown together a few custom props for Og.
Props are a caveman's best friend.
From left to right:
  • D&D minis make fine cavemen. Ghouls, ghasts, taers, quaggoths, morlocks, poorly-equipped orcs, etc. Anything brutish and almost-human works fine as long as it's underdressed. I use a mixture of species for the PCs so they're easier to tell apart.
  • Land of the Lost references a plenty: 
    • the little crystal-matrix table I made from sculpey, in scale to the pylon and the cavemen.
    • the larger translucent crystal is from an icehouse set, and not to scale, but I sometimes use them to represent the pylon's matrix in-game.
    • the construction-paper pylon has little foldable flaps that let change it from open to closed formation as the fickle whims of fate demand.
  • My lovely wife made the excellent sculpey nest. I plan on using it every time we play. You can never have too many dino (or terror-bird, or pterodactyl) eggs.
  • "You Go Bang Food" are four of the cards I use to assign vocab words at random. Rarely do the words empower fully-formed sentences like that.
  • The doedicurus (5000lb spiky-tailed armadillo) is made by Safari Ltd, whose line of very fancy megafauna and dino minis can be found at all your better toy stores. (I shop Top Ten Toys in Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood.) If your budget is tight, most thriftstore toy departments will have some truly wretched hand-me-down plastic dinos that will work just fine, and the teeth-marks merely add to the authenticity.
  • The framework of a sculpey flinstones-style car I made yesterday just before heading to the game. It fits four cavemen in comfort.
  • My wife made a series of little sculpey flames useful for noting where the campfire is, which caveman set himself ablaze this time, and what portions of the jungle are currently being consumed by the wildfire.
  • She also crafted the stone wheel and it's too less-than-perfect prototypes to match the illustration of the "Build" skill from page 12 of Og Unearthed Edition. Stupid cavemen.

The crawling chaos; the plush abomination; Gnarly Hotep!
Sometimes all that hard work and sacrifice really pays off, such as shown above when the lizardfolk managed to summon up their foul god, Gnarly Hotep via an offering of caveman blood. Ia, Ia, Sleestack Ftagn! (Apparently some people spell it "Nyarlathotep", but he'll always be Gnarly Hotep to me.)

The crappy plastic trees and rocks in the backgrounds of my various pictures came in 2-dollar bags of plastic dinos or green army men. They are absolutely horrible, but they do the trick. They also get caught in my long hair every time I lean over the table to move a mini, so apparently I need to pack a pony-tail holder in my box of dinos and terrain.

Thanks to the in-character Draw skill, you can also sometimes ask your players to contribute props mid-session. Last night, one character was searching for beloved possession that had been stolen by the sleestacks. He was using Explore or Forage (I forget which) to search his tribe's cave (because the lizardmen who abducted half his tribe clearly weren't the main suspects in his infallible caveman logic) for the missing item, and rolled a "1".  Something caused him to forget how to search... so I turned to another PC who had the draw skill, and asked her to draw the dirty pictures that had distracted him.  You ready for the state-of-the-art in cave-painting porno?

NSFW Og Porn Alert!
Og Porn: Doin' it mammoth-style!
Yep, I run a classy game.

1 comment: said...

I'm sad I missed this adventure. My poor little Chaka and his Sleestak skull would have lots of fun in this game!

If I can make it to a game, I'll bring my dinos as well if you need more Rolf.