Friday, September 24, 2010

Dirty Rotten Heroes

Last night was the third session of a four-part super hero mini-campaign of Truth & Justice. The villains are particularly despicable, having at this point killed over 2,000 people in their campaign of terror (and they'd tried to kill a stadium full of 50,000 as well).

The villains thus far have all been Invulnerable, Immortal, Intangible or just plain Untouchable. In the first 5 or 6 fights (the first 2.5 sessions), despite usually outnumbering them one villain versus 3 or more heroes in any given fight, we were unable to get any decisive victories. The bad guys always out-classing us, and always escaping.  Since any one of them can fight any three of us to a standstill (and, all assembled, there's about as many of them as there are of us), we've been getting kind of desperate.

Last session, there was a point where a group of four of us "heroes" managed to knock one of the villains unconscious. It was our first success. This particular villain was a thug - a super-powered thug, sure, but still nothing more than a hired gun, and unlikely to know anything useful. Plus, he had a lot of blood on his hands (literally and metaphorically).

So we chopped the unconscious villain into little pieces with an axe, on a public street. I kid you not.

Truly a bright and shining moment in super-hero stardom.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Last GwenCon

Gwen Con X, the last Gwen Con ever, was this past weekend. After some troubles with a bus Friday night, Sarah and I were able to make it over there for 4 RPG scenarios and a couple short games of "Are You The Werewolf?" Overall, it was a great weekend, and I'd have been happy if any of these games had run twice as long as they did. All the games had some meaty in-character inter-party-conflict, with PCs arguing with one another in a way that echoed the bittersweet dissolution of our favorite Con. Happy to be there, saddened to go, there was a real sense of "let's go out with a bang" which manifested in some delightfully dysfunctional scenarios. Here's some highlights:
  • We played in both of Tim Beach's lego games this year. Tim does these bizarre RPG mash-ups, with light rules so you can ham it up in-character. One of the games was a blend of several sci-fi franchises, with bits of Star Trek, BSG, Firefly, Terminator, Dr Who, and Galaxy Quest. The other was a "best of" game featuring characters and lego sets from the past 10 years of Tim's games at Gwen Con. Pretty crazy stuff, revolving around the love affair between Ash (from Evil Dead) and Catwoman (from DC Comics), while Dragons attacked Fort Legoredo and Zorro's horse played charades. In a lot of ways, Tim's games sum up the heart of Gwen Con for me, being scenarios you'll just never find anywhere else.
  • For a more conventional RPG experience, I played Vampire: The Requiem for the first time. I've done lots of Masquerade in the past, but this was my first actual test of the "new" system. The rules are really a streamlined improvement over the older system, and it looks to be relatively easy to house-rule back in the setting elements of the previous edition that you might feel are missing. I took to it far better than I thought I would. Session was too short, but with solid character acting all around, and the most "personal horror" I'd seen in 10 years or so. My character nearly shot himself in the head, and three out of the 4 PCs really struggled with the beast within. The fourth quickly embraced that beast and became a real monster, which served as a great roleplaying foil for the other three.
  • The academy award in the disfunctional party category was taken in a Cthulhu-meets-Cloverfield game that Michael Lee ran on Saturday night. It certainly wasn't a subtle scenario, and he really could have used a back-up character for the PC that died early, but it was a great game none the less. Two PCs were treasure-hunting archaeologists in it for the fame and glory, two were the Miskatonic University biologists who'd screwed them over, and two were the FBI agents investigating the other four. The scenario itself was short and sweet, and mainly just a pretense for the 6 players to bicker and threaten one another while a monster rampages in the background. You'd hate to have that conflict for a long-term game, but as a one-off it was a pretty clever device.
  • The two games of "Are You A Werewolf?" were likewise short and faux-argument-laden, but extremely enjoyable as a result. One of them was the most ridiculous game of Werewolf ever, with literally zero normal townsfolk, and special identities for everyone.

A great send-off to the Con series that first caused my wife and I to move to Seattle. Saying "good bye" to dozens of "once a year friends" was hard, but in several cases it at least motivated us to finally exchange contact info and make some efforts towards seeing certain people more frequently.

We'll miss Gwen Con dearly, but at least it rode off into the sunset gracefully instead of burning out or imploding.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Philosophical Reading

I just stumbled across a blog called "Points of Light: Mostly for D&D games". As the name says, it's mostly about D&D, which I don't play a lot of. It's also got a lot of "Edition Wars" related posts (he really likes 4th and hates Pathfinder), which are of limited interest to me. Every single paragraph has at least one "fucking" which seems a bit excessive.

But stepping past those complaints, as I read over his articles, I can't help but acknowledge that:
a) it's largely a fun read, with plenty of juicy rants and bitter humor,
b) I absolutely agree with his philosophy (and play style) every single time they come up. I found myself nodding yes as I read his posts about game balance, pacing, character niche, "noob traps", why requiring deep system mastery is a poor design choice, and what sorts of things really do provide a challenge to the players and what other mechanics claim to do so but actually are just unfair or annoying. I kept thinking that these were posts I would have written, if I engaged in more D&D, cussing, and sarcasm.

Overall, a fun site worth a read if you have any interest in recent D&D editions. I highly recommend starting with his snarky sarcastic review of what makes 3rd Ed "great".

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Meat Shield (Truth & Justice PC)

Played a little Truth & Justice last week. It's a reasonably rules-light superheroes RPG.

I tend to over-think my characters too much, and take way to long making a PC. So, with my back up against the wall at the game, I slapped together a thin parody of a character, which I named The Meat Shield. Despite being so shallow, the character was kind of fun to play.

The Meat Shield
  • Hot dog vendor by day, heroic sidekick by night.
  • His superhero suit is printed with the cuts of meat he could be chopped into.
  • He has some minor thematic equipment, such as a Knockwurstchuku and a hot-dog shaped cell phone, but nothing that actually provides a bonus (well, except the hot dog cart itself, which is mundane but amusing).
  • I intended him to just be a lackey, but discovered in the process of playing him that there's some pretty enjoyable grandstanding to be done when your character resides at the intersection of invulnerable and ridiculous.
  • Officially I'm the sidekick of the great Beef Wellington, a hero of immense girth reknown, who is, sadly, out of commission with some sort of food poisoning.
  • The police got annoyed with me in one scene, and put a "boot" on my hot dog cart. It's hard to be a superhero when your bicycle is being impounded.

Invulnerability +2
Regeneration +4

Body Guard +4
Karate +2
Unobtrusive +2
Bicycle-driven hot dog cart +2

Can't disobey anything a Superhero tells him to do (-2)