A Tale of Three Games

I have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to gaming; I have a group of 4-6 that gets together regularly about every 2 weeks, and an open game table drawing from double that number that gets together about once a month.

In the interests of focusing, I have three games in the new year.

Edge City. A system that started as White Wolf’s Aberrant system and has been adapted and adjusted and expanded so that it no longer resembles that system but in the broadest sense–I call it “Masks.” The plot: a city out of step with time, as “super villains” have used technology over and over to menace the city, which is protected by vigilante heroes; it has a “Batman, the animated series” feel to it but is brighter. Usually.

Search for the Sleeping Goddess. “Masks” fantasy. Started with the open table game, but when the characters got to a certain level of power and direction I broke off the very best “team” of characters and they will be going on a quest to find a way to wake a goddess that went quiescent centuries ago, but could help do battle with the undead.

Old School Hack: The Fictive Way. This game is now my open table. The loosely connected episodic play has tracked Timothy the Tulip, a gladiator, as he has taken on a quest to find a dragon’s lair and kill the dragon to take all the loot. He is getting dangerously close; probably two more sessions, he will accomplish that goal, then retire the character and by then I’ll have my geomorph stocker up, so we’ll try that out.

Three very different games. Edge City is what I consider the gourmet game, in that the characters deal with a complex tapestry of all kinds of genres seamlessly blended into a single setting, adding a depth and variety of good guys and bad guys that is hard to find elsewhere. Hundreds of pages of game record, half a dozen bad guy factions to keep track of as they scheme to do the characters in, scores of allies to pull in while fighting the good fight. Most of the violence is emotional and mental, but every now and then there’s a good dust-up.

Sadly, the main problem with this game is that the players each took on a sprawl of personal side quests so they drifted apart, all solo-playing at the table for half the session or more, then complained that there was too much to do. Implying that it was my job to tell them “no” if their side projects would detract from the game. Unused to the freedom, they ran all over, then took each possible objective as a mandated quest, fried their prioritizing circuitry, and froze up. Plus, some unwise decisions by a couple party members put everyone in jeopardy, and it reached a point where the players were not having fun. I offered to switch to another game, but a couple of the characters have a fierce and passionate love for this game and setting, and fought for it, and so we are still playing there; one player left the table on this one, and we’re rebalancing. I have some really cool ideas for the upcoming plots.

Still, all the kerfluffle encouraged me to build in a second game to alternate arcs with Edge City. Sleeping Goddess campaign will be sweet because in some ways it follows the D&D arc; they did dungeon crawls for a while, then got wealth and strength and looked to broader adventures requiring traveling.

One of the reasons I went fantasy was to try out dungeon crawling in Masks. They chose a party leader, they have a thief who is terribly helpful in finding secrets and looting corpses, a murderous wizard that tickles his player, a halfling (boggie) who we jokingly call the Ukranian Tractor Midget who can huck a javelin right through you, a follower of the god of border justice and protection who is also a tracker and archer… and one player was bored with her murder machine and got permission to play a were-bat, which she’s been dying to do and which would work well here.

So we’ll mix questing with going into dark and dangerous places. The goal is not loot–the goal is lore and objects that will aid them in waking the Sleeping Goddess.

Finally, Old School Hack. Everyone who has played it at my game table has been delighted–except my wife, who had a lot of fun, but ultimately finds it too silly for her tastes. My frustration with the open game table had been growing, so being able to switch to a game with minimal rules confusion, lots of hearty laughter and success, and generally high esprit de corps as a game mechanic was a good thing. Plus, I need to test the material I’m pumping out on the blog.

So. Three games standing. A dozen more I’d like to run, shadowy in the wings. But I have committed to these three games for 2012. And that’s basically all I ran in 2011 (the fantasy Masks open table morphed into the quest and OSH.)

As a closing note, one of the great things about running games I design myself is that I don’t have to buy game books, or ask my players to buy game books so they can play. I still DO buy game books, because I like ’em, but I strip mine them or use them to satisfy my curiosity, not running anything out of them rules as written.

So what are you running in the new year?

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2 Responses to A Tale of Three Games

  1. m.s. jackson says:

    Wow! You are a lucky man to have all that gaming going on. And the variety of the games is fantastic! You actually sound a lot like I was about twenty years ago. I had a few games going (Marvel and D&D) and I rarely used any established game book other than the core and ‘strip mined’ (I really like that term) comics, published setting books and modules for ideas and inspiration.

  2. fictivite says:

    Justin Alexander wrote a post on strip mining modules here.

    http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/5774/roleplaying-games/strip-mining-adventure-modules

    I used to play every Friday, for about 8 hours, often splitting into two campaign games in the same night… I’ve slowed down, but I still get a lot more gaming in than most people, and I don’t take that for granted.

    Weirdly enough, my creative energies have surged at system in the last 6 months or so, with little interest in worldbuilding. That’s unusual for me, but I’ll roll with it as far as it goes.

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