Thursday, July 1, 2010

These are the Games of Our Lives - Part Three

Running: Call of Cthulhu - Final Flight

I ran this Pagan scenario as a one-off session the other week. I found it was laden with good detail, but almost completely undone by a poor layout. It’s a simple adventure involving a plane flight and then an aftermath of about the same length. It’s a nice idea, but the scenario as written involves a dozen NPC fellow passengers, including cabin crew and a major villain. This was pretty challenging, and while the scenario thoughtfully provided me with a matrix of their stat’s it didn’t do the same for their personality elements or motivations, making it a pretty hair-raising experience.

Then the second part of the scenario really needs some work, tying in the fairly cool elements sketched out in the scenario into a comprehensive story. IMHO, add in a story tree of possible actions and responses, options for setting it somewhere else at another time, and some colourful and fun pre-generated characters and you’d have a really excellent ‘con game. As it stands it was fun, but unnecessarily hard work.

Running: WFRP 3e

So, I’ve been intimidated by the new edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay since I purchased it. For those who don’t know, the game is played using a collection of cards, with relevant rules printed on them rather than having a rulebook as reference, and uses ‘special’ dice. I had played a game with Luke over Kapcon weekend, and wasn’t convinced that the game really did anything that 2e couldn’t do better, or that the special dice and card represented a worthwhile addition, given the associated mechanical hassle. However, having spent a decent chunk of money on it, I finally got up the courage to give it a run.

I ran it as written, rather than creating pre-gen’s like Luke did, as I don’t especially like reading rules in my free time, so was keen to learn with the players as we went (although obviously I did do some pre-reading).

The character creation session was extremely daunting. Players can spend their points on virtually any combination of statistic, wealth, or pick from a range of ‘action’ and ‘talent’ cards. By throwing it open like this, the players really need to read almost every card they might pick from in order to select the best value-for-points for their characters. Because they hadn’t played, this also meant that I needed to explain the rules as they went, so they had some idea of the relative merits of each selection. A huge job, made easier by the fact that the players, despite being a little overwhelmed, really engaged with the game.

Characters made, we then had just enough time for the into involving some brief roleplaying and a combat (I was determined to get the combat in so that the players could see how their choices worked in practice). It actually went very smoothly, and I was pleasantly surprised. The fight was flavourful and challenging, but I think ultimately a lot more empowering for the PC’s than a 2e equivalent would have been (at entry level that’d be rounds of everyone missing their targets).

I hope to get the next session under our belts next week. I am a little concerned as two of the players picked (and randomly chose) the Waywatcher and Swordmaster careers, which seems to make them pretty kick-ass in combat, when compared to the Gambler and Rat-Catcher. Story wise, appropriate, but I remember how incensed my 2e players were that some characters were better at combat than others – the idea that other characters are better in social situations, didn’t hold much sway. I’m also not convinced about abstract movement in combats where there are multiple attackers, nor do I find the monsters easy to run when there are many of them – however, time will tell if these kinks work themselves out.


  1. My impression is that the Swordmaster and Iron Breaker should be Advanced Careers but 3e wanted to get to the "fun" earlier. Then again, Rat Catchers are pretty awesome.

  2. Yeah, I'd agree with that, both Waywatcher and Swordmaster are kick ass (as you'd expect given their elite status in the wargame) but as I mentioned, I'm fine with it so long as the other players don't mind or feel it's unfair. Also the rat catcher + small but visious dog = cool!

  3. I don't recall it being too much of a bother until substantially into the game, once there was plate and cheesy masterworking in the offing for some characters.

    I think the "roleplaying characters" had the best time of it... but in part because we were pretty content to make our own fun. :D

  4. I agree about the making your own fun part :)

    The issue with the Swordmaster and Iron Breaker in 3e is that they start with a super duper two handed sword and Gromril Plate respectively. That essentially puts them at the apex of the PC's equipment life in 2e from the very beginning.

  5. Yeah, I also am not a fan of how many additional 'special' action cards those careers have - much more appropriate for an advanced career. But in my particular game the player has taken an Elric approach to the character making the great sword a story element, and allowing me to make it a drwback as well as an advantage, so I'm happy with that.

    Mash; you may be right about the degree of complaint, or it might just be that I feel any degree of game criticism more accutely. In either event I rate that WFRP 2e game as a very important step in understanding some of the implicit elements in the way I GM, and how they might not always suit some people.