Thursday, September 30, 2010

Epic Finale

Tonight we concluded the Raid on Innsmouth. 18 different scenes over 4 epic sessions, featuring 36 different characters; 1 Coastguard Cutter, 2 Patrol Boats, 1 Submarine, a truck with a snow-plough and a cast of Marines, Coast-Guardsmen, Submariners, Treasury Agents, mobsters and regular investigators. It was a lot of work to prepare, and even more to deliver. Some of the epic scenes taxed my descriptive skills pretty heavily, and the sheer level of violence was like nothing I’ve run in Cthulhu, outside Masks of Nyarlathotep. Overall it was a lot of fun; completely different to the regular Kingsport game, and a hard thing to top, but at the very least, I think I did the scenario justice. The next thing to consider will be running a published campaign, although I’ll need to be careful to pick something that caters to both the slow atmospheric burn that some of my players prefer, and some bursts of frantic action that others enjoy.

On Spetember 9 I provided a brief players perspective review of 'Burning Stars' from Terrors From Beyond where I said "I am assured that all will be revealed in the conclusion, so reserve final judgement for now." Well, in fairness this scenario delivered a humdinger of a twist. Something so clever I've never seen it done before in a roleplaying game which takes my opinion of this scenario from 2/5 to 4.5/5. Despite this awesomeness, there were some elements which let down the playability of the scenario and it could do with a fair bit of tuning to really deliver on its awesome twist. Still, great stuff!

Monday, September 20, 2010

One Night as a Supervillain - Part 2

The night had begun well. I delivered my Best-Man speech, playing up on the idea that Thunderbird was a womanizer who hadn’t liked Kelly (the bride) from the beginning. I followed two heart-warming speeches from the groom and maid of honour, and could tell I had struck the right note when, as I sat down, there was a dejected, gloomy atmosphere amongst the wedding party. Then Jack (aka Thunderbird) went mingling with the guests, and to my delight made a number of jokes about how he could have sealed up the supposed victims of his organ harvesting with his ‘lazer gaze’.

Kelly, meanwhile, was sitting dejectedly on the stair with the remaining bridal party. Now I asked the ‘wait staff’ to deliver my note and folder to ‘Shadow’. I was testing Shadow to see if she was still capable of dark deeds, and the note instructed her to deliver the attached folder to the bride. The folder contained embarrassing pictures of the groom at a strip club, drunk and singing from the stag night (not the most incriminating - but it was what I had to work with, and I thought it might just tip the balance on her unhappiness with him). Shadow (aka Gwen) did so, and I was pleased.

Next my note was delivered to Kara, the cyborg who had defended Thunderbird from my malicious tabloid accusations, thus earning her a place in my plans. I sent her a note (supposedly from one of the magicians present) telling her that she had a virus in her system which would cause her to kill everyone present unless she delivered $5 million to the magician. To my delight she did, although I believe that the magician didn’t take the money. I had also sent a love note, supposedly from Kara, to one of the police detectives professing a desire to ‘interface’. This turned out to have broader ramifications than I had anticipated.

About this time Loki talked me (and Puck) into separating the wolf spirit from the superhero Fenris under the guise of a group wedding photo. I helped out, as it seemed likely to spread some mischief, and then made myself scarce as I didn’t want to be incriminated in the subsequent aftermath (there was quite a bit, and I did use this opportunity to voice my suspicions about ‘Lew’ the building manager aka Loki effectively double-crossing him).

I made sure to check in with Detective Bud Stone at regular intervals, to amplify the increasingly bizarre threats to the party (and world) and discuss the nature of Chaos Gods. Good times.

Now I made good on another of my objectives and spoke with ‘Shadow’ aka Gwen revealing that I was actually Coyote. Jackie had sent me some very cool fiction around how conflicted Gwen was before the game, before she knew my identity. Gwen had apparently just been dumped, and I tried to seize the moment to remind her how much fun being bad could be… It was the first of several encounters, where I tried, but ultimately failed, to talk her into coming to the dark side – but to be fair, it’s pretty hard to compete with an Angel cop.

About this time Loki told me that we had unwittingly brought about Ragnarok, by our releasing the wolf spirit. I told him that as it was his plan to cut the spirit free, it was down to him to fix things, and to my surprise, and his credit – he actually did, even though it alerted the party-goers to his identity and ultimately brought about his demise. At one time it seemed that we might need a willing human sacrifice to save the day, so I tried very hard to hint that only a true hero aka Thunderbird might be willing to make the supreme sacrifice, but alas he wasn’t biting and apparently another method was found. I did manage to arrange some media mischief, after I convinced Thunderbird to save some folks caught up in the wake of the devouring wolf.

The party was getting pretty wild now, with magical rituals galore, and I was getting nervous that I’d be rumbled soon, so I triggered my pièce de résistance, an arrest warrant for the groom’s father, Harry. I had taken pains to use a different envelope and format to the other letters, in case someone got wise to the sender, and hoped that Harry would be lead out in handcuffs, much to the distress of the groom. Unfortunately all the parties were very mature, and no immediate arrest was made. I even alerted to bridal party, lest they miss it, but alas it was not until the end of the night that this scene was played out, after Coyote had left.

Now things were getting downright hostile at the party. Puck was destroyed, and Loki fled, to return for a brief showdown – the ‘omnipotent’ gods were going down like flies. Gwen urged me to leave, and given that the newly reincarnated Galahad and Merlin were actively searching for me, not to mention her Angel cop boyfriend, Coyote did just that, leaving Justin Mallone with a killer hangover and no memory of what had happened.

In review; it was a brilliant game and great fun. Jenni and Paul did a fantastic job, especially as I learn about the other plots that were taking place. I am a little disappointed that I failed in my primary goal of messing with Thunderbird, as his own account seems to indicate that a love triangle caused him much more grief than all my efforts combined. I’m also torn as to whether I should have revealed myself, and faced Thunderbird down, forcing him to destroy Justin. But leaving the party when I did, just felt right for the Coyote.

One Night as a Supervillain - Part 1

On Saturday I attended the Super Reception, a one-night superhero LARP created by Paul and Jenni. I played the part of Justin Mallone, the Best Man, soldier and government liaison to the League of Heroes. Of course, I was also Coyote, a Native American trickster-god who was the arch nemesis of the groom (Thunderbird). I had capriciously possessed Mallone, in order to humiliate Thunderbird, at the stag night before the wedding, and cause trouble at the reception.

That was pretty much the brief. I was told I had nearly unlimited power, and that two other chaos gods (Loki and Puck) would also be attending undercover, presumably each with their own agenda. I was given a little information about the Grooms family (parents Harry and Melissa) and also told that Coyote’s old flame Shadow would also be attending, but that she had turned over a new leaf, although might be up for some fun.

Clearly I didn’t want to ruin the game for the other players by doing anything too spectacular, but equally, it seemed that to achieve my goals I would need to spoil the reception for the newlyweds. If my identity was discovered too soon, it seemed likely that Thunderbird and the other heroes would likely attack, and at the very least, I’d need to leave the party (and thus the game). I was also told that I was ‘looking forward’ to my Best-Man speech.

It seemed the best way to cause havoc would be to have the bride and groom distrustful, even perhaps at each other’s throats. So with that premise, I started by creating a number of fictional tabloid stories in the lead-up to the wedding. I didn’t actually have any information about the contemporary Thunderbird, so I just assumed he was like Superman, and made up a story about how he might have been implicated in a black market organ trading racket (based on real-life civic corruption). Then, as I wanted to start Kelly distrusting his integrity, I framed him for a Tiger Woods style scandal story.

For the night itself, I pre-prepared a number of messages, almost all lies, to be delivered by the wait staff (GM’s). That way I could watch the messages being delivered, and then try and amplify their impact as Mallone (I even sent one to myself to avoid suspicion). I targeted the bride, and the grooms family with a message that Coyote had possessed the groom and planned to do terrible things to the bride later that night. When this was delivered I even arranged for the groom to be ‘tested’ for possession by a magician guest, who confirmed that he was possessed (Thunderbird is also a Native-American spirit), but I tried to make the most of this diagnosis, hoping someone might attack or imprison the groom. Sadly no-one wanted to take action.

To be continued...

Thursday, September 9, 2010


This week was a busy week in gaming for me:

Monday: Playtest of Splinter of Corruption. This game reminded me just how much I love some aspects of sci-fi horror. It’s a really solid scenario, with some truly great gimmicks to help reinforce the tension. I played with a crew of relative strangers (bar one) and I think Doug got a really thorough test. There are some things to be tweaked and tidied, but overall it should be great for Fright Night. It inspired me enough to pull out my copy of Rogue Trader and think about whether I might be able to squeeze in another Kapcon game.

Tuesday: D&D Campaign. My character’s troublemaking has finally led to some consequences for the group and we spent the first half of the session treading carefully around some strong views (both in and out-of-character) about how the characters should be interacting with the environment. Then, to our genuine surprise, a fairly powerful creature showed up and tried to kill us. A pretty epic fight ensued.

Wednesday: Kapcon LARP meeting.

Thursday: The Burning Stars. A new Call of Cthulhu adventure from Terrors of Beyond with a creepy premise which involves the investigators waking in a Haiti military hospital with no memories. Unfortunately the pre-generated characters seem too light on detail to really let the players understand the initial setup and buy-in; flashbacks might have helped. In my view there also seems to be more railroading than is necessary for a good scenario. I am assured that all will be revealed in the conclusion, so reserve final judgement for now.