Sunday, January 25, 2015

"Manifest Destiny," Session 1: Auspicious Beginnings

Last night we ran the first session (sort of) of my new Call of Cthulhu campaign.  Only two of the four players were available (the other two will join in next session), and the fact that neither one of them had any experience with RPGs before this made for an interesting experience.  It's been, let's see...probably close to six years since I've taught Call of Cthulhu to anyone new, and I've never been anyone's absolute introduction to role-playing games before.  Everyone else had come from a background of D&D, for the most part, or at least console RPGs like Final Fantasy.

So we spent some time talking about what the game was about and how it worked, and I walked them through character creation ("This is a lot of math," one of them asked, "is it all going to be math?" I reassured her that post-character creation all math would be limited to simple addition and subtraction - mostly subtraction, from Hit Points and Sanity Points alike).  Here's what we ended up with:

Dr. Ryder
Dr. Rohan Ryder, disgraced and alcoholic surgeon and inventor.
Lady Eliza Ripper, P.hD, spy and occultist, and a dab hand with a fowling-gun as well.

"Rohan Ryder."  I just got that.  Damn.

Character's made, we ran a brief session to familiarize them with the mechanics.  I didn't want to go too far because there's a good spot to introduce the other two characters early on, and I didn't want to have too much happen before the second two players arrived.

What happened:

Drs Ryder and Ripper arrived at Monticello as per Thomas Jefferson's request, and he laid out the
Eliza coolly reaches for her gun.

"Governor Meriwether Lewis has died, allegedly by his own hand, the night of October 11th at an inn 75 miles south of Nashville.  Some discrepancies in the testimonies of witnesses lead me to wonder if this was, in fact, suicide or if Governor Lewis has in fact been murdered.  The fact that he apparently shot himself three times, twice in the head, while carrying only two pistols raises question enough for me to see this matter investigated.  This is where you two, as well as two other agents you will meet shortly, come in."

After reviewing the testimonies of Priscilla Griner, proprietess of Griner's Stand, the inn where Lewis died, and of Major James Neelly, one of Lewis' travelling companions, the investigators set out on horseback for Nashville.

Along the way, they had an encounter with a trio of highwaymen that ended quickly after Eliza whipped out a blunderbuss and ventilated the lead highwayman.

"He's dead? Great! I dance in his blood and then we can eat him!" remarked Eliza's player, demonstrating, perhaps, the difference in sanity between player and character.  When asked why she wanted to eat him, her response was "Well, we didn't pack food for the trip, did we?"

the blunderbuss in question.
Arriving in Nashville with no further issue, as they made their way to the house where Brigadier General William Clark was staying they were stopped by a stooped, bearded, shabby-looking man who urged them to turn back, forget their mission, accept that Lewis died by his own hand and go home.  When they tried to question him, he flashed a gold badge consisting of a drafter's square, a compass, and an eyeball and explained that he was under orders and could not say anything more.  As Eliza and Dr. Ryder debated what to do about this, the shabby man disappeared into the crowd.

That's where this session ended, and where the next session (February 7th) will begin.  Everyone had fun, despite the shortness of the session, and they're looking forward to coming back and seeing what happens next time "especially once things get weird," as Eliza's player remarked.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Gaming in the Frozen North; or, Why I'm Writing Instead of Painting Right Now

It's too cold to paint.  To clarify, not that I can no longer hold a brush between shaking, frost-bitten fingers; my apartment complex actually includes heat with the rent so I can keep my apartment appropriately toasty without breaking the bank.  No, the issue is that I can't go outside and prime anything to paint it because it's 5 degrees during the hottest part of the day.

So I'm moving forward with some role-playing material.  I tend to DM, rather than play (and at this point, I'm not sure I can successfully take off the DM-Hat and put on the Player-Hat, which is fine, because I excel at being the DM), and I tend to run a lot of Cthulhu games and I'm moving more and more in the direction of conspiracy theory, alternate/secret history games.

A few months back I ran a great game set in the Caribbean in 1588 in which the player-characters were agents recruited by the British Crown to investigate some curious Spanish activity.  They ultimately discovered that the Spanish had allied with the Grey aliens from Zeta Reticuli -- in this alternate history, the Roswell UFO crash occurred four centuries early and the wreckage of the flying saucer discovered by Francisco Coronado -- and ended up detonating a load of explosives inside the rebuilt flying saucer, lethally irradiating the Spanish mission settlement of "Buena Rosa" in the process.  I actually started this blog with the intent that I'd use it for post-session reports, but that dropped off after two sessions.  The campaign can be listened to, however, as we recorded it as a podcast.  Look up "Blood and Cannonfire" on iTunes to listen.  If you don't have iTunes, it can also be listened to on my friend Wes' website, The Blood Sprayer.

Now I'm working on recruiting a couple of my coworkers for a follow-up; the people I've asked either primarily play D&D or a variant thereof, or have little to no experience, but plenty of interest, in role-playing games.

The campaign I've decided I want to run and am drumming up interest for?

The PCs are secret agents - "deniable assets," really - recruited by Thomas Jefferson to work behind the scenes protecting the fledgling America from threats foreign, domestic and supernatural and to ensure Americans the liberty to pursue and fulfill their "Manifest Destiny."

Inspirations will include Mike Mignola's "The Amazing Screw-On Head," the Manifest Destiny comic series, Dennis Wheatley novels, Ancient Astronaut flimflam and the various crocks of pseudohistorical conspiracy-mongering shit shown on what is increasingly-inaccurately referred to as "the History Channel."

The game system we'll be using will be the Basic Role-Playing (BRP) mechanic utilized by Call of Cthulhu, Stormbringer, and other role-playing games put out by Chaosium.  I like it because it's simple, straight-forward, and I can teach a new player everything they need to know to play the game in under five minutes.  I honestly don't have time these days to study or learn a new ruleset or get myself to the same level of comfort I have with BRP.

So that's where I'm at right now.  More news as it becomes available.