Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Month In Gaming: August

This post is going to be very short because, frankly, I didn't do much gaming in August. The Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad were on something close to a hiatus (but did some stuff, I'll talk about that in a minute) and due to scheduling issues, my "A Night In Ur-Hadad" (formerly "FLAILSNAILS of Ur-Hadad") campaign has been hovering so close to its first major climax that I can taste it. Oh yeah, and this thing called GenCon happened last month. You might have heard about it.

My First Gaming Cross-Over Event

I'm sure that DMs have been talking about this, planning events like this and even putting them into action for ages, but in July & August, I held my first rpg cross over events. Stuff that had happened in the A Night In Ur-Hadad campaign bled over into the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad campaign and players in the latter had to deal with stuff that happened in the former.

Here's how it went down: the ANUH (A Night In Ur-Hadad) party had been working to thwart the efforts of the Bloody Successors, a terrorist organization whose goal is the eradication of the Grand Vizier's regency of the First City and the return of the line of Paschas to rule of the city. Along the way, the Bloody Successors had assassinated the Grand Vizier's brother during an opera performance (while the party mistakenly killed several actors in an attempt to stop the murder) and hatched a plot to execute several nobles in a spectacular fashion during the Grand Circus chariot race in the Lucrewarren. The ANUH players (largely) stopped the Grand Circus murders (I think one or two nobles managed to die), killing off the fiendish murderer known only as the Shoveler, but it was far too late for Ur-Hadad; the Bloody Successor's attack on the Grand Circus was only a ruse to cover up their coup attempt on the city itself. By the time the assembled spectators knew what was going on, they'd been shut off from the city proper, unable to rise to her aid. Through trickery (which is how they do everything), the ANUH players sneaked into the city and struck at some of the Successors' troops before finding a way to get into the island prison in Ur-Hadad's harbor which the Bloody Successors (and their allied noble houses) were using as a base of operations. That party now stands poised to (potentially) strike a killing blow against the terrorist plot, while a Siccalian flotilla awaits the Successors' signal to begin the final invasion of Ur-Hadad.

Meanwhile, the Divine Order of the Purple Tentacle, as the players of the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad campaign like to refer to their characters as, had been setting themselves up a base of operations in a previously abandoned building in a poorly-reputed neighborhood in Ur-Hadad and dealing with some of the local color. While dealing with a particular mystery, they visited their ally, the spider sorcerer Amor Ba'Gish who, after the consult, suggested that everyone retire to the Lucrewarren for an afternoon's entertainment at the Grand Circus. Once the Purple Tentacle boys had placed their bets, the tragedy on the track struck and everyone managed to lose a lot of money. It was a dispirited Divine Order who discovered the Lotus Gate closed to them and who, now panicked, turned to Amor Ba'Gish for help getting back into the city. After teleporting back to the Divine Order's new chapterhouse (which required a stopover at the Gate Invisible, the first time such a trip was made in the history of Ur-Hadadly campaigns), the Divine Order was left to figure out how best to help defend their neighborhood (and thus their chapterhouse and stuff) from the Successors and their allies, and so a night of protecting different gates from (first) a detachment of Bloody Successors troops backed by two gigantic mountain apes and a tentacled horror that the Order dubbed the "Scroterror" (don't ask), to finally have +Wayne Snyder's thief Denny secure the next district over single-handedly by assassinating the Successor necromancer there assembling an undead host to assault their 'hood.

And so, though we don't yet know the final fate of the Bloody Successor revolution in Ur-Hadad, my first ever experiment with a multi-campaign cross-over event was a huge success. This was so much fun that I can easily see myself doing it again, whenever campaign events warrant. I grew up on the "summer crossover" business model from Marvel (starting with the Inferno event in ... was that '88? 89?) and loved it, and I hope my players will enjoy it here, too. Thanks to +Gabriel Perez Gallardi for the fantastic idea.

GenCon

Didn't I write about this already? Yeah, so GenCon happened in August and it was amazing. I played in at least one DCC session every day, most days running one and playing in another. Things I learned about DCC gaming while at GenCon:

  • Everyone uses the rules differently. +Jobe Bittman, for example, does some different stuff with Disapproval than the RAW, which makes it swingier and, usually, more brutal. 
  • Con gaming seems to be the perfect amount of "gaming commitment" for my wife. She gets a character, keeps it alive as long as she stays interested, then dies about the time her attention span starts to wane. Every character that she played over the weekend died, usually in triumphant and gory ways.
  • Fuck up wizards as much as you can during a Con game. If a wizard (or elf, for that matter) survives your session without dying, suffering corruption or some sort of horrific misfire, you need to try harder. 
  • For that matter, fuck up every PC you can. I instituted a policy for my off-the-grid games that you could bring any character you'd played that weekend that had survived (yes, relying on good faith here), but then proceeded to give them mutations, conjoined twins and psychic powers. And then they ate the space bat. Or found a laser pistol. Even if those PCs survived the session, they became fundamentally different than they were going in to it, which makes that shit much more fun.
So, yeah, we're hitting GenCon again next year, and I may even run a thing or two "on the grid," but that's not the gaming I'm looking forward to the most; that's going to be reserved for the impromptu, off-the-cuff shit that the DCC community folks end up running in the off hours. Next year, I'm sure that it will only get bigger and wilder, and there will always be room for more. 

The Iron Coast

The Iron Coast team met all of twice this past month due to RL commitments and GenCon, but some important things happened. The very first characters to level up in the campaign had that chance this month with +Matt Woodard's viking cleric, Artur, hitting 2nd and +Paul Linkowski's Siccalian artist-thief, Oosh, hitting 2nd (and then 3rd through carousing, which right now gives him the highest hp total in the group, which is a complete reversal from his prior total). The party defeated the chaotic sorceress who had taken up residence in the Lichway with her charmed henchmen and then retired to Port Scourge to mount one last expedition to find the tomb's as-yet-unclaimed treasures. The fight with the sorceress was fast and brutal, and it strikes me that this is precisely how combat works in ACKS and, indeed, OSR-style game in general; damage, at least at low levels, is dealt in relatively large chunks, making combat very swingy. When combat is over swiftly, that "used to DM 4e" part of my brain will kick in and think "this should have been harder," but when half the party's henchmen are dead and the PCs are teetering on death's door, how much harder could it have been? And so, the party meets with success, though much of it is hard-won. At least one other person has levelled since then, and I think several others are getting close but that's what you get for playing a fucking elf, +Mark Donkers

I got to test my new carousing rules, and they were a resounding success. Now, +Mark Donkers's elf spellsword has received a vision of the nearest weak point between the world of Ore and the Dreaming Dimension, +Scott Cambers's mage learned of a far-off place of great power and +Andy Block's elven courtier made an enemy. Absolutely all of those will be coming into play as the party transitions out of "let's investigate this dungeon" mode and into "let's explore the world!" mode. I think this is the first time I've ever played (much less run) a game that actually follows the traditional BX/BECMI mold of "dungeon fist, wilderness later," and frankly it's a very fun way to game. Get the feet wet first, then jump in the rest of the way to swim. Since the characters are starting to rack up goals that they'll need to act upon (and enemies that they'll need to defeat or run from), it really feels like doing it "by the book" (if we were gaming out of the BX books) is doing it right. Here's to all the awesome yet to come.