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Not Just One, But Two - And A Half!

Looks as though the curse has been broken, folks - Rhys, Kev and I didn't get a single session of gaming in yesterday, we got two, and Kev's talking about running a Dungeons & Dragons campaign for Rhys and I! (He even borrowed my 3.5 Edition books!)

The lads got over here a little late. I figured it was a sure sign Rhys was becoming a gamer (see various prior comments re: herding cats), but later I discovered that Rhys had in fact tried a game out at one point, but was presumably bored to tears - as I was dropping Rhys off last night, Kev made a comment along the lines of, "See what I told you, it can be fun with the right people."

Per my last post, I decided to run InSpectres for the guys. Of the two games, InSpectres was easily the most fun. Our boys were Jim-Bob Smith (Kev) and Steven "The Shark" James (Rhys) of RPI (Randomly Precise Investigations), Sheridan Street, Cairns. Here are the things that really stick out in my mind:

  • Rhys detailing the corporate vehicle: a battered, gunmetal Kombi van with "RPI" spraypainted on the sides using a crude cardboard stencil. During the course of the job said van got a rather nasty gash down the side thanks to a botched Stress roll and very nearly had a tree fall on it.
  • Kev introducing the Mystery of the Plasma Rifle, an advanced piece of ghostbusting tech that somehow appeared in the Kombi one day. (This is yet to be solved.)
  • My detailing (after a bad Technology roll) that Albert, the CEO of RPI, had horrid mental scars from a bad experience with a DOS-based IBM XT computer back in the late eighties, refusing to equip the office with any computer more advanced than a scientific calculator as a result.
  • All of us creating a working adventure based on nothing more than the characters, the franchise and a roll of "Frantic, Monster, Infestation, Underwater" on the Client Contact table, which became a bunyip evicted from its home in Copperlode Dam by the sudden appearance of voracious beasts with big teeth.
  • Jim-Bob hauling the industrial-strength vacuum cleaner (ostensibly ghostbusting equipment) down the stairs to the underground bunker-cum-library of Musty Tomes to do some cleaning. Sadly, vaccuming was all the vacuum cleaner was used to do this time around.
  • Both Rhys and Kev using Confessionals to slap "Scaredy-Cat" characteristics on each other after some nasty Stress rolls.
  • The defeat of the nasty monsters using water-balloons, acidic pus and a self-propelled giant cattle syringe (yep, the Plasma Rifle never got used).
  • Lots and lots of laughter at the absurd situations we were all creating for Jim-Bob and the Shark.
  • Oh, yeah, and my turning Albert the CEO into a caricature of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen (the distinctive and oft-lampooned mannerisms, not the rampant paranoia and abuse of authority - although there's an idea there...).

In short, we definitely want to follow the progress of RPI, and I'm hoping the firm can hire Vickie, Simon and Cristel soon! It'll be interesting, as the firm, which started on six Franchise dice, wound up with only five after clean-up and vacation, even after a six was the high die on two Bank dice rolls (which nets the franchise an extra Bank die each time). Can the new blood turn a profit?

In slight contrast, our second game, the Starship Troopers module "Ice Station Zebra 24", was good, but not quite great; after having shared the GM weight around in InSpectres, the "Source of All Knowledge and Arbiter of The Rules" position given to the GM in traditional RPGs felt more awkward. Still, we had a good time as Privates Doyle and Choy explored the ice planet base and fought off attacking Bugs in a frantic attempt to escape. I managed to work in the Ideal Intro, complete with time-shifting, but I think it would work better as a PowerPoint presentation or some such.

Although I was on better GM form than the session with Vickie, Simon and Cristel, I still feel as though I have a lot to learn, both system-wise and GM-rolewise, when it comes to a more traditional game like Starship Troopers. Combat felt a bit, "You Roll, I Roll, You Roll, I Roll, Hey, You're Out of Hit Points", not helped by the fact that even the Warrior Bugs weren't able to beat the MI Troopers' substantial Defence scores. On the other hand, this was probably because I kept having the Warrior Bugs make straight attacks, not Grapples, which have a +14 to hit instead of the straight +4. Although I cooked up a rules summary for the players, I think I need one for myself as well, with things like Initiative, Fear, Special Attacks and Bug special qualities. Maybe the game would be more interesting if I didn't pull any punches.

(UPDATE 2 May 06: Actually, it turns out I was only using the warrior's base attack score, not the +9 it should have had from its claws, and I completely forgot about its Lethal Grapple ability - you know the bit in the movie where the Bug gets the FedNet field reporter? Yeah, that.)

Also, I really think Starship Troopers needs at least four players to really cook, especially in combat. I'm really not sure whether I'll do a campign soon; I loaned Kev Primetime Adventures in the hope of selling him on it. I think it's a nice middle-ground between a trad-RPG and the utter zaniness of InSpectres. Still, a Starship Troopers campaign with a focus on character, not just combat, could be good, and I have some ideas distilled from hanging out on The Forge and reading games like Sorcerer on how to make that work. Maybe more on those later.

Still, it looks like I'm going to get some experience as a player after a long while, what with Kev's campaign and Gaming Night at Trinity Bay SHS coming up this Friday (yep, the organiser is trying another one). I should be learning some interesting stuff about the D20 System from the other side of the GM's screen!

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So Albert the CEO is fond of telling folks "Now don't you worry about that"? :)

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