Posts tagged RPG Gameplay

When a Stuffed Animal GMs a Game

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Kobold Enterprise is hosting this month’s blog carnival where they ask about Epic Moments of GMing. As it turns out, I had one just last weekend at WittCon X hosted by the Wittenberg Roleplaying Guild! You see, I was part of a game run by this GM:

Steve the Badger

That’s right, I was part of a game that was GMed by Steve, the adorable stuffed animal mascot and patron deity (long story, described here) of the Wittenberg Roleplaying Guild. Basically, Steve came up with the game and didn’t tell even me about what sort of game he was running. Because he can’t speak, Steve required players to ask him questions about their situation, but of course he knew what sort of questions they might ask and anticipated their responses, giving them answers that fit his storyline.

I should mention that you should pay no attention to the man behind the GM screen who is occasionally rolling dice as part of the Mythic GM Emulator, a tool for creating scenarios on the fly as if a GM was there. You ask questions, roll dice to see the results, and then figure out what the results mean in the context of the situation. From time to time, random events happen that affect the story. But yeah, pay no attention to that man behind the GM screen. Steve planned the whole thing, not me.

The game was very over the top by design. It was used with the Risus system and any sort of character was allowed (we had characters such as a Robot with Heart, an SMG-Wielding Squid, and literally an average John Doe). The tone was designed to be frivolous and the game was only scheduled for one hour, so things got a bit wild as you’ll see.

The first session he ran was definitely the more interesting one. It turns out that Steve’s treasure was actually his girlfriend (none of us knew about her!) who had been kidnapped. She was trapped inside of a well just down the street, but this well had a number of very clever traps including a machine gun and illusion-producing machinery. On the way, the heroes met guild member Andy K. who gave them the sage advice to just beat stuff up in order to save Steve’s girlfriend.

The Man Behind the GM Screen: Time for a random event: Positive NPC. So someone is here to help you.

Player 1: Is he powerful? [Steve shakes head yes]

Player 2: Is he someone we know? Is he in the Roleplaying Guild? [yes]

Player 1: Is he Andy K? [definite yes]

Player 2: [after much laugher] Is he going to join us? [no]

Player 1: Does he have some advice for us?

The Man Behind the GM Screen: [rolls] Increase warfare.

Player 1: So I guess he’s telling us to just beat stuff up! Thanks Andy!

TMNT DonatelloAfter fleeing from the machine guns and dropping into the well, the heroes discovered that although there wasn’t a mutant race down there, there was one mutant: Donatello from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He told them that a crocodile, who was a leader of the mafia, had eaten the other Ninja Turtles and was holding Steve’s girlfriend hostage. So the heroes set off to stop him.

When they arrived, they discovered a crocodile in a pinstripe suit smoking a cigar. John Doe tried to fight him, but unfortunately got swallowed, only to find the other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles inside!

Player 1: I try and stab him [dice get rolled]

The Man Behind the GM Screen: As you move into stab him, he opens his mouth and completely swallows you. Oh look, doubles on the roll so another random event. [rolls] Another positive NPC. Hmm…

Player 1: Didn’t we establish earlier that the other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got eaten?

[Everyone realizes what this means and laughs!]

The Man Behind the GM Screen: Alright, so Steve says that you discover the remaining three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles inside. Wow, great planning Steve!

While the robot cut up the crocodile’s pinstripe suit and cigar in order to throw him off his game, John Doe tried to convince the Turtles that he was an innocent civilian and they had to rescue him. This gave them enough motivation to help break him out and defeat the croc once and for all. They rescued Steve’s girlfriend and saved the day!

The second session had some interesting moments, such as a whole band of bureaucrats guarding a phylactery containing Steve’s enlightenment. Across the two sessions, I had a lot of fun having a stuffed animal GMing the game and I was surprised at how cohesive his game wound up being. I’m sure that this will be a game that we’ll be talking about for years. Ultimately, an epic GM moment!

The Worst Day for a Character Ever

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First off, there are some Last Sons spoilers that would come up in the first two or three sessions.

Several weeks ago, I started up a Last Sons campaign and one of the characters has had probably the worst 24 hours I’ve ever seen a character experience.

His name was Sam “Red Dog” Reese, and he was a Union deserter turned bounty hunter heading to Deadwood, figuring it was a place that he could escape from the Union Army. Moreover, his commanding officer, Col. Brannon was an Enemy (Major) out hunting him down. As a GM, I put on a huge grin and let him play it.

After being ambushed by Sam Bass (the players captured him and planned to turn him in for a reward), the stagecoach driver got a raise on his Repair roll and finished the repairs in two hours, so I put them a bit ahead of schedule of what the PPC says and they arrived at Deadwood shortly before noon. But in the distance, they spotted an entire sea of blue figures swiftly marching towards Deadwood.

Sam started panicking and decided that the best thing to do was to hide himself in the hotel. So he looked at the map of Deadwood I’d printed out and decided to book a room at the Grand Central Hotel and hid in the room. After a while, he heard a ruckus downstairs and figured he’d check it out. Not only did he see a whole bunch of blue uniforms, but General Custer himself walked into his newly chosen headquarters for his occupation Deadwood. I totally didn’t make that up, the player chose to go to the hotel that The Last Sons said that Custer decided to make his headquarters!

So Sam jumped out the window to avoid being spotted by some people who knew him. At one point though, he did make eye contact with someone in his regiment. He hoped that he wouldn’t report to Col. Brannon.

After meeting with Charlie Bull and laying down for sleep at his house, there was a knock on the door from someone claiming to be an old friend of Sam’s. Charlie Bull told them they hadn’t seen him and turned them away. The posse decided to go out and investigate and got ambushed by a bunch of men from Sam’s old regiment. Colonel Brannon himself wasn’t there. After a midnight duel and a lot of bloodshed in the streets, the posse decided they needed to leave town ASAP before any additional soldiers found Sam.

They went for a few hours into the Black Hills that night and weathered out the storm under a rock crag near some of the pole-men hung up by the Sioux Indians as warnings towards those who violated the mining rules. Sam, unable to sleep, had first watch. During the night he thought that he saw one of the polemen moved. Figuring it wasn’t anything worth waking up his companions for, he went down to investigate. When he got up next to it, the poleman came to life and lashed a rope around his neck before he could scream. He nearly was hanged to death, but with a lucky shot was able to shoot the rope.

The gunshot woke up his Huckster companion, but the third companion (with the Heavy Sleeper Hindrance) was sound asleep. After several rounds of combat against the poleman, it grabbed Sam and attempted to hang him again when one of the players played an adventure card having help from an outside source come to help. So I had a bunch of Union soldiers chasing Sam arrive on the scene.

The Huckster risked firing into melee…and got a Critical Failure, shooting Sam straight in the gut with a raise. Unable to soak his wounds, Sam took three of them and the next round was hanged to death by the pole man. The Union soldiers saw that Sam was dead and headed back to Deadwood to report to Col. Brannon.

But that’s not the end. I fanned out the remaining cards in the action deck and, with just one card to draw, he drew the Joker! So after the party buried poor Sam, he woke up buried alive and discovered that he was a dead man walkin’.

So over the course of 24 hours, Sam, who fled to Deadwood to avoid the Union Army:

  • Arrived at the one city that Custer’s entire force decided to annex on the day it was happening
  • Booked a hotel room at the place Custer decided to use for his headquarters
  • Was spotted by members of his former regiment and had to kill them to keep them from turning him in
  • Had to leave town in the middle of the night during a downpour
  • Got ambushed by a poleman alone
  • Had members of his regiment show up in the middle of his distress
  • Got shotgunned (with a raise) by his commrade
  • Got hanged to death
  • Was buried alive and ultimately became a dead man

I’m sure this will be one of those stories we’ll talk about for years, but man was it a crazy experience! Never have I seen a character have such a horrendous day, all from choices that unwittingly led to trouble!

Supers, Nazis, and Stick Figures

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Part 2 of the Traveller review is going to be delayed because I want to share about an amazing ICONS session I had last night. ICONS is a rules-lite superhero game by Adamant Entertainment that is designed to replicate the feel of 4-color comics. Andy (the PlatinumWarlock) ran an adventure for the Wittenberg Role-playing Guild that he called Achtung, Amigos! The description was as follows:

Called to look into the disappearance of noted anthropologist Dr. Anthony Arrington, the Huntsmen leap into action! Deep in the jungles of the Yucatan, it’s up to America’s premier superhero group to find the good doctor and his crew before it’s too late. But, what’s all this wreckage? And Nazis?! What are those guys doing here?!

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a picture we drew of the final battle:

This all took place in a swamp in the Everglades. On the left we’ve got Dead-Man Walker in a Nazi swamp-skimmer taking out five Nazis at once.

In the center is a Nazi VTOL, but another swamp-skimmer crashed into it and lit it on fire. The Big Bad Nazi Leader with the black trench coat (who is totally a ripoff of the guy from Raiders of the Lost Ark) is stuck in the mud so that only his head and most of his 2 meter sword are sticking out. On the ramp is the remains of some Nazi genetic experiment. At the bottom is a swamp where Shadowman IX was wrestling with that super-experiment until High Voltage sent a devastating shock to it.

And on the right, we’ve got the heroes’ VTOL with Rebel Yell, Pinpoint, and Murphy’s Law on board using their powers at range. In the air is Rebuild who is flying and launched his rockets at the swamp. Floating off the side of the VTOL is Jacob Marley the ghost, who tried brainwashing the Big Bad Nazi Leader by telepathically forcing All You Need is Love into his head. But unfortunately that didn’t work because he had a Nazi playing German patriotic music on his sousaphone.

That’s ICONS for you. We had a blast and the stick figure drawings made it even more fun. Try it sometime!

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