Archive for gamemastering

Exalted is a great game, but White Wolf is doing it wrong

Posted in Game design, Gamecraft, Games with tags , , , , , , , on November 10, 2009 by Olorin

I originally intended to write this post in June, but sometimes things just don’t work out as planned. At that time, I had just recently bought Manual of Exalted Power: The Infernals, a great source of information on the Green Sun Princes and their immortal masters.

A week before coming up with the idea of this post I had also bought HeroQuest 2.0, the new edition of Robin Laws’ story-oriented roleplaying game, at the Tentacles Convention. But more about that soon.

So, what actually is wrong with Exalted?

Firstly, I think I have to make clear that I really, really like Exalted. The setting and the attitude, that is. The problem is, the system doesn’t properly enforce either of these two things. Yes yes, we have the Stunts. Big yahoo-friggin’-doodle deal. The system fucks that up, too, especially in the second edition.

Still, it’s not my intent to belittle the work those designers have done. It’s not that the system is objectively bad. Rather, it’s a good system for some other game. You don’t get fast-paced anime-action with a system that makes you count Ticks and micromanage your resources (mainly, Essence).

Yes, the Golden Rule is there. But that is just a smokescreen to go on with sloppy design. You see, if I started to change the aspects that I see as needing fixing, it would brake too many related things. It’d be an endless cycle. Might as well do it myself from the beginning.

For example, dropping Ticks altogether and switching to exchange-based conflicts, would lead to the need of dropping or changing the movement rules. These two changes would brake many Charms. So you’d have to fix those too. Et cetera ad nauseam. Why drop the Ticks? They are just venom to doing Stunts. Ticks force you to break your narration into tiny bits that, when separated, aren’t that impressive.

Like this:
First action: “I run towards the huge two-headed serpent.”
Second action: “I run up it’s back and left neck.”
Third action: “I take a good foothold, raise my Grimcleacer and chop into it’s cranium.”
And between every action, there are (likely) other people’s actions and almost-narrations of almost-cool things almost-happening.

It’s not like all that glorious Stunting-goodness is grinding the game to a halt, you don’t need to come up with specific mechanics to tone it down!

There are also other, smaller things on my list that seem counter-intuitive to the supposed “spirit of the game.” To make your character unique in the field of magic, you have two options. Your combos, and the option to come up with your own charms. And they they don’t support the latter. Why does that feel like there’s a “We’d prefer you playing with our pre-made charms instead of having you, like, being creative” -mentality behind that? The other option is that they’re just either lazy or stupid. And let’s be honest, none of these options is a desired conception.

There are many more small things that just annoy the hell outta me, but it’d take the whole night to go through all of them, so I’ll just stick with these that could be remedied quite painlessly (by changing the core design philosophy).

It might seem odd to state that despite all of this, I won’t abandon the game’s own system altogether. It is still sufficently good when I want to do some semi-heavy character-micromanaging, and of course for powergaming. That system positively welcomes anyone who wants to game the system or play the mechanics. It’s bulk just isn’t for every game.

But, it’s easy to complain about this and that, and do nothing about it.

This is where HeroQuest come in. With it’s flavor-driven character creation the second point above, the uniqueness of magic, is easily achieved. I have also been thinking about how the different magic systems in Exalted should be structured in HeroQuest. I have made some progress, and might put it up as a post of it’s own, some other time.

The first point is quite easily fixed with HQ, too, because it doesn’t have combat system that traces your actions, second by second. You’re free to “Stunt” your brains out.

So in conclusion, the people of White Wolf mean well. Their execution just doesn’t do justice to the game’s spirit.

I think I’ll leave it here for now. Let’s see if I want to poke on the pile of things-wrong-in-Exalted again some time.

Currently playing: Machinae Supremacy – Anthem Apocalyptica

Chilling Heat, conclusion

Posted in Chilling Heat, Games I've ran with tags , , on November 8, 2009 by Olorin

So, that was about it. It was a very amusing game in the end, although somewhere along the way I had doubts whether it’s gonna hold together or fall apart. Main reason for this was of course the fact that I honestly didn’t know, at least for the first two sessions, where it should, could or might go. My preparation for the game was a list random things that had came to my mind at some point. It was only between the second and the third session that I finally came up with some focus and direction: the unspeakable servant and fate of Richard Shanahan.

I tried to find some relevance and meaning for the abandoned house and the mystical mirror, but it just wasn’t there. It was too random, too different. So that’s one thing I’m gonna drop if I ever run this scenario again, or write it up properly. Other thing that will be cut is that damned snowfall. Yes, it certainly generated very enjoyable event, but in the end it was just too weird. Although I might say that a tornado avoiding things and generally not breaking anything at all is too weird, also. Maybe I’ll just go with regular snow.

So what really had happend? Why were there two dead bodies of Dick Shanahan? Elementary, my dear Watson. The one in the basement was the real one. He had just finalized the ritual for the servant when this one nameless fleshworker came seeking for the McGuffin, that precious knife. (Now that I think of it, I realize I forgot to mention that the characters found this outsider’s wallet, which included a driver’s licence with his previous face on it, while they searched for the knife.) And that’s not all. The nameless fleshworker was also possessed by a demon which knew some really strong magick. Magick, which allowed “them” to see Dick’s memories, to reveal the whereabouts of the knife. But they also found out that his niece and a student of a friend were coming, and decided to play along a few days. They didn’t want Dick’s death be known quite so soon. So the demon read Dick’s memories and the fleshworker worked his magick to become Dick.

Too bad the demon was a bloodthirsty sadistic son of a bitch, who just couldn’t help himself and used the poor fleshworker’s body to his own ends. And that ended up well, didn’t it?

So that’s definitely the thing I want to preserve. That’s just too juicy a twist to throw away. I will also keep the NPCs, and possibly come up with a few more. The fire at the school was directly related to Megan’s Noble Trigger, so that’s really not a keeper.

I actually have only one thing I’m not that sure about. Should I write the PCs by myself or do it like the first time, and only give some guidance and pointers?

I might definitely have forgotten something, but those are propably things that aren’t worth mentioning to begin with. :)

And that’s finally it. I wrote the first post for this write-up over 16 months ago. That certainly took way too long to finish. I really have to re-think when’s the next time I’m gonna do something like this again. I have one campaign log from an Exalted campaign that I thought I’d like to write-up, but this really gives some perpective. This game was only five sessions long, and still… damn. And that Exalted campaign took somewhere around 8 months in real time, maybe 20-24 sessions or so, to play through.

That’s some heavy perspective.

Currently playing: White Skull – Time for Glory

Chilling Heat, part 5

Posted in Chilling Heat, Games I've ran with tags , , on November 7, 2009 by Olorin

A ragged man stood there in the doorway. By the look of his messy hair and bristle, one could’ve taken him just a random bum who had just wandered in. But there was something that didn’t fit. His eyes were too sharp, his gruff voice had a hint of something untangible and when he walked in and towards the bed, a silent tinkle accompanied him.

I think it’s plausible to say that it can be quite disturbing if one hasn’t seen a fleshworker in action before. And that’s propably how it felt like, to see that odd man moulding Derek’s hand like it was Plasticine. And in a few minutes that felt like agonizing hours, he was done. Excluding the trails of blood on Derek’s hand, his arm looked like as if nothing had happened.

I don’t remember whether he bargained with them before or after he did his “thing.” Either way, it was an opressing situation for Megan and Osmon, as they really didn’t have other options. Derek was slowly bleeding to death and they propably had no time to take him to anywhere else.

Soon afterwards, as Derek came to, they left the clinic and met with the odd man outside. He bargained with them, giving some cryptic clues and as a payback demanded a certain knife Richard had had. (Consequently it was exactly the same “thing” Derek’s mentor had sent him to get.) He also described it roughly so now they knew what to look for. After getting them to agree to the bargain, he adviced that they should get rid off the unspeakable servant on the loose (that monstrous ox in the woods, in part 4), and how that might be achieved. You can say that they weren’t happy to hear that only the master can really wound the creature.

Back at the farm, characters getting seriously desperate. Finally someone proposed if they could use Dick’s bodyparts as weapons or at least his teeth as ammunition. Megan wasn’t amused, to say the least. Off to bed they went, to wake up to the already familiar hopelessness. Derek or Osmon heard some quiet, yet heavy scuttling under the floor during the night, but though he was just having a dream.

Megan prepares some breakfast with Sam while Derek and Osmon get to work, digging up Dick’s corpse and starting to pull of his teeth. Yummy. Their masterplan was to fill some shotgun shells with teeth instead of pellets. Doesn’t sound very effective, but at least it was a very creative approach from them. And it just fit the mood perfectly.

It was still a tad surprising thet they didn’t try to whip up some makeshift spears out of the bigger bones or something like that. At some point the Sheriff appeared again, looking for Dick. It was then that the characters got an idea, and decided to use the Sheriff and his Deputy as aids in their horrifying task. They told that Dick had gone hiking and hadn’t returned, and that they were planning to go look for him. Of course this got the Sheriff’s attention, and while a bit lazy, he still took situations like this seriously.

Off to the woods to face the horrid beast. They split into two teams, the Sheriff in the first and the Deputy in the second, so they could stay in contact with their walkie-talkies. I don’t remember which character was with whom, but that’s not crucial anyway. At some point, while keeping the camera on Team Sherifff, something happened to Team Deputy. There were Deputy’s incoherent screams in the radio and they [Team Sheriff] heard shots being fired. At this point I yet didn’t say anything to the player whose character had been with the Deputy (it might have been Derek, now that I think of it), and just followed Team Sheriff as they hurried through the thickets.

Finally they found Derek unharmed (he had managed to claw his way up a tree) who then told the Sheriff that a wild, possibly rabid ox had charged out of nowhere. The Deputy had tried to stop it with his sidearm, to no avail. Now the Deputy was nowhere to be found, and Derek hadn’t seen what happened. He actually had tried to use his magick against it, but it just didn’t cut it. While heroically protecting his sorry ass, the Deputy had gotten stuck on the ox’s horn and was dragged away.

The Sheriff decided that he had to get more men, as the situation certainly seemed more dangerous than presumed. He allowed the characters to keep on looking (for some reason I can’t recollect), and left for his car to organize a hunting party.

After following the hoofprints for awhile, Derek came up to a small clearing (they had spread a little, walking in line). Oddly, the hoofprints vanished. The clearing seemed unoccupied, so he headed warily onwards. And then, as he had almost crossed the clearing, he heard snorting just right behind him. Freezing on that spot, a few heartbeats later he dared to turn around, just to find himself staring right into the eyes of that otherworldly beast.

On Derek’s sides, Osmon and Megan heard the noises, too. Fighting their urge to flee, they turned their steps towards Derek.

But it was strange. The beast just stood there, with no sign of malice or frenzy they’d witnessed before. It seemed to be just… ruminating. Osmon decided to take advantage of what seemed like a one-time chance, and let his shotgun, loaded with teeth, do the talking.

And nothing. Maybe just a minor scratch. And any second now, all hell might break loose.

Still nothing. I think it was Derek or Megan who decided to approach it, and talk to it. And basically s/he just said: “Could you go away?” And then the thing just melted into a big puddle of really black goo. Were the characters (and players) dumbstruck? You can bet on it. After that they just returned to the farm, for they still had to find that one certain knife.

As a sidenote, I didn’t, and don’t have any proper writeup for that artifact. But it’s a tool of great use to a fleshworker, as it doubles the charge gain when used. Slice off your ear with it? Double the juice! (Well okay, maybe it shouldn’t work with major charges.)

They delivered the knife to the strange man on the town, even though Derek was not happy about it. They decided to wrap things up a bit on the farm, before parting ways. Derek, while napping in the living room, heard that scuttling mentioned earlier. Megan and Osmon agreed to hearing it too, so they decided to check the basement. Armed with flashlight and more conventional weapons, they slowly descended the creaky stairs.

Black spiderlike… things shunned away from the lights, and Derek froze on the sight of the Tenebrae (his Fear Trigger). And just to get the ultimate mindfuck out of it, they found Richard’s dead body. Osmon stormed right up the stairs, past Derek and with out stopping, behind the barn. He began to open the grave, just to find Richard’s remains, just the way they left ’em.

Inside, Derek picked himself up and investigated what had upset Osmon that much. I definitely looked just like Dick, only a bit differently decomposed. But this one was missing it’s left eye. He also noticed that the fingertips were all messed up, like he had been scraping them against something hard and rough. And on the wall noticed a frail message, written in blood:


The next day, they left. Osmon hitched a ride from the truck stop, Derek went on his own and Megan left with Sam. Megan stopped at the gas station to get some refill, and suddenly she heard a horrfyingly familiar voice. Turning around, she saw her husband before her, holding a shotgun. Aimed at her. She tried to ran for her own gun, but there was just the loud bang, and after that, only darkness and cold.

We all were quiet for a moment, as this was playing on the background.

Bang bang, he shot me down
Bang bang, I hit the ground
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang, my baby shot me down…

Soon, the final post (finally!) with some conclusions, thoughts and explanations.

Currently playing: Nancy Sinatra – Bang Bang

My roleplaying history

Posted in Games with tags , on June 22, 2009 by Olorin

A roleplaying active and a rising name in the finnish scene, Sami Koponen, encouraged a handfull of finnish roleplayers and scene-actives, me included, to write about our roleplaying history.

Because of Other Things(tm) in my life keeping me occupied, I’m writing this quite a bit later than the others, but nonetheless I present you what has happened to me along the Way thus far.

The beginning

It all began some time around 5th or 6th grade. Me and couple of my friends (I’ll call ’em M and R) heard that one guy (I’ll call him T) on our grade was doing something called roleplaying with his big brother & his friends. Well, we were curious and as we were already familiar with the concept of “controlling a character you make up” thanks to normal children’s play, we decided to give it a try. At that point all we knew was that roleplaying involves the use of dice and that every character is given some sort of numerical values to tell how strong they are. Oh and we also knew that one of the players needs to be a gamemaster who tells the players what happens around them. And then we encaged in something that could be described as collaborative storytelling. Much like most of out plays of that time. Yeah, in hindsight I could say the we were proto-roleplaying already before that. That just was the first counscious effort at it.

And that’s actually quite essential concidering the question of why I became a roleplayer. You see, I’ve never been a what you could call a fantasy literature enthusiast. The first fantasy novel I ever read was The Lord of the Rings and I didn’t read that until in senior high school. So during that time, in the lower level of comprehensive school, I mostly read just The Famous Five and Nancy Drew (it’s okay to laugh now). And comics, of course. But still, for some reason, I had the interest towards fantasy stories. Maybe it was some movie I had seen or some comics I had read, but it was there. Also those plays we had had imbued me with a drive to create stories.

Now that’s what I’d call a proper breeding ground.

The real deal

So we did our version of roleplaying for some time, until T asked if we wanted to try Real Roleplaying(tm). And boy did we! That’s how I got into RuneQuest, the first real rpg I ever played. (Do you see a pattern here? First no fantasy novels, then not even D&D. What the hell? I was surely off to a good start.) So, it was truly amusing. First of all were these strangely strangely shaped dice! And a character sheet with lots and lots of text! Good thing I didn’t feel too overwhelmed. I still have memories that I think are from my first RQ-adventure. We wandered in an underground evil cultist temple of some sort. My character encountered his end prematurely when I had to choose between laundryshaft and wasteshaft when trying to hide from the cultists. Well, M and R encouraged me to choose the wasteshaft and so I did. We found out that the cultists disposed of their waste with a tunnel to a pool of lava. Still, I wasn’t traumatized by that (in your face, Tyranny of Fun!) and I kept on playing.

Going on

During the following years we had lots of fun although R grew apart from us during the junior high (7th through 9th grade in here). So for many years it was just me, T and M, T acting as the gamemaster. We didn’t play in Glorantha for T found it more fun (I think) to create settings of his own “on the fly.” At some point we started a little experimental campaign on the side. It was corporation agents in a cyberpunk near-future Russia. It went on for several years. And what system did we use? Why, RuneQuest, of course. It was basically the only one we knew of, and we were familiar with it.

It was all well and good. Then in senior high I started to make my first own game! Well, that project is still on the table (mostly in the drawer) and have been through quite a lot changes during it’s eight or so years. Damn, it’s already been that long. Other changes also happened during that time. First T’s big brother introduced to T some new finnish (and I hadn’t been even aware that such things exist!) game called Praedor. We didn’t get to play it right away, as the book still belonged to T’s brother who lived in another town. But when he came to home during the summer, we got to try it out. And boy, was that a strange experience at first. Years after years nothing but RQ. It definitely took some time to get used to it, but in the end it stuck.

During senior high was also the time when I tested my wings as a gamemaster, and well… it wasn’t that good. It could’ve been worse, I’m sure of that. But it was still quite terrible. No matter what, it was a step I had to take. And I’m happy I did. Also, during 2000 or 2001, we had an occasional member joining our group. Didn’t manage to get much done with him as he was almost all the time busy with other things, but new blood nonetheless.


And then came 2002. M went to carry out his compulsory military service in January. Me and T tried to game once or twice, but it just didn’t really happen. Then when M returned it was T’s turn. Me and M tried to game, too, but to no avail. January 2003, and it was my turn. T was still on sercive as a non-commissioned officer. When me and T finally got out in the summer, there was not much time, as T was going to college in another town. I spent the year wondering what to do with my life, until came summer of 2004. I applied for Degree Programme in Software Engineering in Jyväskylä Polytechnic (nowdays Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences), went to Ropecon the first time and finally moved here.

New horizons

I found a new gaming group (if you’re reading this, guys, you’re awesome <3) which has now quite effectively disbanded as 40% of us have moved to another town. I also found other players and started gamemastering again, encouraged by who knows what.

Since that fall of 2004 I've played more or less regularly with 22 other local roleplayers, 4 of whom have also/entirely been gamemasters and I can soon add two more people to that count.

I have found countless new games to like, exposed myself to rpg theory, gotten myself into the finnish rpg scene, I’ve been an administrator of the roleplaying site Kiukkuisen Oravan majatalo (The tavern of Angry Squirrel) for four years, and the other owner of it for three years. I’ve read a lot and learned a lot, about roleplaying in general and rpg design in particular. These past five years have actually been quite awesome. I’ve also learned about myself and my preferences, which has in the same time made things clearer and easier, but also a bit trickier.

These have been pretty good 15 years, roleplaying-wise, and I definitely could’ve spent my time with poorer hobbies. Now I’m positively excited and curious what the next 15 years will give.

Sami’s own history in finnish: Kehä laajenee: Henkilökohtainen roolipelihistoriani
Other brothers to answer the call:
NiTessine: My Gaming History
Thanuir: My rpg history
Eero Tuovinen, in his usual Eeroish style writing so much he had to divide it into five separate parts: My Roleplaying History #1, #2, #3, #4, #5
Late additions:
Merten: My roleplaying history
Gastogh: How I got into fantasy and RPGs
Navdi: My gaming history, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.
Sope: Roolipelihistoriani osa 1, osa 2, osa 3, osa 4, osa 5.

Currently playing: The Birthday Massacre – Looking Glass

Chilling Heat, part 4

Posted in Chilling Heat, Games I've ran with tags , , on February 28, 2009 by Olorin

Dick lying lifelessly in a puddle of blood and Megan sobbing in the corner, Derek and Osmon were scratching their heads, the big question lingering in their minds: What now? Soon they noticed that the ruckus had awoken Sam, and he was coming up the stairs. Seconds went by slowly. How would Sam react? A grown up orang-utang can tear a man up to pieces easily. Luckily, Sam wasn’t of the kind that go berserk in situations like this. Derek and Osmon carried the body to the barn for the time being, every one gathered in the kitchen and a bottle of whisky was opened. And then another. In drunken stupor everyone went to sleep uneasily.

It was already a late morning when they began to woke up. Osmon was cooking some hangover breakfast, when some knocked on the front door. Deathlike silence took over. Who could it be? What would they say if some one asked for Dick? What if some had come for Megan? It didn’t really help to find out, that it was the cops. To be presice, the Sheriff, with his Deputy waiting in the car. I don’t remember his exact business, but he was looking for Dick. They gave him a plausible excuse for Dick’s absence, and he left without too much suspicion.

After breakfast Derek and Osmon set out to bury Dick’s remains behind the barn, for there was already a suitable ditch that Dick had been digging. (Curiously, it was the size of a grave, and for that it had made Osmon a little suspicious earlier. Maybe it really was for them, but Dick now being dead instead of them, there was no way to be sure.)

I don’t really remember when the next thing happened, but I’ll put it up now as it just came to my mind. It definitely happened after Richard’s death.

Late in the evening, the three of them decided to delve into the mystery of the hoof prints. Armed with flashlights, they followed the still visible tracks for a mile or so, and found themselves at the edge of a forest. Encouraging themselves, they pushed on. After a couple minutes walk, they got this strange hunch. Almost like someone, or something, was watching them. And they didn’t have to wait long, for in a few blinks something huge came crashing through the underbrush.

Only narrowly avoiding the charge, they had a heck of job to gather their wits. Derek pulled out his six-shooter and briefly pondered whether to aim at himself or the beast, and decided to try his luck with latter. It might’ve been wise to decide otherwise. At the same time Megan was taking a better look at their attacker, and doubted her eyesight as there seemed to be some kind of tentacles or organs protuding from the beast body. Osmon, being the valorous guy he is, was already halfway up a tree.

Derek pulled the trigger and cursed in his head, as it seemed that the bullet nearly ricocheted off the monstrous ox’s skin. And then he didn’t have time anymore. The beast rushed towards him, pierced his forearm with it’s horn, throwing him almost three meters into air. After that, it just run away.

Megan, her heart pounding and fearing the worst, approached Derek who was lying there silently. Then weak moan. Thanking God, she rushed beside him, and did all she could to restrain the bleeding. With Osmon’s help, they rushed Derek back to the farm, and loaded him into Dick’s Cadillac.

After a tormenting drive they finally arrived to Vega and rushed to see the doctor. The doctor? Of course the drunken cretin Derek had met earlier. And this time he wasn’t just hungover, has was positively as high as a kite. So it’s propably quite understandable that Osmon and Megan weren’t amused when doc thought that he must absolutely amputate Derek’s arm, with a bonesaw. One swing of a bedpan later the doctor was resting peacefully on the floor.

Then suddenly a gruff voice interrupted them. A shabby looking man they had seen a couple days earlier stood there. “Looks like you need help,” he said.

Yes, they had met him in passing a while ago. Derek had taken notice that he had a very gruff voice and silent tinkle accompanied him. The known characteristics of a person referred to as The Freak. Someone who he had earlier took as just a rumor.

Accidentally, when Derek lied on the bed bleeding and unconcious, the following song happened to play on the background. We found it quite amusing.

Currently playing: Bob Dylan – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

Chilling heat, part 3

Posted in Chilling Heat, Games I've ran with tags , , on February 26, 2009 by Olorin

Okay, so I was thinking of commenting the contents of the previous post, but I realized that there really is not much to say, except that at that point I didn’t yet have a clear vision of what was going on, so I was just throwing all of my ideas in, hoping that something good would come off. Now, in hindsight, if I were to run this scenario again, I would leave the haunted house out. Or at least drop the mirror-beings completely.

But now, moving onward.

Megan’s uncle, Richard “Dick” Shanahan, took the posse with him to his home, a one hour drive from Vega. Yes, for some reason Dick invited Osmon too. I had decided beforehand that Dick had a some sort of soul sight, so he could recognize adepts and avatars, although he himself was neither.

Dick lived on a simple farm with a medium sized house and a barn. After our protagonists had settled, they met Dick’s friend Sam. The funny thing is, Sam was an orang-utang. (Did I mention that Dick kinda looked like Clint Eastwood?) I really liked Sam as character, for he certainly wasn’t just a mere pet. Sam cooked (proficiently), played poker (surprisingly well) and drank whisky (and hold his liquor better than Derek). Dick also reassured Megan that she was completely safe while she was here, but he didn’t give explanation. The reason is, of course, quite simple. To not be an adept or an avatar, doesn’t mean that one can’t do magick. During his long and adventorous life Dick had picked up some pretty useful rituals, and one of those was sort of “hiding” anyone residing in the house from public consciousness. (For those interested: I didn’t make up any spesifics for that ritual, because those weren’t really relevant for the scenario. Sorry.)

But, after an evening of tasty beans, good whisky and some poker, everyone went to bed. Megan got the guestroom, Derek found himself quite comfortable on the sofa and I think Osmon fell asleep outside, in front of the house. Next morning Megan wake up with a crumbled note on the nightstand, on it written with illegible letters a warning that they (she, Osmon, Derek) were in grave danger. Also some strange tracks had appeared around Osmon. Closer inspection suggested them to be left by some sort of huge cloven-hoofed animal. At this point my memories blur a little, but I think that Osmon tells others of his discovery, and Dick thinks that some neighbour of his might have lost an ox.

I have recollection of what happened next, during the day. They propably visited Vega, and the occultist’s house, but to no avail. During the day Derek also inquires after the item which he was supposed to take to his mentor. Dick gives him an ambiguous answer that he’s still searching for and so on, and also dodges the question considering what kind of item is in question.

Fast forward to the following night. Megan’s sleeping uneasily, and wakes up in the middle of the night to a weak creak. Quite soon she realizes that someone’s in the room, and in a split-second she has rolled of the bed. And just in time, as she hears some sharp implement piercing her mattress. Throwing the bedside lamp towards the presumed location of this unknown attacker, she sprints towards the door and almost makes it, but feeling a big and strong hand grasping her ankle, she has only an instant to brace for sudden impact with the hardwood floor. Struggling onwards to the illuminated staircase, she manages to stand up and face her aggressor. Quite a surprise it was to find out that it was Richard, her very own and dear uncle!

Megan’s shouts of course woke Derek and Osmon, now both sleeping in the living room, who soon rushed to see what had upset Megan. Meanwhile Dick continued his assault on Megan, trying to slash her with big hunting knife. Derek and Osmon joining, they continued to struggle for a while until Megan picked a heavy bronze statue from a small table, and hit her uncle in the head. And again. And again. Dick lied still on the floor, a pool of blood growing around his head. When [Derek or Osmon] checked, he was sure that Dick really was dead.

Oh boy did I enjoy that one. My friend playing Megan is quite an immersive player, and that moment gave her some tough shit to deal with. I truly wish that I could give moments as strong as that was, in (almost) all of my games, at least once per character.

Currently playing: System of a Down – Violent Pornography

Chilling heat, part 2

Posted in Chilling Heat, Games I've ran with tags , , on January 26, 2009 by Olorin

So, let’s get this show on the road again. From now on this might get kinda ruminative, but at this point trying to strictly keep things in chronological order would be just plain impossible.

It seems I forgot to mention some things that happened prior to the snowy day. There were at least some guy trying to rob the convenience store while Derek was present. And of course he had to get some juice, so he just told the pathetic criminal, who was waving around with his sawn-off, to fuck off. Just to make the poor villain’s day even worse, Megan also happened by. And being the DYI -kind of person and an avatar and all, she just had to interfere. With the shotgun she had with her. The very same shotgun she used to kill her husband. First there was this freak who didn’t seem to give a shit about the possibility to get his head shot off in a moments notice, but in addition into the store rushes this broad with more balls than a mountain lion and a frigging shotgun! You could say he was truly between a rock and a hard place. So what could the poor bastard do? The only thing there was left: he wet his pants, dropped his gun and ran like bloodthirsty grizzlies sent by the IRS were to get him.

I think one more think happened before the next events. After visiting the doctor, Derek went to the local drugstore. In there he noticed that in the backroom the assisting pharmacist was putting some white powder from a jar that had the text “rat poison” on it, into ordinary looking capsules. When the assistant noticed that he was being watched, he calmly rose and closed the door. Oh boy, did the players have fun with this one. They called the cops at least twice, if not even thrice. They also broke in to he pharmacy with Derek’s “good fortune,” but found no incriminating evidences. I think I finally came up with some explanation that I delivered through the Seriff, but I don’t remember anymore what it was.

There’s also something else that happened during the snowy day, which I forgot to mention last time. I started with poking at Derek’s trigger event, the thing that had sent him on a journey into the occult underground. He had been a mechanic, in a simple but succesful car repair shop. Then one day came a curious man, whose mere presence gave Derek the creeps, brought his SUV for some basic repairs. A couple days went by with strange little accidents happening in the garage. Shit happens and so on. But when the car intently ran over Derek’s boss without anyone driving it, he wasn’t going to wait and see who’s next. And in that small town of Vega, far from the garage he had left behind, he saw that very same car passing by. Without a driver.

While Derek was having his sphincter’s strength tested, Megan noticed her pendant was behaving strangely, for it had begun swingin on its own. As she observed it for a while, she came to conclude that it was certainly pointing in a certain direction.

So, Derek following tread marks and Megan her pendant, they both arrived to an old abandoned house. Osmon too found his way there, following a completely blue man, a sight which related to his trigger event. Unfortunately I don’t remember the specifics anymore. The house looked like no one had lived there in decades. They had an uneasy talk about how the others happened to come by exactly at the same time. Osmon asked them both if they were hungry and offered them some (cold) canned beans. For the rest of the game Osmon would continue to offer his beans every now and then. Strangely, for some reason or the other, they both politely refused the kind offer. During the whole scenario, a total of three strange things happened in that house. 1) Sound of footsteps going from upstair to downstairs and to basement. 2) Strange figures in the mirror in the attic. 3) Return of the strange mirror figures. I also have a strange feeling that there might’ve been a third time with the mirror, but it’s not essential.

I’m not sure if both #1 and #2 happened during the first visit… oh wait, I think I just remembered. Megan’s pendant was the thing that pointed them towards the attic. Yes, that’s how it went. Anyway, the mirror. It was antique but in good shape, just somewhat dusty. While one of them was standing in front of it, she noticed that her reflection was giving her the finger, at least figuratively speaking. They were obviously baffled by this phenomenon, until three robed figures appeared in the mirror. (Quite crowded, eh?) The figures recited a cryptic message to them, and then just faded away. Now if only I could find my notes, I could put the message up here. But it was something about the one on the left saying it is the first, The Shadow. The middle one said it is the second, The Faceless. Finally the one on the right called itself the third, The Torch.

So, they were left wondering what the hell just happened, but I wasn’t going to let them go that easily. Then came the footsteps. Drawn by their shared curiosity they followed the steps to the kitchen, where the door to the basement was. The funny thing is, prior to going to the attic, the door had been locked and even a crowbar they found was powerless before the force that had kept the door sealed. And now the door was ajar. Carfully they began to descent into the dark and damp basement, with just Derek’s lighter providing the tinyest amount of barely adequate light. Slowly their eyes accustomed to the darkness and they spotted something, no, someone, hangin from the ceiling, at the business end of a hangman’s noose. And CRACK! That’s when the rotten wooden stairs gave in under their weight. As they came to, it was dark. The lighter had went out and for some reason the door was closed. After finding the lighter (and a lots of freaking out, Osmon especially – he was claustrophobic) they found out that… there was no body. Then, sounds from upstairs. Someone with a flashlight opened the door. It soon became clear that it was the cops who had been called to check on some trespassers. Enter the town’s Sheriff, who happend to be just like Sheriff J.W. Pepper, and his zealous Deputy. The Sheriff asked whether they were some wishy-washy occult-hippie-tourists, and characters decided to play along. They later found out that the house used to belong to some poet who had been a very eager occultist, and after his tragic death no one wanted the house because it was rumoured to be haunted. For that same reason it had become a kind of “Graceland” for small time occultists. The Deputy was not so kind and accused them being drug dealers or other scum of the same kind, but lucky for them, the Sheriff was more laid back and let them go after giving them one more warning. It was already dark so everyone went back to their accommodations.

The very next day came finally what Megan and Derek had been waiting for. Derek’s mentor had just said that Dick would be driving “a car you just can’t miss.” And Megan could recognize that pink cadillac even in her dreams. Uncle Richard was finally here.

Currently playing: Joe Romersa – Hometown