My long time gaming group has in recent years stagnated into EuroGame regularity, a mocking caricature of the cartoon in the D&D book of adventurers playing Papers & Paychecks. Keraptis and +2 Spevs are now efficiency experts in German Factories and optimizers of power grids. We now manage the medieval monasteries that as Evil Gnomes we once pillaged. Panfilio the Wild Mage is replaced with a red cube that allows me to build buildings.
This is not to say that I do not like these games, they are great and I sometimes wonder how to resolve shit in D&D beyond a Roll and Move without complicating things to a painful crawl. We don’t even get the press your luck of a Yahtzee. Iis a worker placement RPG possible, let alone desirable? Enough of these thoughts...
Like a long suffering couple looking for their lost spark we headed to a cabin in the woods of Southern Ohio. Instead of Dr Ruth, couple’s erotica and a bag of silicone dongs, I had a backpack of DCC. Friday was Russian Railroads, Blue Moon City, a failed attempt at the Werewolf Card Game, and finally an aborted Dead of Winter. I don’t dig a lot of the RPG-lite board games, and my Can’t-Hang-itis really flared up when my two characters were both killed in the first round on one roll each. People complain Tomb of Horrors sucks, but at least I’d have been able to say “I climb into the devil’s mouth.” I got a new card and was told that it really is fun, but I soon apologized for sucking and crashed out.
Originally I thought my friend Marty was going to run a Narcosa trip on Friday, but that didn’t happen. We couldn’t squeeze it in on Saturday because the game I ran went way long. For this Marty, I am sorry. Word on the street is he is pissed.
But the game I ran while long, was good, and here I will recount what transpired.
My original plan was to run a DCC-ified Savage Worlds, like the Outer Space Mining Disaster I did at BASHCon, but in a post-apocalyptic setting. When I started to pull my strands together for this Magical Weekend Game That Better Be Special, it occurred to me that I have had the most fun playing DCC, so why would I only import aspects of that to another game, rather than adjusting DCC to my needs? Because ‘you are lazy’ I replied to myself. A ha! But in a funnel, a zero level is a zero level, there is no need to make classes before this session, so I was convinced. The intent is that this will be a kick off to an ongoing campaign, so I decided to run with what I am currently most stoked over. I’ll figure out the rest when I need to.
So what about the game? I’ve read a little bit about people collaboratively creating their adventuring world using Microscope, saw at RPG Tips some sort of put your best ideas on a notecard, read about Beyond the Wall, then heard the Drink Spin Run play through, and those things got me thinking. I also played through half a season of The Quiet Year, and the map making town building gave me a couple other ideas.
A month or so ago I had asked everyone what sort of game they’d be into playing in and the consensus was post-apocalyptic. I was imagining something closer to Mad Max than Gamma World, but fuck it, I’d open it up for whatever. In preparation I created a series of questions to guide where we’d be going, stuff like “Why has this village been safe so far?” and about the specific residents of the town. I’ll do a full post with the process and question for those who may be interested.
We ended up with a tropical coastal settlement of about 400 people that grew and roasted Foffee, a coffee like thing, and also had good old boys distilling whiskey and rye, some of whom found out that this’ll be the day that I die. The town was powered by a small hydroelectric station on a river, and was also a sea port. This sea port was now not functioning because there was a blockade in effect conducted by Others on a cruise ship. These Others looked sorta like large nosed greys. The town was no utopia, a strict hierarchy was enforced. This was tolerated and even celebrated because it kept everyone safe and mostly drunk. There was an underground honey badger cult that forswore booze, and did not like the way the town was governed.
The political entity in charge was a council made up of representatives from the Foffee family, the Whiskey family, and a seemingly meritocratic scientific community.
We took a little more than an hour sketching all of this out, and also named some residents of the town. The resident created by the question “Who is the most irritating member of the village?” was named Beckett.
While everyone rolled up their slate’s ability scores I quickly put together a 1d60 table of occupations pulled from what the group came up with and also placed the named characters on the list. The named characters conferred an additional bonus based on the qualifier that was attached to them, for example, Hercules, the strongest guy in the village got a +2 to Strength. Beckett got a -2 to Personality.
After character creation we had probably been going for two and a half hours. A simple introductory encounter probably would have rounded out the session. Instead we barrelled onward.
In the town there was a dangerous bridge near the powerstation that spanned the river. People liked to get drunk on the bridge, and people would then fall off the bridge. This was one of the quirks of the town. The proper adventure began with all 24 characters hanging out at the bridge. Soon they heard an explosion. They quickly came to realize that the barracks and armory was on fire. Immediately there were grumblings that this must be the work of the Others on the cruise ship.
The villagers made their way to the armory, one brave soul even venturing in. After a few failed luck checks, this was the first to fall. Others came with bucket in hand but came to realize it would do little good in extinguishing this inferno. A few others pressed their luck, and spent it too, and managed to make it in and out of the armory with machine guns. (I sorta used the Crawl gun rules in Crawling Under a Broken Moon, and I sorta winged it.)
Some sharp eyed fellow noticed a sketchy character sneaking away into the night. He shortly thereafter met his end, much to the consternation of those that thought information might have been garnered had the miscreant been captured and questioned rather than slain, but hotter heads ruled the day.
The crew went down to the shore line to find three more suspicious figures attempting to shove off in an inflatable raft. The first flying side kick missed, but someone else figured shooting the raft would stop the escape. Once trapped, the saboteurs pulled out some wicked shock sticks, electrified maces designed for killing and frying not prodding or subduing. A few of the allies fell, but those that remained killed two and captured the last.
“Why did you blow up our armory” a member of the band asked.
“So you don’t have weapons when we come to kill you and take your stuff.”
“How many of you are on the boat?”
“A hundred thousand, so it's not even worth trying to stand against us.”
After a couple more questions and answers of which the veracity was doubtful the captive received a crossbow bolt through the back of his neck.
This brutality brought a couple of grumbles, but on the whole it seemed the band were happy fascists in a happy fascist town. The bind of the fasci might have been overlooked, because the group decided to run away from town.
To Be continued....