My friend Fera sent out this link last Wednesday.
Within a few minutes, my friend Clint sent this reply:
OK, anybody want to play a one-shot game this weekend.
‘Robot Wasteland’ – It is nearly a century after the holocaust, when the EATRs progressed from eating dead organic matter to ANY organic matter. Robotic killers roamed far and wide in search of sustenance. It was not long before the EATRs infested the first Manufacturies, creating the next generation of redesigned Devourers. From that point onward, human civilization was doomed. After a century, the remaining living creatures on earth haunt a ghostworld of shattered wasteland that expands as the Devourers exhaust their resources.
You are one of the survivors. What will you do to tip the balance of power back in favour of life.
At first I thought he was joking. Putting together a one-shot in that short a time is a lot of work. But a number of people were jumping on the bandwagon. I had lunch with him on Thursday, and asked if he was serious.
He said yes. I was soooooo in.
He decided to use OpenQuest, which is a hybrid system based on Mongoose Publishing’s RuneQuest SRD, remixed with some ideas from the original RuneQuest and Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying. It’s a quick, fairly simple system, especially the way Clint scaled down some of the detail to speed things along. Fast to learn, easy to use and adapt.
The game actually didn’t finish in one session – it’s an easy system, but every system has some ramp-up time, and we had two people in the group who hadn’t played it before*.Â And, speaking from experience, it’s tough to judge how much of a new game people will get through in the evening. So it looks like the game may wind up being a two-shot.
Clint went with a tried-and-true scenario: all the characters are captured by the Devourers, the robot eating machines, in the ruins of Many Police. The Devourers are mounting an attack on Junkyard, the largest human settlement in the area. The characters have to escape captivity and make it back to Junkyard with a warning to save humanity.
He put together some nice pregenerated characters for us to use, too. I wound up playing an acolyte of the Cult of Iron, heavily armoured and able to “persuade” metal to behave in certain ways – repairing simple things, making my armour weightless, powering my chainsword. We also had a psychic with clairvoyance and healing ability, a gun-fu jedi-type, and a Gear Cultist with an EMP device*.
We started out locked in a cage, armoured but without our weapons and other gear. After the initial description of what was happening, my character, Brother Puddler, distracted the robots left behind to deal with us by trying to convert them to his faith*Â while the Gear Cultist jimmied the lock and the psychic located our gear. The others ran for the weapons, while I tore out an iron bar from the cage and used it to hold off the attacking robots. Did pretty well, too, except for a lucky critical in the early rounds reducing me to one usable arm.
After we got out of there, we headed for Junkyard, making our way through the ruins. And, of course, we got attacked by an old RuneQuest monster: rubble-runners. Think rats the size of bulldogs with mouths like aligators. They proved surprisingly challenging, and ate up the rest of the evening.
It was a fun game, and I’m eager to finish it off. Clint did a great job of putting it together, especially in so short a time.
And what else?
Well, it’s got me thinking about running more one-shots. OpenQuest is a simple system to adapt to other settings, and a nice choice to build one-shots. I’ve put off a number of interesting game ideas in the past because they’d only stand up for one or two sessions, but now I have a tool to turn them into something playable in an evening without it taking a month and a half of prep.
Now all I need is more space in the schedule to do it.
*As you can tell, this wasn’t just a rip-off of Terminator. It was a rip-off of Terminator mixed with rip-offs of Fallout, Feng-Shui, Warhammer 40,000, and a bunch of other influences. Clint mixes and matches some of the tastiest settings I’ve ever played in. Back
*Primary doctrine of the Cult of Iron: metal subservient to the will of man, because metal is soulless, and man is too physically weak. Only by the joining of the two, with the soul of man providing the divine guidance, can the two species progress. At least, that’s what I decided it was on Saturday. Back