I’ve been down with a nasty flu for the better part of the last week, so this post is a bit later than I had intended. Feeling better now, and playing catch-up.
Sunday before last was one of our regularly scheduled Storm Point games but, as I mentioned previously, we’re taking a hiatus to play some Gamma World. Thus, that Sunday was our first Gammatoba installment.
This game is working a little differently from the Storm Point game in a couple of different ways. First off, while we’re still playing quorum-style, I’m doing some hand-waving to have the different characters enter and leave play if the players aren’t at the game. I don’t do that in D&D because the party composition is such a huge part of 4e and I don’t want to have to do all the messing around with the encounters that I did in the 3e campaign ((Admittedly, such messing about is much, much easier in 4e, but it still produces some strange things both narratively (Well, the fighter suddenly catches up to you this session, after sleeping in last session and missing all the fun.) and mechanically (Differing experience and treasure amongst the characters make it difficult to properly build appropriate challenges).)). But in Gamma World, things are a lot looser, so it’s not such a big deal.
We’ve also added one player for the duration of the Gammatoba run ((Welcome aboard, Cody!)), giving us a potential party size of seven if everyone shows. That’s a pretty big group, but should be doable, though not long-term.
In setting the game up, I sent out the pitch I posted here previously, and got the players to each submit a short paragraph about their hometown in the Red Valley near Great City One and Fort LoGray. I also asked them each to give me a rumour, something cool they’ve heard about within Great City One that would be a good way for them to earn their stripes with the Fort LoGray Legion. This worked pretty great, in my opinion, giving us a number of towns in the area, a bit of an understanding of the political situation, and a bunch of good hooks for adventures in the ruins of Great City One ((It also gave me some real insight into what sort of game the players were looking for. Don’t tell them that, though, okay?)).
For this homework, I gave each of them an extra Omega Tech card at the start of play. It’s not a huge reward, but it’s a fun one. It also does a little bit – not a lot, but a little bit – to mitigate the high mortality of default Gamma World. Again, it’s not a huge impact, and I don’t want to completely defang the higher mortality threat, but I intended it to make certain that the party survived the first session intact without me having to do any dice-fudging.
And it worked, as far as that goes.
So, what happened in the game? Well, the group got together, looked over the rumours they had about Great City One, and decided that their target was going to be the Karney Key Library, near the heart of the city, in the territory of a mysterious gang known as the Mad Tooths. They bundled into their car, and drove down the highway towards the city.
I hit them with a gang of porkers on motorcycles, with some hybrid boar-wolf pets ((Yes, that’s right. Road hogs and schweinhunds.)), who took out the tire of the car, forcing them to start and fight. Due to some good rolls with some Omega Tech, the fight wasn’t all that tough, though there were some tense moments as a couple of the characters wound up split from the main group and thumped pretty thoroughly.
After the fight, there were some rolls to repair the car, and they salvaged one of the motorcycles, as well. Then they were off on the highway again. Where the highway crossed the Primter, they found a series of fortifications set up by the local badder tribes. Rather than fight their way through, they decided to hide the car and try and cross between the forts stealthily on foot. It was about this time that they asked me what time of year it was, and I told them winter ((I hadn’t decided before this point. Indeed, I had made up a couple of other encounters in case they wound up with a keel boat and decided to take the river into the city.)). That got a lot of groans, because crossing open ground in a Manitoba winter is nobody’s idea of fun.
Some decent stealth rolls got them past my planned fight at the Primter fortifications, but I came prepared for this. For this crew, I always try and keep a couple of floating encounters in my notes that I can drop in where needed. I was looking for a good place to spring the encounter on them, and describing the weird mix of timelines and realities in that part of the city, amid the normal industrial parks. So, I mentioned the machine tower from Xi, and the Ishtaran ziggurat, and the crashed flying saucer.
Yeah, you see where this is going.
They broke into the flying saucer with some good Science checks, and then started exploring it. The encounter I had prepared was a parn, so it struck me that this would be a good Alien-style scenario, with them exploring the downed ship while the sword-beetle stalked them from the shadows.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to do much of that. It was getting late in the evening, so I cut the creepy ship bits short, gave them some info about a monster on a spaceship that they picked up with Conspiracy checks, and let them face the bug in its lair.
The fight went very quickly. The parn was stunned for two rounds, and then dazed for the next two, which meant it didn’t get to unload nearly enough before dying. Still, it worked nicely, and was a fun fight. I pulled together a quick deck of only Area 52 Omega Tech for the next draw, figuring it made sense inside the flying saucer.
That’s when the hippogriff moment hit.
The characters are talking about salvaging the flying saucer and bringing it back to Fort LoGray. And really, I’m okay with that. In fact, I think it’s awesome. So, I’m preparing the next session to be about them finding out how to get the ship back in the air. I figure they’ll need some specific parts, some Science know-how, and maybe an alien to help them pilot it.
I’m looking forward to it.