C4 2014

This coming weekend is Central Canada Comic Con ((Affectionately referred to as C4.)) here in Winnipeg. As is my habit, I will be trundling a couple of huge bags of boardgames, card games, and RPGs ((Though I have yet to demo an RPG at C4. Came close a couple of times.)) down to the convention centre and spending the weekend teaching, demoing, loaning, and playing games with people for my good friends at Imagine Games and Hobbies.

Normally, I’m a little more on top of things for C4, but I’m just catching my breath after a bit of a marathon run at work, so I don’t have all the particulars. I know that we’re in a different spot than previous years, and I think it’s on the main level, and I’ve been told that we have four tables near the JimCon folks. Other than that, I’m going to have to search.

I don’t even have a final list of the games I’m bringing to show you. That said, there are some particular ones that I’m guaranteed to have there:

So, I’ll have those 19 games at the con for sure. I’ll probably have a few more. I’m trying not to duplicate the list of games JimCon has posted that they’re bringing, and I’m debating whether I should bring the D&D Starter Set. If you’re planning on coming by C4 to game, and there’s a game you’re particularly keen to try, give me a shout in the comments, and I’ll see if I can’t oblige.

Either way, come play some games with me.

Winnipeg Harvest Game Day

Once again, Imagine Games and Hobbies here in Winnipeg is hosting a game day to collect donations for Winnipeg Harvest. I will be running a Firefly RPG game this year:

Followin’ Yonder Star…

The job pays well, and it ain’t too hard. All you gotta do is ferry some high-falutin’ business types from Bellerophon to St. Alban’s and help them find some he li ji qun ((Crane among the chickens – someone who stands out.)) there. ‘Course, ya gotta baochi anjing ((Keep it quiet.)), ’cause of some kinda business reasons, but that ain’t so hard.

This one’s sure to go smooth ((If you keep saying it, it’ll be true eventually, right?)).

Game Day is this coming Saturday, December 14. The Firefly RPG game starts at 1:00, and will run about four hours. Entry fee is a non-perishable food item donated to Winnipeg Harvest. Extra food items donated will get you Cheat Tokens that you can use in the game to sway things in your favour.

You can sign up at the store to reserve your favourite crew member to play. Also, everyone who plays will receive instructions on how to get a free download .pdf from the Echoes of War adventure line, courtesy of the fine folks at Margaret Weis Productions.

So, come on down and play with me this Saturday. Not only will it be fun ((And it will be fun!)), but it’s helping out a good cause.

Shooting Lots of Fish

***Spoiler Warning***

I’m going to be talking about the Firefly RPG in this post. Specifically, I’m going to be talking about Shooting Fish, one of the adventures in the Echoes of War line from Margaret Weis Productions. I’m going to be doing my best to avoid big spoilers, but there may be some – some of the things I want to talk about will probably give away a few plot points ((See what I did there, Cortex Plus fans?)). I’ll try and keep anything big hidden behind spoiler tags, but read at your own risk.

***You have been warned***

All set for the Firefly RPG demo at Imagine Games and Hobbies.

All set for the Firefly RPG demo at Imagine Games and Hobbies.

So, as I mentioned back here, I got a chance to play the new Firefly RPG from MWP at GenCon this year. I had a blast, and had already bought the GenCon exclusive preview book, and so I offered to run a couple of demos here in Winnipeg: one for my gaming group ((Well, for portions of my gaming group. My gaming group, over the years, has expanded to be a loose network of about fifteen people, and each game I run or play in involves a subset of that larger network.)), and one for my FLGS, Imagine Games and Hobbies. I decided to take the same tactic that Rob Wieland took when he put us through our paces at GenCon – offering the group the choice between the two scenarios that were included in the preview book.

I think it’s interesting to note that, in each of the three games where this was done, everyone chose the scenario Shooting Fish. They’re both good adventures, and both look like a lot of fun to run and/or play, but Shooting Fish has the crew helping out an orphanage, while Wedding Planners has the crew escorting a young socialite to her wedding. As soon as the word, “Orphans,” comes out of a crewmember’s mouth, though, it’s pretty much all over bar the whining ((At least, playing with the characters from the TV show. There’s a certain expectation of heroic, soft-hearted behaviour with the canon crew. Be interesting to see how that changed with a player-created crew.)).

So, yeah, orphans. Everyone goes running off to Newhall to help the orphans. The adventure is fun – it’s simple in structure, with a couple of nice set-pieces, and a good twist that sets up an obstacle with multiple solutions. If you want a more detailed rundown, it’s hidden behind the spoiler tags below.

The crew travels to Newhall to help a shepherd running an orphanage. The evil mayor of the nearby town of Endurance is intent on closing down the orphanage by calling in all its debts. The crew can win enough money to save the orphanage by winning a boat race against the mayor and several other boats, and splitting the prize money between the crew and the orphanage. The mayor, however, won’t let them enter the race until they convince him to, which can happen in a number of different ways. Once the crew gets in the race, they have to repair the orphanage’s boat, and compete in the race. Win or lose, there’s an optional final showdown with the mayor to make sure the orphanage is safe forever.

Both games ((All three games, if you count the GenCon game where I was a player.)) were similar in the overall shape, but quite different in details. This is largely because of the way that complications generated in play by bad player rolls shape the narrative ((For more discussion of this kind of thing, take a look at this post I did about setbacks in play.)) in different ways.

Here’s an example. In today’s game, Inara, Mal, and Zoe were in the bar run by an unfriendly character. Mal and Zoe made a big deal about drinking only water ((Tepid water, at that.)), while Inara ordered a fancy cocktail. While Mal and Zoe were dealing with other stuff, Inara worked the room trying to gather information. Not only did she roll poorly and fail, but she rolled a couple of 1s on the dice. I bought those dice and created the complication Inara has been drugged d8. Now we had an entire sub-plot going with the bad guy’s attempt to kidnap a roofied Companion.

That’s the kind of improvised twist that the game system is good at delivering. I didn’t run as far as I could have with the plot line because we had a limited time to play, today, but it could have generated lots of fun encounters as she tried to escape and the rest of the crew looked for her. It was nothing I had planned, and it happened because of a player roll, and it could have been its own adventure in and of itself.

I’m not going to talk in-depth about the events of the adventure, but here are some high points:

  • Jayne taking on a crowd of drunks in a bar to earn a place on a different boat’s crew so he could sabotage them ((Let’s be straight, here. Jayne planned to either sabotage the opponent’s boat or help them win, whichever way looked like the bigger payday.)).
  • River and Book seeking out and neutralizing snipers during the race.
  • Wash jettisoning a burning boat engine right into a pursuing boat, taking him out of the race.
  • Mal doing his best to pick a fight with an Alliance-supporting bigwig.
  • Simon fighting off an armed boarder in the middle of the race.

In the end, time constraints prevented us from lingering on the ending of either game, but in both cases, our heroes carried the day. I highly recommend both of the adventures available right now in .pdf format; they contain all the rules you need to run them. What they don’t have is characters, but the Serenity crew ((Plus a bunch of other archetypes and the basic character and ship creation rules.)) is also available in .pdf format. Here are some links for you:

So. That’s the adventure. What about the game system itself?

It’s another implementation of the Cortex Plus system, like Smallville, Leverage, and Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. Of the three, it is most like Leverage, building a relatively small dice pool based on an attribute, a skill, a distinction, and an asset ((There are, as might be expected, one or two twists to the system, but that’s the basic idea.)). Complications can be generated through play by the players rolling 1s, and assets can be created by spending plot points.

It nicely models the pacing and style of an action-oriented TV series with a moderately light tone. It does a few specific things to model this:

  • General competence of the characters. While characters will have some skills rated at d4, the lowest attribute they will have – out of Physical, Mental, and Social – is a d6. So, no character is really hopeless in a broad category of task.
  • Fast combat. One successful roll takes out an opponent. Named combatants – including the PCs – can forestall being taken out by accepting a complication instead.
  • Clear distinction triggers. In a lot of the Cortex Plus games, distinctions are left deliberately vague as to the situations where they apply. The distinctions in Firefly have that element to them, but also have special little perks assigned to them, similar to the way distinctions work in Smallville. This does a lot to help players get good mileage out of their distinctions.
  • Big Damn Hero dice. If you beat your opponent’s roll by 5 or more, you can bank a special die that you can bring in on later rolls to do awesome stuff. This allows the characters to pull off some of the cool things you see them do in the TV series and movie.
  • Surprising problems and twists. This is caused mainly by the complication mechanics that I discuss above. It allows surprises for both the GM and the players.
  • Adventure structure mirrors the TV episode structure. The two scenarios follow the type of act structure that is used in the TV episodes, making the game feel more like a TV episode. This helps with pacing and dramatic flow.

My verdict is that this is a great emulation of the TV show. It’s fun, it moves fast, it encourages and rewards cinematic play. It captures the feel and the heart of Firefly, and should satisfy fans of the series who like RPGs. And, to judge by the group that showed up at my table today, it gets non-gamer fans of the series to try an RPG.


Firefly RPG Demo Reminder

Just a quick reminder that this is coming up. When I checked the sign-up sheet at the store, there were still four characters unclaimed:

  • Inara
  • Book
  • Kaylee
  • Simon

So, if one of those catches your fancy, better get down to the store and claim him or her!

And if you don’t know what I’m babbling about, here’s the original pitch:

Here you are, on the raggedy edge. You’ve been eatin’ nothing but protein paste for the last week, runnin’ low to spare your fuel cells, and hangin’ on for dear life whenever Serenity’s engines start to creak and groan. This last job for Badger should pay enough to get back into the sky, but not much more. Fortunately, Badger says he’s got another job for you soon as you touch down at the Eavesdown Docks. The way he’s smilin’, you know it ain’t gonna be good. But it pays enough to keep you flyin’.

Come try the new Firefly RPG from Margaret Weis Productions on Sunday, September 29, from 1:00 to 5:00, at Imagine Games and Hobbies here in Winnipeg. Play a member of Serenity’s crew, and brave the black on a job that’s sure to go smooth ((Not a guarantee that things will go smooth. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that they won’t.)). There are nine slots in this game demo, so odds are good that you can just show up and play, but if you sign up at the store, you can reserve your favourite character on a first-come, first served basis.

Come play with me.

Firefly RPG Demo

Here you are, on the raggedy edge. You’ve been eatin’ nothing but protein paste for the last week, runnin’ low to spare your fuel cells, and hangin’ on for dear life whenever Serenity’s engines start to creak and groan. This last job for Badger should pay enough to get back into the sky, but not much more. Fortunately, Badger says he’s got another job for you soon as you touch down at the Eavesdown Docks. The way he’s smilin’, you know it ain’t gonna be good. But it pays enough to keep you flyin’.

Come try the new Firefly RPG from Margaret Weis Productions on Sunday, September 29, from 1:00 to 5:00, at Imagine Games and Hobbies here in Winnipeg. Play a member of Serenity’s crew, and brave the black on a job that’s sure to go smooth ((Not a guarantee that things will go smooth. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that they won’t.)). There are nine slots in this game demo, so odds are good that you can just show up and play, but if you sign up at the store, you can reserve your favourite character on a first-come, first served basis.

My Fiasco Kit

I’ve talked about Fiasco before on this blog, but only a few times. This isn’t a reflection of how often I play it ((Though, honestly, I’d like to play it more. The gaming calendar is crowded.)) – I find myself pulling it out when other games fall through, when a group of us get together to game on short notice, and to demo to people who’ve never played it. And that’s in addition to the evenings I actually plan to play it.

It works very much like a boardgame in that sense; very little preparation, everyone gets to play, and it’s over in a couple of hours ((I can think of some boardgames that don’t fit all those criteria. Arkham Horror, I’m looking at you!)). In addition to it fitting nicely into the boardgame timeframe for regular play, that makes it a good game to demo and run at conventions; you can get three to five people through a quick game of it in about an hour and a half, if you don’t let the scenes drag on too long.

Seeing it fill that niche, I decided that I wanted to carry the similarity a little farther, and I put together what I call my Fiasco kit: everything I need to run the game at a moment’s notice in a convenient bundle. It’s not really anything new; I imagine a lot of people have done similar things, but I’ve got a couple of comments about how handy it looks from others, so I figured I’d share.

That’s a picture of my kit above, and here’s the key to what’s in it:

  1. Fiasco rulebook. Honestly, I hardly look at the book myself anymore during games. The rules are simple enough that I don’t need it, especially considering numbers 2. and 4. below. But it comes in handy if there’s a rules question, and it’s good advertising for when I run the demos at conventions and such. Also, it’s just a nice-looking book.
  2. Tilt and Aftermath tables. In addition to owning the physical copy of the game, I also own the .pdf version. In an effort to simplify the reference materials I use at the table, and to save flipping through the rulebook, I extracted the Tilt and Aftermath tables and printed them out double-sided landscape so that I could fold them into a booklet. That way, I can save the binding on the physical book, or pass the physical book to observers who want to know about the game, and I’ve got all the info I need.
  3. Black and white dice. I picked up Fiasco at GenCon, and that was a very convenient place to snag a cube of 12 white dice and another of 12 black dice, along with their own dice bag. Now I just leave it in the kit, and I never have to go scrounging for dice. You don’t need 24 dice for the game, but getting the cube was cheaper than buying 11 singles of each ((Why 11, when you only need 2 of each colour per player, and there’s a limit of 5 players? Because the colour of the last die is wild, so I like to have an extra die of each colour to put on the table for when the last scene plays out.)).
  4. Playsets. As with number 2. above, I extracted each playset from the rule book and printed it out as its own booklet. It speeds up the time it takes to select a playset, saves wear and tear on the book, and minimizes the amount of reference material you need on the table. In addition to the four playsets in the rulebook, I’ve also printed out the free Playset of the Month booklets that Bully Pulpit have been producing, so I’ve got a nice, thick stack of attractive, colourful playsets for people to look at ((For those of you who care about that sort of thing, to get a standard 12-page playset to print out two-up landscape double sided and be able to fold it into a booklet, you need to adjust the pagination. The sequence needs to be 12, 1, 2, 11, 10, 3, 4, 9, 8, 5, 6, 7.)).
  5. Sharpies. For writing down the stuff you come up with during the set-up phase on number 6. I keep four sharpies in the kit, which means that there’s little – if any – scrambling after them during the game. Why don’t I have five? Well, they came in a package of four, and I figured that was good enough.
  6. Index cards. To write down the relationships, needs, locations, and objects that get created during the set-up phase; to use as name cards so you remember what your character’s name is; and to jot down the Aftermath scores as people roll them so that you can then go through the list and read the Aftermath definitions.
  7. A decent plastic folder. Single pocket, easy to wipe off if it gets something spilled on it, big enough to hold everything in one spot so I don’t need to scramble around for it. Easy to carry, with a fastener to keep it closed.

Like I said, none of this is groundbreaking, but it’s a little convenience thing that’s let me play a lot more Fiasco than I might do if I had to always hunt down the components.

And it means I’m always ready for a disaster.

C4 Report

Last weekend, I spent Saturday and Sunday at the Central Canada Comic Convention, demoing games for Imagine Games and Hobbies. It was a fun time, with lots of folks coming by to look at, talk about, and try out the games we had on display.

I brought a bunch of games ((At this point, I want to mention that I managed to pack everything into a Paladin Mission Pack and a Paladin Mission Go Bag, that I got from Darkthreads. These packs are amazing – they hold a ton of stuff, and are very easy to carry, as you’d expect in bags designed for special forces. If you’ve got a bunch of stuff to carry, I heartily recommend them.)) to show off: Castle Ravenloft, Talisman, Beowulf The Legend, Fury of Dracula, Arkham Horror, Zombie Dice, Cthulhu Dice, Fiasco, and Monty Python Fluxx. So, of course, the first game I wound up demoing was one that I hadn’t heard anything about, or knew anything about.

This was the Resident Evil Deckbuilding Game. A group of folks came over specifically to try it out, Imagine Games having got a preview demo copy, and Pedro said, “Sure. Rick, figure it out and teach it to them ((Thanks again for that, Pedro.)).” Fortunately, the game was very similar to Dominion, with a few wrinkles – less interaction with other players, and a mechanic for fighting zombies, of course. It took about half an hour to get things set up and running – and about twenty minutes of that was to sort out the various piles of cards.

But we got through that, and the people who played said that it was a pretty good game. I got called away once things were running to do some more demos.

I ran a huge number of Zombie Dice and Cthulhu Dice games – they’re just about perfect games for demoing at cons, being fast, easy, fun, and flashy with the colourful dice. A surprising runner-up for demos was Monty Python Fluxx, which again runs pretty fast – about half an hour – and is a great deal of fun.
A bigger time investment was Castle Ravenloft. It took about fifteen minutes to set up, and we ran through the introductory scenario with five players in about an hour and a half. I ran it on the easiest setting, and am glad I did, because it will chew up the characters and spit them out. Still, the group managed to recover the Icon of Ravenloft and survive, though it looked touch-and-go there for a bit.

I also managed to talk a couple of people into a demo of Fiasco that turned into a whole game. We used the Southern Town playset, and wound up with two cousins competing to sell their grandfather’s civil war memorabilia to a German businessman, with my restaurant owner inserting himself as greedy middleman. Things went to hell pretty quickly ((Of course they did. It’s Fiasco.)), and it all ended in a fiery explosion and jail time. We managed, by staying focused and moving quickly, to get through the game in a little more than an hour.

I also set up Arkham Horror for a big game on Sunday, but only one of the players who signed up ((This year, I decided to do sign-up sheets for a few sessions, to allow people to schedule a time to play, if they wanted. It was not a huge success. No one signed up for Castle Ravenloft or Fiasco, but I wound up running a session of each at different times. Four people signed up for Arkham Horror, but only one showed. As I said, not a huge success, but we still got a lot of gaming done.)) for the session showed, and that’s just not enough to make a good game. So, I apologized, and the player went back to the Gamma World table, which was running great guns.

So, all in all, a busy, fun weekend. Glad I’ve got this weekend off, though. Two busy game weekends in a row is too much for an old guy like me.

Mutants! Mutants Everywhere!

I’m finally starting to dig myself out from under the backlog produced by two very full weeks of gaming. I’ve got a few things that I’m going to be writing about over the next several days, but I’m starting with my thoughts on Gamma World after finally getting to run it. Twice, as it turned out.

You may recall that I ran the Gamma World Game Day for Imagine Games. That was on Saturday. On Sunday, I decided I had too little energy to do the prep work necessary for the next Storm Point installment that evening, so I ran the Gamma World Game Day adventure again, for my Storm Point group. I think it was very useful to run the same adventure twice, with completely different people, and totally different mutants. It illuminated some interesting things about the game.

First off, everyone at the Game Day had a lot of fun, and enjoyed the game. At the Sunday game, it wasn’t as successful, primarily because I was pretty burnt out after running games on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and it left me distracted and testy ((As my players will attest. Sorry again, guys.)). Still, it wasn’t a complete wash – I think the game went fine, it just didn’t show itself off to best effect because of my mental state.

The Game Day crowd was a table of four, and I almost killed them all in the first encounter. And again in the last encounter ((For the record, the other group playing did wipe in the final encounter.)). The middle encounter turned out to be a cakewalk, even with the addition of some sentrybots from the other table ((This is how that happened. In the middle of the fight with the Klickies in the underground parking garage, the GM from the other table comes over with a handful of sentrybot standees and big grin. A couple of the players from that table are behind him. He says, “One of the players just teleported these sentrybots five miles in a random direction. I’ve decided they end up on your table.” My players kind of chuckled, and then I said, “Sounds good,” and started setting up the standees. I did it mainly to see the look on their faces. And it was worth it. And yes, I did make them fight the sentrybots and the Klickies at the same time.)). On the other hand, the Sunday game was a table of six, and they pretty much walked through the entire adventure, except for a few close calls in the final encounter.

Now, I’ve said before that the mortality rate in Gamma World is pretty daunting, and may be a barrier to longterm campaign play. What these two run-throughs of the same adventure taught me is that the mortality rate skews a fair bit based on a number of factors. I was surprised that it wasn’t the size of the group that seemed to have the greatest impact; it was the types of mutants.

The first encounter in the Game Day adventure includes a pretty powerful monster – a blood bird swarm. This is a level 4 soldier, with a damaging radioactive aura, in addition to some pretty nasty attacks ((To be fair, most of the monsters in Gamma World have some pretty nasty attacks. Genghis Tangh and his hoop barbarian are truly frightening when they get rolling.)), and it was responsible for doing the most damage to the Game Day group. On the other hand, they were no problem for the Sunday group. Why? Because two of the Sunday group had a Radioactive origin ((We wound up with a few doubles in the groups. At first, this surprised me, but then I realized it’s another example of the Birthday Problem with a smaller set of possible options.)), and were therefor immune to the damaging aura.

Given the random character generation method, and the random Alpha Mutations, this means that it can be trickier to judge an appropriate encounter absent the knowledge of the player characters. Not necessarily a bad thing, but something you need to be aware of if you’re designing your own adventures.

Another interesting thing I noticed in the game is that the players, even those who were skeptical about the card-based system and the rapidly changing powers and tech, really got into the whole random draw thing. It was like a mini-lottery every encounter, with all the anticipation, exaltation, and disappointment you could ask for. And the fact that rolling a 1 meant Alpha Flux, players who drew crappy mutations for the situation kept trying stuff on their turns, hoping for that 1. It made for a very dynamic, interesting game.

I still don’t think that the game is designed to make things easy for longterm campaign play, but I have a better feel for it now, and some basic ideas of how to go about tweaking it to make it work a little better for that. If I were going to run a full campaign – which I would never do ((This is an in-joke. My players get it.)) – here’s what I would change:

  1. Allow the player to pick at least one of his or her origins.
  2. Use an ability array instead of random rolls to complete the other abilities.
  3. Allow the player to pick his or her third trained skill.
  4. Give each character 10 extra hit points at 1st level.
  5. Change the Alpha Mutation mechanic in one of two ways:
    • Reduce the frequency of Alpha Mutation change, either to every extended rest or to only when there is Alpha Flux, OR
    • Build a themed deck of powers for each character.

The only other factor that might need to be addressed is the silliness factor, and that can be handled through play style and the choices players and GMs make for character types, monster types, and adventures.

So, in short, yay Gamma World. We’re probably going to revisit it in the Storm Point group as a bit of a vacation between Heroic and Paragon tiers. I’m looking forward to it.

Dresden Files RPG Demo: Return to Magical Winnipeg

Last Thursday night, I ran a demo session of DFRPG for a group of players who are planning to start up a new campaign. Karla and Trachalio, whose names you will have seen in the comments of this blog from time to time, are two of the DMs running D&D Encounters with me on Wednesday nights, and Karla is planning to GM DFRPG, with Trachalio and some others from the Encounters group. After a bit of a misfire running Spirit of the Century, Karla wanted to get a little more of a handle on the FATE mechanics before starting the game, so I said I’d run a one-shot for them to give them a taste.

Now, I knew from reading some of the reports from the game launch at Origins that, when the Evil Hat folks run demos, they built in a bit of the character creation, so I sent an email to Fred Hicks asking how they did that ((And thanks to Fred for the answer!)). He said that they usually build the pregens up to the point of the guest star phases, and have the people at the table finish them up. It gives them a taste of the cool character creation, and really cements the characters into a group. So, I whipped up ((When I say “whipped up,” I mean “spent several days trying different things and fiddling with them to get a decent mix with a wide range of possibilities but limited complexity.” Character creation in the game is very fun, but not all that quick. I also found that building the characters on my own, without the group brainstorming and kibitzing, was kinda boring.))a stack of pregens to the required level of done-ness.

To help keep things simple, I decided that I would build the characters at Feet in the Water level, but it soon became clear that, if I wanted to give the group some experience with the whole range of mechanics and possibilities in the game, I needed someone with access to both Thaumaturgy and Evocation ((Or, as I finally settled on, Channeling and Ritual.)), so I upped the power level to Up to the Waist. Here’s the list of the six characters I used:

  • Apprentice Wizard
  • Coyote Shifter
  • Herald of Night
  • New Age Wiccan
  • Rookie Cop
  • Wendigo’s Child

I sweated some time on coming up with a solid scenario that would involve them all and show off the various types of mechanical things that go on in a game. In the end, I went with a very loose framework to allow me room to improvise as required, and just put together a fairly simple situation for them to get involved in. In play, this turned out to be a good choice, because it let me very easily weave in the relationships that had been built at the table between the characters doing the guest-star phases ((It also made it very easy to expand or collapse the chain of investigation, allowing me to pace the game to fit the time available to us. It being a weeknight, we pretty much wanted to make sure we were done by 11 or so.)).

So, we gathered together that evening, and I gave a quick rundown of the FATE mechanics. Then we handed out the player folders ((Each one contained not only the character sheet, but a cheat sheet for that character, with all the math done for combat and spellcasting, along with a write-up of all the powers and stunts the character had. This ranged from a single page for the Rookie Cop – a Pure Mortal – to five pages for the Apprentice Wizard, who needed rote spells and some examples of rituals.)) and ran through the last bit of the character creation. This intro section took about an hour, and had the added benefit of letting me talk more about Aspects. It got everyone pretty fired to create their own characters for their campaign, too, so I figure that’s a big win.

We got underway with the Rookie Cop finding the body of a dead person, eviscerated and savaged, hidden behind a dumpster in the Exchange District, outside the studio apartment ((Well, the large empty space where the Shifter keeps a bed and some clothes, and the wizard comes to practice magic his mentor would not approve of.)) where the Coyote Shifter and the Apprentice Wizard were hanging out. That got people focused pretty quick, and the characters very quickly either called in other characters with whom they had an existing relationship or came up with a reason for their characters to show up without an invite.

Poking around yielded a few clues, with the group coming to the conclusion that this was a ghoul kill. The Apprentice Wizard used the Sight to examine the body, and the New Age Wiccan invoked one of her Aspects to be able to see what he saw, so I went to town on the image ((The alleyway got darker and filthier, with the shadows moving in weird ways, and in the midst of it all, on a pristine white table cloth, illuminated as if by a spotlight, was the naked body of a young woman. Her torso had been slit open and peeled back, revealing her to be full of all manner of food, cornucopia-fashion. Then her head tipped to the side and they saw that her eyes were bottomless, empty pools of darkness.)), and got to hit them both in the brain for some good Mental Stress.

A little investigation revealed that the victim in question was probably a runaway, and with a little New Age Psychometry, they got the image of a chalice of wine, a loaf of bread, and a smiling face at the bus depot ((Which, I’ve been told, has already moved out to the airport, so I retroactively set the adventure a couple of years ago. What can I say? I knew the depot was moving, but I didn’t think it had yet. And I haven’t seen the new one (obviously), so I didn’t have any sort of mental picture to use for the game.)), so they hid the body again, using a warding ritual to make sure no one else would find it, and trundled off downtown to see what they could find out.

At the bus depot, they found someone putting up posters for the Church of the Holy Communion ((Acutally, it was supposed to be the Church of the True Communion, but I misspoke when I first said the name, so I had to stick with it)), a religious community that worked with runaways and homeless young people. Using a little coyote deception, they found out where it was located, and got the name of the fellow who was hanging the posters as a recommendation (and invitation).

They headed out to Osborne Village and the house on Gertrude that the Church used as a hostel. Three of them talked their way inside, while the other three scouted around back. Through a basement window, they saw a room full of canned goods and preserves, as well as some odd-shaped hams hanging from the ceiling. A little sniffing, and the shifter could tell them that the hams were not from pigs. The outside contingent slipped in through the basement window.

Meanwhile, inside, the Wendigo’s Child had managed to arouse some suspicion among the residents, and was herded into the dining area, where the Apprentice Wizard and the New Age Wiccan were already enjoying the soup ((Insert obligatory jokes about the hand in the soup in the Conan movie.)). The church members then pulled out knives and axe handles, and started closing in on next week’s groceries. The Wendigo’s Child used her Incite Emotion power to fill their attackers with despair, while the Apprentice Wizard used the Sight to see that they were in fact tied in some way to actual ghouls – and might be transforming into ghouls themselves. The New Age Wiccan took this knowledge and tried to unravel the bad vibes, weakening the connection between the cultists and their masters.

It worked to a degree, but then our heroes were mobbed by the crazy cultists and had to actually fight back to keep from getting shredded and eaten. The half-wendigo was a pretty rocking melee combatant, and the wizard used air magic to knock the bad guys down. Once there were a fair number down, the wiccan dumped scalding soup on them ((Insert obligatory joke about the head in the soup rolling down the stairs in the Conan movie.)).

When the ruckus upstairs started, the folks in the basement burst out of the store room to find a couple of actual ghouls – as opposed to the human cultists upstairs – heading up the stairs to get in on the fun. A quick tasing by the Rookie Cop, along with a face full of coyote fur, set the first ghoul up for getting clobbered by the Herald of Night, who then invoked his power and Night’s emissary and representative to the Covenant of Two Waters to cow the ghouls and take them into custody.

By that time, we were coming up on quarter to twelve, and I wrapped things up quickly.

All in all, I had a lot of fun with it, and it seemed that the players did, too. I tried to keep the Fate Points flowing freely, and was gratified to see the envious eyes all turning to the Pure Mortal Rookie Cop’s pile of chips and his free-wheeled spending. It reinforces my opinion that Pure Mortals have a coolness all their own in the game.

So, thanks to Karla for inviting me to run the game, and to Ally, Josh, Mike Ryan, and Shawn for playing.

I’m looking forward to hearing about your campaign when it starts running.

WorldWide D&D Game Day: Red Box

This coming Saturday, September 11, is the next WorldWide Dungeons & Dragons Game Day, celebrating the release of the new Red Box starter set. We’ve got four DMs available to run the game at Imagine Games and Hobbies, starting at 1:00. This is a perfect Game Day for anyone who’s interested in D&D, but who has no experience with the game to come by and give it a try. It should also be fun for more experienced players, who will get to try out the new character builds from the Red Box set.

So, come on down and play with us.