Thursday, February 24, 2011

Session Roundup #5

This week's games were largely, intentionally or not, one-shots and video games. First, we've got the Over the Edge one shot that Shieldhaven ran for a couple of out of town friends, and the Dresden Files one shot that Samhaine ran for his overarching review of FATE rules. Further, Haven's finished his playthrough of Overlord, and I'm doing another playthrough of Bioshock 2. And if I wanted to get really granular, I could talk some about Tsuro, Entanglement and the concept of games within games. We'll see where I get before I decide to fuck off for the day.

Saturday: Over the Edge.

So, for this session, Stands-in-Fire and I were playing our previous OTE characters-- he's the last surviving descendant of Ramses II turned Crime Scene Investigator, and I'm a Telepathic Evo Shandor-styles architectural engineer reincarnated from an ancient, extraplanar city. We're both currently burned CIA Agents. We fight Crime!

Usually, we have The Monkey King and Wombat with us, but since they've absconded for some fuckin' insane place, no such luck. Fortunately, we had S. and J., hitherto referred to as the Hammer, and the Elf, playing an Impression Sensitive lady from a random Corporation in Tulsa, and a pit-fighting also CIA agent dude with a hat and one hell of a beard. So that was awesome.

I'll skip a lot of the set-up and story, though I am sad of that, because it's really awesome and paranoid and spooky. Have I mentioned that I really, really love OTE? It's super Rules Light, which sometimes I like and sometimes I don't, but in this case, the rules for say, combat create the right feel to me, and are a lot of fun. So I'll focus on combat and some highlights.

We got in the first fight of the session in visiting this wealthy dude on a yacht, who frequented an unorthodox casino called the Winds of Change-- some Satanists showed up to kidnap him while we were having a very pleasant chat, in which he agreed to let us come to the Casino with as his guests. Guns being illegal in Al-Amarja, the island setting of the game, he completely denied owning the 45s that he handed to myself and Frank, and we proceeded to charge up and deal with the Satanists. They were working over his bodyguard real good, so I grabbed their attention telepathically, which mostly meant that they decided to come and start beating me with their lead pipes, instead of the bodyguard.

This is called Tanking, kids. Don't try it at home. Thank goodness I had a couple of hit points.

Fortunately, it also worked like it was supposed to-- everyone else was able to wail on the assholes with impunity, including Frank blowing holes in one of 'em by shooting him in the face.

Word to the wise-- in OTE, Guns are Brutal. This will continue to be important throughout this session. We had been staying away from using guns for the legal implications, but the real reason to do so is that Guns are awesome-- as long as you have them, and the bad guys don't. If the bad guys have them, you wind up lying there bleeding to death in the bottom of a boat...

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The thugs with lead pipes having failed to knock the gun out of my hand, I shoot the nearest thug in the belly with my gun, dropping him, mostly. The last one decides to take off, and I take off after him, after he's been stunned by a heavy piece of machinery thrown by the Elf from the deck. He gets away from my attempts to bash his head unconscious on the dock, and eventual lying on the ground being kicked, and I manage to get the skinny on who sent him and where he's going from his mind. Turns out, his boss is a dame named Nikki, who we know is CIA from the team that was sent to Al-Amarja before ours. Huh. Leaving the detail of who Nikki is exactly out of it, I give the rich dude the info on who was attacking him, and we agree to meet later. I need a nap, and everyone needs snazzier clothes.

Figuring out how much to heal and when is a bit of a pain, and I'm still not sure if there's anything more I ought to have done in the few hours between the fight and us going out to the Winds of Change to heal more. As it was, I was at a little over half health, (14 of 21 points) when I donned my stereotypical spy-bodyguard chick togs and we headed out.

The Casino bit was really cool, and involved a Rumblestiltzkin, "what's-my-name?" puzzle about the Casino's enigmatic owner. Of course, she has a bauble that makes her immune to telepathy, but I wasn't going to even try to read her anyway. The setting and Haven's style of running games (here's a problem-- what do you do?) work together quite well to instill total paranoia on such matters, and I don't want my brains fried or et. Hammer wound up solving the puzzle with her psychometry, which was super cool, actually. We collected the session McGuffin, a large and red-glassy gem of a sort familiar to me and Frank at least, and headed back to the Island.

The second fight was a full-on speed-boat gun battle as we headed back from the casino, after having achieved the session objective, more or less. Gun battles SUCK for both sides, but in a kind of awesome way. Also, I need kevlar, because I got shot all to hell. Well, after blowing up someone's head with telepathy after trying to get them to drive their boat into another of the attackers' boats. But I digress.

Kevlar is as illegal as guns in Al-Amarja, as the Peace Force are the only ones who are supposed to have guns-- so if you've got kevlar, you obviously mean to fight the Peace Force, amirite?

Riiiite.

However, being ex-CIA, we don't really cotton to that sort of thing-- at least, the smart ones don't. Which is why I was lying bleeding on the bottom of a boat, and Frank was Just Fine. Anyway, why I like guns-will-fuck-you-up here:

What you're doing is pretty much an 'explain how you're attacking' combat system, and the d6 contests feel very fair. Guns multiply results like woah, and speed up combat a lot. So you and the other team have tools in the form of warm bodies to be targets for these guns. You've got to hurry up and take out the other guys before you get taken out yourself, which is nicely tense. We did manage to survive, and I was healed up at the end. Hammer's character went back home after a couple of days, giving us the plot mcGuffin, and the Elf's character signed on with a security company. Everyone wins!

Tuesday: Dresden Files

We're pretty much playing this so that Samhaine can do a more detailed review of the FATE system for his blog, but that's all right by me. Also, you can read Shieldhaven's write up of the session here, if you haven't already.

My character is pretty much a mashup of Dexter Morgan, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Batman, with a dash of Il Duce from Boondock Saints tossed in, in a 5'2" half-black, half-mexican body. She's a normal human, mostly because I know absolutely nothing about the Dresden Files setting, and that was... curiously the right choice. I mean, I never play just normal, no powers characters, so this was actually a major change for me.

Really curiously-- I liked it.

Now, my character is pretty much a sociopath-- she's got the Dexter-style compulsion, but the Buffy/Batman fixation on killing monsters and just monsters. The toggle switch here is whether any given creature in front of her looks to her like a monster. Now, she also has another potential off-switch here in the form of one of her aspects-- "Double or Nothing" This means that any given monster can potentially re-direct her wrath by giving her a better, more monstrous target. Also, if there's likely to be a lot of a thing around, she can be talked into letting something live to learn more about it, and kill it better later. Further, Shieldhaven's character took "Violence is My Last Resort" as an aspect, to potentially give him a lever to calm down myself and Wombat's character, as we're the loose cannons of the party. This worked to great effect to avoid any real combat this session. Stands-in-Fire played a Malvora White-Court Vampire-- basically, psychically feeds on fear. These guys are the primary cause of Gertrudis (my char's) Double or Nothing aspect-- she hates their guts, but they were willing to offer her a sweet deal, working for them and killing worse monsters. Stands-in-Fire's dude, Will, is pretty much the least offensive incarnation of a Malvora-- seriously, he's a horror novelist. So that wound up working really nicely.

We wound up skipping the City Creation bit to play in 2000's ATL, which was the cause for numerous jokes-- both the ATL part and the 2000 part. I mean... remember AOL and Altavista and Bluelight and Napster? I knew you did. :D Also, my character got to make a lot of jokes about riding MARTA to meet the rest of the team. Funtimes.

So, what I like about FATE are the skills and the aspects, much for the same reason I like skill challenges in 4e. It's pretty much this:

1) identify what you want to do
2) identify a skill that should help you do it
3) describe how you want to apply said skill
4) roll
5) succeed or fail in some specific way based on 1 & 3.

Numbers and role play, gets me every time. Incidentally, I like a lot of OTE for the same reason. It's very neat to focus on what your character is all about based on these aspects... it's a very good set of tools for figuring out how one should respond to pretty much any situation. In Gertrudis's case, the answer is probably, "smother it with ether and burn it alive."

So, the quick summation of our game is that a local Malvora had summoned some Goblins from the Nevernever to spread fear that he could feed upon. We were chasing the goblins, who spoke in completely awesome rhyme, and in the final confrontation with them, Shieldhaven's wizard convinced Wombat and me to back off from jumping the critters so we could solve this diplomatically. This was mostly okay for two reasons, one gameist and one simulationist:

Gameist: As a normal human who had not bought many stunts, I had 10 refresh. Seriously, I can buy off a compel here. Even if the GM had decided to compel all 3 possible aspects (Buffy the Serial Killer, Are You A Monster?, and The Marked Condition-- guess what all of those do!?), I could have afforded to just keep buying them off, as I hadn't needed them for anything else. Also, since Shieldhaven's character was a Wizard, he only had 3 refresh, and he might concievably need them for something before we were done.

Simulationist: Again, Double or Nothing. As soon as the goblins let us know that they'd been summoned by someone else, that person became my Preferred Prey, and I'd be happy just sending the Goblins elsewhere if it meant I'd get my pound of flesh-- or ash, whatever (another aspect is, "Are you better than Fire?")-- from this Malvora. And he's a rogue Malvora, my favorite enemy. I do love killing wise guys, I do.

In a storyboarded denouement (it was getting late as shit), Will beat this dude in a social challenge before the local Court, bringing him down in disgrace. I like to think that Gertrudis then went to his house, etherized him, then poured gasoline all over his place and set it on fire with him tied up inside. At least, that's what she would liked to do, though probably wasn't permitted.

To skim through the rest of the week's gaming, Bioshock 2 on Medium is a lot harder than I was prepared for, because frankly, I suck at Shooters. Oh well. I'm still having fun. I need to not play Entanglement so much, and I really like Tsuro-- the multiplayer board version-- we're going to be using an altered version of it in Dust to Dust. Speaking of which, patch notes tonight!

Whee!