Thursday, October 23, 2014

Six Shooters Vs. Gatlings and Other Tales of Woe

Deadlands rolls on.

We had two players rejoin us who hadn't been able to play for a couple of months.
Tragically, both of their PCs died.
The party engaged an automaton head on. Three lessons could be learned from this encounter:

1. Sometimes you should talk before you shoot,
2. Simply trading shots with an opponent who (literally) outguns you is just askin' for it, and
3. Sometimes it's better to just stay down when you're down.

The automaton actually had a bit of a story behind it, but the players done blowed it up, so I'm going to shrug my shoulders and move on.

Admittedly, my Deadlands game is really more like Wild Wild West + Ron Edward's Sorcerer + The Sopranos + one of those "Tycoon" simulator games. I have these rules for resources and wealth points and research points, players have different buildings they can use to produce things, etc. I think I'm going to keep it running like this until the PCs have managed to secure the entire town of Creede, after which we can look at changing things up or carrying on as-is.

The PCs have a stable of hired NPCs now (an occultist and some hired guns), an occult library, a demon summoning circle, a necromancy lab, and a silver mine to pay for it all.

While markedly different from my other DL games of days past, I'm enjoying it immensely.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Closing Thoughts on Running Rifts

So my Rifts game has gone into cryo-stasis so that Steven can continue Thursday night Beyond the Supernatural 2nd edition. The game actually ran quite a bit longer than was originally intended; my initial plan was to run it two or three times while Steven recovered from a minor medical procedure. 

Rifts is a huge game. I mean, it's got 34 world books, fourteen (I think) dimension books, and plenty of weird "other" books (the Coalition war series, etc.) It has hundreds, literally hundreds, of character classes. It has a dozen or more types of magic. It has more guns than a NRA convention.

I think that part of the key to running a Rifts game that doesn't fall apart or leave the GM a gibbering, broken mess is to run a Rifts game with focus. Find a corner in the huge, sprawling mess that is the Rifts universe (megaverse, technically) and explore that corner. You don't have to use 34 world books, or even five, if you don't want to. A lot of the people I've games Rifts with seem to feel a weird pressure to allow any-and-eveything in their Rifts games. I get that the whole Palladium thing is that all this bid'ness is uber-compatible, but the reality of it is that these books were written by numerous authors and have been written over the course of 25 years. The power level, scope, and mood of the books vary widely (which is a good thing, by my reckoning.) Not all of that stuff plays well together, thematically or mechanically.

Rifts is a big ol' kitchen sink. I find that it works best when you pick something you want to do specifically. My Madhaven game was basically a sci-fi fantasy dungeon/hexcrawl. Steven's Dinosaur Swamp game was Jurassic Park with rocket launchers. You could run a low power urban game in Chi-Town that resembled Shadowrun. You could do trippy-ass post-apoc science fantasy with Rifts England. You could do the Coalition War.

So, this post was quite belated, and JB if you're reading this, I apologize. 

My Rifts game will be back next time Steven needs a break, be it in a month or be it in the summer. (Homie doesn't like running horror games in the summer, which is fine by me.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Less Multi Means More Tasking

Work + Grad School + Running three games = Doing five things at less than full potential.

1. Going to be transitioning the Thursday game back to the austere guidance of Steven. I know that in about two-three weeks he intends to resume Beyond the Supernatural, and I am totally down. Hopefully I can pound out a few more tower levels and let my PCs kill or join a Necromancer before I hand the reigns back.

2. The Sunday Ravenloft game is going to move to every other week.

I figure running 1.5 games (Friday night Deadlands and every-other-Sunday Ravenloft) will result in much, much better games.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Central Casting Dungeons, or, How to Spend Way Too Much Time Making a Boring Ass Dungeon

When I first moved to this town, I played in a campaign that used Central Casting to generate characters. We ended up with a guy who had a horse tail and a pair of twins, though one was born in an alley and one in a cave. Everyone was so poor they started with no equipment. One character owned another.

It fucking sucked, and we hated our ridiculous characters from the get go.

When I saw Central Casting Dungeons at the used book store, I should've known better, but it was like five bucks and appeared to be a big book of generating dungeons.

Really. Bland. Dungeons.

Far too much of the book, and far too much of the dungeon room generation entries treat us as if we have no idea how to draw a square or rectangular room on a piece of graph paper.

There's a table to tell you what metal a dungeon's smith specialized in.

The alchemist's room? Yeah, nothing except rolling to see what the dimensions of the room are.

Maybe I'm just spoiled by shit like the One Page Dungeon context and the early Raggi stuff and all you crazy bloggers and The Dungeon Alphabet... CCD (ha!) is just a big book that generates elaborately dull dungeons.

I suppose I should be thankful that I merely find this book bland, as opposed to the bile that usually rises in my throat from previous experiences with Central Casting books.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Further Rifts Thoughts

So, JB asked me for further explanation on how I run Rifts with my sanity intact.

1. At the core, you're playing heavily house-ruled AD&D. You have classes, experience points, alignment, levels, hit points, saving throws, attack rolls resolved with a d20, etc. When the rules seem to get all sideways on you, just take it back to D&D.

2. House rules I use: 1 Mega-Damage=10 SDC. Pass-through damage from Rifter #30. If you don't have Rifter 30, just swap this out instead: For every 10 MD your armor takes, you suffer 1d6 SDC. Double it for impact weapons like missiles/rail guns. Half it if you're wearing heavy armor. Close enough.

3. This is meant to be a ball-out, over-the-top game. The Coalition are like the bad guys from an 80's toy line. Juicers are guys who have FUTURE STEROIDS pumped into their bodies and wear mohawks because...metal. Play this game like you're playing a heavy metal album cover from before the 90's.

4. Bring your descriptive and adjudicative A game when running combat. For Pete's sake, the characters are carrying firepower enough to level buildings. Reward them for doing bat-shit insane things.

5. When the rules make something silly happen, make a ruling. Change a number. Do whatever you need to do.

6. Don't feel obligated to include all the books, or even most of them, in a given campaign. My Rifts game takes place in and around Madhaven, which is the ruins of New York City. There's no stuff from Rifts Russia or Rifts Australia or Skraypers or anything like that. The books KS releases detail the entire world. There's more than enough material in the core book and one or two splats to fuel a campaign.

I'm not sure if this is what you were looking for, but they are a few more specific points that I use to keep the game in perspective. The first rule overrides all the other rules. You are playing something akin to Arduin, but with cyborgs. (Did Arduin have cyborgs in it? I confess I am ignorant when it comes to all things Hargrave.)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Running Rifts With One's Sanity Intact

I still haven't really figured out how to throw reasonably appropriate monsters at my RIFTS group. I just kind of pick monsters that sound cool. They usually get utterly trounced. Combat is really kind of an afterthought in a game where dudes lug around particle canons and nano-swords made from bio-wizardry and what the fuck am I even talking about juuuuuuuuuuuice!


Right now I'm all about the environment in the game. I try to give my players cool shit to interact with. I think I had some Lamentations-esque rooms in my necromancer tower last night. (Lamentations-esque meaning creepy and unsettling, not pushbuttonruincharacter.) The players also managed to ruin both a "safe recovery" room and a potential source of information though general carelessness. Ooooops.

I play fast and loose with the rules. The Ley Line Walker in the party has managed to semi-accidentally learn two Necro-Magic spells, and I offered a non-spellcasting player the chance to acquire the ability to use Necro-Magic. Both of these things are technically against the rules, but meh. I am constantly hand-waving things in RIFTS, because to do otherwise is to court madness.Wit h Rifts, you pretty much have to go style over substance. I think of RIFTS as more of an attitude rather than a set of rules.

The game is a little horror-ish right now, but hey, necromancy should probably be a little horrifying, right?

Tonight I am filling in for our Deadlands GM. When I fill in, we actually play a different campaign that is also somewhat divergent from "default" Deadlands. My Skype group is also set to resume on Sunday after a month long hiatus, the game being my house-ruled Ravenloft/Masque of the Red Death/Gothic Earth game.