Monday, December 6, 2010

Deadlands Session 3! Carping on Shadowrun! OpenQuest in the mail! Traveller!

We finally resumed Deadlands yesterday, after a two week hiatus in which we messed around with Shadowrun 4.

I very much enjoyed the session, though I find that I am still bored by combat. I am not bored with this GM's combat in particular; I am bored with combat in games in general. I thought that making a character who can hold his own in combat would change that, but it does not. I still find that exploration and NPC interaction are far more enjoyable. In the end, we had a little Deadlands/Rippers crossover action, which I should have seen coming since the Deadlands GM asked to borrow my copy of Rippers a few weeks ago.

We once again ran up against a particular idiosyncrasy of Savage Worlds, which I fondly call the extra that just will not fucking die. It seems that This happens at least once per session in any given Savage Worlds game, and it often leaves the combat feeling strangely anti-climactic. I have also noticed that our GM's extras have a tendency to fight to the death, regardless of how outnumbered they are. Of course, that last extra often does turn out to be im-fucking-possible to kill, so maybe that's why...

Earlier this year, I posted about watering down player-vs-player conflict. In our RIFTS game, some of the other characters acted in such a way that my character would have refused to associate with them afterward, but I had to sort of gloss over it for the sake of keeping the group together and keeping the campaign running smoothly. I had also been glossing over the strangeness of Deadlands and how my character just seemed to take the monsters and magic in stride. Last night, I remedied that by having my character pull a gun on another character who botched a healing spell on him. I think it surprised everyone a bit, and the GM even asked if I wanted to go to initiative. The thing is, I never had any intention of engaging the PvP combat, but I wanted to actually play my character how he would react. The gun draw was a total bluff, as I later informed the player by email. I think the GM would have actually let it go to combat if either of us had escalated it any further. It also opened up a good opportunity for my character to see how useful a magic wielder can be when attacked by a big badass monster with a ridiculous resistance to conventional firepower.
I don't like PvP and I have no intention of screwing over any other character in any way, but I think I'm done with the "boys will be boys" style of play where I do things like allow a good-aligned character to just sort of grumble when another party member shoots fleeing, unarmed civilians in the back (an example from RIFTS)

Next week we will be taking another break from Deadlands. Apparently we'll be giving Shadowrun 4 another "test session." I have to admit that I don't have high hopes for SR4, and I find it kind of funny that the player who seems most enthusiastic about it hasn't been able to attend any of the test sessions. (Of course, we only have them because he's had other things going on and has had to cancel a few sessions of Deadlands) The GM for SR4 is willing to run AD&D 1st edition or something else if SR4 ultimately doesn't work out, and I'd be lying if I said that I wouldn't rather just play AD&D. I will give it the ol' college try again.

While we're on the subject of Shadowrun 4, I must confess that I'm not sure that hackers are a viable character type, even with the changes made to the Matrix in SR4. Even though a hacker can run through Augmented Reality and hack in regular game time using regular actions, the proclivity of wireless internet means that my character (whose computer is installed inside his head) can literally sit in a car parked half a mile away, piggy back through nodes to the destination, and essentially accompany the party without actually accompanying the party. (I can send a hacked drone to be my replacement, or piggy back on someone's gun-cam, look through someone's cyber-eyes, etc) It seems almost like playing a hacker/rigger makes it so that my character doesn't even have to leave his house. I have a feeling I'm going to end up driving my GM crazy and will have to make a new character.
At the same time, the hacker presents something interesting: this is a character who can do battle with the adventure environment itself... I can shut off lights, take over security devices, open and lock doors, etc, etc. Hell, I can have an unmanned car or copter waiting for the party to escape in.

I think Shadowrun, in general, is just plain fucked and always has been. On the other hand, I'll always have the delightfully random SNES Shadowrun game...

In consumer news, I caved and ordered a copy of OpenQuest from Lulu. I've had virtually no experience with the RuneQuest/Basic/d100 family of systems, aside from a session of Call of Cthulhu I played in something like ten years ago and remember virtually nothing of the experience. Plus, that cover...there's something about it I couldn't say no they had a Cyber-Monday coupon... damnation.
Okay, you regular readers have to admit, I buy a lot less random gaming crap now than I used to. I'm actually going to be clearing some shelf-space here shortly, filled with strike-outs like Geist, Role-Master, and Mutants & Masterminds. (I guess I just plain don't like d20-based games anymore)

I have also set the start date of Traveller for January 7th. Just like with the months of planning I did before my AD&D game of 2009, I need to give myself a deadline or I'm just going to lolly-gag about like a ne'er-do-well and never actually start the damn thing.


  1. I've never played Shadowrun, but I do own the 4th edition rulebook. So this comment is about your issue with the Hacker. Can't a Hacker die in virtual or augmented reality? If so, then it doesn't matter if your physical character is sitting on a couch a thousand miles away. From my understanding of the rules, Virtual Reality (and the Astral Plane for that matter) work in tandem with the physical plane (real reality?). Physical characters can die in the physical plane, VR characters can die in VR, and astral characters can die in the astral plane. The three can interact with each other in limited ways through spells and computers and whatnot - which makes it so that a Hacker existing (essentially) in VR is just as useful, but also just as limited, as physical characters; just in different ways.

    I was kind of thinking about this as I wrote it, so it may be a bit muddled.

  2. "I still find that exploration and NPC interaction are far more enjoyable."

    I've been going through a phase for past year or two where that's my deal, too. I really want to get into a setting via role-play, exploration and dramatic tension rather than combat.

    "I think Shadowrun, in general, is just plain fucked and always has been."

    That is just straight up funny! Thank you for the laugh!

  3. datrux- Hackers only suffer actual, physical damage if they have gone full-on VR and are specifically attacked by a program that can cause biofeedback. (Black Hammer or Blackout) However, SR4 has made Augmented Reality (a sort of "internet overlay" of real life) the way to fly... Augmented Reality is virtually risk-free, and you can do most of the same tricks, you just do them in real time instead of super fast.

    Christian- Holler.

  4. OpenQuest is great, and the new Hodgson cover is brilliant. I hope that you like it!

  5. Hey ya'all!
    I'm the SR GM and player in Ryan's group. We have an Awesome group!! Yeah AH!
    Not to give away ideas but I can see a few reasons to be "onsite" as opposed to remote. Yer alone/vulnerable, some systems can't be hacked remotely, issues come up with remote drones, etc. A good GM can balance it out.

    The games biggest problem was that I unveiled the system before I was totally familiar with it. In the wise words of Yoda: Unfortunate it was that your (mine) training was incomplete before you faced (being a 4th ed SR GM).

    We have a solid group but we're still figuring out what we want to play. I haven't GM'd in ages so I'm a lil rusty. But we have to do something other than Deadlands for a time and I don't think the other GM is ready to go back to RIFTs. I personally love RIFTs and Deadlands, but I don't think they are superior to SR. A bad/inexperienced/wrong-type GM can make any system bad but I think all systems are flawed,,,

  6. I hope you know I wasn't carping on you or your GM abilities. You didn't seem rusty at all... I'm carping on SR itself. I might have also mentioned this, but I had a ton of issues/gripes with SR3 even though I played the hell out of it in college. I honestly don't remember enough about SR2 to have any valid beef with it these days.

    Rules-wise, I don't think RIFTS deserves any accolades either. Savage Worlds I would probably consider the least flawed of the three, but you saw my comment about "the extra who will not fucking die," plus Savage Worlds, while a fun little system, is definitely not the right fit for everything.

  7. As a player in the said Rifts/Deadlands/SR4 campaign, I have to say that I'm hoping for the best out of SR4. The Deadlands has been very entertaining to date (in my opinion), though the breaks in play do detract some from really getting the character momentum going that the group saw in the most recent RIFTS game.

    We actually have significantly more NPC interaction than my previous groups, and I've been enjoying it to the hilt, even if I am still trying to really find my foothold in it.

    Mike has suggested that converting the Midnight setting to AD&D would be a fun game to run/play. I absolutely adore the Midnight setting, and could easily convert it into Savage Worlds (since I know nothing about AD&D) for "my time in the mill", if he's willing to let me steal the idea from him. We're all familiar with Savage Worlds now, and Midnight can be a rough one to run blind, especially while simultaneously converting it into a system it wasn't designed for. Besides, if he hasn't gotten too deep into the GM parts of the setting, the first time playing Midnight can be quite the experience.

    Let me know what you think.

  8. That is fine with me :)
    I just love the concept of the PCs struggling in a fantasy setting where evil took over.
    I think this is our forum!

  9. Rob- Interesting idea about Savage Worlds for Midnight... I'm growing increasingly interested in the setting.

    I also like the phrase "my time in the mill." I think my game will probably be Mutant Future, should it ever fall to me.