Saturday, October 27, 2018

Back to the DUNGEON!

Just picked up a complete copy of TSR's classic DUNGEON! board game at a vintage toy store in my hometown.

Pretty stoked.

Granted, the game is probably a lot less cool IRL that it is in my memory, but it's now in my collection just the same.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Monsterhearts 2

Holy fuck am I stoked about this game.

MH2 is pretty much the antithesis of OSR style games. (Meanwhile, I have a freshly arrived copy of Runequest Classic Edition sitting on my coffee table... but that's a post for another time.)

MH2 is very, very different from any game I've run before, including Monster of the Week. This game changes some of my basic assumptions about the role of the GM, the concept of setting/lore, and the role of players. A little shared narrative control has turned out to be pretty awesome, as my players have some pretty dope ideas that I'd never have thought of.

An interesting flip from my usual GMing style is how I have to take notes on my game. NPCs are created on the fly, but with backstories tying them to the characters. The players sort of create the lore as they go. Instead of me starting with a bunch of stuff prepared and let the players loose on it, I have a blank piece of paper that gets filled in as the players have their characters do things, decide things, take interest in things.

A second flip is that there is no secret information in MH2. The players voice internal things about their characters. The players know secrets and misdeeds that the other characters do. There are no notes, there is no taking a player in another room to discuss secret info. This has not resulted in metagaming, but rather some cool narrative steering. There are still plenty of surprises. It sounds paradoxical, but it really works.

What we come up with together is far, far cooler than anything I'd have come up with entirely on my own.

The urge to prep is strong, but MH actually kind of proscribes preparation. I'm quickly embracing this principle.

A disclaimer: I would probably never run B/X D&D this way, nor Stars Without Number, nor Runequest, etc. This style is built into Monsterhearts 2.

We decided on a shared setting between MH2 and Monster of the Week. The two games are both "Powered by the Apocalypse," but they have different stats and different specialized mechanics. For now, the shared setting is entirely narrative. If mechanics come up, I'll sort something out. (I've already kicked around a few ideas in case a character should switch setting, but it's more art than science.)

The plan right now is to run a season of MH2 before going back to do the second season of MotW. My long game plan is to switch back and forth, at least until the MH characters graduate. (Or, you know, die or something.)

I'm tempted to start a campaign wiki of some kind, perhaps on Obsidian Portal. I've used OP in the past, but I usually end up falling off the wagon in terms of keeping it updated. I suppose I could enlist the players to help me out. Right now, I'm keeping notes for each session, and I find the idea of merging them and keeping any sort of organization to be a bit of a hassle. MH has a lot of side characters, a big ol' web of personal relationships/baggage, and lots of places generated on the fly.

Our next session is tomorrow.

Monday, October 8, 2018

MotW Season 1, Monsterhearts 2, the Empty Game Table in My Basement

So after six sessions and the utterly serendipitous convergence of a number of elements in the game, we decided to call "Season 1" of Monster of the Week wrapped. While I get ready to run Season 2, we're trying out Monsterhearts 2.

MH2 is very, very different from anything I've run thus far. I'm not sure it's going to be an ideal fit for the group. Still going to give it a shot.

For funsies, we decided that the high school that MH2 takes place in is in the neighboring town mentioned in the background of Monster of the Week. We've kicked around having an NPC in the game who is a shell-shocked transfer student from Harrison (that's the MotW town.)

In the meantime, I've been reading Urban Shadows, because apparently my jam is 100% urban fantasy/horror using the Apocalypse Engine rules these days.

I do year for a game of B/X or Stars Without Number, but that's not going to happen around here. My town is all 5e/Pathfinder all the time. As it is, I drive 50 miles to play MotW and MH2 with this group. Said group does play a lot of Pathfinder themselves, though, so it's fun to see them try games that are radically different. (I ran All of Their Strengths for them back during the summer.)

I like B/X, but I guess aside from that I've kind of cashed in my OSR membership card.