After OrcCon 2012 I promised myself (and others) that I would never put any of us through the chaos that was running four games at a convention again. There are several reasons for this, but most notably I become a real jerk when I’m stressed and I always get stressed about my games in the couple of weeks leading up to them and nobody has done anything bad enough to be forced to be around me when I’m like that, also the games themselves suffer as a result. So with that thought in mind I submitted two games for GameX.
Title: “Old School”
System: AD&D 1st Edition
Players: 8 of 6
I scale my games for 6 players, but I always make 8 characters 4 male 4 female. I also tell the players if you want to play a particular character but don’t like the gender just change it to suit yourself. I, by and large, make it a policy to not turn a player away who wants to play in a game I’m running if I have a character for them to play. I suppose that sometimes that might become a detriment to the game, but I’m so flattered that someone wants to play that I just can’t turn them away.
Before I take another step, I absolutely must say thank you to Temmogen without whom this game would not have happened at all. I said on the podcast that if I could put my hands on a set of 1st Edition AD&D books I would run a 1st Edition game at a con. Temmogen sent the entire set to me and I am very happy to have them.
The core plot line for this game was (1) about as simple and tropic as you can get, and (2) written in 1983. An evil wizard seeks to gain power in the area by raising an army of undead using the artifact that he has found and to lure adventurers to their doom so he can steal their magic. The game included about as many tropes as I could pack into a four hour game: Marauding orcs, monsters in the old forest, an undead infested keep, an evil artifact and an even more evil wizard.
What went right:
The game seems to have been fun for the players many of whom, like me, had played 1st Edition back in the day and hadn’t gotten to play it in a long time. Some had never played it. Comments from the players were positive and more than one asked me if I was going to run it again or run another one. The system itself is not complicated. It doesn’t have skills or feats or much in the way of class features so we end up making a lot of things up as we go. Lots of great role playing and rollicking good fun. I did kill one character with a critical hit but these things happen. The players got their revenge when the cleric (Played by Mook) returned the favor and got a critical hit on the big bad guy and crushed him rather like a grape with her mace.
What went wrong:
I had wanted to continue my practice of giving away miniatures of the player characters to the players, but I just never got the time to paint them. Still, I don’t think anyone minded too much.
As I was reading the rules for 1st Edition to refresh my memory of how things worked I was asking myself, “We played this game why?” because there are lots of things that compared to games now seem clunky or just random, but then I ran the play test and the game at the convention and I was reminded why we played this game. We played it because it was fun.
Title: Zombie Mall
System: Hero System 6th Edition
Players: 8 of 6
It is a normal holiday weekend in Los Angeles and you have decided to spend the day at the Beverly Center shopping, seeing a movie and spending time with family and friends. In the midst of this terrorists have chosen this time and this place to demonstrate to the arrogant Americans the folly of our ways by setting off an anthrax laced bomb in the dining terrace of the center. Unfortunately for everyone, the chemical agent they received from the “man in the suit” is not anthrax but rather a new bio-toxin. After the horror of the explosion and the death and injuries that result (One of the pc’s was the mother of 2 children one of whom dies in her arms as a result of her injuries) things only get worse as the dead reanimate and begin their rampage to satisfy the unending unrelenting hunger that is being a zombie. As you might expect the game is really about surviving and getting out of the center safely.
What went right:
The game certainly evoked a real emotional response from many of the players, one of whom remarked, “I’m not going to be able to sleep for a week.” As that is really my ultimate goal as a gm I consider that to be a major success. It would be difficult to say that the players “enjoyed” the game though I think they enjoyed playing. It was, after all, a dark and grizzly story.
In an interesting twist the pc’s found the sole remaining terrorist hiding in the service corridors and when they found out what had happened they handcuffed him to a pipe and left him for the zombies. Brutal but it has a certain justice to it.
What went wrong:
The game ran a little short concluding at 3 hours 15 minutes or so but nobody seemed unhappy with it. I had some personal misgivings about the ending of the game. Upon escaping the zombies and the Beverly Center the pc’s were all shot to death by the Army who were preventing anyone from escaping. In hindsight I think a different ending would have worked better and would have allowed for a sequel more easily, but I’ve asked some of the players and they thought the ending was valid.
Again several players asked if I was going to run a sequel (which I consider to be a huge compliment). I think it might be a bit before I run a game this dark again, but I will certainly keep the idea of a sequel open for the future.
One thing this game did was rekindle my love of the Hero game system. I hadn’t gotten to play Hero for a while except for a couple of convention games but this game reminded me why I love this system. The ability to make things and craft powers and abilities that are unique and specially flavored for the game is, in my opinion, second to none.
By and large I have to consider GameX 2012 to be very successful for me as a gm. I ran two games that people seemed to enjoy and indicated they wanted to play more of. I certainly had fun setting them up and running them. I had wonderful players and cannot thank all of you enough for bringing my ideas to life.