Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Intrigue And Investigations

Notice: I've had an unexpected number of requests for more details on the events of the story itself, or the possibility of posting my notes somewhere[1]. As I've stated before, this is an RPG game for personal use based on the copyrighted works of Cherie Priest. In respect of her work, I am purposely avoiding revealing plot points from the story, instead focusing these Actual Play posts on the session gameplay itself. If you enjoy these posts, perhaps you should think of picking up Dreadnought or Boneshaker by Cherie Priest from your local book store, or at any number of locations online.

Once more I arrived at The Connection full on the fabulous foodening provided by my wonderful wife. I'm starting to see a trend in my meals before my GM sessions. Last week was pork mince with sloppy joe mix and salad on toasted buns, this week was the same mince mix and salad but in tacos. Next week I intend to try the same mix and salad combo in tortilla wraps! Nom-nom-nom.

One of the players actually beat me to the store this week, so we chatted and discussed our weekends as the rest of the gang arrived over the following 45 minutes. By 7pm we had the full table, the first game with five players present!

I opened the game a little differently this week, trying something humorous. I did a "Previously, in Dreadnought"[2] recap as if it was a TV show, throwing out a string of sound bites, dialogue from various characters, both PCs and NPCs, hitting all the major revelations and facts from the previous two sessions. I think it worked really well to focus the players on the game, and I loved doing it. Definitely something I'll use again.

The game opened with some opportunity for investigation, roleplay and interparty conversation that allowed the players figure out a little more of what was going on. It also was the first point in the story that I got to play with my train, losing some carriages and introducing one new piece, as in the original text. Great fun was had by all.

Then the train started out on the final leg of its journey.

Skip to the end.

Once again my players never cease to amaze me. There were many, many awesome moments, but if I had to pick just two, they would be as follows:

The first was right at the start, before they had even left the station, when one player decided to investigate one of the more interesting carriages of the train by approaching it in exactly the same manner as the same character in the novel. I awarded the player a FATE point for that, though I guess I should have awarded it to Cherie Priest for writing a character that follows her nature and acts exactly as she should in a given situation!

The other involved a great example of how Aspects can be used. The Aspect "I'm not here to fight you" was meant as a Trouble, allowing me to Compel him into not getting violent. Instead, the player suggested that he could use it to gain a bonus on his Gun skill as he was using it to disarm the opponent, not inflict damage. In other words, he was removing the opponent as a threat, thus not having to fight him. I totally loved this idea, and the player invoked the Aspect to get a +2 to a roll, giving him a success, shooting the gun from the NPCs hand, and removing him from combat without inflicting damage.

There was a brief moment where there was a very real threat that the party might get totally split up due to decisions made for the protection of the passengers. Luckily, it was decided at the eleventh hour to keep the civilians together and thus the party remained in the same general location. I'm not sure how I would have handled the endgame had the players actually decided to split themselves up, but thankfully it's not something I had to deal with tonight.

Suffice it to say, if the players had come up with a plausible explanation to split the party at this stage, I would be writing an angry letter to the author reclaiming my previously awarded FATE point and pointing out the massive plot hole in her story. However, the varied excuses of weather, raiders and a three-day delay for the passengers in getting to their connecting trains (a fate worse than the threat of death that accompanied remaining on board the Dreadnought, apparently) justified keeping everyone on the moving train.

While one of the trains two main secrets were revealed this week, the other remains under lock and key, mainly due to some fantastic gaming by the player in charge of said secret. We'll see if this comes to light before the end of our story next week, but I remain open to the possibility that it won't.

All in all, once again, a great game. My players are, each and every one of them, awesome. We have a great time, loads of laughs and some great gaming too. We're the only group in the store on a Tuesday evening, which is lucky. I think anyone else who could be there might get annoyed at the constant interruptions by howls of laughter every few minutes.

I thought two hours would be awfully short to play a story driven game, but at three sessions in, I'm noticing that we're all pretty focused on the game from the opening scenes. While there is still the usual tangential tales and side stories about the cute things we saw on YouTube this week, they take up less time than I've experienced with other groups. It seems to be working well so far. The only thing I can say is that it might end up making my upcoming Dresden Files games into a series of two-parters rather than the episodic style of one night, one story. That's not a problem, just an observation.

Next week, Dreadnought wraps up with a final massive combat session and then some! I aim to do some serious harm to my PCs. So far, these games have introduced the players to all the basics of FATE 3.0, from Fudge dice to FATE points, and Aspects to Stunts. Now it's time to teach them about pain and suffering, and the Consequences thereof!

[1] My notes were never meant to be read by anyone apart from myself anyway, so even if I did post them, they wouldn't be much use to anyone. Buy the book, bullet point the key events from the moment Mercy boards the Dreadnought to the moment she changes transport and you have what I wrote.
[2] I always loved hearing Goliath intone "Previous, in Gargoyles" at the start of an episode of the Disney cartoon from the 90's. Any time I hear or say "Previously, in..." I hear it in my head being said by Keith David. If I could get any celebrity to record my phone answering message, it would be him.

No comments: