Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The State of the Games: Q4 2013

As we head into the fourth quarter, gaming remains strong and steady. Board gaming has taken an upsurge, but RPGs remain the centerpiece of our work. We’ve added several new video games to complement this, but Wife Co. continues to dominate in this area (especially in the field of Diablo III and Animal Crossing). Two major projects will come to a close this quarter, but we’ve already begun to line up successors.

GAMEMASTERING:
Libri Vidicos: Steampunk Fantasy School (begun 2/07): We’re heading to the third act in this game with most of the plots revealed. We had an excellent showpiece session with the coronation of one of the PC’s brother-in-law. That featured a number of PCs from the previous campaign and ended in the big bad’s plan revealed, a massive vampire fight in a cathedral, and a huge shift in the game world. Since then the characters have been on the move- gathering allies and assembling the last of the clues. They finally made it back to their school through a gauntlet of Shaddai dragon-riders. There they organized and decided on their next course of action. Groups of NPCs- friends and contacts built over the length of the game- headed out to take care of various secondary problems (the Magical Chainers, the Shaddai Coup, the Vampires at Methotos) while they geared up to fight against the major foe, the last true Lords of Ardor, by breaking into the fallen Dwarven fortress-city of Water Hill.

This campaign will wrap before the end of the year. That may take some session shifting, but I’ve spoken to the GMs who run on the opposite weekend. In all we’ll have done almost eight years of play. I have some ideas about what I want to do next with this group if they’re interested. I have a couple of short-run games I’ll like to try with a solid group (particularly DramaSystem) so I hope we can do that. I’d also like to figure out a way to wrap up the Wushu campaign with this group.

Last Fleet: Airship Fantasy riff on BSG (begun 5/11): This group’s also heading for a showdown . They’ve discovered a way out of the devastated world and the war between the two Elven Empires. It requires a transformation and a recreation of the world, a detail they’re keeping mostly to themselves. If the final gods learn about this, they might intervene. In any case, we’ve had some great character stuff at their salvaged city, including Marreg being forced to kill his brother. In the last session the players completely undercut and changed plans at the last minute. They’d originally devised a kidnapping and battle to get the resources they needed. Instead, at the last minute they zigged. They brought all of their social skills to bear and enlisted a hated enemy to join them, promising him the destruction on an foe he hates even more. The group has a complex plan- subject to all kinds of possible failures, but they know where they’re headed at least.

We’ll also finish this campaign by December. Keep in mind I’doriginally planned to run it only one year. We’ll take a break and then come back in January after the holidays. We have several possibilities. Assuming one player in particular returns, I have a mini-campaign I promised him. It’s an Iron Man-style M&M game.

The House of Shimasu: Homebrew Legend of the Five Rings (begun 11/12): I remained pleased with this campaign and happy with the adaptation of Action Cards to the setting. We’ve done two full seasons worth of adventures and are about to go into Autumn and the next round of seasonal actions. I’ve put the bigger plot seeds into play and we’ll see how those develop. Everyone seems to have figured out a little more about their offices (Spymaster, Magistrate, Ritual Master, etc). I need to develop the NPCs more, but I like the pacing. Each season, the daimyo assigns them a few tasks which they can carry out as they see fit. The players choose their direction and methods. The campaign has legs, but we will lose one player in the summer when she heads off to graduate school.

Changeling Lost Vegas: CtL Classic Online (begun 12/12): We skipped several sessions in Q3 due to schedules (especially Gen Con). We then had a transition of players, with two leaving and one returning. I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to switch games systems, moving from World of Darkness to a version of FATE. That’s a test and we’ll see how well it works. We’ve had one orientation session which IMHO went really well. They’re three strong and enthusiastic players with dynamite characters. They’re also willing to go along with the experiment in system mechanics. We’re going to test out a few sessions and then we’ll think about recruiting a new player or two. In game, the Motley has completed their tasks to gain entry into the Freehold, but no one has yet committed to the Court. That opens up a world of possibilities. Their next task is putting on a party for their fellow Changelings.

First Wave: Year One: Mutants and Masterminds 2e Online (begun 6/12): We completed the second arc of this campaign (17 sessions IIRC) with the group fighting off the forces of Hell as well as several gargantuan monsters (including Fin Fam Foom) sweeping over New York. I managed to bring many threads together, with the allies and friends they’d made during the campaign reappearing to lend them aid. I enjoyed the campaign which had great character development. The group’s come together in a striking way, with classic characters given a new spin (especially the group’s leader: a heroic version of Mr. Freeze). We will return to this campaign for the third and final arc in January 2014. That will (I hope) be my riff on the classic big scale stories of the comics, a cosmic tale with some play on my favorite concepts.

PLAYING:
Legend/13th Age: Derek Stoelting has been running a striking fantasy game with a world he created. He clearly has a strong sense of what he wants- a little of the feel of AGOT with more high fantasy elements. We’ve started to get a solid sense of place, especially with the main city we venture out from. We originally began the game using the Legend rules. We gave it a good try, but it didn’t quite work for our group. I’m not sure if it was balance, resolution oddities, or the strange initiative/action sequence. Derek picked up 13th Age at Gen Con and liked it- and I do too. It has a more open feel than Legend, but beyond that I dig the way the game plays. We’ve only had two sessions with the new system, but I’m excited to play more.

BOARDGAMING:
Tabletop Deathmatch: I haven’t heard anything more about the status of this competition. They’ve putup a teaser video, but I’m not sure when the episodes will drop and what kind of timetable we’re looking at. I’m really hoping to get some solid feedback out of the process. That would be useful. I’m less excited about watching myself on video in a documentary looking like a goofy.

SECONDARY GAMES
I should also mention the other games happening in our greater group. In total we have about fifteen people locally. Besides my games, we have two happening I’m not involved with, but have overlapping members. One of my players, Scott, is running a Pathfinder campaign. Another, Kenny, is running a fantasy campaign using the Action Cards rules. I’ve had other GMs run using the homebrew I came up with, but in both cases I was actually at the table. It’s wild to see it run completely independently. I look forward to sitting down and talking to Kenny about his experience afterwards. As well the online M&M is playing a sci-fi campaign run by Fabian. He’s going to wrap his present arc at the end of the year. By all accounts that’s going great guns and I expect they’ll return to that.