2002 Gaming Archives

Universalis 2

Game System
Universalis
Pitch
Game Master
Alan Barclay
Players
6
Characters
Date
December 23, 2002
Technical Notes
Recaps
Alan: Well, last Monday had a surprising turn out, considering the season. Six people showed up and we had a rousing game of Universalis. Murder and mayhem surrounded a Nazi plot to steal the true ring of the Neibelung while riding the Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul. Lots of fun.
Player Thoughts
Additional GM Thoughts

Trollbabe

Game System
Trollbabe
Pitch
Trollbabe is my Game of the Year, by the way. In Trollbabe, you play trollbabes: giant horned women that are neither troll nor human and yet are a bit of both. Because of this, you are always in the center of a conflict. The system is incredibly simple, but has a lot of neat permutations. I think of it like Go: 5 minutes to learn, a lifetime to master. It also has some neat mechanics for establishing and ending scenes, and letting the characters explore in completely different areas while tying the game together. Trollbabe is available in PDF from the website.
Game Master
Clinton R. Nixon
Players
4
Characters
December 16, 2002
Date
Technical Notes
Recaps
Player Thoughts
Additional GM Thoughts

Dust Devils

Game System
Dust Devils
Pitch
I'll be running a one-shot adventure of Dust Devils. This is an author-published (Indie) western RPG that won pick of Gencon and recommendations of several big name game designers. Dust Devil play revolves around the question "Will you shoot or give up the gun?" Action is resolved by playing poker hands instead of rolling dice. Each PC has a "devil," an event from his past which haunts him and drives him in play. If the PC is driven to zero in a trait, he gets to make a deal with the devil and use it in a final blowout.
Game Master
Alan Barclay
Players
5 (Matt Wilcon, Brian Malcolm,
Characters
Date
December 16, 2002
Technical Notes
Recaps
Alan I ran Dust Devils and enjoyed the setting and the interaction. Matt made some good comments anmd I'm hoping he'll post them here. My favorite conflict was when the Doc smooth-talked the sherrif to distraction until the poor man stumbled and knocked himself unconscious on a support post on the porch.
Matt A few impressions. The ability to fold a hand is I think the key tocapturing the feel of a conflict, especially gunslingin'. I love it that I have one last chance to think - "Is this gonna be good enough?" all the while maintaining that steely gaze. The narration control is kind of cool, too. In all I think the general opinion was that the handling time was a little high, but not unpleasantly so. It took some time to adapt to the concept of complete narrative power, and I'd guess with the size of the group we could have used another whole session to get the hang of all the rules.
With 5 players, I think we were spread a little thin. As another player pointed out, it's a bit challenging to have 5 main characters with powerful redemption stories in any game, let alone a short-shot. It prompted some post-game discussion about premise and its influence on group size and makeup.
I also would like to add that Brian M, at first glance, seems to possess Junta-calibre scheming potential. His character actually knocked the Sheriff unconscious with a conversation.
Player Thoughts
Pete Dust Devils was a great game. I never played in any troop style before and now i kindof understand. The fact that there are NO dice keeps makes you have to think about role-playing. I definatly will show up again sometime. The one shot inde style really apeals to me. Im not against well known games with long campains but its nice to mix it up once in awhile. I hope the turn out continues to be big.
Brian I had a lot of fun playing Dust Devil's. Thanks to Alan for taking the time to set the game up.
Additional GM Thoughts

Extreme Vengeance

Game System
Extreme Vengeance
Pitch
This Monday, we'll be playing at Cardhaus Games at 6:30 again. I'm running a game called Extreme Vengeance (see review on RPGNet), in which you play action stars in a rip-roaring action movie. You'll need a lot of d6's to play - I recommend bringing 10 or more if you're coming. By the way, Extreme Vengeance isn't indie, but it's out-of-print and cool.
Game Master
Clinton R. Nixon
Players
Alan, Mark, Laura, Matt Wilson, Ed Freeman
Characters
6
Date
December 9, 2002
Technical Notes
Recaps
Alan - We played Extreme Vengeance, which was a blast. It does a pretty good job of recreating the feel of an action movie. Characters are defined by an adjective and a noun, like Grim Agent, or Maverick Cop. There's lists for each and each contributes towards the stats of Guts and Coincidence, and also provides "Repretoir" which are schticks like "Slo Mo", which lets a character dodge all damage for a scene, "multiple angles" which does extra damage for each extra angle on a shot, and my favorite, "Go Ballistic", which adds damage incurred in the previous scene to your dice pool. Guts is used for every action. Coincidence rolls are used to put convenient elements or props into the story. A main cast character can never die and wounds fade between scenes - but is you ever run out, you're captured and have to fight your way out or be rescued.
So much happened in the game tonight that I don't remember it all. I will say it was great fun and the system had some interesting design elements.
Player Thoughts
Additional GM Thoughts

Universalis

Game System
Universalis
Pitch
Universalis - a hybrid story-telling/rpg. It's a lot of fun. Joe, Laura and I tried it out last month and player out a murder mystery/ghost story western in three hours.
Game Master
Alan Barclay
Players
Alan, Clinton, Mike (Kamikaze), Laura, Wilhelm, and Kerri
Characters
6
Date
December 2, 2002
Technical Notes
Recaps
Universalis is a story telling game with strong relationship to rpgs. Players take turns adding elements to the story, spending "coins" for each fact added or removed. We used file cards to record characters, places, and things created. The game actually starts with a Introduction phase where players take turns spending coins to define what kind of story they're going to tell, any genre or element restrictions, any rules about behavior around the table (no Monty Python jokes FREX), and almost anything else. Once everyone thinks everything is set, the second phase begins: weaving the story. The coins used to make changes and additions are earned in small amounts at the end of each scene, and by dicing out Complications in the story (fights, character arguments, environment threats, etc.) Complications are by far the most lucrative.
Everyone caught onto the rules quickly and made contributions to the story. Control of characters and things shifts from player to player so no one has a true player character, but people got involved with the characters in general. The interesting thing I noticed was that it was the drive to develop the narrative drove the players. There really wasn't much player competition per se.
Our story was set in a prison mining dome set on Mars, with characters like the mine boss, the new Warden, rebel miners and a spy infiltrating the rebels. As it turned out, addictive gas from the mine was infecting people with an alien virus that produced zombies from the dead. In the climax, an "Inquisitor" showed up from Earth with a battle fleet, ready to flatten the dome, while at the same time a gas leak exploded causing chaos on the surface. The mine boss, doctor, and some miners escaped in the Warden's private ship, after recovering the ship's control nexus from the spy and zapping the exo-skeleton-enhanced Warden. We had a lot of fun.
Player Thoughts
Laura - Clinton made a rule that Allan has to post the story we made on the Forge. I'm looking forward to reading it. We even talked about doing a sequel because the Doctor character was infected with the virus. They suggested she might become the alien Queen like in the "Alien" movies. Could be fun.
Wilhelm - Me too! The world must know of the general badassness of Leslie, and the heroic exploits of Denver Ghurken. Not to mention the tragic fate of Willis, the zombie miner with a heart of gold.
Additional GM Thoughts

InSpectres

Game System
InSpectres
Pitch
InSpectres - an indie rpg that gives players lots of creative power.
Game Master
Alan Barclay
Players
Clinton, Mike (Kamikaze), Laura, Wilhelm, and Kerri
Characters
5
Date
December 2, 2002
Technical Notes
Recaps
Alan - We started out playing InSpectres. This is a cool indie game with a simple game mechanic that allows players to narrate their successes. The game premise is that the characters are members of a ghostbusters-like franchise, investigating supernatural occurrences. We noticed some interesting things about play. I noticed, for example, that things went quickly, players contributed a lot and it took only a few nudges from me as game-master to actually produce a series of events that felt like a complete story. Strangely, the game took less than a half hour for character creation and maybe 90 minutes to play out an episode. Even though it was short, I think the players found it fun and satisfying - Wilhelm commented that a lot of events had happened in the 90 minutes we played, and that this might be because the game didn't require much consultation of rules or character sheets.
The game itself structures play into five "phases" of story - like "Getting the Call", "Investigating", etc. As GM I was trying to encourage player development of the story, and I think maybe I restrained myself a little too much. In future play, I think I'd identify when a given phase had ended and review what the objective of the next one is. Likewise, players need to be reminded to use the "confessional" mechanic (where they can step into the confessional booth and set up future events and/or give other characters traits to add to their character.)
InSpectres was interesting and fun and I'd like to GM it again, with a bit more attention to the structure rules. I'm actually working on an official "mini-suppliment" called Space Trek, which would use the same rules with gimicks that would recreate Star Trek tropes.
Player Thoughts
Laura - My favorite part of the InSpectres game was where Clinton rolled a six while jumping in the pool and decided that on the other side of the magical portal was a locker room. Then it ended up being the locker room of the dead. I think you were pretty surprised by that Allan! :)
Additional GM Thoughts

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