We’re continuing my runthrough of the #RPGaDAY challenge, hoping to get some interesting discussion going about the prompts set forth in this fourth annual challenge, to celebrate this awesome hobby! I posted my last batch of answers on the 5th, so let’s get to it today, August 10th.
August 6th: You can game every day for a week. Describe what you’d do!
Well, I have seven days of gaming to fill. I already game two days a week, so we’ll fill in Sunday with the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG game I’m running, and Wednesday with the Shadowrun game I’m running for a different group. Since, as I mentioned last week, that Star Wars group also has a Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition game running concurrently, let’s schedule that for Monday.
Now I have four more days of gaming to fill in! I think Tuesday I’m going to run a one-shot, specifically the Westworld one-shot idea I had, where players won’t know who’s a person and who’s a Host until someone decides to get into their guts and find out.
Now, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are free, and while the temptation to run three more one-shots is strong, I’m instead going to run a…three-shot, I guess. A three-day game, or more accurately, a trilogy of games. Specifically, I want to run a system that I would hypothetically have finished designing at this point, a game called Camp Glacier Peak. It’s a horror game, designed to evoke the “group of teens versus murderous evil” vibe of Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street. Each day would feature a different group of teens at a different time versus the same ancient evil, with one session’s lone survivor potentially becoming next session’s veteran savior of the teens, or crazy old crackpot who turned out to be right. I think it’d be dope.
August 7th: What was your most impactful RPG session?
I was, god, probably like 13? The system was Dungeons and Dragons 3.5.
I had this great campaign hook set up for my friends. They’d discover this hermit in the woods was methodically hunting down members of a royal family they’d be contracted by. With some investigation, they’d discover that the hermit is in fact a lost son of the family, and the family had been cast down from nobility after a majority of its members turned into vampires. With this, lost brothers would reunite and try to reestablish themselves in the capital city, bringing the party along as their lead executors. This would lead to a variety of amazing adventures spanning the globe, leading to the resurrection and destruction of an ancient god.
When my party was breaking in to the hermit’s cabin, he spotted them, and asked what they were doing. The party ranger shot an arrow at him, critted, and instantly murdered him.
Remember, your players have as much say in your story as you, and you should never expect them to follow the story you expect. Instead, write your games open-ended, and figure out where things go through play. Or else your vampire hunter prince might take an arrow to the eye.
August 8th: What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?
hollowpoint is like if Fiasco was written by Quentin Tarantino. A quick story game, hollowpoint is about, by its own description, “bad people killing bad people for bad reasons”. It’s a game designed to quickly emulate massive amounts of violence as your characters become whirling dervishes of death, performing their dark deeds for a nefarious purpose before they probably get cut down in a hail of gunfire or something.
hollowpoint is goddamn ridiculous, reminding me in equal parts of the Crazy 88 fight in Kill Bill: Volume One, the environmental kills in Sleeping Dogs, and, weirdly, this extremely bullshit scene for the criminally underrated Nicholas Cage hit Drive Angry in which Cage’s character smokes a cigar, pulls from a bottle of Jack Daniels, has sex with a bar waitress, and murders a bunch of dudes at the same time. It’s very good.
August 9th: What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?
I don’t necessarily think Mutant: Year Zero plays best at 10 sessions, but I can easily imagine having a good campaign in ten sessions’ time in this game. Mutant: Year Zero is a story about a group of mutants trying to keep their ramshackle town alive after a nuclear apocalypse, exploring the wasteland and trying to find some sort of mythical utopia called the Ark.
Character advancement doesn’t really strike me as one of Mutant‘s focuses, making it easier to do a small campaign without feeling like your character never reached their full potential. The presence of a built in end goal (finding the Ark) easily allows me to envision a 10 session campaign running sort of like a season of a Mutant: Year Zero TV series.
Session one, introduce the world, the town, and the characters. Sessions two through eight, deal with episodic problems that your colony faces (public insurrection, mutants, other colonies, nuclear weather, whatever), and slowly sprinkle in hints to the location of the Ark. Sessions nine and ten, your characters go out and find the Ark, exploring it. Maybe it is great, but maybe it leads to a greater mystery. Complete the campaign having accomplished your goal, but maybe leaving it open ended for a sequel. Who knows?
August 10th: Where do you go for RPG reviews?
Uhhh, I don’t usually read straight-up reviews, instead opting to watch Actual Plays to see how the game runs, and try and get a feel for how the game works at the table. Sort of the same way I’ve eschewed reading most game reviews in favor of watching people like TotalBiscuit and Giant Bomb just play the game.
When I do watch reviews (because I usually watch them, not read them), I’ll go to one of two people: Questing Beast or Runeslinger. Questing Beast is definitely neck-deep in the OSR scene, a scene I’m not super familiar with, but I trust his opinions and the stuff he finds is really cool (he got me in to Dungeon Crawl Classics), while Runeslinger has a bit more of a varied palette, but his extensive history with the hobby means I trust his opinions to be rooted in precedent and in experience.