Thursday, January 29, 2009

Endings, Beginnings

I've been meaning to post a bit about the BRP Banestorm game I've been running with Des, but rather suddenly it's been put on hold. And for once it's not due to player issues but rather GM (i.e. me) issues.

Seems I'm still a bit burned out on running games after wrapping up my two year Pendragon campaign last year. Oh, I'm all for having a bit of fun around the ol' City State (more on that shortly), but the Banestorm campaign, thanks to its GURPS roots, was very role-play/NPC intensive, and I found I was having trouble running scenes with anything more than a single NPC. Sounds like it's time to get some playing time in, dunnit?

(Incidentally, I'm very much looking forward to returning to the campaign in due time--so far we've had murder mysteries, "Goonies"-style romps through trap-laden catacombs and wererat warrens, the introduction of a smart-ass talking sword, and promises of plenty more action to come.)

Ah well, we'll always have the memories...

(That there is gaming life in the Big City--all you suburban gamers with your fancy "dining room tables" look upon our card table and despair!)

As for our "West Marches"-style City State game, that too is coming to a sort of ending point. I mean, by design it's a pick-up campaign and I'm sure we'll revisit it many times in the future, however infrequently, but the prospect of any sort of semi-regular play (at least outside of me running something for Des or vice versa) has now evaporated with the news that Alex will be moving far away at the end of February. So that brings my local "gaming group" down to...well, me and Des! Not a problem, really. Back in high school it was just me and Alex for the first couple years, and one-on-one play has a charm all its own. I'd look into getting a group together, but we ourselves might be moving this summer; we'll know more by March or so.

The last City State session was hilariously emblematic of why I'm going to miss not being able to more frequently dip my toes into the setting: it was just me and Alex, and it was over in about 20 minutes. See, his gnome thief--who you may recall has a history of being struck by falling objects--wanted to pay a visit to an illusionist so he could have change self cast on him in order to lay low while the authorities were still looking for him. All that was required was a simple little stroll through an alley, then a couple blocks along a main street. Well, as anyone familiar with the City State knows, there's no such thing as a simple stroll. As our intrepid gnome scurried through the tumbledown, slime-caked alleyway, I made the requisite rolls: 20% chance of the alley being blocked by wagons or detritus (I rolled well above that), 10% chance of being struck by a falling object (I rolled...a 09). So once again Alex's gnome was the victim of circumstance. I rolled to hit--it hit. I rolled damage and it came out huge (my houserules make use of Hackmaster's hit point kicker but also the "exploding damage dice" rules). There was nothing else to do but describe how our hero had been laid low by a stone gargoyle (the non-magical type) that had become dislodged from an overhanging roof.

Knocked down into the negatives, Alex's gnome was conveyed back to his room at the Scholar's Inn by his NPC companion (Des's character, who I was "ghosting"), where he lay in a coma for five days, then took three weeks to heal up. That put him well out of the time frame of the mission he was trying to complete, so we left things off there. Next time Alex is over, he intends to put out notices and hire some henchmen, preferably a half-ogre manservant who can hold an iron bumbershoot over his head at all times!

Despite the in-character disaster, we both had a great time laughing our asses off at the luckless saga of Alex's gnome, and had a stimulating post-game discussion. In part, we realized the the City State is, in fact, very much a "tentpole" megadungeon and that our illustrious mayor, Gavin Newsom, would make a great real-life model for what the Invincible Overlord looks like. Check it out:

All kidding aside, I'm very much looking forward to my GMing semi-hiatus. Des has gamely volunteered to run a Pendragon mini-campaign for me (in between writing her thesis--she says it'll be a good break from all the serious writing and research), and I'll have more time to focus on some of my "projects" that I've been neglecting or pursuing half-heartedly.

I've already been able to finish up the first such project, and I'll be posting about that later today or tomorrow. Til then, gentle reader...
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