Monday, October 31, 2011

[Solo GPC] 523: Grave Concerns

So as I mentioned in a recent post, the Solo GPC has been on a brief hiatus in order to avoid Pendragon burnout. "Unthinkable!" I hear you cry, but alas it is possible. In fairness, this was owing to the fact that Des is currently running Pendragon for our regular group (a write-up of the first phase of which should be coming along sometime in November) timed with a mild case of generalized GM burnout on my part. Having taken a break from running anything more than short mini-campaigns and painting lots of miniatures over the last two months has cured the latter condition, and being "just" a player has gotten me itching to get back into the Pendragon saddle. So regular Solo GPC sessions should be starting up again soon.

In the meantime, here's the long-overdue summary from our last session, which we played, uh, a while ago. First week of September, maybe? At any rate, posting it now is rather timely, as the session turned out to be pretty creepy and well worthy of All Hallows goings-on...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

GURPS Horror 4th Edition; or, Why I'm a Ken Hite Fan Boy

After the Mentzer Red Box and the 3rd edition GURPS Basic Set, GURPS Horror (the 2nd edition with the badass Michael Whelan cover) was one of my very first gaming purchases. I still have the copy I bought over 20 years ago, although I have little need to ever read it again, having practically memorized it with multiple re-readings over the course of my adolescence. It is a title that's near and dear to my heart.

I picked up the latest edition of GURPS Horror on Tuesday and have been happily devouring it since. Like all GURPS books worth their salt, it has broad applicability to anyone wanting to run a horror game, not just GURPS players. This edition (like the last one) is primarily authored by Ken Hite (although some passages from earlier editions remain; it's been amusing picking them out - I wasn't joking when I said I practically memorized the 2nd edition!); Hite is easily my favorite gaming author working today. He never disappoints, and GURPS Horror 4th edition is no exception.

Chris Kutalik of the likewise always-excellent Hill Cantons blog posted yesterday about the disappearance of the idiosyncratic authorial voice from RPG products, a major pet peeve of mine as well. A couple commenters rightly, I think, identified a big part of the problem as the "design by committee" approach to RPG writing that has come to dominate the industry since sometime in the 90s. One of the reasons I enjoy Ken Hite's work as much as I do (other than the fact that he's an amazing font of gamable inspiration) is that he's one of the few "mainstream" authors who has managed to retain a distinctive and entertaining authorial voice reminiscent of games of old (like my beloved 2nd edition GURPS Horror) or indie games today.

By way of example, here are a couple of my favorite passages so far:
Flare Pistol (TL6): This single-shot, break-open weapon is the best thing to shoot at mummies. Ever. Inflicts 1d burn per second for 10 seconds after impact while merrily illuminating the whole tomb - or at least a 5-yard radius.
[From the section describing how to stat up an animal horde.] Example: A jilted vampire fills a football stadium with bats.... [The swarm is] dispersed after losing 800 HP - by which time the vampire will have absconded with her unrequited quarterback love.
I love it when an RPG book inspires me, fills my head with visions of how cool a game could be. Hite's writing is full of these sort of throwaway brilliant ideas, and hardly a page goes by without one cropping up. By way of other examples, I'm now dying to run a short campaign set in a Roman border fort, the PCs dealing with a druid-cum-manitou reaping vengeance for the displacement of the local Celtic tribe; a medieval procedural investigative one-shot featuring a werewolf-as-serial killer; a good old fashioned psycho killer romp (taking advantage of the Psycho Killer template that features the awesome Ghostly Movement ability - turn your head and he's gone!)...and I haven't even gotten through the bestiary chapter or made a start on the campaigning chapter.

::sigh:: So many ideas, so little time. If you want to be as gleefully frustrated as I, GURPS Horror 4th edition comes highly recommended.

What, you want more? Uh, here's a cool movie trailer:

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