Published on 11/01/2017 Written by 3 comments

10 More Zombie Survival Intro Scenarios

Last year I shared a list of 10 Random Zombie Survival Intro Scenarios based on my ad-hoc zombie survival/horror game (which is kinda like a DCC Funnel but set in the modern world, and with zombies). It was actually one of the most popular posts I ever wrote on this site (people still really seem to like zombies, go figure) so I thought it was time for a sequel.

Last time the set-ups were pretty standard fare. Scenarios you've seen in many zombie movies, games and books. A rag-tag bunch of strangers, thrown together in an every day situation (a crashed bus, locked in a mall, hiding in a cabin in the woods) and they must survive the overwhelming onslaught of the undead. Death is rampant and expected (each player begins with four 0-level characters), and only the best (or more likely luckiest) will survive.

This time a few of the scenarios are quite a bit weirder and may take some more prep work. If you don't want them, don't pick them, or if you roll them randomly, then just roll again. The idea of this is to give you a quick, easy and fun jump start-start into a zombie survival game. If it's not fun, don't do it.

10 More Random Zombie Survival Intro Scenarios
Once again, feel free to steal these for other games/purposes. I probably just stole them from someone else anyway.

11. Comic Con... of Death!
Ever want to shoot Sailor Moon in the face? What happens when you're trapped in a Game of Thrones panel in Hall H when the zompocalypse strikes? This works for any large convention such as San Diego, New York or Wizard World Chicago. This one's not about long term planning but just surviving the immediate danger of getting out of the hotel or convention centre when 100,000+ plus nerds start trying to eat each other's flesh. Also, it provides the added opportunity of fighting all your favourite pop culture characters in the form of zombie cosplayers.

12. Asylum of the Damned
I'm talking a creepy, old-fashioned asylum for the criminally insane like Shutter Island or Arkham. When a supposedly "insane" new patient starts biting and infecting everyone else, the staff flee, leaving the characters (who may be staff, visitors or inmates themselves) to deal with an ever-expanding zombie horde as well as wandering lunatics and pyschopaths. For bonus horror points, set the facility on an island, and the cowardly doctors took the only boat.

13. Spring Break... of Death!Many countries around the world have a history of debauched partying for young people on their break from studying. Thousands of people, descending on beaches or nightclubs, pressed shoulder to shoulder with no room to breathe, booze flowing like water and music pounding in your ears. Now imagine that the zombie apocalypse breaks out in the middle of that scene and you have to fight your way out to survive.

For extra fun, set it during the early 80s in Fort Lauderdale before Floria raised the minimum drinking age to 21, when 250,000 to 350,000 thousand kids would descend upon the city each year.

14. Stupid Long Bridge... of Death!
There are some insanely long bridges in the world. In the United States you have stuff like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (24km) in Maryland, the Seven Mile Bridge in Florida or the 38-kilometer long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway in Louisiana. The party starts stuck in the middle of one of these bridges with traffic blocked on all sides. The only way out is to get out of their vehicle(s) and hoof it on foot (or jump in the water and risk swimming miles to land). Supplies would be plentiful if anyone wanted to risk going into zombie-infested cars to get them.

15. You Are the Bad Guys
Contrary to pretty much every other option, in this scenario the players start off well-stocked and equipped. It is several weeks into the outbreak and the players are members of a small community with lots of weapons, food, and a defensible location. They've built fences and barricades around a small collection of houses (and probably a field for growing food) and while zombies are a regular threat, they are usually easy to deal with.

The bigger problem arises when word gets out to other survivors of the players' hideout and suddenly desperate people are pounding on the gates asking for help. At first it's just a few, but the groups get larger until literal busloads start showing up at the door. The players don't have enough food and supplies for everyone, but who do they help and who do they turn away? Not to mention the larger groups will attract more zombies, and the more people involved the more likely something will go wrong (infected gets in the walls, someone leaves a gate open, etc). Do they players try to find a bigger, better location for everyone? Do they pick and choose who to save (and deal with the consequences)? Do they abandon the rest and try to make it on their own?

16. Zoo... of Death!
What if the zombie infection doesn't just affect humans? What if animals can catch it, too? More importantly, what happens when you're trapped in a zoo with zombie lions, tigers and meerkats? Zombie humans are optional, but I would imagine they're around. We're not letting you get out that easy.

17. Das Zombie Boot
During the height of the outbreak, a small number of naval sailors abandon their post and escape to sea on a submarine. They take a number of civilians, perhaps their family, perhaps as hostages, perhaps just random people they tried to help escape. Either way, the players are among the group when it's discovered - too late - that infected individuals are among the survivors. The zombies spread quickly in the enclosed space, and the submarine's pilots are among the first causulaties. Firearms are probably plentiful but incredibly dangerous to use in the enclosed sub. The players must somehow deal with the zombies and figure out how to get back to the surface, where even more danger potentially awaits...

18. Death Mountain
Once a challenging, nearly impossible feat of human endurance, Mount Everest is now summited by hundreds of people a year. Thousands flock to the famous mountain every season both to scale it and to provide support and services for those attempting the climb. Despite being big business, the ascent is still very dangerous... made even more dangerous by a zombie outbreak among the climbers. Perhaps the players are fleeing from the infestation in lower lands, or perhaps the apocalypse starts right on their very slopes - either way, the only thing that matters is surviving one of the most inhospitable environments on earth and getting back down the mountain while simultanously battling the shambling monsters coming up at them.

(Do zombies have the coordination to keep climbing up the mountain? You may have to take some liberties on this one)

Art by BorjaPindado
19. Slaughterhouse-Five / Zombie Nazis!
Dresden Germany, February 1945
One of the last major Nazi strongholds is infected with a zombie outbreak. The city is overrun, and though the military presence is strong they don't know how to deal with the crisis and they have no back-up from outside. The players could be civilians, soldiers or Allied spies/POW's (though let's be honest, the true allure of this setup is the opportunity to kill Nazi zombies).

The kicker in this scenario of course, is that one or two days into the outbreak, Britain and the US will launch the most devastating bombing assault in history (outside of the atomic bombs in Japan) on the city. Over a three day period (Feb 13-15) Allied bombers will drop thousands of tons of high-explosives on the city, killing tens of thousands of people. Can the players survive a zombie horde as well as the bombs?

(If you don't like the WWII setting you can use this same scenario in a modern city where the military bombs the place to try and clear out the outbreak, but then you don't get the Nazi zombies.)

20. Castle of the Dead
This one's a bit different, and may not be everyone's cup of tea. But if you REALLY want a random intro scenario, surprise your players by starting them in a medieval European village during the dark ages. Sure, you'll need to tweak the characters a little (but since the rules I use are based on D&D/DCC, it's really not much of a stretch) but it will certainly put the players in a precarious situation.

People in the middle ages are used to plagues, but what happens when those who die start coming back to life? How does anyone survive against the zombie hordes in a world without magic or modern weapons? Surely they will try to flee to the local castle, but inevitably an infected person is going to get in, and now they're trapped INSIDE with the zombies. Either way, it will be a change of pace if you've played a few of the other scenarios on this list.

* * *

So whaddya think? Did I miss any big ones? Remember, Scenarios 1-10 are here.

C.D. Gallant-King wrote a book. It doesn't have zombies in it, but it does have flesh-eating Time monsters. It's available now from Amazon.com. You can also catch him on his other blog, Stories I Found in the Closet, on Facebook and on Twitter.
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Published on 9/01/2016 Written by 1 comment

5 More of the Most Despicable Things Ever Done by Player Characters

Player characters in role-playing games are generally supposed to be the "heroes" of the story, the good guys or at least the "anti-heroes." But as well all know, as often as not, the PCs end up just being homicidal maniacs. We affectionately call our characters in D&D "murder hobos" for a reason.

A long ways back I told you about some of the most horrifying things that my players did at the table in the name of "fun." It's been a while, so I've since found a few new choice treasures to add to that list.

Note: I'm not trying to imply that my friends are all psychopaths that should be locked up (well, except maybe for one guy). All of these stories are presented in good fun, and should not be used as evidence in any trials or psychological tests performed in the future.

5. Dancin' Jack

I talked about my DCC-style funnel grinder zombie game in depth awhile ago. Haven't had a chance to play it in ages, which is unfortunate because it always generated the best stories. Which is another way of saying the most despicable stories.

Here's one for example: All the characters in the game are generated completely randomly, so we often got weird and often nigh-unplayable combinations. One guy actually ended up with a paraplegic in a wheelchair, which was a big liability in a zombie survival RPG. The player was game for it, though, and he played it to the hilt, even naming the character Dancin' Jack in a sad sort of irony.

Of course, this was the game that also featured the ultimate asshole, Hank the Tank. Hank was also randomly generated, and came up as "evil," so his players went balls-out as well. He was massively antagonistic to all the other characters, and treated them like disposable resources to save his own neck. The pinnacle of his douchebaggery came when he used poor Dancin' Jack as a human projectile, tossing him at a gang of approaching zombies to slow them down while the others escaped.

At least THAT poor bastard can run...

4. Church and Hank the Tank

I spoke about this one before in detail on my other blog, but it's definitely worth a mention here. Only a handful of characters survived the zombie apocalypse game mentioned above.  Our friend Hank the Tank was of course one of them. In the next adventure, he joined up with a mysterious man named "Church," a hard-ass army vet who seemed to be able to help them survive and get out of the city. Of course Hank was a dick the whole time, making a point to save his own life again and again rather than help anyone else. Amazingly, he, Church and one other kid survived despite numerous close calls thanks to the new guy's skills and experience. Our "heroes" were literally walking down the bridge away from town, the adventure seemingly over, when Church stopped to hold out his hand in a sign of peace toward Hank, telling him he's really not that bad.

Hank immediately stabbed him in the face and killed him.

Church's player was stunned (we all were) but it was narratively perfect and shocking, and we all agreed it was an excellent way to end the session. Now, Church had been bitten by a zombie earlier in the night, so Hank figured that he was perfectly justified in his actions. Of course, at no point in the previous 3-4 game sessions had we established that a zombie bite automatically turns someone into a zombie, he had just ASSUMED that was the way it worked, so it was still a pretty big dick move overall.

3. The Surgical Stick

I have one player who always plays the healer role. Clerics in D&D, doctors in any modern game, etc. The thing is, I don't know why he does because he's always a dick about it. He holds his healing powers over everyone's head, doling out curative magic based on his own twisted sense of humour and morality. To be honest I'm not sure why everyone else puts up with it.

His best moment came in a Labyrinth Lord game when one of the characters was maimed in battle and was lying incapacitated in camp. I use a rule that when a character reaches 0 hp, they can choose to be maimed instead of dead, losing a random body part. It fell upon our dwarven cleric to perform the amputation to save his life, but the drunken dwarf insisted that since he wasn't allowed to use edged weapons (being a cleric and all), he had to amputate the leg using his mace.


The way the player described pulpifying his friend's leg in a "surgical" manner had us in stitches, as well as the copious amounts of alcohol he had to imbibe in order to go through with the procedure. If I recall correctly he didn't give any of the booze to the victim, either.

The injured PC ultimately lived, but it was still a jerk-ass move.

Let's do this shit.

2. The Psychotic Elf Torturer

Remember the guy who got his leg amputated above? Yeah, he kinda deserved it. He was a sociopath. Xander started off as a run-of-the-mill elf thief, but when the crew gained possession of their own ship, he suddenly turned into a devious pirate, weird speech patterns and all. Gaining a pegleg may have been part of his plan all along.

Did I mention he was a sociopath? He once captured some enemy soldiers and then proceeded to torture them mercilessly despite the fact that they obviously had no useful information. The player's descriptions of the butchering made me seriously question the guy's own mental well-being.

The best part? The rest of the PCs walked in on him, realized he was a psychotic murderer, and STILL made him captain of their crew. THAT'S how much my players hate being in charge.

"Who wants to be in charge?"
"Not me."
"How about the unhinged torturer and murderer?"
"Sure. At least he gets things done."

1. I Shoot Him in the Face

My best friend in high school hated role-playing games. We both played the same video games, read the same comic books, traded baseball cards and played street hockey together, but he absolutely refused to touch D&D. I think he thought it was a nerd line that just couldn't be crossed.

I don't remember how, but one day I eventually convinced him to play with us. I don't remember his character, he just rolled up some stuff and said "whatever." As soon as the game started, he asked which was the weakest character, and someone pointed out the low-level magic-user. He immediately said "I shoot him with an arrow." We were all horrified. We were in a phase where PvP was an absolute no-no, and tried to convince him to reconsider but he was adamant. For some reason I let it stand, and the attack ended up killing the poor wizard.

He never played with us again. I'm not sure if this example belongs on this list, but I'm sure there was a lesson in there somewhere.

Yeah.... we can't be friends anymore.
What are some of the most awful things your players have done in game?

Remember, you can read more Despicable PC Acts right here.

You can also catch C.D. Gallant-King on his other blog, Stories I Found in the Closet and on Twitter. Oh, and hey, he writes books, too! Hell Comes to Hogtown is now available from Amazon.com. It's the story of a comic book nerd and a pro-wrestler trying to clear their names in a kidnapping while evading a demonic hobo. Yes, it's supposed to be funny.
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Published on 8/23/2016 Written by 0 comments

Casting the D&D TV Show, Season 3

It's that time again!

No, it's not time for me to clean my gutters (it certainly needs to be done, but I don't see myself ever getting around to doing it). It's time for me to fantasy cast that every-elusive TV show that should have happened years ago, Dungeons & Dragons!

A new Dungeons & Dragons movie is actually currently in the works, set to start filming next year and supposedly starring Ansel Egort (I'm not sure if that's the actor's name or his D&D character), but until this damn thing actually happens I'm going to keep making up my own show in my head. Hell, I'll probably keep doing it even after the movie comes out, because I assume it will be better than whatever Hollywood spews out anyway.

To get you up to speed:

In Season One, a Badass Crew of adventurers team up under the leadership of Sir Brador (Jonathan Banks) to bring down a rebellion led by Ezbar (John Leguizamo). The crew is hired by the weird and creepy Baron of Gutslinger (Steve Buscemi), who actually turns out to be a sadistic madman and so the crew turn on him, and Brador's protege Tasty Sugarbush (Emily Blunt) ends up cutting down the Baron.

In Season Two, the crew have now become outlaws and are on the run from the True King after killing the Baron. The party wizard Thromboné (Christopher Lambert) betrays the group and murders Sir Brador. Tasty takes over leadership and begrudgingly sides the Rebel King Ezbar, which causes Bainthaureth the elf (Noomi Rapace) to leave the group. The dwarf Hamhock (Jordan Prentice) sacrifices himself to kill the vile Last Fitzbibbons (Colt Cabana). The party is broken, and in the end are defeated by the King's forces, led by a fearful new Dark Lord played by Vin Diesel. The villain kills Ezbar and the rebellion is put down, and Tasty is captured.


Emily Blunt as Tasty Sugarbush

Tasty was thrust into the role of Heroine and leader last season with Brador's death, though she ultimately failed to hold the party together.

She starts the season imprisoned by the King of All He Sees, awaiting trial and likely execution. She escapes on her own accord, encountering former party member Sylverius on the outside. Sylverius claims he was coming to rescue her, but she finds his claims dubious since he was nowhere to be seen when their group was defeated by the Dark Lord's forces.

She goes on a quest to stop the King from unleashing untold darkness upon the world, gathering a new group of warriors around her. But unlike last season, when she tried to take care of her allies and build a cohesive unit, she only concerns herself with the goal, and the only comrades worthy in her eyes are those that can keep up. She trusts no one and asks for no trust in return.

Taye Diggs as Sylverius

Sylverius and Tasty have a long and storied history, and he may or may or may not be manipulating her for dark purposes. It was thanks to him that she threw in with the Rebel King and was arrested last season, and she believes his unsuccessful attempts to save her are part of his scheme.

Much of the season is spent asking the question of whether Sylverius is actually in league with the dark forces that are threatening the world, if he has some personal vendetta of his own against Tasty, or if it truly is all a misunderstanding.

Christopher Lambert as Thromboné the Wizard

Though The Dark Lord is technically the villain of this season, Thromboné is the one Tasty is seeking personal revenge against for betraying and murdering her mentor/lover. The evil, remorseless wizard may get his just deserts in the final moments of the season, but not before he is responsible for the death of at least one more hero first...

Thromboné is the monumental asshole you love to hate and want to punch in the face, but the protagonists always seem to find themselves one step behind him.

Vin Diesel as The Dark Lord

The Dark Lord is back to chew scenery and have some bad-ass fights, as well as make the heroes' lives miserable. He is on a mission, given to him by some otherworldly, demonic power (after he slays the master's first harbinger), to clear the path for said demon's invasion. The Rebel King has already fallen and the "One True King" doesn't last long this season, so the only ones left standing in the way are Tasty and her band.

Naomi Harris as Dame Lorelai Heartrender

The noble paladin is still hunting The Dark Lord to get revenge for killing her family, but she also recognizes that Tasty's cause is just and seeks to help her on her quest. She is the only Beacon of Light in the group alongside the moody Tasty and Bainthaureth, providing stark contrast and possibly even comic relief to an otherwise bleak situation.

Her path will lead her directly to an epic confrontation with The Dark Lord in the final moments of the season...

Noomi Rapace as Bainthaureth the Elf

Bainthaureth was an important member of the Badass Crew in season 1, the deadly elf warrior/mage who looked down on everyone as her inferior but had the skills to back it up. She left the group when they sided with the Rebel King in season 2, but returns to Tasty's side after Ezbar is destroyed. She grudgingly respects Tasty for her prowess in battle and begins to feel similarly for Lorelai after she discovers that the paladin is also a force to be reckoned with, though she is still comically distasteful of everyone else they come across.

Colm Feore as Mystic Martin Mithrandir

Martin didn't provide much use last season as the bumbling mage, providing far more "bumbling" than "magic." But when our heroes run afoul of a pair of mighty dragons, their only hope may lie in the crazy old man who, it turns out, may have a weird sexual fetish for giant winged lizards...


Deep Roy as the Dwarf King

With the war raging among the human kingdoms, it was only a matter of time before dwarves were dragged into the conflict. The King Under the Mountain is pissed at having to deal with the mess the human kings and Dark Lords have created, and fights indiscriminately against anyone who crosses into his lands. He claims that he's seen plenty of demons invade the world before and he's not afraid of one more, though the heroes try to convince him that maybe this time will be big one.

Kenny Omega as Lord Charming

It came out at the end of last season that Charming was plotting to overthrow the Dark Lord to curry favour with demonic forces from another world. The Big Bad does not take this kindly and so does away with Lord Charming early in season 3, leaving behind a band of pissed-off, leaderless cultists looking to get revenge.

Christopher Eccleston as Sir Richard William

The leader of a small group of knights, warriors and soldiers who still fight on despite being hopelessly outnumbered by The Dark Lord's forces. He is a grim realist, who knows the battle is lost and that our heroes' quest in futile, but his stubborn nature won't let him quit. He fights valiantly alongside the crew but will probably meet his untimely end after a couple of episodes.

Jewel Staite as Mistress Brumhilde

Once the most powerful businesswoman in the Realm, the Mistresss has fallen on hard times thanks to the Dark Lord's reign. She has thrown in with Sir Richard, and with nothing left to lose we may finally see her show her bad-ass side this season.

Jessica Walter as the voice of Trogdorlina the Dragon

The dragon Trogdorlina survived her encounter with the party last season, after they slew her mate in Season One. She is more cautious than Trogdor, and so had taken her time to plot a new a scheme to wipe out Tasty and her cronies once and for all. The first step in her plan? Bring in back-up...

Jeffrey Tambor as the voice of Trogdogado the Dragon

Trogdorlina has a new lover, and he's stronger and more dangerous than either Trogdor or Trogdorlina herself. He is also well-versed in magic, and was actually one of Mysic Martin's original teachers. The only problem? Trogdogado is too lazy to get out of his own way, and will need major motivation to get up and starting razing and pillaging again. Maybe crossing paths with his old apprentice will wake the beast's ire...

Jonathan Davis as Satan

Decked out in a ton of prosthetics, the Korn frontman shows up late in the season as the demonic power behind The Dark Lord's schemes.

The Dark Lord is understandably disappointed that THIS is the result of all his hard work, but is later relieved to discover that "Satan" is one of the demon's minions sent to test the faith of his followers.

"Satan" is killed and the Dark Lord passes the test.

Billie Piper as The Fairy Queen

The Fairy Queen proves to be a foe for the heroes during some early episodes as her people are completely unconcerned by the machinations of the demonic dark forces, and mess with the crew just for the hell of it. Bainthaureth eventually convinces the Queen to join their cause, but not before the two have a kick-ass duel.

Chevy Chase as The King

In a shocking but happy moment, the asshole King of All He Sees is murdered by The Dark Lord in the first episode.

No one tells Chevy Chase about it until the day of shooting.

So that's my dramatis personae for Season 2. (Don't forget, Season 1 is right here and Season 2 is here) Who would you cast in a D&D TV show?

You can also catch C.D. Gallant-King on his other blog, Stories I Found in the Closet and on Twitter. Oh, and hey, he writes books, too! Hell Comes to Hogtown is now available from Amazon.com. It's the story of a comic book nerd and a pro-wrestler trying to clear their names in a kidnapping while evading a demonic hobo. Yes, it's supposed to be funny.
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Published on 4/27/2016 Written by 2 comments

Home Brew Black Ocean RPG

About 6 months ago I read through all of JS Morin's Black Ocean series.  These are short novellas, episodic in nature and feel a lot like the TV show Firefly where a crew of a ship gets up to silly hi-jinx while always looking for the next job, the next score, or the next get rich quick scheme.
The whole time I was reading the series, I felt like there was potential for a  RPG to be based on this setting.  It has all the essentials - an easy to sum up background, potential for fun quirky characters, and a familiar enough feel to get the uninitiated in to it.  Keep this last point in mind while I tell this next part...

Yep, this gets complicated....
A group of 6 or 7 of us have been playing a D6 Star Wars adventure fairly regularly for the past 4 months or so - typically meeting on Skype twice a month.  While not everyone can make it every time, we've managed to keep a fun adventure going with different characters popping in and out as available.  to be fair we're pretty spread out, one player in Newfoundland Canada, a bunch of us in Ontario, one in Alberta, and the last in Japan.  Time-zone coordination is a skill we keep adding ranks to.  Last week was supposed to be our next session, 8pm Friday night.  By about noon on Thursday it became apparent that not enough of us would be available to make it worth continuing the story, so the 3 of us that could make it talked about what we should do.  I volunteered to run a game. So, with about 30 hours to prepare, 19 of them spent at work and 7 sleeping, I did what I could.

While I had thought about a Black Ocean game, I hadn't gone past the very basic framework of an adventure.  I hadn't thought about the game system, or any of the details.  Once my 2 PC's picked character types, I made up some stats for each and sent them to the players to customize.

It's hard to sum up an universe created over 8 books in to a 2 paragraph email, but that's what I did.  Surprisingly, my players stayed mostly within the framework of the universe and the archetypes of their characters.  The impressive part of this is that neither of them had read any of the source material, I was the only one to have read any of it.

Being familiar with the D6 Star Wars game we had been playing, I based my system very loosely on this.
I picked skills relevant to each player type and gave them starting values.  To try to keep the game from getting too crunchy on the numbers, outside of the named skills, everything else starts as 1d6.  So if a player wants to try something, just roll a die and see what happens.  The skills that seemed most essential to that character started at 2d6.

Challenges are broken down in to difficulties.  To do something easy, roll a 3 or better.  So for those "everything else" rolls, players have a 50% chance of success.  If it's a skill they possess, they'll succeed 97% of the time.  These are the types of tasks that the average person can do most of the time untrained, and that people who are trained to do them do many many times in a day.  An example would be the pilot character coming in for a landing in good weather.
Numbers are fun!
To do a more difficult task, a 6 or better is needed.  At 2d6 players will still succeed 72% of the time, but there is a small but significant chance of failure.  Like the pilot landing in some fog with a cross-wind.
Next step up needs a 9 or better to succeed.  At this point only 28% of 2d6 rolls will make it.  Landing the ship in bad weather while running on auxiliary power only.
Difficulties continue to increase by 3 as things get harder and harder.  At 12, less than 3% of unmodified 2d6 rolls will make it. - landing in bad weather with aux power only and 6 ships shooting at you.
A failure on a roll doesn't mean the end though.  It just means there are some consequences to the action - in the landing example, maybe the ship is damaged and needs repair before it can fly again.  While you need a bit of danger to keep things tense enough, I wanted the players to be willing to try goofy stuff and experiment with the world knowing they wouldn't die at the first bad roll.

Things went well with some fun role-plays from my players, some of which I'll try to get to another post about soon, as well as some of the background I gave them.  I'm looking forward to our next Star Wars session, but I also hope we get to return to the Black Ocean some time soon.

Questions about the game?  Let me know in the comments.

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Published on 4/25/2016 Written by 1 comment

Roleplaying Blind

To clarify, this post has nothing to do about playing a visually-impaired character, or playing a game whilst being visually-impaired yourself. In retrospect, it was probably a terrible idea for a title.

Sometimes it's nice to have no idea what you're doing.

On Friday I went into a game with a nearly complete blank slate. As I've said in the past, it's very unusual for me to play in a game (instead of game mastering), so when a number of my regulars couldn't make it to our Star Wars campaign, I quite happily agreed to let one of the players run a game of his own. It meant a change of pace for everyone and a bit of a break for me.

The game was a homebrew D6-hack based on JS Morin's "Black Ocean" series of novels. I didn't know the system (it was the GM's own invention and his first time running it) and I've never read the books, so I had absolutely no knowledge of the setting. I had made my own character with the scant information he was able to give us just before the game, but I had no idea what most of my skills or abilities did. I was going in completely blind and flying by the seat of my pants, and I loved it.

It helps that this series can best be described as "Firefly" with crazy space wizards.
Or at least that's how
I was playing it.
Usually (like, 99% of the time) I'm the GM, so I've always got to do some amount of prep-work before the game. Sometimes, with games like Dungeon World or Made to Suffer it's minimal, but other times it takes hours and hours to get ready. My Star Wars game has been like that lately, with me creating tons of background info that will probably never see the light of day. Fourth Edition D&D used to take me days to prepare for a single night of a couple of encounters. So for me, to go in with no prior knowledge or time to prepare was a total thrill.

Maybe a lot of players actually play like this. I've certainly run into plenty of folks who lose their character sheets between every session and have never read a rule book in their lives. But for me, I like to know what's going on. I prefer to play in settings that I'm familiar with for that reason, but even if I don't know the background, I still spend as much time as possible going over the rules and the system beforehand. How crunchy is it? How lethal? How does it reward roleplaying? What kind of cool and unique mechanics does it have? This time I had none of that. I was playing a gravity- and reality-manipulating space wizard with a "General Wizarding" ability listed on my character sheet, and I just wanted to see how much mileage I could get out of that.

GM: There is no spoon.
Me: No, it's a spoon. *rolls*
GM: Okay, fine. It's a spoon.
It worked because the GM and both players all knew each other well, and everyone played off everyone else and just kind of rolled with everything. I'm sure both players (neither of us had read the books) were making a mockery of the setting at every turn, but the GM let it slide. The other player ran a chemically-enhanced supersoldier fratboy who was just "bro-ing" out all over the place (alternating his time between masturbating and working out, he was still a way more useful member of the party than I was), and I tried to do whatever shit I could think of with my magic and the GM shoehorned it as best he could with only a few small exceptions. I'm still disappointed that while I can project an entire spaceship into the Astral Plane to travel faster than light, I can't conjure a couple of tropical fish out of thin air.

He did allow my "I turn into a box!" though, so I can't complain too much.

I typed "Illusionary Box" into Google Image Search and I keep getting pictures of this bullshit.
If anyone is interesting in reading up on the source material that we surely butchered, you can check out JS Morin's website right here. It actually sounds pretty cool. Any blurb that starts with "In the year 2254 gravity was officially declared to be magic" and goes on to describe the first interstellar space ship as "shaped like a hand giving the middle finger to science" is okay in my book. I'm probably going to have to check it out myself.

If JS Morin is reading this, then I am well and truly sorry for bastardizing your work.

If Jason is reading this (who is honestly probably the only person who is), then I'm sorry for being a goofus and screwing around and I hope you'll run us through a game again some time.  And hey, if you still have posting privileges on Rule of the Dice, throw up the rules for the world to see. Maybe next time I'll have half an idea of what I'm doing.

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