#RPGaDAY2015, Day 16: Longest Game Session

I don’t recall what was the longest game session I’ve played—the first time I encountered a roleplaying game I was twelve or thirteen and I know that I’ve experienced quite a bit of gaming since then. Games in college would last up to six hours with my friends and I gathering for an afternoon (and the requisite pizza break). But, none really stood out as a long game session.

Maybe that thing back in high school.

I still remember the last name of the guy who invited everyone over: Smet. SmetCon was this guy inviting over two or three groups of gamers to his house one weekend afternoon, where he was going to run us through an adventure. Perhaps a dozen players were there. Make the most powerful AD&D character you can at whatever level. So I made a druid, which I never played before, but at that level would have been super powerful if any element of the adventure took place outdoors. It turned out to be a dungeon crawl.1


Our large party decided to split up so our characters could cover more ground—which naturally meant that half of the players had to be sent out of the room, because “you get to have no fun for a while” was the accepted method of playing RPGs back then—and then the game slowed to a crawl as the two groups decided the heck with plundering the tomb of whomever and decided to set up traps and kill each other off.

960It could have been awesome, but we were all pimply-faced teenagers and it turned into a crappy afternoon if you were on my team’s side, who seemed to have longer gaming timeouts than the other (although I’m sure that’s because the “you have no fun in the other room” time seemed slower than actually doing things at the table), and one egregiously asinine moment when the red team successfully detected an anti-magic force field thing you could pass through which disenchants everything2 so they teleported to the exact opposite side of the field in an attempt to fool any of us who could track them into thinking they walked right through. Of course, when our team investigated the barrier and—not finding anything odd—we passed through, we didn’t notice the instant neutering of our magical glowing and floating stuff. We were all near 20th level: the half of our gear that didn’t glow actually spoke to us. Hell, at least one adventurer had a bunch of magical pebbles that were orbiting his head.

Cue the inevitable cries of foul from teenagers going through puberty once the subterfuge “and none of your magical items work” ambush was sprung.

Crazy kids.

That might have been it, but it’s one of the few games I actually played in and one of the few games in which I, and half the players, were sent away to not play the game while playing the game3 which is why it probably seemed so loooooong. Thing is, I didn’t learn from that—in the college games, I still regularly sent people out of the room to have No Fun until much, much later when I realized that I characters keeping secrets from each other is far more rewarding when the players know what’s going on.

  1. Yeah, I was kind of a stupid kid. []
  2. This is the type of bullshit we had to put up with in the early days of Dungeons & Dragons. Did you know that Gary Gygax’s first game with his children had them finding a huge chest full of coins and treasure, but the chest was too heavy for them to move? What a dick. No wonder so many people approach the GM/player divide as adversarial roles instead of as a collaborative one. []
  3. ? []

#RPGaDAY, Last Year: Day 8 – Favorite Character

Again, not a good topic to revisit, as I typically run games instead of play in them.1

So last year today on #RPGaDAY, a subject that really is called Tell me about your character”.

I’ll try not to bore you.

I play in games very rarely. Since picking up that boxed set of Dungeons & Dragons, it seems like I’ve always been the GM. There were a handful of characters I actually played, usually thieves in the pseudo-European magical medieval fantasy games due to my dislike of the Vancian magic system D&D and its imitators favored.2 As those few moments of being on the other side of the DM screen drifted away into the hazy past, I really only recall two or three characters worth mentioning. They all do the right thing, but wind up suffering for it.

The most recent character I played was doomed from the start.

There’s a Shadowrun adventure called Missing Blood. In it, the heroes come across a private investigator who fell hard for a girl he was trying to find. He never met her, but investigating her, he was exposed to everything in her life, including what she looked and sounded like. He was hit by the love but, hard. In Missing Blood, the runners get some information from him, head off to be heroic adventurers and eventually find the girl, but she’s the victim of a cult and in the middle of a week-long possession ritual that was impossible to stop.3 She was gone, partially consumed. After the mission, the runners could return to the P.I. and decide what, if anything, they would tell him.

My last character was that investigator. Except I had him go on that mission with the runners, found the girl halfway through her transformation to an Ant Queen, and got her out. And she’s been kept in magical stasis for the past two years in his basement. And he loves her.

There was never going to be a happy ending for Daniel.

Either he saves her and she wakes up and doesn’t know who this guy is or he fails and she arises as an Ant Queen.

That’s my favorite character. Creepy, doomed Daniel. Even if given the chance, I would never go back to playing that character. His story is over.4

tl;dr: I guess I really like Hamlet.


  1. Maybe I should rethink this whole “Last Year” concept. Nah. I’ve got some good stuff coming. []
  2. It’s probably why I’ve never read any of Vance’s books, too. []
  3. I’m greatly oversimplifying the situation. []
  4. What happened? In the end, she was threatened, so he dropped the magical stasis on her; she was consumed by the Ant Queen spirit, and — through a sympathic link that insect shamen and queen spirits have — he knew she loved him. It might not have been her any more, but that love was all that Daniel cared about. So I guess it was a happy ending after all. []

#RPGaDAY, Last Year: Day 6 – Favorite Game Never Played

Caught up to Now, Last Year!

A year ago, the question was What’s your favorite RPG you never get to play? Let’s see how I answered last year and see if that still holds true for this year.

My roleplaying days have become leaner in recent years. I played a ton in the high school/college years, then again years later with a literal renaissance of gaming. Since moving to Maine, roleplaying opportunities have diminished. I’m on the east coast, which means that all the gamers from the home group are anywhere from two to three hours off, depending on the time of year, so it’s hard to connect. There’s the child’s bedtime to consider – unlike some gamers, my spouse also loves to game, so I can’t just say I’m going to start playing games via Hangout and honey can you put the girl to bed in an hour? – plus with the time difference, we’re starting around 9:30 at night and ending (hopefully) two hours later. There’s an occasional Shadowrun game I’m in and I’m planning on doing a Fate D&Dish game with the family this weekend, but still, I miss the weekly home game and the monthly Tucson RPG Guild meets.

In other words, there’s a lot that I’m not playing right now that I wish I could.

So… favorite RPG I never get to play. Hm.

bp_modguideBlue Planet possibly has my favorite game setting, but the actual system is… awful. I’d love to hack it with Fate or Apocalypse World, but that’s not a whole “game”, though, is it?

Shadowrun also has a fun setting, but there’s something about how old school the system is that really bugs me. Plus, that’s hit the table a few times this year.

Looking through my shelves and PDF depository, it’s probably one of three games:

There’s a Buffy: the Vampire Slayer game that mashes up Buffy and the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean movies, putting a Slayer smack dab in the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy that I pitched to the home group a few times, but nobody ever bit. It would have been one of those campaigns that was. But it wasn’t.

I’ve always wanted to play in a street-level Unknown Armies game. I don’t know much about the game, or how it is played, but reading actual play reports and hearing how cool that game can be has always made me want to play it. Downside: I’ve never played it.

Or maybe it’s this Star Wars Age of Rebellion game that’s right here. I did get to run last year’s Free RPG Day adventure at Gen Con 2013 for a group of friends who get back together only at Gen Con. (And once via G+ Hangouts.) I really enjoyed the game system. Unfortunately, I’m still a bit jaded when it comes to Star Wars. I’ve never fully recovered from the sting of the prequel trilogy, which soured the whole IP for me.

The more I think about it, the more I think that Buffy campaign is on top here. The movies are fast, action-packed, and fun; the show can be dark, is smart, and full of adventure. The game itself is a low-prep game to run, too! While the players fill out a full-on character sheet, the GM only really needs three stats for the adversaries. That’s a huge bonus for those times I don’t have to prep!

Honorable Mention: Apocalypse World. Man, I really like that game.

bigpreview_Pirates of the Caribbean, Elizabeth Swann

Okay Thomas, what about this year?

Wow. I’m still pretty close to last year’s gaming write-up. I’ve got two good answers to this, but one really fits with this year’s Day 28: Favorite Game You No Longer Play. So my answer this year is last year’s Honorable Mention. I looooove me some of that there Apocalypse World. 

pdc_madmaxfuryposter2Yeah, we ran a short game of Apocalypse World that died. Wife doesn’t like it, but I think it’s because that game ended in a way that was so… not our game’s style.1 But I love that game system — it’s fast and direct and leads to interesting fiction and so much more story can be accomplished within a game session.2

I’ve also been doing some projects with Magpie Games and Dead Gentlemen Productions that are derived from Apocalypse World — in particular, Urban Shadows does some neat stuff with AW merging it with a World of Darkness/Tim Powers vibe. I’m really enjoying how the system is put together and how it just works, man.

The three contenders from 2014, how do they stand up today? I still want to get some Buffy, the Pirate Slayer action going on, but that’s going to be one of those games best left in the imagination of the past. Unknown Armies… um, I’ve got the playtest documents. So we’ll see how that goes. And Age of Rebellion — man, I wish I loved those movies more. Maybe after The Force Awakens comes out and if it’s good, the girl and wife might want to do a quick Star Wars game.3

  1. And in truth, it was really my fault for thinking that telling the other protagonists they weren’t part of the Hocus’ organization would have let them have freer reign, but in reality it just pointed them at each other with knives and the whole game had to be scrapped. It didn’t help that we also had a horrible time with Dungeon World, another *World game. []
  2. Don’t get me started on Shadowrun. []
  3. Oh, that Fate D&Dish game mentioned last year? It never happened, but a D&D 5e game did! []