Roached, again

Saturday, we picked up our Roach game again, and got quite a bit further through the razing of Pemberton University.
A Word on Our Playing Speed:
I’ve commented before on the fact that, unless I set up a game with none of the kids around offering up distractions, we just don’t get as much done as we would otherwise. For instance, I’ve run John Harpers “Freebooters” TSoY scenario twice, and in one case (no kids around) I finished the whole thing up in about four hours — in the other (kids around) we took about 5 or 6 hours to get about two-thirds of the way through.
Now, while I might like to set up a regular game that’s ostensibly kid-free, I shouldn’t like to let people think that I’m particularly frustrated by this — we have kids, we love our kids being around, and that’s just one of the downsides of the unquestionable good.
Or, as De commented near the end of the evening, “We could be playing through this faster than we are, but how we’re doing it really suits us.”
Well said. We had a lot of fun setting up the minutia and particulars of each scene during the events, with everyone jumping in and contributing additional NPCs and material.
To review:
* Doyce, as Douglas Dean (“Double D”) Blackburn, Asst. Prof of Poetry and Theatre Arts, into sports and debauchery.
* De, as “Kitty”, a hard of hearing full professor of Chemistry, into cruelty and deceit.
* Lee, as “Penny”, I think… damn I had a problem remembering his name Asst. Prof. of Art, also into cruelty and deceit.
* Margie, as “Benny”, I think… Asst Prof of Geology, into Gossip and… Something.
* Dave as “Pansy”, Full Professor of Botany, into Wit and young fresh men. err… Freshmen. Right.
I’m using the nicknames everyone had rather than their full names because I flat out don’t remember them — we used the nicknames almost exclusively during the game.
So, with our first Event done already, we started up with the WINE AND CHEESE SOCIAL.

De started this scene off with Kitty trying to poison me with a two-stage chemical compound delivered via both the wine and the cheese — the wine I’d been drinking got shuffled around to someone else, however (killing a busboy in the process), I doubled my meager reputation in the process, and resolved to get Double D’s debauchery bonus in every scene of the Event.

PANSY: Double-D is in his cups.
GROUP: *groans*

((Dave was in top form for horrible puns this game.))
The second scene was Lee’s, taking place at the Social itself, and involved disgracing me in front of the Chancellor by getting a coed (Regina Sutton, actually) to seduce me…

Double D: (meta-narrative) Ah, heterosexuality: my one weak spot.
PANSY: Pervert.

…then he’d lead the Chancellor to our location and expose me flagrante delicto with a student. Before we rolled, I added that the reason why I was celebrating had to do with being given Tenure (played the card I’d drawn for that Event) and made a Full Professor.
((In retrospect, I’m not sure if a card like that can be played when you want during the event, or if it’s immediately in effect, but I played as an Asst. Prof. the first Scene, then Tenured up to get the full Professor benefit in the attack on my academic standing.))
Result, a win for Double-D, and I got narrative. (It seems as though the winner will ALWAYS get narrative in the Roach.) Hearing the approach of the Chancellor, I scrambled out of the cloak room, giving Regina time to get dressed, and approached the chancellor to tell him about this fantastic plan I (as the new Professor of the Theatre Department) had to make the Pemberton Follies of 1919 the most memorable ever, and it all centered on the star of the show… the star I’d just found… the most popular coed on campus… (throws open cloak room door) Regina Sutton!
The Chancellor is much impressed.
Now… I was already pretty much the target du jour for this Event, but two wins in a row against the ‘feature’ players pretty much ensured that everyone was gunning for Double D, and making Regina the star of the Follies virtually guaranteed her horrific death.
… which came around on MY scene for that event, where an impromptu post-Social “follies try-out” at the Rowing Team’s boathouse turned into a massive wine-soaked orgy, with Regina as the ‘star’.

(To the tune of “Down on the Board Walk”)

Down at the boat house.
You’ve got a “C”
Go down on a professor
And you’ll get a “B”
Down at the boat house.
We’ll be having fun
Down at the boat house.
Sex with everyone
Down at the boat house.
You can swallow the coach
Down at the boat house.
You can swallow a roach
Down at the boat house.
Boat house!

((And don’t blame ME for the lyrics — I had nothing to do with them, aside from providing the Scene’s inspiration.))
I lost this one big-time, and Margie’s sabotage of the boat house itself caused the whole structure to slide into the lake.
(Regina Sutton regrettably died in this scene — she couldn’t swim free, as she’d been voluntarily tied spread-eagle to a couple of oars at the time of the boathouse collapse.)
The Follies Event opened with the open-casket memorial service for Regina Sutton, featuring a number of huge bouquets provided by the Botany department, a painting of the coed done by Lee’s Art department Asst. Professor (and containing a number of hidden Sumerian glyphs designed to raise the dead), and opening with an Eulogy by Double D, urging everyone to make the Follies as memorable as Regina would have wanted.

DOYCE: So, Double-D is supporting the Follies.
DAVE: The Follies Brassiere

Right. I don’t remember if I won that opening thing at all. I know Dave’s ploy with the Flowers didn’t work very well at all (he had influenza and was urged to leave the memorial service), and in the process of a couple other scenes Regina Sutton was reanimated as zombie in the middle of the service (by Lee, who voluntarily Roached during this Event to get access to the delicious d12s, because he was tired of getting badly beaten in every single conflict), and indicated her murder as Margie’s character.

DE: The Follies are yours! I’m going to ruin your Follies! With Zombies!

((Yeah, Double D was getting hammered by most of the Faculty by this point. 🙂 ))
I think we killed every single Pembertonian who was supposed to appear in the Follies event.
The Reverend burned to death in the middle of an exorcism attempt again Regina when a huge floral arrangement caught fire during the memorial service.
The Dean of Students — was eaten by the zombie cast of the entirely ruined Pemberton follies, during the show.
I ended the Event in a full body cast (having been beaten senseless by the zombified cast of the show) and entirely out of Reputation.

DOYCE: I rolled well! I just couldn’t beat the Roach…

Not a TON happened in this Event — I don’t think everyone even chose to use their Scenes. The group did immediately decide that Regina still had to be the Homecoming Queen, despite being a reanimated Zombie.

“It’s amazing what a little make-up can do…”
“A little rouge…”
“A little kohl…”
“A little formaldehyde…”

At the beginning of this event, Lee drew an auto-roach card and used it to de-Roach — narrating that watching me beaten within and inch of my life during the Follies ‘filled him up’ as far as cruelty went… he was in effect totally satiated, and lost his interest in Cruelty.
Suuuure. Right. He then turned around and tried to take advantage of Double D in the hospital, angling for a little late-night buggery. I was, however, able to win that particular conflict.

DOYCE: Always a bridesmaid, old bean…
LEE: …never the anal rapist.

And that was about all that happened in that Event, that I recall. Except that Margie won a hotly contested bid to disgrace and de-fund the Football Team by turning almost the whole team into Zombies and then revealing them as such after we trounced the Miskatonic Cephalopods… sort of the necromantic equivalent of a steroids abuse scandal.
Does it seem like I’m talking about Double D a lot? Well, he was my character, so I did tend to see the whole thing through his eyes… plus, since everyone was BEATING THE LIVING HELL OUT OF ME — things DID tend to focus a bit on him at times.
I was auto-Roached at the start of this Event (I figure one of them took him over while he was in traction in the hospital), and narrated my return to mobility by walking into the Faculty Senate meeting and hotly denouncing the ploy to move funding from Sports into nothing but Academics.

DOYCE: My laughter goes just a little too long, like someone who had been excessively beaten with human limbs wielded by the walking dead.

Ironic, that.
I think we won that, based mostly on the support of one of the (few) surviving Pembertonians, who stately quite cynically that Sports = Happy Alumni = Funding.
I’m not entirely sure what else went on during this event, except for a three-way battle for possession of Regina Sutton’s still-animated head (Kitty wanted her as a lab assistant, Pansy wanted her for… I’m not sure what, and I was still convinced I could use her as a star in some major theatrical production). I had a lot of fun narrating this closing scene, describing it as a period-accurate silent picture, complete with hammering piano soundtrack and a Keystone-cops-style chase around the campus, with Regina’s head changing hands a half-dozen times.
[ed.: Oh, yeah… Lee’s character got some Rouch Trade from the captain of the football team, Bantam Whaley… almost forgot about that. :)]
By this point, it was getting late, so we decided that we’d wrap up the last Event in a few weeks, coupled with making up characters for ‘whatever’s next’
So at the end of our second session, and five events in, four of the five characters are Roached (Lee auto-Roached in the Scene right after he de-Roached), and only little Professor Pansy is still free-willed. He’s got about 1 reputation, and I think Margie’s leading the Roached group with something like 10 or 12.

DOYCE: (roach voice) “Drive your enemies before you…”
DAVE: (ooc) “… and hear the lamentation of their women…”
DE: (cutting back to her scene, in character) “You bitch!”

All in all, this was a really fun time — the Roach as been a bit of a departure for our group — we tend to play either ‘trad’ RPG stuff or ‘trad’ card/board games, but don’t really play many games that bridge the gap between the two (such as Munchausen or Once Upon a Time or the like). The one exception to this has been InSpectres, which plays quite a bit like the Roach in some ways (my impression), being very driven by individual narration and with a set end-game sort of thing going on. InSpectres is, in fact, probably the first of the stronger ‘story/narration vs. straight roleplay’ focused narr-rpgs of which we’re seeing and planning to play more (PTA springs to mind).
We’re having a good time, and I didn’t detect any reluctance to come back a third time and wrap the whole thing up — our play speed (4 Events (roughly 16 scenes) in about five hours, with 5 players and a break for supper) isn’t blazing fast, it’s not at all bad, and we’re all focused, with a minimum of digression from play (and that within the very set period of ‘super time’, when narrating Roach scenes would have probably put us off our meals 🙂 — something that’s remarkable in it’s own right. Good stuff!


  1. And when I actually write out “sixteen scenes in about five hours, with a break for supper”… that’s actually pretty damn good.

  2. Agreed, good stuff. I haven’t felt particularly rushed or laggardly — I’m not sure how a group this side would go much faster without losing a lot of the fun (even if it is designed as a “1-shot.”
    And, yes, poor Pansy — who might still win, if folks don’t de-Roach — only has 1 rep. And, y’know — I’m having fun, so who cares? 🙂
    Though, I’ll say, that I can see the point where Pansy’s Fun Quotient will begin to drag (one can only be debauched for so long before it begins to pale) — but I think I’m good until we’re done-done. 🙂

  3. ((Dave was in top form for horrible puns this game.))

    I’m not sure if being a nasty, witty character makes the puns flow more freely, or it just makes me feel less guilty for fear I’m ruining the mood. 🙂

  4. For myself, I’d agree that a long term Roach game would pale in fun, but at the same time, I CAN see playing the game more than once — not as often as, say, Munchkin, but more than a single play through — I’ve got other characters I’d like to try, if nothing else.
    Which is all good for me, I suppose, since I’ve got a request to bring the game along the next time I’m in NYC. 🙂
    As to the unending evil characters… yeah.
    You know, this ties into the comment about Sorcerer character being unlikeable for that same sort of reason — I think that’s true in the Vanilla setting (modern day Earth, with folks who’ve made bargains solely for more power), there are examples I’ve seen where they characters could, if the player desired, be quite nice folks, just with very strong drives/wills.
    Hmm. That (plus wanting to revisit the rules, plus having Dictionary of Mu on order) makes me want to revisit the game sometime in the foreseeable future.

  5. I could see revisiting Roach in a year or two — enough time to let the memories fade a bit.
    As to Sorcerer — yeah, maybe so. I think you could do some interesting “tragic yet heroic” characters (Angel as an example) in a setting like that. Indeed, might be an interesting challenge. For whatever reason, our original Sorcerer chars were just all … kind of unpleasant folks.
    Though I’m still tickled whenever I use my OsatoSoft coffee mug.

  6. Ponder this: Grimm Therapy. Perfectly nice kids, by and large.
    Notably, the Sword and Sorcery guys weren’t bad either — just kind of … survivalist.
    I guess the difference in both those settings is that it seemed there were extreme circumstances that made extreme measures more acceptable — even identifiable.

  7. Well, I didn’t play in either of those. 🙂
    No, wait, I was in the kids thing. Or was here for a kids thing. Hrm.

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