Week in Review

Quick gaming rundown, before I get all productive:

We had our first, official “The Century Club Presents… session on Sunday. Seven players (counting the GM) were able to make it from our stable of 13, and I’m pleased to mention that I was a player rather than the GM — Randy had run an aborted short session for myself, De, and Jackie a month or so back, which ended with all three of use fleeing the scene and calling in more backup — this session started as a brand new story and a bit in media res from that mini scenario — D.L. (my character) had been sent into the jungles of Venezuela on a recon flight and stumbled on some amazing and unbelievable things… and then called in backup — the story started with the backup converging on a nameless South American airfield.
What happened?
A grand melee on the airfield between Our Heroes some Bolshevik-lead locals who wanted to steal our (three) aircraft, with some Brits (who’d in turn been trying to commandeer our aircraft) huddling behind crates for cover.
A “lost world” plateau in the middle of the jungle.
Semi-sentient, battle-harness-clad, gorilla soldiers, riding (a) aircars and (b) DINOSAURS.
A glowing gate of Atlantean-age manufacture, through which the gorilla forces were apparently importing dinosaurs from ‘somewhere else.’ (Somewhere else turning out to be VENUS!)
The gate feed on the psychic energy of its victims, which it slowly killed even as it fed them dreams of DOMINATING THE WORLD. (Said victim-pool held prisoner by the Gorillas.)
So… lemme sum up:
* Gorillas
* Warrior Gorillas in battle harnesses
* “Psychic” Gorillas in battle harnesses with gems stuck in their foreheads.
* Gorillas riding dinosaurs.
* Cannibals! (sort of)
* Other habitable planets in our Solar System.
My hat is off, and eaten, to Randy — the only way we could have crammed more Pulp Goodness into a single session would have been if there was a burning zeppelin filled with screaming New York socialites about to slowly crash into the Gate.
… which would have been silly, really. Hydrogen burns too fast.
As I’ve run a few SotC games already, I took on the (I think, welcome, and at any rate, planned) role of rules coaching and tutorial-giving during the conflict scenes — the first fight went pretty cleanly, and by the second everyone pretty much had all the rules locked in and understood.
* I really like this game. It’s not the only system I want to run, but it’s got a nice blend of “hippie” and “traditional” gaming that lets me (for instance) do all that story-stuff I like, while easing more traditional players into the skeery realm of more self-authored play.
* Six players is too many. It’s not UNMANAGEABLY too many, but it’s too many for a session where everyone gets to do their thing equally. Five, I think, is the top end, and four would be great. Honestly, though, with the power level of the characters involved, you could GM a game with two players — even one. 🙂
* We plan too bloody much. It’s a pulp game. In the same way that Primetime Adventures encourages us to say “Wait, would they show this in a TV show? No? Then skip it!”, we need to do the same thing with Spirit of the Century — if it wouldn’t show up on the screen during a showing of The Mummy or Indiana Jones or Sahara or Tomb Raider, then hand wave it and MOVE ON! You’ll have the 50′ of rope in your pack when you need it, and if you don’t, you’ll get a Fate Point and we’ll have a really fun scene where you have to improvise! Go! Go! Go!
But that’s it. Randy and I talked a bit afterwards about the game, and while there’s always some stuff that could go better, especially with a new game, I thought it was a great beginning.
And damned few digressions (to which I attribute at least in part to a mix of people who didn’t all know each other — there’s less inclination to digress with stories about one’s kids) very interesting and heartening!

The weekend before that I ran the pulped-up Amber game, Nine Princes in Pulp. Of the five players, two couldn’t make it, so we ran about a half session, after which Joe (a new player) showed up and we all sort of joined in to help him make up a new character.
All around good stuff.
We learned that, given a choice between looking good and finding out a little more information about something he’s supposed to be investigating, Lee’s character will choose to look good — I loved that scene.
Everyone got to the city of Argent in the middle of the night, were met by Martin and some functionaries from Corwin’s estate, and opted to send the luggage on to Casa Corwin (sic) while they themselves rounded off a long day of travel, excitement, and combat with some drinking and music at a jazz club in the city. Nice.
De’s “Xia” and Martin hooked up.
Lee’s Miriam made off with two or three women from the club (Lee notes: at least).
Randy’s “Nicholai” left with someone who actually (and apologetically) led him into an ambush, which he handily trounced while she ran off.
Then we all paused the game itself to help Joe out with his character. Joe is completely unfamiliar with both the system and the Amber setting, so there was a LOT of preliminary work there. He came up with what I sort of think as one of the ‘typical first-time-player characters’ for an Amber game — a warlord-leader type who ruled all he surveyed until he found out there was SO MUCH MORE out there.
In short, his character had started out as a conqueror, but shifted to a real leader of his people during the Black Road war, when he managed to successfully fight off and defeat the Black Road denizens who, Lorraine-like, were invading his world. The fact that THIS shadow did not succumb to Chaos caught Gerard and Julian’s attention as they were investigating the black road, and after watching the guy, they recruited him and brought him ‘into the family.’
He’s a fun character — equal parts Noblesse Oblige and Conniving Power Behind the Throne — Al Swearingen as a military presidente for life. One of the two novels he costarred in actually cast him as the secret ANTAGONIST, which was fun, and in the end of a series of really sneaky and dark Aspects, he took as his final one: “Gerard trusts me,” and “Power Behind the Throne.”
Oh yeah. Fun stuff. Looking forward to the next game.

Primetime Adventures: Dave is running the second part of the Ill Met by Gaslight series premiere this coming Friday, since Kate will be in town. I’m excited about this, since we had a nice ‘breakthrough’ on making scenes really work, the last time we played. Jazzed to do this, but really need to get some rest beforehand, or I’ll be useless at the table.

World of Warcraft: I’ve finally given up on Leatherworking on Grezzk. Althrough he’s level sixty and had got his LW up to 275 out of 300, I just couldn’t see any point in taking it any further. In short, it’s a money sink. My other ‘profession’ skill is Skinning, so in theory I should be getting enough materials for my leatherworking to keep that skill caught up with Skinning. In practice, that is NOT the case (which is annoying, because there are combinations (Herbalism/Alchemy) that DO advance beautifully, hand in hand), and instead of making me money, all Leatherworking does is cost me money as I buy more of the materials I need to level up the skill, by making stuff that sells for less than what I paid for the raw materials. (That’s a function of the ‘RL’ auction house market, not prices the developers set on the stuff — people just pay more for the materials than the finished products :P.)
So I dumped that profession and took up another “collection” profession (Herbalism) to go along with Skinning. Now both my professions are designed to collect stuff for sale, with no manufacturing middle-step — in theory, this means they’re purely money-making ventures. We’ll see.
Herbalism started out at 1 for me, and I need to get it to 300 (at one point ‘ding’ per plant collected), so I had the rather funny and surreal experience of going back to the starting zones with my level sixty main character and collecting the ‘easy’ plants to level up my skill, then progressing zone by zone for an hour or so as the skill rose. By the end of the evening, I was dropping clumps of fairly valuable herbs onto the Auction House for a pretty penny, and still underselling the competition a bit…
As a side benefit, the map add on I use ‘maps’ all the places where I find plants, so when I bring another lower-level character through these zones, I’ll already know where to go to find exactly what I need without wasting time — my warrior (who also has Alchemy to brew his own healing potions 🙂 will be very grateful for Grezzk’s scouting.
I’m still only halfway to the level I need the skill to be at to be useful in the zones I run ‘for real’, so for at least one more night my warlike, tricked-out, orc hunter will be picking flowers in lowbie zones while Tusker the Super Pig amuses himself by attacking any aggressive animals that look sideways at his botanist master. Funny. 🙂
Kayti the dwarf paladin is going along well — she doesn’t level anywhere near as fast as Grezzk, but unlike any other toon I’ve played on WoW, she can solo groups of mobs with no real problems at all — that’s actually really fun, and feels very ‘knight like’ if you see what I mean. My only regret with her is that I really, truly, don’t have anyone to play with on the server she’s on — a transfer might be in her future, if I catch wind of a good group on another server. For now, I amuse myself on the public channels and run Instances with PuGs.

City of Heroes A veritable glut of play on CoH in the last week: we logged on twice! The first time was last Thursday with Dave and Margie to play with the Hostess Heroes. Princess Peep’s speed boosts, combined with the simple fact that CoH toons move faster than WoW character left me feeling hyper and wiped out after gameplay, but the missions went well… though I suspect that I drove poor Dave a bit nuts, acting like a typical Scrapper. 🙂
((It’s funny, but I really do play differently on different toons.))
During the weekend, Kate and I got on Markov Chain and Shadowslip and PuGged it up to run a seven six-person Strike Force: The Temple of Water. Neither of use had done this Strike Force before on any character, so that was nice, and we both dinged once, which was also good. It’s a big of a grind for an SF: 11 or 12 missions, and really none (or maybe one) of them that can be stealthed or done quickly — we got started late and finished even later.
This group was CRAZY MAD the whole run — CoV toons naturally want to keep moving as fast as possible (we had two or three brutes, and a dominator, and those guys always want to keep moving so their Rage and Domination don’t drop), and the two Corruptors we had were both Kinetics based, which meant DOUBLE SPEED BOOST WOOOOOO. Everyone was moving like they has Super Speed, and no one ever ran out of Endurance. We saw nothing but huge groups of orange-conning enemies and chewed through them like a weedwacker through a quart of Ben and Jerry’s.
Oh, and the lead brute for the missions? Pikachupacabra. 🙂
We died a couple times (one mission was particularly bad, leading to a couple team wipes), but the debt was gone within the same mission every time, and ironically, dying bothers me a lot less on CoH than WoW, even though CoH has xp debt and WoW doesn’t. (1) Debt goes away, but damage to my gear pisses me off. (2) What difference does debt make when you only play once a month? None, that’s what.
Playing one session of CoH right now costs me about as much as going to the movies once, sans drinks or popcorn, and the chances of leveling during that time are so incredibly low that the XP gain or leveling becomes a non-issue: I am, truly, just playing for the sake of playing, the same way I would be with Half-Life or Prince of Persia — it’s all trip, and no destination.

Whew. Okay, that was longer than I’d anticipated. Off to the real work!


  1. RE: Century Club —
    Thought it went great. Still getting the feel for the mechanics, of course, and having to excessively look up Skills and Aspects and Stunts, but went well. Enjoyed the company, but, yes, fewer stories about “Remember that time when” means a bit more focused play. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
    The planning thing is tough. I was feeling rushed at the end, and not really understanding of the physical setup until long after the quick map. And, of course, if there’s a map, I feel compelled to consider how many hexes my character can move and what his facing is (which is, of course, stupid). Again, a matter of becoming familiar with the play.
    RE: Hostess Heroes —
    I was playing a tank. We’re *supposed* to get huffy when folks go drawing aggro before we do … (esp. as my aggro-drawing was not as effective as it should be).
    RE: Gaslight —
    Looking forward to it, too. Fortunately I took notes about stuff, because my prep time between now and then will be passingly small …

  2. Hah! Would have thrown in a zeppelin — the City of Sao Paolo, filled with helium, of course, from the vast Brasilian reserves of such — but was sure we couldn’t shoehorn it in this time.

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