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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4284 Members Latest Member: - Nicholas Mizer Most online today: 190 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Roach] Death! Debauchery! (And we've only started the Semester)  (Read 7293 times)
Doyce
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Posts: 442


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« on: September 19, 2006, 01:40:58 PM »

Saturday the 9th I drove down to Lee and De's new place about an hour and a half away with Dave and Margie in tow.  I've been trying to get our gaming quotient up a bit, and I walked in the door with five games prepped (in the sense that I had sufficient supplies to run each of them) -- Jungle Speed (which I dropped on the table with a sticky note that read 'not optional'), PTA, Shadow of Yesterday, Mortal Coil, and the Shab al-Hiri Roach.  I just pulled every game out and set them out on the table to see what folks were interested in.  I was pretty much open to anything, but if I was going to lay odds, I'd have guessed that we'd end up playing a one-shot of the Roach and that De would want to borrow Mortal Coil and angle for an ongoing game of same.

I would have been right.

So, after general visiting and getting the two young girls running around, I pulled out Jungle Speed and we played a round of that just to get the friendly-animosity flowing, and then got into starting the Roach game up.

Wait, what's the Roach?  Lemme quote:


The Shab-al-Hiri Roach is a dark comedy of manners, lampooning academia and asking players to answer a difficult question - are you willing to swallow a soul-eating telepathic insect bent on destroying human civilization?

No?

Even if it will get you tenure?


http://www.bullypulpitgames.com/games/index.php?game=roach

It's... Lovecraft meets the Marx Brothers. It's... 1919 academia ("Go, Pemberton Panthercats! Beat those 'pods!"), doing horrible things to each other in the quest for petty power, and THEN you add an ancient telepathic Sumerian God/Bug with 4000 unhatched young to the mix... it's just pretty damn fun.

Okay, back to prep.  This was kind of a challenge, because I'd literally gotten the game the night before, read it once that morning, printed out character sheets and cheat sheets, and jumped into Dave and Margie's car for the ride down.  And *I* was the "expert" on the game.

We started in and Lee asked, "So... what are we ... doing?  Like... what's the point of the whole thing?"

That's when I realized I needed to answer guy. I think I managed a fairly good job of that, explaining the breakdown of play.  I'm going to be summarizing, because I don't have the rules OR character sheets with me, but this is who we ended up with on the Faculty of Pemberton U.

* De played... A female full professor of Chemistry whose Enthusiasms were... deceit and... something like sadism or the like.  I don't recall her 'real' name, but her nickname was Kitty, and I remember that she had a litany of ailments -- hard of hearing, etc. etc.

* Dave played... in his words, "a marvelously decadent Botany professor nicknamed Pansy whose raison d’etre is seduction of undergrads (and not the co-eds) and backstabbing (figuratively, to date) his fellow academics." It's very against type for Dave in some ways, and watching him pull it off flawlessly was a delight.

* Margie played... an assistant? No, a full professor of Geology.  Can't remember what his name is, or his enthusiasms.  :( Hmm. Help?

* Lee played secretly hermaphroditic assistant professor in the Art Department.  His Enthusiasms were, unsurprisingly, identical to De's. :)

* I was playing Douglas Dean (Double-D) Blackburn, assistant professor of Poetry and Theatre Arts, the Faculty Advisor for the rowing team whose enthusiasms were Debauchery (he's a bit of an opiate and alcohol user) and ... something with athletics? Sports?  Something like that.

Right.  We got the characters set up, drew the card that would give us a possible 'cool move' (or horrible unwilling possession by a Shab al-Hiri Roach that had gotten loose on campus) for the first Event in the Fall Semester, and set to work.

I sort of bit the bullet on the first Event of the Semester (Welcoming the Students to Campus) and volunteered to narrate the first Scene.  At that point, no one else really had a solid idea of what that even meant, and I figured that leading by example would encourage at least one other person toward an idea for a following scene.  Honestly, I didn't really have much in the way of solid ideas yet either, so I basically cribbed from the examples in the game text.

To whit: my character started out with a hate-on for Lee's character (who had screwed the Theatre Department out of funding for the upcoming year... quite literally, in fact).  I knew that Lee's guy was rampantly bi-sexual (the hermaphrodite thing hadn't come up yet), and that Dave's botanist was into the Lads, so I introduced a Scene where the guy-who-calls-the-strokes-on-the-rowing-team (I think he's the coxman?  Funny if so.) stormed into the lobby before the welcoming ceremony would begin and accused both Lee and Dave's guys, in front of the Chancellor of the College, of taking lascivious advantage of him during his Freshman year. My goal was to discredit the both of them (Dave was pretty much just a target of opportunity that I was pulling into the fray in the hopes of attracting Margie to my banner, but no dice on that front).  I staged it the way I did to demonstrate how things would be laid out, how you'd call in other player's characters, how to involve the Pembertonian NPCs by handing them off to other players, and that I didn't even have to be IN the scene to be the mover and shaker behind it -- the narration indicated that I'd managed to work the poor kid into a froth over his former ... ahem... mentors, and then aimed him at them for maximum damage.

Sides were chosen, dice were tossed, and I was destroyed by combined weight of three other players' dice, losing all my starting Reputation (which I'd bet all in, again as a demonstration of how that worked.)

Price of being the teacher, I guess.

This scene took a LONG time to play out, as everyone tried to figure out how MY reputation was even on line in this, when to bring in enthusiasms and how, yadda yadda.

In the end, Dave had high-dice for narration and brilliantly demonstrated how I could have my Reputation at risk in a scene like that -- the student, after fleeing the lobby in tearful shame in the face of the calmly snide expressions of those within, ran to Double-D's house and, finding no one there, scrawled a note reading "You've ruined me!" and blew his brains out my front porch.  The Scandal was tremendous.

First death: in the first scene, to Dave. Nice.

I THINK the next scene was actually BEFORE my scene, chronologically, and involved Dave's attempts to woo, backstage, before the Ceremony, a new 'student teacher' for the Semester... or something.  I believe he was thwarted by De and Margie, and I just stayed out of it. :)

After that, we cut to the after-party for the Faculty, where Margie was trying to get De's character --

GOSSIP -- one of Margie's Geologist-character's enthusiasms was GOSSIP -- MAN that was annoying! :)

-- to Dance.  This was when Margie revealed to me that she'd been Roached with her first card draw and was playing to her Roach-born command. "Dance in joy." or something like that.  I ended up falling on Margie's side in this conflict, trying to get ol' Kitty to loosen up, and got a bit of Reputation back from that (good thing, too, since that student was messing up my front door at that exact moment.)

De had some kind of scene in the Chancellor's office the next day... something about 'where did your student assistant for the summer go? He's missing." and he revealing to the players that he'd been annoying and not-too-competent and she'd left him in a lime-pit in Greece during a summer field trip.  I think she won that one pretty handily, as SHE was also Roached and playing to her master's command (which I can't remember).

Finally, Lee jumped us back in time to just after the dancing scene with Margie, out in the garden, trying to seduce ol' Double-D -- whom he was quite fond of (and no, he didn't have the MURUB command -- he was just playing his 'normal' non-Roached hedonist artist.)  I managed to avoid this with the help of fellow-jock Bantam Whaley, who drifted by, interrupting Lee's guy taking advantage of DD's drunken stupor, and suggested he and I go looking for coeds "because there's a lot of fruits around here."

Word, Bantam. Word.

Thus went the events surrounding the start of Fall Semester.  It took us a long long time to get going, so that was the only Event we got through, but we're playing this Saturday again, and things should move along quite a bit faster, now that everyone has a handle on the rules -- Margie fairly cackled with glee at Scene ideas for the next event, the Wine and Cheese Social, and I confess I've got a few ideas for my dissolute actor/athlete... his may be a tragic tale of Woe. :)

Anyway, I've commenced Wiki-worship of the Roach here: http://random.average-bear.com/ShabAl-HiriRoach/HomePage -- if folks have good rules clarifications, resources, or the like to add, please don't hesitate.
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Jason Morningstar
Member

Posts: 1428


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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2006, 03:47:51 AM »

Cool, Doyce, that sounds like you've started a fun game.  It'll be interesting to see what multi-session play looks like - I've only played in single evenings.  My experience reflects yours, in that it often takes somebody (usually the most experienced player) making some strong choices in the first scene of the first event to kick-start the game. 

I went and buffed out the wiki a bit, thanks for setting that up!
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Doyce
Member

Posts: 442


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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2006, 09:44:44 AM »

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, why 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 comment 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.

Quote
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...

Quote
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, given 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'. 


Quote
(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!

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

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 the Art departments 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.

Quote
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 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.

Quote
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.

Quote
DOYCE:  I rolled well!  I just couldn't beat the Roach...

THE HOMECOMING GAME
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.

Quote
"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.

Right. He then turned around and tried to take advantage of Double D in the hospital, angling for a little late-night buggery.  As was however able to win that particular conflict.

Quote
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.

FACULTY SENATE
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.

Quote
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.

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.

Quote
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.

We're having a good time, and I didn't detect the slightest hint of reluctance to come back a third time and wrap the whole thing up -- our play speed (4 Events in about five hours, with 5 players and a break for supper) isn't blazing fast, but 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!
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Doyce
Member

Posts: 442


WWW
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2006, 09:45:40 AM »

Also, where the heck are the pink girl's "MURUB" shirts? I can't find em anywhere, and I know I saw them last week.
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Jason Morningstar
Member

Posts: 1428


WWW
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2006, 11:01:02 AM »

Sorry, I had to take them down at Spreadshirt's request - they had a ink problem with sparkly dye.
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Doyce
Member

Posts: 442


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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2006, 11:06:00 AM »

*sigh* I guess it's back to boring old jewelry for my girlfriend's Christmas present...
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Doyce Testerman ~ http://random.average-bear.com
Someone gets into trouble, then get get out of it again; people love that story -- they never get tired of it.
Jason Morningstar
Member

Posts: 1428


WWW
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2006, 11:53:32 AM »

Ah!  I totally missed the AP bit.  Sorry.

Quote
((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.))

You can play a card at any time, preferably a time where it is thematically appropriate.  Sometimes the thing to do is just to announce that something has changed and maybe do a mini-color scene immediately, other times it is better to wait until you need the mojo, crouching in the darkness like a sweaty spider.  Just make sure you address it before the Event is over. 

Doyce, I bet your final event will be utter chaos.  Also, they tend to go very fast (even for slow-pokes like you guys), so plan accordingly. 
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