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Author Topic: [Tensided] Now or Never  (Read 2094 times)
arthurtuxedo
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« on: April 28, 2008, 10:56:36 AM »

OpenRPG Chat Log for Session 1. Played April 13, 2008.
OpenRPG Chat Log for Session 2. Played April 20, 2008.
OpenRPG Chat Log for Session 3. Played April 27, 2008.

With the old Knights of the Broken Sceptre campaign wrapped up, we started the new Now or Never campaign the very next week. I'm a big fan of what I call the short campaign system. There might be some other pre-existing name for it, as I'm sure I'm not the first person to ever think of the concept, but that's what I call it. Instead of running the same characters in the same gameworld year after year, you have campaigns that last usually 3-9 months with weekly 2-3 hour sessions and have a definite beginning, middle, and end. The advantages are that you get to run a variety of settings, it's easier to write good stories since the pacing is controlled, and players don't get so attached to their characters that a character death is a traumatic event. They also become better players by virtue of creating and playing more characters more often, and if it's the same character each time with a different name, a good player group will coach them on how to be more versatile. The short campaign system may not be for everyone, but it's worth trying for those who haven't.

In any case, because we use the short campaign system, we put the Dunsburough setting to rest in order to hop into a Post-Apocalyptic / Cyberpunk campaign. For no particular reason, the Tensided group has ended up running more campaigns in the 2030 Post-Apoc / CP setting than any other setting, including fantasy. The Now or Never campaign is the 5th campaign to be run in the setting, and so it revolves around events that were set in motion two and three campaigns ago by previous groups of players. During WW III the military created a AI computer system capable of being air-dropped behind enemy lines and constructing a small army of combat robots, AI-driven tanks, hoverbots, drone airplanes and then taking the offensive, forcing the enemy to divert forces from the front lines to deal with it. But in the ruins of the former United States, there stands no force that can go toe to toe with even a small WW III era army, and what was designed to be a nuisance and a distraction has become an unstoppable force. Recklessly turned loose on humanity by the players at the end of the SDN3 campaign, the robot army, considering all humans to be enemies, now threatens to snuff out what little remains of a once-great society. In Washington, D.C., the generals look on the emerging army with concern as they casually crush the forces of the New York corporations in Manhattan, which were by far the most powerful military faction in the area. Deciding they will not survive without help, they decided to send expeditions to old allies of the U.S. to see what became of them after the war.

With all of the satellites shot out of the sky with lasers and phone cables cut, blown up, or simply left to rot away, each city and area is cut off from the other, and even though older technologies like short wave radios would make it possible to communicate long distances, there is always the fear that the place being contacted came out of the war intact and might show up with a conquering army if they found out how weak the former U.S. really was. Nevertheless, desperate times call for desperate measures, and the remains of the rightful U.S. government in Washington has decided to see what became of their old friends in Canada. Canada may never have been a formidable military force in the old times, but if they had even a fraction of their old planes, tanks, and soldiers, figured the generals, then they could smash the robotic force.

The players have been chosen to travel to Toronto and attempt to establish diplomatic contact with whoever reigns supreme there and try to get them to send military help. With no one maintaining the roads for years, a long journey over such cold territory will involve driving off-road over snow and ice, and the wilderness outside the cities teems with road bandits, genefreaks, and worse. For this journey, the group made sure to take good rifles and body armor and their vehicle is a modified humvee with superior off-road capability and heavy armor.

The cast includes Deedee, the ranking officer, played by Hawkwings. She played Cassie in the last campaign, and so far it seems like this character is a big improvement. While Cassie might not have said more than two words during an entire session, Deedee takes charge of the situation and gives orders like a leader should. Hawkwings introduced Deedee with the following: "Daniel "Deedee" Dekane sits in a chair near the center of the drafty room. He is tall and muscular, with an air of authority hovering around him. He quietly examines the people around him, noticing their behvaior and trying to figure out how they would perform in a team. He tussels his short brown hair a bit, then takes a deep breath and glances at a clock on the wall."

The team's sharpshooter, Nick Peters, is played by Gerard_Paloma, who had the role of Conrad last time. Gerard likes to play gruff characters who don't talk much, and Nick is no exception, but he does stand out from previous characters by virtue of being basically a spoiled rich boy and having an addiction to meth, which he must stock up on for the journey since he will go through withdrawal if he doesn't have it. Nick's disdain for anyone not in the military came into play in the first session with his interplay with the group's resident civilian, Mallory. Gerard introduced Nick with the following: "Nick Peters stands in the back of the room, hands behind his back. He looks slightly bored. Nick is a tall, lean man with short brown hair and currently lightly bronzed skin, dressed in army fatigues. Every so often, he brings his right thumbnail to his mouth and chews on it a bit."

Mallory is the team's civilian diplomat, and is played by Fatalis Prime, who controlled Velkan in KotBS. It takes a pretty good player to cross the gender line and pull it off, but so far both Fatalis and Hawkwings have done superbly. Feeling out of place amidst the soldiers, Mallory is unsure of herself, which Fatalis conveys with a brilliant combination of italicized thoughts and quoted text. In my opinion, Fatalis has done it again and created the most interesting character, but he'll have some stiff competition this time from Bill and CorSec if he wants to be MVP again. This is how he introduced Mallory: "Sitting in one of the four seats is Mallory Yates, an ambitious and qualified but untested diplomat. She is attractive, but in a mousy, unremarkable way. Short, buxom build, olive skin, brown eyes and long, black hair worn up in a tight braid. Her clothes are nice, all things considered. There hasn't been much work for someone of her trade since the war, but hopefully that is about to change. As she sits and waits on the Army general, her face is unreadable, but beneath the facade is a storm of anxiety. While she's loathe to admit it, even to herself, she's scared. Extremely scared. But she's also tired. Extremely tired of being dependent on her family for survival. At 35 years of age, it's time she finally moved out into the world and began to support herself."

In the role of team medic is Roger, played by Bill. Bill wasn't with us for the KotBS campaign, which was a disappointment to me since he is one of our truly standout players, especially playing a police officer in the Children of Dashakla campaign. Bill is not interested in the fantasy setting, which gave me more reason to look forward to this new campaign. This is how he introduced Roger: "An average appearing white man with slightly shaggy looking brown hair and clear blue eyes. He is dressed in clean, new camouflage clothing, boots and he is wearing gloves against the cold of the room. He is sitting slightly slumped on one of the chairs with a slightly bored expression."

Joining us in session two is generalist Cpl Clarke, played by CorSec. I was thrilled to have CorSec playing with us again, since he had been absent for so long after an ugly falling out I had with another player that he had brought into the group. CorSec has always played varied and interesting characters, and has a particular knack for playing two characters at once. In several campaigns he took over the character of an absent player and did so well that most of us forget that person's player wasn't with us, all while still keeping his own character involved and participating. This is how he introduced Cpl. Clarke, who joined the group just as they were leaving:
"Cpl. Clarke stops by the Hummer and snaps to attention despite the stitch in his side. "Corporal Clarke reporting, sir!" **
Deedee: Deedee returns the salute and asks "You're joining this mission?"
Cpl. Clarke: "Yessir," Clarke hesitates, "with permission." Clarke presents a hastily scribbled order signed by the General.
Deedee: Deedee examines the note and says "Welcome aboard, Corporal Clarke. You trained in any specialties?"
Cpl. Clarke blinks. "I'm trained to follow orders, sir." **"

In the first session, the characters were introduced to each other and to their mission and their vehicle and equipment and got ready to set out. For this campaign and from this point on, I decided to stop assuming away food and travel costs by deducting it from cash each session and to actually have supplies be kept track of and need to be purchased and stored ahead of time. KotBS would have been improved if I had started doing this sooner, but it's especially important for NoN. I'm not really sure why I ever thought abstracting food and supplies was a good idea.

In the second session the group set out on the road. I left it up to the group to plot their course, which we will follow using Google Earth / Google Maps. We also did this in SDN3, and it worked great. Generally for any campaign set in the real world, Google Earth / Maps are invaluable tools. Since the exact course doesn't really matter terribly, the real choice was whether to use the highways and get there quicker, but with higher risk of road gangs, or whether to use the back roads and risk dead ends and genefreaks. They choose to take the back roads, which leads them into a forrested area where they narrowly escape an ambush.

At the end of the second session and start of the third, the group is beset by hyper-intelligent gorilla genefreaks who turn a covetous eye to their vehicle and equipment. Intending to block their path by dropping tree trunks onto the road ahead and behind their hummer and then to swing down from the branches and attack, they are foiled by Nick's keen eyes. At his warning, the hummer stops short and the gorillas come forward using the canopy. Taking a closer look at the group, the gorillas decide the risk isn't worth it and retreat instead of attacking. For this encounter, I thought it would be more interesting to create tension instead of outright conflict. When the gorillas left, the group proceeded very cautiously and with a lot of paranoia. A couple of extra touches like having the branch slip a little from its perch as they went past and having a deer run past made this more effective. Eventually they came to an abandoned town that turned out not to be quite so empty, after all. They continued approaching for a bit until a bunch of residents took up sharpshooting positions and fired a warning shot. Deciding not to slaughter the (presumably) innocent folk, the group turned back and went around the town. I like to throw some innocents who are in the way sometimes just to see what kind of people the characters are. Sometimes they inconvenience themselves to avoid conflict like this time, and sometimes they gun down men, women, and children without giving it a moment's thought. I tend to have more respect for PC's who don't act like members of the SS, so this was a refreshing outcome. As the sun set, the group needed to make camp, and it was here during the first watch that we have the start of their first real fight. They are attacked in the night by genefreaks who resemble nothing more than the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz, but these are flying monkeys with claws and sharp fangs that know a gun when they see one and how to use one. As they swoop in, they go right for the firearms, turning it into a hand to hand conflict which most of the players did not build their characters to be good at. This fight will be resolved next session.

So far we've gone the first three sessions without anyone firing a shot or being killed, which is pretty good. Last campaign was too battle-heavy early on, and though this one will definitely see some gunplay later on, it's nice to see some non-violent conflict resolution this early in a campaign. The trouble is that it takes a lot of practice to build in non-violent methods of resolution to an encounter and to make those attractive options without making them the only option. It's something I've gotten better at over time, and I hope that will continue to show in this campaign.
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Tensided, From Realism to Fantasy and Everything in Between.

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arthurtuxedo
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2008, 09:33:25 AM »

OpenRPG Chat Log for Session 4. Played May 04, 2008.

In this session we played out the fight with the flying monkey genefreaks. These are creatures who can fly into a military base or encampment under the cover of night, evading scanners designed to detect small aircraft and mechanical drones, and wreak havoc by dropping explosives, sabotaging equipment, and killing quietly and efficiently with their genetically engineered monkey strength. After the fall, however, they lack equipment, so they went straight for the guns of the group. Nick was on watch when the attack came, and he was at first inclined to believe that a flying monkey straight out of the Wizard of Oz was a hallucination brought on by his meth habit. He was cured of this belief when it grabbed hold of his rifle and snatched it from his grasp. The other monkeys landed around the party and grabbed up whatever guns they could find, seeking to turn right around and fly away with their prizes. In the end, however, knives, lucky grappling rolls, and spare sidearms allowed the party to kill or drive off all the creatures and recover their precious guns. In the post-apocalyptic world, functioning assault rifles like the group has command a huge premium, and if they were lost the group would not be able to afford to replace them. The battle was interesting because the PC's were built for ranged combat, and this was a Hand to Hand fight. Within HtH range, you use the HtH skill even if you're firing a gun, so the group was at a big disadvantage. In the end, though, they came through, mostly because I set the HtH skill level for the monkeys pretty low.
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Tensided, From Realism to Fantasy and Everything in Between.

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sallyxi
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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2008, 07:56:55 AM »

It`s really interesting and funny information,hehe
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arthurtuxedo
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« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2008, 01:09:51 PM »

OpenRPG Chat Log for Session 5. Played May 11, 2008.
OpenRPG Chat Log for Session 6. Played May 25, 2008.

Sessions 5 and 6 involved tracking the monkeys back to their hiding place and exterminating them. An ill-advised attempt to drive the truck off-road at night resulted in the hummer being deposited into a ditch, so the group sent Nick on foot to do recon. Finding no other monkeys back at their home, Nick dispatched the remaining getaway and was joined by Deedee and Cpl Clarke to explore a cave. The cave turned out to house some sort of population shelter.

As the group inside explored the shelter and discovered at least some of the inhabitants to have been murdered and the bodies left there to rot, the outside group watching the truck spotted a man in the hills who summoned 19 friends, all armed with longarms of some description. After getting the hummer out of the ditch with the winch, the two joined the rest of the group at the cave, leaving the truck abandoned but covered by Nick's magnum sniper rifle. As the unknown men discussed what to do, a hot headed member headed down to steal the truck before Nick fired a "warning" shot, which was actually aimed for the man's head and simply missed.

The most interesting part of the session was the conflict between Nick and Deedee. Deedee's player Hawkwings was absent for the second half of the session, but the character was left in Fatalis_Prime's capable hands. Nick wanted the green light to take out the first unknown man, which Deedee denied on the basis that he's not known to be hostile. A power struggle between the group's leader and the headstrong Nick will be an interesting source of conflict, and I look forward to seeing how it unfolds. Nick's disregard for Deedee's order to fire a warning shot and not a killing shot will not become known since it missed, but we can probably look forward to similar situations in the future. The shelter itself was an interesting diversion based on the idea of perceived danger versus real danger. If there's nothing dangerous still in the shelter, it can still cause just as much tension when the group is finding skeletons as if the thing that killed them is still there. I haven't actually decided yet whether there is real danger or reward in there, so I'll play it by ear.
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Tensided, From Realism to Fantasy and Everything in Between.

Don't forget to visit our attached forum!
arthurtuxedo
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« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2008, 01:10:48 PM »

It`s really interesting and funny information,hehe
Thanks. I mostly prefer realism, but sometimes I like to throw some zany stuff in there and see if I can present it in a way that makes sense.
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Tensided, From Realism to Fantasy and Everything in Between.

Don't forget to visit our attached forum!
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2008, 07:06:49 AM »

Hi there,

"sallyxi" is almost certainly a spambot. I posted a reply on my thread to see whether that received a meaningful reply, and because the post in my thread could conceivably have been real.

The post here is totally empty. Even if it were from a person, I recommend ignoring any such posts.

Arthur, you may have noticed you're not receiving any replies in the forums here. The reason is simple: you're not posting anything interesting. You're presenting what is effectively post-game fiction written by you, not reporting what actual play was like.

There's a sticky thread at the top of the Actual Play forum which presents some points about topics here. I recommend that you read it, or review it, and look over your posting to see how it's exactly the opposite of what the forum is for.

I've posted before that I'm interested in your game, and that's true. But I am not interested in what the party did and where they went and how they squabbled and then fought something. I'm interested in what it's like for the actual people involved to play it.

Best, Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2008, 07:09:19 AM »

Hi there,

"sallyxi" is almost certainly a spambot. I posted a reply on my thread to see whether that received a meaningful reply, and because the post in my thread could conceivably have been real.

The post here is totally empty. Even if it were from a person, I recommend ignoring any such posts.

Arthur, you may have noticed you're not receiving any replies in the forums here. The reason is simple: you're not posting anything interesting. You're presenting what is effectively post-game fiction written by you, not reporting what actual play was like.

There's a sticky thread at the top of the Actual Play forum which presents some points about topics here. I recommend that you read it, or review it, and look over your posting to see how it's exactly the opposite of what the forum is for.

I've posted before that I'm interested in your game, and that's true. But I am not interested in what the party did and where they went and how they squabbled and then fought something. I'm interested in what it's like for the actual people involved to play it.

Best, Ron
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arthurtuxedo
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« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2008, 01:36:42 PM »

I appreciate the criticism, Ron. I'll include more player and GM perspective. It seemed like I should tell what happened so there would be context for talking about the more interesting stuff, but I suppose I've stuck too close to a formula.
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Tensided, From Realism to Fantasy and Everything in Between.

Don't forget to visit our attached forum!
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