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Creation Date: June 14th, 2013 06:27 AM
SpaceBadger SpaceBadger is offline
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SpaceBadger's Blog: BBCodes stopped working in this Blog Description, so I moved my Links down to a Blog Entry and made it Sticky, so the latest new Blog Entries will actually be below (following) the Links entry.
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In Moot Member Blogs Happy New Year! Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #56 New January 5th, 2015 02:34 AM
Happy New Year!

I wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year, including all the gaming you want!

I'm looking forward to finally getting the neurosurgery for my trigeminal neuralgia next Monday, Jan 12th, hoping for good results so I can get off of all of these meds I take and get back to a semi-normal life, whatever that is. Until then, I'm still spending most of my time either sleeping or too groggy from meds to be good for much of anything.

I was going to write about the new Lake County Mysteries game that I have going occasionally here at home with my kids, but I see that I already did that in my previous blog post on 11/21, so I'll just update with developments since then. We haven't gotten to play a whole lot, even though we are all at home most of the time (me sick, two of them homeschooling) as it seems that unfortunately many of the periods when I am actually awake and feeling well enough to GM are in the middle of the night when they are all asleep. I try to use those times productively anyway, thinking up new wonderful and elegant rules (that I usually forget before I get them written down ), or thinking up awesome and exciting content for the game (that I also usually forget before I get it written down ), but I am gradually building up some semi-coherent rules (see last blog post) and a good background for them to adventure in.

I think two factors have made the game exciting and interesting enough for all of us that we have continued to play despite some long gaps between game sessions:

First, this game is something new and different from anything that I have ever GMed or they have ever played (previously mostly pseudo-medieval fantasy and Travellerish/Fireflyish SF). Instead, this one is set in almost modern times (1976, before cellphones, widespread desktop-or-smaller computers, and most other electronics that we use every day now) and in almost the real world (a made-up county with two made-up towns, centered around the real world Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri) and is based on solving mysteries, some with possible supernatural factors involved.

Second, even though the rules are still something of a mess and still continuing to evolve, the kids all trust me enough as GM that it doesn't matter. They know what things their PCs are good at and what they are not, and they don't need to know all of the number-crunching behind the GM screen. They tell me what their PCs are doing, I figure out what rolls are necessary and what the possible results will mean, they roll and I tell them what happened.

I seek frequent input and feedback, and so far, they are loving it!

As best I can recall, I started planning this game in October, we played twice in November and three times in the first half of December, then have played five or six sessions in the past two weeks. Two factors really amped up their interest: two more of my sons were able to play, as the one who was living with his father has moved back home with us, and the one who is in the Army was home for two weeks of holiday leave; and we finally reached a point in the game (about the 7th session, IIRC) where a part of the curtain was lifted and the PCs had their first undeniable supernatural encounter, which also unlocked some psychic powers that they had not known they possessed.

I had that event planned from the beginning of the game, and was eagerly awaiting when they would get to trigger it (this game is not on a one-track railroad, but is plotted with nodes and clues as previously mentioned). When the first three players were making their PCs, I asked them some questions to see what sort of psychic abilities they might be interested in having, if and when such might become available. Then I wrote up events that fit into each of their backstories, which the PCs had suppressed and forgotten due to the horror of the experience. When they ran into some unquestionable demonic monsters in the course of their murder investigation, I handed them each printed pages detailing their own PC's flashback experience and some hints of their previously forgotten psychic talents (they are learning more about them and developing them in-game). It was one of those moments of awesomeness that we GMs live for, and all of the kids were very happy with how it played out.

Joe Mills (age 56, infantryman in WW2 in Europe, Sheriff of Lake County from 1952-1972, now bookstore owner) recalled an experience during the war when he had been able to stop and then dispel a Nazi demon-monster, and discovered that he has a strong talent as a Speaker, able to speak with, summon, exorcise, and command demons and other spirits.

Det. Fred Stalwart (age 36, Military Police in Vietnam, now senior investigator for LCSD) recalled an experience when he had been caught and tortured while undercover as an arms dealer in Vietnam, and discovered that he has a strong talent for psychic sensory abilities such as psychohistory, locating things, and intuition. (None of these did him much good in the fight with the demons, but his attribute of Good with ranged weapons and his skill of Shotgun-3 came in quite handy for repeatedly knocking one down until it took more damage than it could regenerate and dissolved into green goo.)

Mary Jo Rodriguez (age 32, homemaker, foster-mom, and President of the Lake County Historical Society) was approached by the spirit of her family genus, personified by her long-dead great-great-grandfather Captain Jeremiah Beaumont, offering his assistance in surviving the demon-fight if she would permit him to merge his spirit with hers. Her fellow team-mates were then astonished to see their smallest and weakest member, with no previous martial experience, leap into hand-to-hand combat with one of the demons and punch it to death.

NPC Det. Sam Catchem (Fred's partner investigator in the LCSD) stood astonished for a few combat rounds, then gained his first level of Initiation (a term I borrowed from GURPS Voodoo for persons who can sense and interact with spirits) and fired a few useless shots with his .38 (the demons could regenerate too fast for the wounds to do any real harm).

NPC Lt. Daniel Martinez (Missouri State Highway Patrolman and old friend of Joe and Fred, chiefly useful to the PCs for his ability to call in an MSHP helicopter when needed) was just shocked and astonished, and his mind blurred out the horrifying event, so that he remains completely mystified by the supernatural side of things that the others are able to experience.

At this point my son who recently came back to live with us had been playing a couple of sessions as either Sam or Martinez, but we needed to make him a permanent PC who would be interesting to play but different from the already existing PCs. He decided that he wanted to be an FBI Agent, so together we came up with the idea that although the FBI as a whole (and certainly Director J. Edgar Hoover) rejected supernatural nonsense, there existed within the Bureau an unofficial "Spook Squad" of Initiates who would get involved when the supernatural intersected with federal criminal investigations. Instead of having a particular talent as the original three PCs did, his Special Agent Harris Fortson had the advantage of having been Initiated and trained by other Spook Squad agents, so that he had some actual skills in Ritual Magic and a much greater understanding of supernatural entities, so that he can instruct and explain things to the other PCs. He can also occasionally call on the assistance of other FBI Spook Squad agents, or access other FBI resources.

Right after this my Army son came home on leave, so it was his turn to spend a couple of sessions playing as Sam or Martinez to learn what was going on, and then he decided that he would like to play a ghost. We decided that his PC was the ghost of a long-dead member of Coronado's expedition in 1540 (which in this game ventured beyond Kansas into central Missouri) who had been imprisoned all of that time and would be released in the game as a confused ghost with little knowledge of his own abilities, so that he could learn and develop as the other PCs did.

We had a great time with the scene of the ghost's release. Almost all of this game has been played with all players present, even if their own PC is not in the scene, so nobody has to sit around being bored (they are good enough roleplayers to keep straight what their PCs know or don't know). For this scene, however, my son and I planned some of it beforehand and then had some note-passing and secret hallway conversations to allow him to continue playing the NPC Lt Martinez, and then also play the ghost when it was released in a dramatic scene in which the major Big Bad Guy was seeking to take control of it, and then when Joe Mills realized what the BBG was doing he used his Speaking ability to support the ghost, and while this battle for the independence of the ghost was going on there was also a major firefight with more of the demons. It was hilarious watching as the other players, who did not previously know that the ghost was a new PC, one by one caught on to what was happening!

Unfortunately, last night I wasn't feeling well at all and was only making the effort because it was my Army son's last night at home, but I wasn't thinking clearly enough to remember what some of my brief notes were meant to develop into for the PCs, or to properly play the various NPCs. Still, we are hoping to play at least a couple more times in the coming week before my surgery, and then also hoping that I will be well enough afterward to continue this game at home even as I resume my various online PbP Traveller games.
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