Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mysteria Matris Oblitae: A Call of Cthulhu one shot I ran.

This past Tuesday, June 23, I managed to run a one-shot Call of Cthulhu game for my buddies from back home. Family business still bounds me to the island, so I’ve been given a few more opportunities to meet up with the guys.
I decided to run Mysteria Matris Oblitae, an adventure available in Pagan Publishing’s collection Mortal Coils. The session had all the makings of a disaster: we started character creation way too late into the night, I expected 4 players but 7 showed up, the group didn’t know the system too well, and people had to leave early.
Luckily, character creation took about an hour and a half because my players understood most nuts & bolts of Cthulhu’s simple character creation system after my first explanation.
Mysteria Matris Oblitae is a hell of an adventure; I’ll provide the basic premise while avoiding spoilers for those of you destined to play it in the future. A picture made it’s way to the University of Mexico City. In it a group of Indians and Mexicans are standing around what looks to be the carcass of an unknown creature. The Investigators, who are all related to the departments of Zoology or Botany, are sent to a rural Mexican town to investigate. As always, madness and horror ensue.
I picked this adventure because of its open ended nature. There is little to no railroading, instead the players get to explore the countryside sandbox style.
My group consisted of 2 professors, 1 driver/bodyguard, 1 secretary, 1 lab tech, 1 student assistant, and 1 dilettante. They asked around just enough to be pointed to the direction of the nastiness. Without any preparation, they went straight to a creature lurking in the Mexican countryside. In typical Call of Cthulhu fashion, this spelled doom for the party. Three investigators died at the hands of the mythos creature. The other four ran out into the country side screaming in terror. Of those four, three died of exhaustion and bandit attacks. One made it to civilization where he was institutionalized and electro shocked to oblivion.
The group enjoyed the adventure. It is impossible to create any sort of atmosphere with seven players, but we made up by keeping the table lively with friendly banter and laughs. I had the honor of popping an RPG cherry that night. Mysteria Matris Oblitae was Punkylady’s (@punkylady, twitter) first RPG session. She was the first person to jump into my next session this week; so I take it that she enjoyed herself.
I’m planning on running another Cthulhu adventure this week. Mysteria Matris Oblitae is a pretty deadly and investigation based aventure. This time around I’m running something a bit more pulpy and flashy.
Call of Cthulhu has provided ample opportunity for me to take my mind off the rather serious and sad events taking place in my life right now. Ironically, a game about losing one’s sanity has help me keep mine.
Role Playing Games truly are much more than just games.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Twitting from the frontlines

While taking care of family business in Puerto Rico, I started catching up with all my dearest friends. Needing a distraction from the stressful situation that brought me to the island, I got my friend Juan to run a Recon session with most of our old gaming group.
Deluxe Revised Recon is Palladium Book’s percentile based game of counter-insurgency warfare during the Vietnam war. It has long been a favorite of our group because of it’s simple system ( not Palladium’s infamous Megaversal system) which allows for fast, brutal and deadly combats encounters. We had been playing Recon on and off for more than 3 years. It is the game we played when we needed a break from longer, more involved campaigns. These one shots often ended in gruesome total party kills at the hands of booby traps and the enemy; all of which still draw laughs during over Medallas.
We managed to get a 5 guys to show up to Juan’s house for one more mission. Juan picked a scenario titled Radio Wars from the Advanced Recon section of the book. The adventure started with the unit stationed in a village, deep in the jungle. A radio play that demonized American forces came on the villages only radio. Villagers, who had been friendly up to that point, started distancing themselves from the team. Shortly after, word came in from Headquarters that our unit was to locate the radio station from where the signals were being transmitted, kill all enemy units, and capture the mastermind behind the propaganda.
The unit headed deeper into the jungle to find the guerilla radio station. We easily handled a tiger attack and a booby trap. We arrived at a valley from where we overlooked an enemy contingent that was repairing a radio antenna in a clearing. We had arrived at our objective. The sergeant ordered the team to descend down the valley and hide in the bushes, in preparation for a raid. The sergeant stayed behind to provide sniper support.
Half an hour after the team departed, two VC soldier sneaked up on the sergeant. They overpowered him with a rifle but strike to the back of the head.
Down on the valley, the rest of the team waited for the Sergeant’s signal to attack. A captured worker revealed that the mastermind behind the radio broadcast was staying on a cave the enemy used for storage. The team’s token psychopath killed the prisoner when he ran out of information to share.
The team had agreed on throwing grenades at the workforce and running in to finish off whoever hadn’t been blown to pieces. While we waited for the signal, we saw two enemy soldiers carrying the team’s sergeant.
We decided to begin the raid at once.
The team hurled their frag grenades at the enemy troops. One grenade found it’s mark among the workers, blowing up a some and stunning the rest. Another grenade landed a foot away from the still unconscious sergeant. It exploded, blowing up both our comrade and his captors. The team ran into the clearing to finish off the wounded workers. My character, the team’s medic, confirmed that the grenade had killed the sergeant. After rendering the antenna unusable, we walked into the caves to look for whoever was responsible for the broadcast.
There were various tunnels within the cave that veered off to different directions. We began trying set up a defensive perimeter at the mouth of the cave when the first grenade flew in, landing next to one of the heavy weapons specialist. The grenade went off, almost killing him. It took a very lucky medicine roll (my medic isn’t that good of a medic) to stabilize him. The guy that guarded the cave’s mouth ran out, full speed, to find safety somewhere in the jungle. My medic tried to carry the wounded weapon specialist out of the cave when two bullets hit killed him. The last guy in the cave was blown to pieces by one of his own grenades when he tried to hurl it down one of the tunnels, but it bounced back at him.
The last survivor, the soldier who had managed to run out of the cave, eventually made it back to the village where the unit began the adventure. He walked in to find the village had turned to the VC. He fired blindly at everything that walked before he was struck down by enemy bullets. On the ground, he put one of his grenades in his mouth and pulled the pin.
That was a very condensed log of the first RPG session my original group has had in 3 years. This session marked the first time extensive twitting took place in the table during the game. At first I was upset about this, but the more I think about it, the more fond I’ve come to be about it. Rafa’s, @rafamejia on twitter, kept the world informed about out progress through his updates. He shared with every the experiences his character, Lou B. Riel, had during the suicide mission. Through his updates, he may had gotten someone, somewhere, to ask himself, “what’s Recon” or “What’s an RPG.” Unknowingly he may have turned on someone to this hobby of ours. Too much brain power isn’t required to enjoy Recon, so I think his twitting didn’t get in the way of his involvement as a player. I think it added to the laidback, pickup game feel our group has attached to Recon.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chill RPG

Since I have absolutely nothing to say, I'll re-post and old entry from a Blog a kept a few years ago. Back then I was getting into the old Chill RPG. The interest quickly faded when I never found a group to game with. I did point out some of the games merits, but I ignored its clunky and over complicated system. Rules aside, Chill is a solid game that be a lot of fun to a group that is tired of Call of Cthulhu, but doesn't really want to give Hunter a spin. 

I have always been a sucker for cult culture. I feed off the energy of the fanatics that keep obscure art and games going years after it’s shelf life. My latest obsession is a 90’s horror role playing game called Chill. The game, originally designed in the 80s, deals with an organization called SAVE which combats the evil forces of the Unknown. Unlike other horror rpgs, like Kult and Call of Cthulhu, SAVE pays homage to the universal horror, the hammer movies, and the horror camp of the 90s while keeping psychological horror elements present. These disperate elements attract me to the game. I look forward to creating stories that embrace the camp of the 80s: Bela Lugosi-esque Vampires, Werewolfs, and ghosts with splatterpunkish sensibilities. I see Chill as a platform for me to tell stories about the 80s schlock movies as well as the fortean stuff I’ve spent most of the past two years reading about. My Chill game will deal with a Transylvanian vampire one week and with Mothman on the next. The character’s antagonists are creatures of The Unknown. The unknown manifests as creatures from 80s horror movies. I figure the complicated parapsychological stuff that Jacques Valle and John A. Keel wrote about can also be applied to the Unknown. (Wikipedia Jacques Valle and John A. Keel if you don’t know who they are.)

There are still a few angelfire looking Chill website around. They all host the journals of Chill campaigns that lasted for years, created by people who think Chill is Christ made into an RPG.

A young company tried to revive Chill but they have been unsuccessful. The game seems to be down for the long sleep. All the better as far as I’m concerned.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Another blog?

The Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign got into full gear today. Pieces of a dreadful puzzle are starting to fall into place, hinting at the horror that befell the Carlyle expedition and is starting to engulf the player characters. 
The idea of another character journal crept up upon me while reviewing notes and player handouts earlier tonight. A Masks blog seems like a good idea for various reasons. First, it's another way of flexing my creative muscles a bit and improving my fluctuating writing skills. Secondly, I think other Cthulhu players and keepers may be interested in our group's interpretation of the campaign.  
A journal fits with my character quite nicely because he is a parapsychologist who has been published before the events of the campaign. His motivation (or drive in ToC speak) to stick his nose were it doesn't belong is a book he's working on. 
I would start a new blog for it because I don't want posts to get mixed with the other stuff I feel compelled to discuss here from time to time. The out of character ramblings about the campaign can still go here.My idea for the blog is to recreate Jack Van Buren's notebook online; with all the pictures, random notes, clues, and anxieties that he will pick up in his journey into the Cthulhu Mythos

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dungeoneering Xbox Style

Bored out of my mind some time yesterday afternoon I popped Dungeons and Dragons: Heroes into my xbox 360. It's 8:30 am right now. I spent all night playing the son of a bitch. Heroes is a simple dungeoncrawler in the vein of Champions of Norrath (the best of it's kind) and Diablo. The game oozes old school D&D: gods-awful clitched storyline, endless dungeons populated with random monsters, and clitched characters. 
Admittedly I didn't play it under the best circumstances. This game should be played in a darkned cellar with 3 other players and 80's metal blasting out of a boom box. 
My character's name is Aledrin (as if it mattered). He's a 22th Level fighter with enough kick ass to take on an army single handedly. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Rest in Peace

It could be easy to forget Keith "Doc" Herber while whislt remembering Dave Arnson. We'll miss you Doc. 

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Gamer Girlfriend?

My Girlfriend hates gaming and everything related to it. She's only played once. It was a Dark Heresy one-shot I ran a while back. She played a Psyker named Novia. (That's spanish for girlfriend) It was a straight forward action adventure where the players followed the trail of a cult that fronted as a worker's union. It was a fast paced investigation that concluded in a deadly shootout.
The other two players, experienced rpgers, liked it a lot; Katie, on the other hand, detested it.
Every once in a while I wonder what it would be like to be in a relationship with another gamer. Always having a player available for your upcoming campaign; to avoid yawns and eye rolling as reponses to your endless discussions about geeky stuff; reading the same books; watching the same movies. Essentially, spending time with a female version of you. 
Would I like a gamer girlfriend? 
Katie balances me out. Being the undisciplined mess that I man, I need her to be there to tell me to get off my ass and put that stupid book away. I need her to tell me that she (and 99 percent of the world's population) doesn't care that 4th Edition D&D sucks balls in comparison to 3rd edition. 
She reminds me that gaming is a hobby and not a way of life. Thank you baby! 

P.S. Btw, she gets scared really easy; I'm sure that playing Call of Cthulhu with her would have been an unforgettable experience. Can't win then all!