Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hunter: The Vigil - Forming / Storming / Conforming / Performing

Ran session two of Hunter: The Vigil for the Bolton gaming group last night, and managed to attract four players: Gemma, Chris J, James and Gareth.
I'd spent the two weeks since the first session sketching out in my head what I wanted to happen. The challenge was to turn what should have been a quick introductory encounter at the end of the first session into a viable session in and of itself.
It's a new game to the group, and the first time i've run 'Vigil, so i'd originally planned a very basic first session - Local druggie drop-out becomes a vampire, and uses his new powers to kill / beat up the local gang members and drug dealers that he'd formally worked for / bought from.
I 'designed' the antagonist to be a brutal thug, as subtle as a brick, and fairly unintelligent, then threw in the horrific murder of his nice, normal middle class suburban parents to give the players some additional motivation to stop him, just in case a bunch of dead pimps, pushers and players wasn't really floating their boat.

The first session started a little later than envisaged due to character creation and my general disorganisation, but I was happy with the quality of the roleplay coming out.
Then the roleplay got a little too out of hand - everybody wanted to explore their character and showcase their 'soft' skills. The drug addict got high, the criminal stole medicine from the hospital.
Not that I mind any of that, in moderation, but it did slow down the session considerably.
The last 'encounter' (still thinking in linear terms, after all this time) should have been a quick fight with the vampire. They'd established his identity, found a pattern to his attacks and determined who would be next. They'd even narrowed it down to a place and time.
They should have just gone there, waited for him to show up and jumped him. A quick combat would have followed and the session ended.
However, we didn't have time, so it carried over to the next session.

So, to return to my challenge, I had to stretch something that should have taken 15 minutes into about two hours.

I started off by thinking about what I wanted to acheive.
It would still be the first combat of the game, so it had to be a 'good example' of combat. Basic, and introduce the players to the possibilities.
It also had to present additional challenges beyond 'kill this one guy'.
They knew that the vampire's next target was a dealer called 'Tuco' (yes, when needing low life villain names on the fly, I ripped off 'Breaking Bad), so I fleshed him out a bit (again, in my head, as I've realised that 60% of prep' doesn't see the light of day) and built up the scenario in which they would meet him.
I also added some faceless gang members and a ghoul retainer to the vampire, and populated the neighbourhood with tricks, johns and junkies.

I'm pleased with the way to players rose to the challenge. They got close to Tuco, without making any attempt to warn him or ally themselves with him. Basically, they put themselves in direct danger from a dangerous criminal so that they could react effectively to the vampire when he arrived.
I can see, at this early stage, that they're quite morally ambivalent. The majority have no qualms about commiting crimes themselves, either to aid the hunt or to aid their pockets, yet have no time or patience for criminals. In fact, the drug dealers and gang members caught in the cross fire were not mourned and barely noticed. Clearly these people have never seen Austin Powers.

I think I wasn't consistent or harsh enough with Morality tests or Degeneration.
James should have had to make a Morality check for shooting the crippled, defenceless ghoul, and Gareth should have had to have made one for accidentally shooting the gang member being fed on by the vampire.
I can see Gareth's TF:V character adopting an alternative code of conduct before too long, anyway. He doesn't seem to be adverse to this suggestion.

The session ended with a wounded ghoul and a torpid vampire being gaffa taped up and bunged in their boot for further investigation / interrogation.

Next session should be next week. I'm having a real think about what to do. I've got a number of ideas, mostly ones I didn't get to use from my old CSI: World of Darkness game, however these are maybe a little too hard for the Hunter Cell at the moment.
I'd like to do something with ghosts, which adds an additional challenge in that none of them can perceive or effect ghosts or spirits at the moment.
I may do something with a demon cult, or I might use some ideas from the World of Darkness: Slashers book (a fantastic book that genuinely gets you excited about eating peoples livers).
Or I might do a mash up.