Sunday, November 13, 2011

Epic Technology Fail / New Adventures in Investigative Gaming

It's been a godawful long time since my last post, and I am pretty much forcing myself to write this one.
My Gaming Enthusiasm batteries have been running pretty low of late, mostly due to Real Life crap, and this blog has suffered as a result.

Which is odd, as I've actually done considerably more in the way of gaming in the last couple of months than I have in the past 18 months.

Firstly, I've run Fear Itself over the internet, which represents two milestone firsts for me:
1) Running a Gumshoe game
2) Running a remote game

I am happy to report that once you get a grip of it, Gumshoe works well. I admit that I was pretty anxious and apprehensive about running an investigative game, to the point that I was sending the Author, Robin Laws, Twitter messages asking for advice.
I'm used to running World of Darkness games, having very rough notes (if at all) and relying on player reactions to direct the story - I.e. winging it.
Gumshoe games require you to plot out a solid mystery, with the discovery of clues being central to the story progression.
I was terrified that I wouldn't have the discipline to follow a set path, or the vision to plot one out in the first place.

Turns out it's pretty easy...

For the main story, I decided to use an idea I'd had knocking around for a good few years, and adapt it to a horror mystery.
I tried to stick to the tropes of slow burn ghost stories and 'classic' horror, like Amityville, Dark Water, Blair Witch et al.

I sketched out a small Scottish village by a Loch, added a sleeping evil in the water, a murder, a growing number of missing people, some animate and aggressive water corpses and threw in a couple if Red Herrings.
I kept in mind what was actually happening and how to stop it, and tried to reveal one key clue or fact per scene.
This, it seems, is key...

I found that as long as I kept to this basic framework, I could still improvise and adapt. Just keep in mind where you're actually going, and how long you want to take getting there.

After about 3 sessions, the game was hovering over the Big Reveal... The players had pursued the Red Herring, refocused back on the initial murder, confronted the (suspected) murderer with the belief that he was behind all the weirdness going on, and just found out that he had killed his wife, but that was it. He knew nothing more.
They were starting to get the bigger pieces to the puzzle, I had an event lined up that would point them towards a solution and more questions....

Then I dropped my laptop, breaking the Motherboard.
As we were playing over Skype, this was a bit of a blow. Not only did I lose my ability to run the game, I also lost my notes.
Bugger.

My wife got a little pink netbook, which she allowed me to use for the game, however it appears incapable of disabling the internal speakers and mic when external ones are attached, which led to impenetrable echo and feedback, so I've had to abandon it for the time being.
:-(

On the upswing, some guys from my old face to face group got in contact, looking to get the band back together.
Our first session is tomorrow night, and I've volunteered to run a one shot Trail of Cthulhu game.

I've opted to focus on stuffy Miskatonic academics hunting Cultists and horrors through the University library stacks, and have knocked up some pregenerated investigators for immediate use.

Which leads me to the second technology fail.

My wife's netbook does not have DVD/CD drive, so we can't install the hard copy of Office we own, and have been using Google Docs instead.

Google Docs is generally fine, but has a habit of randomly changing a documents formatting if you attempt to mix text, pictures and tables.
Which is very frustrating.

Then, when I printed off the pdf character sheets and rules cheat sheet from Pelgrane Press' site, the printer missed off the last 6 lines of text.
WTF!?

Seeing as it took me some 25 minutes to print off 10 sides of A4, I've decided to just live with it.