Saturday, March 31, 2012

Start at the beginning / Aeon Trilogy timeline in Aberrant

I'm on a massive Aberrant kick at the moment, after the successful session I ran for my group last week and their exceptionally positive feedback.
We've one more session before our normal GM comes back from holiday and we resume our normal scheduled zombie apocalypse.

Thing is, whilst plotting out what I want to do with this next, last session, I've started thinking in terms of an ongoing game. This is probably a mistake.

Anyways, that aside, here's what I'm thinking...

Aberrant is very much a game if it's time. It was released in 1998 and is set in 2008, ten years after the first 'Nova' erupted.
Ten years of super (or Mega) participation has resulted in leaping technological progress and widespread cultural change. The world has embraced these enhanced beings, and is a different place because of it.
This is all great, until you run it in 2012. Now, the 'future' technology doesn't seem that impressive, and the world has turned. Events like 9/11, global recession, the first US black president, the Arab Spring, Hurricane Katrina, the Japanese Tsunami, Swine Flu and numerous more have changed our focus away from the direction the game designers predicted. Which is understandable. And inevitable.

The core conflict in Aberrant still stands up - Novas, Terragen, Aberrants, Utopia, Proteus, Aeon, Divas Mal, The Directive et al are all functional and relevant. It's just the timeline that isn't.

Which is why I chose to run the game from the day the day the Galatea exploded in orbit and spread cosmic charged radiation all over the globe.

The player characters are new super beings in a world that has never known supers.
Right now, a lot is going to shit, and the players don't know it. They only know what happened to them, and even then they don't understand it. They're currently running scared with amazing abilities that they can barely control. They'll find out soon enough...

So, my plan is to run with the Aberrant timeline from the start, and make changes where required.
I'm pleased to discover that the Galatea exploded on March 23, and we played on March 27, so that with minimal fudging I could run a campaign in 'real time'.
Which is awesome.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hello, my old friend / Returning to your favourite system

The game that really got me into paper and pencil RPGS was Vampire: the Masquerade, back with the Revised Edition in, what, 98? I'd been playing in a couple of other World of Darkness games prior to that - Vampire, Dark Ages, Changeling: the Dreaming, Mage: the Ascension - and chose the Revised V:tM as my entry point to serious GMing, or Storytelling, to use the game language.
I immersed myself in White Wolf products from then on, with little or no time for other systems.

Of late, I've tried to break out of that thought prison, and expand my horizons somewhat.
I'd already given d20 a shot in the early to mid 2000s, and looked elsewhere.
In the past year I've run Fear Itself and Trail of Cthulhu, both Gumshoe games, and Star Wars Saga Edition, a d20 derivative. I've also invested heavily in Pathfinder and dug out my In Nomine books.

Tonight the GM for the d20 Modern game I'm playing can't make it, so I've offered to run a one shot game.
After a short discussion, we've settled on a supers game, which means Aberrant.
As a result, I've been pregenning some characters, and I cannot express how good it feels to come back to the Storyteller (ing? I forget which is which) system. Filling in the dots. Not having to reference stuff constantly. Understanding things I do have to reference.
It's great.

More, please.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

One night stands / Non-exclusive gaming

I've just wound up the Star Wars Saga Edition game I have been running for my local club. It's a Clone Wars era game that I'd envisioned as a lead up to Order 66 and the fall of the Jedi. The last session ended with the party ambushed unexpectedly by Clone Troopers during a New Hope-esque award ceremony.
I'd only planned past this point in the vaguest of sense, so it seemed like a good end of season cliffhanger for Season One of the game.

I've signed up to play a game next, which is quite unlike me, and have decided to work up some one shots to have in reserve should the regular GM not be able to make it.

As soon as I started thinking in terms of single session or two session games a whole new world of possibilities opened up to me.
I normally have an idea for a game, then see if I can use it as the foundation for a campaign. Which means that I usually end up running games that lose steam after certain story arcs have completed.

Focussing just on one short arc eliminates that.
I feel liberated.

I can run that Trail of Cthulhu game that has bootleggers and feds running afoul of the Mi-Go in the wilderness without worrying how to make the characters work in an ongoing campaign.
The World of Darkness Aliens vs Predator (Azlu vs Werewolves) idea? Perfect for a throwaway evening. It's not as though the characters could be used again.

One mental obstacle I've had to hurdle is the idea of a pre-genned character.
I've always been adverse to doling out ready statted characters to players. I've always enjoyed character creation myself, and pre-gens prevent that pleasurable experience. Sometimes I can't get behind playing a pre-gen, and I've had players from past games tell me that they don't feel like it's their character.

However, I found myself statting characters for two of players my Star Wars players. They told me what they wanted, and I generated something in that ball park.
I thought it worked pretty well, and received no complaints.

I'd run a one shot Trail of Cthulhu game a few months ago, and pre-genned some characters for that. About eight characters. I only got three players, who were spoilt for choice.
They all professed to enjoy themselves, and I loved the interpretations they bought to their characters. It was an experience I'd love to repeat.

At the moment I'm working up a one shot game for Pathfinder, using only Goblin PCs. By necessity it will be a one shot, as I don't expect the survival rate to be high (although the Goblin Barbarian I've statted is surprisingly hard to kill...)

A h8ers regret / I was wrong about Mage Revised

Eels - I'm going stop pretending that I didn't break your heart

I realised something recently. Mage: the Ascension revised took the right path.
Ok, maybe not with the Avatar Storm.
But the whole "the Technocracy have won and the Traditions magical paradigms are fast becoming a forgotten history" thing now makes perfect sense to me.
It was the only way the line could go, without diverging into Shadowrun.

As such, I am hoping to god the Mage20 becomes a thing. The translation guide has the potential to be a genius addition to the Awakened line, and Mage20 itself should take into account the last 10+ years of Technocratic supremacy and progress.