Wednesday, March 6, 2013

New Year, New (Social) Game with USR: First Session!

On Sunday night, Lady Shadowmoss and I played the inaugural session of my New Year, New Game project. As I find it easier to reference projects/games if they have a name, we’ll call this the “Wasteland game.”

Setting background:

Jagged black rock formations rise to meet a fiery sky - thick plumes of black smoke rise from distant peaks. There are no suns, no stars, no moons visible through the thick haze above. This is a barren desolate land of red earth, of twisted leafless trees reaching for a sky that shuns their advance, of murky grey seas lapping at forgotten shores. It is an unforgiving place that permits life but does not give to it gratuitously.

The empires of man fell long ago, and cyclopean ruins bear witness to the forces of terror and destruction that was their undoing.

Yet, there is still some hope in the world.

A few human cities fleck the landscape - centres of commerce, study and often strictly enforced laws, built on or near natural resources. Many humans congregate in these places for the easy access to food, shelter and security. However, far more spend their lives in the vast harsh expanse, the Waste, by birth, by choice or as punishment.

Some among the people of the Waste have taken to extortion, raiding, and brutality, their leaders are want-to-be kings without countries, warlords of the wastelands. Clashes between warlords are frequent and violent. Others care little about claims to land or ruling over a populace, and only seek to capture and sell others into slavery or sacrifice to foul and evil entities.
As detailed in the previous post on this campaign, Lady Shadowmoss is playing “Jade”, daughter of a warlord, and born with an innate ability for technomancy. The latter is nebulously defined and is something we hope to explore and develop during play.


Our adventure began with Jade arriving at the ruins of Parth, an ancient city now rolling hills of rubble. Upon climbing a tall heap of stone, she saw, in the distance, dark figures following her trail. She immediately took to searching the ruins for a suitable hiding place.

She found it in an ancient armory tended for eternity by an immobile robotic clerk - a chrome head and torso fixed to a damaged and rotting dais,with thick cables and wire running to the wall behind it. Unable to understand its request for a pass code, and with the timer obviously running (its eyes turned yellow, then red, then began to flash), she removed her gloves and grabbed hold of the thing. A surge of electrical power from her overloaded the robot’s circuits, frying it in the process, but opening up a panel in the wall behind it.

Behind the panel, looming from the depths of a deep shaft, stood the head and shoulders of a large robot-looking suit of armor (think giant mech anime). Here Lady Shadowmoss’s eyes lit up like the proverbial kid in a candy store. Unfortunately, Jade’s power was insufficient, and too erratic, to do more than bring some of the gauges to a dim glow. Even if she could have powered the suit, she lacked the knowledge to control it. In any event, she opted to spend the night inside the suit.

In the light of day, she went scavenging for a weapon and took to using her stealth to follow a stooped, hooded, individual pulling a cart full of junk - Amid, the beast man merchant of the ruins.

When Amid was ambushed by mutated gnolls (yellow skinned and covered with hideous lesions), Jade was caught up in the conflict. Between them, they killed the four mutant attackers - thanks in no small part to Amid’s skill with a firearm.

A brief dialog ensued, and Jade found that Amid had several items in his cart of use to her - including a section of metal pipe (treat as a club and +2 weapon), a medkit and a device that looked like something she might be able to use her power with (she does not know what it is at this time though). Lacking anything suitable to trade, she agreed to Amid’s deal: deliver a bale of wire to a particular recipient within the ruins and the items would be hers.

As Jade approached the site of the drop-off, a hovering metallic football shaped object whirred into view and cast its spotlight on her.

[that’s where I ended the session]

Some thoughts:

Lady Shadowmoss and I both enjoyed the session which is good enough for me.

I had intended for a dark tone, but we quickly fell into the humor that pervades almost all games I have ever participated in and that went out the window. In my defense, she started cracking the jokes before I did.

To prepare for the game, I created a number of fall back encounters, but created no particular plot or story, other than the set up. I planned to improvise scenes based on Lady Shadomoss’s actions, using the encounters I created ahead of time to fill in when I was at a loss. The trade for the items on Amid’s cart, for example, was not conceived of before hand, but Amid himself was something I had already created.

USR rose to the occasion and easily handled everything Lady Shadowmoss wanted to do. My only complaint, which is minor, is that the initiative system in USR is slow when there are a number of combatants. I don’t like to have the PCs always go first, nor do I want to use a fixed order after every participant rolls the first time, but rolling for everyone every round can be tedious. I don’t know what the answer is because the last option gives the in-play result I prefer.

Perhaps I could deal cards instead? Except that undermines the advantage of a better Action/Wits combo.

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