Photos from our local gaming con, Kaijucon. I ran 3 sessions of Night Witches for a total of 12 people, and everybody had a blast. As seen elsewhere, everybody gets into the spirit of things once they start reciting the oath (badly) while attempting Russian accents (badly).
Second session was a massive night mission that rapidly snowballed into crashed pilots Tempting Fate by skirmishing with German patrols in a swamp, and a great deal of flying in the most insubordinate way possible (to benefit from Suka move). Many medals were won that night.
Third session had almost trouble-free night missions, and most of the time was spent on interpersonal drama, love triangles and flirting with various men and women during the general’s visit. The players referred to the game as “Desperate Airwomen” and they all became extremely attached to the clueless and incompetent NPC crewmember Miska for some reason.
It’s been too long since I GMed convention games, so I’m making a return to the GM tables at Kaijucon on 9-10 June…
It’s been too long since I GMed convention games, so I’m making a return to the GM tables at Kaijucon on 9-10 June 2018 in KDU Utropolis, Shah Alam, Malaysia. I’m running 3 sessions of Night Witches on the first day, 3 sessions of Cthulhu Dark (Screams of the Children) on the second. Hoping to get as many new roleplayers as possible.
On the past Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night, I ran three different playtest sessions for The Veil,…
On the past Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night, I ran three different playtest sessions for The Veil, each time with four players – mainly regulars from my D&D (first session) and Night’s Black Agents (third session) games, but also some friends of mine from another local Shadowrun group (second and third sessions).
Each time, we did character creation right at the table, which wasn’t too much of a problem since it’s PbtA and all the options are on the playbooks, with the exception of the Tags (from the second session onwards I made sure I had extra Tags handouts to make equipment shopping easier). With all three sessions, I used the Caprice setting from the old Heavy Gear RPG – it’s a megacity in a 1,800km canyon on a colony planet, run by megacorps who in turn are chafing under military rule by an oppressive Earth government. Pervasive technology, vertical arcologies spanning over ten kilometers in height, flying cars and two hours of sunlight per 26-hour day – a great backdrop that I’m quite familiar with.
Each session was rather different because of both the player mix and my choice of scenarios to fit them. The first had The Dying (phasing powers and a body that was turning into part of the Veil), the Apparatus (in a flawless female human body), the Seeker (a pacifist sword monk) and the Honorbound (a dagger-and-bow wielding avenger of the innocent), infiltrating a corporate penthouse spa to steal data and, in the case of the Honorbound, to assassinate a secondary target. Memorable moments included the Apparatus’ sex move turning a vacationing exec into an insane cultist of the Apparatus, the Honorbound battling an Earth Admiral’s GREL clone bodyguards and sparing one defeated opponent to create a debt of honor, the sex-shy Seeker spending nearly the entire mission Scared of all the naked off-duty executives, and the data center’s anti-intrusion AI freaking out upon contact with the contaminated data that made up the Dying’s body, which caused it to wipe all data and initiate self-destruct countdown. After the Seeker broke his own tenets to slaughter a VTOL full of would-be evacuees, the Honorbound was forced by his own Giri to execute the Seeker for slaying innocents – only to be stopped when the Apparatus blocked the shots with her own body in an appeal for mercy. Very intense, funny, bloody and tragic all at once.
The second session had a very traditional cyberpunk crew of the Executive (Russian accent, side agenda to impress military clients, spent entire session in her HQ), the Architect (who failed almost every roll and manifested a jilted lover as a malevolent AI that sabotaged their mission at every turn), the Honed (a pro gaming streamer-cum freelance ninja), and the Catabolist (a tech merchant who never actually catabolised a single piece of equipment the entire game). They were sent to hunt down a rogue corporate lab technician (and, unbeknownst to them, her clone), but a bad series of rolls and decisions led them to a somewhat unrelated Liberati nomad trailer camp where they made the mistake of breaking into a weapon smuggling operation, getting into a battle against gun turrets and combat frames (small mecha) and getting a dozen innocent Liberati children and their target the technician killed. I believe the quote of the session went something like “The Kindergarten is burning! The Kindergarten is burning!” The Executive, sitting pretty back in the boardroom, actually called up NPC contacts to initiate a parallel operation to the one his allies were running when she lost faith in them, and by the end of it was hiring the Architect’s jilted lover and the lab tech’s clone to replace the team and was putting out a kill order on the other protagonists…
The third and final playtest had a spiderlike Apparatus taxi pilot (disguised in a trenchcoat), the Dying (with enhanced strength and a nihilistic worldview), a sociopathic Empath gourmet chef, and the Onomastic (the guardian of a world-threatening Weapon and pursued by the Rotary Club of the future). They investigated gruesome killings in Cayonn District’s underground Alpha levels, outwitting corporate police to snatch an off-the-books SLEDGE prototype supersoldier and get themselves a chance to force a bargain with the powerful Elite Genome Labs. In the process, they drew a grand total of FIVE conspiracies close to conflict with each other. Unlike the other two games I ran on Thursday and Friday, this one did not explode into an orgy of bloodletting and destruction, and because of the complex nature of the conspiracy, we ended on a sort-of-cliffhanger with the operatives trying to decide whether or not to get involved in this Xanatos Gambit Pileup…
Also, this session was memorable for the protagonists bringing a regenerating corpse into a private clinic, prompting the unhappy NPC doctor to complain: “Not again! Do you see a sign outside that says ‘Dead Liberati Storage?'”
All the players had a good time, even the ones in the failed missions (first and second sessions) – the player of the Honorbound was red-faced with excitement at all the conflicts of honor and conscience his character was going through by the end, which earned him a record 4 XP from beliefs.
After three separate playtests I am beginning to see the potential of The Veil for running offbeat and unorthodox cyberpunk campaigns. The Apocalypse System ensures fairly fast conflict resolution once everyone gets used to how it works, and it helps that almost all the character options are listed on the playsheets (except equipment tags), making character creation fast – we had four players making characters at the start of every nighttime session and we still managed to get a decent amount of playtime before the cafe closed. The protagonist types are all rather unique – almost too precious in their uniqueness, but I can’t really complain when the array of Unique Snowflake characters feels quite awesome and empowering. The most generic protagonist types were the party in the second playtest (the Executive, the Honed, the Architect and the Catabolist) who could very well fit into almost any other cyberpunk game. The other protagonists like the Apparatus, the Dying and the Onomastic brought a lot of flavour into the games where they were played. One flaw lies in the editing, which still needs a lot of work to weed out all the typos and confusing errors in the playbooks, among other places. Finally, the use of emotional states and emotional spikes in place of conventional stats means that every player character may perform at similar levels when it comes to combat, stealth, investigation and so on, but the flavour of their roleplaying (berserker, zen meditation, overconfident fool, angsty weeper) is affected by the emotional stats instead. We didn’t play long enough in any session for any particular emotion to spike out to the maximum – I figure the Alleviate rules for dealing with maxed-out spikes would only come into play in longer games.
Special thanks to the 11 players who helped me to explore the game, credit to All Aboard Community Gaming Centre for putting up with us, a nod to the old Dream Pod 9 writers who created the imaginative Caprice/Cats Eye/Gomorrah setting that I used as the backdrop for my games, and cheers to Fraser Simons and Samjoko Publishing for creating The Veil!
I just wanted to say hi from Malaysia – I’ve just had a key player in my alt-history viking game drop out for…
I just wanted to say hi from Malaysia – I’ve just had a key player in my alt-history viking game drop out for tonight’s game so I got my remaining players interested in playtesting The Veil instead.
This discussion happened on Facebook. And thanks to the miracle of social media, I had so many other people interested in the game that I had to clone a second session for tomorrow night for the other players.
So I’m printing playbooks and reference sheets for the TWO games of The Veil I’m running for different groups on two different nights at the local boardgame cafe. Wish me luck!