Thursday, July 01, 2010

The First Session

Last night I held the first session of my Steambike game! (Finally)
The session went amazingly well! I called all the players at 11am and told them the time (5pm) and place (my apartment... I mean tree), shockingly they all said they could make it. Amazing given their less than 12 hour notice! When organizing a game make sure to find your players early on so you don't wind up with players who you've never met before, and definitely warn them about the session about a week ahead of time. If a week is too long to wait before releasing your master piece, then at least have to common decency to allow for 24 hours before the session. Obviously though, I did not do this and I still got away with it! ^^
I allowed an hour for players to arrive, and in this case introduce themselves to each other. I've been practicing this sort of patience for quite some time now, given my players lack of ability to be on time to any event. But when six o' clock rolled around, I waited no more. I turned to the most humble of my players (a choice I did not make by coincidence) and began to roll a character up with him. Apollo is the name of this character (and the nickname I'll be using for his player). Immediately after learning his character's name, I told him what peril danger his character was in.
"You're running for your life Apollo. You're being chased by a zombie-like creature with blood dripping from his jowls. He is gaining on you, and very quickly." Then without giving the player any time to take an in-game action I returned to character creation by asking him for his sex.
"Male," he quickly said.
"You rack yourself on a little lower than waist high brick wall, you fall to the ground from the pain. And how old are you Apollo?"
"I want to be wise, and since you're game is set in a confusing world, I want to know as much as I can... I'll be 65."
"Oh yes..." I said, "You're definitely in pain from that groin hit."
I proceeded to let him know about how the zombie lunges forward and is about to land on top of him, unfortunately he was unable to stop the zombie from grappling him and was thus pinned to the ground in pain of plenty, and struggling against the bloodthirsty undead for his frail but still semi-important life.

This process shattered the gray noise from step one. "Gray noise" is anything that takes up the sound waves and isn't the center of attention.. I use it as a term for other players who talk during someone's turn. When they heard what was happening, they drew their conversations to a quick end, and cheered for a new member of the gaming group. I also started throwing the other players into their own stories, leaving the old man on a cliff hanger. When I started there where only four players, so I had two in one area and another two somewhere else. One of which died almost instantly, which scared the rest of the room, making the danger seem more real. That same player (who has before been known to be one of my best players) was more careful about his decisions after that. Ok, well actually he let himself get beat up pretty bad as a distraction for a fellow PC to steal a steam bike and get away. But I don't take heroism for granted in my games, so I gave Price (formally #54) the credit he deserved. (And yes, the fact that he named his first character after a number might have had a little to do with my killing him off, but it wasn't like I didn't give him a chance to run)

Between story shifts, since there where players just listening and not particularly doing anything, I would give them NPCs to play as and told them their role as this person. They where very good at staying fair to their fellows, and so I kept doing this throughout the night. By staying fair I just mean that they didn't try to help them, and they didn't try to ruin their experience either. It's fellowship at it's best I think. This is a daring move for most GM's though. Players tend to play in a manner that will only help them, so it's a lot more common that you won't be able to let your players take control of NPCs for you, I'm just saying you shouldn't rely on it all the time.

Ironically, after just about everyone had their first turn, we started rolling for character stats. The setup was a bit odd, but I think it's going to be perfect for this game. Everyone was allowed to re-roll for only one stat. The stats are Speed: which is your ability to out-run something while your on foot, Mental: which is your general knowledge of the world and book smarts, and Physical: which is you're general strength and physical health. Depending on their size (child, regular, and husky + small, medium, or large) they got a speed roll and a physical modifier. The highest possible speed is 20 and the speed rolls my players got are as follow:
12 16 13 10 13 and 11 so they're all pretty average runners.
When a player chose they're age they got a Mental roll (max 25) and a physical roll which with the addition of their modifier is max 25 as well. The mental and physical rolls of my players are as follow:
Mental: 13 5 8 5 8 and 6 so only the old man has any common sense in this game.
Physical: 2 5 19 9 4 and 15 giving the group a balance of two tough guys, and one seriously frail old man.

Everyone was given 1 liter of water to start with since the game is pretty much about how hard it is to find water. And as always they where each allowed three basic items in their inventory. A basic item is considered roughly speaking to be anything that isn't a weapon. Only every so often do I have to turn down a player for asking for something a little too useful, like say a GPS, or 3 main ingredients to a home-made bomb. Some players started off better than others, but I threw story line at them to make things even, for instance: I gave Jackson a very nice bike to start with, but after saving an old man from near death by zombie he continued rolling on and eventually parked his bike outside a house to raid the inside. However when he returned he found his bike missing, and later the old man saw a gang of female bikers with the same stolen bike.

Only one player (Virgil) made out like a bandit on his first turn, after stealing a steam bike to make a get away from a slave trade situation, he was chased relentlessly by the Mexican slave traders. He did his best to shake them and when he took a sharp turn down a clover-shaped off ramp, three out of four of his chasers crashed into the walls due to their high speeds. He made quick work of the fourth Mexican biker, and then stole all their stuff getting a total of 15 liters o' water, a new steambike, some drugs (for trade in the game system), spare parts, and a wrench. He also obtained one my very interesting guns, and has 10 bullets each varying degrees of ways to stop someone or slow them down (ie. nets, spikes, etc.)

The session ended in a wonderful array of battles and cliff hangers, and my players left with smiles on their faces and laughter still thick in the air. They complimented me on my new game and all said they couldn't wait for the next week, when they will hopefully learn the main plot arch from me. Now the only thing left for me to do...
come up with a main plot arch.

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