I took part in three game sessions over the weekend. I might write a lot about Magic: the Gathering, but somewhere deep inside I still feel I’m first and foremost a roleplayer, so its great to be able to try out new things. Of course, the newness varies, but these were definitely new enough.
Friday: Night Witches
This one’s an Apocalypse World -hack that’s centered around a regiment of Russian female pilots during the WWII. An interesting premise, to say the least. I also like the system. You go on a bombing mission each night and each day you go through the drama in the regiment. The nightly missions are there to give you stuff to base your day actions on, but of course those can arise from other sources as well.
The session (lead by our own Ville Halonen) was a bit too short for me. It was supposed to be a demonstration, so I guess it did its job, but I personally felt the two hours weren’t really enough for me to really get into my character. After another plane from our squad crashed on landing due to damage from anti-aircraft fire, my character was blamed for it, so I thought she might be proud enough to fight back, but that was about it.
The game does have potential… as most AW-hacks do. Still, this was very different thematically, which is good. I also don’t mind expanding my knowledge of such obscure historical oddities as this regiment.
Saturday: The Planarch Codex: If On A Wintry Plane a Freebooter
Understandably I couldn’t remember the name, so I had to check it.
The game was ran by Patrik Renholm, who took part in the same MonsterHearts a couple of years back at RopeCon. That was a great game (as my review of it states). I actually remember the names of all the players in that game. You never know when it will be handy. I can always take part in games they run or just follow them into games they’ve deemed interesting enough to try out, because based on that experience, I trust their judgment on these things. (Although, now we have our own recommendations, so I’ll take a look at those first.)
Anyhow, its a game based on World of Dungeons, which is a faux retro version of Dungeon World, which is a fantasy version of Apocalypse World. So, its a hack of a hack of a hack. In this world, the people are chimeras with attributes from different sources. They reproduce through magical means and inherit parts from both parents. My character was seemingly human, but partly demonic (and that part of him game into play in a major way in the end). Since I got three moves from my heritage, I decided I wanted to be able to vomit flies (from Beelzebub, Lord of Flies) and had a prehensile tail. We were allowed to come up with our powers later, so I decided to sit on my third idea (which didn’t come up at all, but was the ability to make people act on their impulses) until the right moment. However, the use of the heritage powers is very limited (understandably, as they are potentially very powerful) so I only got to fill a train cart with flies. Sigh.
Our mission was to find out what an apostate of major religion had done to get excommunicated. Before we could get to that, I decided I wanted to save her life from the assassins our rat-dog-hybrid thing scouted in the same train cart as her. That led to a pretty glorious action scene when we clashed with the assassins, as well as among ourselves as one of the PCs decided he’d rather get the prize on the child she had with her and didn’t really mind letting us become collateral damage.
We couldn’t really top that during the rest of the session, but that’s totally forgivable. A great scene like that is what you want from this kind of a game. I also liked my character and Patrik let me have some very cool character moments. Admittedly, my character was teetering on the verge of being clichéd, but I think I managed stay on the side of good on that one.
Sunday: Dread – Aphroditen hedelmät (Fruits of Aphrodite)
We were the crew of a spaceship that had been on its way to colonize another planet for way over 30 thousand years. Our clones had just been awakened to find cannibalized corpses in the chamber our cloning vats were situated. Since this is a horror game, I’m not going into spoiler territory here, but I’ll talk a bit about this anyhow. Lauri wrote extensively about this last year.
The system is simple, but great. There’s a Jenga tower and you move a piece when you try something you can screw up. Sometimes you have to make more moves, but that seems to be pretty uncommon. I think it happened once or twice during this sessio. The tower always looms over the game and keeps the atmosphere always tense. In a way I don’t like out-of-game skill-based systems, such as dexterity games, being used to make such decisions, but in this case the effect is so good, its just the right way to do it.
The scenario is pretty simple, but there’s plenty of detail to let the players’ imaginations run wild. The ship is pretty small, but perhaps still a bit too big. Smaller ship would be even more claustrophobic. Now there was a sense that we could get where we wanted to go without too much problem as long as we were ready to make a detour.
I think we played too safely, even though I planned on faltering a bit. I played the captain of the ship. I decided to start out with a good grip on things, but then let the chaos take over. I managed this somewhat, but not as much as I would have wanted to. Sure, the group scattered, but we still managed to stay mostly alive. Maybe we were just too good at Jenga.
All in All
I didn’t die once, which is pretty strange. I tend to die in one-shots a lot. I guess I ways playing way too cautiously, although it hardly feels like it after all the stunts I did in the Planarch Codex game. The only time my character died during the weekend was a pretty forgettable death in one of the competition scenarios.
Well, can’t win them all.
I enjoyed all the games I took part in, which is the pretty much the only way win in this hobby.