As roleplaying games go our “Sins of our Fathers” campaign is the longest I have ever participated in. Last Tuesday we started “the sixth season” and this time the action takes place in colonial America right after the raid on Joseph Curwen’s farm in 1772. As with the previous seasons we will use the refined version of my Eldritch Sigils game system that relies heavily on the AWengine.
About the Campaign
None of our group has much knowledge about the colonial America so I found myself in luck when I encountered the Colonial Gothic rpg by Rogue Games. I bought most of the books from Drivethrurpg.com to be used as source material. It was actually nice to notice that most of these books is not written in a way that is useless for other gaming system. The background sections in each book give me enough detail for the this campaign and are not burdened with needless rules.
We created the characters two weeks ago so we could cut right into the action and it worked quite nicely. Everybody was already familiar with their own character, had had time to think about them and do so background research.
The actual session started with a new story telling element I wanted to introduce into this campaign – a checklist of possible events. At the beginning of each session a player will choose one of the events listed and it will take place during the session. If the characters take part into this event they gain experience but if it happens “off screen” they can all draw one (gaming chip that can be used as a successful test or for other purposes).
The idea behind this “mechanic” came from this summer’s Ropecon where I got to play Archipelago and Fall of Magic. They both featured something similar – a way for the players to affect into the narrative in a non-traditional way. As the game advances we will see if this kind of approach actually has any merit (or if it even works). But right now it seems like a good addition and a thing that can make this season more memorable.
As with AWengine games this game is also about “playing out to see what happens”. This check list allows us to think what we want to incorporate in the game. It can guide the players forward (as they can see all of the option right from the beginning) and it helps me as the GM to come up with new and interesting twists during the session.
In addition to the check list we agreed that this season was about “the best of the best” characters fighting the supernatural corruption and black magic in the 1770s. Other than that we knew only a little about what kind of a game we were going to start.
The First Session
Ville was the first to choose an event from the check list and he chose “a secret hand shake is shared” event. Since I knew the characters were going to be dealing with Freemasons I decided that this event meant that they were actually called to be initiated to the society. I think I could have brought it in a more concrete way but luckily I have nine sessions more to hone my skills in making these things happen.
So the characters were called to the house of one George Washington who had learnt about their past actions. Each character has history with other characters – like the bonds in Dungeon world, and we had established some weird stuff in their past with these. He was counselled by Benjamin Franklin and these two formed the “stranger in the tavern” that “gave the party their quest”.
I might as well point out that we have very little knowledge about the history of the United States and even less about the geographic of the colonies. We are making assumptions and bending the rules to fit into the narrative as we go. Actually my main source apart from the Colonial Gothic rpg seems to be the Sleepy Hollow tv-series…
While doing background research on the colonial times I studied the timeline of Cthulhu Mythos and chose the raid on Joseph Curwen’s farm as the trigger of this campaign. Washington was aware about the events that took place there and as his fellow mason Franklin was willing to consult him.
Washington and Franklin informed the characters that there were strange phenomenons happing all around the new world and that they would need agents to study them. The characters agreed to work for this dream of a better world and were tasked to venture to one of the possible sources of the dark magic – Roanoke Island.
After a lot of coffee drinking and changing pleasantries the character left for the mysterious lost colony but only after they had encountered another group of likeminded individuals that were tasked on a similar mission.
Their journey started easily enough but after some time (few weeks quite likely) they entered a nameless fishing village along the cost and got into an argument with a brutish drunkard. They beat up the poor ruffian leaving him with a fewer teeth and a sore head before riding out into the darkness before he could sober up.
Making a camp along the road they were haunted by bad dreams only to be woken up by one of the characters’ dog that was chewing on an arm. They quickly discovered an old native American burial site and found out that one of the graves housed a body much newer than the rest. Noticing the heavy footprints that had circled their campsite the characters only marked the location to their not-that-accurate maps and moved on.
Little later the came on a hill from which they could see the city of Norfolk in the horizon. They did not want to enter the city as thieves in the night and chose to wait until morning. This night one of the characters, more attuned to the Beyond than the rest, saw that the whole city had caught a flame. He woke the others up but when they could not see what he was seeing was a bit puzzled.
One of the other characters, an albino preacher, offered prayers and chanted to Lift the Veil to see what their sentry had witnessed. He could also see the city in flames but judged that this would not take place in a few years.
We left the characters wondering these premonitions and will pick up from here in two weeks.
Though the session was quite good I still think I wasn’t at my best. I was a bit tired and missed a couple of interesting things that could have made the story better. Even worse I got obsessed about the maps I was missing and spent too much time trying to figure out where the hell everything was.
One of the original players who has been playing in all the seasons is not participating in this one; mainly because he has a busy schedule right now but also because he was not that much into the whole colonial times. With one session under our belts I think this period of time is actually really interesting and offers up a lot of possible storylines.
It is actually quite weird that there are not that many movies, tv-series or games that deal with this time period. Hopefully we will find the gems and enhance our experience. But even without that kind of off-game inspiration I have high hopes for this season.