Monday, February 26, 2007

Eat hot plasma, sathar scum!

Yesterday was the second meeting of C-U Run Club '07, our rotating-GM game group where everyone takes a turning running the game of their choice. My bud Doug was up to bat yesterday, and his game of choice was d20 Future, using setting material culled from Star Frontiers. Last week I wrote to the other players "I hope to play one of those silly bug aliens and maybe zap a sathar with a laser!" Not only did I get to play one of the vrusk (the setting's silly bug aliens), but our foes were space pirates and the evil wormlike Sathar. I didn't have a laser, instead my guy packed a fully automatic plasma pistol powered by an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back. How cool is that?

The background story Doug whipped up was perfect for a high octane single session. We were all members of Department 7, the black ops division of Star Law. In the setting the Rangers of Star Law are like Captain America as Science Police. When their good guy nicey-nice methods don't work, they call in the literally take-no-prisoners hard case psychos of Department 7. So basically we had all the perogatives of space cops, and none of the usual responsibilites. In short, we were playing Judge Dredd in outerspace. For my tastes that sort of a set-up is too fascistic for extended play. I know first hand from running such a campaign that if you give PCs that much author-i-tay things quickly get ugly. But as an excuse for an afternoon's worth of Bad People Fighting Worse, the premise was aces.

This cool vrusk by illustrator John Mince was my character pic.It was very cool to see Doug behind the screen. He was the only player to be at the table for all 18 months of my Wild Times campaign, the totally out of hand D&D epic gestalt game where the PCs fought bad guys until the universe melted. He's currently a player in my still-getting-pur-skylegs Eberron game. Doug and I play together in the World of Alidor. His sneaky ranger is the subtle tactician archer and my shouty barbarian is the party meatshield. But this is the first time playing together where he wore the viking hat and I was the player.

And it was cool. Doug pulled a fabulous bait-and-switch on us right at the start. He handed us incomplete, half-assed 1st level character sheets and told us we were first time smugglers about to meet our boss to get our first mission. Only when the jig was up did he hand out our lavishly constructed 13th level black-ops badasses. Then we shot up a cantina full of space pirates. Hot damn! Another thing that I really liked was the way that Doug seamlessly integrated old school Star Frontiers setting material with new school sci-fi trappings. For example, the nefarious space worm menace was planning on using a nanite terraformation bomb to rewrite the local planet's biosphere to be more Sathar friendly. How cool is that?

I should note that the 'network externalities' thingy inherent to the d20 system really shined through, as no one had any significant problems playing this session cold, even with a tricked out high level sci-fi character. Heck, Kathleen hadn't played anything d20 since 2nd edition AD&D and she stepped up to the plate and ran an extremely effective psionic PC. Of course, she's also really smart and a veteran player. And Dave and Stuart were very entertaining, playing Johnny Octagon, a dralasite martial artist and Coco, a gun fu yazirian respectively. Stuart was gliding around Rocket J. Squirrel style, a pistol in each claw, and Dave used one of his blobby pseudopods like a swingline to fly through a windshield and kick a Sathar in the face. Hi-yah!

So yeah, I got to play a cool game with some cool people. My insect alien got to roast bad guys with his plasma pistol. Good times, good times. Next up for the Run Club, yours truly will be attempting a James Bond 007 caper. It's 1985 and the PCs are licensed to rock.