Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunrise over Lake Damned-If-I-Can-Remember

The ol' Gameblog went on an unexpected hiatus for the last week or so because of a number of factors. The primary explanation is that I was super busy getting ready for the family trip to Wisconsin. I'm typing this post from the condo we rented at a very lovely resort near the the small town of Cable. Any Gameblog readers in the area? Shoot me an email: jrients @ Though to be honest, I haven't checked my gmail account in about a week and it might take a day or two for me to get caught up in that department.

So my good buddy Pat is in town for a visit last weekend and he, my daughter and I headed over to the Armored Gopher Games for a used game auction. Armored Gopher's last used game auction was of the silent type, where you simply write down you best bid on an attached slip of paper and then the next day you get an email informing you that you spent way too much money on a big pile of game crap. This time it was a live event, modeled closely on Winter War's excellent format.

I know you all are surprised to hear that I spent too much money on a big pile of game crap. Well, it was only twenty bucks, but I didn't spend more than $3 on an single item, so I ended with a lot of stuff. For some unknown reason I was in a mood to bid on a old board games, winning the bidding on the Parker Brothers D&D cash-in Shadowlords!, the Avalon Hill bookcase game UFO, Alien Contact (which I knew nothing about and bid on solely based upon nifty font used on the box's logo design), The Legend of the Lone Ranger (bought at my daughter's urging) and the licensed board game for the old TV show S.W.A.T.

On the RPG front I ended up buying one of the later, black-covered 2nd edition Player's Handbooks and the infamous Skills & Powers book. I didn't play any AD&D during the period when Skills & Powers and the other "2.5" books were out and I've been meaning to get them for a while. True story: I got heckled when I bid on the 2nd ed PHB. Josh, one of the regulars that make my Encounter Critical and D&D con games so fun, shouted from a couple rows back "isn't that a bit too new for your tastes?" I shot back "The first printing was in '89. That totally counts!" A cheap copy of Palladium's Monsters & Animals also made its way into my win pile. Is it possible to have too many monster nooks? I doubt it. I also nabbed two third edition Gamma World modules and the Buck Rogers adventure War Against the Han. The latter is for the Buck Rogers rpg that TSR did that more closely resembled the original post-apocalyptic pulp novel. I figured now that I'm running Mutant Future as an ongoing venture a few cheap post-apoc resources could come in handy.

Which brings me around to Wednesday and Mutant Future session #2. I had the same three players (Carl, Dane & Wheelz) running the same three characters (Silver Bob, Ted "Creepy Deer" Fletcher & Stern the Pure) with the addition of Stern's new henchman, Dumbo the Elephant Dude. I decided to use WalkerP's One Page Dungeon, MineCo 3000 Uranium Ore Extraction Complex. Continuing the previously established theme of "Oh noes! Our hometown is running out of waters!" I fed the party a totally bullshit rumor about a settlement further down the Poison River. Their mission: find out how the locals are able to purify river water, or at least arrange to buy water from them. [Spoilers!] The Ore Extraction Complex doesn't purify any water. Its run by androids and hypno-zombies that the androids don't mind slowly killing with poisonous water. So a totally false lead, but given reports of activity down river a plausible one. What can I say? Years of watching Gilligan's Island as a youth probably gave me a twisted idea of what constitutes a fair scenario.

Anyway, the party all died. They got through the majority of the adventure and burned through most of the allotted session time, but then things went awry. The One Page Dungeon format leaves a lot of lacunae for the enterprising GM to fill in and with this particular one-pager an unanswered question was "what are the androids armed with?" So I rolled some dice and consulted the artifact charts. I got mostly stuff like laser rifles and six-shooters, with one android armed with an electric stun baton. But one of the two androids guarding the Great Computer God ended with a grenade launcher and some lethal photonic grenades. The sick thing is that photonic grenades only damage living beings, so the androids have absolutely no reason to be dainty about their placement on the battlefield. Only one PC made his save vs. instant grenade death and he was gunned down one round later.

To their credit, the gang immediately started rolling up new PCs. Too bad these new guys are a bands of rejects. Two thirds of the team is blind! We'll see how well that works out next session.

The other thing, besides prepping for vacation, that's been eating up my time lately has been a book. I've been obsessively reading Julian Jaynes's The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. I read it cover-to-cover over the last week and brought it along to immediately re-read. I can't remember the last time I did that. From the first read I can't quite make up my mind whether this Jaynes guy is Sigmund Freud crazy-but-important-to-his-field crazy, Nikola Tesla brilliant-but-doomed-to-be-misunderstood, or Immanuel Velikovsky/Ignatius Donnelly trying-too-hard-to-explain-everything-with-one-theory crazy.