Monday, February 09, 2009

Winter War report, part 1

Man, do I regret not blogging over the weekend. Now I have to try to remember all the cool gaming stuff that happened. Despite only drinking one gin-n-tonic the whole weekend, I still have that post-con hangover thing going on this morning. You know what I mean? Back when I was a bachelor and could get away with it I would take the day after the con off just to rest and recuperate.

Friday night's Encounter Critical game was a blast. I had eight players, more than I've ever had at an EC game. It was an interesting mix of people. Two players, Max Davenport and rogue attorney Chris Tichenor, are guys I know primarily from the internet. Two others, Joe and Marc, are locals that I've gamed with many times before. Max and Chris showed up with their own PCs: Zerok, a mad scientist bionic planetary ape modeled after this guy, and Bizarro #38, a mutant frankenstein with a black hole metal club, photosynthetic skin, and an evil talking magical birthmark on his left hand. Playing the role of the birthmark I kept trying to warn Bizarro #38 that Murderfrog was not to be trusted, but he just wouldn't heed my warning.

The other fours guys, as near I was able to gather, were some 40K players who had no friggin' idea what they were getting into. To their credit, they adapted pretty quickly to the fact that EC is basically the Schroedinger's Cat of roleplaying games, where the rules are in a quantum indeterminate state (alive/dead/phasic). Of course most normal players will react well if you hand them a charsheet with a skill like 'Murder' listed right on it. Long John Silverback, the ape pirate, was all over that one. And the player with the psi witch improvised several good psionic effects. My favorite was encasing an explosion of knock-out gas in a telekinetic force bubble. Of course when he later released the hold on the gas it knocked the whole party out anyway, but it was for a good cause, as it also took out a jungle flower monster straight out of Little Shop of Horrors. Fortunately for the party some of them woke up before the monster did.

The adventure was an Encounter Critical adaptation of the Gamma World mini-module that came with old 1st edition GM screen. Man, dig that classic Erol Otus cover. The adventure comes in three parts. Part 1 involves finding a starport buried in the desert sands. Power is off at the joint when the PCs arrive, so it's a basical sci-fantasy dungeon crawl with lurking mutant menaces (snakemen, sand sharks, giant insects, the aforementioned killer potted plant, and etc.) and vaguely useful techno-treasures. The party managed to get the emergency power up and running, which allowed them to communicate with some of the robots in the complex. They then proceeded to phase two of the adventure, taking an automated shuttle trip into outer space. The main threats here are self-inflicted. The players did not seem to realize that every attempt to manipulated the ship controls could spell their doom. After all, something as simple as accidentally switching off the autopilot would have vectored them off into the endless voids of space.

The other big spaceship hazard was the effect of escape velocity-plus forces on the human(oid) body. Six of the players got wise to the fact that maybe they should strap themselves into the big comfy-looking acceleration couches. The other two hung out in the cocktail lounge even as klaxons were sounding and alarm lights flashing. Even the robo-barkeep putting away all the breakables didn't clue them in. Taking 2d6 damage per round from extreme G forces didn't quite seem to get the message through that they were in danger! One of the two intrepid barflies eventually saved himself by pulling the lever that activated the airbag-like emergency acceleration couch, but not before Murderfrog was reduced to a reddish amphibian paste. That was the only PC casualty of the night, not done in by mutated horrors or rogue robots but by failure to give proper respect to the laws of physics.

The final section of the adventure takes place on an abandoned space station haunted by Canopan Plague Zombies and a few mummies I threw in just 'cause I could. Early into this section of the adventure Zerok found a small sample of Canopan plague goo sans zombie and decided to taste it, giving him a slow-burning case of the zombie plagues. When they later encountered the first of the plague zombies and Zerok understood his eventual fate, he set up an alchemy lab in the starport lounge. Using med's stolen from the starport pharmacy, Romulan ale, various monster bits, and whatever other ingredients he could lay his hands on, Zerok eventually developed an antidote. Meanwhile the others were busy fighting plague zombies. Each hit by the zombies had a chance of infecting them, and every time the PCs splattered a zombie they stood a chance of infection as well. But the dice favored the PCs and no new cases of the plague were reported to the CDC.

After much mucking about in his makeshift lab, Zerok drank his antidote. I told him he was cured by means of vomiting up a stomach full of frothy brown zombie slime. Max one-upped me by noting that his cyborg head was entirely mechanical, so to purge he'd have to unscrew it and puke out of his gaping neck-hole. I'm still kind grossed out by the mental image of a headless gorilla vomiting.

When the party arrived at the station the robo-intercom announced that the shuttle would be returning planetside in two hours. They burned through those two hours pretty quickly, between looting boutiques and fighting zombies. As they hussled towards the spacedock they saw a big glowy techno-pyramid shimmer into view, all TARDIS-like, right up against another docking ring. This triggered a bit of debate between returning home via the shuttle or seeking new adventures in the mysterious pyramid, and then some tense negotiations with a half dozen shotgun-toting space orcs seeking to debark from the pyramid. The call to adventure won the day (huzzah!) and the party agreed to swap rides with the orcs. Thus the seven surviving PCs were whisked away on strange new adventures and the space orcs exploded when the autopilot winked out during the landing back at the starport.


  1. More adventures need headless vomiting gorillas and exploding space orcs.

    Kudos, sir.

  2. That sounds pretty awesome!

    I've never been tempted to drive to the Midwest before...

  3. Although EC is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, this sounds like how many of my suppose-to-be serious Icar game.

    Great writeup, vomiting gorilla neck stumps are the future.

  4. Very entertaining. I felt kind of sorry for the space orcs, though...

  5. This is exactly what expect from a Space RPG... Masterfully played and told Jeff.

    Now I need me a Romulan ale!

  6. That was a 4-hour session! Awesome.

  7. The biggest thing I learned in this session is that Encounter Critical is MORE AWESOMER than [insert your favorite rpg here].

    And I've got a club-wielding Cave Frankenstein to back that up if you give me any lip about it.

    (He's got pathetic stealth skills though... "MWAAAARRRR! YOU NO SEE ME!!")

    Max did a great job of suggesting all sorts of cooky application to the various undescribed skills. I think that got the rest of the players into the right mood and things took off (quite literally) from there.

    I told Jeff at the auction the next day that the adventure on one hand was an insane, non-sensical tale of strange mutants going around killing stuff. On the other hand, it was a Cambellian journey into the subconscious underworld, followed by ascension to a plane of discovery, and finally transformation into the universal myth-figure freed from the shackles of the earth-bound, able to fully realize his potential.

    Which is all just another way of saying that I really need to catch up on my sleep.

  8. Now I'm going to have to save a day's vacation so I can make the Friday night EC game in 2010...

    What is it with you and the mummies this weekend?!

  9. Zeerok the Radio-Ape’s Truly Scientific Zombie Antidote:

    Prepare homeopathic dilution of Canopian Plague Zombie specimen using starport lounge soda water gun.

    Use portable fruit/vegetable juicer to blend with Romulan Ale, Venusian Whisky, green hooch, Project X Liquid, blade poison, Murderfrog paste, and etc.

    Light ball-tripping quantities of magic incense. Megadose on vitamins, allertabs and analgesics. Begin calisthenics, taking oxygen tablets as needed to sustain aerobic effort vigorous enough to properly potentize the homeopathic preparation.

    Chug antidote.

    Regurgitate zombie.

  10. Anonymous1:59 PM

    Sounds like the kind of game of pure and unfiltered fun that I look for at cons.

    I'm looking forward to your report about the Big Stupid Dungeon Party on Sunday...

  11. What is it with you and the mummies this weekend?!

    Sometimes I just have to get some mummies and pyramids out of my system.

  12. Murderfrog? Oh man, that's awesome!

  13. Sometimes I just have to get some mummies and pyramids out of my system.

    And zombies. You got all them out of your system. I fear for the next round of "things to get out of my system"...

  14. You know, its amazing, but Gamma World is one of the old classic TSR RPGs that I never got into.

    And no one can screw up cyborg apes.

    Except Todd McFarlane.