It’s been a while since I did an update on my group’s Gamma World game, and the reason for that is a simple one; we haven’t played in ages! Yes, the inevitable has happened, and I burned out as a GM, and Real Life got in the way of our weekly sessions. One week’s missed session turned in two, then before we knew it, three months had passed and none of us were really interested in getting back into it; my fault really for not keeping the interest level high.
The last session was a huge scrap in the detention centre; the players had busted out captive Gammaterrans (one of whom was a big gorilla dude made out of bricks), and readied themselves for a throwdown as alarms screamed and the sinister Dr Bao Fang made his fiendish threats. What followed was a long – somewhat tedious – fight as the players and the captives fought hoop guards, robot sentries, and a giant mutant-hunting robot that looked somewhat familiar…
There were some pretty cool moments; hoop guards getting mobbed by prisoners that the players commanded, the zombie mind breaker using up his entire supply of poison grenades to create an enormous toxic gas cloud, and the prescient plaguebearer – who had not scored a single kill in the entire campaign – nearly one-shotting the Sentinel expy with a single critical hit from his megavolt club.
However, this fight drove home the one thing that I’ve been thinking all this time with Gamma World – players are just too tough to kill! There was very little tension in the fight, as the players had obnoxious defences, and recovered HP from second wind, or in the case of the zombie, natural regeneration. After the fight, they took a 5 minute rest and were back up to full again.
At first, I was upset that the game got abandoned, since it was a great way for us all to get together for a few hours each week and geek out, and although I burned out quickly, or didn’t prepare thoroughly enough, I enjoyed getting to GM again. Upon reflection though, it was probably for the best the game ended; the story had devolved into a bland dungeon crawler, the players weren’t getting many chances to roleplay their characters, and I was growing more and more dissatisfied with risk-free, no-tension rules.
In the weeks and months since, I’ve been tweaking and houseruling (because if there’s one thing I’m unable to do, it’s leave a published games rules alone) to make the next Gamma World campaign I run a little more challenging; for example, players will only be able to restore HP from either an extended rest or by using one-use healing items such as medi-kits – no more free 5 minute full heals! Another thing I’ve decided to write up is the concept of a “Team”; this is an idea I’ve shamelessly ripped from Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, where the players determines whether they’re a group of vigilantes, rebels, mercenaries, explorers, and so on. Depending on the Team chosen, the group gets a minor bonus, as well as an instant background that explains how and why the characters know each other.
Hmm, other geeky updates… I’d like to run games of Dark Heresy, World of Darkness, and WHFRP, but my friend has popped his GM cherry and is currently running a rules-lite modern-day paranormal investigation story, and I’m having great fun playing a conspiracy-obsessed photojournalist who’s trying to unravel the mystery of the Tomb of Gomorrah while avoiding getting shot by fanatical Jewish terrorists. I’ll try starting up a new game once he’s finished; we find it hard enough to all get together for one game every fortnight!
I finished reading Aaron Dembski-Bowden’s The Emperor’s Gift today, and it’s awesome. It makes Ben Counter’s older Grey Knights novels look like a pile of wank, because, you know, ADB can write characters with actual depth, and that’s something that’s tough to do with Warhammer 40,000’s Space Marines, who are too often portrayed as bland, one-dimensional, “FOR TEH EMPRAH!” types.
I finally got round to playing Mass Effect 3 last week, and in my opinion, the much-maligned ending – while perhaps disappointing and lazy – does not deserve the seething nerdrage it’s attracted. Was it unsatisfying? Kind of, but when the series has given me 100+ hours of fantastic story, great action, and presented me with genuinely difficult choices, I can cut it some slack.
Finally, I’m trying to get more and more writing done. Seeing as I do nothing during lunch when I’m at work, I’ve started a new story, adding between 200-500 words every day, because, you know, I gotta eat too. I’m also slogging through another story which currently stands at 22,000 words, which I started in February and seem to keep growing out of my control. I’m also scribbling down notes for this year’s NaNo WriMo. Hopefully, I can get a short story compilation up on the Kindle store by the end of the year.
And then I’ve got this blog to update! It’s a tough life…