What are your games like?

No, I haven’t finished the bigger post I’ve been working on. But it did germinate a question I thought I’d posit for y’all:

What are your games like?

I don’t mean this in the Forgian “What is your game about?” Just curious what other people’s games are like. If you GM, what sort of games do you like to run? If you only play, what sort of games do you like to play in? I’ve been mulling around the thought of very non-standard Shadowrun games, and what sort of games those might be, and it began to occur to me that I’ve gotten increasingly insular in terms of what I play. For the last decade I’ve mostly been playing Amber or Amber style games.

Most of what I’ve played (and it is, honestly, the sort of game I prefer) are games with a larger story arc with smaller, personal story arcs woven through there. It’s the sort of game I also try to run, though I will refrain from commenting on how successful I’ve been at that. Mixed in with this have been occasional variations on this, often more along the lines of mission style games like the classic Shadowrun model. I’ve also played in the occasional straight up dungeon crawl. Then there’s the sprawling absurdity of the kids’ game.

So I’m curious what y’all do and play. I’m especially curious about games that fall outside the typical Amber or D&D experience. I’d love to hear about what you do with your Traveller game. Or your Vampire game. Or Seventh Sea, Legend of the Five Rings, Fading Suns, Transhuman Space, or whatever.

13 thoughts on “What are your games like?

  1. princejvstin

    I run a 2nd Ed Exalted game which I have named “Futures of Dreams Past.” Four Solars, based in a town near Nexus, making their way in the wide, wide world of Creation.

  2. admin Post author

    What’s the setup for the game? What does a typical session look like? Is it monster of the week? Ensemble cast focusing on personal dramas? uber-threat that may very well bring down all of Creation?

  3. idemandjustice

    I am unlikely to play in a dungeon crawl at all. Well, I might for a one-shot, but it’s not really the sort of thing that does it for me. I think I tend to like what you’re saying, having a larger story arc with smaller, personal story arcs woven in. I prefer a lot of drama more than a lot of combat (although highly cinematic combat is a lot of fun… an old vampire game I was in was jokingly referred to as having been directed by John Woo), good character interaction. And I like a little bit of depth, where the characters change and grow (or degrade).

    The D&D game my friend is running is Ravenloft, and it’s playing a lot like a White Wolf game… possibly because he plays a lot of that. But yes, we have an overarching plot, and we have personal plots and goals as well. It is a very dark game, as Ravenloft should be, lots of failure and seeming doom, but we’ve found hope in it as well. I think it’s pretty awesome, anyway.

    I also like solo games that are entirely catered to a particular character of mine. Generally, my husband and I have something like that going between the two of us most of the time.

  4. princejvstin

    Setup for the game:

    I started with four players, a quartet of Solars who had been drawn together and began working together. I later lost two of the players, and replaced them with two new players also playing Solars.

    There is a wide-arching background metaplot (the threats to Creation) enhanced and honed by idiosyncratic circumstances in the game itself. The fact that they are trying to survive long enough to resist the challenges against them is also big theme. (Although the characters are slowly learning that they indeed do have power, perhaps more power than they realize, as befits new Solars)

    For example, the four original Solars learned that they had been part of a 5-set Circle back in their previous incarnations. Their fifth former member emerged as their first real antagonist, a Solar turned Abyssal. They have since, in offered plots and situations, gained more antagonists and allies as they have explored their world.

    Sprinkle in individual plots which mainly revolve around ties to their former incarnations and existences back in the First Age. After that, in addition to the main plots percolating, personal plots have emerged revolving around the impact and weight of their former lives on their existences now in the present. (Finding their old tombs, discovering links to locations and characters from long ago, etc)

    Exalted is a big game that we are all still getting comfortable with as a roleplaying versus a die rolling experience. One of my players in particular has slowly started putting together plans for being active, rather than reactive, to the threats facing Creation that I’ve slowly revealed and illuminated.

    A typical session usually involves the working out of a list of agendas that the PCs have on their own or have grabbed thanks to the plots out there. (One PC is very good about keeping such lists. I will copy his email below, sent after the last game session). Sometimes, there is a “set piece” combat, and sometimes sessions are almost completely social and roleplaying in nature.

  5. princejvstin

    > Well, the INTENT this next session is to get DIs friend (whose
    > name, if we’ve ever heard it escapes me) to Meru and Viola’s tomb so
    > the Unconquered Sun can cure this Abyssal thing he’s got going. The
    > other gates from the Tomb of 5 Corners have opened near, but not at,
    > their owners tombs, so I expect if any of them go to Viola’s tomb
    > that will be the same this time. The question is, how far away and
    > how many opponents are between us and it (or the tomb and the gate,
    > on the way back….). And how much Essence do we have to spend to
    > get there and back.
    >
    > However, we don’t HAVE to choose the Zenith gate first: we COULD
    > check out the Dawn gate and see if it leads to an old tomb of DIs. If
    > it does, we’ve accomplished a couple of things: first, we’ve got a
    > good idea that someone has reset the gates for the current group (how
    > THAT was accomplished would be an interesting question to Kunrad for
    > sure), and DI can pick up anything that his earlier incarnation has
    > left for his future self.

    We did this, and had a good time. Some quite interesting
    information was learned as well: the deathlords were once Solars, the
    Lover Clad in the Raiment of Tears (lowly regarded by the Mask of
    Winters) remembers things from her Solar past and can redirect Gates of
    Auspicious Passage, Not to mention that her minions came as far south
    as the Tomb of 5 Corners to then return northwards to Linowan
    territory (though it may be that the Mistress of Pacts Sealed in Blood
    led her fellows to the gate from the temple to the tomb, and the tomb
    was then reprogrammed (at least in part)). DI visited his tomb and
    found that the grand daiklave he’d once borne was taken, from the words
    of the Hunter of Thieves probably well before the minions of the Lover
    visited and were taken.
    Some things for DI to be aware of: Linowan is part of the region
    where the Scarlet Empire and the Bull of the North (another Solar)
    clashed some years back, with lots of death and destruction. The
    greatsword the Fae was speaking of being taken was likely along the
    size of the grand daiklave that the ghostly Dragonblood had, that we
    returned to Lookshy for the bathtub.

    > Kunrad’s going be a bit less than amused, though, if he can’t
    > manage to reset the Night gate to point to the temple where he and
    > Charen last saw the Mistress of Pacts Sealed in Blood, that place was
    > likely worth more searching. Then again, how much time for that kind
    > of searching will there be, what with people in the Labyrinth to
    > rescue, a temple to the Unconquered Sun in the ruins of Meru to
    > reopen, AND a god of the seasons to break free of what ails him?
    > Probably not a lot, especially when you add in the possibility of
    > needing to go on pilgrimage for 3 or 4 months to increase ones
    > Essence!

    Given what we know now, I’m…… unsure. It could be that the
    Night gate (or possibly the Twilight gate) now leads to the temple, but
    it seems a waste of effort to reprogram it (unless it was done because
    the Lover is not, yet, completely sure of the Mistress’ loyalty).

  6. admin Post author

    Questions that have occured to me:

    – Did you create your own larger plot, or are you mainly drawing off of the normal metaplot elements that Exalted provides?

    – How do you get players to provide that sort of information before the session in email?

    – Did you happen to base this in part around demo adventure of Tomb of 5 Corners?

  7. admin Post author

    I’m curious how the Ravenloft resembles a White Wolf game for you. When you say “White Wolf” do you ultimately mean “World of Darkness?” And what elements do you thing exemplify a White Wolf game that also appear in the Ravenloft game.

  8. idemandjustice

    I did mean World of Darkness, sorry. And I’m talking really about the mood of the whole story. I don’t know how to explain without giving you more details about the game.

    We’re right now, unfortunately for us, the pawns of four vampires who feel we’re destined to help their leader attain the means to pretty much control ALL the vampires in the domain, who are currently at war. But the four of them are all subtly working against each other, which does remind me a great deal of the way the Camarilla tends to go, but a little more well-thought out than you tend to see in a LARP at least (though you don’t LARP, IIRC… which is good, I’m not a fan myself). And we’re pretty much slaves.

    My character, at the start of the game, had been operating on the need to just get by and survive, because she’d already lost everything that mattered through her own personal failure. Throughout the course of the game, I discovered that I actually did have more to lose… in hindsight, after losing my freedom to a vampire. And that I still do have more to lose, because my insane vampire master wants me to become the avatar of some beast god who is supposed to wake up and devour everything, including my mind — unless I do everything he says, and he can save my identity for me, supposedly. So, now she mostly operates on fear. Fear on lots of levels… I don’t want this to happen, obviously… I’m terrified of my master and not sure I believe him. I’d love to find a way to kill him but I’m not strong enough. And one of the other PCs is pretty much my only friend… I’m not even able to warn him because I’m sworn to secrecy and my master can read my mind. So, how do you even work against someone who’ll know you’re doing so?

    The other players have other destinies going on, but I think mine is the most INSANE. Which is awesome… I love it when GMs fuck with my characters, personally. I’ve seen some people get upset about that sort of thing, because they have their idea of what they’re gonna play, and they don’t like it to be messed with, but I can’t express enough how much I LOVE it. This GM has run a lot of WoD games and he generally puts a lot of work into them. He even made a soundtrack of creepy music to go with this one, to help us get into the mood of it.

  9. princejvstin

    –Mainly the larger metaplot (Empress is gone, Fae, Yozi and Deathlords are threatening Creation). Smaller elements are definitely homebrew, ranging from the small to the medium large.

    –The player in question started doing it voluntarily because the setting and everything I throw into the universe make it an extremely plot rich game. I don’t think you’ve ever played with me at ACUS but I have a propensity for (over)plotting games.

    –I did start the game with a visit to the Tomb, although the power and usefulness of the Tomb has made it a nexus point for further adventures, plots and plans of the PCs–and for the GM, too (the Players recently discovered that since they were last there, the tomb’s gates had been reprogrammed–and have learned who might have done it–and not who they expected, either).

  10. admin Post author

    You know, I don’t recall ever playing in anything with you. I mean, I know you’re an ACUS regular, but I don’t remember ever seeing you. And I’ve been to a half-dozen of those. You’d think with 80-100 people there, you’d know everyone and yet there are so many people I just don’t know. =P

    And, dagnabbit, I was hoping you held the secret to getting players involved. Is it the plot-rich nature of your games, you think? Or do you just have good players? =

  11. admin Post author

    So, essentially, you’re looking at a game heavy on political machinations and horrible moral dead-ends?

    I know what you mean about loving to have your character fucked with. I like a GM who is capable of really doing that well. And yet whenever I’ve tried it myself, I just left players feeling like they couldn’t win and I was just stonewalling them. Obviously different players have different standards of play and what they want from the game, but it’s so damn hard to really provide that.

  12. princejvstin

    I have been blessed with very good players. Admittedly I must be doing something right because they are enthusiastic and provide constant positive reinforcement and feedback. So maybe its the plot-rich environment and my tendencies to try and give everyone juicy stuff that keeps them coming back.

    I’ve thrown a Lunar with a former incarnation as Kunrad’s lover at him…for Charran, a God who had a passionate affair with HER former incarnation is now looking for her, Viola has had interesting bits with house rules on astrology and contact with the Unconquered Sun, and Dragon Iron has a friend to redeem, found one of his own tombs (which was previously raided–another hook for the future).

    And then there are the bigger plots. I don’t necessarily force anything down anyone, but I provide plenty of opportunities to get involved.

    I’m not perfect as a GM, but I try hard.

  13. idemandjustice

    Well, we have had a recent glimmer of hope in the game. I don’t think it’s fun for it to be complete darkness and despair the entire time… there have to be some victories or people just wind up feeling impotent and drained. There definitely needs to be a balance.

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