The Motley Institute, Season 2

I’ve really loved running the Shadowrun campaign I’ve been doing. I’ve had a stellar group of roleplayers who have really made the game come alive. I’ve also learned a whole lot.

For one thing, when you write up a bunch of house rules, make sure you actually put everything out there that you planned on doing. Don’t just think very hard about it.

Another thing is that when someone asks you questions, make sure you remember your house rules and don’t just make arbitrary answers that contradict what you planned on doing.

Yeah. Glad I’ve never claimed to be an organized GM. Ahem.

Beyond that, we did get to at least see what didn’t get used. The Resources and Contacts attributes I wanted to try out just never got used. They might be useful if the characters were more freelance, but with them being employees of the Institute it just didn’t work out.

We wrapped up the first big story arc last weekend, and began to mull around what we wanted to do next. Overall people loved the campaign, but felt the game had gotten too over the top. I’d given them too much XP. That’s not a complaint I’ve ever had before.

I’ve gotten pretty heavy handed with giving out XP over the years. The suggested XP for a lot of the games I play on a regular basis, particularly those that don’t use class/level systems, are pretty tight fisted. And all the cool stuff is ridiculously expensive. But it’s the really cool stuff that you really want. So World of Darkness will have all the cool supernatural powers or Shadowrun will have all the initiations and metamagic. And they will cost stupid amounts of XP.

Overall I feel like we’re playing these games because we want to do cool stuff. You’re not playing a vampire because you want to build up your computer skill. You’re playing a vampire because you want to be able to throw cars, turn into mist and dominate mortal minds. But for the XP you get, it’ll be a long time before you get there. When you’re playing every other week (at best) for 6-12 months, you’re not going to get very far with the recommended XP allowance. And, really, it’s pretty fun to drag out the big toys.

A common answer I get from friends is, “Maybe you should use a different system?” But for a lot of games I play, they are settings that have rules to support the cosmology. If I use a different system, I either have to let go of that cosmology or I need to reinvent the wheel with some other system. So I can’t just take GURPS Magic and GURPS Cyberpunk and mash them together, because it won’t really fit well with the Shadowrun universe. If I use Primetime Adventures for a vampire game, I’ll end up with something more akin to Kindred: The Embraced than Vampire: The Masquerade. “The place plus everything else… That is Amber.”

But anyway. We finished the first big story arc, Season One if you will. And we discussed options for where to go next. Everyone definitely wanted to keep playing Shadowrun. We talked about changing the scope of the work the characters were doing, but what ultimately came out was the decision to make new characters. So we’ll be doing chargen for new characters, all of which are pretty off the wall. More people are doing cyberware than before, and we’ve been discussing ways to handle the Augmentation attribute I’ve been mulling around. So we’ll see how that works out.

2 thoughts on “The Motley Institute, Season 2

  1. jrcraig42

    Yeah, character advancement is a tricky issue. I like fast advancement, but prefer it when there is some in-game justification for it (like finding a treasure hoard, or being blessed by the gods, or mutant powers… mutating). I’m trying to figure out the same thing with the Dresden Files game I’m running.

    I think avoiding the “we have to save the world” thing helps. One thing I like, is the GM handing out some sorts of fixed character improvement (as opposed to just upgrading with XP/money). Like, here is Plot-Sword, or “in exchange for completing this mission, we’ll hook you up with a snazzy bioware upgrade.”

    Either way, I’m looking forward to our new (and perhaps more dysfunctional) group.

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