Monday, February 27, 2012

12: Running a Caving Survival Horror, Part 1.

Well, my forearms seem to be working again which is a good sign. I like having able forearms. Working wrists are also a good thing. Well, I guess they were working beforehand but they just liked to send pain signals which isn't such a fun thing. But now they seem to have settled down even if I have to have my chair up so high my lap is pressed up against the underside of my work desk (*sigh*) to keep them happy.

Anywho, me aside, what happened during that session?

Well, it went surprisingly well. I set up all their gear and equipment cards on the table in front of their places and handed out character sheet. I used a couple of WoD books as an ST screen because there was some information I had to keep hidden (behind that I put the various other card piles). There was nicely creepy music on the playlist and I bribed players to bring flashlights (plus I had several of mine).

One of my players even brought trail rations and beef jerky, like his character did, which was pretty neat.

Oh, and I made sure that everyone had their d10 clusters. I've bought a lot of d10s over the years so I can comfortably ensure that each pair of players has 10 between them.

One of my players ran an NPC because his character was predominately social skilled and thus stayed behind. He got to have fun playing an aggressive Ravener (well, officially, anyway) Devourer who really hated his old boss (an Eminence 3 Devil played by another PC). He was the party healer, which is always fun, since his Torment wasn't terrifically low ... nor was it terribly high but he kept high-Tormenting his rolls so now the party doubtless thinks he's sunk further into his Torment than he actually has. This NPC, Barzel, was also fun because he uses Flesh rather than Awakening to heal which means that rather than risking injuring the other PCs, he simply risks driving them temporarily insane (or permanently insane, in the case of a failed Willpower roll for humans). The player enjoyed being him quite a bit, actually.

A Devourer Hedonist (self-made faction, fairly self-explanatory) also tagged along and though he wasn't heaps useful (low physical stats, Wilds Devourer), his accumulating insanities made him pretty memorable. Since he was an NPC, this was pretty obvious when one of my other players took the reins of the NPC and his own character, and yet ended up favouring the Hedonist. This was something that player had offered to do and it really helped me out a lot.

Another player played yet another player's retainer, an army lieutenant and now thrall, who came along and tried to provide pragmatic advice alongside marksmanship aim.

So yeah, curse my players for ensuring that two NPCs came along but thanks be to them for taking them onboard and roleplaying them for me. This was a fairly ST-intensive session so I really needed to free up some brain space.

Well, if you've been following the other articles you have a fair idea of how I ran the session. The encounter cards worked like a charm and really helped me invent some interesting situations. Luckily enough, the hardest came last. It was a narrow passageway (one card) with water that came up to the PC's waists (another card) with two zombies with metal implants in it (third card). It was all the more amusing because that NPC Hedonist had collected an insanity around Hydrophobia and thus wouldn't enter the water until the insanity faded around an hour later.

There were three main water-logged dips caused by a broken water pipe that had been re-sealed using the Earthbound's magic. I made the players tell me the order of entrance in order to build up tension.

The first water dip one was free and easy. Nothing in it. The second one, of course, was equally empty. The third was the longest and it had been set up so that there was a submerged foot high gap in the walls by the floor where the zombies (that had their leg tendons cut) could crawl around. So of course as the players went by, the zombies ended up grabbing hold of their ankles and slashing at them. Things went pretty crazy after that. I think I have an Actual Play around here somewhere that I can post to give you a clue of what happened.

After all of this, they found safety in a cul-de-sac where they decided to rest up until they could regenerate some faith. This was where the session ended and where we moved the game onto the forum over the intervening two weeks where they discussed matters, had big fights, stressed out (there was plenty of tension, just like any good caving story), and fought off a few small waves of zombies.

I'll tell you what preparation was required for the next session in the next exciting installment, but for now you can always go back and read the prior articles over here.

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