So, the plan hasn’t been to make this suddenly a bi-weekly blog, but lost week was another crazy adventure. I went to the Ohio Renaissance Fair with the Witt Guild and spent the whole day with them. Then Sunday rolled around. I try to be fair and unbiased when speaking in public, but my current Sunday group has been… a challenge.
I’m running the game using my friend A.P. Klosky’s Cold Steel Wardens system. CSW is a system meant to emulate the Iron Age of comics. It’s dark, gritty and supremely deadly. A lone mobster with a gun can take out a hero, and recovery takes a long time. For this game I crafted Moss Point City, a small port city in Louisiana, which was run from the shadows by an organization called “The Court of Whispers”.
The heroes got nowhere close to them. Part of the problem was their builds. On top of being exceptionally deadly CSW is built to be a game about investigations, detective work, getting the word on the street. Their characters had almost zero skill in investigating, we made it work and they were able to start getting information but then they fell prey to their second biggest problem. Anyone who plays RPG’s can tell you that a standard group size is about 4 players. My Sunday group is 3, and they loved splitting the party. I don’t think I had a single combat where every individual was participating. One guy would be doing one thing and the other two would be doing something else. After this last session, we had a conundrum. Their tactics landed one of them nearly dead in the hospital and the other two pretty beat up, meaning they had six months in-game before they were back on the streets. Add to that the fact they’d been floundering for weeks, they decided to cut the game and start a new one. Same system, everything else altered. All my notes are “useless” and I’ve had this week to prepare. Realistically, I probably will have next week as well, since I doubt they will be finished rolling up new characters yet.
So, what was my game plan? Pretty simple. First thing I did when we decided what we did was ask them what they wanted from the new game. Did they want a mob story, a horror story, what were my parameters. They wanted to keep it to the mobs and gangs. They also said I had too many things for them to discover and follow in the old game, they wanted this one to be much more streamlined. So, I’ve got a single gang as a target enemy. Who are they and what do they want?
The question of what do they want is very important to me. I don’t to make this a simple gang, because these guys are going to be the main villains and I wanted to have something interesting beyond “sell drugs, make moneys”. Also, need a good name. A second point I was told is that they were very unhappy I did not have enemies fully statted out before they were confronted… I’m less certain this was actually a problem, since it really was more they felt these guys were too strong and think if I custom build them they will be weaker. How little they understand.
So, I came up with The Broken. Wasn’t the first name I had, but my first name was too close with what I decided to call my mob boss. His name is Karas, which is an anime reference one of the players might get. My Karas found something beneath the city, built a gang, and wrecked stuff above ground, making himself a big time power. I also decided to pull back some of my notes and reuse stuff that didn’t get a chance to appear before. For example, Ol’ West was an older gentleman, dressed like a old west cowboy, who is a crack shot with a rifle. He was an enforcer for the Court in the original game, but using him as a base I decided to name four lieutenants of the Broken North, West, East, and South. North is an engineer and stage illusionist in a wheelchair. South is an “exotic dancer” and Madame, who also will do hand to hand combat. This gives me a gunner, a melee fighter, and a techie. I just recently decided East is my infiltration expert and will be chameleon. Where North builds worlds of illusions, East will disguise herself and slip in and out of the world. Also just a minute ago I realized I could use the Catering Company from my original game, that they never even heard of let alone realized was a front, to be her base of operations.
Another thing I wanted, which seems strange at first, is I wanted this gang to be crazy yet righteous. I’ve decided their “true objective” is to blow up and destroy the city, to take it back from those who destroyed the original city and built over it. A “return to the good old days” mentality, but I don’t want them to be slaughtering civilians in the streets. My players are going to be doing plenty wholesale slaughter and horrible, horrible things and I think it may be interesting to have villains more noble and good than my heroes. At the very least it might get them to stop and think about what they are doing once in a while.
Still need a name for the city and to determine what is going to be happening on the first session. City name… let’s go with Glass City. Famous for large sky-scapers and glass monuments. Burnt down in 1921. Officially finished being rebuilt in 1953 (government projects can’t be quick after all). Now for an inciting event… Maybe I’ll wait until the players give me more of their backstory. At the very least I could always have a member of the Broken blow something up… or threaten too… hmmm.