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Old 02-25-2018, 02:10 PM   #2
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: Stories: "My old campaign ..."

I've run a number of campaigns of which this is true since I changed from fiddling with homebrew systems back to using published systems about a quarter century ago. But here's one that was particularly significant:

Boca del Infierno, 2005-2007. System: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Role-Playing Game. This was set in Alta California during the period of Spanish rule in the early 1800s, in the pueblo that later became Sunnydale (it was then called Valle del Sol). I let the players vote on which of them got to play the Slayer; the other four played her companions—the sorcerously gifted daughter of the local apothecary, the daughter of a half-demon famlly living on a nearby ranch, the friar with training as a Watcher who unexpectedly found himself called on to use his knowledge, and the officer in charge of the local garrison. In addition, I had each player create a secondary character—a scooby-level character for the player of the Slayer, and heroic-level characters for the others.

This campaign benefitted from all of the players being serious fans who had seen the entire series and were prepared to emulate its spirit. The game mechanics served this very well. For example, the Watcher's player deliberately chose to spend all his experience on buying drama points that he used to save his character from disaster through fortunate coincidences; he never became any more competent at anything! I found the rules in The Magic Box the best I've ever used for improvised magic. And the rules framework was loose enough to allow lots of character-driven scenes. I particularly remember one session where two of the five players were absent, and the characters of the other three were travelling back from a ball at the governor's mansion in San Francisco—these characters were the Slayer, the half-demon girl, and the handsome soldier, and since they had been flirting with each other for some time, I had all three of them targeted by the Roman deity Cupid (in the form of a boy of 12 or 13, not an infant). The players took my hint about the supernatural influence their characters had fallen under and ran with it, in one of the funniest sessions I've ever run.

I think the important thing I got from this was confidence in my ability to do comedy in an RPG. I had tried this once before, with a short Toon series, but of course Toon is specialized, and I wasn't running a "campaign." This time I ran a full length campaign where the humor had to be integrated with the action and drama, and was able to sustain it, largely by encouraging the players to take their crazy impulses and run with them. Since then I haven't felt any hesitancy about offering comedic premises.

I also felt that I scored a minor triumph when one of my scenarios climaxed with the destruction of the nearby mission (Mission Sangre de Cristo), and explained both where the ruins under UC Sunnydale came from and why the Chumash resented white people so badly (there had been a demon in the mission who was killing their children).
Bill Stoddard

A human being should know how to live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse. Specialization is for insects.
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