Man, I hate writing game reports. There’s something about them which takes me straight back to school writing essays entitled “What I did during my summer holidays” at the age of seven, as if there’s some way you can capture those long hot hazy days spent cycling and paddling in streams and put into words all the emotions and feelings that whirl about in a seven year olds’ mind.
Game reports make me feel like that, as if I’m trying to bottle fun or encapsulate 3 hours spent doing something you love in a paragraph or two. It’s selling the soul of the thing, and writing down what’s left.
But anyway. Here goes.
One session. Four players. Savage Worlds. Scooby Doo.
The session went well, especially bearing in mind I’m the only one who has read the rules :D Character generation was a big hit – one of my players said it’s like Mutants & Masterminds Lite – and it felt perfect for sketching out a character concept quickly. While one of the players took Tibbler the Talking Cat (renamed to Tiddles), all generated a character or two using Hero Lab in around 30 minutes flat. Nice.
I guess Savage Worlds chargen is best described as “Disadvantage-based generation” where it’s the characters’ flaws which define them, over and above their stats and skills. Hindrances (that’s the official SWEX term) encompass more than what we’d normally call disadvantages with options such as Loyalty, Code of Honour and Curiosity all featuring in the list. It’s the role-playing potential of the hooks within the Hindrances system that gives Savage Worlds it’s edge, I reckon. Describe your character as an arrogant yet honourable loud mouth and that’s pure role-playing gold, right there.
There were a few minor niggles, but no show-stoppers. The main one was with the Hindrances system itself. Per the rules, a starting character could take 1 Major and up to 2 Minor Hindrances, but what if you wanted to take 2 Majors (a Blind man with a Code of Honour, for example), or 3 Minors? Also, most of the Hindrances listed in SWEX are either Major or Minor and that’s that. I’d prefer it if the player could choose the scale of the Hindrance themselves rather than them be fixed; a Major Big Mouth would be far worse than someone who just didn’t know when to stop talking, and someone who is Minor Bloodthirsty might feel the urges, but be able to contain the worst of them. Similarly, a Doubting Thomas who doesn’t believe in the supernatural may well only be worth a Minor rating in the Modern World, but in a Fantasy setting, that’s a pretty darned Major hindrance to have!
As said, it’ not a major thing and something which I’d happily handwave away anyhow – you wanna play a Blind man with a Code of Honour, go right ahead.
“Mutants & Masterminds Lite” describes our whole SW experience overall, I guess. Combat plays much like M&M complete with damage track (though no Toughness Saves) and Bennies working like Hero Points but a little less flexible/usable. You can use them to re-roll any Trait check or soak up damage, and gain them (over and above your starting 3) for great role-playing, making the GM laugh, etc. I’m used to tossing poker chips at my players to use as Hero Points in M&M, so this mechanic fits right into our style of play.
We managed to finish the session in just under three hours including chargen, and that included a few clues I tossed in which had them scratching their heads for a while, two combats and a chase. Tiddles (the Talking Cat) led the group with his three human “pets” as the front for their Mystery Inc franchise. They’d been invited to stay a night in a crumbling US Civil War-era mansion. It’s been said that no one has slept in the house since 1834 when the last surviving occupant – Colonel Alda Cur – disappeared. The current owner is the pale-skined raven haired Mary Cur, and she’s hoping to break the curse so she can finally sell the relic.
Except, of course, all was not as it seemed. Alda Cur is, of course, an anagram of Dracula (something my players didn’t notice!). The Colonel is a descendant of the original uber-vampire, as is Mary, his daughter. I used the Vampire stats for both, with the Zombie stats for Gurh the Butler (who only said “Gurh!”), and Swarm stats for the obligatory Bats in the library.
“You hear high-pitched squeaking coming your way, fast.”
“Ssshhhhh!! This is a library.”
“The bats fall silent…..”
The players were made comfortable by Mary (who, it turns out, wants to lift her curse and lead a normal life) before she left them all alone. Well, except for the Zombie Butler and the Colonel who made a suitably Scoobyesque (which isn’t a word, but should be) appearance at the top of a grand flight of stair surrounded by bats and mist. Meatloaf was probably playing in the background too.
One short scuffle, and the chase is on! I was eager to try out the Chase rules and they’re very good indeed. They managed to keep the momentum going while controlling the action and our heroes ran through the mansion for a while dodging obstacles including flying grandfather clocks, twitching curtains and lots of crockery before the Colonel finally gave them the slip in the cellar.
“We need a stake!”
“Tiddles, now is not the time to think about food.”
That’s where they find their first clue – a photograph of the Colonel ripped in two. There was clearly Someone Else stood beside him when it was taken in 1834. Later (and one attempted neck biting) later, they find fragments of the other half in the fireplace – it’s Mary!
Joachim, the team’s nerdy tech expert had set up video surveillance cameras in the room where they were to sleep, and when they check the recordings, they Notice that while Mary is on the recording, she has no reflection in the mirrored wardrobe behind her. As they settle down, the Colonel makes his final visit.
“All those lives…. I’m sure you can spare one, little kitty.”
How do you catch a vampire if you’re Mystery Inc? Easy. With a wardrobe, an electric fan and a large glass bottle! Tiddles lured the Colonel in the wardrobe then scooted out through a hole in the base. The Colonel turned into mist which Anne and Maxine blew (using the electric fan) into the large glass bottle. Joachim quickly plugged the hole with a cork: one captive Colonel.
I have seriously clever players!
“Give me four lives, my daughter, and you shall have yours returned. This, I swear.”
The next morning, Mary arrives expecting to find dead bodies and a satiated father willing to release her from her curse. Instead, she finds Tiddles & Co happily eating breakfast and her father perched on the mantelpiece! As it was close to our end-time, I wrapped up with her explaining the deal she’d made with her father and Mystery Inc persuading the Colonel to release his Vampiric hold on Mary.
He agrees in return for being let out the bottle so he can reform. Colour and life appears in Mary’s cheeks and appears to spread throughout the house. She picks up the bottle with a warm smile.
“Oh, I will release you father…… eventually.”
The end. Fade to credits.
Phew! Comments and observations about the rules, next time.