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Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Thanks again to the Story Teller's Guild for letting me run a game at Arcon VII and for their hospitality. I ran a Hackmaster and Oriental Adventures combined one-shot campaign with pregen characters (which I billed under the name "Katana Sensei" yuk, yuk). It was set in Edo period Japan and was intended to model the great Japanior stories in pulp film and anime. It was also based on ideas from Ned Block, John Searle, Thomas Nagel, Masemune Shirow, and Phillip K. Dick, so it was pretty high concept for your typical Hackmaster game.

It was unfortunately very story driven, not really a good fit with a medium for a simulation type RPG, so a lot of the time it felt like GM plot hammering. So I apologize to the players for that. I didn't think that it would be much of a problem in a game that was also designed to introduce the system. The game would probably work better with Pulp in a Cup (not available in stores).

I especially want to apologize to the young lady who told me that she really wanted to play a good character when she found out that her good character was really a sleeper cell for an evil character (like in Total Recall). I really wanted your character to be free to be good too. My vision was that your character would be at a moral crossroad, having been both good and evil, and thus ambivalent about which to choose, a great opportunity for creative roleplaying. But my head was so full of details and trying to get finished on time that I forgot to mention it. I will incorporate that possibility into the notes to the player next time.

I also want to apologize to the Bushi warrior player who scored a crit. Hackmaster has an elaborate crit system but it is worthless if it does not translate into a great description of the drama of whats happening, what's the point? Here is a belated description of what happened:

"The bushi warrior begins to swing from a standard attack sword stance, but flips the sword effectively around her wrist to avoid the oni's parry attempt. As a result, she has a clean shot to a vulnerable leg and is able to use her acquired momentum in the slice. After the thrust she resumes her defensive stance. At first it seems that nothing has happened, her blade appears clean. Then a spritzer of black ooze spouts out of the demon's red thigh, and then several gallons of black arterial blood, coming out at 150o p.p.s.i. spray in a 360 degree circle from the demon's leg. Eventually, the leg slides of its stump and the demon falls leaning toward you. You suddenly feel a pulsing grip from the oni's hand as it encircles your neck, as the demon ninja concentrates his ki to make one final gesture. 'What is this? Fool a friend to fool an enemy? How risible! But it is just what I would ought to expect from a shinobi.' Then the creature dies, it final laugh echoing through the cemetery and into the woods beyond."

Hope that helps.

I am planning on getting Castles and Crusades, since I am still a little anxious if Hackmaster will survive and keep the vibe of old school roleplaying. Then I will try to improve the episode, maybe for distribution. I would hate to waste it on a one shot.

The link takes you to another review of ARCON VII by a regular thier who appears to be having his own bittersweet "Genshiken" moment. Good luck to you.