Sunday, April 09, 2006

Vague review and plans - "My Life With Master" ( RPG )

Okay - so this year I went to Kapcom for the first time. It's a role-playing thing. Y'know - games. Dungeons and Dragons. Generic-Goth-Themed-Darktimes. That kind of thing. It was okay... I guess. When it was good - it was great. I played in one particulary cool game called "Bad-Ass Space Marines" which was a hell of a lot of fun. I also played in the best LARP I have ever been involved with ( but considering the previous three I had played in made me want to slash my OWN wrists because I couldn't get my hands on someone else's THROAT - I'm not too sure if that is such a glowing endorsement ... ). There were some cool people there, and the whole shindig was being run by some very cool people indeed. People I'd LIKE to say are my good pals, but who I really don't know well enough yet to say that about.

On the flip side - when it was bad ... it was pretty bad.

I'm sure it must be from teaching - but outside work now I have a ludicrously low tolerence level for people I find really annoying. And there were a LOT of REEEEAAAAAALLLLY annoying people there. The 'info meetings' were quite difficult to remain in control at. There is just something about a large group of geeks ... there's sort of a "safety field" that they generate which makes them think that anything they shout out is really really wet-your-pants funny. Again - I'm sure it's the teacher in me, but when you have someone trying to make an announcement to a fairly large group of people ... and random yahoos are interrupting the deal with some poorly observed bon-mot time and time again ... I just want to do terrible, terrible things to them.

Not a jury in the land would convict me. Even taking into account the chainsaw and pair of tweezers.

Right, well - what was I going on about ? Oh yeah - so, in the regular RPG group I game with three of the six of the members have picked up awards for running games. That's some good GM stuff going on. So I was thinking - "Hey, maybe I could run something this year...".

I've been mulling over what I could possibly run at such an event. Initially I was thinking of a game based on the "Resident Evil" video games. "The Fall of Raccoon City". Everyone likes zombies !

But then I rmembered a wee system that my pal Hix had picked up from somewhere ( "The Forge" I think - an independent RPG website ). "My Life With Master".

MLwM is kinda cool. The central premis is that you are the hideously deformed / deranged / sub-human servants of a 19th century styled evil "master" type guy. He orders you around and generally gets you to carry out his EVIL plans. The thing is that while you might be a horrendous piece of twisted physical and emotional wreckage - you ARE still, underneath is all, a person. What's more - you've kinda had enough of "The Master" and are trying to be free of their dominion over you. Every game ends up with the Master getting killed when the villagers of the nearby town finally have enough of the horrors unleashed by the Master - and come a'calling with pitchforks, scythes and flaming torched in tow.

All good fun.

The PC characters are both "More than human" and "Less than human". They get one special thing they can do most of the time - with a small window of situations which negates their unearthly power ( eg - they can fly, but not when it's raining, or they can lie completely convincingly, except to small children ). They also get one major limiting factor, also with a small window where they can avoid that setback ( eg - the PC is mute, except when singing hymns, or they move with a terrible limp - except when they are swinging though the cathedral belfrey ). Each character also has thee stats - weariness, Self-loathing and love. The Master generates a fear rating while the town are governed by reason. The basic idea for the players is to forge relationships with 'normal' people though role-playing, which they recieve love for ( you don't start out with any love - The Master is not that type of guy ! Gal. Whatever ... ). At the end of the game - the levels of weariness, selfloathing and love you have determine what actually happens to your character. You might successfully release yourself from the darkness of your previous life, or you might die ... or you might rise from the ashes as a new Master in your own right. While you get the broad idea - the player gets to paint the actual story themselves. I really like that about the game - there is a lot of involvement of the players in the actual story.

I ran a game of MLwM once last year. It was a bit of a shambles, though the players seemed to have fun. I wasn't quite up with the play on the rules. There was a lot of "What the hell do I do now?" going on with Hix ( who had actually, y'know, read the rules and consequently had a much better grasp of the game than I did ... ). I HAD changed the general '19th cent. horror" genre of the game though. My version was a more "James Bond" thing - the Master was this mad "Evil Genius" guy called Atari - and all his minions were named after 80's video games. The team the PC's were running were some of his freakish underlings. I kinda forget some of the names now ... I do remember the big 'muscle-thug' guy - Donkey Kong, who had a thing for Atari's PA ( named Outrun ). And Jenni's character "Bubble-Bobble" - who was a telekentic who had a crush on a international pop group guy ( who was secretely in the international peace keeping force Plan-B - sworn to protect the world from Evil Geniuses and their demented henchmen ).

It was fun, though I DID feel a bit crap about being so ... well, crapI guess - with the rules.

I plan to run the game again, but this time I'll stick more to the 'suggested' setting. I'm throwing together more of a 'black-magic Heathcliff" Master - one who swears revenge on the local Lord of the Mannor when he refuses to let him court his daughter. I'm also coming up with a set of pretty gruesome henchmen - my personal favourite being the reanimated, post-autopsy body of the masters LAST bride-to-be who ... "displeased" him.

Hix also told me that he was thinking of running a game of MLwM himself. I'll be looking foward to that !

More on this after the playtesting.

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