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Pen and Paper: Running the Game
All right, I’ve picked our game, Savage Worlds. I’ve built my world and races, with the main concept being one that allows for plenty of different adventures. My two players, both new, have been through character creation and are ready to go. Now, it’s up to me to get this game moving. I have the challenge of making the first mission an introduction to the whole concept of roleplaying, but I’m willing to meet that head on. Let’s see how the first game goes.
Having little time to plan a full mission for our first game, I pulled a quick one sheet off of Pinnacles’ website. The adventure is called “The Eternal Nazi”. The mission involved our heroes hunting down the Nazi parties’ lead occultist as he searches for a fountain of restorative powers. With that mission set up for me, my job is working with the players.
We begin in the main base of M.A.U. (Monster Agents United). We have our human psychic trained for stealth and fluent in German, and armed with a lance. Her partner is an Atlantian pacifist who specializes in archeology and tracking, and is armed with a non-lethal quarterstaff. After being briefed about their mission, we jump to them high above a South American jungle, ready to parachute down from their plan.
At this point, I hinted (ever so gently) that they can interact. I’ll admit, I’m always worried about this part of running a game because you never know how well a new player will acclimate to the idea of roleplaying with others “in character”. Luckily, my players were ready for the challenge. They began talking about their plans and how best to meet their goals. The Atlantian also decided that their escort/pilot was not one to be trusted. This amused me to no ends, since I had only planned for their pilot, McKenzie, to be a soldier to lend them a hand in tight spots. Maybe I’ll have to plan a turn later to appease my player’s suspicions…
Once they’ve landed, the goal became having the players find the Nazi search party. The Atlantian used his tracking skills and both of them worked hard for their notice rolls. Soon, the psychic was stealthing through the jungle and listening on the enemy. When she returned, the Nazis had split up and forming a perimeter. In the time it took the players to decide what to do, the Nazis were already too close for comfort. Both players failed their stealth rolls to hide, but luckily for them, my rolls were just as bad and the players now had the jump of the enemy.
The psychic comes equipped with a burst power and she used it full force on the group, taking them out with a single roll. However, her power has a flame trapping, so the nearby jungle began to burn. The two players escaped, followed a trail to the temple and moved in. There was another party outside, which led to more combat, including a successful grenade toss by the Atlantian. Inside, his archeology rolls kept exploding and they ended up finding a secret passage to the fountain room.
Now, this is where the planned adventure and the game began to separate. Since the one sheet calls for the heroes to have been noticed and I just couldn’t let such high rolls go unrewarded, our heroes were in much more of a position to control the situation. In Savage Worlds, you draw from a standard deck of cards for initiative. When a player draws a joker card, they can go whenever they want; they can even interrupt a character’s actions. So, when I have the Nazi occultist ready to stick the fountain water into his own veins with a syringe the psychic decides to attack.
The one sheet has it planned that when the Nazi occultist uses the fountain water he gains superhuman powers and becomes a threat. The only way to defeat him is to destroy the statue of a bird god in the same room, mainly the jeweled eye. However, my player decides, with her interrupted move, to make a called shot on the syringe. Normally, a called shot on such a small object is a -4 to her roll, but the joker gives her a +2 on all actions, so she’s rolling, with a high shooting skill, at only a -2. She succeeds, destroying the syringe and shooting the Nazi’s hand.
This is where I had to do some quick thinking to provide a fight. Since the water exploded from the syringe, I had it splash on the Nazi’s wounded hand. Not only did the water heal the hand, but it gave him super strength in that arm. My players wondered if I was allowed to do that, but quickly focused on the fight at hand. While the big battle wasn’t as hard as the one sheet called for it to be, it was a good last round of combat. Since I only had the two players, too much challenge might defeat them and I’ve never thought it to be a good idea to kill new players during their first game, especially if I want them to come back for second one.
With the fight over, due to some high rolls by our heroes, I’m now left with much more material than the adventure planned for. The fountain remains intact, the heroes know all about the temple, and they can report all of that back to their bosses. Now, if I run a more games with them, I can plan on using that fountain water for more story elements, maybe allowing for some fun magical items.
Overall, I thought the game was a huge success. Both players had a good time and loved it at the end. They hadn’t expected it to be so engaged in their rolls and I wasn’t sure if they would get into the whole “imagination” aspect of the game, but it all turned out great. They interacted throughout the whole experience and plenty of jokes were made. Two bags of chips and six cans of soda were consumed, I wore my traditional game master fez, played music from Overclocked Remix, and we got to use my new dice I bought for this very event. Both of them hope to play again, even though one doesn’t live nearby. The whole night left my encouraged about gaming, GMing, and life in general. All in all, I’d call it a success.
Or is that a raise?