Sunday, July 8, 2012

St. Claremont's Secure Center for Incurably Incompetent Superheroes

I'm a bad tabletop GM.

Or at least, I'm not a good one.

I'm certainly not as good as Eric.

Now, keep in mind that this isn't any kind of false modesty. I'm not fishing for compliments by saying, "I kind of suck," expecting people who know me to say, "Oh, no, you're great." I ran a Play By Post game for more than a decade, which was a format that really played to my strengths. I'm often deliberate and I like to plan things well out in advance. In fact, I often enjoy the planning so much more than the playing that the actual execution is a bit of a letdown.

And yet, here I am game-mastering a tabletop game. Our GM was feeling a little burned out, and I probably have the best grasp of the rules in our little group, and I really enjoy playing Mutants & Masterminds. I didn't think we'd be able to weather another hiatus and I happened to have a third edition min-campaign, so I volunteered to run it so we could keep our momentum.

The idea is that the characters are students at the Claremont Academy, which is the M&M version of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. (Though in this version, Xavier's exists and is our arch-rival)

Dramatis Personae

Eric: Gideon, a modern day paladin modeled (how closely, I don't know) after Michael from the the Dresden Files books. He's got some great fighting skills, a magical-ish sword and a healing factor.

Casey: Casey played Sparkles. She's the group's heavy hitter, an Irish lass who transforms into a kind of living sapphire form, kind of Emma Frost-ish.

Karen: Karen was C.W. Karen's new to the system and didn't really know how to play, so I just made up her character. She has the power to torment her opponents. So does her character. Since we finalized her shortly before the game, she hadn't been fleshed out to any great degree and she'll probably develop through play should the campaign continue for a while. Apparently she's some kind of goth who likes banjos.

And cats
Frederick was our forth player, but he had to cancel at the last minute to attend an event that was itself canceled at the last minute, and he'll be here for future sessions and probably a makeup game.

Karen and Eric got there early and made up their characters, as soon as we had all finished watching an episode of My Little Pony.

The characters are all superheroes in their late teens, at the Claremont Academy, a school for super heroes. They were called in to the the principal's office and told they would be leaving immediately for Emerald City, in order to represent Claremont at a school fair. He further told them that precognitives associated with the school had determined that they needed to be there, but they didn't know why, only that they needed to be there. C.W, agreed, but only if there would be purple balloons. Summers promised that there would be.

Claremont's headmaster is Duncan Summers, an expy of Batman, who received disabling injuries during his last adventures and retired to teach the next generation. When describing him, Casey called him "a lame Batman" and I'm inclined to agree, though I think Batman is often pretty lame all on his own.

They were to be met by professor Moore, their faculty advisor, when they landed in Emerald City. I flashed a picture of this guy.

My daughter walked past and I told her that Alan Moore raised squirrels in his beard and that he was Squirrel Girl's dad.

I'd say the game went off the rails pretty quickly, but I'm not sure it was ever really on them to begin with.

The kids landed safely and C.W. used her mind control powers to make people ignore Gideon's sword. They went to a mall and then to an Applebees and when they returned, they found out that Professor Moore had been detained at the airport. So Sparkles and C.W. went to a country music bar and Gideon returned to the hotel to "meditate".

My daughter showed up and declared she was playing Raven from the TV version of the Teen Titans. She teleported to the bar, and then teleported the annoying frat boys that were hitting on C.W. to a dimension where they couldn't speak, which struck me as out of proportion to the offense. Then they stopped for nachos on the way back.

If I had to do it over again, I think I'd dial this back a bit. This kind of role-playing where nothing much happens except for in-character interaction is what I enjoy most about gaming, but I think there were some differing expectations regarding what the game would be about and though everyone was too kind to say anything, I don't think I'd be surprised if the other people at the table were wondering, "Okay, when is he actually going to start the game?"

The PCs went to bed and in the morning, they went down to the convention area to hand out brochures and keep their eyes open. Gideon was over Xavier's table, because he saw that they had stolen our supply of purple balloons. He was about to say something when the group heard the explosion in the lobby.

This was the big fight of the session. A big cloud of white mist was swirling in the lobby and it had transformed the people touched by it. They were a couple PLs below our team, so the heroes made short work of them, despite the fact that that badguys rolled outrageously well for the damage saves.

And that's where it ended. I think my pacing was very bad and I wasn't giving the players a clear idea of what to do, though I think each of these will be less severe with the next session as there are now things the players can investigate.

1 comment:

  1. Kudos for actually playing and getting into a fight! I remember many a time getting together to play when you were GM and then doing something else instead because you'd lost interest before we began. (In my best Zoltun Kulle voice) bwa ah ah ah ah.