I thought I'd talk about 2 recent games that I ran. Both of these went pretty well, though suffered from the same stunt platform problems that we've already discussed in this blog. (Both of these were run before the discussion)
The Will of the Sky People
As I told my players, this game arose from the idea that "Dirigible are really cool". This was mainly brought on by the super awesome web comic Girl Genius which has many awesome blimps and even castles on blimps. So cool. Anyway, I wanted some reason for everyone to be up in blimps. After all, there are really good reasons for people to build things on the ground: its much easier, and results in 100% less parachute-related commuting accidents. After thinking for a little while, I came up with the idea that there had been some sort of World War and the final stages of that war rendered the earth inhabitable. But then, how are people living? How can they create new blimps? What are they eating? Where do raw materials come from? Since I have Keith as a player, I knew I would need some kind of answer for these questions. And what is the best way for GMs to fiat away annoying questions like that? Magic! So, I invented some will mages with magic based on the will of the caster. The defiling of the earth then was easily explained away as the greatest of will mages casting a spell to destroy his enemies and having it backfire on him.
To start off, we had a quest given to us by the king of the sky nation (I forget its name) to go to the ground and use the will-enhancing machine that has caused the contagion to be released on the ground to reverse the badness. This was my first mistake. We had this awesome world of lashed together blimp society with sky divers retrieving material from the seas and will mages and cramped living quarters and not being able to see the sky because of the blimps balloons over head, and what did I do? I sent them to the earth. Also I gave the plot to an NPC (I had actually wanted a PC to play the will mage that could get them to the surface, but no one took me up on the offer). This was terrible. The game was good, but it would've been much better if I had had the players find some map to the machine that was up in the sky somewhere.
Anyway, after the players found the machine with much daring do and hooked the NPC up to it to remove the contagion, it was revealed that of course the will of everyone up in the sky was keeping the contagion around (they all believed in it so...). Well, what is a newly superpowered NPC to do? Start killing people until not enough believe, obviously. Some stunts later and the game was concluded.
I think everyone had a good time with this game, and the blimp setting was awesome, but there were some mistakes.
My Soul To Keep
This game was based off the super awesome xkcd comic, Nightmares. See it here:
This comic has the alt text of: "Well, *I* think I'm real. Look at me. Look at my face. Cut me and I'll bleed. What more do you want? Please don't go."
XKCD is extremely awesome, and this is one of the best strips in it. Especially that alt text. I mean, wow! Your dreams pleading with you for your very lives, asking that you never leave them, that you live with your dreams forever! Oh man.
For this game, I had the players create really really twisted characters. In particular I asked for characters that had one great dream but had no possibility of achieving it. The kind of thing that you want so badly that when you wake up you cry because it can never happen in real life. And they had to dream about it most nights. I also asked them to come up with how their characters are coping with the dreams. Do they try to spend all day asleep, spending every moment possible with the dream? Do they take speed or some other stimulant to prevent them from ever sleeping so they never have to feel the loss of the dream again?
From that starting point we got several characters. One guy who wanted to open a french restaurant but really wasn't good a cooking. One jazz musician who lost the ability to play music and his wife and child in the same night, a paraplegic who had fallen in love with a jock, and a man who had his girlfriend/fiancee killed in a car accident after arguing with her.
I started with having their dream people beg them not to kill them everynight. From there we learned that it might be possible to make the dream world into the real world. With some shared imagery of a clock towner that signaled the end of dreams, they set off to topple the tower. Instead they encountered the old dreamers, the ones that had made the current world from the previous dream world. They fought both in the dream world and in the real world (in the real world the old dreams had positions of power, which makes sense because they made the world)...
Eventually we concluded with some stunts of putting as much energy and joy into their dreams as possible.
This game went really well. I think we had some great characters with some very tragic plot lines. And even better was the feeling of hope and accomplishment we got. We started with characters in terrible positions and rebuilt them, and I think that was pretty good for our happiness levels.
They didn't bite on the more philosophical questions (if we're recreating the world what about people who end up in situations like ours), but it wasn't really necessary to get into that stuff.