Monday, September 30, 2013

They're Just Exalting Anybody These Days

We have another submission, this one from Qwertystop! This one reminds me a lot of my own experiences in running for new groups, although the sheer diversity of horrors is impressive.  A quick guide to the colors: his comments are in cyan, (and the white text is his, too) while mine are in green.

Well, here we go, then. I decided to run a one-shot Exalted game at a summer camp one week. Nobody else had ever heard of the setting, and only one other person had played any form of tabletop RPG before. We decided to let him co-ST, with him handling the fluff and me handling the crunch after I give him a basic plot that I got from Meschlum. My RPG experience was limited to play-by-posts. All in all, nobody really knew what they were doing. Blue text will be used for information for people who don’t know Exalted.

I’m cringing already. Exalted is not my first choice for new groups; the fluff is long and elaborate, and the crunch is a bit spasmodic in its power level but does a great job of getting across to the players that they can do basically anything, but probably shouldn't do anything too wantonly destructive. It’s a superheroes game that can make superheroes look boring. Done right, it’s an engine for churning out literally awesome stories that have this wonderfully mythic tone to them. Done wrong, everyone is a thermonuclear anime supermurderhobo, and the game’s mechanisms for encouraging exaggerated behavior can push the unprepared that way.

Everyone was a Solar (powers that are magical mostly in scale – human ability multiplied by several hundred). I made pregenerated character sheets for a bunch of archetypes and asked people to fill in the details like Virtues (a few personality traits that are mechanically enforced, though you can act against them by spending Willpower. Not good by default to have all of them high, they’re good in moderation and balance). We ended up with a bland warrior-type with a Grand Daiklave (massive sword), a sorceress whose player heard “over-the-top” and ran with it, a thiefish guy with an Orichalcum Sky-Cutter (magic gold boomerang) who wanted to get Conviction 6, everything else 1 (in other words, roll to not murder innocents, to not flee in panic, to act like you care, or to have any self-control), and a survivalist-archer who took Familiar (Tiger) and points in Ride. I put together a Martial Artist to fill in the gaps, specifically, those of having only one person capable of close combat and nobody with any points in Medicine.

That’s...a fairly good description of the above “thermonuclear anime supermurderhobo” phenomenon. Virtues never sat well with me, but they’re a necessary evil and actually explained mechanically as a part of the Exaltation, so I can live with them. I have more trouble living with a Conviction 6, Temperance 1 maniac. Whose bright idea was it to Exalt Hedonismbot?  

The basic plot was that there was a manse explosion a few days away, in the forest, where nobody had known there was a manse. That most likely means First Age stuff, so treasure and knowledge, plus possibly some meddler blowing the thing up. Hey, it was a oneshot and nobody knew the setting, I needed something basic. If you haven’t played Exalted before, here’s as much info on that as made it into this game: a demesne is an area where the local magic is more concentrated than usual. Odd things happen there. A manse is a structure built at a demesne which focuses the magic into useful things – usually a bunch of things integrated into the manse and one magical gem called a hearthstone which can be brought outside it. The First Age is the standard ancient-times-with-lost-knowledge-etc, as far as this game goes.

So everybody starts out in a bar, because we just needed a starting place. Nobody else had read the setting section of the corebook, and I’m foggy on a lot of the detailed places, so we just went with generic.

It starts out with the party hearing about the manse from some drunk guy. The thief threatens him with a knife (I told him he had to tone down his starting Virtues because of the cap of 3 at chargen, and he acted like he hadn’t when the game actually started). The warrior-guy grabs the thief and drags him outside, and everyone else follows – keep in mind that nobody had met each other in-character yet, we actually had to roll the clinches. I get that they don’t get the IC-OOC separation quite that well, and so my martial-artist comes up with a quick reason for everybody to be staying together so it won’t grate on me too badly. That reason is basically “hey, this guy’s a psycho and he’s obviously going to try to get to that manse same as the rest of us, so we might as well stick together and keep him in line.

Well, that was fast. When empathy, self-interest, and basic human decency fail, there’s always guilt and fear to get the party working together.

Just after that, we leave town. The archer calls up his tiger with Master Horseman’s Technique: Horse-Summoning Whistle (A Charm to call your mount to you, not limited to horses). Refusing to be outdone, the sorceress casts Stormwind Rider (Tornadoes as transportation). In the mild confusion of the sudden appearance of a tiger and a tornado, the thief is dropped. Everyone promptly botches all their attempts to catch him – we actually rolled this, and three clinch attempts (tiger, martial artist, and warrior), an attempt to run him down with a tornado, and a called shot to pin his foot to the ground with an arrow are rolled and miss. Luckily, the warrior has tracking Charms and catches him very quickly.

The thief, acting like nothing’s wrong (I swear the player was channeling Carcer at this point, and I don’t even know if he reads Discworld) offers to steal a couple of horses for them to catch up to the main group.

Fun fact: one in four new roleplayers is secretly a representative of the First Bank of Khorne. “KILL! LOOT! STEAL! KILL! LOOT! STEAL!” This is significantly more problematic when they can punch rivers in half.

Out of character, I look through the sheets and point out that between high Strength and Stamina, Athletics 5 , several wilderness Charms, and a Specialty in Carrying Things, the warrior could carry the thief plus any horse the thief steals and still go faster. I’m ad-libbing the exact numbers on carrying capacity, but it looks right, and the speed is straight from the rules. Everybody has a laugh. Right after that, the game is called off for a staff-meeting that unfortunately needs the room we were in – no other available space and the co-ST is staff anyway.

After that, the thief and warrior’s players leave because that was their last day, though the others were still there for a week. Lucky that they were together and split off from the party, I suppose. So we pick up the game that night.

The group is still going on towards the manse now, when we run into three bandits chasing a woman who is carrying a baby, because I wanted to demonstrate how much more powerful Exalts were than normal people.
The sorceress opens with Flight of Separation (turn into a large flock of small harmless birds – usually an escape spell), and flies to surround the bandits. Her anima (massive glowing aura) is going, because I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to go out when she changed or not, so the bandits just see a sudden blob of gold light full of pigeons rushing at them out of absolutely nowhere.

Yep, you’re playing Exalted.

Meanwhile, the archer flurries and shoots three bandits (two are badly wounded, one is missed), and I charge in with the full intention of just absorbing blows. I’m letting the co-ST handle what the bandits do so being a DMPC doesn’t mess things up too much.

All three bandits attack me, and, all are parried easily. Three more who had been behind catch up, and the sorceress starts reforming (Exalted uses a per-second “tick” system instead of a rounds-and-turns system, so things can happen at the same time and take different amounts of time. Sorcery takes a while, so it’s risky in combat.) at the same time – oops, it turns out she’s between the two groups after we work out the distances.

My martial artist smashes the first wounded bandit, and the second one gets an arrow shot through him into the second group. The third one keeps bashing pointlessly at my martial artist’s staff, then gets killed while the archer shoots into the second group. At this point, the sorceress has finished reforming and casts Death of Obsidian Butterflies (It’s like a sandstorm except instead of sand, it’s razor-sharp obsidian butterflies the size of your hand, and instead of flying around randomly, it’s a wide line all going the same way). All the remaining bandits are dead, and mostly on the trunks of the heavily-damaged trees. The woman we were saving is slightly splashed and very terrified. The sorceress decides to say “you’re welcome”, and the lady sprints. We let her.

So, that first fight’s over. We get to a very creepy area – the trees look almost like ivory, and the leaves look like iron covered in an oil slick (I was just trying to come up with random strangeness here). It’s the demesne.
The party hears a voice – “I hear you’re looking for my treasure. How about we make a gamble? You overcome my challenges, and you can have some of it.” Archer uses an Investigate Charm to search the area in a few seconds without moving, but finds nothing. The voice refuses to explain what happens if party loses. Being on a bit of an adrenaline high from the bandit thing, the party agrees.

A more normal thief-looking guy (not the PC who left) – drab cloak, knives, etc – steps out from behind a tree that “you’re pretty sure wasn’t there before” (my quote). He smiles just a little bit too wide to look real. Announces: “First challenge: Without moving from that spot, break this egg.” He places it in a sconce on the far side of a bit of wall that could have just been rubble from the Manse explosion, but almost definitely wasn’t there before, a good distance away. When the party asks if they’re allowed to turn around, the response is “you may pivot, but not step.” The co-ST was pretty good at that kind of just-slightly-off-creepiness when he got into the rhythm of it. So obviously, the archer tries shooting the wall, but can’t break through. Creepy-guy climbs on top of the wall, peeks over, says it’s been “incompletely fractured” and replaces it with another egg out of his pocket. The archer tries again, empowering it with Forceful Arrow, and a brick gets pushed out very neatly. The egg cracking on the ground is far too audible, and the creepy guy goes to sit on top of the bit of wall.

You can tell it’s a low-level game because they didn’t just use Perfect Poultry-Providing Technique to hatch the egg. Into a dragon.

“Second challenge: You have the advantage of numbers. How about we reverse that? Beat my friends!” Fifty very-similar people hop down from exactly behind him, on identical walls lined up as many yards into the distance, and get in a big circle around the party. I call for a Valor roll because of the crazy outnumbering: the two Valor-2 characters get a success each and my martial artist with Valor-3 botches, passes out in the middle of the circle This works out quite nicely, because I wanted to leave this up to the players. Stunted archery and the archer’s pet tiger take out goodish groups each, and for each one killed, two others die of similar wounds one-third of the way round the circle. The sorceress decides that her Flight of the Brilliant Raptor (it’s an exploding bird made of fire) is red, white, and blue. At this point, I just let her, so three large groups of clones die in fireworks while she, out of character, is cheering patriotisms (she usually doesn’t do that, so I think she was just getting carried away and trying to one-up the guy with the pet riding tiger again). At this point, the martial artist comes to, having done nothing.

I kind of want to make American Exalted now. I mean, I’m way too cynical to make use of the system, the setting, or even the basic trope structure, but it’d be hilarious. On a more relevant note, the STs here lasted an order of magnitude longer than I would have; Exalted is an easy game to lose hold of.

The original is a bit twitchy now. “Third challenge… … … Catchme!” and he sprints away. Archer tries to pin his foot to the ground – it turns to fog and reforms. The tiger claws at him, same story. Death of Obsidian Butterflies results in a spreading cloud of pink mist… that reforms into three tiny people that keep running and quickly rejoin into one, whose smile is now upside-down until he reaches up and twists it back to normal. Everyone tries to think of a solution OOC, and nobody’s quite sure what to do, including me – this was the co-ST’s idea, I’m just handling crunch at this point. Eventually, the sorceress tries to use Stormwind Rider – sends Creepy for a tumble, but he gets up and keeps going. Then the archer, riding his tiger, comes in and re-mists the guy, and he gets caught in the Stormwind.

“You have completed my challenges. I suppose I did swear… I will grant you each one boon”

And that’s when we noticed we were five minutes past curfew.

And there you have it, everyone. Next time, back briefly to SUETHULU.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

SUETHULU: Ian's Epilogue

Ian's sort-of-epilogue first. He wrote it; I've done my best to meddle with the sentences to improve the flow, but other than that it's his. I think Marty asked him somewhat differently than he did me; either that, or I was weird for formulating it as a direct response. Anyway:
I had forgotten about Ian's long term goal, so here we go.

Since Ian was basically me with magic powers sent to CT universe, the CT universe was something that needed to be fixed (as a person, I am not big on most of the Elder gods screwing around with mortals), and from my observations, the only people who could actually do anything in this (dis)utopia were cultists, I would have to create my own cult. I don’t want to be directly worshiped, so I based my new ‘cult’ off of Christianity since the entire Cthulutech setting seemed like it was basically the coming of the antichrist [2] and I vaguely recalled that at the end of the world the Archangel Michael would come down from the heavens and fight to protect the remains of humanity in their darkest hour [3]. Well, I had gotten healing powers, and at higher levels I would gain the ability to polymorph, so I figured that I would adopt the persona of the Archangel Michael -- having given up most of his heavenly powers to join humanity in the struggle against the evils that beset them. I will admit to having a bit of a martyr complex in that this plan would make me the target of most of the attacks (I’m also not sure how I ended up being the parties ‘tank’ and healer at the same time, which is a rubbish idea. As a mage I had rubbish hit points, and my racial class was completely useless).
My plan was this: I would go around being a vigilante saving people and miraculously healing their wounds while ‘smiting’ the demons  (dhohanoids) and using this vigilantism to distract from our research and the actions of my allies who were using science and diplomacy/hacking to erode Chrysalis Corporation’s nigh-omnipotent control. Turns out that Religion in general is considered cult activity and shut down, so that wouldn’t work, since they would see the Christianity/offshoot as a cult (which to be fair is probably part of the setting). The rate of experience gain was (glacially) slow due to having reduced Exp gain from things like, well the Tagers did most of the work or you wouldn’t have been able to do this without the Tagers. I knew I would never be able to implement this plan before the game was long over, since polymorph self was a 4th level spell in normal D&D. I think that lesser polymorph self, and alter self were insufficient for what I wanted  (wings) and I think poly-self was increased to a higher level.
So I planned to have my character die in a blaze of glory, since at this point severe hopelessness was affecting me out of character; logically after spending a few days in this crap the character version of me would be clinically depressed and likely suicidal anyway[4]. Sadly I was either toggled as plot important or he didn’t want to kill me off for some reason. So I left a note (with Lord of the Rings References [5])  in the last session that I was a liability to to the team and could be stealthier without them etc… And Trekkin(Zeroller) decided to quit as well so Cael joined him, and now we are skulking around hiding the stupid thing until Marty comes by to pick it up. I was also considering keeping him, because the DM had indicated I might have Authyr powers if I wanted (since I have several of my own settings I have made), but I decided against that because:
1. It would screw me over since while I might be an authyr I’m not the over Authyr so it’s up to his interpretation/terminology nitpick, despite the fact that It doesn’t work like wishes and backfire, because It’s not the wording that matters, it’s the intent behind the words that causes the change in the setting or something like that.
2. My worlds are fairly low power, since I like worlds where armies and soldiers are relevant and low level characters can actually get things done. So would be easily conquered by Marty and I hate losing without a chance of fighting back, especially since that would mean someone else would be using my settings before I ever got the chance, and I would always think they were doing it wrong.
3. I would never get the chance to use the power since it might ruin the monopoly on ability in the setting. And since players can’t get powers, something would happen to ruin it or mind influence me or some-such.

Thus began my plan to make a freedom fighter.

1.        (Since the government was on their side completely, I was also convinced black spire was trying to sabotage us. I was applying my character aka my logic to super-secret agents wanting something done not helping at all, and actively hindering our attempts to do their job)

2.       Even I can quote scripture, so take it with a grain of salt, but in my worn out state of mind it made perfect sense and confirmation bias combined with certain biblical passages, you could possibly see how OOC I might think it could vaguely work
A.      Daniel 8:23-25 "And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.
The ‘kingdom’ of mankind is ending, the cultists are winning, A powerful ruler will take charge (dark sentences is possibly a reference to Authyr power or magic both of which Marty has).
"And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
Marty is incredibly powerful, but not due to his actions, instead he is powerful because he wrote that he was powerful, he is fighting an inter-reality WAR where he has SEVERAL deathstars (and other equally or more destructive weapons), he is rapidly getting stronger, he is crushing any that oppose him, and many mighty and holy people are opposed to tyrants.
"And through his policy also he shall cause craft (fraud, deceit, treachery) to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand."
His political policies are laughable, and will cause abuses of power to come fairly easily. Most of his actions are for making himself more awesome. I will admit to being stumped on if he would lose to the prince of princes in his setting, and being broken without a hand pretty much just implies a leading or diplomatic loss.
B.      Daniel 7:24-27 "And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
"And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
He basically acts like he is above gods (and kindof is in the setting), he probably convinced religious fanatics that their religion is not the superior way to do things by wearing them out? Or I ran out of patience, and I’ve been told I have the patience of a saint? He is screwing around with time and realities taking them over and imposing his view of superior laws upon them, and they seem to be falling to him rapidly. Eventually he will run into an enemy that can’t be defined by rules or systems(?)
"But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
After his kingdom falls it will be completely destroyed, and the people who survived would inherit the kingdom (or another game, which is like heaven compared to this one :P).
C.       Revelation 13:3-18 "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
His supervampire race cannot be killed and regenerates more impressively than the Tarrasque (Probably).
"And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
How do you kill the un-killable, superior vampire who can stop time and perfect clone himself, not to mention how you stand up to him when he can mind control you, most of his enemies surrendered and ‘worshiped’ him.
"And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
His Authyr power allows him to speak great things that are blasphemous, such as basically retconning entire realities. Dunno bout the time limit, haven’t gotten that far.
"And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
A continuation on the previous statement, but with the added breaking of basic science and reality in general.
"And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
Must I go over what power he was given to make war with the saints and to win? Authyr. His power over all kindreds, tongues, and nation would be his mind control powers which he demonstrated in Star wars.
"And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
He is not from the realities he conquered, and he basically forced them to worship him and his way of life.
"If any man has an ear, let him hear.
"He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
His clones?
"And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
Clones going around making people convert.
"And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
"And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
He does ‘miracles’ to get people in on his empire by saving them after they are seriously beaten.
"And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
He could make more clones of himself, any who don’t agree with his empire were destroyed (after being given a choice to surrender of course)
"And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
"And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
The only F*cking people who can do ANYTHING in this system are the ones he LETS do things HE wants.
"Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six." (666)
7200 realities (0s are repeats of number combination to the left, counting numbers come in sets of 2, where the actual number is the first minus the second, - is used for an actual system, so XY00 is X-Y,X-Y,X-Y) ok ignore that, I find conspiracies with numbers hilarious though.

3.       Why did I choose Archangel Michael? I grew up hearing stories about how awesome he was and a few other factors. And if I was going to ‘become’ an angel to cope with the stress of the setting, may as well aim high and stick with what the script to make my argument that he was the antichrist more believable to the populace. Of all of the angels, Michael is apparently the only one directly referenced as an archangel; his name means “Who is like god?” which is supposed to help encourage humility since the answer should be no one (probably?). He is also the leader of the army of god which makes him the ideal persona for leading a fight against Cyrsalis. He used a sword (which I know the basics of using).
Supposedly he is also the one who will defeat the antichrist in the end times, and he is known for basically kicking beating the crap out of the Devil.
Daniel 12:1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.”
4.       Everyone I knew and cared about was dead, nothing I did mattered, the world was inevitably going to end due to cults controlling everything, my spell research was painfully slow and spellcasting physically made me a liability to my current friends when I became exhausted. Not to mention at this point I had killed at least one other human (or helped kill many), and was fighting horrors not meant for humans to deal with. I had been impaled by a Nightgaunt’s tail. Reality wasn’t consistent, technology made less sense to me and was even harder to use. My entire Profession was now obsolete due to D-engines.  And several other things I can’t remember.
5.        “I will be leaving to reduce the chances of Sauron and the orcs getting their hands on the one ring, since if anything happened to me it might decide to find a new bearer amoung the orcs. It will also be easier to conceal the ring from him if it's only one or two people, instead of four. I also expect that you will continue to be a thorn in his side which should divert attention away from myself, letting me slip through the cracks. Meanwhile I will try to figure out how to use the ring and if there is somewhere like mount doom for it to be destroyed.
Good Luck,
Frodo (and sam)”
PS:I prepared explosive runes this morning.
PPS:I would have, but I don't know how to do that, so you should probably dispose of this message.”

Friday, September 27, 2013

SUETHULU: Grumpily Ever After

That was the last session we had; after the cheese foundry, the game broke down. Apparently we’d “outrun the plot” and therefore couldn’t do anything at all. We tried suggesting various ways to waste time, but apparently the existence of our characters was now incompatible with the campaign. It was heavily implied this was my fault, so I left, and Marty happily apologized for not having catered to my playstyle – which, to be fair, is a valid concern.

Much as I don’t like GSN theory, the terms are handy. I am, at my core, a gamist running under simulationist logic; I look at campaigns as a series of puzzles. Sometimes the pieces are orcs and we move them with fireballs. Sometimes they’re kings, and we move them with words (or psychoactive poisons). Sometimes they’re the laws of the universe itself, and then we get creative. Naturally, results are mixed, but over years of gaming I like to think I’ve pinned down the circumstances where this is mutually enjoyable rather than disruptive or annoying. It helps a LOT if the DM’s relatively consistent with what’s unacceptably goofy/weird in terms broad enough to let me efficiently pare down my solution set, and it helps more naturally if the campaign goal is constructive rather than destructive. That’s why I thought this campaign would be okay; I’m a lot better with “make these two groups make sweet diplomacy with each other” than “go kill this list of monsters/cultists.”

Now, Ian, Darya, and Jin’s players have their optimal environments too. Bearing in mind that this is purely from my experience, Darya’s player wants to be the Determinator; he likes his character hurt, bit by bit, because he likes his victories bittersweet and well-earned. He won’t ever give up, and he gets happier the more that means. Jin’s can deeply enjoy the same kind of campaigns I do, but his skillset is such that he needs things immune to diplomacy to feel challenged. We tend to come up with complementary solution sets. Ian tends to respond well to ethical dilemmas as opposed to tactical ones.

Marty, as might be surmised, is really good at hurting his characters, being immune to diplomacy, and putting his whole campaign in this weird Blue and Orange morality. He’s not so hot at channeling my creativity in a direction he’s comfortable with – largely, I suspect, because no such direction exists. Most of his lectures to me on how to DM focused on corralling players until you can plan ahead. He wants to run a CRPG, I think; he likes giving his players multiple-choice problems. Unfortunately, he doesn’t like telling us the choices, which runs headlong into my pathological inability to determine how weird my ideas are. Then, too, I don’t think he likes being innovated against, and he usually treats RPGs as competitive rather than collaborative.

We also don’t see eye-to-eye on solemnity; I stood far back when the gravitas was handed out, and Marty likes his NPCs to have dignity, so they have constraints on their actions that I usually don’t pretend to. I try to exploit that, and we’re back to square one, only now I’m very much in my element: about the only thing I can reliably create is a farce, because I’m so cynical I think I already live in one. Besides, they’re just so useful. Marty naturally sees this as making fun of his NPCs OOC, and he insists on stopping me in-character. This is always a bad idea. It’s a suicidal idea when it just makes the puzzles harder.

So I guess that’s the problem: my worst is irrepressible, completely undignified Xanatos Speed Calvinball, and he’s so unwilling to admit he doesn’t like that that it took way too long for me to realize I was royally pissing him off. Come on, he was smiling for most of it.

I waffle on about this in an attempt to explain how, in the morass of conversations that sprawled out after this mess, I was somehow agreed to be the villain. Apparently, without me everything would have been just peachy, which begs the question why he didn’t just eject me. Jin’s player was behind most of it. See, he thinks he’s good at talking, but all he’s really good at is talking at everyone until they “compromise” at the midpoint of everyone’s views. This is great when everyone’s sane, but the midpoint of “I like player agency” and “you defiled my cheese foundries with your damnable initiative” isn’t really useful to anyone.  Jin’s used to conflict resolution in the absence of real disagreement, insofar as that he’s used to bleeding drama off of a bunch of fundamentally stupid personality conflicts. It’s why he works so well in clubs. I’m used to material disagreements between professionals, like I said; I need solutions more than I need unanimity, and when the solutions are equivalent I don’t see why I should argue. Unfortunately, I can’t reconcile this with endless cycles of “can we at least all agree that”, especially when Marty can’t agree to anything but that mean old Zeroller broke his beautiful campaign into tiny little pieces with his nasty logic and everyone else let me do it. Without my “personal vendetta against good storytelling” we’d have been looking at roleplaying Nirvana. Oh, according to him he also never told me to do my worst, but then, according to him he never said a lot of things we have records of him saying, so take that as you will.

Then again, I was also relying on Jin to get it through his skull that he needs to at least consider the possibility that being in academic hell for years has messed him up to the point where professional help would make him a happier person, and that failed right out of the gate. Not that he didn’t agree with me that Marty needed it, mind; he just never saw an opportunity to bring it up.

Then, too, after this, it was apparently decided that they all needed to talk without me. Yeah, sure, call me a bastard, get everyone to agree that I’m a bastard, and then go convene without me. That’s not going to make me resentful at all.

So that’s how the campaign ended: an interminable snarl of arguments. All that’s left is the writeup, since Marty asked, idly, what the epilogue was for each of us. He asked me, at least, long after all this cooled off. We’ve got two: Ian’s, and mine. Darya didn’t much care, and Jin I don’t know about.
Till next time, then.