October 25th, 2008


Great Quandary

As I plan future Episodes for my Nexus: the Infinite City game, I see a puzzle piece that I would like to fit into my ongoing plot. But to do so would be to invite one of the greatest problems of GMing: the (comparatively) omnipotent enemy.

In this case, there is a faction whose power includes the ability to alter realities on a grand scale, up to and including creation, destruction, separation, and merging. They're not perfect at it, but that's the general power scale we're talking about.

I'm trying to figure out how to fit this faction into my game somehow, to have the player characters (who are nowhere near their level of power) interact with them.

The issue I'm having is that in the past, I've seen this sort of interaction (between PCs and nigh-omnipotent NPCs) done really, really badly. I would like to give my players free reign to do what they please, but I'm afraid that if one does the wrong thing, they'll be wiped clean off creation. Conversely, I don't want to reduce the players to spectators in the grand play of this faction's activities in the Multiverse.

So, I ask the members of this community, how would (or have) you run encounters with such NPCs and kept your PCs invested and involved, without throwing them to the lions or making them meaningless?
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    "Stare.At.The.Sun" by mdfmk
Passive Voice

Delta Green via Trail of Cthulhu

I ran Delta Green for the first time last night, using the Trail of Cthulhu rules, which I also ran for the first time last night. Having read the adventure 'Convergence' from the Delta Green main book several times, I played out a total party kill session to introduce my players to both the setting and the rules, using pre-gen characters.

Now that the cell they were playing (L Cell) is dead, their campaign characters will be brought into the fold to fill the ranks.

It was awesome. After investigating some really weird goings on involving cattle mutilation and alien surgery, the players found a farm that was the center of the mystery, and in storming it, managed to blow it up. Two characters died instantly, the last fled. He might've been killed, but more likely, he disappeared in the aftermath, unable to deal with what had happened.

So, I just wanted to say, I totally love the Trail of Cthulhu investigation system. It worked perfectly, somewhat to my chagrin. And that was with a half-done adventure that wasn't even truly suited to the ToC engine. My players were neither lead around by the nose nor felt they were starved for clues, and ended up enjoying the hell out of the game.

A friend of mine was right. Trail of Cthulhu out Cthulhus Call of Cthulhu. (say that three times fast!)

Tell Me A Story: Dynamic Duels

Fights in roleplaying games tend to be small-unit skirmishes for the most part, and one-on-one duels are a bit on the rare side. Duels certainly happen, but they seem to be a minority of in-game combats. There's a great deal of dramatic potential in duels, though, and I feel like talking about them. Whether it's two old rivals squaring off in the middle of a much larger maelstrom of destruction which seems to vanish around them as they cross blades or whether it's a pair of samurai at winter court having an iaijutsu duel over a point of honor, or whether it's two greybearded wizards throwing down to show whose brand of sorcery is most potent, there's a lot of dramatic grist to be sent to the mill.

Of course, interference and dirty tricks from outside parties trying to sway the fight one way or the other do not invalidate this as a duel - it's a staple of the topic after all: a disarmed hero is thrown a new sword (or chainsaw) by an ally, a dastardly villain poisons his champion's blade or arranges for a sniper to take a shot at the hero when he has his opponent in a corner, or a horde of minions/guardsmen rush, forcing one side or the other to break off the duel right when they had the upper hand or what have you. Great stuff, potentially.

What is the most dramatic (or alternately, most disappointing) mano-a-mano fight that you can remember occurring in one of your games? What made it so great, and what was the outcome? How might it have been handled better in the context of the game? Let's talk.

There've been some great duels in my games, and I'd be remiss if I weren't to share at least one or two.

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Please tell me your own stories. I love this stuff.
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