Spirit of the Century was the real new game for the weekend. We had already generated some awesome characters in a chargen that has influenced a lot about how we look at things. Ian took his seat and probably the most anticipated game of the weekend began.
The set-up was magnificent. Ian gave Matt's Scientist's 'Greatest Show on Earth' as much room as it needed to allow the characters to mingle and grow into each other. Sometimes you don't need an 'in media res' orgy of violence and 'sfx' to kick start a game. Sometimes you just need a truly evocative setting. Everyone had a little moment when they could interact and some had some scene setting flashbacks. And then Matt did his 'performance' which was masterful. Honestly, you had to be there to believe it. Everyone was rapt as he explained how he was wowing the audience with his show of 'tomorrows science, today' and extolling the virtues of learning and logic.
And then the shit hit the fan, energy started arcing around the room, a woman was killed and a woman appeared - the princess of the Hollow World! Aha! I disposed of the dead womans body for my Gentlemen and we discovered tales of a civil war and coup in the Hollow World, a crystal that could jump between dimensions, Cthonic entities, lost Lemuria and then BATTLE GOLEMS!! All great stuff, all dispatched with aplomb. The Doctor created a scanner (a massive one that drained the power from half of London and then a man-portable one) to find the missing crystal. As a result we were off to Iraq and chugging around the desert in an airplane, finding the crystal in .... a nazi camp!
However, we were all a bit tired and it was getting late so we decided to adjourn until tomorrow morning. We had a very important conversation first however. We talked in depth about the way that the system worked and what we thought we were doing right, and what we were doing wrong. We decided that we needed to make Compels truly negative, we decided it was fully expected for everyone to suggest compels to other players. We really got our head around what made the game kick. And then we slept.
The next day we reconvened and the MADNESS began. This was more like it in a very chaotic yet hugely pleasurable way. Of course, the scouting party looking at the base was ambushed by a nazi patrol. The rest of us moved in the truck to intercept but our axle broke and then a truck of Nazis arrived - and one of them was an officer. There was all manner of chaos going on. The Doctor unleashed a gas propelled spare tire at the truck, which was shot by Hollow World rayguns. Someone shot my butlers teapot which sent him into a considered paddy and had him storming their ranks. Ms Ashcroft, the angel of vengeance was shot to pieces but carried on. And then I compelled my 'Out of the Fat, Into the Fire' and a tank appeared. Ian's face was a picture. He handled it magnificently however, and after we dispatched that as well, those of us who were not 'Built like a Brick Shithouse' dressed in nazi uniforms and bluffed our way into the camp, finding the crystal in a typically pulpy cavern avec abyss, being used by Lord Chatham (a former Gentlemen of mine who had betrayed my trust - a true no-no for my character) to open reality to the aforementioned Cthonic entities.
Battle was joined, Nathanial was a hero and then a villain as he succumbed to his dark side. The Doctor unleashed his ornithopter and I squared off against Lord Chatham. Ms Ashcroft tried to stab him but I took the blow, compelling my 'Get Behind Me Sir!' to instinctively protect even a former Gentlemen. And then the bounder stabbed me in the back! I punched him into the abyss and narrated that he was hanging off the edge. He swore I would never defeat him and I offered him my hand to raise him up. He took it and I smiled. "You're a cad and a bounder. You cheat sir, you die!' and I let him fall into the ravine. (You Cheat, You Die! is another aspect of mine) Thats two Gentlemen I have killed for being cheaters....
There was a mad scramble for the crystal between all of the other characters, trying to keep it away from the possessed Nathanial. The Doctor performed some sleight of hand and had them chasing a bag of stone instead of the crystal. I hoisted the madman over my shoulder and we escaped. It may have been the end of the session, but we knew that the matter in the Hollow World needed to be dealt with.
I have to say, this was just skimming some of the stuff that was going on with the characters. The game was THICK with issues and story and character THERE, NOW, all over the table like a rash. It was a smorgasbord of potential. A truly memorable game with some great moments that will live with us forever. We will be playing it again.
Pendragon followed. Its hard to write about Pendragon in the same way as the other games because we have been playing the game for 9 months now! It was 501/2 and we finally dispatched the last knight from the county of Marlborough and claimed it for the grey shading of Salisbury. We told the saxons to bugger off again and then faced some personal issues early in the next year. Sir Aeryn the Elder had to face his father in mortal combat, winning (just) but suffering a terrible wound that crippled him (losing 2 SIZ) now and later in the year (losing another to aging). Sir Guillame faced Aggric the Black, the druid tormentor of his family and killed him. I was challenged by The Falcon, the faerie betrothed knight of my beloved wife Epona. After a terrible attempt to bluff him (which failed magnificently with a critical Honest role - trule Brions love for Epona shines through) we were due to meet on the field of battle. I was told to retrieve my sacrificed sword from Morrigan, via my son (who is 17 and virtually an alt now) who met with both her and her flower goddess aspect. I met the knight and we parried a number of times before he ran me through... only for the power of my love for Epona to make his sword explode!! I threw him a new sword but he was too injured so I went to help him up when he told me I had passed (whatever that meant?) but that Morganas child (oh dear... ) will be terrible for my family. Thats not good. That little daliance with the teenager will come back and bite me in the bum!
Pendragon was a truly fitting end to the weekend because it was like some sort of sweeps week episode. We know that we are rapidly approaching The Sword in the Stone. The characters are beginning to age. Its the endgame for these characters and it's time to clear off their storylines before the big finale. The quality of the game is testimony to Nigels ability to come back again, time after time with an engaging story and managing a game which has grown to magnificent proportions.
And thus the weekend ended. I will no doubt have missed a load of things from each of the games, but Andrew is doing a full Actual Play thread on rpg.net which I expect to be far more accurate.
As I said, the weekend was an unqualified success. We had some great gaming. It was knackering but well worth the money and the effort. We also learned a lot about how we game and what we can do with games when we put our minds to it. Is it too much to suggest that we may have moved from a group of friends that do roleplaying games to a gaming group who use that friendship and respect to power better games? Maybe, maybe not. However I will say this. This last year or two has been the best gaming experience I have had ever. It has grown RPGs from something I do because I do them to my #1 hobby and that is in no small part due to the amazing people that I get to game with. You couldn't ask for a more considerate, respectful, generous and thoughtful group of people to game with.
Roll on CottageCon II!!