Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Left Wing of the Day of Judgement

On Friday 11/9 I finally had the pleasure of running my 19th Century Whaling inspired "Left Wing of the Day of Judgement".  This commentary won't do the session justice at all, as it's a little far removed from the game since I've been busy with a new job, but I wanted to get it up anyway.

I had six players, which I think is my ideal DREAD group size, allowing a nice mix of characters to be played without having so many players that not everyone gets to contribute.   Of the characters I wrote up, the ones in BOLD were played.

  • The crew of the Eryine, an American whaling ship captained by the mad Captain Danby, obsessed with hunting down the legendary Kraken...
    • Harpooner - Former Slave 
    • Crewman - Young Sailor with a Secret
    • Cabin "Boy" - Runaway Youth
    • Steward - Immigrant, former Italian Nationalist
    • Third Mate - Haunted Whaler
    • Oarsman - Indebted Yankee Intellectual
  • The Crew and passengers of the Dachshund, a British scientific expedition led by Sir Alastair Finch, a noted British biologist studying the elusive giant squid...
    • British Lady of Standing - Recent Widow
    • British Naturalist - Former Duelist
    • Irish Carpenter - Former Criminal
    • Army Officer - Veteran of the Russian War
    • Hydrographer - Drunken Widower
I managed once again to fool the players with a twist (or several)... First by having very little action on the whaling ship, as a fierce storm and Kraken attack destroyed the ship.  In the midst of the wrack, two of the PCs, the Naturalist and the Carpenter, had their skin indelibly stained by Kraken ink with several tumbles of the Jenga tower...Setting up twist the second, where the PCs found themselves either rescued by American Christian Evangelical missionaries (the cabin "boy", Yankee Oarsman and Hydrographer) or imprisoned by the same missionaries (the stained Naturalist and Carpenter and the Former Slave).  From there things slowed a bit, as the players gradually (or suddenly) deduced the good Christian's were actually also racist cannibals.  Both halves of the players decided to make a break from it at the same time and they came together with a near simultaneous sneak attack, wherein Citizen Ben proved that he could portray quite a bloodthirsty and ruthless 11 year old girl...  They quickly escaped the compound and found a native awaiting them, immediately recognizing the Kraken Ink staining the Naturalist and Carpenter and taking the players to meet the mysterious Captain Lewis who had been exiled from the missionary colony.

The second half kept the momentum up with the players realizing that the volcanic island was beginning to erupt and having to wade through waves of rats (brought by the Europeans, they had killed all the flora and fauna on the island).  The Cabin "Boy" was nearly lost in a wave of rats after yet another tumble of the tower, but the other players risked their own players to snatch her from a rodent death. The group then found themselves on a beach where the natives worshiped a monstrous idol of an unnamed squid god and found Captain Lewis, lacking arms or legs, his skin also stained by Kraken ink, guarding a raft while the worshipers danced in a frenzy around a bonfire.  Captain Lewis told them the Kraken would demand a sacrifice in exchange for their escape from the island, so the Cabin "Boy" attacked him with a machete, slicing open the skin of his face which let tentacles escape and began Captain Lewis' transformation into some a cephalopodic freak.  The PCs commandeered the raft and managed to escape the island as the lava reached the shore, fleeing into the storm at sea.  At sea, the Kraken re-appeared, as tentacles crashed against the waves around them and the Naturalist and Carpenter fought dark urges inside them, brought to the surface by the ink staining their skin.  The Naturalist succumbed and leapt at her fellow boat-mates, but was quickly taken down.  The game ended with the remaining PCs giving the Carpenter the choice of falling to their knives or taking his chance in the ocean and he chose to go overboard.

All in all, it was a blast to run, it felt like I kept the tension and action going strong (for the most part) and it definitely re-invigorated my love of running games.  Unlike my Circus Freaks DREAD scenario, which I still plan to write up and publish (as discussed here).  Afterwards, I gave @ironsolo, who is thinking he wants to write and run his own DREAD game, the character questionnaires and my notes, which were embarrassingly  almost entirely notes on the music I had in my various playlists for the game (Character Creation, Storm, Island, Climax).  For serious, here is the entirety of what I had written up for the "plot" of the game:

  • Acts
    • Storm/Kraken - PCs covered in Kraken ink...
    • Island - Lava flow looks like squid on the mountain, sulfurous cave, stockade that missionaries live in
    • Escape - volcano threatens to erupt, need to find their way to Captain Lewis
Since the plot as I ran it was largely impromptu, even more so than DREAD games I've run in the past, and since the wacky twists are a little ridiculous: it's not a game about being on a ship, it's about being on an island, an island that looks like a squid, with crazy racist Christian Cannibals, and swarms of rats... and also native Cthulhu cultists, I rather doubt it would write up as well as the fairly straight forward Circus game which was just Circus Freaks vs. Monster.

On the plus side, I took a lot of what I did in DREAD and applied it to my last Reign game, which was much more fun to run (and hopefully play) than my last lackluster installment of that game.

Here to take you out is a live version of the SWANS "Eden Prison" which I used the soundtrack to the Kraken Attack/Storm that the Left Wing of the Day of Judgement opened with... (from the amazing live double cd set We Rose from Your Bed With the Sun in Our Head)

Swans, "Eden Prison" (Live At Brooklyn Masonic Temple) from self-titled on Vimeo.

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