More funny-dice game stuff, for the moment. If that interests you, read on.
Back on the Trail of Cthulhu:
A couple more sessions in (most recently last night), I continue to enjoy playing Trail of Cthulhu.
It’s funny: I’d recently been thinking about how large skill lists often mean a game is aspiring to really vast open-endedness, in a way that can leave both players and the GM fumbling for a sense of how the game’s actually supposed to be played in practice. (Rereading a bunch of Wraith: The Oblivion books left me with that sense: I have a review series of the complete line coming up soon.)
However, that’s not a problem with Trail of Cthulhu, for a couple of reasons. One is that, being a Gumshoe system game, it’s pretty explicitly investigative. The flavor of the investigative style can vary from game to game or even from session to session, but you’re going around using your investigative abilities to collect clues to solve some kind of mystery, and then using all your general abilities to deal with the other consequences of the investigation. It’s pretty overtly coded into the game what play is supposed to look like, and I feel like the system is easily-enough internalized that someone who’s played one Gumshoe game should be able to adapt to a different one pretty rapidly.
Likewise, I feel like there’s a lot of swinginess to everything outside of the investigative stuff. I also feel like one could probably adapt the occupational skills to fit a vast number of genre-typed skill lists. (I haven’t looked at Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s Lorefinder but I assume one of the things it does is modify skill lists to a fantasy-adventure setting.)
Also, I was surprised to find that the adventures don’t really feel railroady. I’m sure it’s possible some GMs will run Gumshoe in a way that feels like that, but our group spent a lot of time discussing how to proceed, which clues to chase down, and what precautions to take, and most of the time those decisions ended up being really relevant to how things played out. For example, my character has a few points in “Explosives” and my decision to spend those points made a huge difference in how one pivotal scene worked out for us. (Likewise, in the last session another player’s use of Stealth and Filch pretty much sorted things out, far sooner than any of us, the GM included, had expected.)
The fact the clues are predetermined isn’t any more railroady than the fact that the map for a given dungeon or building is predetermined in a traditional-fantasy adventure, in other words. It’s still about characters using their resources in problem-solving.
And it’s a good time: enough of a good time, in fact, that I’ve gone ahead and picked up some core rulebooks for a few of the Gumshoe games that interest me most. When I’ll try my hand at running them, who knows, but I’m sure they’ll be a good read.
A Backlog of Adventure Logs:
I’m including here two in-character diary entries serving as adventure logs for the third and fourth sessions of our ongoing Trail of Cthulhu game, along with an in-character letter that is supposed to get sent to an NPC back in Shanghai.
Please note, this does contain spoilers for the “Shanghai Bullets” adventure, as mentioned in my previous posts. Our esteemed Trail of Cthulhu GM has worked up a homebrew campaign outline for us to play in, and launched it already, so while he may work in some stuff from other published materials, I probably won’t be posting many spoiler warnings for much longer… but they do apply to the logs below.
Here’s the character’s diary entry for the third session of the game (spanning the second day and night of the adventure, and most of the third day):
And here’s the adventure log for the fourth session, spanning the characters’ third night in Shanghai, and their escape on the 4th morning:
And finally, an in-character letter to one of the NPCs back in Shanghai, to tie up some loose ends:
The logs are a bit sloppy, but I’m too busy to proofread them extensively. This is game stuff, it’s just for fun, etc. Speaking of which, I’m not sure how ardently I’ll keep up with adventure logs: I do the logging for the regular D&D group I play with too, and while it is handy for players who missed sessions, I’ve cut back on the detail a fair bit and simply made a point of highlighting unusual or standout actions and events, while recounting typical actions in a sort of vague blur of a sentence or two, which makes it more manageable. I’ll probably do so with the Trail of Cthulhu game, too, once my character’s voice solidifies for me a little more.
Anyway, even if these interest nobody else, it’ll be nice to have them to look back on, I guess. Though, speaking of reader interest, I’m also thinking about whether I should move my RPG-related posts to a subdomain here on my site. I’m not sure how much they interest non-gamers, after all, and they seem to be taking over my posting regimen. Then again, I post here rarely enough it maybe doesn’t matter?
Plus these days I’m sort of thinking of how the gaming and the writing can and do inform one another, so, I’m not sure what point is served by splitting things between subdomains. I may settle for doing up a slightly different page template for RPG-related content (something I’ve been meaning to do for all my major subtopics of interest anyway) and offering an RPG-specific RSS feed, or just promoting the RPG-related stuff to Google+ instead.
I do, also, intend to get back to other projects, including my reading of Ezra Pound’s The Cantos and some research I’m doing on a book I hope to write this year.
I dunno. We’ll see.