A collection of rambling posts about gaming, running, and politics. (and, in 2009, photography.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Shadow of Yesterday: Thieves of Highwater Street

So recently, in a wild coincidence, I was contacted by a fellow who was interested in getting into some role playing gaming, and had run across my info on the internets. It turns out, he's the fellow that I bought my current house from. Small world. *hi Michael*

Sadly, I told him that I was far too busy to crank up another regular game, and that my new D&D game was just plain full. I'm always excited to hear from other gamers though, and so we chatted about gaming and games and such. He went out and tried playing in some local D&D groups. Well his experience, over the course of two games with them, ranged from "meh", to "this is the worst gaming experience of my life, ever". So we chatted some more about Shadow of Yesterday and some other stuff, and then I caved, cause I love gaming, and can't really pass up the chance to run some TSoY for some folks.

So last night we got together down at his place, Jason, Krissi, myself, Michael, and his friend Kelly.

I'd thrown together a thieves guild game, based alot of The Sopranos and The Godfather. I cranked out some set and setting details, some Important NPCs, and some background stuff for the characters, in order to get everyone hooked in right away. Note to self: don't mix wine and typing up setting info. The content is fine, but your spelling is awful, and you end up somehow leaving words out of sentences.

The Horn Lake crowd headed down to Michael's place, who was gracious enough to host. Everyone shook hands and said hi, and we sat down, threw pizzas in the oven, and started talking about the game. Naturally, everyone feeling out the new people, we chatted about xbox games and films and books a little bit. I had everyone read the info I'd brought. Two pages for everyone, one, chock full of setting info and NPC info. More information than I'd intended to dump on folks, but I was trying to paint a clear and fairly complete picture for folks. The other page, with personal info about their background, their relationship with the other characters, and so forth.

We went straight into character creation, and discussed the mechanics of all the character bits, and how they impacted gameplay. I'm always surprised at how long character creation takes in TSoY, when introducing new people to the system. It's not a bad thing, it just always surprises me a little. Despite its ease and simplicity in action, TSoY is a system with some depth to it, and some tricky mechanics.

Also, I'd neglected to bring all of the extra printouts of TSoY rules info, like abilities and secrets and keys and such, so we were all sharing the one book that I had. I'll remember that for next time.

Michael and Kelly followed right along, asking questions and getting clarifications on things related to the game setting and to the system mechanics. Soon enough, we'd gotten everyone's characters settled, and were ready to start playing.

The game opened at a funeral for the recently deceased Underboss of the Harbor. Within a few minutes, they were summoned to an impromptu meet with the new Underboss. He "swore them in" to the Guild, and told them that the Highwater area, their neighborhood, was their territory. Basically, they were in charge of collecting "protection money" and running the criminal enterprises of the neighborhood. He also asked them to keep an eye out for a courier who was supposed to be delivering a shipment of gems. The courier did not show up for a meeting, and was last seen at a gambling hall on Highwater street.

The crewe took to the street, back to their neighborhood. With a few questions unanswered, they waited for the arrival of one of the Underboss's men, who came to help out with details and such. He showed up, filled them in on some basic info, got into a near physical altercation with one of the crewe, and then left, leaving them with a semi threatening "good luck".

The players decided to start at a gambling hall, and hit the owner up to start getting protection money again. He was easy enough to deal with, and they moved right along. They hit the next gambling hall, which was also the last place that the gem courier was seen. The owner of this establishment was a little less excited about the idea of forking over money to the crewe, but mostly just grumbled about it, and they didn't have to convince him hard. They also inquired about the courier, and were told that he'd shown up, sat down at a card table and started drinking. At some point, he got combative, slugged the dealer, and got thrown out of the place. That was the last they'd seen of him. The players/characters did alot of throwing around the Underboss' name, which proved to be quite effective. No one likes sleeping with the rats. The crewe questioned the dealer that he'd played with, as well as a few regulars who had been at the table, as well as the bounces that threw him out. The questioning of the dealer turned interesting. There was a hard bitten sailor playing at his table, and Kelly, playing a smooth and subtle talking type, pulled up a chair, and gently worked to convince the sailor to find another table to play at. This led immediately to our first rolling of dice.

Kelly quickly said that he was interested in going to dice to determine the outcome. We discussed how stakes and conflict worked. We discussed stakes, with Kelly winning we decided that the sailor would take his advice, and head to another table. If Kelly lost, the sailor wasn't interested in heading to another table, and as Jason suggested, the dealer was now upset with Kelly, since he was trying to run off paying customers. We rolled, and Kelly lost. We discussed how he could go to Bring Down the Pain, or he could let it lie ("cause more conflict is fun", I said)). He let it lie, and about that time Michael's character jumped into the mix to shoo away the sailor, who was becoming more angry by the minute. This was the first fellow who didn't waver in fear at the mention of "Underboss Malek". At some point (the order has already begun to escape me) Jason's character got involved, and claimed to be a city watchman. The crewe called over Krissi's character (she's playing the bruiser), as she'd been chatting up the bouncers. She rushed in, and went straight for the "intimidating with a knife" tactic. The sailor responded in kind, and presently we had another conflict on our hands. This one was a little different, since we weren't just using words here. If Krissi won, the sailor was suitably cowed and intimidated, and put his knife away and left. If the sailor won, Krissi's character got a nick, and lost the physical conflict, meaning that it was lost - she could not just say "well I intimidate him again". We rolled, and she almost lost, but thanks to some last minute adjusting of abilities, she prevailed (we changed her "dueling" ability to "knife work" which was more effective). There were some questions thrown in during this, like "So if she gets nicked, what does that mean? does it go on the harm tracker?" and so forth. I decided no, it didn't need to go on the harm tracker. She'd almost gone to Bringing down the pain when we thought she'd lost, but we got it settled.

They gang mollified the dealer, chatted him up about the missing courier, though he didn't have must in the way of helpful information. They tracked down two of the guys who were playing at the table with him that night - regulars in the place. Jason's character set about to questioning them, still using the guise of being a city watchman. I'd given him a penalty dice the first time he used this in the place, seeing that he didn't have anything to back up his story, but they bought it anyway. He continued the charade (and I think, got a little XP for his key, having to do with impersonation), and set about to interrogating the two gents. After going into deep detail, we all decided that they had little information to offer. Meanwhile, Krissi's character had chatted up the bouncers that tossed the courier out of the place when he'd gotten drunk and fighty. They said that they tossed him into the gutter, where he lay for awhile. When they looked out an hour or so later, he wasn't there anymore.

We pretty much trailed off there, for the evening, as it was already 9:30. I think that everyone had a good time, and I'm hoping to continue the story in the near future.

Michael and Kelly seemed to enjoy themselves, and claimed that the TSoY game was far superior to the other gaming stuff that they'd experienced, which I'll gladly accept. They both did a great job of jumping right in. Both are somewhat new to role playing games, Kelly having only played two sessions of gaming before, and Michael having been long separated from the hobby. They both did a fantastic job of hopping into the setting, and playing the characters. There wasn't much in the way of grabbing XP, but I think it was largely because of the short time that we played. We may need to do some key tweaking as well. We'll see.

I enjoyed running the game. I was a tad rusty at TSoY mechanics, but it was a blast. I enjoy the way that setting stakes in conflict allow you to take the game in directions that are seemingly impossible in most any other system.

There are more details that I'm missing, but mostly now because my memory and recall are poor, and I've been crazy busy at work today, and have only barely been able to steal away enough time to write this.

Hopefully there'll be more coming down the line.

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