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Friday, July 17, 2009

Playing Spirit of the Century with my parents

Yesterday, I launched a new rpg adventure of Spirit of the Century (SotC)... with my parents.

We had already tried a game back in April, when they visited, as a way of showing them what roleplaying games are like, and because I felt like DMing a tabletop game, which I hadn't done in quite a while. Back then, sadly, my father was not really into it because he had something to do early in the next morning and it kept him preoccupied. But at my big surprise, my mother said she thought it was enjoyable, and not how she envisioned it. Of course, I made sure to cater to their preferences, avoiding big supernatural happenings, monsters or even combat. Even more surprising was when my mother asked, mid-game, if her character could use telekinesis. Accommodating, and happy to see such an unexpected thing, I agreed and we added this to the character: a toned down telekinesis power.

Back to now. I'm on vacation at my parents' and I brought my roleplaying materials, having asked beforehand if they were interested in a more complete rpg experience. And so we got to it last night. It started on a sour note as my dad was once again distracted by a coming storm (we're in the country and storms need to be prepared for). Thankfully, the storm was quiet enough and we got a whole evening of gaming.

I wanted to try an actual character creation (last time we just picked a few skills, vague character types and went on with it) and we spent about 2 hours on it. I limited it to three phases : youth, first adventure and common adventure. I introduced Aspects, but it was obviously a bit too complex so early on, so we worked together to work out what happened in each phase and I tried to come up with interesting Aspects from what had been said. We ended up with a famous french artist with mystic powers (mainly sixth sense and premonitions, but occasionally other things like telekinesis, by paying a Fate Point) and a bit of an investigative streak, and a son of a rich entrepreneur, all about charming and charging head on, not caring much about wasting money, but very attached to his own properties.

Once the characters were done, there was still some time, and I knew we could get the very first part of the adventure done... And I thought it was necessary to avoid the feeling that this session was "wasted" (apparently it really didn't feel like actual playing, and I can understand that).
The first part has the PCs called by a museum manager for a mission, but before anything is told, African tribal warriors crash into the room, looking for revenge upon the manager (who visibly stole some artifact from them). Combat ensues...

This was yet another new thing : battles. I knew my parents wouldn't be too much into such things, based on what they tend to like, and how they react to games I show to them, but I wanted to try it at least once. It went pretty quickly, with only 4 minions to beat up. Surprisingly, to me, my parents didn't hesitate using their firearms to get rid of the enemies. To keep things "clean", though, I always described things as non mortal wounds and without any gorey effects (I don't care much for them in a pulp setting, and I know it might have put them off). I tried to explain Maneuvers at that point, too, but it was too much, so we just ignored it.
In the end, two warriors were scared away as the mystical artist managed to tap into her telekinetic powers to crash a book shelf near them (she made incantation-like moves, pretending to be a sorceress of sorts), and the two others were taken care of by the rich son's rifle-cane. Very pulpy :)

The museum manager then explained the mission he had for them, and we just brushed over some preparations for the trip (we still had a few minutes and I thought it would allow us to jump straight into the action for the next session).

Overall, I'm very happy with this session! My father, in particular, who didn't seem into it at first, ended up with a well developed character and apparently had fun doing this. But really, even my mom seemed to get into it as I suggested possibilities for her powers and such (she doesn't like "weird stuff", but I guess some of it is fine).
I don't know how much the battle was enjoyed, if any. I'll have to ask. At least, it didn't seem to annoy at the time.

Next session will start with a car chase in the middle of a north african market, which should be quite involving since my dad's character has Drive as a skill :)


The scenario played is "L'Armée Perdue", a french scenario for Savage Worlds.

The characters novels were :
  • Aqua Martre and the Phantom of the Louvre: about the theft of many paintings, then returned... but as fakes! Aqua reveals they're fake and goes after the Phantom, but he eludes her, and one painting is still missing.
  • Alband Duchiron in The Theft of the Trophy: where Alband's well deserved golf trophy is stolen as he is about to receive it. It is retrieved after a thrilling car chase and Alband discovers the trophy was actually an ancient artifact disguised by a coat of fake gold.
  • Aqua Martre and Alband Duchiron against the Pacific Pirates: where both heroes meet for the first time, battling against modern pirates as they were sailing towards New York. Alband shows he doesn't care for mysticism and Aqua makes use of her innocent looks to deceive the pirates.

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Blogger Bluebear Jeff said...

This sounds very interesting . . . and I like the way you've "steered" the games to adjust to your parents' feelings.

Games most certainly do not have to be about combat. Overcoming difficulties, yes; combat, not necessarily.

-- Jeff

July 19, 2009 at 3:32 AM  
Blogger Moni said...

Indeed! And I've had more details about this by asking them yesterday: they wouldn't mind combat as long as it really makes sense within the story. Our first combat was clearly meant, in the scenario, to wake up players and throw them into the action, which is fine for many regular players, but for them, it just didn't make sense (african warriors crashing into a New York building with no backstory whatsoever) and the battle itself did *not* make up for it, since they don't truely enjoy that aspect of gaming.

I asked what they would like to see and the answer was surprising: what they're looking for are actually less heroic scenes. An example was that their vehicle had a mechanical mishap in the desert... and then, they would have to think up solutions to repair it or do without it. I added that in pulp style, that's where I'd throw a sandstorm at them while they repair, and they said that would actually be okay.

Anyway, I'm starting to think they would rather enjoy more personal adventures, play characters that are just enhanced versions of themselves (that I can relate to :) ) and I'm thinking a "The Sims, the RPG" would probably fit the bill incredibly well :)

July 19, 2009 at 11:09 AM  

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