This past weekend I had the privilege of being invited to a weekend of gaming. I’d had one of these before, of course, for my bachelor party and it was spectacular! And though I’ve gamed on the regular either as DM or player since, never in such a concentrated format.
One of my weekly gaming crew recently procured a house in the woods of New Hampshire, which some of them use once a year for a writing retreat. This time they were performing a gaming retreat and invited me to join along. A weekend of gaming where I didn’t even have to be a GM for any of it? Can I get a “hell yea?”
We arrived at varying times on Friday and the night was mostly spent unwinding from the day of work and travel and then watching some retro Final Fantasy VII with the spectators narrating the characters in various goofy voices. After an early Saturday morning shopping trip to stock up on foodstuffs, it was game time.
We opened with Sixth Age, a homebrewed D20 based post apocalypse game that Sam had run for us off and on for a number of years now. The plot of the campaign by now was pretty far advanced and had effectively split into two parties separated by hundreds of miles. This weekend’s session involved picking up the pieces after an attack on Speedway, a mountain settlement built in the shadows of Vega (or, as we from the 4th age might recognize it, Las Vegas.)
A band of post apocalyptic warriors named the Sadistic Ministry had demanded the return of one of the PC’s, Kat Torres, because she was technically married to their chieftain’s eldest son. It was a bad marriage, and they were long since estranged, but the Ministry cared not. Of course, the leader of Speedway (the Racemaster) was Kat’s long lost Grandfather and he steadfastly refused to hand her over, prompting the attack. During the fight the elderly Racemaster succumbed to his failing health and both of his children (The ruthless, ill tempered Tanya and the empathetic, indecisive Angelo) were critically wounded. All the leadership of the Sadistic Ministry was dead (including Kat’s estranged husband, whom Kat blew up herself) but the leadership of Speedway was also in question.
Speedway only had two medics, Rosette (aka Orenda, one of the PC’s and a mother figure to Kat) and Patch, the medic for the race team the Fury Pistons (whom had won the last Grand Prix, a cross between a NASCAR Race and the Pod Race from Star Wars.) Unfortunately Orenda died in the battle, which left it all up to Patch to save Tanya and Angelo.
In spite of the advise from two other PC’s, “Gecko” Jack Hataskin (Orenda’s hired bodyguard) and Huckleberry Toyota (another member of the Fury Pistons), Kat steadfastly refused to take control of Speedway, even though she had the family lineage, lacked the personality defects of Tanya and Angelo, and wasn’t lingering near death.
Making matters worse, the Sadistic Ministry sent an envoy (Sezar, the twelve year old son of a man named Aleksei, who claimed to be their new leader) inviting Kat and company to a summit. After Huckleberry, “Gecko” Jack and Kali (the Fury Piston’s driver) got in on scamming the populace a little in order to “sell” influence with Kat (whome Huckleberry decreed would be the new Racemaster) the group headed out with Sezar to the Ministry’s home: Dorum.
There they witnessed the Ministry’s deeply misogynistic society where anyone not deemed “strong” was abused, mocked and regarded as second class citizens. The PC’s were invited to a feast. Aleksei formally “invited” Kat to marry him to secure peace, and offered him the captured Frye, a man who had screwed over and betrayed the party many, many times and whom Kat had vowed to kill.
Still, thrilled to be rid of one abusive husband from the Ministry, Kat steadfastly declined the prospect of gaining another. Aleksei then declared there would be no peace and attacked. In the terrifying, action packed battle that followed, the monstrous brute Aleksei was brought down, with the final blow being delivered by the man’s own abused son, Sezar. The instant the brute was brought down, Kat turned and executed Frye, still chained up to a post despite his best efforts, with two well placed arrows.
The group urged Sezar to claim leadership since he killed Aleksei, though they knew the timid boy would never hold power in such a society. Since the Sadistic Ministry had once been exiles from Speedway, they urged him to declare a grand re-unification and the boy agreed. It turns out that this strength would be needed, as an old and encroaching power from the east finally made its way to Speedway…
With that, Sam collapsed into a DM exhausted rest and we called it a day. Thankfully it was a holiday weekend in Boston, where we all lived and worked, so we had all day Sunday for the rest of the games.
After breakfast the next day we dove into Powder Mage the RPG. Based on the Powder Mage Trilogy by Brian McClellan. This was basically a kickstarter backed game using the Savage Worlds system. I’d never played Savage Worlds so getting the hang of the rules system took a minute for all of us (including Shannon the GM!) but she had done her homework and set us up well. The long and short of the world is this: think 1840’s-ish Europe but with magic users. Most folk are normal, powerless folks. Some have a tiny bit of magic and can do one impressive thing and are called Knacked, and then there is the Privileged, who are full on mages with power over the elements. Last, but not least, are Powder Mages: folks who can use black powder to fuel unique magical powers, and they tend to be new variants of mages in the world.
Within this world is the country of Kez, and it’s deep in the midst of a civil war. The rebel side is taking all comers and is somewhat desperate for troops. Enter our PC’s: a rag tag mix of folks willing and able to fight for various reasons and gathered under the command of a Powder Mage officer named Hayward (based on a young Alexander Hamilton, Shannon informed us).
We started out in a small town where the rebel army was staging, and spent our first day performing mundane labor in the armory/stable for the troops. That night Lieutenant Hayward offered to buy his latest recruits some drinks and we made our way to the local tavern and got to know each other a little better before moving off to mingle with the other officers. After narrowly averting a fight with some fellow recruits (the Kez hate Powder Mages and two of the PC’s were Powder Mages) we took our leave of the tavern and soon heard shouts near the depot we’d worked in all day.
Running there with all due haste we found enemy Loyalist soldiers on hand. They’d clearly started a fire within the depot, which would no doubt kill the half dozen horses inside and, worse, detonate the black powder stores and destroy the rest of the supplies. Of course, we had to fight our way past the enemy soldiers and their Privileged officer first. We made pretty short work of the men, but the officer got away. The fire proved to be the real danger, but we were able to put it out and save the powder and the horses with a whole 2 combat rounds to spare. Shannon straight up told us it was basically an intro adventure, to help us get the sense of the setting and rules but it was a great amount of fun. I look forward to the further adventures of Hayward’s Hellions (as we’d named our rag-tag unit.)
I found Savage World to be a decent game system that had things going pretty smoothly once we all got the hang of how it went. On a side note the well written Powder Mage supplement for it has prompted me to want to read the trilogy.
Last, but certainly not least, was some straight up Pathfinder. Helmed by Tim, this was a revisit to his Om campaign setting (which my other blog Journal of Wu takes place in) our PC’s were set back in the old world and 500 years before the adventures of Wu and his companions. Tim had helmed the 1st level characters into a dungeon under a frontier fort. After fighting their way through kobolds they located my PC and a deep gnome locked up as prisoners of the creatures. The gnome explained that drow were enslaving his people in the underdark which was going to result in a deep gnome geothermal generator going out of control without gnomes to maintain it. Agreeing to help, the PC’s trekked across the frozen tundra to the town of White River Junction to head into the underdark and help the deep gnomes.
The journey was chock full of fun encounters (and a great deal of hilarious bad luck for my poor PC) before we reached the town. Unfortunately for Tim (and us!) by this point it was past midnight and most of us were seriuously losing some steam. Alas, we called it a night there. The adventures in the Underdark would have to wait until next time.
After that it was just a night’s sleep and a trip home in the ice storm, even though it was friggin’ mid April.
Even without finishing Pathfinder and the winter weather all weekend (even though it’s April) this was a great weekend. It was like going to a gaming convention where you knew and liked everyone and they all bathed regularly. I don’t know if we’ll do it again, but I sure hope we do! Big thanks to everyone who helped make it happen!