The last few weeks have been great for gaming. I've gotten to play in two games in the last two weeks.
Last weekend, my wife and I went up to the mountains to visit the Slusser household with the intention of doing some gaming. Our friend Miner - veteran LARP GM - wanted to start up one of his oldest campaigns, called "Flight 42", and suggested the same weekend to play. We told him that we were already committed to gaming with the Slussers (planning on continuing the Earthdawn campaign I'm currently GMing), but we were still interested in playing his game.
A bit of advice: If you've never gamed with Miner, and he invites you to play in a game he's GMing, you say 'yes!'
Fortunately for us, Miner convinced the Slussers to host his game, so we played that instead. We were joined by Gaughen and Antos, which was great because we haven't gamed with them in ages, and we hadn't yet seen Antos since returning to California. So a grand time was had by all.
And as I alluded to in my above suggestion, Dave is one of the best GMs I've ever played with. He had music, he had pictures and illustrations, he had handouts, he knew his system inside and out (a system of his own creation, if I'm not mistaken), and I think he used just the right amount of description. He didn't get too hung up on details, as I tend to do. His pacing was really ideal - I never felt rushed or as though I didn't have enough time to express my character's personality, and yet at the same time, we managed to get through something like four mini-scenarios before the evening was complete. And he did all of this with Slusser tykes around his ankles. I suspect that GMing LARPS for over 10 years probably gives one some measure of skill at improvisation and dealing with distractions.
The game itself was really fun. The campaign concept is specifically designed so that anyone can join and play in any session. If you miss a session, no problem. It's a really neat idea. I don't want to give anything away for those of you who read this blog and may have the opportunity to play in "Flight 42", because it's really better if you go in not knowing anything about it. What I can tell you is that we all played modern day, "average Joe" type characters who were, for reasons of our own individual devising, were taking a commercial flight from LAX to the Bahamas (or was it Barbados? I don't recall at the moment, and Miner has my character sheet). I played a comics artist who had been working in the industry since the Silver Age (the 1960s), and who had created a character called 'Fantoma' - bascially a female Doc Strange - that had recently been made into a blockbuster movie. He won a lawsuit with DC Comics over rights, and won a considerable settlement, which he was using in part to take the first vacation he ever had. Marilyn played a college student with a major in physics. It was her first time playing a game set in modern day, and she said that she really enjoyed it - it was the first character she'd ever played that she could really get into roleplaying, since she understood her mindset.
Anyway, it was a lot of fun.
The other game I got to play in was Ernie's Star Wars game. We continued our story, as our Jedi used an old star chart to locate the Esper system. At least, we thought it was a system. When we arrived, we found only a black hole surrounded by a considerable amount of debris. In fact, coming out of hyperspace, our Togarian pilot, Tolas (a catlike alien played by Budzik) had to take evasive maneuvers to avoid slamming into some of this debris. The rest of us had to hold onto something, and quick; unfortunately, the eldest member of our party, Jedi Master Zandis Mirr (played by Rob, who couldn't make it to the game) was taken by surprise and flew across the cabin, slamming headfirst into a bulkhead. The Cerean Jedi, Foster (played by Aaron), managed to heal his wounds with the Force, but Master Mirr was still unconscious.
So that's one way of dealing with PCs whose players can't make it to the game.
Once we got our bearings, we spotted a small Naboo fighter drifting amongst the debris. Upon investigating, we discovered that its pilot was still alive inside, semi-conscious but with life support systems almost depleted. We brought him aboard and bolted his ship to ours, and began the inevitable introduction/interrogation procedure that usually follows such encounters on the trail of possible Sith. He looked like a bit of a scoundrel - my character, Jedi Knight Nura Nuada, recognized that he had been a slave gladiator at some point, and carried a lightsaber on him - and called himself Stormbringer, an obvious stage name. Turns out he was looking for a hooded man with a cybernetic claw for a hand, which Foster had experienced visions of.
Stormbringer was a PC; Kevin was able to join us, and this was how Ernie introduced him into the game.
Oh, by the way - I just learned about an interesting way of making character sheets, so that the GM and other players can see what your character looks like while you simultaneously are able to read your stats. I've seen it called a "tent"-style character sheet. It requires that you fold a page in half and set it up on the playing surface like a tent; one side has your character's picture and name, and the side facing you has stats and so on. It's really handy for other players to remember what your character looks like, especially if you're playing an alien, or in my case, someone of the opposite sex. I'd like to think that my roleplaying skills aren't so bad that no one could tell my character was supposed to be female, but I think it may be unavoidable for people to say "him" instead of "her" when the player is male.
It's like this, see:
Anyway, I'm sure this kind of character sheet is easier to create for some game systems than others, but since characters in Ernie's homebrew system consist of five stats total, I was able to fit my portrait, stats, race, age, and brief character history on one side of the "tent".
Here's the picture I'm using. Phear my leet Photoshop skilxxorz!
Nura Nuada, Jedi Knight
It probably goes without saying that Stormbringer suggested Nura bunk with him.
I put my character "tent"-sheet together in PowerPoint, but you could easily do it in Paint, if you wanted. The hard part was flipping the picture and text on the GM/Front side upside down. I printed it out on parchmenty cardstock (I would have used plain white, but I don't have any that firm) and now I'm looking forward to showing it off at the next game session...whenever that will be.