Game Prep: New PC Background and Plot Elements

So, yeah. I’ve done a frankly terrible job of maintaining the blog over the last couple of weeks. As I think I stated in a previous post, I’m in that odd position where I’m not really going to be running (as a GM) for a while and as a result, I’ve allowed my focus to slip a little bit to other things. Yesterday – 9.26.2018 – the Pathfinder: Kingmaker video game went live, for example, and as I’d backed that on Kickstarter, I’ve started playing it (even though we just finished chapter 3 in the face-to-face group.

Anyway, one of the things that I have been doing is coordinating with the new player regarding his planned character. He declared earlier on that he was leaning toward a “holy” kind of character – Michael Carpenter from the Dresden books … but without a sword – and we’ve been discussing ideas about that. In the previous runs of Red Sky, we briefly had a PC who fit this – Brandon Harris – but the player had to curtail his gaming on that night due to family obligations, so that character quickly fell out of the narrative and eventually died in the fifth adventure (which ended up being a bit too … railroady at the end.) So the precedent for such a character already existed in my game and I recommended the new player – hereafter referred to simply as Mark – at least take a look at Harris to look at him.

During our back-and-forth, though, and before Mark’s character concept was fully settled, I was reminded of this scene from Supernatural and really dug the idea of ripping it off in some way.

I even offered Mark the chance to take over that (deceased) character entirely if he wanted to with the conceit that he could totally rebuild him however he wished, but he declined as he wanted to do his own thing (which amounted to ‘holy biker guy.’) He initially started looking at the Crusader template in Monster Hunters 1, then stumbled upon the Outcast Angel racial template (though at first, he did not realize that the latter was part of the Inhuman character template.)

Still, I kind of wanted to play with the idea that the new guy – currently named Hugh “Mac” MacArthur – was tied to Harris in some way. I’d ended adventure 5 with Harris tackle-grabbing another former PC, Robert Mankiller (who had been possessed by a big bad evil dude) through a dimensional vortex that carried them both to a Hell dimension (specifically, a pocket of the Nevernever where the Big Bad of my campaign is imprisoned. So I floated that concept to Mark and he came up with an interesting idea – Mac and Harris have the same Soul that is constantly being reborn. This Soul was one of the original 12 Knights Templar, and they keep coming back to fight the Good Fight. Now I really liked this idea, but I’m currently recommending some minor alterations to it.

What I’m thinking right now is thus: this ‘rebirth’ is not a normal one by any stretch of the imagination. Brandon Harris (the previous recipient of the Soul) voluntarily tackled the Nihancan (disembodied bad guy) possessed Robert Mankiller into a dimensional vortex that took them both to the pocket of the Nevernever that is controlled by the Faceless King, my previously mentioned Campaign Big Bad. This is essentially a hell dimension but the Faceless King is master here and as a result, the Soul was feared to be Lost forever. Jegudiel, an Angel of the Lord (probably a seraph?) who had charged Brandon with his recent Holy Mission, took it upon … himself? Itself? to retrieve the Soul and breached the Faceless King’s prison. This proved to be something of a mistake because in that place, the Faceless King was nigh-omnipotent and Jegudiel was nearly Lost as well. The Soul was finally pulled free from that prison and, with its last fragments of power, Jegudiel thrust it into the recently deceased Vessel that was Hugh MacArthur, restoring the mortal shell to life. Unfortunately, Jegudiel’s strength was so far gone that doing so destroyed the seraph so it poured the last fragments of itself into this Vessel in the hope that a greater Power could possibly restore it. This could explain the “Outcast Angel” racial template (should he pick it up) but could also be used to pick up stuff like Flashbacks or Nightmares (with the notion that when he wakes and realizes he’s no longer in the Heavenly City, that’s when the terror strikes.) Those who are gifted (or cursed as the case may be) with Sight will be able to realize that something ain’t right about this guy. An added benefit for me, I think, is that Jegudiel breached the Faceless King’s prison to retrieve the Soul, there’s absolutely nothing saying that something else didn’t get out as well!

Honestly, even if Mark decides to not go the Outcast Angel route – I may end up allowing him to pick up the racial template without requiring Inhuman as well – I’m sort of leaning toward utilizing this backstory because I just like it and it ties into the greater narrative. Mark understandably doesn’t want to deal with any of the stuff tied directly to Brandon’s character, but in this way, I can link them somewhat.

As I understand it, Mark’s current thinking regarding Mac is that he was an undercover DEA agent who had infiltrated a criminal biker gang that, unfortunately, discovered his true identity and basically murdered him. If I’m going to ripoff Supernatural (which Mark hasn’t watched), it makes sense for the gang to have buried him so starting out with him in a shallow grave and waking up abruptly there is probably the way to go. And the grave is, quite conveniently, extremely close to where the dimensional vortex that Brandon went through was located at. Even more conveniently, that location is the epicenter of a minor earthquake we had here in Oklahoma on the day that the adventure begins. So New Mac wakes up in the shallow grave, claws his way out, and discovers that the area around him – it’s an oil field that’s still operational in the real world, but has been abandoned in the game world following the events of adventure 5 – has been devastated, as if a bomb has gone off.

Mac will be met by Arthur Curtmantle, an immortal NPC who is currently believed to be dead (though only the wizard PC actually knows he’s immortal) following adventure 5, who will point the new PC in the correct direction. Which will, of course, be the same direction that the other PCs are pointed toward…

Back to Game Prep: Red Sky

So … it appears that I will likely be returning to Red Sky, my GURPS Monster Hunters game set in the Dresden Files universe, instead of GURPS Traveller: The Verge based on the changing metrics of the face-to-face group. One of my primary reasons for shifting from Red Sky previously was group stability – it isn’t that we’re changing the group makeup a lot, but rather, half of the group was likely to end up missing sessions with very little warning. Volume 3, for example, was … five session? Maybe six. But at no time did we have back-to-back game nights due to Player 1 & 2 bailing because of family, and then Player 3 missing due to work, then 2 and 3 missing due to family emergencies, and so on. We’ve lost one of the problem players (and I use the term ‘problem’ loosely – he wasn’t actually a problem; his attendance performance was through no fault of his own) and picked up another who is far more of a GURPS veteran.

Unfortunately, that means I have to juggle some PC stuff straight away. The now absent player was running one of the OSBI characters – a kind of blatant ripoff of Iron Fist – so that character will depart, though thankfully, the actions of the PCs in volume six gives him a good explanation for doing so. I still don’t have a character concept from the new guy yet – he’s floated a couple of ideas thus far with at least one of them being what amounts to a holy man of some sort. We had one of those in previous runs but the player had to permanently leave the group because of family scheduling stuffs and I ended up killing the character off in volume five. So currently, what I’m thinking is that, if New Guy decides to go with this take, I’m likely going to ripoff Dean being pulled out of Hell by Castiel in season 4 of Supernatural and have this PC be the old one, just with Amnesia (to explain why his skillset is different) and some sort of weird caveat about his soul being stuffed into a different body to explain any recasting.

am a little concerned about a couple of issues, though and really need to figure out how to proceed.

  • The Wizard PC is using RPM as well as Sorcery … but the player has continued to struggle locking onto GURPS. As a result, her character really isn’t as capable as she should be and when she is, I feel like I’m hand-holding her. I sort of shot myself in the foot as well when I removed her mentor as early as I did – what I should have done is used him to teach the character (and thus the player) the system…
  • That player’s husband may or may not be rejoining us – if not, that’s due to grad school – and his character … well, I retooled him to be a gunslinger shooter type and I’m really starting to second-guess that because, like his wife, he hasn’t quite locked onto GURPS yet either and he absolutely is not a gun guy. Thankfully, his upgraded gunslinger PC hasn’t officially been introduced, so I guess I should reach out to the player and consult him. We could rejigger him again, but refocus so he better suits the player.
  • A third player – who is definitely the other GURPS veteran/expert in the group – has expressed his concern that the characters have become too complicated now that they’ve hit the 400-point level. Not for him, but for those who are not experts … and I don’t entirely disagree with him. Outside of some strange continuity Reboot – which isn’t out of the question – I’m not sure how to fix that though.
  • We have a fourth player who hasn’t chimed in – I expect he’ll just shrug and roll with it; he’s usually just there to beat people up – and a fifth that I’m expecting to bow out of the game because he’s not a fan of GURPS (even though he hasn’t played it in like a billion years and the stuff he wants in a game system are all in GURPS) as well as suffering from a serious case of narcolepsy (which is … interesting to say the least.) This means I’ll likely have five players total with the sixth “New Guy.”

Interesting things are afoot at the Circle K…

Gaming Tomorrow … And I’m Definitely Not Ready

Absolutely, one hundred percent unprepared. I have a very, very loose framework but I mostly expect the first half of the session to be character crap as well as discussion regarding some rules and the like. I have two fights in mind for the three scenes I have (again, only a loose framework) but have absolutely no idea what to do for one of the players because he hasn’t bothered responding to my inquiries. At all. Sadly, there’s a better than 50% chance he doesn’t make it…

Plotting for Next Red Sky Adventure, “Dead Line”

We had a bye-last week – I simply wasn’t ready thanks to work … and to be perfectly honest, I’m still not ready. Truthfully, my motivation took a hit with the end of “Clean Slate” and I’ve really struggled to recover. At the moment, I’ve got a very broad outline for the underlying arc, but it really isn’t enough to cover five or six sessions, so I’ve got to figure out what to add.

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GM Commentary for Session 6.04

Full recap here.

As previously stated, we were down Sofia’s player due to work-related madness – I think she left work early on Friday and went camping or something, mostly to try and relax so as to head off her desire to go postal on her co-workers; thankfully, she let me know about this very early in the week. This session was an interesting example of me being more satisfied with how it played out immediately following the game than I was after I’d had time to think about it.

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Clean Slate, Chapter 4 (Current Thinking)

Once again, down a player though after her end of the work conversation I overheard last week – wherein she freaked out at someone because they had just deleted 8 months of her work and then wanted her to fix it – I can’t say I blame her for wanting to just go somewhere quiet to decompress. It’s too bad, actually, ’cause I had some fun Weirdness Magnet stuff in mind for her. Right now, it looks I’ll still have the other three players so …

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