Saturday, November 17, 2007

Northern California Pulp Project - RPGs & Summary

Spirit of the Century RPG Cover

As I mentioned in the Intro post, I feel that pulp gaming needs to have a strong character-driven/role playing aspect to it. So, as a way to achieve this in my wargame, I started checking out a number of pulp RPGs for ideas. One I came across was called Spirit of the Century by Evil Hat Productions (reviewed earlier in my blog). I played in a game of it at the local Conquest Sacramento convention & really liked how it worked. The character creation process strongly influenced how I created the characters for my game. The game has unique process to ensure the characters are well-acquainted with each other before the game starts. I used a cut-down version of this to develope elaborate histories for each of the characters. Unfortunately, I tend to get quite wordy & overly imaginative when I am creating "fiction". So while I loved the process & felt it was going to add a lot of depth to the game, the players weren't nearly as thrilled as I was by it. Since the players were all friends & more forgiving, I will probably cut out the lengthy characters background if I run it as an open game at a convention.

Evil Hat Productions logo

I did buy the Spirit of the Century rules (only $15 in PDF), & even if you ignore the RPG part of it, it contains loads of ideas for scenarios, characters, villains, etc. I thought the best part of the rules for wargamers was the 50+ page section on how to design & GM a pulp adventure. This part was invaluable to my final game design. It covered the importance of keeping the pacing fast enough for a pulpy feel, suggestions of when & how to endanger the players to motivate them toward the end-game, etc. Evil Hat could probably excerpt just this section & sell it on it's own as a GM aid.

Master Plan podcast

Ryan Macklin, GM of the Spirit of the Century game I played in, also ended up having an indirect influence on my final game. He has a podcast, called Master Plan, about game design. It mainly focuses on RPGs, but since it's about the design process, instead of any specific RPG system, a lot of what he covers can apply to designing any kind of game, including wargames. If you're working on your own game, I'd recommend his podcast since he covers everything from effective playtesting, designers block, becoming too invested in a "cool" game mechanic, etc.

The battle rages below as Mister E "monologues" from the platform

So, overall, I thought the game went well & the players enjoyed themselves. I was very pleased with how well the paper buildings worked out from the Virtual Armchair General's Mean Sets line. Unfortunately, using the We Could be Heroes rules by Task Force Productions didn't go so well. The rules weren't suited to this kind of game, & seemed a bit dice heavy in places. But they do have some interesting game mechanics that I like & I still hope to try them again with more balanced forces. & I found that the Heroclix range from Wizkids has some great figures for pulp style games. Hopefully, I'll get around to actually writting up the battle report some time soon.

NOTE: Spirit of the Century RPG cover & Evil Hat Logo used in this post are copyrighted by Evil Hat Productions and used with their permission. Master Plan logo used with permission.

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