Monday, December 28, 2009

How Deep?—Two Hundred Feet! That's Like a 20 Storey Building!!

===For Those Not In My Gaming Group===
===Possible Zombie Run Spoilers Ahead===

Zombie Run is Still going on, and we actually had a great game the day after Christmas. I expected no one (except my wife of course) and I got four players, and it was good group.

I worry about Brandon running the game off the rails. Mostly because I like the prepared material that is laid out in the Zombie Run Book; but also because of the ramifications of running the game off the rails. I could see the plan that Brandon was formulating—and frankly, If I let him take it that way, I could sense a Total Party Kill. I don't really want that.

I always think of a better way to railroad the party when it's too late. In game, I handled it clumsily. After the fact I realized that the answer was right in front of me and I missed it. They mentioned the library project that the city was working on, I could have shoehorned that in a little better. Oh Well. Hindsight I guess.

What I did for this session was an elaborate map exploration activity. The Zombie Run book has a lot of maps in it. but they aren't really suitable for printing to scale. So in the past I have printed the maps on a large format printer. This time I wanted to do something a little different. I didn't want to reveal the map all at once. So I printed it in pieces and as they explored the map I stuck them to the table using sticky-tack. I was meticulous in the manner in which I placed the pieces as well. If a hallway turned a corner, I didn't place the hallway down all at once. I had separate pieces for what was visible at the time. It was a little time consuming, but I think most of the players enjoyed it.

I admit to not ending the evening at 11 like I normally would do. Although there was some fun troubleshooting, decision making (they weren't really sure they wanted to go down that massive elevator shaft they discovered on the first floor—it was awfully deep), and exploration—there had not been an encounter. Just when I thought that they would skip the barracks, they barreled in. I admit that I botched the storytelling at this point as well because I forgot to wake the Zombies up when I was supposed to.

My wife cracks me up every time we have an encounter. I think she remembers the beginning of the Adventure vividly—back before any of them had decent weapons or skills to use such weapons. At this point, the only way I'm going to cause a character death with these Zombie is if I overwhelm them with numbers. When the encounter started, my wife desperately wanted to undo the opening of the door she opened—but when it got down to brass tacks she was the last one to jump in the hummer, she just had to run back and shoot a couple more before retreating to relative safety.

I should probably read the rulebook through again. There were some rules questions, and I just didn't want to take the time to check last night. Brandon was correct about holding action into the next round—but I can't find anything in the book that says one mini per square when using a grid.

I remembered that when we were playing the mall I certainly had multiple zombies in a square, I had decided that four would fit. Then in the previous session when I had zombies trying to beat down a door to reach a Spy (a spy our resilient survivors were trying to extract from enemy territory) I wasn't thinking about it and I had one zombie per square; after the fact when I was reflecting upon the session I realized that the zombies were unable to beat down the door as a result of one zombie per square. So I was going to move zombies in a manner that placed more than one zombie in a square and Brandon made up a rule (or rather—probably remembered a rule from some other game) about one fig per square. I relented—but I think I should have played the Game Master card in this case.

They still haven't explored the entire facility—so next session will pick up where we left off. I'm going to print a map of what they have explored thus far and then glue explored rooms to the map.

What I learned:

I need to instill into the players a sense of trust in me (as far as my rules knowledge goes) so that when a rule question arises, I can just make a ruling and we can go on. Even if I'm wrong, if we can avoid Rules Discussions and just continue with a ruling and keep things going, that would be the Ideal way to play in my mind.

One more thing. I brought up the fact that we will be playing Deadlands Reloaded after Zombie Run has come to an end. Brandon plans to buy Deadlands Reloaded. I asked him to not read the Marshall's (Game Master's) Section and he pretty much refused, and plans to read it. He says he can play like he hasn't read it—but honestly, the more I think about this, the more it bothers me. I really don't want him to read that section. I know he has Game Mastering in his blood, but I really want the secrets to be secrets. The Marshall's Section in Deadlands Reloaded is more than just Mechanics like in other Games and Savage Worlds Explorer's Edition. It's probably 95% Setting Information. There are things about the world of Deadlands that Most folks don't know, and I really don't want players knowing that information.


  1. I had fun playing! And I trustin your GM'ing skills and decision making authority. So go with your gut, don't let other more vocal folks influence you (even if it's me). = )
    You know I agree with you, that no one should read the GM guide to a game before we're going to play it, except the GM.

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