Tuesday, December 01, 2009

How Long Will the Batteries Last?

(There may be some small spoilers for Zombie Run)

Savage Worlds Game Night is Falling on all the Holiday Weekends. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years.

I read a lot of gaming Blogs and I listen to a number of Gaming Podcasts. One thing I've picked up is that the Holidays are a major destroyer of the regular role playing game. I'm experiencing something different. The Games all around the Holidays are falling apart, but the games that fall on the week of the holiday are working out.

I really enjoy the surprises I get when acting as GM.

This session revolved around the need to shut down the Nuclear Power Plant in Palo Verde. Tiring of keeping track of Allies, I sent the party in by themselves. Storytelling-wise there were others with them. When it came down to putting the figs on the map on the table, it was just the characters.

The control room had two bad guys for every good guy plus one.

My wife is playing a wannabe goth. Her character dresses the part, but her perky meter goes to eleven—and she's always looking for storybook romance.

She did something completely unexpected. She burst into the control room, with the injured engineer on her back, playing the part of confused valley girl. She exploded her persuasion dice and moved the entire room from hostile to helpful and the very people that were there to stop them from shutting down the reactor, ended up fixing the coolant system—leaving the party safe and sound and hidden (save the Perky Goth and Nuclear Engineer).

So the next thing would have been handled better if I was a more experienced GM. There were two planned zombie encounters for the evening's game. The first was just a possibility and the party dodged the zombies when scavenging.

The second was a group of zombies in the radioactive core that would be encountered when they needed to enter the core to repair the coolant system. Except the Perky Goth convinced the Bad Guys to Go into the Core.

I didn't want to just make up what happened in the core, so I started to Roll it out. Playing the part of the Villains and the Zombies. Luckily someone reminded me that I could have the players take on the part of the NPCs for that part of the session. A more experienced GM would have just done that instinctively.

I've heard that advice on the Podcasts and in the Blogs, but I was always a little wary of letting the players control the NPCs. Contextually it worked and was appropriate, I just wish I had come up with it.

Also, Brandon bombed a stealth roll sneaking out. I realized after I told them to roll that I shouldn't have done so, because I wasn't willing to play out the consequences (It was late and time to wrap up the session)—so I let it slide a little and let the Bad Guys hear him, but they didn't see him to pursue him.

So, to summarize what I learned this session.

1) I keep saying this, but it is a constant that never ceases to amaze me. Gamers will solve the problem in amazing ways you never considered, even if the outcome of said action was a small possibility. I knew that they could possibly talk the Bad Guys into Helping rather than hindering, I never expected it to happen—let alone in the manner in which they did so.

2) Lone-wolfing is Bad—if you find yourself in that situation, hand the NPCs over to the players.

3) Only have players roll the dice when you are willing to play out the consequences (Good or Bad). Corollary : if you need things to go a certain way—don't rely on the dice, just tell the story.


  1. I have to find out why the town council wants the power off. It is driving my character crazy. The town council must be controlled by the cats. Stupid spy cats.

  2. I agree with your 3 lessons learned.
    I would like to have left things a little better at the power plant in case we have to return, but like you said it was getting late.
    I had fun!!!