Saturday, July 11, 2015

No Escape from New York playtest


It felt good to be back at the table.  Two months is a long time to be away,

I think we did Crimson Dragon Slayer day proud.  Four established gaming amigos and a new guy joined me as we played the game of games!

I opened with a bang.  Their characters entered a parallel universe New York, circa 1983 via magical portal.  A sky-drone chased them through the Ultra Zone and into a salvage yard.  A dark urban nightmare was the only escape for those four humanoids and an ice cream truck wizard.  Wait a minute, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Each player rolled randomly on the name generator table, so prepare yourself.  Here's the list of characters...

Emerald Ice, a reptilian ranger.  He was a plumber before playing the Crimson Dragon Slayer video game for the Commodore 64, put out by Infravision.

Death Ultra, another reptilian, this one a warrior.  He used to be a realtor.

Celestial Sun Nomad, dwarven warrior, formerly a banker.

Crimson Thunder, an ice cream truck wizard (I'll explain momentarily).  He used to be an ice cream truck driver.  Go figure!

Obsidian Solar Skull, human thief who was and is currently a salvage yard owner/operator.

So, the guy playing Crimson Thunder wanted to play a robot.  He also rolled randomly on the career table and got a result of "ice cream driver".  I mentioned how that profession always reminded me of Phantasm.  A brief discussion of the film ensued.  The player knows how gonzo I like things and knows that I know how gonzo he can be as well.  From there, we take an evolutionary leap where he asks if it would be too far-out for him to play an actual ice cream truck.  Yes, absolutely that would be alright by me, I said.

It took a couple minutes to work out the details.  They remained loose enough for us to change things a bit as I described the set-up: the characters running for their lives because a red electric eye was shooting disintegrating laser beams at anything that moved.  Crimson Thunder is about to be blasted into atoms when he fires off a hail-Mary polymorph spell on himself - sending his consciousness into a nearby truck used for selling all manner of frozen treats.

My only familiarity with real world New York City is driving past the exit on my way to somewhere else over a decade ago.  However, I've seen plenty of movies and TV shows.  Doesn't even matter because this isn't the real New York.  Instead, it's the New York from my dirty, grimy, slimy, sleazy, rat-infested subconscious.  A place borne of the following exploitation: Escape from New York, The Fall of New York, The Warriors, and what I remember reading about 42nd street back in the day.

With a few firm details and a list of possible encounters, I begin weaving the adventure.  At times it's on track; occasionally the paper-thin veneer is showing, reinforcing the idea that anything is possible because most of this is coming out of my ass.  I'm grabbing whatever fruit happens to be laying on the ground and making fruit salad.  And why not?  It's all for fun.  The laughter is just as much a part of the session as the objective, considering the roleplaying medium used - find the Prince of New York and find out what the fuck he wants.

There are subterranean crazies, a hot dog cart run by Snake Plissken, bat-men riding giant bat creatures (isn't that like cannibalism, someone asks), a tentacled creature guarding a magic sword in a sewer (the former plumber reptilian ranger says, a lot of times when your toilet's plugged up, it's one of these guys), and a battle royale involving several crazy costumed gangs all vying for the chance to become the next New York Prince.

But the most priceless line of the game was this, "No one runs Chuck Norris over with an ice cream truck... until now.  Let's see him round-house that!"  Hey, at least they saved Chuck Norris' ashes after being zapped by a triple-damage Purple Lightning spell.  Wear it around your neck, spray a little Sex Panther cologne, and you're good to go.

Yeah, it was a crazy game.  This rough sketch of an adventure will eventually become the next official Crimson Dragon Slayer mini-module.  Look for it in September.

VS

p.s.  One of my secrets to playtesting is to go into that initial session under-prepared.  This forces me to come up with stuff on the fly, fill in the gaps, and allow the adventure to go where it wants organically and without my forcing it into a certain direction.

By the second session, it has more direction.  I kind of know what I want, what I'm going for, and how to reach that destination.