here, 2nd session here.
With a catch-all RPG that heeds no warning about genre boundary restrictions, as well as, pick and choose what you like from the thousands of books, movies, and tv shows that have ever been made, you've got a gonzo recipe for something disastrously awesome... or awesomely disastrous. In a game like EC, there's no one looking over your shoulder telling you what to include, what to leave out, how far is too far, etc. Similarly, there's no one to tell you, "Hey, look out for that oncoming truck!"
Not all gaming groups are alike. Mine has had to deal with me for quite awhile. For the most part, I'm fast, flexible, and willing to risk utter game collapse if it means the table might laugh instead of groan... or just walk out (no one's done that yet).
Anyway, I was getting to a point a paragraph or two ago. What was it...? Oh yeah, the dichotomy of too much and yet too little material. When almost anything can be included, the creative center of the brain can feel overwhelmed. Luckily, Joachim Heise tagged me in a post about a mysterious map of Illithid communists and Catholic schoolgirl shenanigans. I felt like challenging myself to incorporate this weirdness into our EC game. After all, why not?
Before the game, I tried my best to come up with a marriage between commie Illithids and what I thought was the lamest/best premise for an adventure. Namely, Uncle Sal's Bikini Shop was in dire financial straights. Unfair regulations were killing Sal's business and all because Senator Maximilian Deekstrung was forcing the Bikini Shop to go bankrupt so the Senator's son could buy it for a song.
Along the way, they encountered a trio of Space Guild Assassins. Didn't take too long before they were creatively dispatched. Although, before they were all finished off, I said to myself that one of them should have a mutation of his own to make things more interesting. Would you believe, I also rolled "Magic Birthmark Companion (50% odds of evil)! And yes, I then rolled low enough to make the little sucker evil. That birthmark thing had its own tiny laser which it blasted in the face of the NPC slave/hypnosis victim the party were using to do some of their dirty work.
Before the session, I detailed Joachim's map, with a sentence or two for each room or area of interest. Store rooms, guard rooms, a piranha spawning pool, worship room decorated with a giant wooden Cthulhu Jesus - two characters worshiped Cthulhu and pleaded with the Warlock to clone it and shrink it down so each could wear it around their neck. Did I mention the Illithid ninja? Yeah, there were a lot of those. A few PCs took some damage, but healing is relatively easy. Robodroid repair should have been as well, but Lobstertron 500 doesn't worry about bullshit like that.
And... that's how he got blown up. This was towards the end of the session. He failed his save, went down to negative hit points, and then failed his survival roll. The lizardman rolled a zero one on his percentile roll for machine friend (which doubled as Robodroid repair, we assumed). All fixed up and ready to use his mechanical lobster claws to destroy those who would oppose him. BTW, there was a routine machine friend roll to transform his laser scalpel back into a lightsaber - natural 100. Not only was his lightsaber permanently a laser scalpel, but it did 1d6 damage to him as he attempted to convert it back. Those who play and Journey Master EC (along with similar games) live for the times when a critical success or failure occurs, respectively. Those are the moments when making up shit is given carte-blanche, encouraged by the rest of the table, in fact!
Before the session ended, the PCs encountered a Unicorn Cyclops Shark (too much Mountain Dew or just enough?). They were going to use monster friend and bypass it when I decided to become the laziest and most voyeuristic Journey Master ever as the Unicorn Cyclops Shark told them, in lieu of nothing, "Don't take my magical horn!" The PCs, after a solid minute of laughter, couldn't chop that thing's horn off fast enough. Turns out, it was basically a wand of purification.
[Sigh] Wow, that was a lot of stuff. 4 hours of gonzo gaming that pretty much felt like a scifi-fantasy-pulp choose your own adventure spliced with a post-apocalypse comic book with balls, penises, and vaginas penciled into the margins. Adolescent fun, logistical nonsense, and a hilarious romp in the Romulan Champagne Room!
Lessons learned? Hmmm... let's see. My normal GMing attitude is "just go with the flow", but times that by 3 for RPGs like Encounter Critical. Attune yourself to what the players are doing, thinking, feeling, expecting, dreading, etc. Don't always cater to them; it's fun to have things go against the PCs. Keep your interpretation hat on at all times. As the GM, you'll be expected to have some kind of answer or make a swift ruling - but also feel free to ask the players what they think. A few will volunteer something totally awesome - even if it doesn't benefit them.
Can this kind of "anything goes" be inserted into your current RPG du jour? Is the new guy wearing Transformer pajamas (Deceptions, I rolled "evil") because one of the Space Guild Assassins was bringing it back as a gift for his son and you made your Happenstance roll? Sure, why not?
Hope you enjoyed this half as much as we enjoyed playing it.