Thursday, 23 August 2012

Welcome To The Broken City

Amongst my nerdy interests, which are many and varied, is pen and paper RPGs - you know, Dungeon and Dragon-style games with weird shaped dice, impenetrable rulebooks and incomprehensible character sheets. My love for these games grew out of my teenage years spent playing Games Workshop's miniature war games, but I was always looking for more ways to include depth and story in the game, and role-playing games were the natural route.

Like many before me, Dungeons and Dragons was my first introduction to the world of RPGs, but it wasn't until I picked up the Buffy the Vampire Slayer game by Eden Studios that the story-telling possibilities of the games became clear. More importantly, I found some friends who were equally interested in using the games as a mechanic to tell stories, rather than a race to the highest level and the biggest treasure.

I've played RPGs and run them over the years, and thoroughly enjoyed being on both sides of the table. For those completely unfamiliar with the concept, one person (called the games-master or something similar) plans out a scenario for the rest of the players to tackle. Each person has a single character that they play, who will change and develop over time, apart from the GM, who portrays everyone else that the group may encounter, from enemies to allies.

My latest attempt at running a game is The Broken City, using White Wolf's World of Darkness system, and more specifically their Mage: The Awakening game. My players' characters are all residents of London who have suddenly developed magical, reality bending powers and find themselves being drawn into the secret mystical underworld of the city, which is rife with gang war, treachery and betrayal. So far, I've run 5 sessions (we play every fortnight for about 4 hours) and between them, my players have managed to scorch their eyebrows off, accidentally cause a localised hail-storm, super-accelerate a raccoon, have an acid trip and repeatedly hit one of the supporting characters (who, if you remember, is played by me). It's been a good start.

The game is a little different to my usual style because I'm leaving the plot super-loose. Most games I've run have worked a bit like TV shows, with individual games containing complete adventures but also contributing to longer arcs. This game is going to operate a bit more like a sandbox-style video game. I've put a lot of work into building my alternate vision of London, and there are plenty of stories out there to be found, but I'm leaving it a lot more in the hands of the players. Their interest will drive the direction of the plot more than any game I've run before, so there's a lot more of a collaborative dynamic at play.

I'm aiming to write regularly about the game, hopefully avoiding spoilers if any of my players decide to read this, detailing the thoughts and work I've put into building the game world and retelling any interesting events from the games as they unfold.

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