A brief recap of the bad times I had at conventions, getting really close at completing a record of all the times I’ve roleplayed. I could call this “It sucked every time I didn’t play Call of Cthulhu.”
These were all at the aforementioned comic cons at Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina. It was called Leyendas and doesn’t exist anymore; in its place there’s another one called Crack Bang Boom, which I think it’s managed by some, but not all, of the same people as before. My previous Leyendas-related entry was Cthulhu: My first time roleplaying, and to see about my other roleplaying experiences you can read Toon: All the times I couldn’t get it to work and Cthulhu, again (and again): The RPG that never let me down by me, and Cold Soldier in La Plata by Ron. Luckily for length purposes, I don’t remember much from these. So this one’ll be database-entry style, in as much cronological order as I can manage.
Legend Of The Five Rings: It was a heavily railroaded adventure, with pregenerated characters, but some interesting combat. It was my second time roleplaying, the day after Cthulhu. Most guys and girls in the group knew each other beforehand and were used to playing with one another. I actually got along really well with them, but in retrospect they had this very obvious, not-going-to-talk-about-it interpersonal drama, as I’ve seen once and again over the years in some closed, “alternative” groups – whether it’s anime and manga fans, goth kids, online gamers, that… thing of “be our friend, we’ll be this freaky despised secret elite and it’ll be glorious, also I kissed your girlfriend because the rules of society don’t apply to us”. Anyway, back to the point but a bit among those lines, what I remember about the game it’s that when our characters camped, one of the players whispered something to the GM. I think he was the character that we had chosen to be on guard, and the GM didn’t tell us anything but I guess the character… stole something? Hurt someone? We were supposed to be fantasy asian warriors of different clans, and some of them were supposed to be rival clans. We were in a mission to… I don’t remember, travelling through the desert, but some powerful NPC had came from a battlefield and given us a scroll and some orders. The other players mentioned he was a VIP and when I asked what was that, they told me it was a “canon” character, from the stories that accompanied the game.
Two cherries on the top about this: When I left I forgot my backpack, and when I got back and got it the GM “jokingly” told me he had almost stole it from me, because it was literally under his own backpack and it couldn’t be seen. Also, there was a bit on the adventure about some flower with special properties that grew on a swamp… The GM had even accepted great praise from the other players for coming up with it, and its surrounding plot. As the greatest coincidence ever, when I got back to La Plata a few days later, I was telling my father about the game and accidentally knocked off some old comic books from his bookshelf. When I picked them up I saw an old 1970s sword and sorcery adventure with the same plot, mysterious flower on the swamp and all. I couldn’t believe it. The GM, versed in comics, had lifted the plot verbatim from an adventure of the sumerian warrior wanderer Nippur de Lagash, knowing that none of his friends would ever touch an Argentine comic in their lives.
Paranoia: Actually I had a pretty good time! This tale goes with the theme of me not respecting what I promess in the title, like the “Cthulhu never fails” post opening with one time it totally did. I had read SO MUCH about this game, and was very eager to try it. It wasn’t the greatest thing ever, but as we’ve discussed on the comments of the posts about Toon and Dungeon World (Toon: All the times I couldn’t get it to work, A Session of Dungeon World), it was random enough, and really funny. It makes a great contrast with the LO5R experience, because here we were almost “doomed” to betray each other, get killed by the computer, fail in increasingly funny ways, etcetera. A fun mess. As I recall we all got secret personal objectives to go with the main mission (related to…, was it resealing a part of the complex that had opened itself up to the outer world and nature?), all related to various mutant or secret groups we were part of. That made the behaviour of the other players also unpredictable. As I stated on the comments of the Dungeon World post, I’d wager Costikyan’s designs lend themselves pretty well to generating surprise, but surprise is only half of humor.
WEG Star Wars: As I recall, we never could get past the first combat of the session, against droids in a hallway. Zero character development. All strategy and aiming and positioning, and not of the I’ll-be-clever-and-affect-things kind, just the roll-forever kind. I was really dissapointed because all I had heard about this game was praise, even warnings against playing newer versions.
Aquelarre: Actually, Aquelarre and another one more game as well, but I can’t remember the other. I have them both mixed up because they were gamemastered by the same guy. Even though I played them a year apart, both times the table was populated by random people plus the GM’s best friend, whose character got to be the protagonist of the story and get all the best stuff happen to him. I seem to remember one final scene that was in a sort of gladiatoral arena. After the fight had ended, my character the bard had the option to go make out with some hot chicks. I declined. The GM didn’t get it. His friend had gotten, I dunno, weapons and treasure. Every character was getting something, but what would I, as a player, get out of having my character be succesful with the ladies? It seemed so lame and it reminded me of the stuff I read about in the Forge, and to be fair probably Costikyan videogame design writings as well, that it makes no sense to give a player an in-fiction “reward” that doesn’t mean anything to him or her in real life – a reward for the character, not the player. The other thing I remember about that game is that I got bored halfway through, left to see Quique Alcatena draw autographed illustrations for the fans, and got back an hour later for the final battle. Accompany me in letting go of bad game experiences and marvel at how awesome Alcatena is:
And that’s it. A while ago I figured that, since I had so little experience on the whole in roleplaying, I could make the effort to have it all written down, and see what I can reflect upon – what comes up. Next time I’ll wrap up this little project of mine by covering the times I tried to play at home with “no system”. Thoughts and questions welcome, though I acknowledge I’m totally lacking on details – this may be little more than cathartic, but valuable for me nonetheless.