Take chances, make mistakes, get messy

This is about a game we played last fall for six or seven sessions, maybe more, using my ongoing modification of Legendary Lives that I’m calling Whimsical Ways. Play concerned the misadventures of these characters:

  • Plop, the Big Ideas Ooze – played by Joy
  • [the orb] Space Wizard – played by Denica
  • Thirteen, the Killer Robot – played by Emil, note: no relation to the same Type/Race/Name played by Helma in an earlier game
  • Brizyc, the Bugfolk prophet – played by Helma [including the lead image]
  • Shaal, the Naga Divine – played by Nathan

To repeat slightly from the video, I found myself doing way too much canoodling and placing things during play so the characters could “meet,” with not enough prior context to act upon, too much telling people “you know this person, here’s how your lifelines connect” during play … my circles-and-arrows notes among the character sheets’ content are what you’re supposed to do, but it needs to be a single step prior to play, not as an improvised “get them together fake-emergent forced plot moments” play-process.

I forgot to mention that once we were all playing together, the story began on a galley traversing the dubious seas in the northeast part of the map, in the overlap between the imperial villagers and barbarian villagers.

The fortress I mentioned was located on the north side of that island with the mountain.

Players gave it their all, especially Joy’s first time playng with a big group for multiple sessions. Poor Plop … well, at least he drowned all those romanic sorrows in a bid to find Truth in forbidden science. The good side of it is undeniable: that they were game for anything, happy to embrace the whimsicality, and willing to develop any relationship or other content. The combats were outstanding and bonkers.

The strong moments arose from circumstantial mash-ups of relationship crisis + opportunities + spectacular failures/successes. In this case, the primary intersection lay in weird metaphysics, as the orb’s magic specialized in Depth defined however it needs to be, Plop lost no opportunities to create Abominations, and Thirteen’s origin included a strange murder in a dream. Whether I “made” it all “work together,” I can’t say, but I can say it all went into the same blender, and as usual for this game, any profile of successes and failures at such moments definitely makes big changes.

Here’s Denica’s orb and the current magic rules, which couldn’t have been developed without this weird scary romantic causing all the trouble it did.

Honorable mention goes as well to Bryzic’s backstory, in which his enemy was rolled up to be his outlawed mother-in-law who was pissed-off about a treasure she considered hers, plus the relationship with the daughter having failed due to a misunderstanding. I found this irresistible so the captain of the pursuing warship was of course this very mother-in-law, named Zatki, and I swear that events of play, no fakery needed to arrive at this picture I’d found, did in fact plant an arrow in her hat, shot by Bryzic, which did nothing to improve her opinion of him.

The difficult side that it was more about in-the-moment pushback, less about intuitive character play

Finally, here’s that new Action Result Table that I mentioned. You have a number for any skill you’re using, which is the column on the left, then roll d100 and see how well you do.

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2 responses to “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy”

  1. I wanted to say that I really enjoyed hearing/reading about the ooze and the orb. I’ve pretty much always been the guy that just plays a human in fantasy games. Fantasy species rarely excite me with one exception: formless blobs.

    My first chance to play such a thing was at a convention in my mid-teens. I had signed up to play “Teenagers From Outer Space.” I had no contact with either that game or its anime roots and I think I was under the mistaken impression that it was some B-Movie sci-fi thriller game. So, I was a little surprised when it turned out to be more of a high-school drama about actual teenagers from outer space.

    We got to make our own characters and I built a hyper-intelligent version of a Tribble from Star Trek. I had an incredible amount of fun playing an obnoxious know-it-all ball of fur. I remember the GM even complimenting me on my ability to pull off such a strange character concept.

    Decades later I got to play a shapeshifting ooze in a short-lived Battlelords of the 23rd Century game. Recently, I got irrationally excited that the new D&D 5e Spelljammer book added a Plasmoid race although I have yet to play one.

    Anyway, there is little more to this post than to enthuse about orb and ooze players!

    • You’re not alone! Ross is probably jostling you for first in line to roll one of these to play.

      Both Denica and Joy embraced their characters’ oddities, including marking out the orb’s meridians to represent hit locations and usng suitable verbs for all of Plop’s motions and actions. But the main thing was the deep troubled romance inside each of them. For example, when Plop realized his ex-lover Eww had traded up (as Joy called it) to become the ship captain’s paramour – and took an unexpectedly symbolic wound to the “chest!” – that’s when he went full Monty on his Big Ideas Type and started crafting Abominations everywhere.

      Oozy Victor Frankenstein: it does seem your sort of thing.

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