Odd, Unusual and Unexpected – Learning As I Play

Last nights game was the second in our new horror/sci-fi game and one that had me learning the entire night!  We are running the game in the Cypher system and I have used the Stars Without Number system generation (as well as Silent Legions) to come up with a beautiful system in which the players will expand into.  Last night I remembered to take my Storypath Cards with me and they turned the game completely around from what I was expecting.  I am uncertain that there was a point in the entire game where I knew what was going to happen except for the first forty seconds where I did a game recap.

A Synopsis of the Game

I had been talking to a friend over the week and expressing the concept that I was still a bit unsteady with my target numbers in the game.  The first game would have been a Total Party Kill (TPK) had my antagonist not fled the scene at the peak of her victory.  My friend then highlighted to me that I don’t use Cyphers much, which is true, and they are built into the game to be the leveller.  So again I went on the path of wanting to introduce some into the game to help the players finally finish the job on the antagonist.  So the game started, I reaffirmed the situation and then the horror cards started to be played from the players from Storypath!

Smells of a charnel house washed the room as they found evidence of pustulent hairless creatures dead in the vents.  That was the summation of the first wave of cards being played!  I had not seen that coming but rolled with it and incorporated it.  The psion of the group wanted to check the communications logs and so I carefully described these odd devices attached to the computer (a bunch of cyphers ripe for the picking) and they were promptly ignored so they could check the computer.  A brief success got them the logs and then a natural one and a free intrusion saw those logs destroyed along with the Personal Assistance Device (PAD) that was used to get it.  A system alert happened and the group started to hear things in the vents come to life.

At this point, I again reiterated those beautiful cyphers and again they were promptly ignored for the rush to the elevator as swarms of crab-like robots came from the vents in response to the security breach.  The party hit the button for the ground as they were seeking to make it back to their own ship and get off the space station before the leader of the she-wolves could stop them.  But it is time for another intrusion…  The elevator jams in the shaft.  Fear grips the group who is badly beaten and now stuck.  To make things worse dozens of the crab-like robots start attacking the elevator.  One of the players seeks to get the elevator moving again and discovers that the robots are hostile.  He decides instead of getting on top of the elevator that it is best to just try and jury rig the panel.  Another player has the ability to jury rig electronic devices and so spends his time creating an EMP to take out the robots.  Another player points out that he is half cybernetic and that would be an awful idea.

One EMP later they are rid of the crab-like robot problem and have a malfunctioning cybernetic character to deal with.  Players get onto the roof of the elevator for a further wave of cards to hit the table.  One takes away a characters double (he is an alien that exists as two individuals) and another card causes that same player to be gripped wholly by fear as they find the wall of the elevator shaft appears to be a flesh-like substance that is bleeding from the elevator as it slowly scrapes against it on the descent.  It gets worse as they hit the bottom of the shaft and it opens onto a lobby where a ritual is being conducted and they are attacked by a tentacled thing that happens to be the other part of the character that went missing above.

Awesome art is from http://generator1stfloor.blogspot.com/

Long story short, they kill the other part of the character (it gets created again after a time of convalescence) and finally manage to bring down the antagonist (and I gave them some Cyphers!).  They were trying to sacrifice the being that has two hearts that beat as one in a strange ritual to some dark force that was unknown.  The warrior is badly maimed and loses an eye (a result of the cards) before they free themselves from the situation and make it back to the ship where they have a debrief, decide to cleanse the station of biological life and then move on.

What I Expected of the Game

I had arrived under the expectation that the players would make their way back to the ship pretty quickly with a brief struggle with some of the underlings of the she-wolves and then make their way either to the planet or the moon for the session.  As you can see from the above synopsis, I did a lot of learning in the game last night.  In fact, games like that are the reason I love to be the Games Master in things.  The cards drove a lot of the change to the plans but the players also were not ready to let the space station go.  The cards enabled them to add so much to the story and in fact, it was more from those cards that tension arose.  It was a good game and one that has left me quite proud.  But then again I now have to update the Wiki with things that will sound odd.  The “reverse pooping” that took away the other half of a character is one of the things that I am loath to find the words to.

The player asked when his characters other half was reformed after death if they still had the memories of what happened on the elevator when they went missing.  I advised they did and said that at the point the player was investigating the flesh wall and had their back to their double a large fleshy tentacle came down the shaft from above and swallowed up the character through a sphincter-like muscle.  It then got termed the “reverse pooping” for the rest of the night.  I look forward to putting that on the Wiki.

Anyhow, the game is going strong.  There was a lot of focus while the cards were hitting the table and I am looking forward to the next game eagerly.  They have decided to go to the moon as they found a fair bit of communication between it and the space station in the logs.  I have a good idea of what is on the moon base and the situation at the refuelling station so can’t wait to play again!  keep rolling!



  1. It was quite an enjoyable if very unusual session. The cards added a whole new element to the game, it was like nothing I have experienced before and I look forward to our next instalment.


  2. I’m aware this is entirely unrelated to this publication, but in your previous writing, The Serpent People of Skiterborne Swamp, you had wrote about the Band of the Asp. It states that “When this is the case the wearer of the ring may control up to 5 HD of snakes, or reptiles” I was wondering what HD meant in this situation. Thanks.


    1. HD is Hit Dice – the number of dice you roll to get a creatures hit points. So if a snake rolls 1d8 to get its hit points it has one HD. If it rolls 2d8 it has 2HD – someone could control 5 1 HD snakes or 3 1 HD and 1 2 HD snakes and so on.


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