Last night saw the first game of our Cypher System powered sci-fi/horror game. I was pleased to finally get it to the table and also enjoyed seeing what the players had made of their characters. The game was a bit loose around the edges and we need to be a bit more focused long term while we are playing. That aside, I think that the night went well and we all had a good night with the game. One of the players fell ill at the end of the night so I am hoping he is OK and he at least had a fun time for most of the night.
Things that went well
The theme is something that interests the players. I am also trying not to play to its tropes on a large scale. The player characters are cautious as they see things that are described are not quite right. But then when they get into a circumstance they are surprised by it. Last night the players entered a space station that was around three-quarters complete. Once they got inside one of the players was surprised that it was brightly lit and new. I suppose, with the style of game it is, he was expecting it to be dark, flashing lights and in poor repair. I altered other things to give the mood. For example, there was a complete absence of signage and any icons. To find their way forward they had to experiment.
Of course off the beaten path, in sealed rooms, the horror was there. A room made of pieces of a destroyed ship. The room sealed as a vacuum containing the ashes of a crew that spray across the players when they open it. A clan of she-wolf human hybrids are truly the rulers of the space station, hiding behind the cold eyes of their robot automatons. The balance was good and I was pleased with the preparation that I have put together for it. Remember, the details of the setting and game can be viewed at my other site as the players explore. I have updated it this morning and I hope that the players add their own material over time.
Things that did not go as I wanted
I play at a town half an hour away and when I come out of work it is a rush to get changed and get there on time. Last night was no different and I need to remember to get my stuff together prior to going to work. There are two things that I want to use extensively through this game that I forgot last night. The first of these is an addition to the game that adds real flavour to the storytelling of it. We have used these before in our Conan game and they are Storypath cards which I wrote about here. They add an element of the unknown to a game for myself and puts power in the players’ hands to shape the story they want to see. I can not forget these next time!
The other thing is I forgot a tool that I use often in the creation of my non-player characters (NPC’s). I have a set of cards that give me one-word personality aspects that allow me to create rich NPC’s. The cards are called Short-Order Heroes and again they help me to learn through play in the game. I had designed the NPC’s from a physical and purpose perspective but I had not added personality detail. I had left space for it on the sheet and then when I got to the game I realised that I had left the cards behind! It meant the characters were a little flatter than I would have liked. I have added that detail to the wiki though so I can use it later.
A good start. the game flowed pretty well and the players began to feel out each others characters. I feel that there is a good mixture of player characters. At a glance I thought there may be some double up but not in reality. Plus, many of the characters have a serious flaw to them which will enable me to use that in the design of the game. I can rely on certain reactions because of these flaws and that can be used to design.
I am looking forward to our next game in a weeks time! Let me know what you think about the game in the comments and keep rolling!