Wednesday, August 9, 2017

RPGaDAY 2017 #9

From the #RPGaDAY2017 challenge (info here):

[as I'm starting this thing a little late, I shall be doubling up on my daily posts until I catch up. Early posts will be post-dated to the date they were originally supposed to appear]

What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Ten sessions? That's a tough one. And it depends on a lot of factors: how long are these sessions we're talking about? Short, two hour sessions? Or those eight hour marathons sessions we used to play on the weekends in our youth?

Do the ten sessions include prep between sessions? Are we allowed pre- and post-game maintenance phases a la Ars Magica or Pendragon? Are players familiar with the system that's being played? Is this one of those games where you have to kill an entire session just to create characters for the game?

There are a lot of games that can be adapted to this kind of "mini-series" format, but they won't always provide satisfying gameplay. Some RPGs, like Dungeons & Dragons, only show their true strengths over long-term play. Some RPGs, like Ron Edward's Sorcerer, can't be drawn out past three or four sessions without feeling contrived and over-long. Even Call of Cthulhu begs for a shorter time period...if half the group isn't insane after five or six sessions, your GM isn't doing it right.

However, tough as it is, JB does have an answer that least if it was ME that had to run a ten (and only ten) game session. And that answer is The Hunters Hunted from White Wolf.

No, I don't mean that big orange monstrosity they put out in 1999; that was Hunter: the Reckoning, and it helped make a game line (World of Darkness) that was already a little too super heroic even more so (to my chagrin as a fan). In fact, even though I stopped insanely collecting every WW book and supplement about the time of the original Wraith ("the Oblivion") it was the publication of Hunter: the Reckoning which caused me to turn my back on the whole WoD game line (I had still been picking up the occasional Black Dog imprint for Vampire). Ugly.

Nope, I'm talking about the original VtM supplement written by Bill Bridges and published in 1992. At under 90 pages it provided pretty much everything you needed to create and run a Hunter campaign, in the classic vampire horror story style (think Fright Night, Salem's Lot, Bram Stoker, etc.). It's quite good, for what it is, and it's absolutely perfect for a short-term series, whether you want to play over-the-top (Buffy, Blade) or something darker and more grim. Ten sessions is plenty of time for a group of would-be hunters to chase down the handful of vamps (or coterie of mages or clan of werewolves...whatever) inhabiting a medium-sized city.

THIS one! Yes, it's scary...scary fun!
And ten sessions is great for the type of development that occurs in the standard Vampire game (characters start out relatively proficient, and won't grow to super heroic proportions in ten sessions...especially mortals who lack vampiric disciplines). Unlike other systems (Palladium, D20 Modern) there's no pressure to "level up," as there are no levels. Yeah, the short time frame of the saga won't be a hindrance to character advancement in HH.

I've only had the opportunity to run a Hunters Hunted saga once...and (if I remember correctly) it was the last time I ran any World of Darkness game (I ran WW games through the end of high school and all through college...a good five or six years, at least). My main player wanted to try a WoD game, but "didn't want to play a monster;" a Hunters game seemed like the obvious choice. While we had a great time, he decided he wanted to switch to a standard vampire after the first couple of sessions...the overall vibe of playing a mortal had been a little too freaky/scary for him. Too bad, really (especially as we never got back to VtM, switching instead to 3rd Edition D&D), because I had really been grooving on the whole thing. Unleashed my inner Crypt Keeper or something.
; )

I've often thought of dusting off Ye Old Hunters Hunted and rewriting it with a B/X chassis (perhaps using elements of Beyond the Supernatural), but I just haven't had the heart to do so. Bridges wrote a fine little supplement for Vampire. It's one White Wolf game I wouldn't mind running again.

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