Once again, I am not sure how to describe what happened yesterday.
No, really, this was outside the normal range of oddities. Eric didn’t show up, and that didn’t seem to help keep things on track.
This is probably going to be a short post. This is for a few reasons. First, we didn’t accomplish much yesterday. Second, I don’t have much to talk about. Third, I am working on Necromunda minis, and really want to get back and paint them…
So what did we do? We chatted a lot. We got Jirimiah and Reese engaged in the banter. We got Jirimiah to laugh, a lot. We asked Jirimiah lots of questions about himself. In effect, we kept Jirimiah entertained for about five hours. He seemed to need that, a lot. You see, Jirimiah likes people. He likes interacting with people. We give him a specific type of “nothing seems to be off limits” type of people to interact with. Every time we think that we have hit some unspoken low bar that we should never go below, someone in the group finds a way to set the bar lower. It is all in good fun. At least, that is how I rationalize what I do.
I feel that running a game, I need to provide some level of ambiguity, and possibly questionable NPC’s. The normal “I am a mad serial killer, and I stabby stabby” kind of NPC bad guy isn’t lots of fun to play for long.
My NPC’s tend to be caricatures of real life. I tend to pull in the worst of people, and give some portion of that worst of all people into one NPC … OK, I tend to lump it all into the NPC.
Why just have the NPC be a mindless killer? You can have him be a racist bigot who has rationalized in his own mind why he is correct. I am not a bigot. At least, I don’t think I am. I have been around them. I spent 6 years in the Army, and believe me, there were some really fascinating people of every color, race, creed and sexual orientation in the Army.
I remember one guy in Basic Training. He was a dumbass. I mean true dumbass. He was a white guy from Texas named Hoffman. Now, we ended up finding out that while he associated himself with Texas, he had only lived there for a year before joining the Army. He was actually from New York.
Now it didn’t help that Hoffman also looked like a half Ork. I mean, really. If he had green skin, he would have been a perfect half Ork. He even had a funny nose that looked like he had been rooting around for truffles. His nose actually was pushed up kind of flat in front, looking like a pig snout, and he had a round face. Imagine Porky Pig. I am not making this shit up.
Needless to say, Hoffman was also white. He was a white supremacist. Well, he was a dumbass, a dumbshit and was generally stupid, but he also believed in the concept that white people were superior to all other subhuman races.
Hoffman would walk up to a black soldier and start telling him about how black people were marked with the Mark of Cain. You know Genesis 4:15…
And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
So according to Hoffman, all black people were descendants of Cain, who bore the mark by God, so that they would be seen from far away. QED, the descendants of Cain were black, so that white people would know that black people were branded by God.
Now this was the least irrational thing that Hoffman would say to a group of black soldiers. And he would say it with a shit eating grin on his face. I assume that it was a shit eating grin, it may have been more of a “I am white, and my white buddies are going to back me up if one of you makes a move at me”.
Well, if it was the second, assuming his white buddies would back him up, he was wrong. Always wrong. None of the white people ever backed him up as groups of black soldiers pounded him into the ground. We just looked at the black soldiers and tried to let them know that he wasn’t with us. The black soldiers would kick the crap out of Rawlins in the squad bay area, and no one lifted a finger to help him.
I remember trying to tell Hoffman that he should just keep his mouth shut. He didn’t understand. It was almost as though he was reinforcing his hatred for people with dark skin by being beat up. It may have been a vicious circle building on itself. Kind of a negative feedback loop.
I tried one time to explain to Hoffman that people in the middle east were dark skinned with dark hair. If God wanted to mark Cain and his descendants with a mark that could be seen from far away, he would have made them light skinned with blond hair. Because, that would not have fit in in the middle east.
Hoffman didn’t like that. Not at all. He told me that I was a “nigger lover” His words. Whatever love I have for any group of people not withstanding, the black soldiers who were within earshot of my comment decided that I may be pretty all right.
I ran into too many people in the Army who were racist. It wasn’t limited to white people who hated people of color, or specific religions, or specific sexual orientations, etc. I found out that every group of people is capable of holding hate for another group of people.
Note that I say “capable”. There were many fine people in the military. I chose to interact with them, and be friends with them. But you didn’t have to look too hard to find some group of people who associated with only “their kind”, be they black, white, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Korean, etc.
Thankfully, the people who lived this “in your face” view of my subgroup is superior to your subgroup was minimal. But there was always an undercurrent.
Anyhow, I like to flavor my NPC’s with some combination of “need to keep him alive” and “I want to kill him” It just so happens that I can also do a pretty good bubba southern guy voice, and the lifetime of observing racist assholes allows me lots of source material. Sometimes, I think I may go too far, but then… maybe not.
So where was I? What happened yesterday? Not much. I tried to get the adventure back on the rails, the other players tried to keep it off the rails.
That pretty much sums up the session. But then, that sums up just about every session I have ever played with this group. You see, we started out playing games by playing Toon. If I remember correctly, the first time that Collin, Shari, Mike and I played an RPG together, it was Toon. We have added Sue, Bill and Eric, but we are still playing an extended game of Toon. It doesn’t matter if we are playing Call of Cthulhu, GURPS, D&D, Pathfinder, etc, we are still playing a game of Toon.
Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it is important to understand. Maybe it isn’t important to understand, it just is. One of the things I have learned in my life is that some things just are. You shouldn’t spend a lot of time lamenting it, or even questioning it. Just accept it.
So what did the party do you ask…
Well, I tried to help the party learn something important about the town. They had what should taken five minutes took over two hours. They followed a group of armed men up the street. They go into the house, and disappear.
What the party is *supposed* to do is sneak up to the house, and listen to the small windows in the basement, and hear the people talking about how the Mayor is concerned about the Army people finding out about the experiments. And that is it. You know, building some tension in the story, setting up the next series of plot lines…
So what does the party want to do? Burn the house down.
You read that right. No provocation.
Burn the house down.
With everyone inside.
Yup. That about sums it up.
After a very long time at the table, I ask the different players to make intelligence rolls. You know, trying to get the train back on the tracks. Did it help? Not much.
Shari didn’t make her intelligence roll. Going around the table, only Collin rolled high enough to realize that “the panes of glass in the basement are single pane, and he knew from previous experiences that you can hear conversations easily through single pane glass. So he decides to sneak up and listen at the window. He rolls terribly, chips it and rolls terribly again, so all he hears is mumbling.
He goes back and reports to the rest of the party, and they decide the most appropriate thing to do is burn the house down with the bad guys inside.
So they have expanded their approach. Going from simple arson to arson with the intent to murder the people inside.
Eventually, the party retreats from their bloodlust and decides that they should at least try to figure out what is going on inside the house. So they walk up to the door, and knock on it. One of the locals answers the door, and in a short conversation, the local says they don’t need anything, to which Sue flashes her breasts at the local, and the local decides that they need Sue, but no one else in the party. Sue realizes that she doesn’t want to be alone with the locals inside the house, and tries to talk the local into letting all of the party in, to which the local says, no. But the woman with the breasts is welcome to come in as long as there is a continuous titty show. We are in rural North Carolina, after all.
After some time, a North Carolina standoff occurs, and the local shuts the door with the party outside.
Sue decided that she was going to pick the lock. Now Sue looks at me completely straightfaced and says that she is going to pick the lock. She rolls the dice. I ask her if she has lockpicking skills. No. Mike asks her if she has lockpicking tools. No. But Mike says that she may have a fishbone. The lock is not picked.
Broquen Glaz decides to carefully knock out the window in the front door, allowing them to gain entry to the locked door. He tries to break the window quietly, but isn’t successful. It makes a lot of noise.
The local comes back upstairs, and the party blames some kids that have run away. The local calls up Lenny.
Now Lenny is a really nice guy. He is also talkative. Lenny is supposed to guard the door until the party can come back with some new glass.
Lenny tells them all about what is going on in the basement. You see, the Doctor is doing experiments on living people, grafting zombie flesh onto the living human’s bodies, trying to make a hybrid that is immune to the zombie plague. There are multiple tables with people being experimented on, a cage full of zombies, a cage full of bound and gagged people, and jars of experiments filled with liquor that they aren’t allowed to drink.
The party hatches a plan. Burn the house down.
Well, they really didn’t hatch a new plan, they simply reconstituted an old plan. I mean, why come up with a new plan when the old plan would have worked anyway.
So Lenny talks to the party, and lets Sue know that he really likes croissants with Nutella. Sue promises that she is going to make Lenny croissants with Nutella. The party then leaves the priest, Eric with Lenny as they go back into town to get stuff to burn the house down.
Lenny spends a lot of time talking to the Padre, telling him about how he likes Mexicans, since they brought Taco Bell to this country, and their Grilld Stufft burritos are the best, and he also likes Dorito Locos tacos a lot. Lenny espouses his great love for all things Mexican that are shown through Taco Bell. The Padre stands in stunned silence. Actually, Eric wasn’t there, so the Padre just stands there because no one is playing his character sheet.
The party goes to tell the Major about the goings on that Lenny told them about. They are waylaid by a nice lady with two small children. She pulls them aside, and convinces them to go to her home.
She spins up a long tale about how her husband was actually the Mayor before the zombie Apocalypse, and the Mayor and Doctor arrived the second day of the outbreak, and took over the town Many people are scared in town. Her husband was murdered by the Mayor. She wants to leave.
As she finishes up her story, there is a knock at the door, and there are eight armed men who escort the party out of the house. The leader, Jimmy Dean explains to the party that the lady is upset, and probably mentally deranged. Her husband was the mayor, but was bit by a zombie and had to be put down. The lady blames the Mayor and the town security because she didn’t want her husband to be killed, but he was infected.
The gunmen lead the party away from the house, then disperse. The party is then approached by the Sheriff. The Sheriff confirms the lady’s story, but also states that he can’t take on the Mayor and his gunmen alone.
So the party continues on to the Major. The Major is not much help. He cites FEMA regulations and ICS certifications, and how he can’t assume command unless the local officials, as in the Mayor asks him to. There is still a Constitution in effect, and unless specifically requested by the elected officials, the military is only to assist.
All the party hears is bureaucratic mumbo jumbo. The Major is simply explaining why he has to stay on the rails that his NPC was written to.
So the party hatches a plan.
Burn the house down.
Yup, an oldie but a goodie.
They go back to the house, and find Lennie discussing the virtues of how Taco Bell is a genius, because they use the cheese as a layer to keep the hot meat from wilting the lettuce and tomatoes. This isn’t so good on the Grillt Stufft Burrito. You can take the tacos home, and they will still be kind of fresh, but the Grillt Stuft Burrito must be eaten at the restaurant, otherwise, the lettuce gets wilted. Lennie knows all about Mexican culture, since he has tried the bean burritos, taco pizzas, cinnamon twists, and all of the different types of hot sauce packets. He really likes the green sauce packets, but they are not always available.
Lennie likes the Padre. He doesn’t tell him to shut up like the other people in town do. Lennie follows the Padre around like a lost puppy.
The party sends the Padre off, so they can enact the plan, burn the house down.
As the Padre and Lenny walk away, the party breaks into the house. They discover that the entire house is full of frilly foo foo furniture, with lots of roses on the cloth and curtains. There is a grand piano and every bit of furniture is covered in plastic. The runner rug in the hall is covered in plastic. The house is immaculate. For now.
The party quickly determines that they need to move heavy furniture into the stairs that lead into the basement. Then fire.
The party discovers 12 and a half gallons of moonshine in the kitchen. All in used plastic gallon milk jugs. They add several of these to the mix, and carry several away, it is moonshine, after all.
The fire starts, and grows quickly out of control.
The house is engulfed, the party moves to the army convoy. They grab Lenny and the padre, the lady and her two kids and the Sheriff and leave with the convoy.
Meanwhile, the house is fully engulfed, and the flames and embers have caught nearby homes on fire.
Yes, this is normal.