Today’s Ups and Downs in Gaming

I did a chunk of writing on the War of Ashes RPG today, which was good. I’m in the finicky portion, finalizing everything and tying the game together, making sure the examples of play reflect the final changes, etc. It’s harder for me to write a bunch of small inserts than one long section; I don’t know if it’s like that for everyone.

Old-Style MicrophoneIn the afternoon we had an episode of a Skype-based role-playing game that runs on a biweekly basis (or nearly so). The GM and four players are at one end, Edmund and I at the other, so that a single connection. Unfortunately, the players tend to be constantly talking, so the microphone has trouble picking up our responses; there isn’t always enough of a pause in background noise. We’re used to it, plus Edmund chose to play a taciturn character, so we expect this to affect our input. On the flip side, I made the character most skilled at social interaction, so I actually often do a good deal of talking, so for me it evens out. Usually.

Today, though, was frustrating. About 60 to 90 minutes in, the other four players wanted to go on what I thought would be a short side-quest. It was clearly something they would enjoy, and just as clearly something my character would be dubious about, so they didn’t mention it in character, and as a player I didn’t express an interest in joining. I had just had an extended scene so I was happy to wait for my turn again. They did ask Edmund’s character along, since this PC is a gun-bunny, but he already had a plot thread in play so Edmund declined.

The side trip took three hours, including an extended shopping expedition. It was not rousing for us, but everyone has to have a chance to do something fun, so we let it ride. I do think the GM had not expected this to take so long, but at the end he offered to wrap up the plot thread that had brought us there in the first place, so we cheerfully agreed. Naturally, the secret meeting with our contacts turned out to have attracted an ambush by competitors. I opened my mouth to answer—I play the ship’s captain—and two of the players promptly acted without giving me a chance to even put a word in, ending the scene.

I instantly went from tired-but-agreeable to pissed-off-as-all-hell. I told them this was the opposite of fun to wait all afternoon, be invited to play in one last scene and then be completely written out of it. The GM, stung, suggested that maybe I didn’t like playing via Skype. This “excluded middle” argument only poured oil on the fire, and I hung up the call. I’ve since decided I will wait until I’ve had a day or two to cool off before getting in touch.

Then Edmund served dinner and we played Sentinels of the Multiverse, trying some of the decks from the expansions we recently got: Expatriette, The Scholar, Captain Cosmic, and Nightmist versus The Dreamer in The Enclave of the Endlings. Expatriette and Captain Cosmic were incapacitated soon after we got The Dreamer to flip, but The Scholar and Nightmist managed to hang on just enough to eke a victory.

It was a nail-biting finish: The Scholar managed to clear the last Projection card needed, but we had to make it through the Environment turn in order to win at the start of the Villain turn. Nightmist played the ongoing that lets her use a power to look at the top two cards of the environment deck (I think it’s Astral Premonition), sending a card that would have killed The Dreamer to the bottom! A hard-earned victory in our first encounter with The Dreamer.

That left me time to do some more writing, wrapping up the day the way it had started.

One thought on “Today’s Ups and Downs in Gaming

  1. I think that it is hard, particularly for players, to remember the folks on the other end of the speakers when they are in a room full of real people. Maybe we should have standies so people remember us?

    The incident in question was unfortunate. What happened, IIRC, is that the ship got multiple calls in simultaneously, and you, as captain, instructed another player to “filter the calls.” Now I understood exactly what you meant by that – “let me hear the calls one at a time.” but I could see how the statement as “do a preliminary contact with all the callers, and only let me talk to the best couple, not the idiots.” which is what I think the people on the other end heard. The real problem was not the miscommunication per se, but the the built up frustration level that preceded it.

    As for Sentinels, I thought it was a really fun play. Having our big guns out of action halfway through the game forced very careful and considered card play (Nightmist and the Scholar were both down to single digits by then). The Dreamer is certainly a challenging villain (for those who do not know, the Dreamer has 6 HP only, and if you drop her to zero you lose!). Enclave of the Endlings didn’t strike me as a particularly flavorful environment. It’s mostly a bunch of weird Jack Kirbyesque aliens who do everyone 2 pts of [X] damage every turn, with X varying between various damage types. That made for a lot of hurt, particularly since we had to keep redirecting damage to the Dreamer to one of our characters, but not a lot of interest or color.

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