Hunter’s Log – March 2010

(in which I talk about an RPG session in the most entertaining way possible)

So after some prep, some friends and I were finally able to get together and play a round of SPN role playing game.  The only stuff the 4 of us had played in the past was D&D, so I thought I’d run a premade from the Adventures book.  It would give me a chance to get used to GMing a SPN game and it would help break my players from thinking like a D&D’er and get them to be thinking like a hunter.  I went with the Hell Hound on my Trail story, figuring it would give them enough combat to satisfy them but help them get used to the idea that they’re going to need to use their brains as much (if not more) than their fists and guns.

Back story (which will change when I get around to making it a campaign and will then be completely different as my boys derail everything).

It was a moderate sized town just like so many America… until something went horribly wrong.  The hunter had come, fresh on the scent of a monster that would have to be taken down, except he couldn’t figure out what it was.  However, there was this local college kid named Miles Dryden, and he was real good puzzles – obsessed about them really.  A week before the hunter arrived, Miles had already figured out something was going on, and began putting the pieces together.  The only thing he was missing, the only part that would have brought everything together, is what every hunter knows: monsters – are – real.

Predicting where the next attack would be, Miles went there to find the hunter gravely injured.  Calling 911, a paramedic arrived named Nate Winchester.  He had worked one of the earlier attacks and recognized the similarity, the biggest difference being that the hunter’s skill had made him the only survivor.  The next day he went to the hunter’s hospital room to find Miles there as well.  Although reluctant to talk, the hunter warmed up to them when Miles pointed out that the only logical conclusion was an inhuman creature and Nate proved open to the idea – it’s not often you find people receptive to the truth.  Together, the 3 worked out what was going on and Nate vowed to stop it before it could hurt anyone else.

At the night and location of Miles’ prediction, Nate waited… only to have Miles arrive as well, dragging along his protective older half-brother, Michael Pierce.  At the same time, one Nicholas Colt was just released from petty larceny charges and was heading home when he walked through the wrong place at the wrong time.  He didn’t know what was going on but he knew how to shoot, so the trio tossed him a gun and together, they slayed the creature.

Afterward, Nate vowed to become a hunter in order to help save more lives.  Miles becoming even more obsessed, rambling about needing to figure out where all this fit into the grand scheme of life and everything, decided to go with him and Michael joined to make sure nothing happened to his brother.  Realizing that the cops would be unwilling to write “monster” as a murder suspect, Nicholas made plans to get out of town before he was arrested in its place.  Him and Nate gathered and sold everything they could before stealing an old ambulance slated for decommission.  Together, the four set off on the highways…

Of course, they weren’t traveling long before Alan Mills slammed into the classic Camero Michael was driving (he’d been rebuilding it for awhile now).  With the Tsyaid hot his trail, the guys got out and tried to bring it down, only to have Alan steal the Camero in the middle of the fight.  Michael (who had some blackbelt training) pulled off an impressive dodge of the Tsyaid’s lightning before everyone was dragged into ambulance that promptly sped away.  They found Alan with a flat tire shortly later and after getting the sold soul story from him, picked a motel to lay a trap.

The trap didn’t go as planned and Michael & Miles both took a solid blow across the face, leaving Miles heavily injured.  The four retreated again after having done enough damage to the body to force the Tsyaid to find a new one.  Of course they figured out that Alan Mills was possessed too and after finding an old house they thought was the Tsyaid’s lair, set a trap for both demons.  After a couple of tries, the Tsyaid decided to bypass the doors and windows and crash right through a wall.

With some sleight of hand and luck (4 plot points) the guys got Alan and the Tsyaid both stuck in a devil’s trap.  As the two fought, Miles read an old exorcism and soon, there were two less demons on this mudball.

Player Review

Miles picked up pretty quick and grasped the whole role-playing thing faster than anyone and was soon raking up plot points.  He stumbled a bit over the point in the rules that attack & damage are the same roll but otherwise was great.

Michael fell into step pretty quickly too and didn’t complain too much about talking NOT being a free action in this game.

Nicholas played well but I’m thinking of having him and Miles switch character sheets next game.  He’s the only other one of our group that watches SPN regularly (after I got him hooked on it) though Michael is familiar with the show.  With him I could outright say a clue that I knew he would get but the others wouldn’t.  As it was, I had to frequently write things down for Miles “learning” things less I have Nicholas ending up with more knowledge than the character should.

What I learned as a GM

I was caught a bit unprepared as I left my portable white board at home which I like to use for maps etc.  Definitely need to bring it so we can have a quickly adjustable “common knowledge” source.

I know the game kind of recommends not using miniatures but that does NOT mean you can give up maps.  If you have something about to go down in a location, you should really draw up some crude blueprints for that location.

While the game works beautifully with some abstraction (like lifestyle and gear), there are still some details you need to keep track of.  Like instead of total ammo, you should have your players keep track of how long till they have to reload.  When the players were supposed to have “15 minutes” to prepare a battleground… I should have done it 1 of 2 ways.  Either set a timer for a real 15 minutes and let all of their talking represent action or let it work like a dating sim and have each roll, action, etc take up a certain amount of “time”, so we know after X actions/rolls/etc, the shit hits the fan.

Consolidate all information you’ll need beforehand in a format you can easily understand.  The worst slowdowns of the game were my own fault as I’d have to start flipping back to earlier in the adventure to get stats from Alan or the Tysaid for opposed rolls or whatever and sometimes I had to really comb through those stats to find what I was looking for.  I should have put a copy of those stats on a separate piece of paper and highlight/bold the most likely skills & talents that would come up in a game session.

I’m still having trouble with determining where things fall on the challenge chart so often I just kept resorting to impromptu opposing rolls (which were fun determining when my players decided they wanted to distract the Tysaid from his goal).  To tell you the truth, I found it to be great fun and it alone pretty much made GMing for this RPG far more enjoyable than any other I’ve tried.  It just seems more organic and natural for this game, aiming for flat numbers is not often fun.

In summary, while I still want to be a player sometime (is there going to be a session at Indy Gen*Con?  I need to check) acting as a GM was almost as fun.  While my players will probably show up to comment, I hope it wasn’t too arduous a trial for them.

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3 thoughts on “Hunter’s Log – March 2010

    • SOME RPGs can be very complicated (Hi D&D 3.5) but SPN isn’t. Really, it’s probably one of the best “gateway” RPGs I’ve seen. The most important thing is to have a GM who knows what their doing (I probably earned about C or B- in this regard) then the rest is just letting yourself enjoy the role and play-act.

      And if you want to learn in a humorous manner, just read Darths & Droids and/or DM of the Rings.

  1. Well, it isn’t exactly difficult for me to play the frail, cowardly nerd. My character is basically Troy McGreggor, but smarter, so that’s how I played him. Nicholas on the other hand would be a challenge for me.

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