Sunday, 26 August 2012

"Riders on the Storm" an Unknown Armies One-Shot Recap

So, today I ran a one-shot I'd made for Unknown Armies, which I entitled Riders on the Storm after the famous The Doors song. It was supposed to serve as an introduction to the UA system, along with some of it's setting. Here's how it went:

The Setup: A group travels to a high school reunion to a small mountain hotel near Crystal Lake, Minnesota, but end up being greeted by a bloody murder and a suspicious stranger on a motorcycle.

(Ok, yes - I did set it up in a real place, which I've never seen...but whatever, none of us are from the States so it didn't matter much)

The Punchline: Three avatars of the Dark Stalker have agreed upon a showdown in that very same area. The lake's name is the same as the one in the Friday the 13th movie, and the reunion is during a new moon, so it fits their bill perfectly. All three of them are quite far on the path of the Faceless Man, and the survivor of this will go on to pursue the Godwalker.

An avatar of the Masterless Man has been having dreams and seeing signs ever since this agreement took place and travels to the Lake to try and save whoever he can and prevent any of the Dark Stalker avatars from advancing on their paths.

The Resolution: Only two of my players showed up, and there were five player characters to distribute, so I ended up playing all three of the Stalkers and three of the PCs.

They were, in order:

William "Bill" Bonney  - The Gunslinger

The Masterless Man avatar. A guy obsessed with western gunslingers for most of his life, and the one who had an omen when the Dark Stalkers made their agreement, and went over to try and save as many people as he can. (This role was taken by one of the players, since it's crucial to the plot)

Tim Collins - The Social Worker
A social worker, he had no Obsession since he has just never felt all that strongly about anything in his life so far. Also had a very serious fear of guns, which was pretty hilarious when the Detective gave him Bill's huge revolver. (He was the second character played by a player)

Phillip - The Police Detective
He was one of the more active characters (which is why it's such a bummer I had to play him instead of a player). He was very no-nonsense, especially after seeing an old acquaintance from high school and the two hotel owners gutted like fish and left to rot in the lobby.

Jeff - The Comic Artist
Jeff is the only other person besides Bill with any sort of supernatural ability, which is also why it's a shame nobody got to play him - I had all sorts of cool descriptions for his Aura Sight ability when he looked at Bill or the Dark Stalkers. He did play the role of setting off the final clusterfuck of a fight and then running away from it, after being close to decapitation. (A few inches higher and...well let's not dwell on that)

Robert - The Dilettante
He was perhaps the least prepared of all the characters to do anything, but I gotta admit I wasn't sure just what to make as the last person going to the reunion...and during the game it didn't really matter, since when he saw the corpses he just up and fainted, and after the fighting began he just ran off into the forest, eventually ending up in one of the nearby hotels.

Bill arrived early, saw the corpses...and just at that time the group arrived with Phil's car. Bill managed to get on the second floor, but made noise and Phil found him and took him back down at gunpoint and started questioning him. This was going fairly well, and Jeff was starting to see there is something different about William, but when he tried to tell it to Phil he just dismissed him as being weird again.

At around this time one of the Dark Stalkers -  Jason, a slim and attractive young man who for a while pretended to be just here for the reunion as well. However when Jeff got out and saw him, he nearly fell over with fear, and after Bill got out as well (Phil had gone upstairs to investigate a noise he heard) and Jeff managed to blurt out something, Jason had no choice but to draw out his knife and start slashing at people.

Meanwhile on the second floor of the building a second of the Stalkers - Wallice, had managed to hide from Phillip and then go down and around the building, using the Dark Stalker's unnatural ability of moving very, very fast when he is not being observed to end up right behind Bill and slash at his back. The reaction of the players as they have just subdued Jason on the ground and were beating him up, then someone just up and appearing out of thin air, for all they know, and almost cleaving someone in two was quite good. He started fighting with Bill, while Jason got out of Tim's grip and started cutting him up real bad, real fast. Jeff meanwhile, after trying to uselessly hit someone just up and bolted towards the door to get Phil, who was now going back downstairs.

Since the whole thing wasn't a complete mess by then, the final Stalker decided to show up and knock out Wallice, so he can take the kills for himself. Shawn, as I conceived him, was a completely looney guy the size of an overstuffed bear and with a mask on his face. A complete freak, through and trough. At this point two important things happened.

- Jason had cut up Tim real bad so much so that he just collapsed on the ground from all the pain and blood loss.
- Bill managed to get to his revolver (Tim had uselessly tried to shoot at Jason before, but failing miserably and had dropped it when the second attacker appeared) and finally start shooting some bad guys. Jason got half of his head shot off, got back up with the power of his Avatar skill and after managing to stick another one in Bill, getting the rest of his head blown off as well.
- Phillip got outside and started shooting as well, getting a few decent shots into Shawn and Wallice, who were both trying to fight with Phil, and with each other.

In the end, Bill and Phillip managed to take down all of the Stalkers, with Tim dying from wounds he had taken during the fighting. Jeff was also fairly ok, and after Bill had driven both of them back to town and brought them to the hospital all of them were patched up. This is about where it ended, since I had planned it to be a short scene anyway.

I think both my players enjoyed it well enough, though Tim dying wasn't as fun, which can be suspected, although I really had underestimated the power of the PC's, and they had managed to take down all three of the Avatars themselves (Bill having an absurd amount of wound points due to his Avatar of the Masterless Man skill did help a lot with that). I know UA has a very deadly combat system, but I imagined it would be skewered towards the Stalkers. Then again, with so few actual players there wasn't enough interaction between the PCs, and the three Stalker didn't have the chance to pick them off one or two at a time.

If either of the players wants to post about how they saw the game, I imagine that would add to the overall picture. All in all, not a great success, but I'm happy I finally ran this thing.

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