Sunday, April 17, 2011

HelgaCon IV: Mutant Bastards - Analysis

The infamous Cap'n Grakk, just furious that he and his pirate crew
never got to make a showing in the Helgacon IV session that bore their name.

Overall, this was a fun first run for my homebrew "Mutant Bastards" game rules, and the players seemed to enjoy themselves, so on that front I'd call it a success. The system didn't crash, and performed as well as I could hope for a largely experimental ruleset.

As a Con style game, however, I think this session left a lot to be desired. What it really felt more like was the first session of a longer campaign, which in and of itself is cool, but since the format for Helgacon is just one four hour game, this meant it didn't meet the spec.

The biggest hang up was that I'd underprepared for the character creation phase, which thus took way longer than it ought to have. Choosing mutations relied on a special deck of cards, of which I only had one to share among six players, as well as a single copy of the tables that translated their draws. That would be the primary logistical error.

The other thing that changed this from an adventure to an extended introductory session was my decision to start the characters out with nothing, and have them equip themselves from stuff they found on the slave barge. This, in and of itself, went well, and by the end of it the players had explored the barge thoroughly and each had ended up with a pretty cool, fairly personalized kit salvaged from the dead slavers. (Heck, even Lechmere the adorably horrible (and horribly adorable) giant tick got himself a guy to ride around.)

This was all to the good, all things considered, but it would have been nice to get them into more situations where they might be able to use that equipment. As it panned out, there was only time for one random encounter (i.e. the battle with the strangles) before we had to wrap.

So I guess my take away from this is twofold.

First, for con games, if you're going to include character creation, streamlining it is vital. Normally, I'd probably go with pre-gens, but in Gamma World (and by extension Mutant Bastards, which is it's heavily mutated offspring) the character creation is a large part of the fun. Seeing what sort of freakish combination you get is one of the charms of the system. Perhaps a middle ground, where everything but the mutations are already filled in would be good. Hmmm.

Second, a more in depth Mutant Bastards campaign seems to maybe be in order. I'll have to mull that one, since I'm not in a regular weekly game anymore. I prepared a lot of stuff for "The Pirates of Quar" that just didn't get used, so it wouldn't be that big a deal to fire it up proper. Maybe at least at a future Helgacon or some other Helga's Heroes event I might revive it.

We'll just have to see. Anyway, my hearty thanks go out once again to the players who joined me on the fen choked shores of Boss that fine weekend.

There shall be more where that came from, somehow, sometime. As long as we don't hit any Snags.

For the record: In post apocalyptic Boston, THIS is what's known as a Snag.
Thank your lucky stars I rolled Strangles on the encounter chart, players...

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