Thursday, July 14, 2016

Road Crew Game #6 - The Captain's Table - Metamorphosis Alpha 1st Edition

This last Saturday I went to another public gaming event in a local public library here in Rio de Janeiro. This time I took Metamorphosis Alpha first edition for a spin and presented it to local players who, mostly, had never heard of it (we never had it released in Brazil, so that's expected).

I began by presenting the game and it's historical roots, as the first science fiction RPG and the first RPG to refer itself as one. I told how James Ward suggested Gary the creation of a Sci-Fi version of D&D and how Gygax said to him: "why don't you give it a try?". Even though one of the great things about the gameplay is not knowing the players are in a spaceship, I explained them the premise of the setting, and they thought it to be pretty interesting, specially when I talked about the adventure, The Captain's Table and the belief system it implies. The original crew, the Captain, the Engineer, the Geneticist and all others are now the Gods of the their people.

When we started the game, I had 3 players, so I asked them to pick up two characters each, one mutant and one human. Along the game, two more players joined in, so I ended up with a party of 10 characters (so I had plenty of targets to kill along the way). Some of the players were more familiar with modern games and find it strange to play with more than one character at the same time, so I explained them it allows for group splits, more freedom, and the chance to continue playing even if one of their character dies. Since this game was particular deadly, this would be very useful, I assured them.

The first scene of the game had them meeting up in the jungle after a unproductive day of hunting. No game was found in the morning and now they were returning to their primitive village.  That's when they heard the sounds of animals fighting behind a thick patch of foliage. After some small debate, one of the mutants, possessing the power of camouflage, went ahead to see what was happening. What he saw was 4 wolflike humanoid creatures carrying swords attacking 2 two-headed deers, the prey they were looking for. They did not know much about the wolfoids, only tales of how dangerous they were and how their eyes burned flesh.

He quickly got back and explained the situation to his comrades. They spent quite a while to decide what to do, and I alerted them the sounds of conflict had ceased. This made them decide what to do faster and they tried to approach the wolfoids stealthily, a wise move. This allowed them to take the wolf creatures by surprise and helped them defeat the creatures. With minor damage because of the radioactive eyes, they killed the creatures and found the mysterious orb.

After a few tries, one of them figure out how to activate it and they received the message from the great captain Jameson, to them, their greatest god! They all saw the spirit of the great captain and interacted with it a bit, asking question and directions for their holy quest of retrieving a sacred box from the depths of this world. When I had nothing else to tell them (not wanting to give all the information, as not to spoil the adventure), and after the sphere carved some instructions with a laser ray on a rock (that they have to decipher), the artifact failed and sparks announced it was broken.

Now they were heading to a hole in the ground where they would find a artifact that could open passages that otherwise would be closed for them (a silver color band). Once they arrived there, they found a 40 ft drop and a corridor full with body parts of humans and mutants that had been devoured an a purposely barred door. They found the color band searching the bodies, but insisted on opening the barred door. What they found on the other side? Shattered contents spilling radioactive goo all around. This killed 2 characters that were already wounded by the wolfoids and made everyone run like crazy outside. Fun times!

 After that they went straight to the elevators shaft (although there was a brief encounter with some three armed gorilas that had heat ray vision that killed one character, they went looking for something to life drain so...). This is usually one of the funniest moments for the players I GM this adventure too. Once the hologram of the forest fades, they figure a way to enter the elevator and interact with the AI, and what the symbols on the rock puzzle are, a music plays and it's a very famous music for us, "Garota de Ipanema" and they all have a good time and can't believe this is actually in the adventure.

So after a few minutes of singing the song of our people, the elevator dropped then on the cargo deck. A whole world made of gigantic cargo bays with infinite (almost) paths to follow. I told them they were seeing signs in these gigantic square mountains (buildings) that were similar to one in their rock puzzle, but they would need to walk around a little to start deciphering the symbols, an hour per attempt, and each hour I would roll for a random encounter. They figured it on the first try, but I rolled a random encounter with a crazy cargo bot that wanted to put them back on their cargo crates!

Combat was merciless. They couldn't hit the thing in any significant way and just scratched its plates. However, once the robot killed one of them and went into a cargo bay to place it in a box, they ran as fast as they could!

By that time, we were almost in the end of the public event, so I sped things up a bit. They found the cargo bay and, in front of it, the felinoids marking it as their territory. Some words were tradeded and combat seemed imminent, but one of the players had and idea. As one character had a flashlight and another had a mirror, they used the reflection of the light to distract the felinoids (we all know how cats love to chase points of light). This gave them enough time to figure out how to get to the cargo bots and find the crates they were looking for.

After quickly figuring out it had anti-grav lifters they mounted the crates and started going to the elevator again. Once the cargo robot reappeared, they tricked the felinoids into chasing the robot and ran away.

They got to the elevator and were quickly informed they were expected in the command deck. By this time, the public library was almost closing and I rushed the ending a little. They arrived in the command deck and were received by their whole "pantheon". The crew clapped as they entered and a robot send them to the captain while it kept the crate. The god congratulated them on their great deeds and promised a lasting alliance with benefits for all, if they agree on going on important missions of the betterment of everyone.

They players really enjoyed the whole experience and had a blast with the weird descriptions of technological things, their powers as mutants and once I told them what really was what they retrieved for "the captain", him being an hologram, they enjoyed even more. What a fun twist.

The Captain's Table by Jim Wampler is a great adventure to kickstart a campaign of Metamorphosis Alpha and a really fun one to run.