Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Shadows and Dread - Play Impressions

Tons of gaming fun before Hallowe'en the past couple days, with some old and some new games:

Shadows over Camelot 

Last Saturday I met a bunch of my friends that had gathered together for few board and card games. I joined them just as they were finishing a game of Carcasonne. After that the six of us played Shadows over Camelot. I've played SoC once before to much hilarity and enjoyment, and this time was no different.


Unlike last time, this time the knights of the round table triumphed over the forces aligned against Camelot; but like last time it came to great surprise to discover when the game was finished that not one of the players was a traitor in disguise. Perhaps our next game we'll actually have a traitor in our midst...

The first time we played, our downfall was partially due to suspicion getting the better of us as we began to question each other players' actions and motives.

Shadows over Camelot is definitely in my top favourite board games for a couple of reasons: It's a co-operative game where the player's play against the game itself; there's a chance it might have a traitor to throw a wretch in the works, making it a social/deduction game like The Resistance or Battlestar Galactica; it's got a great looking modular board with fun components; and probably my favourite of all, is how much bloody fun we have getting into character by laying down banter and insults in Ye Olde English accents. Zounds!

Rune Age

Afterwards we attempted a deck building called Rune Age. Normally a competitive game I believe, we opted to play the cooperative scenario, whose title I can't recall. Rune Wars I think.

We were obliterated in the first couple rounds to much of our dismay. We went with a ruling that made it a tad easier for the beginning of our second play, but the game was still merciless to us and we lost.

As a co-op card game, I don't think I enjoy Rune Age that much, especially when compared to...


My friends and I have played ShadowRift many times, and I quite enjoy this co-op deckbuilder. It has a variety of scenarios, options for customizing your card selection, and interesting monster and village mechanics.

I haven't tried any other deckbuilding card games beyond those two, but the whole concept has a neat mechanic.


Yesterday Fraser and I took part in a game of Dread that a newcomer to Victoria was hosting. Larry (our Host [GM]) had run Dread several times before, most recently at PAX East and he was quite proficient in both running in the game and in the narration style of horror stories and their common tropes.

Lazarus Rook, a technician.
Our tower at the beginning.
We played a scenario called Beneath a Metal Sky, one of the three pre-written ones provided in the book. Despite having read the book and the scenarios before, my enjoyment was not diminished at all. Part of me was excited where and how us players' and our Host were going to take the story next. That said some basic plot elements may be spoiled in the following; but then again, nearly all horror movies seem to follow many usual tropes; what makes it interesting is how each film arranges them. (perhaps like the pieces of the tower in Dread...)
Andrew deftly removing a piece...
...and placing it on top.

The basic premise is that the characters were the crew of a small spacecraft that happened upon apparently abandoned & powered-down space hulk, which they were sent to investigate. After searching the vessel and finding only one survivor, we eventually realized that someone (or something) boarded our own ship and absconded with it. We had decided to restore power to the hulk in attempt to broadcast an SOS and possibly fly it to the nearest part of civilized space.

Fraser making an attempt on the tower...

...and succeeding. Look at that curve!

After we repaired the blown conduits and switched the reactor back on all hell broke loose and we were attacked by deformed, skinless creatures that used to be the crew of the ship controlled by parasitic entities!

We fled engineering and sealed the door behind us, but not before one of the creatures slipped through the gap. Rufus, the researcher (Andrew's PC), drove his emergency axe right through the spinal parasite, killing it but also hacking into the ex-medic Glenn's (Fraser's PC) leg, badly laming him.

We made our way to the bridge, where we met up with the (as yet uninfected) Pvt. King (the one whom we rescued) and decided to make a break for the escape pods. Here's where the action both in the story and on the table got really tense; the tower was very rickety at this point! Making our way down the corridor we were stalked by the creatures using the overhead ventilation ducts. During a social conflict one sprung out right between us; Rufus and Glenn on one side, Lazarus and Pvt. King on the other.

I told King to run whilst the technician met the creature with his plasma torch, he succeeded in killing it but it knocked him unconscious. The ex-medic ran back to check on Lazarus, whilst Rufus (who never paused) kept running for the hangar with King limping behind him.

Glenn was relieved to find Lazarus still breathing and administered a stim (which the tech is also addicted to) to wake him up. The tech started awake confused, and screaming when he saw a creature hanging above the medic on the ceiling.

Luckily Glenn saw the reflection of it in his companion's helmet visor and dodged out of the way and fired on it with the recovered shock-rifle he had found.

Alas, the tower was too rickety to risk the pulls needed for the two of them to get out alive, so Glenn slew the creature only to have his throat slit when a parasitic claw burst out from Lazarus' flesh as he bent over to help him! Lazarus was so horrified a the death of his crewmate from something that was inside of him (he had a serious problem with germs, parasites, and disease) that it took him a bit of time to stop screaming and retching to regain his senses.

Fraser willing toppled the tower so his character (the ex-medic) could succeed in his task to protect my character whilst dying in the process. A noble and heroic sacrifice.

During that time, selfish Rufus was confronted by three creatures outside of the entrance to the hangar. He grabbed King and cruelly threw him into the trio as a distraction whilst he dodged through them into the hangar, killing one in the process.

Perhaps it was seeing this vile act that finally snapped Lazarus out of his hysteria, and he scooped up the shock-rifle and a few stims off his fallen compatriot. By the time he reached King, one of the creatures was injecting several of its tendrils into him, and the other rushed at the technician. It received peppering of shock blasts from the rifle, and the one on King was likewise removed. Lazarus resuscitated King within an inch of his life and revived him with a stim, they then both proceeded to the hangar.

Rufus had made his way through the hangar and was priming the escape pods (to his credit he did set two). After jumping into the closest one, sealing the door, and strapping himself in he discovered to his horror one of the creatures was in the pod with him. From his awkward seat he fought it off with the axe, and succeeded in bisecting it. (At this point, after Andrew had placed his third pulled piece on top of the tower, its weight caused it to tip and collapse) Thinking it dead, Rufus breathing a sigh of relief that was caught short as the parasite leapt from the carcass onto his face!

Most appropriate image I could find.
At this point with two PCs dead (as there were only three players) our Host offered to sum up the remainder of the story with King and Lazarus escaping, but I asked for the tower to rebuild because I had a specific idea in mind for a good horror ending; I wanted to see if Lazarus could fulfil it, or die attempting.

Once the two of them made it into the hangar, they searched for any spacecraft equipped with cryogenic stasis pods, as Lazarus reasoned if he, maybe both of them, were infested with alien parasites they wouldn't last long even if they made it off the hulk in escape pod. They found the ship they needed, a small long-range scout vessel, and began starting it up and completing launching procedures.

Once free of the hulk, Lazarus sent King to the cryopods when he began complaining about weird feelings (similar to the ones the technician himself experienced back when they regrouped on the bridge after shit got real). He programmed in a FTL destination (the port location of his sweetheart) whilst fighting off a brief emergence of the parasite, made a brief explanatory entry, and prepared to settle into his cryopod.

Suddenly rudimentary arms burst from his lower abdomen, keeping him from getting into the pod! The parasite was now in his brain and it knew is intentions! Through sheer force of will (and some very lucky final pulls) Lazarus greatly injured himself forcing himself into the cyropod! Through the pain, the sight and sound of the pod's mist descending was the last thing he witnessed...

*End of Story (and possible Spoilers)*

We had an amazing time playing Dread! I want to again thank Larry our Host for blowing us away with such an horrific and awesome story! My play impression/review lets me state confidently that Dread is truly a game experience different than any other horror RPG; one that should must be experienced. As of this post the PDF is $3. $3! Get it and Play it!

Soon, Tremulus...

Afterwards we relaxed a bit talking about and looking through his collection of (mostly horror) indie games.

We might play with Larry again soon in the future, as he mentioned he'd be willing to run Dogs in the Vineyard for us after we expressed our interesting in trying it. I'd also like to learn more about many of the games he showed us, as they all looked really interesting and I love RPGs. :)

This has also fanned the flames of running my own Dread game! Possible a sequel to this story because there are so many loose ends to wrap up! I'm also further driven to finish working on my homebrew idea for it the game... Stay tuned!

Boo! ;{١

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