Thursday, December 2, 2010

Madness Made Real

I had a chance to put the madness rules discussed earlier into play, starting with explaining them to the players. The good news there was that they were easily absorbed, and the player most likely to use them most heavily liked them right away. Score!

We got down to the business of play, and things chugged along without a hitch. The group was in a pirate town trying to keep their heads down while making repairs to their ship before heading out in search of a lost relic when the group scholar, and budding madman, was singled out by a scoundrel for a high stakes game of chance in a tavern. All proceeded normally until a wager went sour and a fight broke out.

C'mon. It's a swashbuckling game, there was an inn, and it was in a pirate port. Who didn't see that coming?

At this point there are two party members in the bar. There's Mr. Suave, the budding madman who prides himself on fabulous hair and is even better known for his relative frailty and aversion to melee combat (though he's rectifying that), and then Dr. Destroyer, who's a little bit of a scholar and much more of an ass beater. Everyone knew what Dr. Destroyer was going to do, but Mr. Suave had a plan. We rolled initiative and he began to describe in cool, confident tones exactly how he was going to twist this situation.

That's when I tossed him a madness point, and, like a scene from Jacob's Ladder, he begins to see... things among the press of violent human flesh. Vile, loathsome things. And not just any things, but things. You know. Them.

I invoked Mr. Suave's fear insanity, and instead of whatever "I'm so cool I don't need to fight" thing he was going to do, he spent the round curled up in the fetal position under the table screaming.

Next round comes, and Mr. Suave asks me if he can act if the action is based on fear. That sounds fine by me, so I let him declare. In his panic-addled mind, he fixates on the scoundrel who started the fight. Clearly he summoned them, and thus needs to be put down. So he draws a pair of knives and proceeds to tackle the man and cut him to ribbons. He even throws in his madness point in order to emulate insane strength. He does so much damage he kills the scoundrel. That even came with a "Sorry, Clifford. I know you don't like these games to go killer, but I'm kind of crazy right now." As it turned out, I completely agreed with him.

The following round I let him recover his senses, and the rest of the brawl just realized someone had been killed. Mr. Suave beat a hasty retreat (burning a drama die, and thus getting rid of the madness point in the grip), while Dr. Destructor held the door long enough for him to get away. Or, that was the plan anyway. Instead, Destructor decided to brawl the whole bar himself, 1 on 20, and won. He's like that. He got himself a drink before heading out to find Mr. Suave.

This has been the only time we've used madness so far, but the initial impressions are good. All of the mechanics associated with this little rules bundle seem easy enough to use at the table, and parallel rules everyone's already familiar with, which means almost no learning curve. The one thing that's different, the grip of madness, has so far presented no difficulties. Mr. Suave asked once for a refresher and from then on seemed to have it well in hand. I anticipate getting an opportunity to use these a lot more in the future, and we'll see how they stand the test of time. For a maiden voyage though, so far so good.

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