A wondrous GURPSDay to all! Thanks for stopping by to see what Game Geekery is up to this week.
Specifically, a look at how my convention adventure, “Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow,” played out at the tables with three disparate groups at Orccon 2017. Apologies if you’re tired of all the recent bunny-lovin’! Rest assured, this is the last — next week we’ll be on to something new.
Here is the adventure in question, so you have some context for my commentary:
Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow | Downloads: 244 | Size: 1.7 MB
I GMed it three times over the weekend (Friday afternoon, Sunday afternoon, and Monday morning), for a total of 18 players and 12 hours of play-time, and really had a great time with them all. So did the players, if they can be believed.
Honestly, I had meant to submit them as four-player games, but by the time I noticed I had put them up as six-player games I felt it was too late to do anything about it. For me, six players falls under “Do-able,” but not “Ideal,” mostly because it can be tough making sure everyone gets a decent amount of spotlight time.
For the first game I had a GM screen on the table, but even in landscape orientation it was just too annoying to constantly be craning my neck to see over it or having to stand up, so for the other slots I just had my notes on the table and figured, hey, if someone wants to read them upside down and ruin their own enjoyment of the game, no skin off my bunny ears. It also meant all the players could see my dice rolls on the table, which I know a lot of players find important.
It was glorious having all the prep done by Wednesday night. That meant all I had to do Thursday before the con was pack my clothes and relax! Surprisingly, I think this led to a much more enjoyable weekend. Crazy, right?
Anyway, all three games had full tables of six players as well as one or two alternates on stand-by.
- On Friday, two had never played GURPS at all, three had only played a couple/few times, and the last played all the time (and was very helpful to the other players).
- On Sunday, fully half the table were long-time GURPSers, two more had played a half-dozen times or so, and the last was not only new to GURPS but to RPGs in general… it was only her third game! Many of you know that I just lurve players with that “new gamer smell,” so I was stoked (and yes, she had a great time).
- On Monday, there were four adults and two children, about eight years old. Now, all adults? Easy. All kids? Easy. But a mixed group of adults and kids can really be a challenge to walk that line and keep everyone engaged in the story (at least, when the adults aren’t the kids’ parents). I think it went pretty well, but I worry the kids may have been bored. Two of the adults had never played any RPG besides D&D, and by the end of the game seemed to have really enjoyed the GURPS experience (and asked for this site’s URL so they could download this very adventure!)
As an amusing aside, I found out Monday morning that the convention RPG Department Head had to assure a member of the board, based on the game description (“Who is this Mook guy, and what the hell is ‘Hare Today, Gone Tomorrow’?”), that my game was legit, and in fact I had to turn players away. I’m actually really glad they keep an eye out for that sort of unscrupulous GM who submits games they know no one will want to play just to get a free badge on the convention’s dime. I was just surprised to be one of them! (We had a good chuckle over it.)
The story itself played out similarly across the groups, for the most part; certainly much more so than, say, the “Beware the Boogeyman” game.
Beginning the adventure in the rabbits’ home warren during story time (“Bluebell’s Arrival” on the PDF) was a solid choice, and everyone seemed to enjoy starting as well-known and celebrated rabbits. As soon as trouble started, with Bluebell the hare calling for assistance, the heroes leapt (hopped?) into action without exception and dragged her inside to safety. All three groups managed to defeat Bloodmoon the owl as well! One just flat out killed him, another thrashed him within an inch of his life and told him to “cease hunting in this meadow, and tell all your owl friends!,” and the last beat him badly enough that he fled.
Either I’m not making the NPCs challenging enough, or bunnies are just bad-ass fighters. (I don’t really mind — starting things off with a bang is usually a good idea anyway).
In the first encounter beyond the warren’s meadow (“Trapped Fox”), all three groups chose to release Curltail, the young fox, from the snare he was caught in. The first group made him promise to help them with the snake they were going to battle if they released him, but he forgot his promise and wandered away when they were distracted by the cars further on at the road. The second group also made him promise, but he tried to eat them anyway. The adult she-fox, Zephyr, arrived and chastised him for breaking his promise… and the PCs convinced her to meet them at the snake’s den to assist in the fight! The final group released him and he simply ran off into the trees.
I liked how Curltail’s reactions differed for each group, and the mental sketch of him as “young and forgets things really, really quickly (like Dory)” was just enough to have some great interaction with the PCs (“Okay, I promise not to eat you, bunny.” “No, you can’t eat any of us!” “Oh, right… I promise to only eat you.” “No, fox, listen to me… you cannot eat any bunnies!”)
“The Road” encounter was probably the weakest of the bunch — not a single group took their chances at running across or climbing the trees over (though a couple of individual bunnies did), they all opted to simply swim through the water-filled pipe below the road. What’s that, you say? There’s no mention of a pipe below the road in the adventure notes? Yeah, that’s because it didn’t occur to me that in order for the road to be perpendicular to the stream, and for Bluebell to have washed downstream while unconscious, there had to be a waterway there. I short-circuited my own encounter, so at best it was a very minor road block and tangential brush with Humans. Oh, well! Live and learn.
Greyfur, the one-eyed bobcat, Ripper’s Enemy, and the penultimate encounter (“One-Eyed Bobcat”), caused a huge commotion every time he pounced from the tall grass and attacked our poor rabbits, but invariably they chose to fight back and all three groups defeated him! Granted, one or two bunnies took massive amounts of damage in the battles and came very close to being torn to shreds, but still… I think in the future, I need to start giving single NPCs Extra Attacks when they’re outnumbered 6 to 1, no matter how dangerous they seem. In this case, Greyfur’s one good eye was just too tempting a target, even at the -9 hit penalty. The bunnies just kept clawing and biting until they manage to take it out (sometimes literally), and a blind bobcat is suddenly a lot less terrifying. Only one group outright murdered him… the other two let him live with a warning to never hunt the area again.
Finally, the climactic battle against the giant snake and her babies (“Viper’s Lair”)! The giant end battles always seem to go smoothly for me, and Seless the water viper and her babies vs. the PCs was no exception. Certainly, a grand GURPS melee of 7 snakes vs. 6 bunnies could take a while, but by rolling 21d6 every turn for all of the snakes at once none of the three finale combats took more than ~20 minutes, which is well within my comfort zone for a 13-combatant throwdown.
The bunnies always fought bravely, received a few vicious wounds, but ultimately emerged victorious and returned to the home warren with a rescued Three-Toes the hare, to live out the remainder of their days as the famous and well-loved Heroes of the Forest.
All in all, I’m calling this con another success. Everyone seemed to have a great time with the adventure (myself included), and all the players who were completely new to GURPS left with positive impressions of it, which always makes my day.
If I were to ever run this one again in the future, I think I’d try to amp the deadliness of both Bloodmoon and Greyfur (Sessel seemed fine), and maybe call for more Fright Checks from the bunnies out and about in the wide world. It could also maybe use another encounter or two, as the Sunday game ended just shy of the three-hour mark. All the players still said they had fun, but I much prefer to end within 10-15 minutes of four hours, not 60!
So, you’ve seen this adventure go from “rough idea” to “actual creation” to “this is how it ran.” Probably won’t be any more bunny posts for a bit, but the next convention is in May, so I’ll be sharing the behind the scenes process on whatever that game ends up being when the time rolls around. Until then… download and give it a whirl! I’m curious how it plays for other GMs.
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