Sunday, July 10, 2005

Egypt, We Hardly Knew Ye...

After a somewhat prolonged hiatus (due in no small part to the birth of my new son), we made it back for the final(?) chapter of our Beyond the Supernatural RPG campaign. So, of course, the big question is: Did we prevent the destruction of Egypt? Of the world? Did the supernatural evils cross through the portal and enslave all of humanity?!!!

Can't rightly say, actually.

What I CAN say, is that the horrible die rolling which plagued our characters last session was replaced this time with VERY good luck. When Stan tried to do something, it often actually worked (Highlight: He was trying to hack off a vampire's head with a hunting knife, it turned into a bat and tried to fly away, Stan bit it's head off before it could, and then spit it out at a startled nearby vampire). When Helmut rolled initiative, he often went first (to put this in context, I don't think he had EVER gone first before this night). When Sam fired his gun, he rolled a hell of a lot of 20s.

The session started out with the characters in dire straights. All three were terribly wounded. The vampires were corralling them in a side tunnel while deKoonig, the head vampire, went off to complete the ritual which would open the portal to the big demons from beyond. In a bold, risky and (most of all) desperate attempt Helmut and Sam attacked the vampire guards in order to create a distraction so that Stan could escape with Professor Aziz. Stan and the professor rushed to the site of the ritual in order for Aziz to conduct his own counter-ritual, presumably to either shut down the gate or capture the demon (we didn't know which). Stan did his best to keep the vampires away, but he was quite outmatched (and outwitted. Note to Stan: if you have only a small amount of holy water, don't risk it by holding your hand out and saying "I have holy water here"). Luckily, Sam and a surprisingly quick Helmut came to help as things were getting sticky. Helmut's fire bombs were proving very effective, and Stan was having some luck sawing heads of of the vampires. In a bit of awful luck, when Stan managed to drop the container of holy water directly into deKoonig's mouth, hoping to burn him up from within, deKoonig managed to swallow it completely unharmed!!! (he rolled a 20 on his poison save). Eventually, the creatures did get to the professor and killed him before he could finish the ritual. Helmut, using his genius ability in Lore, managed to complete the ritual on his own, just as the evil ritual was completing and the gate was opening.The heros were surrounded by a circle of white light as a result of Helmut's incantation, and they moved forward and collided this aura with the evil darkness which was spreading.

There was a blast. Then there was darkness.

Then there was a field, mushrooms, a strange man... and no Egypt.

Stan could sense that wherever he was, it was a place with far more magical energy than the Earth he knew. Whatever the outcome of the incident in Egypt, Stan, Sam and Helmut were no longer around to see it. This was a different place, and quite possibly a new beginning.

With a campaign 10 years in the making now at a close, we called it a night for the RPGing. I had a great time playing it, and I want to thank Shemp again for being the GM. Stan McCormick, Auto Mechanic and Ghost Hunter, will always be one of my favorite characters.

We still had about an hour before we had to go, so Luch pulled out his new copy of Bohnanza and we gave it a whirl.

Bohnanza is a card game about planting beans. Players have to plant the most profitable crops possible, and must trade with other players in order to maximize their opportunities. Once the deck of cards is run through three times, the game ends and the richest player wins. The game system is quite clever in a few ways:

1) Players can only plant two varieties of beans at one time (three later in the game). The goal is to collect as many of that card as possible since the payout increases the more cards are in the set. The problem is that the mechanic of the game forces players to plant the first card in their hand every round... if there's no room for the card in an existing patch, one of the them has to be uprooted and thrown away (whether it's worth money yet or not). The only way to get rid of a card from your hand that you don't want to plant is to trade it away. This mechanism leads to constant trade from all players and is very effective at keeping all players involved and interested at all times (no matter who's turn it is).

2) When crops are cashed in, a number of cards from that set are kept as money. This effectively reduces the number of cards of that variety as the game progresses. There are so many varieties that it's hard to keep track of them all, but knowing what's out there and what isn't is a big advantage when planning the crops to pursue.

Although the theme is quite silly, there is a certain level of skill needed to understand what to trade, how to plan ahead and when to negotiate. I thought it was quite a good game, but I don't think I'd ask my sister to play it. As it turns out, beginners luck was on my side and I managed a win, but the game was pretty close and it felt tight right to the end!


Bohnanza: 7.5

1 comment:

  1. You know, this is weeks and weeks and weeks later, but I just realized that you think Dr. Aziz died. I don't think that is what happened. He was very near death, and Helmut hustled him out of the way. Otherwise, what you said.