One semester of classes, 25 sessions, 50 hours of gameplay, 50+ hours of prep, 14 total players, couple hundred monster tokens, 13 dead PCs, 9 Artifacts, 6 dead Lords of the Districts, one dead Lord Skorne later…
All done! Some takeaways:
- The most frequent compliment I receive about the game was concerning the length. People really dig the “two hours split into two acts” formula. They know when to show up, what to expect, and when things would wrap up. It fits like a glove over the college lifestyle… And the “working adult” lifestyle too, I imagine.
- Maze Rats leveling worked how I wanted it to. I’ve rarely had games go on this long, so it was difficult to see if the progression system was long enough to keep people active in their leveling. There was only one PC that reached the max level of seven at the last session. To me, that’s perfect.
- The “shields shatter to negate damage” rule is cool in a vacuum, but can be obnoxious at the table. I will say that they soaked three or four critical hits that would’ve easily wiped those characters. However, there’s only so many times I can describe a shield shattering. AND players were trying to find ways to get more than one shield and hoard them as “overshields” like in Halo. AND they would just use downtime to buy more shields! Lame, but practical. I would like more cool and practical.
- Side-based combat is forever a MUST for me, both as a player and as a GM. Things flow so much faster. Plus, when players are on a timer they work together to get their turn done as fast as effectively as possible. And there are more opportunities for teamwork. You don’t have to delay until someone else goes anymore.
- However, as a side-note for side-based, having to roll each round is dramatic. Which is good. Players yell and scream when they roll low. It’s a crushing blow. When they roll high, everyone gets pumped for the new round. Going twice is HUGE for the players. But when the GM goes twice, players aren’t robbed of agency to react to things, but it’s pretty close… Especially if they just get attacked by the same monster for a second time and die to it. That happened twice or thrice. Into the Odd, which I’ve been reading and is grandfather to Maze Rats, has an initiative alternative that is side-based in nature that I will most likely be using for future games.
- Maze Rats has random tables that are amazing. That is all.
- I loved 2d6 games. Simple math, bell curve, yummy.
For running the finale: I made the final fight time-based. The long and short of it is that Skorne was destroying Death for immortality. Behind the screen I had a six-section pie chart. Every 25 minutes, the timer would go off and I would describe more of the dead coming back to life as Death is being defeated. Specifically, the guardians of the Artifacts they had been receiving all this time were coming back with a vengeance. It was a neat “tour de accomplishments.” They already knew all the tricks for each of the boss monsters and could feel smart for outmaneuvering them. On my side, all I had to do to prep was copy and paste their stats from another sheet. Easy! 🙂
If the pie chart filled all the way, Death was destroyed and Skorne could not be killed. With a new force of undead behind him, he would take the city for good and quash any resistance. Oh yeah, I had a “dark ending” ready.
Once Skorne was defeated, they each narrated their own epilogue scene. It was very sentimental for most of the narrations. Happy tears. 🙂
After the last session, there was a talkback about all the background things that happened and I finally stopped misdirecting questions. It was incredibly liberating to be able to tell the truth about most aspects of the game… But I still kept some secrets. GMs are like magicians that way, I guess…
Enjoy the summer and play good games! I can promise more posts in the form of games coming down the pipe. Basically for next semester, my group is going to split into HARD-CORE and softies groups. They’ll be playing BLOOD AND CHROME, a tough-as-nails cyberpunk hack of Into the Odd, and Pokemon Adventures, a beer-and-pretzels game based on Ryuutama and Savage Worlds and Pokemon, obviously.
I don’t think I’ll ever have time to run my Knave Hack. Sad days…