Ropecon 09 – jää hiljaisuus

10 August, 2009 at 5:16 pm (actual play, Ropecon)

The first game I GM’ed at Ropecon was the Finnish scenario Jää hiljaisuus by Nordic, who is also knows as Risto Hietala, a famous name in the Finnish rpg scene (since I’ve heard of him). Players were Dare Talvitie (an excellent player), Riku, Tiina (who looked like a ferengi) and Jukka.

Spoilers ahead. The scenario will be very different if you first read this and only then play.

The story is that of four men being sent to a small research station, meaning essentially a storehouse, in the Arctic to get a few measurements and to bring said measuring equipment back for repairing and maintenance. The ship they are sent out from remains some 120 kilometers away (due to plot saying so and floating mountains of ice), while the men use a smaller vehicle. The vehicle gets burned during the night (the hours during which it is not the night are preciously few during early winter). There’s a number of events, like finding the frozen corpse of a seal, that will happen. Other than them, the scenario very much depends on the players doing something interesting, which basically amounts to arguing, trying to survive or fighting amongst themselves. There’s preciously few opportunities for the GM to do anything about their course of action, save for out-of-character prodding.

At some point during the first day GM randomly assigns for notes to the players without looking at them. One tells the character in question burned the boat, one that the character did not think he did it and two that the character did not do it.

Oh, yeah, the characters. All of them have secrets of some sort and all know the secret of one other character. The secrets are not really devastating enough to justify burning the boat, which is a major design flaw. Also, one character is married but it does not read on the information to be given to that player and that lack is easy to miss as GM (I did, but it went fine by sheer luck).

As for the actual play, I took a pretty strong lead at the beginning, explaining how things are done and not really asking if they did something unstandard; this is something of a requirement, as the scenario assumes the boat gets burned and communications with it.

The players certainly played their characters to hilt: One being sensible, one pretending to be sensible, one trying to attract aliens to pick him up, using whatever means he had available (the scenario did not mention them at all, so I sort of wonder why the player fixated on aliens) and another character getting caught up in the act, assuming everyone else an alien. In the end  the boat-burner more-or-less killed those who did not do so to each other, afterwards wandering into the icy wastes only to perish quietly, freezing to death.

Overall, I did not find the scenario text to be helpful. I could have improvised equivalent content and it lacked details that would have been useful (a map of the cabin, say, or more detail on the few discoveries made in the icy fields). One lesson learned was that should I run a ready-made adventure ever again, I should look at it from the point of view of all players, considering the material they are given. Obvious, I know, but not something I even thought of before running the scenario.

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