The Games of Summer

My formative RPG years were 1978-1984, in the shapeless suburbs of the southern Bay Area. I discovered white box D&D in 5th grade and followed the thread through a succession of games—City State of the Invincible Overlord, Holmes D&D, AD&D, Boot Hill, Top Secret, Star Frontiers, Call of Cthulhu, Bureau 13, Twilight: 2000, etc.

During the school year we could get some sessions in on the weekends, but summer vacation became synonymous with tabletop gaming. We were a gaggle of (lucky, privileged) latchkey kids with time on our hands, in the twilight before teen romance and party culture would start to draw attention away from our nerdy pursuits. I will forever associate the change of seasons and shift in day-to-day schedules with the wide-open promise of a California summer, the best days spent with friends in cool basements and fantasy worlds, with September and the new school year as blurry and immaterial as a mirage on the horizon.

As a result of this conditioning, whenever summer rolls around, my excitement for the potential of games yet unplayed heightens and I start to concoct plans for the next big campaign. That’s the energy that I was riding last week, when I decided on an impulse to run Masks of Nyarlathotep. I went a little overboard, buying the 7th edition of Call of Cthulhu, the 2018 edition of Masks, and… eek, the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society’s Gamer Prop Set for Masks. I decided I can’t handle how fiddly the 7th edition rules are, so I’m hacking it into some kinda PbtA thing, but that’s another story.

Anyhow, the promise of summer gaming looms invitingly. We’ll probably kick things off in a couple of weeks. What about you? What big, multi-session games are you prepping to run, or are in the midst of running? I would love to hear about your ambitious plans and ongoing escapades.

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Summer to me means a) going to Castle Hessenstein for the Tanelorn forum’s yearly sommer convention, where I’ll get to play cool game with nice people and chat with them for three whole days. This year, I’m playing Barbarians of Lemuria, Masks, The Clay That Woke and something undetermined, Since I’m one of the organizers, that takes a bit of time & energy, but we’re a pretty good team, so it’s not onerous.

Also, I will continue running my Miami Files campaign (Dresden Files: The RPG) and my Ars Magica campaign, but that’s not summer-specific - quite the contrary, it means that my players will go on vacations (or I will), and we can’t play then.

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No big campaign here, but summer gives me the opportunity to stay up until after 22:00 without having a bad conscience. I did the intro letter from Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple with the boardgame group last year around Christmas time, and we recently got together to play boardgames with the same group and they asked wether we could play another session. It’s their first TTRPG if I’m not mistaken, and they took the bait. So we planned a session coming Friday and I’m looking forward to it. Who knows if it will become a weekly thing? That would be awesome.

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I’m currently running a short arc of Troika! with some friends over Google Hangouts. It’s possible we’ll continue when this arc is done. If not, here are a few other multi-session games I’m considering running this summer (possibly bleeding into September):

  • Ironsworn
  • Mouse Guard (or maybe Torchbearer)
  • some kind of sci-fi setting (probably either mutants or space)
  • D&D adjacent game for dungeon-crawling
  • or maybe something else…

I have a bunch of loose groups of people I game with, so what I run is probably based on who is available and what they are interested in. I have way too many arc/campaign ideas to list here without boring everyone.

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Ooh, Ironsworn. Yes! I have the hard copy and would love to give that a go some day.

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I’ve been trying to wrap up a campaign to playtest various soulslike OSR hacks, but the players are now so into the open ended sandbox faction game that I have no idea how to wrap it up in a satisfying way. I think we are about to have our 9th or 10th session, which is a lot for us! :sweat_smile:

After that, we need to figure out if we will play Invisible Sun (whose concept everybody loves, but whose rules might be a bit too much for us) or Silent Titans (whose rules we know well, but which might be a little too similar in some ways to what we are doing now). We’ll see!

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This thread is making me nostalgic for something I never really had!

Summer isn’t too much different from other seasons for me – though living in Wisconsin, more daylight and not freezing are nice. I do plan to try to run a few more one-shots over the summer, since I’m no longer working every other weekend, and I started this by trying out Lasers & Feelings this weekend when one of my usual players was out of town for a wedding. I’m hoping to run some more Monster of the Week, and finally getting a chance to run Blades in the Dark. I’d like to log some more time playing in games vs running them, but what can ya do. The 5E campaign I’m a player in is supposed to start back up, but I haven’t really worked up much enthusiasm for that one. I’m sure it’ll be fine.

I do hope we have some days we can play outside though! I’ve had a lot of fun rolling dice and looting dungeons in the summer breeze.

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I love Monster of the Week! That’s another one I’d definitely do a summer series for if players were interested. (Probably one of my top 2 or 3 favorite PbtA games to run.)

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I think one of the things I love the most about MOTW is that it’s probably the game where improvisation comes most easily to me. Like I’m so completely enmeshed in the tropes of the genre that it comes almost effortlessly, once I have the basic mystery prep done so there’s something to hang it all on. I haven’t played Masks: The Next Generation yet, but I have to imagine that’d be similar for me.

Anyway! I don’t want to drag us too off topic here! If you want to talk more about MOTW let me know and we can probably make that happen!

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I’m continuing my newbie campaign which started when the husband of a coworker with a little RPG experience wanted to play some. It snowballed into forming a new group of 3 coworkers, said coworker’s husband, and another player I met through a local meetup. None of these folks have been playing for more than 2-3 years (2 of them have never played a RPG before), and those with some experience have mostly only played 5E.

We started with a 5E adventure called “Shadows over Driftchapel”, which involves cult shenanigans in a creepy seaside town, a la Lovecraft. The larger setting is sketched out, and involves a crusade 200 years ago in which the humans, using black powder and airships, almost wiped out the Elves and Dwarves, thus breaking the ancient magical wards that kept an evil, supernatural darkness called the Gloam out of the world. This setting is right in the center of my gaming preferences, since I like dark, horror-tinged stuff with 18th c. aesthetics (tricornered hats and muskets for the win!).

I’ve been running the campaign using the Shadow of the Demon Lord rules rather than 5E, since I prefer them, but I’ve noticed that the newer folks do not seem that into learning the ins and outs of their characters’ special abilities. We wrapped up the first adventure last week, so tonight we’re going to discuss as a group possibly switching to the ultra-light Free Universal system. I feel like these players are more into the story and action/adventure aspects of the game, and less into the mechanical bits, so FU might work pretty well for them. I’ve got the next adventure prepped based on one of the locations briefly described in the setting chapter of the Driftchapel book. This is the first adventure I think I’ve written myself in quite a while (besides dungeons for sand-box games like Freebooters), and I think it will be a fun one.

John

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My main game of summer has been the last half of a Dungeon World campaign. The group have got out of hell and now have to make sure that Rath The Antigod doesn’t follow them.
I’ve been prepping a bunch of one-shots for games evenings I host at my FLGS, with 7th Sea as the big main one. I don’t know what it is about the setting but summer always makes me want to revisit it.

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