This is a lengthy AP, but I'm excited about this game, and I can't find many proper APs out there for it, so I'm gonna go ahead and post the whole thing. In case you are interested, but not THAT interested, I have divided it up into Character Creation, Doing Stuff, and Fighting.SETTING & CHARACTER CREATION
I got real excited about this game when it first came out (or sort-of came out, I guess it's still in playtesting). Vince Baker! Swords! Lots of dice! But my first attempt to run a game got stopped early, and then I didn't get back to it until now.
I ran the game last night, using a town of my own creation. StWT has a fair amount of prep, but its fun prep. Making a town and character types and lists is neat-o. Even making monsters is cool, and you end up with really distinct, weird, unique monsters.
The setting for the game was the town of Nine Bells, which is sort of a loose, fantasy western China, in the spirit of Barry Hughart's Master Li books. I lifted lots of neat little bits of color from a couple old game books for my lists – GURPS China and Palldium's Mystic China.
The town, character types and lists are online here
. I think it came out well, and I was pretty proud of it. The rules give you lots of freedom to invent, which is cool.
The group was myself plus five other players. Slightly larger than I'm comfortable with, and I think larger than Vince Baker recommends for the game, but what are you gonna do? The group is one I play with regularly, and while there are a couple players who dig indie/story games, the group as a whole is mostly non-hardcore gamers who prefer more traditional games (D&D 3E and Savage Worlds). Social gamers, if you will.
No one had read the rules in advance, as it was a sort-of last-minute game, and I told them there was no need. Character creation was super easy, even so. There were five character types, so everyone discussed, and then picked what they wanted (except for Colin, who arrived late, and got stuck with the Geomancer). Everyone wanted to be the Demon Hunter, but it was sorted out amiably.
We rolled stats together, and I made everyone a little packet with the lists and what they were. I briefly described the central dice mechanic, and the town itself. Then we went around the table and everyone described their character.
I also took pains to stress that the characters were not mercenaries, or treasure-hunters, but pillars of the community, people the townfolk would call on when the shit went down. This occasioned some laughter and commentary ("Wait, you mean we're not going to leave a trail of innocent dead behind us?"), as the group has on ongoing Deadlands campaign filled with PCs who are amoral bastards. I'm glad the rules stress this bit, as all the players reacted strongly to it. Good to have said it out loud.
I really liked character creation. Because there are so few mechanical elements, every little choice is important. When we introduced our characters, everyone said their name, the character type they had chosen, and said a little something about the gear they had picked. (John picked "Fancy Hat" from the gear list, which proved to be a running joke, and one of the highlights of the game).
Everyone also picked a "person" from the list, and came up with neat little backstories about how they were related to that person. For instance, the list presented "Peach Blossom, a courtesan". James picked her, and decided she was his sister, and he disapproved of her lifestyle. The other players liked that, so they dropped a few references in the game to Peach Blossom, and the family strife between the two.
I think the looseness of the character creation rules encourages players to take more liberties, which I like. If you know that the rules are not complex and finely-balanced, and that your friend just invented the archetypes the day before, you're more likely to tweak things to suit you without asking if it's "okay" or anything like that.