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[Various SOLO + GURPS] Semiotic Apophany

g047br41n

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This was great!

Kinda threw me off, I thought the jumps happened when either the character dies or the character goes to bed after completing the scenarios end.

Love that the character is starting to think more about the metaplot on why the jumps are happening, though.
 

Coorlim

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There's a definite logic to how the jumps happen, but the protagonist hasn't figured it out yet.

I'm wondering if "2 cp per 2k+ word post + bonus for success" is too rapid a rate of advancement. Maybe I should cut that in half?
 

g047br41n

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Considering you are playing with quite a sizeable disadvantage from building the character with only 50 points and then also not having very many of those points in skills that would be useful to these scenarios, the advancement rate doesn't seem too fast.

That's actually something I'm really interested in. Like how do you figure out when to call it a session when playing solo. Word count seems like an interesting way to go about it.
 

Coorlim

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Yeah, in this case I'm calling each post a session, and aiming for 2k-3k words per post.
 

Coorlim

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The rules continue to elude me. I had about a month in Arkham - just long enough to hope that things had settled. I wouldn’t necessarily choose to live in a '90s Lovecraftian world, but it’d be a life. As long as I avoided old books and older houses. So I tried to fit in. Tried to slide into this new life. Decided to work on the grant paper.

I was sitting in the library, looking up the history of the House, and then I wasn’t.

I was on a horse.

It wasn’t so sudden that I was in danger of falling off. This time, as soon as I realized what had happened, I took a few minutes to assess the situation before reacting.

Fact 1. I was on a horse. It seemed to know what it was doing, so I just let it keep on keeping on. I’ve ridden a horse a grand total of once, back when I was a Boy Scout, and it was a horse trained to basically let unskilled kids sit on its back and follow the horse in front of it while they walked down a trail. This horse was following a dusty road.

Fact 2. I was dressed like a cowboy. If we’re going to be precise, a 19th century American dressed for the elements in the Old West. Boots with spurs, bandana, hat, gunbelt. The whole deal.

Fact 3. I was in the American West. Southwest, maybe. Reddish scrubland. Sand. I’ve been to Colorado, South Dakota, Southern California. It’s after sundown, but I can see a settlement up ahead, with gaslit streetlights.

So, yeah, I was in a Western. Only I couldn’t ride a horse or fire a six-shooter - the only gun I’d ever fired had been a rifle, and only to the same degree that I’d ridden a horse.

Spoiler: Show
Our scenario begins. We’re playing Mad Mesa, a Boot Hill solo adventure. It gives us no insight into our protagonist - it’s literally for any Boot Hill character. In the absence of other guidelines I’ve just given us a fairly generic gear loadout.

On the bright side, the information our protagonist has - riding into a town called Mad Mesa - is exactly as much guidance as the scenario offers the player, so we’re at no significant disadvantage there.


There’s a sudden flurry of gunfire from town. The horse I was riding bucked, knocking me on my ass because I had no idea how to calm it down.

“Easy,” I said, getting up and walking to it's side.

The horse exhaled noisily, stamping its feet. I decided against pressing my luck by trying to get back up on it. Rubbing my backside, I took the reigns and started leading the beast towards town, grateful that I hadn’t broken my - actually made of glass - glasses in the fall.

Spoiler: Show
Failed a Riding check to stay mounted; my default is only 5. Being unhorsed inflicted 1 hp of damage. I’d also need to make a check to successfully get on the damn thing, and I have no desire to agitate it further.


We reached a signpost proclaiming, in order:
* That this was Main Street.
* That this was Mad Mesa.
* That the population was 157. No 153. No…

It was that movie gag where the rough n’ tumble town’s sign had been updated every time someone died. The current number was 132.

I took the pistol out of my gunbelt. It was a revolver - and that’s where my understanding of guns began and ended. Was it single action? Double action? How could I tell? What did that mean? Whatever, I didn’t want to shoot anybody. I put it back in its holster before it went off and killed my horse.

A skinny guy with bad teeth approached me as I made my way into town. “Howdy mister - stable your horse, six bits?”

Six bits? A bit is basically I dime, I think. I patted myself down, finding a pouch holding silver dollars. “Sure.” I handed him one.

He gave me back a quarter. “Feed and grooming’s included.”

How the hell was six bits seventy-five cents? That didn’t make any sense. “Okay. What was that shooting about?”

The groom was patting the horse’s neck. “Ain’t no thing. Happens all the time in the middle of a range war. Russles shootin’ Kanes, Kanes shootin’ Russles, some low-life blowin’ into town lookin’ fer easy pickins’… all you can really do is jump outa the way, or slap your own leather n’ shoot straight. N’ pray.”

“Thanks…” My gaze flickered up to the sign above the stable. “Larsen?”

“Olaf. Olaf Larsen. My dad owns the stable.”

“Michael,” I introduced myself, shook his hand, and started walking up the street, not sure if I wanted to hang around.

Spoiler: Show
There’s no map to go by in Mad Mesa. Instead, just a number of positional encounters up and down main street, walking between buildings we can choose to investigate. We’re also rolling for random encounters - a 10% chance each “spot” up and down the street.


I decided to take a quick look around, just in case, heading down Main Street past a church to the intersection. I kept going straight, past the sheriff’s office and jail, past a doctor’s office, to the “Lazy A Hotel.” It was a nicer building, three stories, with gas lighting.

I decided to pop in and get a room, walking up to the front desk. “Hi.”

“Hello.” The night clerk greeted me. “Staying? Rooms are $1 a night, or $5 a week, paid in advance.”

I put a dollar on the counter. “Just a night, please.”

He handed a key over with a smile. “Room three, sir. And if you need anything, just ask.”

“Will do.” I scooped up the key and headed over to the restaurant section of the hotel, hungry despite myself. I had this nagging feeling that something was going to happen. Genre awareness, call it.

There were a number of tables, all but two empty. I sat alone, and before long, a waitress joined me. “Get you some supper? Fifty cents, including coffee.”

“Sure.” She departed.

I folded my hands and took off my hat, checking out the other patrons - a trio of what were probably real cowboys at one table, a man and a woman at another. I didn’t like it here. Not the restaurant, or the hotel, but the town. I knew that sooner or later, plot would happen, and I’d get in a shootout. Lose. And die. Again. And if I was shot more than once? What if only the killing bullet disappeared? What if I appeared after the jump all shot to hell?

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I hadn’t entered an adventure, and this was a respite, a break, a nice holiday into the 19th century.

Maybe I didn’t want to risk it. Maybe I could avoid it. Just get up, leave before the plot hook even hit me. I flagged the waitress over. “I’ve changed my mind on supper… but I’ll tip you a dollar if you tell me which way to the nearest town.”

Her eyes widened. “Well, you ride on out east and you’ll get to Saint Louis in a few days.”

“Great. Which way to the general store?”

“Just next door. But they’re closed until morning.”

Of course they are. "Can I get some supplies from the kitchen? Enough to get me to the city.”

“Sure, for… five dollars.”

“You got it.”

She returned with a satchel of supplies, I paid her, and left. Back to the stable, back to my horse. Took my time mounting up, and rode the hell out of Mad Mesa.

Spoiler: Show
Everything done within the structure of the module. I rolled for random encounters, I rolled Riding to get on the horse (succeeding with a generous Takes Extra Time bonus), and left using the option in the stable. Mad Mesa does not force you to stay. It doesn’t force you to do anything. There are no real “hooks” - it’s an old school sandboxy module that doesn’t make you do anything. It’s also not terribly compelling to write about, and a little aggravating to play.

I award us 0 CP for non-participation.

But in the metafictional context, why did I play a game where I showed up, walked around, and left? Accomplishing nothing? Metagame reasons. To teach our protagonist an important lesson.


I jumped again that night, a few hours after leaving town, appearing alone on a dark path in front of a lonesome swamp. I turned around, and walked away, back towards what I assumed was the nearest town.

And jumped again, appearing in an airport in 1920s Honduras, waiting for a jeep. I turned around, booked a flight back to America, without my luggage, without looking at my passport to see who I was.

We hadn’t even left the runway when I jumped again, this time appearing in front of a desolate cave, dressed in plate armor and carrying a sword.

I sat down, took out this parchment, and wrote the preceding.

Okay.

I get it.

I have to participate, or you’ll keep throwing me around. Whoever or whatever you are. If there is a you.

When I was in my twenties, I spent years drifting around, living out of a suitcase, moving to a new place every year or so. It was an unsettled and jagged way to live. I was okay with it at the time, but man, I’m 40 now. Just thinking about it is exhausting.

I look up at this foreboding cave in front of me… and if that’s the price I need to pay for weeks or a month of life instead of hours… I’ll pay it. Whatever scraps of a life I can cobble together until I find a way to stop this.

I got a month after the haunted house. I got hours after Mad Mesa. Yeah. I get it.

Fine. Let’s do this.
 
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Coorlim

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When I get in the zone it goes pretty quickly, and this is basically the only gaming I get to do these days so...
 

g047br41n

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Thanks. Going to aim for 2-3 updates a week, MWF if I can swing it.
Ayyy, super excited about this and really like how you used Mad Mesa to get the character to learn to play along. Also, I kind of want to know more about the 1920's Honduras setting. Seems like a cool international espionage thriller type thing.
 
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