Sunday, August 07, 2011

A Farewell to (Hairy) Arms

So this is it, the last Smeaton post (probably). This will be long, but I want to get it out, so bear with me.

The Atlantis campaign is officially over. We played the last real session on Thursday night and had a brief epilogue/wrap party last night. Scotch was sipped, secrets revealed (more plotting to kill Smeaton by the other party members than I was totally comfortable with, actually--don't blame them, but still...), and songs were sung. There ended up being a total of thirteen song parodies inspired by the game, which is just... Oh god, I'm almost a filker. It's seriously embarrassing. It may have been one of the dorkiest evenings I have ever spent in my life, which is saying something, but it was also one of the most fun.

Because this game was something special to all of us, I think. Besides the 13 song parodies, the game also inspired faux tintype portraits, physical props, various other illustrations including portaits of efamar as her character:

Smeaton's original, but too small and plain, sub design:

And Smeaton's letter to Gentry after the night of the demon battle:

As well as a few side porn stories for the ladies, the copious notes written up by the GM for campaign background including a world's worth of locations and a huge cast of NPC's. And then there were my own piles of research for Smeaton, including research on making Scotch, info on early submarine designs, research on period poetry, and even a full manual of light artillery from 1896 I found on Google books. Oh yeah, and the recipes. Seriously. (ETA: And how could I forget that bat-cheva recorded something like the last 10 months of game sessions? Or the CD of soundtrack music and naamah's description of the game's proposed movie trailer that inspired me to construct an audio track of my own version of the trailer?)

And the thing is, it wasn't clear from the start that things would turn out so well. Our previous superhero game had been wildly fun, a laugh-a-minute gonzo ride through space and alternate dimensions. But for the new game, we were not only taking a more serious approach, but also adding two new players, efamar and jormungandr. Jorm had played years ago, but not recently, while efamar had not really gamed at all. Bat-cheva had only one campaign under her belt, and sargon and naamah had been gaming solely with each other for years, and so had developed a very personal gaming style that might not translate to a bigger group.

The early sessions were erratic, trying to find our place in the world and our dynamics as a group. Efamar was very shy and unsure, jorm's character had trouble finding his niche, and bat-cheva felt unequal to the leadership role she found cast upon her. As for me, it took me a while to find Smeaton's voice, but between the first moment I obeyed the impulse to have Smeaton deny the reality of magic and the time I gave the speech about Smeaton's goal in life--selling Smeaton's Own Steam Man whisky from town to town back in Scotland--I think he fell into place.

And about the time jorm dumped Dr. Travis for Strego, the entire group began to click and things got seriously fun. And now we're looking at the next game with some anticipation--because though we loved Atlantis, I think we were all ready to move on--but also with some trepidation, because what if we can never recapture that lightning-in-a-bottle thrill we got during the best parts of the Atlantis game?

Sargon is unsure of the campaign setting he wants to run. I had been planning to propose taking my own turn GMing after Atlantis ended, but I'm barely keeping up with my blogging commitments now. I don't think I could sustain a decent campaign as things stand right now, though I am keeping the notes I've prepared in case circumstances change and I want to try at a later date.

One of the coolest things about the game for me is that the game ended, in dramatic terms, with a kiss between Smeaton and Amice, his secret crush for most of the game. Games are played in basically two modes: dramatic mode, when players speak as their characters in scenes of discussion or action, and narrative mode, when time gets compressed and information in discussed at a higher impersonal level. And as far as I can remember, the last actual scene was between Smeaton and Amice. In a movie, it might look something like this:

Amice plunges the enchanted dagger into Smeaton's chest. He jerks and gasps as magical life flows into him. His eyes fly open to see Amice sitting in his lap--covered in blood, still flushed and panting from the battle, her concerned face only inches from his own, her eyes gazing into his.

Impulsively, he leans forward and kisses her, heedless of the blood. After a moment, she kisses him back. FREEZE FRAME. FADE to sepia as Waylon Jennings narrates.


And that's the story of how Mister Smeaton freed the hydra goddess and then killed her ass, with a little help from his friends. Smeaton and Amice never really discussed the kiss afterwards. They had both already made other choices with their lives.

DISSOLVE to sepia toned shot of the palace.


Smeaton eventually married the Empress Leda, while High King Valor returned to Avalon to wed his queen. Lady Victoria and King Acrisian, not to be outdone, had two weddings, and in the years to come, there were children, kittens and puppies for everyone.

DISSOLVE to shot of the mountains in sunset.


Strego, Son of Thunder, led his followers back to their home in the mountains, where they learned the art of breeding dragons from the Dorks of the North, who were much impressed by Strego's boots.

DISSOLVE to shot of Atlantis as the sun sets over the distant ocean.


And Amice Belden, the true hero of the Battle of Bel-eth? She assumed the throne formerly held by the late Lady Celaeno. History doesn't record whether rumor ever reached her ears of Empress Consort Smeaton's favorite concubine, a petite brunette redhead who was always seen dressed as a British librarian, and if anyone ever drew a connection between the concubine and the fearsome Witch Queen, they were probably smart enough not to speak such suspicions out loud.

And so everybody lived more or less happily ever after, until Smeaton's son, whom he always called Alfred after his favorite poet, assumed the throne and declared himself Caesar, which never works out for anyone. But that's... another story...


So that's out of my system now, and I move on to a new character (though if anyone wants to write their own alternate ending, go for it).

I'll be back.


Anonymous said...

Remind me--what was the note to Gentry about? What was Smeaton thanking him for precisely?

(Oh, and for concubine accuracy, Amice is a red-head.)

TheyStoleFrazier'sBrain said...

See, I was going back and forth over the hair color, but thought it was Victoria who was the red-head, and was afraid to ask.

The note to Gentry referred to my requesting the use of his amulet to either get me in past the guards or get L out in an emergency on the night of the demon attack. He did offer to let me use the amulet, but then I ended up not taking it. Don't remember the exact reason why, but I did appreciate the offer.