At IndieCon, Gary Bowerbank ran a session of Scorn for Scott, Andrew, and others. Here’s what Gary and Andrew had to say on the subject:
Andrew: I don’t think we can publish an actual play without censoring most of it. Good game though. I won’t look at a disco ball the same way again.
Gary: It’s a daemon-killing weapon so awesome Scott threw away his primary tool (etched human femur with nails through) to own it. Fear the tiny tiny mirrors. For now I can give you the Drives that all got achieved. The tricky thing was making sure the demon pregnancy was a surprise and I’m rightly proud I managed it.
* Oh my God, he exploded!
* Why do I always end up dangling off high places?
* Blood bath in a hospital.
* Unexpected demonic pregnancy.
* A garbage truck just crashed into an ambulance.
Andrew: I think I can go as far as to say the pregnancy was unexpected as it involved Coroner’s son and a demonic cardinal. No one saw that one coming.
And then Gary posted this full report:
I’ve tried to sanitise this as much as I can, there’s much less ejaculate and talk of willies than there should be for example. Still, might not be for everyone, but here’s an actual play of how my first game of Rafael Chandler’s Scorn : The First Book of Pandemonium went at IndieCon this weekend. There’s some system bits mixed in with the general How It Went stuff. Enjoy!
Props to Scott Dorward, Andrew Kenrick, Dave Blewer, Jonny Gray’s Brother, and The Other Tijs for showing up and bringing the narration in spades.
We had some characters in the stats sense of the word, some numbers on a sheet and a bunch of spells and stunts for each, but that was about it. First order of business was to get these fleshed out, and before you know it we’ve got an ex-hooker, disgraced surgeon, scrawny drug addict, and so forth. We then got a bunch of NPCs put down on paper, with some relationships between them. Scorn has a sort of points system for this, but in practice it was better to just shout out some people and make a few relationships between then in a freeform style (for our purposes).
With some Drives in place (one liners that should come up during the game session) we hit the ground running. The group decided that their haven was an abandoned night club on the site of an old lunatic asylum. Some local heavies turned up claiming to have bought the building, but it quickly became apparent that six weren’t going to be enough, so they called in another dozen reinforcements. The characters chain-sawed and disco-balled their way through them in a matter of seconds. Everyone rolls initiative, the highest player goes first and picks who goes next, then he picks the next etc. Once all the players have acted the DM gets a go. I didn’t roll any dice, its all up to the players to roll defence if I strike at them.
The Vicar then turned up and hit the players with a Trigger (a start to an investigation of a demon), before leaving them to it. The Cabal heads off past the suspicious mounds in the nearby wasteland, clouds of flies sensing the many dead bodies, and stray dogs scratching at the ground. At the hospital the Cabal have been directed to – Coroner’s son is paralyzed, but has vivid visions – they note the Cardinal’s vehicle (he’s hear blessing the kids) and a suspicious clown car (old garbage truck). As always happens, they decide to split up and go about their own business.
The short version is, Coroner discovers the Cardinal is actually a demonic manifestation that has made his son pregnant. There’s a viscous fight, but elongated members and massive crab claws don’t mix, so strike one for the “good” guys. The demon spawn is ejected from the premises via the top floor window. Skingraft spots a clown in the children’s ward and goes for a take down. He’s part of the agency of demon hunters that use children’s entertainers as a cover, but that doesn’t stop the psychotic Skingraft from throwing him out of a window to his doom. This doesn’t make the kids happy. Mustang and Hazmat alternately seduce a sentient cancer and the gang boss it inhabits to get some cryptic clues. They then choke his brother to death on the tumour they’ve removed from the gang boss. Gorman is relatively on it and actually goes to the records room and morgue to get some actual clues.
During all that madness the players have used some vibrantly detailed spells, racked up some Decay (too much and you become that which you hunt) by initiating stunts and got down with more of the fight mechanics. If you succeed in a roll, the person one side of you narrated what happened. If you failed the person on the other side. It took a couple of goes to get into this, but after a short while it really worked. It keeps everyone listening to what’s going on as they could be called to describe events a lot more often than you’d normally expect.
A demonic manifestation tries to make a run for it in the clown’s garbage truck outside. The Cabal are ready for this and launch into an all out assault, letting rip with spells and Decay and somehow manage to stop the thing, although not without serious blood loss from being battered with tumescent tentacles. Hazmat takes a unique approach to distracting the demonic spawn (to a happy finish) and it gets a mirror ball to one of its many faces. The children of the kids ward look out in astonishment. The Cabal decides to leg it. They get a line on the Demon using Investigation. The Investigator class allows the player to come up with clues from virtually anywhere, so soon the Cabal are heading for the conference centre, where the demon is no doubt ready to give a big speech, hiding as it is in the body of the police commissioner.
We break out the other stunts, such as Inverted Cross that allows you to switch things round on the dice rolls to low is good, instead of high. Everyone is getting the hang of Cabal Points too. You spend these to allow re-rolls for another player. One point means you can re-roll ones. Two points, re-roll ones and twos etc. up to six points per roll. Players get to add a die into their rolls if they use colourful and cool narration too. Everyone has been doing this from the get go and it requires no input from the GM. Enough investigation has been done so that the Cabal has an extra die each when fighting the demon too. Time for a showdown.
The Cabal insinuate themselves into the conference hall as band members and waiters and prepare for the guests. During the course of the meal it becomes clear the demon worshipers have riddled the drinks with demonic love juice, and Hazmat’s decision to tip loads of Viagra into the punch now seems a bad idea in retrospect. The Cabal making knowing looks at each other and its clear they’re going to burn the whole place down with everyone in it. As the commissioner gets ready to start his speech about the crackdown on crime, Mustang gets the mic and starts hammering “F%$k the Po-lice”.
Through investigation we’ve determined the demon can’t abide water and so its not long before someone’s started a fire and set off the sprinkler system. Demons appear weak (compared to the Angels in Spite for example), so mine quickly developed some armour to make a fight of it. The demon spurted in the eyes of some SWAT and FBI and turned them against the Cabal, and many stunts were pulled, exploding gas canisters thrown, and destroying anything that could be thrown, shot or moved in some way, the fight raised all kinds of mayhem. Two characters reached retirement in the fight – they would last until the big finish, but then must die and everyone else shuts the funk up while they describe that for us.
The demon was killed and the flaming carcases of Mustang and Skingraft came flying out of the conference centre, allowing a way out for the innocents and surviving cabal members. If there were further adventures planned, the two players without characters would roll up new ones, and the others would reset Decay, Blood, Cabal Points etc. ready for the next case. Agonising death or becoming a demon. It’s the only way its going to end. But for three of them at least, not today…
Great game – probably went a bit too Gonzo for me, but lots of memorable bits (a lot of which I’ve had to redact) and good times. The game needs a polish before its released as a proper version, but to say its free, you can do a lot worse than downloading a copy and getting your blasphemous-full-metal-demon-hunting game on. I’ll be running it again.