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[The Shab-al-Hiri Roach] More murub, por favor.

Started by Eric Provost, August 17, 2006, 06:17:04 PM

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Eric Provost

So, I got to run two sessions of The Shab-al-Hiri Roach on the official books at GenCon this year.  It was, obviously, totally awesome. 

The first session, which ran from 9am to 1pm on Friday morning was sold-out, and I took on one extra player for a total of 8 of us.  The extra players caused a little bit of a shift in the game, namely that we didn't manage to get through all six events in our four hour block.  The lack of the sixth event, the Gamma Gamma Gamma Christmas Ball didn't seem to have any serious negative effect on play.  When we were wrapping up event four, I simply announced that the next event would be the final one, and everyone adjusted their plans accordingly.

A great moment from that game occurred during the second event.  See, all 7 of my players had never heard of The Roach before coming to the game.  They had all read the description out of the event catalogue and thought it would be interesting.  Now, while the rules of the game suggest a lines & veils discussion before play, I never do it.  Then it nearly came back to bite me in the ass.  There was this one player, who happened to be the only woman at the table, who was just a bit quiet during the first event.  Didn't get too terribly involved during the conflicts and scenes that went on then.  By the beginning of the second event I couldn't be sure if she was just getting warmed up, was just a tag-along with her significant other, or for some other reason just wasn't into the whole Roach-thing.

On the other hand, one of the players sitting next to her got into the spirit of the game real fast.  In his scene for the second event he starts describing how his character is about to walk in on this huge faculty-organized orgy that was happening in someone's office.  Then, to my horror, he turns to the lone might-not-be-into-it player and declares something to the effect of "And you're right in the middle of it!"

Can you picture me turning green?  My jaw dropping off?  There was this sudden swirl of paranoia in my head, wondering just how many times she may have had to put up with people she'd never met before declaring that her favourite bad-ass character was getting gang-raped.  Or some equally repugnant shit like that. 

But I was saved!  Without any hesitation what so ever, she threw forward a chip of reputation to show that she was in the conflict and declared "You're damn right I am!  And it's gonna make me the most popular member of the faculty, too!"  Her eyes lit up, her voice got loud, and a huge smile went across her face.  The very moment that I was paranoid would shake her out of the game entirely was the very moment that brought her into it, 100%.

An observation
I can't tie this to any particular moment of play, but there's something about the cards that I found myself wishing was just a little different.  It's some of the Roachy-commands.  The ones that have a mechanical effect, like raising up your personal die size or dropping it down.  They feel flat during play.  Every time I get one, or even when someone else gets one, I find myself wishing that there was some kind of disturbing command there in place of the mechanism. 

At the same time, I feel that Murub has no equal in the game, and it's a shame.  I tend to spend a bit too much time waiting to see where and when that card comes into play.

Of course, I am volunteering my services to author new horrible commands to issue forth from the mandibles of the Roach.  But much of that depends on a little help with the Sumerian.


Jason Morningstar

Ten kinds of awesome, Eric.  I think you may be right about the cards - a big part of the fun is interpretation of the commands, and I've gotten similar feedback from others.  That said, the mechanical stuff impacts game play in interesting ways as well, and always offers the opportunity for interpretation, too.  Eagerly awaiting the next draw isn't a bad thing...