Friday, April 5, 2019

Tuesdays in the Cantons, Eight Years On.

This past Tuesday was the weekly Hill Cantons game - the usual B/X ruleset, going through some of Chris's new material for Revoca Canton, the next planned expansion for the setting (now getting early release on Patreon). I got to the session a bit late, arriving as the group was planning on fighting two four-armed, four-legged guard constructs (unaffectionately dubbed 'Shaq-nus') guarding the top of a tower, hidden away in an extraplanar pocket dimension.
Kirbyesque Space Chris
by Jason Sholtis, commissioned by Robert Parker

Tuesday was also the shuttering of Google Plus, the social network where Chris began running the campaign online in 2012, after starting it as a local game in 2008. The play report from my very first session is here. Despite the much-vaunted lethality of OSR play, four of the five PCs listed survived through five years of roughly weekly play (with the last PC dropping away from the campaign). Admittedly, if it weren't for the additional padding of the Death and Dismemberment table, Ba Chim would have been toast many times over.

Tuesday night was one of those sessions where you spend fifteen real-time minutes discussing the logistics of getting the group up a tree to get to the top of the tower, and then another fifteen to twenty planning out how to go through the fight, while the fight itself wraps up in five or six rounds, lasting maybe seven minutes tops. After the fight, we caught our breath with some interesting puzzle-solving (how do you disarm this energy field trap guarding the top of the tower?*), and then getting our teeth into the exploration of the tower.

Revoca Canton Player's Map - Gus L
The tower exploration wound up having half the group drawing upon and synthesizing information (cultural aesthetics and sociology, cosmology, goofy in-references) across like a real-life decade of play to come to an understanding of the cosmological significance and framework of the tower and some of the weird shit we discovered. Then we wound up finding a greater understanding of the space through traditional murderhobo "grab everything you can" action, found a hidden component of the tower, and wound up getting a McGuffin through being polite, friendly, and enthusiastic about exploration and discovery.

The combination of exploration, intuitive understanding and synthesis and spitballing, and strange-but-charming discussion with an NPC who would probably be parsed as an immediate existential threat in other games is a large part of what gets me interested in and passionate about RPGs, and why I've been coming back to the Hill Cantons for eight years on.

So big thanks to you, Chris. And big thanks to the other players who've shared adventures in the Cantons over this time. It's been a major touchstone for my life. RIP to the Big Red Plus, but here's to new adventures and frontiers.

* No spoilers, but the disarmament process involved lots of Kirby Krackle, it turns out. (Tragically neither Nadezda the ranger nor Burt the feral dwarf walked away with the Power Cosmic.)

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