I will be starting an Altered State sandbox game at my open table this Sunday! Gimme your best short tips or pieces of inspiration!
That’s awesome! I’m sure you will have a blast!
When in doubt, wing it and always move in the direction of fun.
That’s the plan! I like winging it anyway. Altered State combined with Augmented Reality is the perfect environment for that.
Do not hold back, especially in Altered State! If the runners are going to let loose their psyker powers, drop a ton of grenades, and use up their ammo, make it worthy of the epicness!
You’ll do great!
From the sounds of it this is not your first open table, but if it is - make sure you set clear expectations for behaviour. Otherwise, have a blast! ICRPG moves FAST.
By open table I mean which ever of my friends are able to show up, not a public group. I will be running this sandbox, my best friend/other player is running Delta Green. We just get together when we can and choose which to play.
I am going to try and keep it moving fast! I have a short scenario written up and some other stuff for them to do if they want. Excited to see how it works out!
Awesome! Looking back on my ICRPG baptism by fire (70+ sessions ago) things I can tell you are:
Rather than detailed “if then” and “backstory” stuff, Prep a short list of Locations, Problems, Progress, and Enemy Mechanics (that can be easily re-skinned on the fly). Have one fixed Plotty “Catastrophe Clock” that you advance at a “random plus when it makes sense” interval. Aim for it to hit approximately 60% of the way through the session, and lead to a big fun setpiece finale.
Focus on creating a net positive emotional experience for your players more than meticulous rules accuracy, especially for early sessions. Rulings more than rules, and stay consistent within a session (you can revise the ruling next session with a lot less heartache and table-killing legal debate). Leaning hard into “The Rule of Cool” as you play is a must.
As the GM, it’s on you to set the tone for the table and to keep the pace and spotlight moving. Let your ego defenses go and spew forth high camp narrative flavor descriptions and melodramatic voices, dispensed in tiny regular doses that show everyone it’s safe—expected, even—to be silly and dramatic and get into character. Drip feed the melodrama all session long, and reward every step forward your players make into RPing that makes the table fun for everyone. In early games and with newer players, especially.
Good luck! Let us know how things went.
Yeap, I swung by to find out too. First sessions are always scary adventures.
It was really great!
A rundown of the game:
I decided to do a more classic cyberpunk world than presented in Altered State. Near future, low life/high tech, and more morally grey characters (though the players are leaning towards being good guys already, just not ones out to change the world so much as make the lives of their community better).
The game is a sandbox at an open table with my friends (as in whoever can make it this week is welcome, if you can’t make it no big deal). I wanted it to be very player directed, which we have all dove into. Right away two of the players created awesome backstories about being from one of the last nature reserves outside the sprawl; every year adventurers take a shift working in the sprawl to make money to support the reserve. They have a goal of making 50,000 credits before returning. It really created a cool idea for world. Something I would not have come up with myself.
The players had excellent character ideas as well, and I told them to run wild with reflavouring things. So one player wants to be a semi-luddite monk type who dislikes most technology (and especially augments). He is playing an Organic/Human Slicer and wanted to reflavour the starting gear as wuxia type martial arts skills (NanoSkin becomes Iron Shirt technique). He even chose to forgo having a stack. So if he dies, that’s it. I gave him 2 extra points to distribute in place of it. Another player is an A.I./Construct who used to control a walking battle tank but became a pacifist and escaped the military to head to this nature reserve and live in peace (better yet this character is very atypical for said player, who even wrote up his own random behavior table for combat that triggers if he sees people get hurt).
I had the players choose somewhere to start in Sector 83 of the sprawl (I gave them this subway map that I made as a crappy pamphlet, with each station being a large neighborhood that I can generate using Augmented Reality. Check it out: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NCfpFXTW7VmmO58pVZ2NMapXsL6O7X9S/view?usp=sharing).
From there I had a basic starter job; steal the corporate salary man’s brief case and deliver it across town. They were told to try and keep things quiet but were authorized to make it look like a mugging, and to expect some sort of corporate security. The pay? 5000 creds and they could keep the provided getaway bikes. This led to the salary man getting arrested for carrying drugs and the players using EMP grenades to disable the Robo-cop wannabe in order to grab the case. After that they had a high speed chase across the city to get away from corporate security drones that I ran kinda like a skill challenge; there were 8 possible road hazards/conditions. I rolled a d8 at the top of the round to see what they came across. They could try and outrun or fight the drones but had to shake their tail before delivering the case or else the job was off. It went really really well! Very fast, and everyone had no trouble with the new rule system. It was also very easy for me to improvise or to make rulings.
Overall, I loved running ICRPG. I kept it pretty simple, didn’t do a ton of prep, and used random generators and the players to drive creativity and world building. Best of all, I felt a lot more free to just run the game I wanted to run. If anyone is interested, here are the notes I wrote up for the session.
I can’t wait to run more! The player who has the monk character is also a DM and is running Delta Green at our table, so we alternate games. But I am already thinking of the next job!
Mate that sounds like a great time.
Very cool and happy to hear it ran so well for you.
That sounds awesome!