Actual Play – The Skunky Bottom Boys in ‘Damn the Torpedoes!’ (5/24/2013)

hollowearthexpeditionGM: Todd Furler
Players: Sean Nittner, Karen Twelves, Adam Breindel, and Tom Epperly
System: Hollow Earth Expedition

A game run by Todd Furler has yet to leave me anything but delighted after play. Karen and I arrived at Kubla sans-kids on Friday night. They were arriving Saturday morning so even though my plan this year was to investigate board games at KublaCon, I gave myself Friday night to indulge in some some awesome RPG action.

The shuffler gods were kind and both Karen and I got into Todd’s game!

The pitch

Todd started with his normal opening discussion about what we’re doing when we sit down to play, which I documented in the Furler Method. After we were all suitably acquainted, he introduced the Skunky Bottom Boys, a family (a very large family) that spawned several generations but few gene pools.

Character pictures were laid out on the table, with each option having two pictures (one for each gender) and two potential archetypes. Here was the character I picked:

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Each gender had both archetypes available, and notably, none of the character had names, that is because it wasn’t until after we picked our characters that Todd presented us with the Clowper family tree…with all it’s eccentricities. Barnaby Clowper was the progenitor of the line, but even his relationship (Married to Vicki until she died and then marrying Alvinia Farris, who loeft Eugine Farris to be with Barnaby) was complicated. From there it became a giant trail of half-sibling spouses, first cousin brothers, and and aunt-mothers.

Todd asked us to pick a character in the bottom two rows (the two most recent generations) and then figure out the specifics how how they were actually connected. I picked Hamish, who we decided was married to Vicki, who had left Karen’s character Leo. Adam played Leo’s significantly older brother Ismael. I believe, if I got this right, I was also both of their Uncle. Tom played Jubal, our cousin for sure, maybe more. Leo was sure that Vicki was still his lady, she just had to come around, never mind that Vicki and Hamish had a daughter who was already married. Witness the insanity:

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The Play is the thing

I don’t want to talk too much about the game specifics, since Todd will surely run this game (and probably other Skunky Bottom Boys games) in the future. There are some great non-plot elements I can discuss though.

Karen and I had a great time playing rivals. As Hamish was the “daredevil” I constantly was doing crazy things (like firing a harpoon gun with myself attached to the harpoon) and there were plenty of opportunities to leave me for dead. Leo generally felt favorable to those outcomes. It was awesome.

The characters each have one over the top special ability. Leo, the “Moonshiner” could, unsuprisingly make Moonshine. But he could make other things as well. Oh man, the things he made were awesome.

Todd did some things with the timeline that make it possible for us to do some really great reincorporation. I loved talking to Ishmael about his heirloom knife that he loved and cherished, and how he’s never let that go, when I already knew he was going to lose it. ¬†We had the same references to things found in the in the distillery. “… pickled eggs…. no… baby alligator in a jar… no….” came up over and over.

Thoughts on the game

If it wasn’t clear before, each character had two archetype options. So when I picked mine I could go with Tough Guy or Daredevil. I chose the later.

I sure hope Todd runs more Skunky Bottom Boys. The characters were a hoot, the setting (1940s just before America enters the war) is ripe with pulp opportunities, and the shared profession of the Clowper family (maritime salvage) is a treasure trove of awesome adventuring ideas.

So much more I want to say, but don’t want to give out spoilers. For the folks that were in the game “Fucking-<name of fish with a¬†cartilaginous skeleton>-<local area network>-<memoir written by Frank McCourt>!”