Ever been in a car with three other people and wonder what game you could play for an hour? Wonder no more. Bully Pulpit’s Out of Dodge is a larp for four players in a car (or just sitting with four seats in a 2 x 2 grid facing the same direction). It’s $4 and a thing of beauty. Buy it. Buy it now.
No really, you should get this game.
Okay, sales pitch over.
Karen and I were going to Sandcon and though I prepped for a lot of tabletop games, but forgot to prep this one. Luckily John had a printer, scissors, a dish towel and a few envelopes. We were set!
The play is the thing
Out of Dodge is a larp about four criminals driving away from a score that’s gone bad. One of them (Toad) has been shot and isn’t doing well. Here’s the score:
Oh my goodness did that ever go wrong. Shots were fired, mostly into Toad there, and the four of you got away with a bag containing less loot than you’d planned. A lot less. Now you are on the road, running for your lives and counting your blessings. You have your health (Toad does not have that), you have your friends (not friends), and you each have a still-warm piece tucked into your pants. You have eleven treasures to split four ways and that is not going to be pretty. Things are not looking up.
Getting out of New York involved lots of turns, on ramps, exits, and merges. We waited until we hit a relatively long stretch of road (I think I-95S but John could confirm) to start the game. As the driver John played Mole. Since he couldn’t read while driving (safety first!) I read his character sheet to him. One of the instructions indicated pulling over and changing drivers. Since John was borrowing the car from his dad, we decided not to use that particular option, but otherwise he was set. Toad had to be someone in the back seat, and Karen offered to play that role (poor Toad). Kira took Rat, so I was Badger. These names reminded me of a Pauly Shore skit where he was ranking creatures and showing that The Weasel was better than a troll. (The specific ranking, if I remember it correctly was “badger, hermit, mole, weasel, troll”). Anyway…
Play continued with Toad moaning that she was dying, Rat angry and suspicious, Mole on target, and Badger trying to look on the bright side. As each of us said certain key words eventually we all unlocked our secrets and came to a fitting conclusion where the car went off the road and everyone died except Badger (Hi!) who walked away from the wreckage, as he had apparently walked away from five previous groups. We did not actually crash the car (safety first!) but rather narrated our actions such as “I’m putting my gun to your temple and telling you to pull over” and “I’m driving the car off the road and over that ravine.”
Good times had by all.
Toad. Toad, I love you (true in and out of game). Toad spent a while complaining that she was dying until, eventually she just stopped talking. The three of us continued our arguing for a while until finally one of us asked Toad what she though. “Toad? Toad, are you alright buddy?” Oh no, Toad was dead. Poor Toad.
Mole. Mole was so on target. We’re not going to a hospital, they’ll be looking for us there. We’re not stopping, the police aren’t far behind us. We’re not pulling over to let you shoot me and drive away with the loot…. well, that one was just obvious. Also as Mole, John kept adding other delicious details like “When you look at Toad, you see the killing blow wasn’t actually the bullets, but a knife wound in the back, you all know I carry a knife.” So good.
Rat. Kira you were such a good angry Rat. She didn’t trust anyone and rightfully so. Badger seemed like a nice guy, but he had walked away from five other groups, leaving them all either dead or behind bars. And his ex Ramona said that he always did this kind of thing. Rat caused all the secrets to unravel and discovered that Mole had set us all up to fall. So good!
At one point I leaned over and whispered in John’s ear “You will die on this car ride. You’re marked for death.” He had no idea if I was speaking in or out of character. I loved it.
What could have improved
John was driving and so he couldn’t read his sheet. There was a few times when his call-and-response words were said but he didn’t have the sheet in front of him so he didn’t respond in with his specific action. That wasn’t a problem though, we still got into plenty of trouble and had a very satisfying end.
I had been a big Mole supporter from the start. Mole was going to get us out of this alive (or at least three of us alive) and mole knew what he was doing. Then it turned out that Mole slept with my wife Ramona and that’s why she left me? I wasn’t really sure how to play that one. Badger was a nice guy, all good spirits, and then suddenly betrayed? Also, Mole was his only ally to fend of Rat’s suspicion (Sorry Toad, you were dead by then), so I had to keep him on my side. How to play a cheerful person, suddenly betrayed, but still needing your betrayer’s support? I wasn’t exactly sure. I said I forgave him for that and then later pulled a gun on him. I guess that works, but it didn’t feel as “real” as most of our other interactions.