We had our second session of Howard Hughes’ Men of Action last night, and I am very pleased with the way it’s been going. The system is fast and light and doesn’t get in the way of the gonzo, collaborative storytelling. The modified Franchise mechanics are allowing me to add some rules heft to the game’s non-linear, era-jumping narrative structure. And I’m finally getting the hang of calling for Stress Rolls as opposed to Skill Rolls. The group took some major licks last night, and I think that added to the sense of urgency and paranoia.
And props! Oh, how I love using props in games. I had mission briefing handouts, mp3 recordings of number stations to play for the team, and a cool MacGuffin for them in a biohazard bag.
But most importantly, my players are great. They just run with the premise beat I lay down in the beginning, and riff over it like great improvisational jazz musicians and take the story in wild, wacky, and entertaining directions that keeps everyone on their toes. Everyone gets to bring their own individual geek cred and passions to the table, and weave them into the plot.
I think this game truly captures what Rob MacDougall was talking about a few years back in this post on 20×20 Room:
Too often, though, it’s the GM who does all the research, who strings together all the conspiracies and gets the most jollies out of the elaborate setting. How much more exciting it could be, I wonder, if all the players were in on it, all Googling up connections and conspiracies, jointly spinning out the mad secret history of their game world?
Indeed. Five heads are proving better than one in this game.
I’ll try to get into more specifics later about the game’s story, mechanics, and group dynamics… but unfortunately I do have to get to work. I’ll just close by saying: if only Agent 15 would read the frigging mission briefings, maybe Control wouldn’t always be so irate.
Oh, and a big shout out to Chris, who proved himself to be a Man of a Thousand Voices last night. His Patrick McGoohan was impeccable.