Impractical Applications (Use of the Ordinary)

One of the things I’ve always been proud of is being able to come up with a way to complicate situations based on relatively ordinary issues, jacked up to fit the setting’s magic level and capabilities. Sometimes this is pretty normal; finding work and making social connections in alien settings, for instance. Other times it’s a little bit stranger.

The sequence I’m best known for was two sessions long, and set off as part of a longer arc in which the group was supposed to try their hands at dabbling in politics. While the arc overall has been somewhat less than well-received, the two-session event was pretty popular.

For my first trick, I gave my group a chance to try their hands at The Sport Which, essentially the Exalted (or at least, my timeline’s) answer to Calvinball. (The name comes from the fact that even the name is in flux; it has been “The sport which [all sorts of descriptors might apply here]”, and since nobody can remember which title is current, they just stick to the first three words. Though it keeps the masks and flags, I replaced the ball with a bunch of bug-automata and added a few other pieces of equipment. And between the greater ages/educations of the players, and the magical natures of the characters and the surroundings, there was a lot of variation in the rules.

What happened afterwards, though, was at least as amusing. The group had happened to an abandoned city, brimming with automatons, and one of the players for various reasons had decided to take responsibility for the place. Getting put in charge meant having a direct line of contact to the city AI—and also meant being alerted at that point, when a rival group tried to take control of the place. The kicker? Because of the group’s rather destructive run through the place, pretty much all of the standard defenses were in arrears.

Small group of PCs. Decently sized group of NPCs. Reflective surface that could be used as a projector. The mission: stall or repel the foe using only entertainment and maintenance automatons; sort of a city-sized Home Alone scenario.

And there was fun. They convinced the NPCs to help; some were more enthusiastic than others, of course. I set the tone by having someone sic Customs on them on the way in, and the group responded to that; pretty soon there were clever tricks with repair robots, firefighters and cleaners, and that was just the first five minutes. By the time it was over, they were coming up with clever plans involving a bar and a DDR-analogue. At least one of the players considers it the best combat I’ve run in a while; heck, it’s the only one I’ve enjoyed right the way to the end.

Situation doesn’t have to be truly ordinary to be inspired by such, and sometimes, it’s best if it isn’t. What have you done like this?

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