I’ve been playing sessions of Justice Velocity on Discord with friends over the past few months. Our game is a rotating GM session between 5 players (plus guests) that meets about once every week or so. We’re 10 sessions deep, and the campaign has been a lot of fun.
Playing a Rotating GM Game
Having only experienced Justice Velocity from a creator, game designer, and GM perspective, it’s been pretty exhilarating to turn the table and see others set up the narratives they’d like to tell in the action movie universe. And — I’ve finally gotten a chance to play the game from a player perspective. My takeaways are more or less what you might anticipate, though worth underscoring nonetheless:
1. Treat the rules as guidelines, keep the action going, and have fun.
I don’t really feel the need to interrupt if another GM has a different interpretation of the rules. The game is in their hands, and as long as everyone’s having fun and rolling dice, that’s what it’s all about.
2. Every session doesn’t require a race or car combat sequence to have that high-octane action movie™ flavor.
Given that the game rules deal heavily with vehicles and car combat sequences, I feel people might be compelled to incorporate these elements into their campaigns for fear of missing out on the action.
The truth is, a couple of sessions of heists and hijinks sans-vehicles can be just as satisfying as chasing down bad guys at a justifiable velocity. Though, these things are nice to pepper in whenever you get the excuse. They say, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I feel this is especially the case whenever you get to unleash a bit of adrenaline-pumping tabletop car fu.
3. GM prep can be hard to find time for, but the more prepared you are, the more satisfying it becomes.
Okay, so session #1 was largely improvised on my behalf, though it seems to have turned out just fine. Trading off games with other GMs and accommodating a variety of styles, however, has given me the opportunity to write and plan out quite a bit more for the other sessions I’ve run in this campaign. One of the challenges has been picking up from sparse notes where the last person left off, but that’s definitely a part of the appeal.
It’s also tough finding time to put some ideas down in a notebook once a week, but spacing it out and sharing that task has yielded pretty interesting results. Leaving room for improvisation in your games will always be important, but planning and being able to pull together crucial details will always help move the story along in a fun and interesting direction.
We also will typically do a bit of an impromptu GM discussion at the end of our sessions (i.e. “Did you plan this part or make it up?” or “Where were you going with this?” etc.) that has been pretty fun and enlightening. At first I thought a GM should never reveal their secrets, but we’re all in the same boat — so we might as well discuss the precarious nature of our narratives.
The Campaign and Characters
Throughout the course of play, games have focused on an elaborate luxury yacht deathtrap set by an international crime family, weapons programs and cultists in Antarctica, supply drops in the middle of Yemeni war zones, and combat simulations inside of LG smart fridges with wi-fi capabilities. I’d like to elaborate on these sessions in later blog posts, but first, I’d like to introduce the cast of characters:
Jack Wolfe (played by Clipper) – A hard-boiled mercenary from the heartland. It’s safe to say he’s seen more war than peace in his years as a private military foot soldier. He’s kind of dumb, but buff as hell. He likes to relax by listening to early 2000s nu-metal on his Zune, detailing his motorcycle, or adding ink to his growing collection of American Traditional-style tattoos.
Jack is essentially the grunt of the group. If we were playing D&D, he might be a barbarian. He’s based around the quintessential meathead action movie hero, but has a touch of nuanced emotion that undergirds his rough exterior. Game-wise, he’s most useful to the team when he’s swinging a machete, leaping through passenger windows, or unloading lead. His poor INT score and perception make for some good bits as well in terms of balancing out his hand-to-hand and ranged combat prowess.
Paul G. Walker (played by Dean) – An undercover cop who believes himself to be possessed by the ghost of Paul Walker. An accomplished driver who drives a replica Mitsubishi Eclipse modeled after the one driven by Paul Walker in the first Fast & Furious film.
Paul is the go-to driver of the group. He’s a bit goofy and vapid, and Dean plays him well. A few sessions have involved a group of cultist super-fans who buy into his clearly fabricated narrative about being the reincarnation of Paul Walker, which is always fun. For all his swagger and wise-cracks, however, he knows when to spend the juice on a Mega Drift.
The Lone Stranger (played by Nathan) – A trick shooter and carnival performer. He has a burgeoning social media presence, but would rather be left alone to his gun-slinging. Reluctantly wears a cowboy hat and has a *mysterious past.*
Nathan’s character is definitely the most shoot-y and dexterous of the bunch. He has an affinity for antique firearms and is careful about revealing salacious details regarding his past.
Yoko Oh-No (played by Emily) – An idiosyncratic avant-pop artist with a knack for computer hacking and experimental music. She’s just about as handy with a crossbow as she is with a keyboard. Yoko is a Grammy-award-winning artist who’s always focused on hacking into 1) the mainframe and 2) her next source of creative inspiration.
Emily’s character is certainly the designated hacker of the group. She’s also a bit of a wildcard in terms of her reserved pop acclaim and off-kilter artistic quirks. She’s saved the group with her technical know-how and indie pop fame countless times.
Arlington “Chex” Davenport (played by Dane) – A purveyor of ‘lightly used and pre-owned home appliances.’ Chex has outstanding warrants for his arrest in Florida and Ohio for racketeering. He’s a well-connected face with sleazy used car salesman vibes.
Chex is the bona fide face of the group. He’s just as entertaining as he is peculiar, however, in that his intentions always seem to be lathered in the unsavory lacquer of personal advancement. He’s often running from gunfire, posing as John Chrysler of Chrysler Motors, or saying something just incredulous enough to be believable. He’s the best face a party could hope for.
It’s been an amazing game. I can’t wait to tell you all more about it in coming posts.
All the best,