Actual Play - [Hell 4 Leather] Actual Play prelude to a larger campaign

Posted by: Rob Justice On: Aug 21st 2010 edited

Hiya guys. We recorded an actual play of Hell 4 Leather and I just wanted to make sure it was shared with you fine folks.

You can find the audio and all the juicy details over at : The Bear Swarm! Podcast

Let me know what you guys think.

Posted by: Joe Prince On: Aug 24th 2010

That was totally awesome Rob, thanks a lot for sharing this!
What a cool setup for a game.


Posted by: Gregor Hutton On: Aug 24th 2010

Only had a chance to listen to the "edit" version so far. Thanks a million for this. What a blast.

I really dug how people just were playing their cards -- throwing them down and sticking their ideas out there.

Joe and I really need to make a video of a Hell 4 Leather game at Halloween: Joe, you have been warned! I have a camera and we know Russ is video-friendly.

Posted by: Joe Prince On: Aug 24th 2010


Well we'll have to shoot it pre Halloween, 'cos I will be at Lucca, bringing Hell 4 Leather to Italy!

Posted by: Gregor Hutton On: Aug 24th 2010

We can do that and I can edit/process the video in time for H4L-loween.

Posted by: Joe Prince On: Aug 25th 2010

Dragging this thread back onto topic…

I want to say another big thanks to Rob and his gaming group. I've now heard both versions of the podcast. I'm very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the sound recording, it's the clearest gaming AP I've ever heard.

Rob asked me elsewhere whether his group were playing the game in the way I'd intended and the answer is a resounding yes. I hadn't envisaged so many players – I think they had 8, but it still worked really well. Redistributing Boons was not something that occurred to me either, but once again seemed fine.

I remember one part of the recording that puzzled me early on when Mike was narrating what The Fool was anticipating doing (taking out a bike with a shotgun blast…) – I thought – why isn't he just doing all that cool stuff? Not that it was really a problem, the scene turned out great.

I really like all the things that the group had decided upon before starting play – it gave a great context to the tale without bogging down in background.

The funeral scene was a personal favourite – such a cool idea to have everyone pick a piece of loot from The Fool's belongings, a really good way of introducing the characters.

No minor conflicts came up, but that's not unusual, it just means the group is very receptive to everyone's ideas – never a bad thing!

The cool thing about the session is how the story emerges – especially in the edited version. It's very exciting – getting close to something I've thought about for a long time in role-playing/story gaming. An actual session becoming a source of passive entertainment in itself – like a radio play. I see this as the philosopher's stone of gaming – a means to bring more people into the hobby in a way that's non-threatening – as passive entertainment. Is this possible or pure folly?


Posted by: Rob Justice On: Aug 26th 2010

I'm glad you guys enjoyed\appreciated it. It's always a little intimidating to write to a game designer and be like, "We recorded us playing your game!" because you never know if you're going to miss the whole point or anger some temperamental designer because you "played wrong".

Ready for the big shocking response about the sound quality? That entire session was recorded off of an iPod Touch with a $30 interview microphone attached to it. Gregor knows the microphone I'm talking about, it's the same one I attempted to use when I talked to him at GenCon. I dropped my iPod and mic in the center of the table and crossed my fingers. Everytime we get a compliment on the sound quality I'm blown away.

I was actually planning on having ten players that night (what can I say, we have a huge gaming group) but two guys didn't show up. I was exceptionally nervous about this, H4L is clearly limited on how many players. But just dealing in Minor Arcana cards early and letting players bring in minor characters worked great.

We actually played a game prior to the recorded one. It was there that it occurred to me we needed to redistribute the Boons. Since there were too many players I wanted to ensure the Leathers had the Boons and since characters where shuffling every round I needed to do something. It actually worked out great too.

I've played three times now and I think we've only had... maybe four minor conflicts. In the pre-recorded game someone introduced a dirty cop minor character who just keep turning up and screwing over the Leathers, I asked why no one has just Minor Conflict killed him yet and the response was unanimous: "He's too fun to kill!" Our group enjoys hurting the main cast, so when someone says "I'm going to break your arm with a pool cue!" the other guy usually says, "Awesome! Lets to that! Then I'm going to stab you in the leg with the broken cue!"

As for your idea of using gaming to create passive entertainment, I think H4L has really hit the nail on the head. While I was editing I was very aware that I needed to turn this into something I could listen to a couple times. I wanted to make it entertaining for myself. There were a couple contradictions and false starts that I removed in the edited version and I think it tightened up the story. By the end I was really surprised by how well it all worked as a simple narrative. I didn't need to understand the character sheet or monster stats, I just listened and was entertained.

I've picked up three Tarot decks just to use with H4L now. One of them is a Samurai theme and I really look forward to doing a classic Kuwasawa style revenge story. Don't worry, I'll record that too.

On a slightly different note: Joe, do you have access to Skype? We'd love to have you on an episode to talk more about your design work.

Posted by: Joe Prince On: Aug 27th 2010

Well that is a surprise about your recording equipment!

Thanks for the further details about how your group approaches minor conflicts. I've found that most times players are happy to roll with what's being thrown out there.

Samurai Tarot cards sound too cool, gotta get me some of those.

Hmmm, I've been meaning to sort out skype for a long time, maybe this will give me the impetus I need...

Articles and forum posts copyright © their authors 2007-2020.