Cosmic Patrol: The Moon Must Begin To Be Ours!   Leave a comment

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It’s a game I’ve wanted to play a lot more often for the last two years.  Cosmic Patrol manages to stylistically capture the spirit of classic pulp sci-fi in all its bombastic glory.  The hard part is that it does it without being tongue in cheek about it.  Most other things that emulate classic science fiction like this do it in a way that stays focused on how silly those types of story are.  And, yes, there’s a lot of humor that can be found in that mine.  But personally?  I really like how deceptively serious the game takes itself.  Like the plot of Little Shop Of Horrors, trying to make it silly in addition to the already outrageous stories would just be too much.

I’ve wanted to play The Moon Must Be Ours since Gen-Con back in August.  Most of the rest of my gaming group has humored this opinion.  They didn’t see anything objectively wrong with the idea of the game being played, of course, and playing Cosmic Patrol sort of turned into this idealistic secondary option when compared to all the other games that we wanted to play. And oh boy did we have games we wanted to play.  A couple weeks ago, we realized that we’d been putting Cosmic Patrol off for over six months and so they finally relented and agreed to play three rooms of The Moon Must Be Ours before the main game of the evening.

Some of the players didn’t quite seem to get it, of course, and there were others who had difficulty understanding why on Earth you’d play something like it without going for the tongue-in-cheek option, but once we settled in it was quite the experience.  It’s hard to describe the evening without revealing spoilers, and part of the joy of the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style of play was not knowing what would happen next.  So with that in mind, it’s probably best to focus on the rules and playstyle aspects of things.

One of the difficult parts of establishing a scene in Cosmic Patrol… especially in this campaign… is the question of handling the Opening Narration and the orders from Patrol HQ.  It generally feels like we can get one of those off without it feeling awkward, but not necessarily the other.  I tried doing both when we started in the first room, but it didn’t seem to flow well.  (And besides, who was saying the opening narration?  My character? My Martian axe-wielder wouldn’t ever speak like that.)

There was one point of the game where I used one of my Plot Points to actively make a scenario more difficult for everyone involved.  I don’t think most of the players appreciated that, although the Lead Narrator of the scene seemed to.  Saying “We’ve encountered a new subspecies of them at this point… these ones secrete an acid that will harm our spacesuits!” wasn’t really in the spirit of “winning”.  I think the players eventually figured out that the goal of Cosmic Patrol isn’t supposed to be winning so much as it’s supposed to be telling a fun story, so perhaps they’ll forgive that plot point expenditure in time.  If not, well, they’ll have a lot more to be angry about in the future since I’ll likely do things like that again.

Another thing we realize was that we were doing Plot Points wrong when we were about two-thirds of the way through the session.  We only did three rooms… the mandatory initial room, and then two more of the rooms as we explored the lunar mines and cave system… so there wasn’t much time to fix it.  However, we decided that it worked a little bit better the way we wound up doing it.  Instead of everyone using the full number of Plot Points, we limited each player to just a single Plot Point per room.  They could still be regained (in theory, anyway, we never actually awarded any), but we’re still playing with a mentality of “how do we win this?” instead of “what’s the best story we can tell?”  Until we switch that mentality, we agreed it’d be better to limit each player to one ace in the hole.

Besides, by virtue of only having one plot point I wasn’t able to further endanger the lives of everyone.  Next time, John… next time.

I look forward to the next time we play.  Ideally, it’ll be pretty soon.  Otherwise… I guess my next post’ll be six months from now on this subject? Time will tell.

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