Liminal 2nd Campaign Report

Posted 15 Oct 2021 to Urban Fantasy

I've just finished a 10 session Liminal campaign, and I thought I'd post my thoughts. This was my second Liminal campaign and this time was set in modern day Johannesburg, using an outline I wrote.

 
 

XP Card

Sessions GM'd: 10
Sessions as Player: 0

I Used

The Liminal core book is really all I needed to play. It is a beautiful book, with nice glossy pages and the silk bookmark ribbon makes it feel posh. The PDF I wrote that describes the Joburg setting was just a PDF that we shared and worked from. Really only the first 8 pages were needed by the players, as it just describes some of the differences to African folklore for a reader who is accustomed to a Western tradition. I didn't use Roll20 this time, and ran the game entirely just using Discord chat (copy-pasting the occasional image of NPC or scene) and a shared Google sheet. It worked fine!

Overview

We created characters together after players read the first part of the Liminal Joburg PDF. We had compelling characters! So much depends on the PCs having good connections to the game world, as those relationships with NPCs and factions will generate stories the PCs actually want to play.

Our first PC was a man linked to a leopard animal spirit, who could change into a leopard and fight well. He was under the thumb of a witch who had his sister's essense held hostage. A good part of the campaign revolved around him trying to double cross the witch and free his sister.

Our second PC was a young woman sangoma (diviner) who had come across a geomantic node in the poor community of Soweto. She had established a small house at the site, and had developed a reputation for helping people in the community with spiritual and supernatural problems. A wonderful base and anchor for the group.

Our third PC was a brash man who found he could use curses very well, but was himself prone to aggression. He had links to a criminal gang. Unfortunately this player left the game, so we never explored this as much as we could have.

Our fourth PC was a tough guy bodyguard and man-of-action for a wizard of the Order of Merlin. His snazzy sunglasses allowed him to see spirits and the supernatural. He became involved with the party after a wizard of Merlin was murdered and the PCs were on the case. A great addition!

 
 

The Good

  • Liminal system is lite and fast. It's really easy to GM because there are not a lot of stats to manage. Combat is fast and concludes within 3 rounds. I'm happy I chose to use Liminal for the campaign.
  • Alternate setting was evocative. We got to explore a haunted hospital, visit a gang-run hijacked building, hang out in township shacks and opulent suburban mansions. There was variety and colour, and it honestly felt fresh to me. A good change from the dreary Urban Fantasy cities I usually use in this genre.
  • Premise worked well. The PCs lived in a township community, and were assumed to be informal guardians or protectors of the territory. Our sangoma PC had control of a geomantic node in the area, which gave the PCs a reason to defend the territory. This premise worked well, and it was easy to introduce small scale threats to the community which the crew acted against. Sometimes a campaign can make or break on the premise of the group, and this one worked.

The Not-So-Good

  • Didn't use my tables as much as I expected. I created a bunch of tables to help generate random cases, locations and troubles. As it turns out, I used them once or twice in the campaign, but didn't really need them. The stories were mostly generated from strife between the factions of the city, without the need for cases.
  • Our final showdown was a thrashing. The PCs outnumbered the big bad guy, won initiative, and killed him without allowing him an action. Should I have fudged his Endurance and boosted it to keep him alive longer? No. I don't do that. Should I have had him surrounded by gangsters or other mooks? Definitely.

 
 

Verdict

A memorable short campaign! I would be happy to use the Joburg setting again, and would be happy to use the Liminal system again.

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