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Monday, May 7, 2012

Change or Die

Greetings, Gamers!

I ran the second chapter of the Rampant Flux campaign on April 28th. It was fun, but it was not what I had in mind.

The session was hijacked by a planning discussion, which is a divisive subject for all gamers, as you can tell by this podcast:

http://p5productions.com/roleplaydna/2012/04/15/episode-001-planning-to-death/

The planning went on until the characters were attacked by some armed cannibal survivors. That fight took the rest of the session.
The session was fun enough, but I didn't feel that it was as good as it could have been, and more to the point, I wasn't able to reveal anything new about the setting I have been creating these past months.

I took a few notes of my own and then canvassed the players to see what they felt could be improved. I then made numerous changes to how I will run the game from now on, and I also had to make some significant changes to the adventure outline.

My original idea was to have the characters struggle for survival for a session or two, and then have them explore the setting and find all the bright, colorful easter eggs I had placed in the area. That didn't happen.

The characters set about hunkering down and fortifying a base, and that was clearly going to take more than a session or two. It makes sense. That's what I would do. I couldn't expect different from the players. Yet, at this rate, it will be a year or more of once-a-month game sessions to complete a six-session (on paper) adventure.

So changes had to be made. I needed to manage the time better. I also needed to alter my plan for the scenario itself. Here are the most significant changes I made:

1) We won't use miniatures except for the biggest or most important battles. Setting up an entire city block and filling it with a few dozen miniatures and a score or more obstacles and random features, and then running the battle itself took a good four hours. That's way too long for what was essentuially a "random" encounter, meaning it was not a story-moving encounter. It soaked up our entire session and did not advance the story one bit.

Not only the time, but minis and maps (especially with a dozen 3-D buildings that blocked most players' vision of the scene) rips the players out of character and into a tactical boardgame mindset, suspending disbelief and actually bringing any sense of role playing to an immediate stop. Also counter to my intentions.
So, no more minis unless it really matters.

2) The characters need a safe haven to work from. until they have a base, they won't do anything else unless I force them. That's not how I like to run, and so I will instead prepare a short narrative describing their struggle to survive, and then I will start them in a (relatively) secure base and then put the story in front of them. Then we can get on with the campaign.

Stay tuned for the results in a couple weeks!