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Author Topic: Absence and Campaign Notes  (Read 2813 times)

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Offline Chaosmark

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Absence and Campaign Notes
« on: February 23, 2008, 12:53:47 AM »
Heyla Strolenites! Sorry I've been gone for the past week or so, I've been really bogged down with school and whatnot. Combined with an attention span that tends to cause refocusing to be a problem, I wandered away for a while. If you had something to poke me with, feel free to post here, or PM me.

In other news, tonight was my first tabletop session (in a manner of speaking; we were sitting on the floor), and it went quite well. The players enjoyed the scenario, and I impressed myself with my on-the-fly improvisation. Combat rules didn't get tested, but from the few checks that we did, I'd say the Risus game system is quite usable.

Points of interest/note:
  • The players were a bit baffled by my first hinting at the monster in the sewers, and since I didn't focus on it too much (leaving it as something of an afterthought), one of them said he was particularly troubled by it. I'm a bit sad that I didn't get the chance to really go at it with the Alien vibe, but since they ended the main adventure by Getting The Heck Out Of Dodge, they don't really know what it is. So, I've still got the chance to make things rather scary. Besides, a small taste and hinting in one adventure helps create tension in later games, right?
  • I think I understand why dungeon crawls are used so much in mainstream roleplaying: they're easy to do. If you've got a map of the dungeon (which you do in 99.9% of cases), you don't have to do much aside from describe area 'xx' as the players come into it, and dish out loot after fights. *yawn* Boooooring. My sewer run was completely un-mapped, and I think it helped just a bit. It certainly kept me in the improvisation mindset, which was useful.
  • I do think that next time I'm going to have at least a small bit of location-cards prepped, to make things a bit more cinematic for the players. The 'major' room of the session didn't really get it's significant descriptor until the very end of the room description, simply because I didn't have it fully detailed until I was done describing it. THAT'S the major problem with improv'ing. Complete improv isn't always good. A bit of prep work does go a long way.

Stuff I need to work on:
  • More prep work. 'Major' location description-cards at the least.
  • Very much tied into the previous point: climax. There was a bit of drama-building near the end, when the monster came into the equation and freaked both players out like nothing else, but I think with a bit more prep-work I'll be able to build up more suspense and climax.
  • Divine and mundane magics. This is more of a world-building thing, but with a cleric and a mage as the players, I definitely need to flesh out the magic system more. This includes in-character things, not just mechanics and 'stat' stuff.
  • World packs. Yeah, yeah, I know. I should've done it before the first session, but I just didn't have the characters at that point, so I couldn't know what to focus on. Now, however, I've got a good idea of what to work on. Which means I'll actually start posting subs again. Hoorah!

I'll post up a basic write-up of the session if anyone truly cares about it. Otherwise, I simply ask for feedback. From the little that I've given you, what might you suggest I work on?
« Last Edit: February 23, 2008, 01:26:20 PM by Chaosmark »
P(A|B) = P(B|A)*P(A)/P(B)

By the power of Bayes!

Acolyte Lithil Darkheart – Level 1 Necromancer
STR: 1 | END: 2 | CON: 3 | DEX: 3 | CHA: 3 | INT: 3

Current guild quest: --

Offline Ancient Gamer

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Re: Absence and Campaign Notes
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2008, 12:14:00 PM »
Mix improvised with prepared. Prepared improvisation, as you suggest, goes a long way.

Just keep the game flowing and hit them with juicy bits every now and then.

Good observation, Cm.
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Offline Strolen

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Re: Absence and Campaign Notes
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2008, 04:26:37 PM »
Sweet write-up on the experience. I think it was good that you improved a lot! Gives you that knowledge that you can do it if it comes to it. Overpreparing can sometimes be worse as it takes away some fluidity you probably had but the world packs and some set scenerio and descriptions go a long way to bridge the improv with the planned.

I think it is perfect that they didn't get to see the "monster." Good to have a recurring creature...probably worth having it gone or moved if they go back to explore leaving some other "large" monsters dead or very injured when they get to it. Make them *really* wonder what the heck it was.

Congrats on a good session.

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Offline Chaosmark

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Re: Absence and Campaign Notes
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2008, 10:34:16 PM »
AG: I think I'll go with that. Ria gave me just about that same advice, and since the improv worked better than expected, I trust the advice a bit more than I did beforehand. "Hear me now, trust me later."

Strolen: I'll certainly keep the first part in mind. As for the second part, I was already intending to have it relocate it's 'lair', not only because it makes sense logically, but because the players told the town guard and gave them directions, so I've got a good reason to pull them back down there later. "We went to check up on your story, and didn't find any eggs or even a hint of a large creature living down in the sewers. Mind coming with us to make sure we've got the right place?" [Insert freak accident here, and cue Alien theme music] Muahaha.

@Ria, re: flashchat - I'm probably going to postpone the riot until a few days later, when they get pulled back into the sewers. Then I can insert all manner of freakiness on them, and have perfectly good extendability if the session goes longer than the last one (which lasted approximately an hour, not including character generation and a bit of 'setting the background' as it were).

Question for everyone: about how long do you tend to aim for with your sessions? What seems to be the optimal time, past which the players start losing interest? I've got the feeling at an hour is the bare minimum for a good session, since the players seemed close to disappointed when we ended. I'll probably aim for 2 hours next session.
P(A|B) = P(B|A)*P(A)/P(B)

By the power of Bayes!

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STR: 1 | END: 2 | CON: 3 | DEX: 3 | CHA: 3 | INT: 3

Current guild quest: --

Offline Strolen

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Re: Absence and Campaign Notes
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2008, 11:13:09 PM »
5-10hrs!!!

Used to start on a Friday after work and go home after way after midnight. Minus about an hour for eating.

It took us an hour to simply get started though. ;)

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Offline Ria Hawk

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Re: Absence and Campaign Notes
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2008, 04:43:19 AM »
I'm glad it went well.  ^^

My sessions... my sessions tended to be epic, but we were college students playing on Fridays.  It would take us around an hour or so to settle down, and then we'd play for generally *at least* 7 hours.  Usually I called game when people started falling asleep.  All though there was one massive EPIC!!! game that went from 6 pm Friday to 11 am Sunday, minus about ten hours of crashing.  (We played until we passed out, then woke up and kept going.)  I, uh, I don't recommend that unless you've got a awesomely cool plotline going the players don't want to let go until next session.

Course, like I said, we were college students, so it wasn't like we had much else to do on the weekends.  We were playing weekly.  If you're only playing once a month or less, you could probably get away with longer sessions.  The best advice I can offer is ask your players how long they'd prefer sessions to last.  I mean, GMing is like everything else, your mileage may vary.
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Re: Absence and Campaign Notes
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2008, 05:23:20 AM »
I used to play 8-16 hours each session. Did it for years.

Nowadays I actually have a life, work, kids, those sort of things, and we play 3-6 hours each session. It leaves us craving for more and rested the next day.
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Offline Chaosmark

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Re: Absence and Campaign Notes
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2008, 02:58:16 PM »
It seems like everyone seems to be aiming for much longer periods than I was expecting. I doubt I'll attain that level for a while, but it's certainly something to aim for.

And I'm still in shock over Ria's 31 hour session...*falloverdie*
P(A|B) = P(B|A)*P(A)/P(B)

By the power of Bayes!

Acolyte Lithil Darkheart – Level 1 Necromancer
STR: 1 | END: 2 | CON: 3 | DEX: 3 | CHA: 3 | INT: 3

Current guild quest: --

Offline Ancient Gamer

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Re: Absence and Campaign Notes
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2008, 03:11:53 PM »
Well, I suspect most hard core gamers have tried an all nighter or ten.

In my experience fun leaves as exhaustion arrives.
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Offline Ria Hawk

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Re: Absence and Campaign Notes
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2008, 03:35:00 PM »
Well, if our estimates are too long for you, you might try preparing a slightly longer game than the one before it until you reach a happy level.

And the 31 hour session was a fluke that took me by surprise as much as it did every one else; the players got really involved in a complex plot and didn't want to stop.  (Well, that, and they were planning and implementing the painful death of an NPC they loathed.)
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Offline Kinslayer

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Re: Absence and Campaign Notes
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2008, 07:17:17 PM »
Somewhere around Day Three the players start to hallucinate. 
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Offline Ria Hawk

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Re: Absence and Campaign Notes
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2008, 04:17:51 PM »
Well, it was entirely possible that there was some hallucinating going on, that might explain the halfling.   :D
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