Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Conflict And Consequences

Notice: As this is the final post in this series, why not catch up on the whole lot.
1 Writing The Dreadnought RPG
2 The Great And Terrible Engine
3 Mysteries And Machinations
4 Intrigue And Investigations

I arrived in the store at my usual early hour. In a break from tradition, I got food on the way as Claire went to a writing seminar on writing for video games in Downtown, so we didn't have dinner at home. I suppose we could have had an early dinner, but I was playing the Gears of War 3 Beta and food was not a priority.

For the final installment of the series we only had three available players. One of the missing was away on holidays and had informed me last week while the other was chipping away at a project he needed to finish. After the others arrived, there was a short discussion about the Gears of War series and Beta before we started into the big finale[1].

Skip to the end.

This week was almost entirely combat with roleplaying opportunities spread between bouts of conflict. I think I've mentioned before that combat is my weak point. I find it hard to make dice rolling exciting, which is why I tend to emphasize the roleplaying aspect of my games. But tonight worked out well. There was lots for people to do, and combat was brutal. I got to inflict a lot of damage on people, and cause quite a few Consequences.

By the end of the night the characters were all a little bloodied and beaten, the last secret of the Dreadnought remained a secret, and the various characters parted ways to continue their individual unwritten stories beyond the adventure.

One of the interesting features of this evenings game was that one of the players sent his character in a very different direction from the book, and almost got the character killed in the process. Last minute fortune kept peoples attention focused on bigger problems, but things could have been interesting. Afterwords, there was some discussion about Player versus Player conflict, and I was happy to find the while everyone was OK with the idea of it for a once-off, the upcoming campaign will not be suffering such difficulties[2].

I was glad to see that everyone enjoyed the extended combat. Next week we start the character generation for Dresden Files, and while I don't expect to be regularly dealing with combat scenarios involving the huge numbers of forces on both sides that tonight’s session included, it may well be something I might try as a "season finale", and I'm glad the players are comfortable with the idea.

After the game we all retired to a local bar that we've been enjoying after most of the sessions so far. I had to strongly resist the urge to head home and play the Beta, but I enjoy the conversations that we usually have when we're out, so I dropped my bags at home and headed out as well. This gave me an opportunity to inquire about what the players present liked and didn't like about the game. Thankfully, there was little to complain about, and the only major issue was  a lack of complete comfort with the character players were playing, something that I admitted I expected even before the game began. These were pre-generated characters, with little input for the players that were playing them. For my following campaign, the players will be creating their own characters and that shouldn't be an issue.

As combat dominated the session, there wasn't as many opportunities for favourite moments, thought we did end the session on a note of hope for the characters and their world. As the session ended, one of the Player Characters turned to one of the Non-Player Characters from an opposing faction and shook hands, commenting "I hope we don't meet again before this war is over", to which the NPC replied, with the help of one of the other players at the table "I agree, and hope to see you again, soon."

Next week we meet to create the city and characters for my upcoming Dresden Files RPG. I can't wait to see what the players create. The last four weeks have been a wonderful experience for me as their GM. I can only imagine the amazing characters and world they will create themselves.

[1] Thanks to the Gears Beta, I didn't really prepare a snappy "Previously in Dreadnought", or any kind of opening in fact. So I started the game with "You all know where we stand, let's do this" and I feel the session suffered for it. I think players got into the game a lot faster the previous week and I feel we had a lot more energy from the moment the first scene began. Lesson learned: Always have a snappy opening.
[2] I realize some games work with Player versus Player conflict, but there is a reason I don't play them. PvP is something I don't enjoy, both as a GM and player. I like my party to work together as a unit. I actively discourage players from creating characters that have strongly opposing views or goals that are exclusive of each other. PvP tension is enjoyable and can really add to a game, but not all out conflict in my opinion. 

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