Under the Stars Postmortem

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
Tattered Rags
Posts: 357
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Under the Stars Postmortem

Post by Tattered Rags » Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:58 am

Trip Around Ungada postmortem
Spoiler:
This is the session where I realized that my players had no idea what to do.

Okay, they had an idea, but no real pressure. And since one of the players was out again, I didn't want to push it, either. Finally got one character to spend Legend Points, though, which is mostly my fault as the plot is forcing a time-crunch.

Sean went to question Omaron again to see if there was any reason to accuse him. When he came back, he walked into the room to catch the end of Valteri saying something bad about him. I forced a rewind made Valteri and Vyktor play out that conversation. Sean's player decided to play up the various funny things they said about Sean. Nice little bit of RP that did nothing for the story but built the group.

Then came Magnik. I have no idea, really, what my players were trying to do here, but it didn't work. Valteri's player realized at the last second that Sean was spilling the whole shebang right outside Magnik's window.

I planned three interactions with neighbors back at the dead woman's house. The first one I presented to them was so void of content that they simply backed off and quit that avenue of investigation, which means they never found out that her Name was Zera, that she lived alone, and that some crotchety Stalwart Stone came to visit her a few days ago. These were actually planned for Blighty Hill, but the chase pulled the players away before they thought to ask around. There really isn't much here, anyway, so all of that is for the best; this was simply where they were supposed to meet up with my constructs again, which they did.

Them checking out the two crystals Magnik gave them, however, was a boon for me. It allowed me to present the disorientation of the pink crystal again. THIS was my major clue, and they had missed it before. But, like a good adventure game, they were clicking on all the things to see what a happens, and I was able to bring this back around.

The trip back to the Training Hall exposed a bit more of what I dislike about my level of planning. The big set pieces are drab and one-dimensional. Sure, it's the Training Hall, but I don't really have good descriptions written up for it, nor most other locations. It's fine; my players aren't looking for it, but it's a disappointment for me. I'm much better with the little chance meetings and describing interactions, so I should probably stick with that, rather than evocative settings.

I did my favorite thing to do, which is present a call-back to something earlier. Teran, the scared Liferock guard (whose Name is totally nothing like Veran), came to see Ghehennis. Players thought they sent him to talk with Ygdrask. They enjoyed trying to psyche him up to go into the lab. And prior to that, they got Ygdrask to verify that the crystals had similar Astral signatures to the Liferock and Pool of Shemara, so that helped verify some of the things the players were thinking.
Phew. Three in one night. I might actually get these all done before my next session.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Tattered Rags
Posts: 357
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Under the Stars Postmortem

Post by Tattered Rags » Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:15 am

Third Times the Charm postmortem
Spoiler:
I had been feeling down about running the game by this point. Burnout, perhaps. I ran a session of Feng Shui between this one and the previous Earthdawn because one player was going to be out-of-country. I didn't want to cardboard cutout him since I was going to force the plot to move forward in this one. So, since I was disconnected from Earthdawn and a player was missing, perfect time to run a different game. It was a blast, and the summary can be read over in the Adventurer's Journal of this forum, under a spoiler tag to not detract from the Earthdawn stuff.

Actually, that post was the impetus for these posts. I wrote a little "Behind the GM Screen" stuff in it, and I thought it would be a good idea to share that stuff for the Earthdawn sessions, too.

Anyway, as I mentioned, I was planning on forcing some plot. My players had been crawling along. Time for a shove.

Though not too forceful of one. It was easy enough to have both leaders in the Kaer, Elder Meshra and Sheyloon, simply order the players to bring in their prime suspect. I was 99% sure who that was: Magnik. Wasn't hard to guess where the players would go. Let's see if making a third trip to Magnik's Lab gets any better results, shall we?

I had come up with the Brass and Crystal Falsemen as an adjustment of the Waxmen. Mostly the same stats, but with a twist. Big thanks to Panda for helping me with the Whirling Dervish attack. It never came up in this session, but the design work wasn't finally completed until afterwards, anyway, so I wasn't stuck with my choices. I thought that they were a fitting construct for Magnik to have built with inspiration from Benkariim.

The players tried to be convincing and to talk Magnik into coming with them. That was doomed to failure, but I was willing to give it a chance. I'm never too besotten with my own ideas and setups that I won't let the players work their way around a fight. Magnik was pretty sure what would happen to him if he went along, however, so they would need a REALLY good plan. Which they didn't.

The fight went very smooth, from both sides of the screen. The players didn't have much difficulty taking down the machines. And I've been using a spreadsheet stat blocks heavily influenced by Kosmit's work elsewhere shown on the forums. (If I have the wrong person, my apologies. I can't find the original thread to verify.) Having short things to easily reference is wonderful.

Thankfully good rolls provided the spoils. Finding Magnik's tracks was a no-brainer. He disappeared in a room with no exits. How'd that happen? With a Scout in the group, they were going to find him. What I wasn't sure they would find was the little black book, a.k.a. the smoking gun. Proof of all that was going down in the Kaer and firmly pinning everything on Magnik (more-or-less). Plot revealed! Something the players still haven't seemed to catch onto was that I gave them the solution to the puzzle of the missing Obsidimen. Why haven't them left their liferock? Magnik has been complaining about it an awful lot.

Magnik is also responsible, and the answer is in the notebook.

Which is cursed.

Later I brought Veran back up to the group on a whim, which was great. It let me introduce him into the fight in the next session more organically. And my players always like to see him.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Tattered Rags
Posts: 357
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Under the Stars Postmortem

Post by Tattered Rags » Wed Oct 31, 2018 2:03 am

Well, we were supposed to play last Friday, but sickness struck two of the players' families and cut the party in half, so we postponed.

Which means I can get caught up!

Battle for the Kaer postmortem

the fight
Spoiler:
The players boldly strode into the Liferock cavern. It made things easier for me that they didn't bother to be stealthy. Still, I messed something up at the beginning. I meant for them to roll perception when they walked around the liferock to get Magnik in view. This was to reveal the small satchel attached to the liferock. Instead, out of fear of forgetting or some other reason, I just had them roll right off the bat. Not a big deal, but I wanted it delayed a little.

As it was, they already knew that Magnik was doing *something*. Chanting in a strange tongue and drawing symbols in the blood of the guard you just killed is typically a good indicator in a magic-heavy world. I decided on a 5-turn limit until success, then the satchel would begin flashing or something (I don't feel like referencing my notes to verify) and then explode as the fireball spell. The players would have one action to try something, but it being firmly attached made yanking the satchel off difficult. When it exploded, Magnik would die and the liferock would be heavily damaged, its magic and pattern ripped apart. A few Obsidimen would stumble out of the smoking ruin as the liferock collapsed, taking the majority of the Ungada tribe with it.

But that didn't happen. Valteri had a brilliant strategy, made all the more intelligent by how the brass and crystal falsemen were designed to be harder against groups. He flitted over to Magnik and distracted him, fighting defensively. This only bought them an extra turn, because I ruled that Magnik had two of his creations squaring off against Valteri alone, so he ignored him the rest of the time, continuing his ritual. Still, enough rolls and enough Karma and Valteri managed to get a couple solid blows in, eventually killing Magnik. And fighting defensively made him virtually impossible to hit, with his already crazy-high Windling PD.

Spoil-sport.

Meanwhile, the others were being devastated by the random anti-surrounding mechanic of the falsemen. With Panda's help, I finalized the ability just in time. They were getting a +1 to attack for everyone surrounding them, but they randomly attack. An exploding hit against the wizard knocked Valteri down in one massive blow. This was only the first of his problems. Otherwise they didn't really have too much trouble. It was funny for me that the group of players surrounded one falsemen on one side and kept having trouble while the single other player was surrounded by falsemen and having no trouble at all. Overall, this proves out the modification to the Whirling Dervish ability. The way it used to be, there were more chances for a major strike and likely actually take down a player.

The fight exposed an oversight on my part. I spot-checked the players' character sheets. Turns out I missed a mistake on one. Sean Shamshara had 3 optional talents! He had the right Talent point spread, though. Found out as he critical failed an attack with his bow, snapping the string. Instead of restringing it (Standard action), he attempted to attack with his dagger. We've discussed it and have the point error corrected. Overall it probably works better for him as his Missile Weapons goes up a rank.

The Great Recurring Character, Veran, came to join the fight, but the players had it pretty well-in-hand. When one of the falsemen attacked him, though, the players expressed their concern. "No, Veran can't die!" They are clearly attached. He was supposed to join with 2 guards as backup, but I dropped one out as they didn't even need Veran. For this fight, I did up his stats over the normal guard to the second tier over on Panda's site (City Watchman page, I think).

His presence in the fight, however, did provide an opportunity for a supporting GM character to do what a supporting GM character does best. Support. Literally. He struck out at the last falseman, damaging it a little bit. Then Boris came running up. I figured Veran likes the players, so I had him brace his shield so Boris could run up it and leap onto the falseman, destroying it. All-in-all, I think that's the best way for a GM character to help in a fight!

I have plans for Veran, too, now. I think I'll have him become a Swordmaster down the line that uses a spear and shield to fight. He's more timid outside of combat, but in combat he's very self-assured. I look forward to surprising the players with that when he shows up later. If they ever get out of the kaer......
post-fight
Spoiler:
Magnik dead, I had Veran run off and get Alorna, the elf Questor of Garlen. I had recently finished the Questors book, so it was a good opportunity to play around with some Devotions. Plus, Vyktor REALLY needed the healing. And another recurring character is nice.

In studying the satchel attached to the liferock, they decided it was a good idea to read the notebook for clues. I had just hours earlier finished up rules for Benkariim's abilities for marking people. That's all posted elsewhere in the forums. This let me put it into motion! We use Discord for our voice and chat, so I sent Vyktor's player a message telling him that he HAD to keep reading the book. He played along very well. It was quite some time before the others noticed what was going on. I don't know what they would have done if I hadn't played Sheyloon correctly. Once someone said "Horror", she wasn't going to let him keep the book. As it was, it was about 10 minutes in-game time before Benkariim was going to have a chance to use Horror Mark. So close!

Then they burned the dang book. Well, that ruined a different plot line I had in mind. The book was supposed to find its way into Ygdrask's hands. He's just arrogant enough to think he can handle it. I looked forward to, months or years later, springing an evil Ygdrask surrounded by several improved variations of Brass and Crystal Falsemen on my players. Drat. Ghehennis was supposed to be the foil to that; he would advocate destroying the book. Turns out Ygdrask's apprentice got in the way of my nefarious scheme.

While I wish I could still get Ygdrask, destroying the book was really the only sure way to keep Vyktor safe. Horror marking a first circle character really wasn't something I wanted to happen. It would set in stone the overall tone of the campaign for many circles to come. But, oh the drama that could bring! Ah, well, it was for the best.

Now, to get them out of the kaer. I fully expected this to be the last session. But since the clues to freeing the liferock and saving everyone were burned to a crisp, I have no idea if they'll put together the pieces from their memories. If they can figure it out quickly, great. If not, they'll have to go ghoul hunting, because the maggot masks and toxic blights are still out there spreading their particular plague.
And, all caught up! As a reminder, I am posting these only partially for my own glory! I also want to spark discussion on GMing in general as well as specifics from my missteps. Feel free to comment. Hopefully a number of you will get into it and really start talking.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Tattered Rags
Posts: 357
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Under the Stars Postmortem

Post by Tattered Rags » Sat Dec 22, 2018 6:04 pm

It took over two months to get us back together, and we still ended up down a player.

Breaking Magnik's Lock postmortem
Spoiler:
Since we were down a player, I decided that this needed to mainly be a bookkeeping session. The players hadn't had a chance to raise Talents in 7 sessions, so they had about 2000 LP to burn. But, there was still some pressing business going on in the Kaer, so I couldn't just let them boost everything. I gave them a day, which means they got to raise 2 Talents. We had some good clarifications on what it takes to raise a Circle, what things actually cost LP-wise, and clarified a Talent or two. Good, if boring, session. However, I made sure to bookend it with some RP.

I really enjoy when the players just spitball stuff back and forth, which is how this one started. I chimed in occasionally with Kergnon Hurlgak, but I mostly let them talk on their own. We were getting extraordinarily close to THE major event of the campaign up to now, which is getting out of the Kaer, so I was more than happy to let them fill the time with some inanity. And, honestly, every player needs that. It would have served as a better counterpoint to the high action and close call from last time if it hadn't been 9 weeks since we played.

They did downplay the curse that Vyktor almost succumbed to, assuming it had passed. I wanted to remove any doubt, and it made sense that Ghehennis would check on him. Later I realized, perhaps, that Ygdrask was the better Astral Sight user, but a Nethermancer makes more sense. Regardless, at the last second I came up with the idea to have Ghehennis lie about being able to reconstruct the cursed notebook. I figured that was a pretty good basic test that could be backed up with a check in Astral Space.

I should have expected Valteri to express desire for the notebook. Not sure what I should do with that; I will likely let it go. But, man, he plays greedy guys all the time!

I didn't know for sure where this would go. I printed out some enemies in case they decided to go fight. I was wholly unprepared for a trip to Magnik's Lab, but if they wanted to go and see what they could find, it was going to be a dead end. I heaped on that enough. They also could have went to help Kergnon or gotten Ygdrask to look at their suspicious, colored potions from Magnik. But, instead, they decided main plot was best.

Which was great, because I'm ready for them to LEAVE. While I'm nervous about having things prepared in the wide-open world of Barsaive, they progress slow enough that I'm not too concerned that I'll be totally messed up.

Regardless, this ended on a cliffhanger, and I got the beloved "What, no! You can't stop there!" that every GM wants. When I originally scripted that event it wasn't meant to be a cliffhanger, but I want all the players there for it. It is WAY too important.

Plus, I hadn't read it in weeks, so I didn't remember all that happened, so I wanted to do it justice.
Out of curiosity, how much do my fellow GMs script out play versus just winging it? As you can see, I had a little of both in the above adventure. As I've been running these, I've shifted from heavily planned adventures to simply having a vague idea of what's happening and knowing the personalities of the core NPCs and rolling with it. I do like to have maps prepared, particularly for key fights. I'm also building up a reserve of premade stat blocks based heavily on Kosmit's stuff (Ideas for Earthdawn Tools / Materials). I can throw several together on a page, print them out, and keep track of damage that way. (As a side note, I don't keep track of them on my computer, despite playing online, because my screens are already bogged down enough that it's faster to have them printed out.)
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Tattered Rags
Posts: 357
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Under the Stars Postmortem

Post by Tattered Rags » Tue Jan 15, 2019 3:56 am

As I noted in the summary section, we had all four players. Some technical difficulties with Discord at the beginning, but otherwise good play.

Venturing Forth into a New World postmortem
Spoiler:
We started the evening, after clearing up the technical problems, with the missing player from the last session filling me in on what he wanted to increase. Following that, this adventure picked up right where the last ended.

With exposition. Lots and lots and lots of exposition. I asked at the end how the players felt about that, and they thought it was okay. They liked the storytelling. I also paused a few times, which weren't written into the monologue, to allow them to act. I was condensing several hours of activity into a few minutes of just me talking. I figured it would be stupid not to let the players interact. I'm glad I did, as they joked around, and I got to show off some more annoying things with Ygdrask.

I've been dying for this session, at it marks the biggest turning point in the entire campaign so far. I've also been a little frightened of it, since that means the training wheels are off. From here on out, I have no idea what the players will do, which means I can easily be caught off guard. I plan on pointing them to Urupa and work out some details in that direction. If I make the time, I should also plan a few other things out in other directions, like the Servos Jungle or the Serpent River.

Knowing them, though, it's unlikely they will jump ship and try to explore too much. I've given them a 30 day time limit in game, so they can only go so far unless they wish to completely screw over everyone "back home".

That jeweled scroll case is definitely going missing in a future adventure, and someone will hopefully get a good look at the map inside. Which shows a location of an essentially unopened kaer. What fun for me! That will eat up some of those 30 days. Speaking of the map, I roughly sketched it at lunch that day and then used a tool called Hextml to put the final product together. I think it looks good.

Since most of the adventure was me talking or everyone leveling up, next adventure has a fight planned. Let's see if they actually get there. They have some traps to navigate! It will be nice to be able to throw some harder enemies at them since they aren't nearly as squishy, now. Better armor, higher UR and DR, and more power all around, since they finally got to spend all that hard-earned LP.

A few sessions before ago, I wasn't sure we'd ever make it this far. I was so down-in-the-dumps regarding GMing and session planning that I really didn't want to do it anymore. What a difference some times makes. For those feeling the same, just stick with it. I mean, really evaluate if you have the time, but know that there's a lot of fun to be had from behind the screen.

It took me awhile to get comfortable, and now I'm spoiling to run other games because I GET TO TELL ALL THE STORIES! But I get to still be surprised since I don't get to tell every part of those stories. However, other projects keep me busy, not to mention family. So, next game is probably going to be slightly delayed.

Now that the players are on their way out, I have opportunity to bring a fifth on board. No one planned, yet. However, I would like to bring on guest stars at some time. I think it would be fun to have other people stop in and play a session every once in a while. Not sure how my players will feel about that, though. Definitely easier to do that with online play!
Those Obsidimen Names, amirite? I enjoy making those up.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Slimcreeper
Posts: 732
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 11:44 pm

Re: Under the Stars Postmortem

Post by Slimcreeper » Tue Jan 15, 2019 7:43 pm

Pretty fun to try to say too

Tattered Rags
Posts: 357
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Under the Stars Postmortem

Post by Tattered Rags » Sat Feb 16, 2019 8:21 pm

Had to postpone by 2 weeks, and then I waited a week to get the summary written.

The Tunnel and the Infinite Cave postmortem
Spoiler:
I finally paid for a Roll20 subscription. I'd been using it and, mostly, drawing maps with lines and the like. Worked well, and I hunted around for good tokens to represent guards, creatures, etc. I found battles really benefited from maps. The rest of the time I use simple Theater of the Mind (TotM) techniques.
But not this session. A trip through a trapped dungeon was greatly aided by using the dynamic lighting capabilities of Roll20. Specifically, the Infinite Cave at the end. I scrambled, last minute, to drop in some really nice looking free dungeon and cave tiles and walls to make the map look much better. I then drew out the dynamic lighting lines, and voila, an immersive map!
I think I could have done it with words alone, but this was good. I had never bothered to write out decent descriptions of each tunnel, and it only just now dawned on me that I could have done that. Oh well, this worked, and the players had fun!

Considering I didn't really try very hard to put together awesome descriptions of the tunnel, it probably won't be a surprise that I didn't think too hard about the traps, either. I had already decided that those with the blood charms would be in no danger from the traps, so I didn't feel any real impetus to put hard numbers to things. This was, perhaps, not super smart. I'm quick on my feet, though, and have been relying more and more on my improvisational side, so when numbers were needed, I conjured them from no where. Worked fine, and it was less stressful. The only real catch was when Vyktor wanted to find out what was triggering the crushing stone traps. "Oh, powerful Illusion magic." Good enough, if a bit of a cop-out.
Players searched for ways to open doors, and I about smacked my forehead because I stupidly didn't think about that. Well, grabbed an appropriate difficulty number from the GM's screen difficulty table and off to the races. Ultimately decided that hidden buttons to leave were easier to find than hidden buttons to progress deeper (DN 10 vs. 20).
What I HAD thought of was that the blood charms would open all the doors. When Boris figured that out on wooden door, and then quipped, "There was a key. It was in us all along." I about died laughing. He was also the one that suggested nobody looked back when the room exploded in flames behind them. They're one cool group.

There there was my favorite trap. It turned out far better than I could have expected. The Infinite Cave was an illusory cave system that twisted in an infinity sign (which was by accident...I mean I way intentionally overthought this). It's possible that I could have gotten more mileage with TotM stuff here. Thinking back, maybe the Infinite Cave would be better to not be drawn out. Regardless, the players were what made it work.
They didn't metagame AT ALL (or barely, if I'm honest). Those trapped in the illusion acted as if it were real. Each side tried to convince the other of the rightness of their view, and this caused everyone to doubt what they actually could see. As a long-time RPG player and still relatively novice GM (what, 12 sessions already! Wow!), it was truly wonderful to see this. I have the best players!
Of course, had the players rolled well, then perhaps this never would have happened. I set the Sensing difficulty at 25. That's hard for a Master tier adept, and sets the equivalent spell Circle to 10. Reasonable for a kaer defense, I guess. I wanted them in the trap for a little while, but I didn't want it to end the game, so how to decide how the Orichalcum door blood charm gets them out of this? Unlike the other traps, the charm here just gave them automatic sensing tests and a bonus of +2 for each missed test. I remembered to give them the +5 for Valteri's help, but I forgot that bonus is cumulative for each player. I also didn't describe the figment nature of the cave after they successfully sensed it. Regardless of the bonus to their rolls, most of the players kept rolling below 10 on steps as high as 15 or 20. It was crazy!
I love illusions and Illusion magic in Earthdawn. Growing up, Elementalists were my favorite, but Illusionists now tie for best. I do miss Rope Trick, though.

I promised a fight, and by golly, they got a fight! Though not as big as I planned, which was good since it started at our normal quitting time. The day before the game, I decided to drop a bear in the cave at the end of the tunnel. I wanted to get a fight in, and I couldn't be sure they'd find something to battle otherwise. I added the baby bear and thought, in the back of my mind, that this might make them more sympathetic. I didn't really expect it, but Valteri's player simply couldn't murder a mama bear in front of her cub. As mercenary as he always plays his characters, this was, apparently, a line he wouldn't cross.
And I plan on rewarding that! Perhaps they have a bear friend, now.
As mentioned in the summary post, my wife was reading on a couch near me while I ran the game online. She fell asleep and dreamed about people fighting a bear and then leaving a house to see the night sky and fire works. Her dream was in pixelated 8-bit art, and she thought, "Oh, how cool that Keith made the art for his players."
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Tattered Rags
Posts: 357
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Under the Stars Postmortem

Post by Tattered Rags » Sat Mar 02, 2019 9:12 pm

Under the Stars, an Interlude postmortem
Spoiler:
I was sick, so this was a short session. That really only worked because we play online, so advantage to that way of playing. Still like playing in person, though.

Being sick the whole week (progressively getting worse), I really didn't get everything done that I had originally planned. Didn't matter, though, since we didn't play very long.

I will admit, I wasn't completely sure why I called this campaign "Under the Stars". I vaguely remembered from years ago reading the legend The Heart of Heroes from Legends of Earthdawn Volume One, but upon rereading it, I didn't quite want that to be a direction of an entire campaign. Too late that I had already named (Named?) it Under the Stars. It wasn't until yesterday that I finally decided to just drop a little reference to the constellations. Nothing to overt, kinda hint that something might be important. My plan is to highlight the Thief and Beastmaster constellations as they approach Urupa, then have their map stolen by a group that has those Disciplines.

Ultimately, the entire plan is to have some major event that requires a representative of ALL the Disciplines. Veran will be the Swordmaster. The group will have to travel to gather the Adepts and convince them to help. What that major event is, I don't know yet. I'm leaning towards the curing of a Passion (as detailed in the Horrichalcum post from the old forums; I may need to reprint that some day). Great thing about table-top RPGs, though, is I don't have to have it all figured out yet! Yay!

Lack of prep messed something up for me. Since I didn't take time to re-read my notes (which I usually do as I transcribe them onto Scabard), I accidentally dropped an interaction between Delmuth and Fhin (the older dwarf that tells the group to halt). Fhin was supposed to treat Delmuth a little disrespectfully. Oh well.

The group is headed to Urupa, which is what I'd been planning this whole time. Thankfully they fell into it without any real effort on my part, but I placed the kaer where I did and set the time limit for returning specifically to make Travar less attractive as an option. That all said, I'm a little nervous about Urupa. I have no idea what to do there!

Any help would be appreciated. I've begun working on an opening description as they approach the city. I think I can do that, but any suggestions on what they should be encountering along the way? I think the road should head to the Swinging City of Axalalail then turn south to follow the Coil River to Urupa, with farming villages scattered along the way. I know it's my Earthdawn, but does anyone see a problem with that versus canon?

Furthermore, once the players are in Urupa, anyone have good ideas for general 'big-city-ness'? I've got no idea how to help the players get the feel of what they could do. These are more problems in general. I've never GM'd this far into a game before, so it's unknown waters for me! "D*mn the rocks! Full speed ahead!"

Suggestions can be posted here, but since others may find that useful, too, it might be better to start a new post.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Tattered Rags
Posts: 357
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Under the Stars Postmortem

Post by Tattered Rags » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:46 am

Caravan Ambushed postmortem
Spoiler:
This will be short, both because I'm writing this three weeks later and because this session was a three hour battle. Really, the main takeaway was that I had too many people to manage with 10 bandits, 3 guards, and 4 civilians. Civvies went on the same initiative and mostly just hid, so that wasn't too bad. I felt the guards and bandits took away from the players being in the spotlight. Very first bandit attack roll was supposed to be for a large group of them, but it was so high I decided to roll for each. That wasn't too bad since we using the Discord bot Exploding Dice.

Good news, though: the players didn't feel like they were waiting around too much. I guess I made sure the NPCs moved quickly, not taking too much time to decide what to do.

I may include numerous NPCs in a future fight, but I will have to plan ahead how to make sure it goes quickly. Might help that I try to be somewhat descriptive of each attack.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Tattered Rags
Posts: 357
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: Under the Stars Postmortem

Post by Tattered Rags » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:11 am

Fireside Chat postmortem
Spoiler:
This was an exercise in focus at the beginning, because my son had to go see a doctor for strep, and I got back home right when the game started. We delayed the start time by half-an-hour, and I was, as I told my players, discombobulated. We got things on track fairly quickly, though.

Life, amirite?

That said, this was also a session of last minute stuff. I forgot to plan for the interrogation until a couple hours prior even though the players said they were going to do it. I thought up a couple things while dropping my oldest off at gymnastics, but with my son's issue I didn't write it down until right at the start of the game. By that point I had forgotten the bandit leader's name. Came up with a new one. Good enough!

I had figured ahead of time the bandit wouldn't know how to count, would mention his best friend, and would basically be a simpleton. When Valteri quipped that Boris would be eating Yfram, I was able to make him extraordinarily pathetic. It was a good opportunity, saved a bunch of time, and just let the RP happen. I made him roll an interaction test and figured Yfram would have a penalty to his social defense. This was fun!

What I had originally planned, though, was for Roth to be one of the other captured bandits. Then Valteri asked, "Is he one of them?" Sudden inspiration or whatnot, Yfram responded, "No. No, he was one that ran away." Sometimes it's best to go with the ideas that strike you in the middle of things.

I also knew I wanted an escape attempt, but I didn't know how I wanted it to play out. With Roth out there and being Yfram's friend, I was able to use that.

Roth following the caravan, however, was unplanned. It popped in my head sometime and was so good to me that I had to do it. Namely having him walk into camp the way he did. Because Roth is now going to be a major player in some things in the future. Not to reveal too much, but I need a Questor of Mynbruje for the high-tier plot line. Roth is a perfect fit. You'll see next session how that all plays out. With the last minute inspiration to have him be an escapee, followed by the last minute use of him to attempt to break Yfram out and then later walk into camp, he's shown to be a remorseful criminal. He understands justice, but he also seeks compassion. Punishment and empathy. Perfect for Mynbruje.

For those wondering why I need a Questor, one word: horricalcum.

Oh, and the group is the Rolling Stones. It's growing on me. Hated it the first time it was brought up, but now it ain't so bad.

edit: I'd been struggling to think of one more interesting thing for the players to do while in Axalalail. Now I will be having them visit the guards to get their money (turn over the receipt) and attend a good ol' fashion hangin'. Except things won't quite go as everyone plans. ;)
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Post Reply