So I'm thinking about doing a reboot of the Traveller game. The last session was kind of painful and stressful in places, and I still haven't done the session re-cap for it. I don't want to make any serious changes, mind. I'm just not quite happy with the pattern that we're settling into, and I need to do something about it before running the game becomes a major drag.
The problem I've identified, in my thinking about this over the last week, is that I'm not putting enough pressure on the crew. Traveller itself provides pressure, in the mortgage payments they have to make, and the potential for mis-jump and all the trouble that causes. But all that's lead to so far is "we go out looking for leads," or, "we ask the passengers we picked up if they have any problems." Which is something that I want to change how I'm handling; in the next session I'm going to see if I can make them work a little harder for that. I'd rather that they actually go out to specific places and talk to specific people, rather than just getting a list.
Anyway. Beyond "we need to make some money," they don't have any serious problems. The money motivation still just brings everything back to me; I still have to drive events in the session, or nothing happens. One of the players is a Duke, and as cool as that is in some ways, it's meant that they kind of ignore a lot of the "problems with the law" that the Traveller book seems to assume they'll have. That generates a certain amount of adventure in and of itself ("Hey! Let's negotiate a peace settlement between these two warring nations! They'll listen to us!") but it removes a default problem, and thus makes my life harder.
Oh, and the group has a tendency to split up. Which so far I've been sort of encouraging, but it really needs to stop, or at least get scaled way back. There's a lot of "I'm going to sit around and watch the other players doing stuff," and that's not good. So part of my motivation in making their lives harder is to give them a reason to stick together, and stop making me manage three different scenes at once.
None of this is to say that I'm not enjoying the game. The players are (for the most part) enthusiastic and involved, and while last session was rough in spots it also featured a religion based on Marvel Comic books and the cult of Wolverine, "the religion of what I was going to do anyway." It's still fun. But it's a brand new group, and it's a much more picaresque style of game than I'm used to, so I'm still tweaking the mix.
I have a pretty specific plan for what I'm going to do next session; I'd say more, but a few of my players read this blog, if only sporadically, so I'll wait until I've seen how it goes down. I'm not going to back off from the "no particular plot, just sutff happening on different planets" thing that I've got going in the game, but they have pissed off several people without really paying attention to it. So I'm going to cash in on that.