Saturday, April 11, 2009

At Star's End: Session 6

So tonight's game, sadly, contained no actual frogs. I tossed in a line that would have led in that direction, but the moment wasn't right. They did, however, end up naming an NPC after him, so that was good. Next week there will be frogs, I think. And I've got plans to run my megadungeon for the first time tomorrow night, so Arneson-ian goodness still awaits.

That NPC, incidentally? The weirdest thing that I've ever had a group of players do. (Normally I don't do the whole "tell me about your campaign" thing but I have to get this out there.) He's Zane Archer, a convict and accountant who for typically complicated reasons has been tooling around with them for basically the whole campaign. Tonight, Duke Marlow Burrin (the captain) and Alice Dice (the crazy pirate who's slept with everyone) threatened his life and implied they were going to send him back to prison, on account of a "treasure" that he'd somewhat stupidly mentioned. Then Burrin (for, again, excessively complicated reasons) changed his mind, decided to hire Zane, but because he's not technically out of prison had to create a new identity for him -- which included changing his name to Dave Bowman, knighting him, and convincing him to get plastic surgery, so now he looks like Johnny Depp.

(Emily, Alice Dice's player, was very surprised later when she discovered a "David Bowman" in the copy of Fight On! she was perusing while Burrin was busy space-accounting.)

In other news, they've now got enough money that they don't have to constantly scramble for enough to pay the mortgage on their ship, and to start playing with speculative trade a little bit. Which is good, because they've now got a number of non-monetary interests developing, so it's nice that they can afford to go a little out of their way occasionally.

And this session reminded me that I really, really need to get my notes in some kind of coherent order. My NPCs in particular are a mess -- there are several that are just names on paper, and we'd been on a several week long break until last week's session so my memory can't pick up the slack. This campaign has a lot of NPCs, all doing minor but important things, and my usual system of "if they're important, I'll remember why" isn't cutting it.

Overall, this campaign is really starting to come to life. I spent the first few sessions kind of throwing things at the party, and now enough things have started to stick that it's getting really interesting.


  1. Congrats! Sounds like y'all are having a lot of fun.

    Forecast predicts: 40% chance of frogs on Sunday. ;)

  2. Have you tried using index cards for your NPCs? You can write down their UPP, their skills, maybe some equipment, and a few notes easily enough. Then store them alphabetically in an index folder or somesuch.

    You can also keep a copy of the PC stats in a similar fashion, so you don't have to ask, "hey, what's Burrin's DEX?"

    And much like rolling a few dice for no good reason, flipping through your stack of NPC cards, and smiling evilly, is an excellent GM tactic to make the players paranoid...

  3. trollsmyth: We are. I'm even starting to consider continuing this game on into next year, since it turns out that the seniors in the group will be back to finish second bachelors/masters degrees. That'd mean pushing back a proper campaign for the megadungeon, but that can easily be an occasional expedition kind of thing for a little longer.

    Knightsky: I had an . . . unfortunate experience with index cards early on in my gaming career, and I've avoided them ever since. But that would be a very good solution to the issues I've been having, and I think at this point I could resist the influence to implement pointless color coding schemes and so on. Set-up time is still an issue, but the longer I put the problem off, the worse it gets.

  4. trollsmyth: Yes! Frogs! Er, wait. These are going to be horrible dwarf-and-cleric-devouring frogs, aren't they?

  5. Clearly, any good Traveller game needs a race of psionic frog-aliens...

  6. Different games, groups, playstyles, etc. require differing amounts of prep from the GM. The trick is to find out what is the absolute minimum amount of prep needed for a specific game, bite the bullet and do said prep (I'm pretty bad about this, admittedly), but not a whit more, as any amount of work past the needed minimum usually winds up being counter-productive.

    It's no mean feat, finding the perfect balance between prep and freeform, and no great crime to veer of a bit in one direction or the other.

  7. These are going to be horrible dwarf-and-cleric-devouring frogs, aren't they?

    Well, I don't know about clerics specifically, but as to dwarves:

    They can shoot their tongues out to 15' and drag dwarf-sized or smaller victims to their mouths to be bitten. On a "to hit" roll of 20, small prey will be swallowed whole, taking 1-6 (1d6) points of damage each round thereafter. - from page X40 of the D&D Expert book, emphasis added by your fiendish DM. ;)

  8. Didn't we play a campaign where you got turned into a frog? Or maybe it was some other kind of small critter, but I think it was a frog... Frogs are a must for any game.

  9. *Grumbles* Yes, it was a frog. And I didn't "get turned into" a frog. The party wizard turned me into a frog.

  10. It's no mean feat, finding the perfect balance between prep and freeform, and no great crime to veer of a bit in one direction or the other.I like this. I'm keeping it. I've been struggling to find just such a balance with the Traveller game, and this sums the issue up very nicely.