The Long Awaited Game

This weekend I get to run my face to face game. The last session was nearly a year ago as the get together planned for the autumn last year was cancelled. In fact we wanted to meet up in the June and the September but neither of those weekends happened.

I am actually going to use one of our own 50 in 50 adventure outlines as an encounter, the cabin in the woods, and if you can remember back to 22nd of September last year I will finally get to throw my wicked witch at the characters.

I think these massive hiatuses (hiatusi? or just ‘gaps’) between game sessions, twelve months in this instance, are the main cause of our hack and slash game play.

The challenge facing me is that I need to create the impression that the characters are carrying out a long and fruitless search while making the game session exciting and engaging. The point of the fruitless search element is to make the end of the search feel like something of greater value. I don’t want them to walk into the forest, poke two leaves and then find the long lost ancient sword that has evaded legions of searchers for generations.

I also get to load up the characters with some useful single user magic items, some of which they will not know they are magical. Witches are great at making enchanted items and the BBEG this time is a wicked witch.

The only slight disappointment is that one player has had to drop out of the weekend due to a family crisis. These weekends are always best when the gang is all there. As a group we have now been gaming together for 34 years!

The final thing I am looking forward to is that I get to play as well. I have a 1st level Lay Healer called Otto. We are running around my GMs home brew world that so far appears to have a mix of fantasy and high tech elements. At least that is implied by the sliding doors and elevators we encountered in the first session.

Exciting times ahead!

17 Replies to “The Long Awaited Game”

  1. Hiatus is a fourth declension Latin noun, so if you want to impress your friends, you can explain that the plural is the same as the singular (just with a longer ‘u’ sound at the end). If you want to be one of the hoi polloi, then you can just pluralize it as the English do, into hiatuses.

    That is a hard challenge: make the characters get bored and frustrated without the players getting the same. Maybe have them make fatigue checks or start to run out of resources like food and water due to the length of the search, or have them start to get things like disease in the swamp which makes them want to get things done more quickly? You could go all ‘Blair Witch Project’ on them.

    1. Strangely, my players do not read this blog so I can discuss all sorts of game stuff here and get away with it.

      There is a BBEG at the end of this, a magician that failed to transition in to a lich. One approach I am going to use is having the BBEG send the characters deceptive dreams. I have these typed up and printed off. I can then punctuate the ends of days by passing a player their dream. That should mess with the players heads and mark out the passage of time.

  2. And by ‘Blair Witch Project’ I mean have them get confused and lost, and realize that they’re searching the same area multiple times. Then they can come to the realization that there is some sort of witchy enchantment here that is making the search fruitless.

  3. I mention things like Hiatus to make Rolemaster players sound really smart because they know their fourth declensioned Latin nouns. We are obviously a cut above your common or garden GURPS player.

  4. This is a great post as I am able to relate to it on a few levels now. First, I ran my first weekend campaign in October and we are looking to have our next session. We are at the 6/7 month marker and finding a new weekend is challenging us. I was hoping to go every 9 months or so, hopefully not a full year to keep the group a little more active, but life gets in the way.

    The first run through was with two players brand new to RM and there were some hurdles. It was my first time hosting a weekender so I had hurdles and a learning curve too. The boredom and over-taxing was there but not intentional. LOL Due to time constraints, we left off at the edge of the forest looking at what was to be the BBEG battle. Instead we ended there with hopes to start the next session at that point. I had to look at it like ending on a cliff hanger that would hopefully bring people back wanting to see what was there.

    Second point, I have been using the 50 in 50 modules in my weekend campaign and the Cabin the Woods turned out great!!! One player was nearly killed due to the confusion caused by the two parties with the same goal, but different scripts. The interaction was awesome.

    Luckily the monthly session we have isn’t as long a wait as the once per year. You are very fortunate that your group has been gaming together for so long. I’m bringing 3 groups of players into one group and getting them introduced to RM. I’m envious!

    On a bight note, I managed to find two players from my college days on FaceBook yesterday! It’s taken me this long as I don’t use FB. I texted them yesterday and I’m hoping to hear from them! They introduced me to RM and I’ve been going with it ever since. One is nearby and I invited him to my weekend session. Talk about a hiatus? 25 years and counting LOL

    1. We try and play three times a year but to be honest in recent years twice is the best I have managed. The game tends to run to mainly hack and slash as no one can remember the subtleties of any more in depth plotting.

      These sessions are just one part of my gaming. I do a lot of PBP games. Ironically the role play element is better with PBP than it is face to face as you get to craft each response and colour it with how you want your character come across. I also do my best to mask who is a PC and who is an NPC so you have to treat everyone in the part as an equal and not as if the NPCs are the hired help, unless of course that is you characters personality.

      I have another player who is at university and comes and goes. I have been play testing RMU with that player as he has no RM experience and therefore no preconceptions or prejudices for or against any part of the system.

      I also quite enjoy solo RPGs but tend not to use RM for those. Rules light systems work best for solo games. Also I have a shelf full of games I have never played and solo play allows me to play those games, which would otherwise just gather dust.

      Finally, a perk of running a blog is that I get given stuff for free by games companies. In these days of PDF rules it costs them nothing. I have been given some of the HarnWorld books recently and once I have read those I will give you all my opinions on the setting.

      1. Peter, how do you structure/manage your solo play? Do you use any emulators? Is it more or less staging some encounters to see how the numbers fall and how the scenarios play out? I’ve been trying to get my own solo play to be satisfying. As it is now, I find myself losing interest outside of playtesting.

        1. Actually there tends to be little combat.

          I always keep a log of the choices I make and the questions I ask and the answers I get. That helps with picking up the story from one session to the next.

          Do you use a solo engine? If not then I will explain how they work and what they are for.

          1. Thanks, Peter! I’m familiar with solo engines, and I own a few in PDF, but I find them cumbersome. I’ve been thinking about this a lot (my avatar is “Eirvit” over on the ICE forums), and my feelings about solo play seem to run like this: I want to do something creative! I could write a fantasy story, but that takes so much work and heartache for what ultimately seems to be a highly insular activity. Instead I’d like to run an rpg; oh, I have to wait until game day, I’m already “over prepared,” and I want to play now. So solo play should be a intermediary between pure “writing” and gaming. I have used RM with random dungeon generators. I have done a bit with Conan 2d20 in which I use tables to generate an adventure that I then (begin) to run characters through. Right now I have a mind to build some Champions characters and see how that might play for me.

            PbP is something else I do (currently RM2 and Conan 2d20). With both I am “off grid,” using private groups in G+. And both games tend to be slow-paced: I’m lucky if the two members I have in each post once every 24 hours. Peter, do you use an established platform for PbP forums? Do you find people participating more, the interaction better in established sites wherein people ask to join? Or have you been doing PbP with a kind of “home group” in which you all know each other already?

            1. OK, easy questions first. Rpol is my pbp site of choice. Some games run fast and some run slow so I run or play in multiple games to get just the right amount if gaming fix.

              I know exactly what you mean about cumbersome solo rules. The last game I solo played was Ghost Ops. This was FUDGE based. Go to the Downloads menu above the very last entry is my FUDGE solo tool. If you ignore the dice roller you can use it with anything. Most solo engines require too many dice rolls and too many tables. They break the suspension of disbelief in the game.

              I then just keep little more than a bullet list of my actions, skill rolls, solo questions and answers. One could easily write up the notes as an episode of a story.

              I will post an excerpt of my Ghost Ops log in a while. It looks like it is really dry and uninspiring but 90% of the action and all the role play happens in my head not in the dice or the tables.

              If you are happy with the Conan momentum mechanics and consequences then that is very close to solo play even with other people at the table.

    2. I’d love to hear a detailed report on how “Cabin in the Woods” played out. Did your group disguise themselves as bandits? When did they realize things weren’t quite what they seemed? Anyone killed or injured? PC group vs balanced NPC group–how did that go?

    3. Spectre: That was directed towards you. Many of my 50in50’s are meant to be morally ambiguous, upend tropes or utilize the fog of war to challenge the players. I think it’s common for players to assume that every challenge is meant to be overcome and defeated and every apparent foe is possibly beatable via the GM’s “balanced encounter”.
      I’ve run Cabin in the Woods a couple of times and it’s always interesting. The first, the players dived right into attacking the “bandits” and were a bit surprised by the counter attack. The second time, they waited and ended up seeing the returning bandit group battle the cabin “bandits” and didn’t know what was going on, or whose side they should be!

      1. Thank you BrIH. I wasn’t sure if you were asking Peter of his adventure.

        The Cabin fit very nicely into the existing campaign I am running. I had a group of baddies harassing the player group for three sessions up to that point. Each time, one or two baddies were able to escape then return with a slightly stronger group and with different tactics. They had just completed the last mission and had captured a bad guy when we ended. I got my hands on the Cabin in the Woods, then the party was able to ‘extract’ some info about a meeting place in the woods, and the next two sessions were set! What perfect timing.

        With the damage and harassment they had been taking for several sessions, they were ready to find the cabin to end the bad guys.

        The party was 6 players (all level 1’s), but the day of the initial attack only 3 were available to play out that scene. Romantic, Trader, Dancer, Elemental Spell user (but with no spells available yet), Barbarian, Assassin. As the Barbarian, Dancer, and Assassin weren’t able to play, they had watch-duty off the main road to warn of any more bandits arriving.

        Inside the cabin, there were two NPC’s they could see and a Halfling hiding in the rafters they did not know of, and a scout in the tree line to the south they were also unaware of. I had planned for 6 players that day, one had to work, then 2 others players stopped earlier in the evening as they weren’t feeling well so I kept the other NPCs out of the fray.

        The Romantic, the tank of the group (LOL), went into the cabin with the Trader and Mage covering from the tree line with short bows. The Romantic busted in to take them by surprised but fumbled. He was on his knees facing two NPCs with no knowledge of the Halfling in the rafters. Battle ensues, hilarity erupts as the other two party members don’t move across the clearing to help the Romantic inside the cabin! The Trader at the north edge opts to cover the door. The Mage is on the east looking at the door, but can only see one NPC making lunges at the Romantic. He fire some shots at the cabin but hits the door or falls short. The NPC’s have no idea someone is shooting at them.

        The NPC runs the Romantic through with a rapier and a 66-E Puncture. The first time in my 30 years of gaming, I ran a player through with a 66 crit. Punctures both lungs, death walks into the room to bring the Romantic to his final happiness, 72 very skilled women with decades of experience in errr…. negotiable horizontal entertainment! 🙂 I remind him of a Fate Point that he has… He yells for the Fate Point, I re-roll my crit, it’s considerably lower. On that same turn, the Mage had fired an arrow into the cabin, the arrow made the swordsman flinch, his strike turns aside by a couple of inches, the Romantic leans back as the Rapier’s Point grazes the front of his armour, missing the seam in the side. The sword slides across his chest and the Romantic has a sudden, icy-cold chill as he imagines that had the arrow not flown into the room, the rapier would have found that seam in his armour and probably punctured both lungs and death would have been instantaneous. He contemplates how close he was to death for 1 round but luckily he’s still able to parry. (I re-rolled very low on the crit.)

        The Romantic is down to a few HP and the NPC tells him to drop his weapons. The Romantic refuses and orders them to drop their weapons, they’re surrounded! The NPC’s had no idea of the other players outside save for that single arrow that flew into the room at the end of combat.

        NPC: You’re going to be brought to justice for your crimes. You and all of your brigands!

        Romantic: You’re going to pay for YOUR crimes! You’ve been attacking us for days, you’re going to pay for killing those priests and for attacking us!

        N: We’ve been tracking your group for days. You’re going not to escape now. When is the rest of your group coming in?

        R: Your group is coming here Thursday and we’re going to take you all down! You are going to answer for your crimes and desecration at the shrine! You are surrounded!

        General perception roll for the Romantic. The robes the NPCs are wearing are ill-fitting and have some blood on them, but not from any wounds the Romantic delivered. There are two more bloodied robes pushed back underneath a bed. There’s a dead body under the other bed.

        Cooler heads prevail and it’s discovered the NPC’s are a group of vigilantes who have been tracking the True Bandits northward for weeks. The Players reveal they have been encountering the ‘advanced’ group of the True Bandits as they’ve been pillaging shrines, temples, travelers. The advanced groups the players have been running into have been low level with poor weapons. From what is described to the players, the True Bandits are much more skilled and better equipped.

        It is eventually deduced that the cabin is a dead-drop or a transitional meeting place where the goods are delivered to the higher ups and the higher-ups go from that cabin to the true hide-out. There is the conclusion to that encounter at the following with 5 of the 6 players able to participate and it’s a good battle. Two more baddies escaped. The numbers turned against them and they broke for the woods dropping their weapons and sprinting. The cabin was set on fire by the bandits to trap the party inside, but it will be rebuilt.

        The cabin will always be rebuilt…

        The cabin will live on….

  5. The Warehouse Adventure is next. I’m going to have it staged just north of Gryphonburg. As it is a walled city, there simply isn’t the room within the city walls to house a warehouse of that size. With the city’s growth in popularity and the increase in trade and commerce, a structure needed to be built.

    Since the party is so far north at present, they will be encountering the Gauntlet on Ice at some point as well.

    I’ve been working on Tie a Yellow Ribbon as well. I think that will be encountered about the same time as the warehouse.

    Release the Hounds is also a candidate as there are several mountains and the Ice Trolls are in the area. Some type of giant suitable to the campaign setting will be in the area.

    1. You might like this weekends release–a mysterious city tavern that might be helpful to the group. Or not. I think we are on week 35 or so and many of the 50in50 get more involved and beyond adventure hooks…

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