Friday, December 09, 2005

My little Old World

The GM's confession
So there you have it: my first attempt at plotting my own scenario in my WFRP campaign, and it turns out to be a shaggy dog story. Hardly auspicious I have to say. So what happened? Two things in essence.

First, as the adventure advanced haltingly from session to session, I became ever more aware of the glaring loopholes in the basic scheme of the plot. When the initial message was passed on to Siegfried, I had a notion in mind of how the various secret tongues and signs in the Old World could be used to pass a message up the line a bit more quickly than the pace of the fastest messenger. As time went on, this began to look more and more unlikely. The consequence of this was that the situation of peril into which the PC's were supposed to arrive 'in the nick of time' looked increasingly like one which would have been essentially resolved by the time the PC's arrived.

I tried to figure out various fixes to these problems, but they began to look increasingly contrived in my mind's eye. In addition, even if these fixes could've been made to hold together, they began to look ever more complex at a time when I was more and more interested in just getting the damn thing over with so that I could get back to running published material as I had been doing.

The other main problem was the plausibility of the whole threat itself. This was brought home forcefully to me in the encounter with the outlaws, which cost the PC's 3 fate points. I began to realise that a threat sufficiently dangerous to require a call for help such as the one I had posited would be too dangerous for the party to face, not to mention strong enough pretty much to have mopped-up at the scene long before the PC's arrived. A threat that avoided these 2 problems suffered from the fairly obvious problem of being insufficient to require a call for help in the first place.

Again, I considered potential fixes to this problem, but they all seemed to point in the direction of increased complexity and added playing time just when, as I have already noted, the dynamic of the game itself demanded the opposite.

And so it was that I found myself caught between a rock and hard place, with the session in which these issues would have to be resolved- and quickly- rapidly approaching. There was only one thing for it I decided: I had to abort the whole sorry episode, and turn it into something that fed back into what had been going on in Middenheim before my injudicious diversion. Not the most satisfactory of outcomes I realised, but one that could work if I put in the appropriate hooks for the players' emotions, while also adding new layers of intrigue and paranoia.

That much seems to have worked rather well, but even in that I made a crucial mistake. Nervous as I was at the outrageous stunt I was about to pull after some 4 sessions, I telegraphed the outcome to my players with a couple of cheesy jokes before the session got under way.

Ah well, c'est la vie. Still, the session went quite well all the same, because I'd prepared it more thoroughly than recent ones. And the players quite enjoyed themselves. So all's well that ends well I guess. Anyhoo, I've learned one lesson that I'll bear in mind for quite some time to come: with 3 volumes of the 'Paths of the Damned' to hand or imminent, Plundered Vaults, scenarios in other BI supplements, plus some 29 scenarios downloaded from the BI website and elsewhere, I really don't need to hurry to invent my own plotlines. I'll just stick to adding my own touches to these ones for the forseeable future I think!

From Altdorf to Corman's Landing
- #1 Curiouser and Curiouser
- #2 The Plot Thickens
- Index:- My little Old World: Ashes of Middenheim

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