Sea Dogs, Chapter I:V, GM Debrief

Session Recap; Stream

GM confidence: 3.75/5. Honestly, I don’t have much to complain about for this one, but there were a few bits here and there that were nagging at me afterward. I accomplished what I meant to, overall, but it was a bit rough.

Side Mission

There’s a tendency to have some sort of “adventure” at every stop along a long voyage in campaign-situations like these. I have wanted to distance myself from that. Thus, I originally intended Santo Domingo to be a non-adventure stop, but this turned out to be a special case. We were (supposed to be) down two players for this session, and I had considered skipping it, but decided instead to do a side-mission with the three players that were available. By the latter part of the week, the event had morphed into Furlong’s “Loyalty Mission.” I kinda wanted to “take it easy” this time and just do some character-development.

Full disclosure: I may have been experiencing a mild depressive episode during the week, which may have influenced the tone of this session’s story 😛

Treasure Maps

Each PC has a “Treasure Map,” essentially a personal campaign objective they’re attempting to complete. For each such Treasure Map, I make a weekly 3d6 roll in secret against a target of 6, like a Secret. On a success, some event occurs relating to that plot-thread, often in the background. I took the opportunity of a couple of them having succeeded to bring in some events I had been planning for a while (Hayden’s actually fired last week, but I delayed it). “CptButton” is one of our regular Twitch viewers (and played a session of Shadowrun with us); I’d been looking forward to an opportunity to start working some of those viewers into the narrative where I could.

Write It Down

In recent years, I had mostly gotten out of the habit of writing extensive GM notes, in an attempt to reduce the overall pregame workload. Plus, one can always tell when the GM is reading off a script. This session, however, was a bit of an anomaly, in that there were a few instances of complicated dialog that I had to write down. I observed afterward that I was able to deliver the stuff I wrote down comparatively smoothly, while I tended to stumble over the stuff I didn’t write down. I guess it really wouldn’t hurt to write down more. I’m trying to work on my “storytelling” anyway, and I suspect that’s going to follow the same pattern—I need to start pre-scripting more of the narrative elements.

Dependencies & Assumptions

I’ve learned the hard way, over the years, the danger of planning events that depend on or assume specific PC actions, as the PCs will inevitably do the opposite. I’ve had to re-learn it many times 😛 . In this session, there were multiple instances where I realized, to my horror, I had assumed the PCs would turn left, while they were determined to turn right. I was fortunate that they self-corrected onto the Golden Path before I had to take emergency action. I should know better by now.

But that brings me to an issue I’ve been trying to figure out lately: what to do when you place an opportunity for exposition in front of the player(s), and they just won’t ask the question? Taking away player agency to say, “You ask the guy about X,” is bad GMing, in my opinion. Allowing them to not get the important info isn’t ideal either. I don’t have a good answer for this yet.

Minor Issues

  • Rogers’ player was supposed to be out this week, but he showed up for the game anyway, and I wasn’t prepared for it. Therefore, I didn’t have any specific content in mind for Rogers. Worked out okay, anyway.
  • I missed the “maintenance” roll last week (3/103 Setbacks, “Spaceship Malfunctions”), so I made it up here
  • I stumbled a bit over accents and language issues, despite my practice during the week. The more I do it, though, the more comfortable I’ll get with it. But this also goes back to the “write it down” thing, too. I’m trying to remember to introduce the character/situation, and not try to carry the accent/etc. through the rest of the conversation.
  • Regarding the above: I used some Spanish with the watch-captain, and when asked to, didn’t translate it—I don’t know why I did that; I didn’t mean to
  • Shifty’s introduction and the surrounding events got a bit more jumbled than I intended
  • I totally forgot about Dora when the PCs started sneaking Shifty out of town. I guess that’s fine, since I really didn’t have anything specific for her to do. I hate when that happens, though…
  • There were a handful of events that got used out of sequence due to “forward progress”; the scene where they drink to Shifty after his recapture was supposed to happen after the hanging, but it didn’t make sense to wait at the time
  • There were some bits that were completely missed, like the rather-important revelation that Shifty’s “escape” wasn’t entirely accidental (but a ploy to find his crew)
  • I didn’t remember Plot Points until the moment the Tactics roll happened before the shootout, otherwise I might have had some better suggestions for their use other than re-rolls (though it ended up working out, in that regard)

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