Sea Dogs, Chapter I:VII, GM Debrief

Session Recap; Stream

GM confidence: 4/5. I think this week’s session went pretty well, overall, if a bit less smoothly than I wanted.

Necessary Questions

A couple of sessions ago, I lamented my lack of solutions for when the players, for whatever reason, aren’t asking the right questions. Multiple times in this session, I found myself giving away information without having been asked, because the players needed it in order to make an informed decision. I don’t want to do that. There’s no reward for clever play if the GM gives you the answers without your having asked. Standard practice would be to call for a skill-roll and give them the answer if it succeeds, with the obvious downside that if the roll fails, they either go without or you’re left having to fudge or ignore the results, which renders the roll pointless. Lately, I prefer to take a page from Night’s Black Agents and give them the necessary info up front, if the character has sufficient skill, and then let them roll for “extra”—this is fine if you actually have something “extra” to add. Lately, I think I’ve been assuming too much. When I script out the answers, I really should consider more carefully what happens if that question goes unasked.

Anansi, Behind-the-Scenes

As I’ve stated before, the Daniverse has World of Darkness at its core. It has been my plan all along to introduce the many creatures of WoD in the course of this campaign. When I first started to study Barbados for the game, I took its considerable African-slave through-traffic as an opportunity to introduce the Ananasi, whose African mythological origins made a logical connection. As in all WoD cases, I’ve made alterations—such as the “royal we”—though I mostly stuck to abilities from the original source material here (the powers she used were deliberately chosen). The name “Anansi” in this case is not her name, but what she was called by the Africans she encountered. The encounter went through quite a few iterations—I was admittedly tempted to borrow from Anansi’s portrayal in American Gods. Ultimately, I was shooting for something “alien,” and I feel like I succeeded. And of course, she could easily return later…

This is not the first WoD creature they’ve encountered, of course, and it certainly won’t be the last.

Scripting, Part III

I was really looking forward to the encounter with Anansi, but I suspected this question-and-answer occasion might not go as planned. As I feared, the player whose character was at the center of it entirely left the conversation to others. Their hesitation, and some incorrect assumptions on my part, led to scripted elements occurring out of order. Plus I ended up giving answers to questions that had not been asked, not only to get the information to the players, but to fill some of the dead air.

As a result, there were some spots in this interaction where it felt a little like the typical computer-game NPC delivery, at least, from my perspective. It highlighted the worst aspect of pre-scripting one’s dialogue, in that it tends to tie you down. I had encountered this before, to my detriment, when I’ve relied on heavy scripting in the past; I had hoped to rise above it this time. But this is not to say the scene was a failure. In spite of the difficulty, I think it went well, and more lessons-learned is always good.

Other Stuff

  • This is now, officially, the longest campaign I’ve run for Olympus—the others have not exceeded six weeks—though not my longest yet for any group (still twelve)
  • Davino will have the opportunity to make a Deduction roll next week, due to the slayer’s journal, which means I will have an opportunity to do a better job of it this time 😛
  • Details of the “traders” Sir Randel interacted with were the result of tarot draws. I didn’t design the scenario with Payne’s girl-in-every-port in mind, though I did expect it might go that way.
  • I am amused that at least two key elements to the PCs’ survival next session were completely random—the Princess Mary was a random event, and Captain Lockhart was the result of an off-hand comment by Hayden’s player and a bad Reaction roll
  • I couldn’t predict on which day the PCs would leave Barbados, therefore my prep for the journey North wasn’t as sure as I would have liked. I might have pressed on a little longer at the end, but for this fact, it seemed ideal to take the extra week to really think this next segment through—it could be important.

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