GM confidence: 3.95/5. Not a bad start, really, IMO—certainly better than the start of Chapter I—but a handful of minor mistakes and an undefinable sense of “clunkiness” on my part (deserved or not) prevent me from giving it a full “4.”
There were some missed opportunities with regard to some dialogue, here and there. I had learned that I need to write out bits of dialogue/monologue that need to be delivered in my notes, regardless of whether or not I intend to read them directly. I didn’t take the time to do that here, and it showed, I think. One of the benefits of doing so is making sure certain pieces of information are delivered. But sometimes, even that doesn’t work.
Any time you know a complicated mechanic will be called for, write down the damned page numbers! I’m usually really good about that, but I forgot to write the location of the “Gain Admission” stuff in Social Engineering, and that lost me some time. Having said that, it had actually not occurred to me that the PCs would be talking to a clerk or somesuch, and I needed to sort out the effects of Status on that interaction. Another oops. I accidentally breezed past the PCs’ opportunity to learn what the bustle was about at City Hall, too. It wasn’t super important, but it could have affected things further in, and the effort I spent generating that content was wasted.
I thought my first attempt at “The Hunt” from Monster Hunters 2 went reasonably well. It wasn’t meant to be a complicated mystery, and I expected the players to figure it out easily, so I knew they were going to be getting the +4 for “guessing correctly” a lot. I don’t have specific plans to use this again in this run, but I wouldn’t have a problem with it. What could have been better, though, was the process of getting the interviews they did. As soon as I got started, I realized I hadn’t properly thought through how the skill rolls would interact with the results. I didn’t mean to break it up into “days” of operation like that. Likewise, I had worked out what clues the interviewees would have available, but I didn’t actually sort out what the PCs would be required to do to get them. Ultimately, it turned out okay, but I think that situation would have benefited from a more “skill challenge”-like structure—a clear “do this, get that” process. I probably needed a couple more backup witnesses, too.
The Skill Challenge in the sewers went much better, mechanically. We’ve been using Skill Challenges (from D&D 4e) in GURPS for a while now, and we’ve gotten fairly proficient at them, much like the GURPS “Chase” mechanic. I’m going to be using these quite a bit throughout the run. I thought my “twist” worked out pretty well: giving them the “obstacle” and letting them sort out the who and how—this may actually be a better method—though I really needed to come up with a few more (logically, you’d need one each for the total of successes and failures, minus one). My mistake there was that, although I had defined consequences for failing the Challenge, I had not fully processed failure of the mission—fortunately, they ended up squeaking by, with maybe a day to spare.
I’m still working on my “Action Challenge System” here and there. For the rats, I used the very-unfinished “Quick Combat” piece. We used this before in our Session Zero, where we revisited the “bridge fight” in Chapter I:V. It is definitely faster—a fight that size would have taken multiple sessions in Tactical Combat. It still needs work, though. The first problem was “Surprise”; I didn’t consider how that would affect the combat until we got to it, and I definitely went about it the wrong way—should have just given the rats a penalty on their first round. The “long term” effects of individual combat maneuvers needs better definition, and I had meant to define a “battle skill” (much like 3e GURPS mass combat). The PCs were all killing a lot more than I had anticipated, even without my forgetting of the Size Modifier, but in retrospect, it was probably “correct”—in a 15 second span, it is feasible they could disable 15 discrete targets. I completely forgot to track the number of neutralized rats as we went, but the PCs took out so many in the first two rounds that it really didn’t matter. If the rats had been able to make any real progress against the PCs I would have been using Fantastic Dungeon Grappling to bring them down, but alas, I didn’t get to see how that would have worked out. There will be other opportunities to try again, though.
- I’m using “Novigrad” (mostly) from Witcher 3 as a Vancouver for the Capital
- I pre-rolled (via spreadsheet) the weather according to Dungeon Fantasy 16: Wilderness Adventures; this will be the case throughout the entire campaign
- I completely missed giving the name of the “siege experts” as Ser Reckett’s Crew
- I had quite a few “news items” on tap for the town crier, but the PCs decided to move on. I probably should have reminded them they could go back later. But that just means I have more for later.
- Being a fairy-tale inspired campaign, you will see the Rule of Three a lot
- The “Jon Thatcher” witness was ripped straight from A Knight’s Tale (as Paul correctly identified)
- The “Old Mack” witness was “Miracle Max” from The Princess Bride—I really wanted to do more with that one; see “write it down” above
- The “Procuro Morgeld” witness was the merchant from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice—I also didn’t bring out his details the way I wanted
- There are more Easter-eggs here that I don’t want to give up just yet…