GM confidence: 5/5. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the session “perfect,” but I also couldn’t (realistically) expect one to go much better, IMO.
What Went Right
- I’ve been trying to do a little more “Show, Not Tell” for some time now—to the extent that one can in a TTRPG—by working bits of lore into conversations with NPCs, or through their actions. The “news reading” is a prime place for it, and I took advantage of a random kingdom event to tell about the Sentinels. I also feel like I did a decent job of “showing” NPCs’ traits and positions through action/conversation here. Obviously, I want to find more opportunities for this.
- I went through the characters’ inventories before the game and discovered they actually didn’t have much that could be pick-pocketed. A couple of potions was the best I could do.
- The fight in the slum apartment, as mentioned on the stream more than once, has to be one of the strangest combats I’ve ever experienced—but it was certainly entertaining. It was definitely not planned that way; “emergent storytelling” in evidence.
- I came up with the “Lock and Key” concept during the Sea Dogs run. Although I have been using it here and there since then, this was the first time it came to the direct forefront—no idea why it only happened now. I’ll probably expand on that in its own blog post at some point, but the short version here is: the “lock” would have been if the PCs tried to appeal to their authority with the Gambees, in which case they would have taken a -4 to Influence, and the “key” was offering to take the arrows so the Gambees’ men don’t have to (also flattering Vigo’s intellect), in which case they got a +4. Kenrick’s player just happened to hit the right note.
- Due to a busy work-week, I had to scramble a bit to get prepared. One of the problem-areas was the inclusion of the “black-hooded man” at the end. I needed to be able to deliver the catch-phrase and take off running without being immediately prevented, and it wasn’t till the last minute that it occurred to me to put him on the rooftop, which was perfect (and appropriate). Once again, Maykew’s player surprised me with (the same) spell; I hadn’t considered that at all—but it worked out, since I really wanted him to get caught. I think I would have rather gotten a proper Chase (Action 2) out of it, though. Next time.
What Went (Almost) Wrong
I went through some effort to get to the first fight at the right time, knowing how long these things usually take, so I could get the session done on time. I succeeded—maybe a little too much so. When the fight went rather more quickly than I expected, I was definitely worried the session was going to end up short, enough that I was considering turning the “Red Rondel” into a “real” fight. But I managed to allow the player discussions to drag just enough to negate the need.
A much-smaller issue: I adjusted the “bridges” news item really late before the game, with the “bleeps,” but at the time, I didn’t properly process how to actually read it aloud, resulting in some clumsiness with the delivery.
- The “Halfling Mafia” is an old joke dating back to the origins of the Generica D&D campaigns in our Friday group, but had not seen production until this session. I had been looking forward to this day. The name, Gambee, is a mix of “Gamgee” from Lord of the Rings and the historical “Gambino,” suggesting a bit of a “Sicilian” flavor.
- “Red Rondel” is a reference to the “Red Circle” club from John Wick
- Garrett the Locksmith is an old D&D character of mine going way back to 2nd edition, and was, himself, a ripoff of the the protagonist from Thief: The Dark Project. I do miss playing that character…