After a few months of home remodeling and whatnot, we finally played today. We had planned an in-person meeting, but one of our players had a family member with Covid last week so we opted for online. That family member is fine. Thankfully they are testing negative and are well.
A few notes about this session. Not really any action. I had action planned, but as will happen in an RPG the players were very smart and took a lot of time carefully planning and roleplaying some non-action stuff. The result was great problem solving and skill use, and everyone was fully engaged. There was just no shooting. Now, they were still dealing with the unknown, so the threat of danger is always there. That is fun. That is suspenseful.
This was session 23. The players started this expedition in Session 15. So that is 9 sessions. That is the longest sustained single “adventure” I’ve ever run. I’ve always found “quests” to be difficult to run. They always seem fun for the first few games, then the quest itself feels like a straight jacket for me as a ref. I feel like everyone is getting tired of it. I didn’t feel like that this time. I am glad the expedition is complete and they are back in charted space, but it was fun the whole time.
Likewise, this is the longest campaign I’ve ever run in real time or in game sessions. Granted, we haven’t played THAT many sessions, but we’ve been at it for several years. Adult life has gotten in the way a lot, but we’ve kept at it, and we’ve reached a point that the campaign has developed its own history, and with the discovery of a real threat to the Imperium during the expedition, the PCs have for the first time done something that could potentially affect the entire Imperium. That is very cool, and I really didn’t plan it. After the encounter in sessions 20 and 21 with the sentient planet-wide psionic fungal network, I listened to Marc Miller’s novel Agent of the Imperium, and realized they had discovered something that needs the attention of the highest-level decision makers. That is very cool.
I’ve heard many podcasts speakers talk about story telling in their games. That is cool. But I don’t feel like a story teller. I think of my GMing as creating a game — creating situations and problems for my players to contend with and solve using their characters and resources. Clearly there is a story, but the story emerges from the play. Today I had no idea what they would do. I set the stage, the dice and rules and I are the world, and the players interact with it. It is nice if I come up with something brilliant and entertaining, but I’m not writing a story.
However, if you are, and your players dig it, that is great. I’ve just been reflected a bit on how I do things and the way I think about things. That’s all.
Anyway, the team got back to their base planet, took care of some stuff like getting paid, passing information on to the proper authorities, and are new all set up for the next game, which more than likely will involve some action and craziness.
After the session, I had all the players add the skills their characters have been studying for the last 4 years of real time permanently to their characters. Character improvements in Classic Traveller are hard to get, and it has just been a great campaign so far, so I just had them add the skills. No roll. Just some improvement. They can now decide what 2 skills they will study during the next 10 or 20 sessions.