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Thursday, November 30

Comments on Gonnes, Sons, and Treasure Runs

Azgulor wrote:

Great story hour! You seem to be blessed with a good group of players and you know how to tell a good story. You and your fellow DM also seem to handle the absence of some players and the introduction of new players very well. Any pointers? Handling those two occurences never go as smoothly for my campaigns as I'd like.

Again, great story hour. Keep 'em coming please.

Hi Azgulor,

There are a variety of factors that help make things go smoothly. I often think of better reasons for why characters aren't there for the story hour (as opposed to just before the game). Here's a few things that I think contribute to keeping the story moving without getting too tripped up by the character appearances/disappearances:
  1. Know who your core players are. There are three consistent characters: Vlad, Ilmare, and Kham. Ilmare is played by my wife, so I pretty much know when she'll be around. Vlad is played by a coworker, so we're in constant contact. And finally, Kham is played by an old friend who really likes to play D&D and is happy to travel to a game if need be. I focus the plots on these three characters most of the time, thus ensuring that the other characters who come and go aren't missed too much.
  2. There are always good excuses for PCs to not adventure. Really, it seems like all heroes do is run around being heroes. So I use these absences as reminders that life sometimes life isn't all monster-killing and treasure-grabbing. Sometimes this is just a basic duty, like Quintus having to serve as a legionnaire and Vlad serving Duke Adolphos val'Tensen as a bailiff. But other times it's tragedy or, my personal favorite, "recovering from really bad wounds". You'll see this happen a bunch going in the upcoming story hours:
    • Catching a disease and falling ill while the PCs try to find the cure.
    • Getting "hurt real bad" and spending time recovering in a secret location so that said PC is not assassinated.
    • Being kidnapped by a cult (this has happened to two different characters now), sometimes for weeks at a time.
    • Imprisoned. *COUGH* Kham! * COUGH*
    • Working on the creation of a new magic item.
    • Doing research on an esoteric subject.
    • Investigating bad guy activity on their own.

  3. The adventures are Living Arcanis RPGA adventures. They're meant to be played in the span of four hours or less and thus go quickly. This means that PCs are never so committed to an area (like say, a dungeon) that they can't get out of it. We're planning adventures in other dimensions and such that will make PC comings and goings harder.

As for new players, having a well-defined world really helps. We don't have too many crazy anomalies...there's no minotaur fighters showing up in the world that I have to explain. Probably the most fantastic/strange is Bijoux, who is literally one of a kind (a flying catfolk race that came from one of the first Living Arcanis adventures) and Calactyte, a big lizardfolk. Both of those characters sometimes have difficulty fitting in, especially the horror-themed adventures; it's hard to be scary when you've got a big scaly superhero beating up bad guys. On the other hand, they are both intricately tied to the world; lizardfolk are considered a menace in most parts of Arcanis and Bijoux is a representative of a world that fought the Unspeakable One and failed. So even the anomalous characters serve a purpose.

Of course, we haven't had a new character join since Dril. Dril fit in easily enough because he was a character that made sense in Arcanis: he's an urban ranger/rogue who serves in the Shining Patrol, hates ss'ressen and lizardfolk, and is from Altheria. Which means he's got ready made conflict (wait til Dril meets Cal!), an allegiance to a homeland, and plenty of motivation to help people out.

And of course it helps that I have a great bunch of players who are generally all interested in party unity. The story hours help reinforce that, elaborating on each character's background and history while at the same time encouraging them to do things that "fit the story." I should point out that all the players are intensely aware of this story hour and want all the moments to "look good in it." It's almost like they're on a reality show, so that definitely helps people get along.

Thanks for your comments! It's good to know someone's reading this story hour.


posted by Michael Tresca at 7:53 AM

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