Saturday, June 14, 2014

The times they, are a changin'

Over the last couple of session I could feel a change in some of  my players attitude towards the megadungeon. They just weren't as excited about it as they had been. I made some adjustments to the game. I added more puzzles, reduced the random encounters, gave out some treasure with small plot hooks attached, that sort of thing. 
That helped a little.
The players just weren't into it any more. But because they are all good guys, they played on. After our last session (my off week of GMing), I asked point blank if the dungeon was still fun. The response was a hearty "Meh." One player (Batista) stepped up and commented about there not being enough story. That in the past my games had been about story, and this game was just a slog through a dungeon.The other players present agreed. I still need to check with the guys who weren't there, but I have a feeling they will agree. 

A bit of History. 
The first campaign  ran for this group was a series of loosely linked published adventures. Some were from old Dungeon magazines. Some were PDFs purchased from places like RPGNow. All of the adventures were converted from D&D to GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. It was a lot of fun. The players advanced from 125 point characters to about 300 point characters. The problem was in the style of play. From the GM side of things I felt like I was railroading the players through the adventures. I don't know if that is how the players felt. I should have asked. The group went through some big changes, players left, players joined. The combination of the roster changes and the perception of the railroad track I had laid down led me to close that game down.

Next I GMed a Shadowrun game, converted to GURPS, of course. As a reaction to the tight story lines of the previous game, I built a huge sandbox for the players to run around in. I had a couple of plot lines running, each with ways for the PCs to interact and affect. It started out pretty well. The first couple of runs came off with a few minor incidents that planted the seeds for things to come. But then the players started to flounder. I had built the sandbox too big. Way too big. The players were looking for something with more direction. Again we were experiencing some roster changes in the group and it seemed like a good time to switch things up again.

That brings us to Spiderweb in the Corner and the megadungeon under Castle Falconflight. Here I built a tiny sandbox. The PCs could do whatever they want as long as it involves going into the dungeon, killing monsters and getting treasure. It felt like a good solution to the problem I was having in the Shadowrun game. Limited area, limited NPCs, and a very straight forward game. I set things up for the players to power game their way down into the depths.

Not enough story. I was enjoying the slug fest, the minimal prep, the focus of the game, but it was/is lacking.

So, Its time to change again. I have a couple of options. I could expand the game world, send the PC out beyond the one town and one dungeon. Or I can change the game completely.
 I am going with option 2. I am currently planning on starting a GURPS Reign of Steel campaign.
Thanks to this great article written by +Peter V. Dell'Orto, I will building a limited sandbox. There will be tons of adventure to be had in the sandbox, and if the players start moving towards the edge, I will endeavor to bring them back using plot hooks, and rewards. I still have a lot of decisions to make. How many points? Where in the game world? I need to create the NPCs the characters will interact with etc. 

I plan to continue the blog, although its focus will change. I also intend to keep the megadugeon ready to roll, for one shots, or if we have a guest player that would be hard to work into the RoS game.

So, who among you has played or GMed a Reign of Steel game? What advice can you give me?