Drifting, drifting

July 15, 2008 at 10:24 pm
filed under Roleplaying
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Today I had a longer commute than usual, and to that end, I took a few things with me to read on the bus: the Hunter: the Vigil quickstart and Midnight Roads.

I only got a little ways into Midnight Roads, but I did finally finish reading the quickstart. Now I can comment on some of the stuff I talked about in my last post.

I’ll keep this free of any specifics that would constitute a spoiler vis a vis plot, but there are one or two comments I have about pacing that may spoil you if you want to keep yourself pure. I don’t think that applies to anyone reading this, but there you go.

The story itself is fairly short. I think it would make for a decent one-shot, depending on how into their characters the party gets. Actually that would be an interesting idea to explore: what happens to the duration of a session as the PCs get more and more in-character?

Digression: in-character arguments and discussion

There was one session in my Mage: the Awakening game where the PCs were discussing what to do with a young woman they’d found whom they suspected was a mage but possibly something else altogether. In simple terms, they connected this woman, Gloria, with some spontaneous fires through a combination of Matter and Time magic. (In other words, they ruled out mundane fire through material evidence and postcognition.)

The last hour or two of the session was purely in-character debate about what to do with her. Opinions ranged from studying her, leaving her alone, turning her over to more experienced mages, or teaching her to harness her power. The PCs had such a range of opinions that the result was a lot of argument.

I bring this up as an example of fun and interesting roleplaying. However, in retrospect, I do sort of wonder if I shouldn’t have done something to nudge it along sooner. As I think about it now, it might’ve been more interesting to let everyone stake out their positions, and then move the story on. This may just be a question of pacing.

What I’m trying to say is that these arguments are interesting, but I think I am more inclined to be somewhat ruthless about cutting off prolonged, in-character debate if I think it makes for a more interesting story. This is kind of a change for me, as I used to consider that sort of thing sacred. But now I feel that if you’ve reached that point, then cutting off discussion to keep the game moving could actually make the game more interesting.

Back on track

I was talking about the one-shot, though.

There are maybe a half a dozen scenes, and I noticed that they do actually do a good job of keeping the plot moving one way or another. At one point, they even deliberately introduce a point where the plot goes cold.

In terms of failing to find the clues, they do a good job of handling it. Instead of failing out-right, you typically dock them time or something along those lines for failure. It doesn’t ruin everything but it does make their job slightly harder. This starts off pretty light at the beginning, obviously.

I would say that, overall, it seems pretty simple to run.

Drifting, drifting

I mentioned drifting because reading a bit of Midnight Roads and this stoked my interest in the World of Darkness again.

What I also noticed is a little bit that may seem obvious. It’s the point that despite the vast difference in setting, there are structures you can use in any setting. Midnight Roads was particularly pertinent in this regard, as there are shades of that aesthetic in D&D 4th Edition’s default “points of light” setting: the roads are often very dangerous, and traveling may unexpectedly lead to bad things for characters but awesome things for roleplaying games.

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