GM’s Blog – Summer 2012 Part 5

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last found the time to write about my summer games. I’m pleased to say that both games have been going well. Here are my thoughts on the last two sessions of each game.

Part-Time Gods

This game really started to gel in the last two weeks. I only wish I knew what the magical tipping point was but I suspect that it’s mainly a matter of the players feeling involved in ongoing events and therefore getting more actively engaged in what’s going on. If any of my players has a more specific take on this I’m sure they will let me know in the comments when they read this.

I think one of the key elements was the introduction of a mysterious baby that was left at the doorstep of cat-lady’s cattery by person or persons unknown. I described the baby as looking more or less the same age as Alexander and I tied what baby Alexander did to what the baby in the game did. Yes, I turned a six-month-old baby into a LARPER…

This provoked much hilarity between cat-lady and ganger as cat-lady is ganger’s grandmother and immediately leapt to the assumption that the child was her great-grandson. This led to a comical series of scenes in which the thuggish gang-member was brow-beaten by his gran into doing all kinds of things for the child.

Of course things took a strange turn when he caught the child exiting the bathroom under its own power later that night, with the toilet seat left up even though he remembered leaving it down…

This introduced just the right amount of paranoia, with the ganger convinced that there was something weird about the baby but not entirely sure what it was.

Whilst this was going on the group severely antagonised and inconvenienced their rivals, leading to an increasingly tense situation at a police station. Eventually this was resolved, but not before wildly out-of-control godly powers caused a helicopter to be shot down and crash into the police station.

The second session was a bit slower and largely focused on the group’s discussion on how to deal with negotiations with the rival pantheon. Once again the baby saved the day however when it was revealed that it was a 54-year-old man who had been transformed into a child. This led to some genuinely funny scenes where the ganger and the baby were trying to one-up each other without letting on to Grandma. By the end of the session it had become known to the whole group that the baby was a man in a child’s body. We have a nice strong place to pick up from next week in that the group is about to have a meeting with their rival pantheon.

So what lessons have I learned as a GM from the last few sessions of this game? I suppose primarily that a key NPC at the right point can really lift a game out of the doldrums and get players to invest more heavily in what’s going on.

Exalted – The Dragon Blooded

The first session dealt with the aftermath of their fight with the secretive dragon-blooded, his father and their ghostly allies. Along with the downtime occasioned by their journey back to the temple, this took up about half of the game.

I enjoyed laying out the political ramifications of their actions in the previous session, which turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag. After we dealt with this they received their new objective: Travel to the Threshold and negotiate with a court of elementals that had been illegally drawing tribute from the towns and villages in a Realm Satrapy.

I glossed over their journey by ship, but did pause to find out if any of them was sea sick. Ironically the Bureaucrat, the only Water Aspect, was the only one with low enough statistics to be affected.

It was tempting to have them attacked by pirates but I judged that the risk of piracy in the inland sea wasn’t that high and decided to move on with the game. On arrival I had fun describing the docks of the Threshold port where they made their landing, contrasting them with the Realm’s glory.

They started on their journey without bothering to wait for a caravan with which they could travel in safety; this was despite the rumours of bandits abroad in the area.

At last they started passing through vibrant green forests and decided to camp for the night. They did not post a guard.

I ended the session as they woke to find their camp being attacked by a group of shabby mortals led by a young man with the glowing yellow anima of a Solar Anathema.

The next week was largely taken up with the ensuing fight. It was a good one, with the first three point stunt in ages being handed out to the Lost Egg’s player thanks to a stunt that involved an excellent combination of personality, environment, his aspect, timing and so on.

In the first few seconds of the fight the Solar commanded his men to leave the area, the fight was too dangerous for them due to the presence of multiple Dragon Blooded. This neatly reduced the number of NPC combatants from twelve to two, for his trusted second in command refused to leave him. He did this specifically due to his Intimacy for looking after the welfare of his men.

The Solar rapidly burned through his essence as the dragon-blooded poured on the attacks. Outnumbered and outclassed the Solar turned to run but was almost cut down by the Bureaucrat.

Thanks to her Compassion the Airhead leapt to join the fray – on the side of the Anathema! She put herself between him and her team, defending him from the next arrow that would have taken his life, suffering a grievous wound of her own.  She valiantly strove to save his life after that and he was able to defend himself from a couple more attacks, but in the end he was ground down into the earth and rendered into paste by the anima flux of the Scion.

The group had captured the Anathema’s second-in-command and briefly interrogated him to find out if the Anathema had a full circle of other demons to back him up. The Lost Egg then summarily executed him causing an element of disagreement from the Arrogant and the Bureaucrat, both of whom felt that more questions could have been asked.

I was very pleased with the fight scene. Although it took up most of the session it didn’t seem to result in any player boredom and the players’ descriptions of their actions were vivid and well-done.

I am a tiny bit concerned that the reactions of various players/characters to the handling of the interrogation/execution of the last bandit and the sudden infatuation of the Airhead with the young solar might cause some OOC tension but hopefully my players will be able to resolve any differences amenably.

So next week looks likely to feature two heavily social sessions, with them negotiating with a rival pantheon of gods in one game and a court of elemental spirits in the other.

Hopefully it should be interesting!

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