The video for Session Eight:
The group decided to pause their current investigation to meet with the leader of the Summer Court, Lean-and-Hungry Mike. While the Autumn Court carefully presented themselves as refined and controlled, the Summer Court ran things from a Strip Club/Buffet with a one-star Yelp review of "Sticky." Still, the group put their best foot forward, and then began to irritate the mostly Ogre/Beast gathering. They left on troubled terms, made worse later because John the Wizened Smith built a tiny smoke machine and left it in their offices. Morosa found herself blacklisted from the Ogre Buffet Phone Tree. John's actions caused some contention in the group, ending with them splitting and most going to check in at the Hob-run 25 Hour Convenience Mart. There they found out some useful information, including details of a crazed Hob gang which had been trading goods from the lost Greyhand Grip's stores.
A Few Gamemastering Thoughts and Notes:
1. I think the Summer Court came off well- or at least fairly distinctive. I was able to convey the personalities of a couple of the characters (Rumblestiltkin, Father Canon, and maybe Mike) pretty decently. At the very least I was able to get across a couple of character tics the players will remember. The Summer Court offers a more visible and classic agenda, as opposed to the other two Court’s they’ve met. John’s deliberate tweak is interesting, and I have to consider the various personalities in Summer to decide how they’ll react. At the very least it will make the choice of task they assign the players more interesting. I don’t want to bang that gong too much- the group’s still neutral and valuable, plus as a GM I don’t necessarily want to increase internal party friction.
2. There’s an interesting thing developing in that several of the players have strong crafting and creation talents. John’s obviously a Smith and has those benefits. Morosa’s a costumer and seamstress, with that tied to her kith. Syd has the Muse background and an artistry emphasis; she’s investing in Contracts of the Forge. Andi’s taken a couple of dots of Crafts as well. That means I need to look at the item and token creation systems, and also come up with my own spin and options for those. How much can the players build on the fly? What do projects involve? What kinds of cool things can I throw at them as a result of this- rare resources, special tools, rival craftsmen, lost patterns and blueprints. I run loose, so not mechanical or thematic devices and projects should be pretty easy. But when the rubber hits the road of building items which offer effects and bonuses, how do I want to handle that?
3. We’ve had a couple of discussions of the Motley pledge, with- I think- the group settling on the version which offers them Resources. I think that’s probably a good call. We’ve hit a couple of times on the group being poor, so fixing that will be a priority and retires that theme (for the moment). I’ll check to see if everyone’s on board for that next time. Related to that, I need to consider what resources mean. The group established the idea of the Hob Casinos as a version of the Goblin Markets. I need to consider more fully how I want to run that once they get down there- defining how bargaining works and what can be done with that. That will probably apply most to the players talking up the things they’re offering up for exchange (to get chips or whatnot). They’ll be trying to get the best value.
4. I’m also trying to track how many “scenes” I get through in a session. I think we had three last night. That seems a reasonable number given the two hour length of the session. I think the GM has a challenging task in a G+ session. They have to balance between pushing the scenes forward to a conclusion and letting them have room to breathe. I want to make sure all of the characters have a chance to speak their peace and interact. When I write scene notes up, I try to come up with at least one detail to throw at anyone who hasn’t necessarily stepped forward. I was able to throw out a plot thread for Amber, for example, last night regarding the rogue Freehold in Summerlin.
5. One thing I try to do is restate threads from the last session at the beginning of a session as clearly as possible. I’ve seen other GMs do it and I think it is really vital, especially with sessions as time constrained as these are. I try to break down what the group established or found out and where they’d decided to go. I’ll admit to some editorializing in this process; I’ll often downplay a little threads or tangents which weren’t as related to the core investigation. I try to use this power only for good, never using it to put them off the track.
6. The group’s really good about moving together to take on scenes. They’re still getting a sense of how I run and what I’m going to play out in a scene. I expect eventually we’ll get some sessions where the group splits to take on two separate tasks; they’re smart and skillful enough to handle that. But that’s as much a trust issue as anything else- I have to establish trust so that they know that if they do split like that I’m still going to give everyone equal attention and not give one side short shrift. I’m looking forward to the gap between this and their next quest; I’d like to do a session (or part of a session) with individual scenes for everyone.