At least it was sunny today...the fam and I spent a lot of time out-and-about.
But now I'm back so just wanted to check in regarding last night's play-test at the Baranof.
And due mostly to me, on all counts. In fact, I will take the full blame for a totally "blah" game session. Here's why:
#1 Bad introduction buddy: we had yet another new player down at Ye Old Baranof last night...Tim from over at Gary's. Which means that even with a couple people missing, the table still had EIGHT players...not counting Yours Truly. (*sigh*) Which is fine except I completely glossed over character creation, trying to get back to the adventure.
Now normally, that's not much of a problem...unless you're, like, trying to play-test a new game that no one knows the rules to except you. But Tim's an old hand at the RPG rodeo, so I wasn't worried about him picking it up (plus he watched another chargen session). No THAT wasn't the problem.
The PROBLEM was that both Tim and Randy made new characters and they both made full-on sorcerers...the first ones in the game...and I completely blew off (duh) explaining how magic worked and what their characters were capable of. "Here, pick some spells off this list," I said.
How retarded of me. This then just ended up bogging down the game in multiple places because I kept offering information in a piece-meal and half-assed fashion. And it never even occurred to me (at the time), 'hey...maybe I should just give these folks a quick crash course in:
a) what magicians can do
b) what their specific spells do
c) how summoning, binding, and banishing works
d) how astral perception, projection, and warding works
You know the basics...so that they weren't just left thinking they'd be relying on their handguns or something.
Ugh...which was compounded by:
#2 Where the hell's the prep? I spent most of my free time Thursday writing...specifically vehicle descriptions and rules. While I got that done, I left off prepping the adventure for the night figuring, oh it will take care of itself. I AM using a pre-packaged adventure after all (Shadowrun, converted to my own system), and one I'm very familiar with...what's there to prepare?
Well, how 'bout the wrap up of the mission the team just completed...not just the pay-out, but the XP totals. What with different PCs showing up from session to session, I could have made a chart of everyone's "take" beforehand. Heck, I could have prepped "cheat sheets" for the magician characters (that will happen next week).
What about the transition to the NEW mission? One thing I forgot about these old Shadowrun missions...they are "railroad central." Each chapter has a "debugging" section...basically a couple paragraphs to tell the GM how to get the players back on the (train) track, should they somehow jump the rails. That's not a method of play I've used in a looooooong time. Truth be told, I think I'm creative enough at improving "on the fly" that I should be able to adapt scenarios to player choices withOUT resorting to railroads.
Fact of the matter is, I've been a bit lazy about this whole adventure. I mean, I AM still play-testing after all, and a railroady Shadowrun conversion is probably a fairly good vehicle for this kind of thing. But I get annoyed with myself when a session isn't as fun for the players...I mean, even though they're helping me by play-testing they're here to have fun, too....and when I'm "off the ball" and the pacing is crap and the story is railroady and I don't even have a good handle on my own rules...dammit, I should do better.
A little prep work goes a long way.
#3 Subdual damage: This was f'd in so many ways and needed correction/clarification. It's now been fixed (had a chance to do some editing this morning since the internet was on the fritz).
So, yeah, it was a low energy evening, that wasn't nearly as "kick-ass" as last week's extravaganza. And that's the thing...I want to set the bar high and top it...again and again. Instead, I had players distracted with their own IPhones, downloading illustrations from the 4th edition of Shadowrun...and my own personal lameness as a GM wasn't doing anything to keep them engaged. Which makes me kind of bummed...I won't have a chance to ...
[sorry...just dozed off for a few minutes! I need to go to bed!]
...won't have a chance to redeem myself until NEXT Thursday.
OKay, okay...I really need to hit the hay. Talk at y'all shortly.