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The Campaign We Deserve, But Not The One We Need

After a pretty hectic month, I’ve finally had another gaming session, albeit a very short one. My daughter turned one month old the day we played, so it was a milestone of a day already.

Our adventure saw us starting off in the city of Westcrown, devastated by the rulings of the current oligarchy, with the iron curtain still separating the city from the other metropolis of Eastcrown.

Our heroes rise up into a myriad of shops and derelict development, ranging from stores called “Swords-R-Us” to “Hookers Hookers Hookers.” As the heroes filed out of the Inn (conveniently named “Big Dick’s Halfway Inn/Sew It Seams”) a stout gnome guard in breast-plate with a bad attitude  decides to share his view on the world with one of the player’s constructs named Jeff.

After shoulder checking the construct’s leg, the catfolk barbarian swiftly comes to the defense and pounces onto the gnome, grappling it to the ground, but laying off as soon as she senses that nothing else will happen, and knowing that she’d rather do something else.

After the group does some shopping and picks up a joke elven curved blade, they decide to inquire their old gnome friend about how to infiltrate the castle in order to figure out what the big idea is with summoning these creatures that don’t belong here to guard treasure that isn’t theirs. The group tracks the gnome down in a place of…ill repute, we shall call it. Very, ill repute. After a brief scuffle, the gnome is brought unconscious, although barely alive, and the team picks up a good samaritan druid who helps them along the way.

Through this campaign, the number of players I’ve had has grown. I have another person waiting to come in as soon as he comes back from his tour overseas. I have people who just can’t make the time commitment that I’ve had to turn away (unfortunately). I hate saying no to people playing, as I’ve always believed that if you want to play, you have a spot at the table.

Usually, it’s not a problem, because normally the group has enough atrophy that we need to replace people anyways. Somehow, that hasn’t happened in this campaign, which is a great sign (yay). I’ve been very happy to hear that people really enjoy playing time and time again, and how disappointed they are when we can’t play. One of our players missed one session a few months ago and still won’t let it go, despite getting a feat out of it.

I admit, I have times I could be more prepared in a lot of ways, and I have times where I prepare in the worst ways. I have times where I spend half an hour on something we collectively spend 2 minutes on, and most of the time my best work comes off the top of my head, which I’ve always been told is the worst way to play.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from this whole process, it’s that if you can control the direction of game play with your players, you can control the story enough to match what you want the story to be, even if you don’t know what the story should really be ahead of time. The players will make the story, you just need to give them boundaries along the way.

© 2016, Randy Schmidt. All rights reserved.

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