Yesterday my players arrived without notice.

Yesterday my players arrived without notice.

Yesterday my players arrived without notice. I did have not prepared at all but I did want to play so I winged it. Some discomfort is growing in me as I recall some moments were really lame.

Plot summary: Monsters sent a strike team into a major city to destroy an important altar. Some monsters (orkasters on Worgs) were causing diversions to call the guard attention so that their leader could go to spot x in the city to destroy x important objective.

The party was not formally created, they know each other but still not a team so they tried to go their own way.

The barbarian stole a horse and started runnig through the city jumping from roof to roof. The elven Mentor and his students (a human evil fighter and an Immolator Salamander) were trying to cut the invaders way in but arrived really late. The cleric was at the temple just in case anybody attacked it (or using the rest room) and the rogue was at a blacksmith shop chatting about the weather.

The action followed them with different scenarios but they kept pulling apart and rolling low which moved the Grim Portents fast ahead. They could not react on time and since they did not do much to save the city some npc intervention was in place to kill the monsters and eventually the monsters managed to accomplish their mission when: the barbarian faced the last of them in front of their goal and decided not to smash him which he is great at but try to discern realities, which he failed miserably opening the chance for the monster to destroy the important thing he came to destroy. (Impending Doom accomplished).

It was a fun game they say but I think it was really lame and slow, since I kept chasing them with the action which they didn’t really cared much for. That was exhausting and frustrating.

Next time I’ll have a dragon hit the city just to see what happens. I hate improvising XD.

23 thoughts on “Yesterday my players arrived without notice.”

  1. Practice playing more games without being ready for them. It gets better as you go, you get more comfortable with coming up with ideas on the fly, and, in my opinion, better and more exciting things happen when the GM doesn’t expect them either. It’s scary at first but it gets so much better!

  2. You say there was no “formal” party creation. Why not?

    I can’t imagine DW working well without the players having already established that their characters are somehow “in this together.” Once they’ve done that, asking questions about why they are at X and what will happen if Y and so on… that usually gets the game moving. But if they aren’t a party, then it’s going to get weird quick.

  3. Hell, I never know what is going to happen, just the relative starting positions of all the major problems.  My characters also rarely stay together.  I feel like that is one of the strengths of DW, if the party splits it is easy enough to present appropriate challenges on all fronts and use the bouncing back and forth between groups to give me time to think up cool stuff.  I think of GMing DW like channeling the one power, riding on a razors edge at break neck speed with disaster on every side.  I say embrace the crazy  and play to find out what will happen.

  4. Oney Clavijo New in town meaning the players or the characters? I think DW builds off the pre-game creation of a party, so they actually have a reason to be together. Hence the use of bonds. Sounds like a crucial pre-game step wasn’t taken.

  5. I’ve done a few “on the fly” adventures before, but I think an important thing to remember is not to use Deus Ex Machina (npc’s) to save the day. If the players refuse to coordinate, they should learn that bad things happen when they fail to do so. Worse comes to worse, kill someone. It gets the point across fairly poignantly. 

  6. Damian Jankowski

    Sorry man but no skipping here. Players sometimes choose to act erratically no matter what nice prep you make during character creation. It just happens.

  7. Helios Alatza I agree but my attention was at 4 different places at the same time. I did say I felt I could have done better. Just sharing my frustration and as I can see other players here have felt the same. See poll results.

  8. I do think that insisting during character creation that the characters already know each other and are a team is very important. Ideally, tell them they’re an established adventuring party who have worked together previously. It won’t totally eliminate bizarre or erratic behavior, of course, but it will prevent the “why would we stick together if we don’t even know each other?” moment, which sounds like the catalyst for most of your problems this session.

  9. I find the best bit of improv ‘prep’ you can do as GM is to Ask lots and lots of provocative questions, dig deep when you hit a nerve and find out what the players really care about, what have they flagged through chargen? 

    Then threaten that relentlessly. Give them HARD choices (all the time). Don’t let up, re-incorporate narrative detail that the players introduce, over and over again.

    Your game will never be one step behind the action, but rather clinging on to the edge of your seat as they scramble to ‘play to see what happens’ next.

  10. Oney Clavijo

    The point is that “you” shouldn’t be making “nice prep” during character creation. THEY should.

    Honestly, this sounds like the traditional issue of players not really playing in good faith. “I run away from the adventure!” “Uh. Okay. I guess nothing interesting happens, good game guys.”

  11. Yes, if they run from the game, or stay stone cold dead no matter what you put them in front of, it’s a problem BEYOND the game itself.

    I actually enjoy a game in which players split to overcome a threat; it feels more…cinematic.

    Try to discuss with them: you can start from scratch with a more united party, or agree to “create” it using the events in the last game. They are already Bonded, aren’t they?

  12. Didn’t you do bonds? They usually do a big part in creating a coherent feel of people knowing each other.

    Some questions commonly come up during character creation. You should be ready to answer them:

    Are the characters friends? No, not necessarily, but they do work together as a team for common goals. Their reasons for pursuing those goals may be different, but they manage to work together.

  13. Oney Clavijo

    Yeah; This is one of the tricks of bonds. If people aren’t used to them, they can ignore them.  If you write them down as the GM, sometimes you can call them out on stuff though “Would you really abandon the warrior who has stood by you in so many battles?” etc and give them a chance to reconsider their actions.

  14. Mike Pureka I also tried that and they stared at me with their poker face. My guess: they were experiencing stage fright and did not want to show any emotions in public (that’s a part of what bonds are (IMHO): strong emotions that influence your actions)

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