Last week my blogging efforts went into an article on The Iron Tavern. If you've not discovered this RPG blog, it's a cool one and I was delighted to be invited to guest write about Rolemaster. Of course, that meant that we skipped a week here.
It has been a busy fortnight and a lot has happened in the campaign prep for the Iolkus campaign
. There has been a player pre-game "chat", some discussion online, the development of the near-Iolkus GM map (aka Eastern Pelasgia
), and lots of little bits of background added to the wiki.
I thought it might be good to briefly talk you through what has been inspiring developments.
The pre-game chat came about by accident, really. Never one to want to "waste" precious gaming time, I tend towards the attitude of getting everyone in and gaming every fortnight. With Rolemaster still unreleased, however, and two of the five players still available to meet, I decided to have a "chat".
We talked all manner of rubbish that night but we really dug into helping two of my players get their heads around the setting. The aim was to conceptualise their heroes. The outcomes were very positive: two good ideas for some interesting characters.
Along the way, however, it was interesting to note a few extra points. I discovered that one of my players is nervous about the seemingly crunchy rules of Rolemaster. He's more of a story-teller than I realised and this means I'll need to really make sure I give him lots of opportunities to interact in-character during play, minimising and stream-lining his experience of combat or other rules-crunchy encounters. Thankfully Rolemaster isn't as complex as it seems, and a lot of crunch can be handled by the GM.
Inviting the players to ask questions, posting them to a forum or onto the wiki
, has proven very useful. I've not exactly been inundated, but every question has pointed me towards two things:
- The question indicates something that at least one player is interested in, so I must respond not only to the question but to what the question points towards. In other words, when questioned about a Race, Place or NPC, I need to involve those elements in the campaign, and quickly.
- This is something that I need to write up as part of the background of the setting. Player interest is paramount, so answering questions is important.
In some cases I am also considering suggesting that the players come up with what they would like the answer to be. This will save me brain-time and also involve the players in the setting design, revealing their desires whilst retaining my ability to veto anything too silly or unfitting.
Working further with Patrick Trempond
on the local area map for the campaign has been awesome too. There is a planned Player Map version, but I also wanted to detail a GM Map. This has added locations for things with which the players can interact.
To help me map it out I used some advice from the excellent campaign resource, An Echo Resounding
. Written for use with Labyrinth Lord
, this book has 50 or so pages of advice on setting up your campaign to support high-level play from the very beginning... or adding detail to support it later on. The tools are simple and, in some ways, so obvious that I'm glad the author made them more obvious so that I could use them.
Consequently I now have around 20 key points of interest in the map which I can use as foci for adventures. This took me around 30 minutes to create and, having seen the latest draft of the map, has really spiced up my campaign options.
Well... the Rolemaster
rules are into the Heisenberg Uncertainty Countdown.
With the signs looking good for at least the release of Character Law
in time for the first gaming session on Friday 28th, I am getting pretty excited about starting play.
If Arms Law is included in release before the first session then I plan to create heroes and then run a test combat to help the guys understand how deadly fighting will be in the setting. This is an important lesson because, although I love a good fight, I am determined to avoid the fight-after-fight dungeon crawl flavour for this campaign. I hope that a gladiatorial-style punch-up will convince the guys to negotiate first.
In addition, I plan to start adding details to the first story arc. Although I am hoping to encourage more of a sandbox style of play over time, my players have specifically asked for a plot-driven style initially, to compensate for their general lack of decision-making skill. As gaming progresses, I aim to wean them off this by presenting lots of intriguing clues and hints about exciting adventure elsewhere in the setting... stuff that they will want to choose to go and investigate.
Overall, assuming that the system is released for playtest in time, we are set for a very exciting period of fantasy RPG love.
Labels: fantasy, GMing, Mykenaea, Rolemaster