Sunday, December 22, 2013

Campaign Session 1: Not-So-Great Escape

Well, that was a vomit-soaked piece of shit of a session.  Imagine prepping a dish for six exhausting hours, planning meticulously, and then having a timer malfunction ruin the meal.  It's impossible for anyone to give you quality feedback because everything's charred.  At best they'll be charitable and hold you blameless; at worst they're going to hate it.  These folks are good so it'll likely be the former.  But I still feel like shit, because the outcome represents all that time & effort wasted.

So it went with the first campaign session; my first time DM-ing in maybe a decade and it couldn't have gone much worse.  An ice storm knocked out Internet to most of the gamers so we were left with Skype.  This isn't even back to 1st Ed; at least in those days everyone could see the map.  This was Pathfinder meets Sneaky Hate Spiral.

The adventure was based off The Great Escape, from the old D&D module B9: Castle Caldwell and Beyond.  It's actually a rather mediocre adventure, which is why it's an adaptation, but if run well at least the initial tension of escaping imprisonment should be there.  Should.

A significant percentage of the planning went into making MapTools a truly interactive experience.  As a result, the whole thing was crippled from the start.  I planned to build mood by running various sound effects through the audio stream, but that would've been pointless because no one could hear it.  I planned to develop several NPCs and spend more time with interaction but no one could see the Impersonation; I had to use my own voice, which is confusing when there are three NPCs.  I planned for them to face some difficult choices and this was probably the most preserved element, but the suspense of wandering the hallways was missing when no one could see the damned map.

This blog post was supposed to chronicle the actual adventure, but there's not much to say.  I ended the session early because every minute of gaming was setting about ten minutes of prep time on fire.  The lingering problem is that the intial scenes were crucial to developing NPC chemistry; as it is they damn near killed one in the very first session and the other two may as well not exist because no one could fucking see who was who.  That pretty much sets back the entire campaign tone a good several sessions.

The worst thing about it is that everyone is completely blameless here; it's all because of that goddamn ice storm.  Well, that, and my own stupid impatience not being able to wait one more fucking week to get the campaign started on the right foot.

Argh.  I'm fucking furious.  Furious at the weather, furious at myself, furious at how things turned out.  I know it's just a game, but as a DM I feel like a good 6-10 hours of prep time was completely blown up like an oil painting hit with diarrhea from a fire hose.

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