Tag: Conjunction of Planes

Feedback on Leading Our Game

For the past two years I’ve been leading a game of D&D. I had been toying around with returning to D&D for a while and had been low-key thinking about a campaign premise for years. When Edwin wanted to do a D&D campaign and took over from me running Shadowrun, a game that I had fallen out of love with and whose campaign just wasting panning out the way I had wanted to, Edwin’s campaign came as a breath of fresh air. I had missed D&D and Edwin had put a great campaign together. He had raised the bar in all the ways that appealed to me.

For about six months I worked on the campaign premise, the theme, the continent that the campaign would take place in; kingdoms, cities, cultures, organisations, people. I got really into the world building aspect of the preparations. I may have taken it a bit too far, but I was enjoying it so much that I couldn’t stop. Didn’t want to stop.

Six months of that lead to us starting the campaign and it started off relatively well. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and it seemed like the world I’d created and the things I was exposing to the players was really well received. I got some great engagement and feedback.

Two years down the line, we’re still playing, I moved countries, pandemic happened, lost a player, picked up a player, and all the while I’ve been working away at the story, the campaign as well as the world it’s set in. I must have spent five hundred hours into it altogether. I have so much material prepared on all kinds of places, people and things that the players are unlikely to ever engage with. (Or maybe they will. Who knows!)

But I started to notice that the momentum was being lost a bit, especially around the times where decisions needed to be made.

There was a bit of analysis paralysis happening. The players were sometimes hesitant to make mistakes because they felt like a bad outcome would have detrimental consequences. This is likely due to some events during sessions in the past where they were punished for making mistakes, perhaps their best laid plans weren’t honoured with enough return on investment, or something else that lead to this dysfunction. I assured the players that they wouldn’t have to worry too much and that they could trust me not to fuck them over, and if they were to fail, they would always be presented with a narrative parachute. They understood, and it got a little better, but there was something more.

Recently, I sent all of them an e-mail and straight up asked them for feedback and criticism. It was surprising how unified the answers were. All of them loved the setting, the campaign and which direction it was headed in. But the one thing they would want to see changed was the amount of choice they were offered. They liked to have a clear goal and clear initial steps to work towards that goal. While they appreciated all the different side quests that they could do, and that there were several options in larger quests that would move the main story forward, they’d rather have a bit less choice and a bit more direction.

I did not see that coming.

One of the things which I have been asking for when running a game — and this is was something I wanted even before this D&D campaign — is that people’s characters wanted something; were inherently self-motivated by something. Not by something simple and banal as “treasure” or “adventure”, but that they had an internal motivation to find something, to answer a question or achieve an ambition. If during a session I were to say; “So, after a good night’s rest, after having returned the royal sceptre of dominion, you find that the day is yours. What would you like to do?” that they could be guided by ambitions beyond the just finished story arc and decide where to go next and what to do.

Side quests that would raise their standing within a particular organisation. Investigation into the lost library of a dead wizard I once mentioned. Researching the ancient catacombs that they rescued an injured ranger from to find out who built them. Finding out the identity of a mysterious benefactor. Shit like that.

It would then give me a way to seamlessly weave from one story into the next and start the next session presenting them with the next story, driven from an external source. It would also allow me to tie the story into the player character’s interests and motivations and make it all a little more appealing.

What I realise is that my mistake has been to assume that the players spend as much time thinking about and preparing the game as I am. I have created so much of the world and spend so much time thinking about the ever evolving world around the player characters, all of the consequences of their actions, their inactions, the history and the possible futures, that I have all these ideas kicking around in my head that I think would be fun if I was playing one of the characters.

I should be more respectful of my players, the time they offer up to play in the game, and what they want to put in, and get out of the game. I need to slim things down and make the story structure decision tree simpler. Non-trivial decisions need to be dramatic and have clear impact and consequences in order to make decision making less nebulous. Hopefully that way we’ll get more fun out of our games. More collaborative storytelling. Less indecision.

One thing is for sure, I should ask them for feedback more often.

Conjunction of Planes Recaps

Overview

Below is a list to each of the recaps written for the overarching Conjunction of Planes campaign. Sometimes they’re written from a particular character’s perspective, but most of the time they are a matter of record keeping by the Dungeon Master.

Recaps

Session Timeline Title
56 Ninth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Rats!
55 Ninth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 The Rebel Lords
54 Ninth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Preparing to Liberate the Rebel Lords
53 Eight Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Orchids, Flowers and Thorns
52 Eighth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Investigating the Sick Queen
51 Eighth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 The Khazra Skull
50 Sixth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 A Mother and Son Separated
49 Fifth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 A Mother and Son Reunited
48 Fifth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Bringing in a Bounty
47 Fifth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Kalina’s Ladder
46 Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 A Chase in the Dark
45 Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 The Reaverhaunt Caverns
44 Third Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Remembrance and Reward
43 Third Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 A Fierce Reminder of Old Friends
42 Third Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Hot Pursuit!
41 Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 In Preparation for Departure
40 Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Meeting an Old Friend While Tracking Down an Enemy
39 Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 On the Silesian Trail
38 First Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 A Kingsport Homecoming
37 Highharvestide, 1262 A Swift Return to Kingsport
36 Highharvestide, 1262 Highharvestide Celebration
35 Highharvestide, 1262 New Beginnings
34 Third Day, Third Wik, Æftera Līþa (Pasture Mōnaþ), 736th Year of the Crusade A Great Sacrifice
33 Third Day, Third Wik, Æftera Līþa (Pasture Mōnaþ), 736th Year of the Crusade Atilesceon the Artificer
32 Second Day, Third Wik, Æftera Līþa (Pasture Mōnaþ), 736th Year of the Crusade An Inevitable Confrontation
31 Second Day, Third Wik, Æftera Līþa (Pasture Mōnaþ), 736th Year of the Crusade Broken Curses and Cycles
30 Second Day, Third Wik, Æftera Līþa (Pasture Mōnaþ), 736th Year of the Crusade Escaping the Madness
29 Second Day, Third Wik, Æftera Līþa (Pasture Mōnaþ), 736th Year of the Crusade Dreams of Dying
28 Third Day, Second Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Exploring the Crimson Tower
27 First Day, Second Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 The Tower At Last
26 Tenth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 A Simple Lock of Hair
25 Tenth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Welcome to Pinefall
Emma, Session 25
24 Eighth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Through the Silverpine Hills
Emma, Session 24
23 Sixth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Travel to Pinefall
Emma, Session 23
22 Sixth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Liliana the Instigator
21 Fifth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Battling the Procyon
Emma, Session 21
20 Fourth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Council and Consequences
Emma, Session 20
19 Fourth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 A Time of Contempt
Emma, Session 19
18 Second Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 The Allenham Pogrom
Emma, Session 18
17 Second Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Egremont to Blackbridge
16 Second Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 The Old Queen
Emma, Session 16
15 First Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Alfred Barnaby’s Pest Problem
Emma, Session 15
14 Tenth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Lyrium and Lore
Emma, Session 14
13 Ninth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Arrival in Bournemouth
Emma, Session 13
12 Eighth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Broken Faith
Emma, Session 12
11 Seventh Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Departing Kingsport
Emma, Session 11
10 Seventh Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Running Errands, Making Friends and Gaining Information in Kingsport
9 Sixth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 The Royal Ruse
Emma, Session 9
8 Sixth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Of Orcs and Men, Jail Break!
Emma, Session 8
7 Fifth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Of Orcs and Men
Emma, Session 7
6 Fourth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Closing the Portal and Returning to the Estate
Emma, Session 6
5 Third Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Finding the Source of the Infestation
Emma, Session 5
4 Third Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Return to the Catacombs
Emma, Session 4
3 Second Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 The Return to House Sheridan
Emma, Session 3
2 Second Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 A Descent into Darkness
Emma, Session 2
1 First Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262
Summer Solstice
In Service to a Mysterious Noble House
Emma, Session 1