Sunday, June 28, 2015

[Weekly Geeky Report] Towers of Midnight, Camelot Trigger, and other stuff...

Since I get a discount for having the Kindle editions, I bought the Audible audiobook versions of On Basilisk Station and The Honor of the Queen, the first and second books of the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. Probably won't listen to them (or anything else) until I've finished the Wheel of Time series.

Achievements Unlocked
I listened to the first half of Towers of Midnight (Book 13 in the Wheel of Time series) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson last weekend, and I should be finishing off the second half of it today. As I expected, the book is dealing with what the third main protagonist was doing during the events of The Gathering Storm and as a result several parts of the book take place out of synch from the rest, which is a bit annoying. It's also more of a slow burn than the previous book, at least in terms of the main protagonists' activities during the first half. There are battles going on elsewhere with one of the supporting characters taking the spotlight there, but that's basically just set up for the big finale that's coming in book fourteen. I'm still impressed with Sanderson's work in continuing the series; a few characterisation quirks aside, I think I'd barely notice any substantial change in writing style if I didn't already know it was being written by a different author. I just hope the book picks up the pace at some point and that it doesn't end up just being a prelude to the last book.

I ran the second session of Camelot Trigger on Tuesday and I think the session was pretty meh, to be honest. The majority the session was a mass combat scene in which the players and the rest of the tourney competitors fought together in a simulated battle against the robotic hordes of the Emergent (the main antagonists of the setting). The thing that caused problems was tracking the friendly NPCs actions within the battle. An easy way to do it would have been to assign friendly NPCs to each of the players for them to control, but I didn't want to do that because I didn't want them to see the aspects and stat blocks of certain NPCs. But that meant dealing with each of the friendly NPCs by myself which was a lot to keep track of and also meant that I was narrating a bunch of actions that the PCs weren't directly involved with. Inevitably, I wound up skipping (or even forgetting) some NPCs' turns and cutting some corners mechanically speaking to speed up the action. In short, it wound up being a bit of a mess

Also, because I had focused too much energy on prep for the mass battle, I didn't have a lot of prep ready for stuff happening after the battle. As a result, I think the after-battle portion of the session fell kinda flat. I did plant some seeds for the next session or two in the second half, at least, so hopefully those will run a little more smoothly as a result. The problem is I'm still struggling to work out the main plot arc for the season. I've revealed one antagonist and alluded to a second, but I have only the vaguest idea as to what the second is up to and no idea about what the first is plotting. To be honest, I'm feeling really creatively drained at the moment and I'm struggling to come up with ideas for the campaign as a result. Hopefully I'll be able to work through it and get things on track before too long. If I'm still feeling stuck after the next session or two, though, I may need to consider taking a piece of advice I've been given and just take a break from GMing for a while. I hope it doesn't come to that, though.

I started watching Breaking Bad again on Wednesday, and I've got through the first five episodes so far. There was a scene in the first episode that almost turned me off completely, but that one moment aside I've been enjoying it as much as season one, if not more so. It's not just the darkly comic side of the show, but also the character drama as the protagonists' ambitions constantly lead them into taking bad decisions and also alienating those closest to them. It's kind of like watching a campaign-length game of Fiasco unfold on screen, only with a much better balance between comedy and serious drama than I've generally seen when I've played that particular game.

The Worlds in Peril game didn't happen on Thursday night since we were one player short. Hopefully we'll get started next week instead. In addition to Worlds In Peril, I've joined an Apocalypse World game which will be happening over Skype on Monday afternoons/evenings. I'll need to have a think about what character playbook I want to play before then.

Works In Progress
As mentioned, I've done some prep for the next session of Camelot Trigger; I've got a list of scenes to run in the session which follow on from aspects of the previous one. The NPCs I already have written up so far should be sufficient for the coming session and one of the advantages of running Fate Core is that any extra characters can be drafted up fairly quickly and easily on the fly as needed. The only things I need to tackle are sorting out the bigger picture for the campaign and figuring out how to handle the first series of one-on-one tournament bouts in one session (each of the players facing their own opponents in the arena) without making a complicated mess of it again.

I've also started work on a campaign journal for Camelot Trigger on Obsidian Portal, which is probably too much effort for what should only be a short summer campaign, but gathering all the information together in one place means that there's a record of things if we decide to pick up the setting and continue at a later date.

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