Game Mastery

Game Wrap – Travel

by on Sep.12, 2011, under dnd4e, observations, self improvement

I got a lot more mileage than expected out of the Game Wrap posts.  This last topic (for values of “last” pertaining to the original list of Game Wrap topics.  I’ll probably come up with more thoughts and observations later.  For now this is the end though) is something I’m still struggling with, because it’s something I’m still torn on.

I sent my players all over the map.  My standard fare is to keep them in a city and maybe send them into the wilderness once or twice.  Travel is necessary if you’re going beyond the scope of local heroes.  You can’t ever feel like you’re saving the world if you never leave the city walls.  As I mentioned in my campaign settings post, I really liked discovering new things as the players wandered into weird new territory.

Anyway, there were a couple few problems with travel from my point of view.

  1. Establishing NPCs.  I tried really hard to make long term NPCs.  My goal was that I could speak as an NPC and the players would know who it was without an introduction.  But long term NPCs were the exception rather than the rule.  The players met new people and immediately left them behind, never to return.  Even if I did act out the NPCs as well as intended, the players weren’t around them long enough to notice.
  2. Completing quests.  When one quest ended, another began.  The players following an endless stream of trouble.  I wrote that way on purpose, because, well, it’s what I do.  But many players like that feeling of accomplishment when they know that a task they set out to do as been taken care of.  They never got the chance to return home, tell someone the work is done, and get a reward.  They actually complained several times throughout the game that it felt like they never got anything done, because there was no completion at the end of a task.  Had the players been in the same place as the person who gave them the task, they could have had those moments and felt better about themselves.
  3. Interrupting plot.  I really like plots that interrupt the players.  While I’m still coming down from the excitement of this game, there’s no doubt that my Game of Thrones campaign was better written.  A big part of that was because the players were stationary.  They stayed in one place and plot came to them.  Even if they did nothing, messenger ravens showed up with new information on each of the plots that was happening.
    This wasn’t possible with a traveling game.  I guess I could have had people use magical sending rituals more often, but because the players traveled, they didn’t set up meaningful relationships that warranted ritual communication.  The PCs were also paranoid enough that they were always traveling in cognito.  It was impossible for plot to follow them.  The effect of this was that I was always introducing new plot hooks, instead of providing continuations for the existing plots.  This was stressier.  Much less fun for me.

Anyway, I’ve had a couple thoughts about how to fix this.

  1. A home base is necessary.  I can live without plot updates for an adventure or two.  But the players should have a home to return to after a mission.  And there should be adventures around the home base, for when I do feel like including interruptions.  Travel added quite a bit to the game, so I’d like to keep it.  I’d just also like to keep the home base.  I wonder if I can pull off both.
  2. Cell phones.  No, not in D&D.  I think I’d be happier with a modern game, where everyone has instantaneous communication across the world.  If I want plots to keep popping up so the players are always busy, why am I restricting myself to carrier pigeons?  I’ll give all the PCs twitter accounts instead.
No comments for this entry yet...

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...