Saturday, February 16, 2013

Barely Controlled Chaos

Last night, we played in my OD&D campaign (I'll try to get the play report up later today over on Exploring the Outside Inn) and it was again an exercise in controlled chaos.  I think it ran a little smoother than my son's game last week (earlier rant here), not because of my DM-style vs. his, rather because there was less character in-fighting and several players stepped up to control the group and keeps things moving.

It was more than a little crazy though.  We were scheduled to play from 1900 to 2200.  I'd asked for RSVPs but gotten none, although M had some idea who could NOT make it.  By 1900, I think we had three players.  D hasn't been able to make a game in several months so hadn't played in this campaign yet.  S again skyped in from college.  I think she lives about 500 miles away, but thanks to Skype, she makes more games than half the group!  My son, M, was here of course, and I enlisted him to help D create his characters.

By 1945, we were up to twelve players physically present, and one laptop with a Skype window showing player thirteen.  We had one new player, D2, who we expected, and G, who missed the last session or two in this campaign.  In addition, although we thought she wasn't coming, H showed up, and brought S, who we haven't seen before.

D2 and S each opted to leave some of their characters in Milburn Hall, so all told, the 13 players ran a total of 45 characters.  We finally got started about 2005, when I lowered my voice and started bringing them up to date on events.  The players closest to me leaned in, and then turned and yelled at everyone to shut up.  They spent at least 30 minutes planning what to do both at the strategic level and tactically, and I was annoyed at first, but then realized they were finally starting to play like old school players rather than computer gamers!  Once they'd figured out how they wanted to proceed, they went into kobold caves, exploring and carefully mapping a new section.  They ended up in two battles, neither with kobolds, and then headed back to Milburn Hall to end play for the night.

So what can I take from last night's game?  Well, first, for the games I run, I'll be pushing the idea of RSVPs... since apparently that's not common knowledge among high schoolers.  I think I can do a better job as a DM if I know in advance who and how many players will be there, especially since the group is so diverse in terms of play styles.  Second, I was again forced to set up two tables, which I thought had contributed to massive chaos in a prior game, but this time, didn't seem to hurt.  The characters broke into two groups, one to explore while the other guarded the entrance they'd used, so they couldn't be ambushed.  This actually worked well, and the only change I may try is to pre-determine physical seating so experienced players and new players are interspersed a little more.  I'm sure I'll think of other ways to improve the gaming experience, but I've got to get to work both on the actual play report, and on prep for tomorrow's Star Clans game.  Oh, and I just realized I didn't give experience for the 2 fire beetles they fought, so I gotta take care of that as well!

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