Tuesday, January 8, 2013

End of a "Campaign"

So I've spent most of this year out-of-state, and therefore haven't gotten much time to run my (very intermittent) game of The One Ring.  Well, one of my three players is moving to CA, so tonight was our last session.  Pity, really, as I had planned on starting up Tales From Wilderland.

I spent as little time as possible tying everything in and getting the players to the Easterly Inn (since I'd already borrowed a lot of stuff from Don't Leave the Path, the idea was to start with Of Leaves and Stewed Hobbit).  Unfortunately, getting through the entire adventure in one night was a futile endeavor.  Finished up the battle at the Ringfort, but with about a half hour left to play I decided to just cut it off there.  One of the players wanted the group to go out in one big fight, another wanted to survive, but because this was going to be our last session for the forseeable future I had a Mountain-Troll stumble upon their camp and it killed them all.  Keep in mind that the Dwarf had previously rolled 4 Eyes in a row and I hadn't made good on a single Hazard, so this wasn't even completely outside the realm of fairness.

In any case, I ended the campaign with a feeling of frustration more than anything.  The guys in this group aren't really huge Tolkien fans, and they weren't playing to theme all that well.  The Dwarf's Treasure Hunter calling was played as a very one-dimensional "all I care about is getting gold!" as if he'd had 4 flaws already.  Not ideal in a system where gold is de-emphasized to the extent that it's counted in abstract "treasure points."  The Beorning was constantly making un-heroic comments and decisions to the point where I eventually just started throwing Shadow points at him for misdeeds.  While I LOVE the system, I don't think I'd recommend playing it with the "wrong" group. 

Some end-of-session discussion of the system as a whole occurred afterwards, and while the players enjoyed the game I got the sense that they were ready to move on.  They were starting to get up-in-arms about the way that skills were sometimes used; for example, when I told them that they needed to use Stealth to squeeze their way through the tunnel in the Ringfort I got a lot of backlash.  They were taking the skill names more literally than the system intends.  Stealth is at the intersection of Movement and Wits, and so "moving carefully" can cover maneuvering through a tight space just as much as it can cover moving without being detected.  Finally one player said he'd probably be fine with it if they just labeled it differently.

They also mentioned that combat was a little overly simplified for them, but they understood when I reiterated that the system assumes more narrative engagement then they were giving me.  I felt the same with skills as well; at one point the Barding said "I'm using Courtesy."  I asked "what exactly are you saying?" to which he replied "I don't know, I'm introducing myself in an appropriate way."  Perhaps I'm just being spoiled by my Play-by-Post game (which I think the system is really well-suited for). 

The biggest complement about the system was the way that Hope worked.  Oddly enough, they weren't as keen on Shadow, and I think it's largely because Shadow is dependent on roleplaying the internal struggle of the character which they just weren't interested in doing.

Next week I'm starting up a 13th Age game with this group (so I'll be running 2).  I'm think that this group might actually benefit from a few sessions of Dungeon World, but then again that might end up being a disaster.

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