That’s not to say my campaign didn’t have issues. It has a lot of issues, and I’m actually pretty worried about them. All of the issues that I’ve seen have nothing to do with the system, have nothing to do with the campaign… they all have to do with meatspace-related factors that are really hard to get around.
One of the things I’ve noticed that I’m
having a harder time with is time vs. the number of players I have. Our
role playing nights are heavily constrained by time. We meet once every
two weeks (the alternating week is a different campaign run by someone
else) and we start at 19:00, ending at 21:30. That gives us 2.5 hours
or, more realistically, two hours.
Two hours isn’t enough time for
my games, the way they’re run now. I keep having to shorten combats (as
otherwise they end up running the game really late), and that’s not
fair for the players who are looking forward to stabbing something. I
keep having to cut off banter between players, as it is taking up over
half of our time available (as you’ll see in the next adventure
update)… and that’s not fair for the players who are using this as
their primary social interaction.
It sucks. I think my
adventures might be better suited toward a “once a month, five hours on a
Sunday” type of thing instead, and that’s… not so great for my
A couple of things I have done:
- Change how I handle Initiative.
- Basically, I put everyone’s names on notecards (along with any foe) and sort them by rolled init. I call out whomever is first and give a heads-up if another PC is after that so they can plan their turn.
- This works great for the PCs that actually plan their turn. Problem being, I only have two of those.
- It did stop me from forgetting enemy turns at least, so that’s nice.
- I’m trying out a new init system in the intermission adventures. More on that in that write-up.
- I’m using computers in some way anyway, so I can always see a clock. I keep track of time and try to poke people along if I notice a scene taking a bit too long.
- Unfortunately, it makes me feel bad because some of these scenes are great… if I had fewer players, that is.
love my players, I really do, but I have six of them, two of which are
playing remotely in another timezone. It makes running the game quite
difficult; I don’t have the ability to give each player time to shine in
each game when the game only ends up lasting two hours. My ideal player
count is three, for reference, so six is a problem. I don’t want
to kick people out of the game, so this is a bit of a problem. In six
or so months, we’ll be down to five players semi-permanently, so this
will get slightly better. Also, I have two players who tend to drown out
other players in terms of volume (both audio volume and frequency of
speaking). I don’t really have a great answer for this problem,
Also, few of my players actually respond to
anything outside of the session itself. That’s rather infuriating to me,
as it means I can’t prep all that easily.
remote play is being a bit of a problem, as that causes issues with
interactivity – I can’t give physical props around without literally
snail-mailing them, I can’t easily draw out a map on the fly (although
I’m working on that), and I can’t use audio or lighting to my advantage.
There are, however, a lot of things I have solved for remote play, and I thought I’d share some of that in this section. Most of them are tech based.
- What I’d like to do at some point is use
two cameras – one on me, one on the players in the room. I haven’t had
much of a chance of looking into this, as I’m concerned that I’m going
to start having audio sync issues from this, but I think this is
doable… provided that I’m okay with stretching a cord across the room.
- The video capture device itself is a Startech USB3HDCAP, for reference. Works well, no real complaints.
- I can use the video output on my
Surface Pro 3 as a video input into my video capture device, throwing an
HDMI switch in front of it. It’ll work, although it means running a
cord across my living room again.
- Other option, and the one I’m
going to try this week if I have enough time, is to use video capture
software on my laptop to capture the contents of my Android tablet. Then
all I should need is a drawing app on my tablet (I have seven
installed) and I should be good to go.
- It doesn’t help with improvised things
though. My adventures this act have been around 60% improv, 40% prep,
and that’s about twice as much prep as normal for me.
Time to prep
I’ve… had a rough year, to put it politely, and that’s left me with little brainpower to spend on prep. Naturally, this is the most prep heavy campaign I’ve had in over a decade. I keep having to cut some corners on my prep and I don’t like it.
The biggest corner cut so far is that I don’t actually have a map of the Cormick City-State. It has been on my list of things to do for over six months now and all I have is a vague idea as to where a few key areas are. Heck, until the last adventure, two of my PCs didn’t even know that it is a port town or that it was built on a river!
I love drawing maps, and it hurts me to not have one of my lovely megalopolis. It also hurts that I don’t have detailed bits about other things – for instance, having prepared descriptions of random NPCs and the like. I’m spending my prep time on the adventures (where it matters more, to be fair) and less on the things that make the adventure more fully fleshed out.
This… I don’t know if it’ll ever get better. :(