This past weekend was my friend Troy Pichelman's gaming weekend, also known as Pitch Con. It's not really a convention, more of a little joke that amuses me when we invite a ton of people to come out and game for an entire weekend. The weekend consists mostly of board games, but there are a lot of people that come who are into role playing games. Since I've been running one shot sessions at my big board gaming weekends and at Gen Con I got a hankering to run another one. We ended up running a big game of Numenera with nine players and two GMs. It was fun, it was flawed, it had some great moments.
I'd been trying to get into a Call of Cthulhu game at Gen Con since I started attending again in 2014. This year I managed to sneak into a game that was put together by the MU Skulls. I was expecting that I'd be playing a pretty standard game, but it ended up being a completely insane 12 player and two GM night that ended up near the top of my favorite moments from Gen Con 2015. That experience stuck with me, and I started thinking over how I'd put something together like that. After mulling it over for a few weeks, I hit upon an idea I liked and I thought would work with Numenera. Then again, it's easy to do wacky stuff in Numenera and have it be perceived as normal.
I wrote out a quick paragraph summarizing the idea and sent it over to Troy to get his thoughts. The two of us have talked about co-GMing before. He had some experience with it, and I felt he and I were on the same page with a lot of things when it comes to GMing. He liked the idea and I continued expanding upon it for the next couple of months. I'm not going to get into details of what the game was all about, since we may be running it again for my gaming convention in February, but I think there's some value in writing out some of my take aways.
We ran the adventure and overall I think it went well. The players had fun and a lot of the ideas we had put together turned out pretty well. However, there were several things that I think did not work well, or didn't work at all. I'm hoping to iron out some of the kinks and have a much better, smoother game we can run again in the future.
First of all, I hadn't put a lot of thought into the environment the players would be moving through. I had put together a lot ideas for things that would happen, but not what the general scenery was like. This became glaringly apparent when I described the third room in basically the same way as the first two. That really got in my head and threw me off of coming up with anything interesting to provide the players when they asked what things looked like. I had the big picture in my head, but the details weren't there. I have to put together better details that I can pull from when I build a one shot adventure. Another thing I could have done was call on the players who were really into the details to tell me what they were finding, or what they were looking for. Getting that kind of context would have given me a jumping off point for an environment that seems interesting to them, while also giving me some direction for what to provide them.
Players need to know what's going on, and you need to be pretty explicit if it's important. I was trying to figure out how to get information to the players that would tell them exactly how things were going to end. There was going to be a big finish at the end of the session, but I don't think all of the players knew exactly what decision they were making when it was presented. I think one of the players had figured out the intention of the final scene, and I didn't come up with a good way to make it clear to all of them. Once again, there were details that needed to be given out to the players, but the delivery of those details never really solidified for me. I think coming up with a way to deliver these details will require building out more of the fiction the adventure was built upon.
Another thing Troy and I talked about after the game was the need for some tasks that would require all of the players to work together. I was really interested in seeing how the players would interact with each other when we started putting them in a big room, but it would have been more meaningful if we set something up which required all of them to work through. I don't have any ideas on this problem just yet, but I'll be thinking it over until I have something.
There were some great moments during the game, even though my brain wants to focus on the aspects that I think went poorly. One of our players eventually noticed one of the subtle differences between her character and another player's character which got an audible reaction that was a lot of fun to witness. At another point in the game the players split themselves off into two groups, one of which was all Jacks. The organic way in which the groups divided themselves was extremely satisfying.
Overall, it was a lot of fun. Putting together a one shot is a lot of work, and this one could use a lot more of it. I feel like we had a good first draft and now we can start revising.