I have planned out the game slots through the rest of the year (tentatively, anyway.) However, due to leaving some space for adjustments for the last run of games, I’ve got a free slot on Friday. What shall we play?
More to the point, what do I want to play?
I used a survey with my players to get my finger on their pulse, to see what they were enjoying and what they would rather avoid. Because of that, we’ve been focusing on Lottery Dungeon and Daggerford. They also wanted Sleeping Goddess, but as two of the most enthusiastic advocates of that game have a newborn baby, I’ve back-burnered it until December.
By the end of the weekend I plan to have the introductory adventure for Axes and Anvils done. My original plan was to play test it on Friday, and that’s probably the most responsible use of my game time.
I like to have two games going (with the occasional deviation), so I don’t burn out on one and so I have some room to stretch in different directions. I have Edge City going, that one is locked in as long as the players and I are enjoying ourselves. It is a complex, prep-intensive game; like a race car, it is high maintenance and worth it.
So, the other game should be low-prep and casual. This also fits with the play style of what most of my players who are not in the Edge City game enjoy. My instincts pull me towards Crumbling Epoch for them; dungeon crawling, open table, developing characters through play and exploring interesting environments above and below ground. Everybody wins; the rules don’t bog them down, and prep is front-loaded then maintenance for me.
The hitch is, my players say they would rather not play Crumbling Epoch. So my instincts and my players contradict each other.
A couple of my players are really enjoying Lottery Dungeon, and most of the rest of my players shrug and play along. (Naturally, the players that really like Lottery Dungeon are not in Edge City.) I plan to wrap up the Mystery of the Lottery Dungeon in October; they are powerful enough it is time to close this chapter of their careers and move on. I plan to send them to Vornheim next, if they want to keep playing their high powered characters.
Is it the play style they like best? Is it the characters they want to keep playing? Do they just like being extremely powerful? The question is not just “what do they want to play?” but it is very much “why do they like to play it?”
For example, the group really wants to go back to Sleeping Goddess. One player likes the complexity of the rules. The rest of the players really want to play characters they fell in love with. The game was centered around dungeon-bashing, and Paul played the tactical leader/tank.
Well, Paul is gone now, so the clear-cut leadership of the group is in question. The game was moving from dungeon-bashing to quest mode. I am really not sure the group will enjoy it as much as they think they will; I am not sure what it was specifically about that game that drew them, and if that draw will survive a shift in play style.
After this Friday, the rest of the month is Lottery Dungeon. September is all Edge City. October is Lottery Dungeon, and for MY birthday, a session of Crumbling Epoch.
(I’m cheap. I give people in my game group a game session of their choosing for a birthday present.)
So for November, we’ve got 2 Fictive Avengers sessions, a trip to Assignation in the Breathing World, and the Belstaag Tower tournament; a fantasy tournament where fighters compete for fabulous prizes. I ran the Belstaag Tower tournament once before to help play test rules for combat, and it was a hit. Now we’ll be doing a second one, over two years later.
December is Sleeping Goddess, though I’m still feeling some reservations about whether the group will find what they are looking for when they return there. The players, not the characters…
A further complication to finding the best way to make fun with my group is that people are not always aware of what they enjoy and why. I have one player who tends to be frustrated with custom built characters, but really enjoy random characters. The custom character never lives up to what he wants it to feel like, but the random character grows into the world and does not let down any expectations.
Some of my players want to blow off steam and have fun at the game table, but their characters take on responsibilities and leadership roles. Some players want suave and social characters, but they do not want to talk to NPCs in character. Some players want to enjoy a complex and detailed world, but make characters best suited for unreflective brutality. Invested as I am in everyone having a good time, it can be difficult to know how to respond to these sorts of moves.
No need to reach or transmit conclusions. I’m just thinking out loud.