Steam & Crumpets Episodes 7 & 8: Adventure at the Crystal Palace
I still can’t get used to the way my voice sounds. Ah, well, human foibles. :)
I think I can keep up with ongoing session reports if I limit myself to writing about the completion of individual stories rather than writing about each and every night. I’d like to write more, the the reality is that I’m running at 90 mph as it is and something’s gotta give!
These two episodes largely comprise the goings on at the Crystal Palace. This whole leg of the adventure was something I didn’t plan for. I expected the changelings to eventually go there, but by eventually I mean in a few weeks time in-character, when the Goblin Market is in town.
The changelings were looking to a key that they’d need to fit into a door that they would have to create to close up and lock the Trod that was under their former Freehold (the one that was destroyed by an enormous, brass steam octopus during the first session). In some of the old Freehold texts, the changelings found that the portal has traveled with the changeling Freehold as it moved about town while London was growing. Prior to being at the Hobgoblin Pub, it was at the site where the Crystal Palace is presently built.
Well, I think I oversold the Crystal Palace. I put a couple of posts up on G+ about it, and chatted with some folks about the other places the Crystal Palace has shown up, so when I said ‘The Crystal Palace’, all most of the players could see was neat shinies that they wanted to go and look at because I’d already teased them with it.
WHY I didn’t expect that is completely beyond me, but once the characters were in the palace, I couldn’t very well have nothing happen. For the record, I LOVE it when things I don’t expect to happen happen. I do my best thinking when I suddenly have to create something new for someplace I wasn’t even thinking about.
I kept the info light, doing even LESS prep than I have for the last few games before that. I’m improvising more and more as the world spreads out into my mind’s eye. I know that sounds hopelessly corny, but it’s the truth. The less i seem to prepare, the more the characters get through and the more fun we have. I don’t know why that’s the case and I don’t care. So long as it works, it works!
I’m focusing on the things that I know I have the hardest time NOT improvising. NPC names and possibly a smidgen about their description or personality. I actually like it better when I let the personality and voice come to me on the spot rather than trying to play to whatever I’ve written out before hand. Much of the rest of it, I’m leaving to what happens on the spot.
The last two sessions I ran (one Steam & Crumpets, one Steam Francisco) had less than one page of session notes each. Now, Steam & Crumpets already had a backlog of notes I’ve been creating as we’re going, so that half page of notes was literally just refresher little things for this particular game and notes about things I wanted to foreshadow and stuff like that. That foundation I set up in the first place with a few random encounter tables, and a variety of faerie-like monsters all statted up is what’s making it easier, more efficient, and all around better for me to improvise all of the other details.
That backlog of monsters and their stats is particularly important. The Steam Imps have now shown up in Steam & Crumpets sister game, Steam Francisco, in a slightly different shape. I’ve also got a large handful of other things statted that haven’t even shown up in the game yet, and I’m adding new things all the time. My Secret Santicore project is even going to serve a dual purpose and add even MORE to that foundation. So, my learnings boil down to one phrase, really: Build a strong foundation and go from there.
That said, I need to devote some more time to strengthening my foundation. Especially with the things that are coming up next on my mind. I’m extraordinarily thrilled about the upcoming sessions. At the end of these two episodes, I did a small tease scene into the next leg of the story, which is an old school dungeon crawl changeling style.
Poking around for Victorian things online, I found several sets of blueprints for things like Victorian row houses. Row mansions, really. This thing is enormous. When I made the decision to start off the Chronicle with destroying the other Freehold and leaving these guys the only changelings in the city, I had already planned to give them an opportunity – through the course of the game – to get a new, even better Freehold that the motley could truly make their own. After earning it, of course.
The actual plot is based off of this incredibly creepy book that I read when I was in middle school. Of course, without the PG rating, that is. I’m not even sure what dislodged the memory enough for me to decide that it should absolutely be a plot element, but I’m loving the idea. I’ve got a lot of rooms to write up for this one, but I’m really looking forward to getting to tell the story.
Well, that’s all I’ve really got for now. Keep an eye out for my games on Google+. I’m now running three Hangout games, all of which are being broadcast via YouTube.