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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 174 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Burning Empires] Slow Burning Fires Over Omac  (Read 2938 times)

Posts: 141

AKA Rob Farquhar

« on: February 17, 2007, 07:28:20 PM »

I had an interesting game session yesterday afternoon and evening. I've been itching to try Burning Empires out since before I bought the game (I was hooked by Thor Olavsrud's "Making Of" posts on his blog), and after a few aborted attempts I finally managed to rope four people into playing the Fires Over Omac demo with me.

It was noteworthy because I think it was the first time I seriously aske for feedback during a session; I've asked for it before, but I don't think I've ever been quite willing to offer up my experiences as the GM to my players. Yesterday's request for feedback was an honest intent to do just that in order to improve my skill.

The best way to sum up the session, I think, is "slow". I remember there was a lot of table talk; the players were discussing, introducing options, working out holes in plans coming up with new ones, and almost every tome someone said they were actually going to step up and do something, someone else would chime in with a new idea and that would get discussed instead.

Now, I know - and knew at the time - that my job as GM was to put pressure on the players. I knew my main means of doing that was by having my NPCs threaten the characters, either directly or indirectly (using their Building scenes to build their resources or suborn the players' allies). But I can summarise my own mental state at the time as one of minor panic. I was having a very hard time - no, I was stumped - trying to come up with what my Figures of Note - the major NPCs on the planet - were going to do with their Building scenes. What's worse is that the module actually gives a helpful list of things that the GMPCs could try and do, but none of them seemed to make sense - not that they weren't clearly written, they just didn't click with what was happening (or wasn't) at the table somehow.

At the time, I credited it to my usual GM stage fright, and I have no doubt some of it was, but this morning I remembered something I read in, interestingly enough, some campaign prep advice for Sorcerer:

"Embrace all characters' demons as if they were your own, favorite, desperate-to-be-played NPCs."

Now, in this case there are no characters' demons, but the advice is very valid. After the game, my players mentioned that things moved slowly or a good bot of the game, and commented that they didn't really feel connected to the world or the characters. In retrospect, the exact same was correct for me as well. I don't think I really took the advice in the module to read over the characers' beliefs, or maybe it was just that the PCs' beliefs stuck with me more.

It's odd that something I've been reading so often over the past few years, in regard to relationship maps, prep-less play, bangs, kickers and the like, something I thought I grokked, just didn't kick in when I sat down to GM it.

Anyway, next time I run Fires Over Omac - and when our BE campaign gets off the ground (despite the slow pace, all of my players liked the game enough to want to get stuck into World Burning immediately) - I'll be sure to take my NPCs seriously, know what they want Right Now and act on it!

Always Plenty of Time!
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