I did it, Emily. It’s been a long, arduous, frustrating road. But I did it! I’m a Game Master!
My first overarching quest is coming to a head! Not by itself impressive, but what is is that my players are slowly realizing that the scenario is bigger than them— and how important the decisions they have (and will) make will echo in the halls of eternity!
Whoo! I successfully communicated the ideas and themes behind this plot-line in a way where I didn’t need to ham-fist exposition.
My players thus far have made very straightforward decisions based on where they think they are supposed to go. The problem with that is they do what they think I want them to do; as if the game is scripted and they are just parts in a play.
But in the last session, when faced with a political decision, it forced them to take a step back and realize that there is more to this than simply showing up and rolling dice.
To be frank, I don’t think some of my players enjoy this part. But this is what I want the campaign to be: choices. I want my players to find themselves in situations where their actions and choices are going to shape the world around them.
But my worry up until recently is that they wouldn’t care about making an informed choice. They do care about the game and having fun, but it would be easy for them to be like, “Uh, that one- I don’t care, where is my laserfist.”
The quick version: the players had made it through the Maw into the Koronus Expanse and they moored up at Port Footfall. They met the rich merchant Zulfikar Raheem. He has worked with them on a few jobs, but then it starts to become apparent someone is messing with Zulfikar’s affairs.
Zulfikar suspects (and with provided evidence from the players, ascertains) the Kasballica Mission is trying to screw him. He implores the players to go distract the Kasballica in a gambit to buy him some time.
The Kasballica Mission hires them to do a job; that job was to fuck with Zulfikar’s affairs.
The mission is to go to a mining colony and setup a facility that will break the compact Zulfikar has with a Rogue Trader. They go to the mining facility and realize that the planet itself is embroiled in its own conundrum. So the players need to wade through the planets politics while also furthering their own ends.
Then for the first time the players asked themselves what they are doing. Thus far they have been making whichever decision is presented to them. But once they started to understand the stakes involved with the planet, and with their various political relationships, they finally started asking questions of themselves. Not questions like, “Where are we?” but more like, “Why are we doing this?”
They slowly started to question the ins and outs, the benefits and consequences, and that’s when I ascended to a new level of Game Master. That is when one of my players asked himself, “What is Zulfikar doing?”
I had done it.
It’s the moment I was never sure that would come because it was heavily dependent on my ability to playact a story for them. Playact it in such a way that the pieces fit together, but might not be presented in order. And in that session my players began inspecting the pieces and realizing that the picture is far bigger than they thought.
Now to be utterly fair, maybe my players had greater faith in me than myself. Maybe they had been piecing it together and just making notes until the end. Usually after sessions I get a lot of, “It’s fun!” and “Campaign is awesome.”
But this was the first session where I began to see them deliberate. To engage with the story and talk about their investment. Listening to them make theories and compare evidence.
I will never be able to fully describe the feeling. I think I have a long way to go to become a GM of legend, but its good to have affirmation that the setting I’ve built is doing its job.
This post comes out on Friday. The following Saturday I have to run the game again. I cannot wait to see what happens next.