It is quite remarkable how a few random words can make a big difference. I though I was having great time yesterday while playing Eldritch Sigils but once we were leaving Mikko‘s place after the game one of the players said something that not only made my day but also made me think (again) about how and why we play. It wasn’t a big thing at all – he just said: “I didn’t remember to mark down my exp.”
At first we all laughed about it but while driving home I noticed it had made a clear impact on me. Even though this is not the first time this has happened (and quite likely not the last) and even though it was most likely that he just simply forgot to do it, to me it meant that we had had good time.
While playing role-playing games most of are so accustomed to plead GMs to grant us more exp. that we simply cannot forget about it. Take Dungeons and Dragons for example, how many times you forget to add exp. after an encounter? I’m not saying it cannot happen. I’m only making a point that certain games are different by default.
During this session we had a new player joining our group. Santtu played his character from our Door of Shadows-campaign that had stepped through a dimensional portal during the last session and time traveled to the colonial America.
I had small concern about how we could make him a member of the group and not degenerate into bickering whether the characters could trust him or not. Luckily my players are now more familiar with timey-wimey weirdness and more prepared to embrace this kind of weirdness than when we started this mega-campaign years ago. We introduced the time traveler to the story, made sure that the characters had at least some reason to interact with him and then I hit them with witchcraft!
In previous session the party had found a heavy stone chalice from the ruins of Roanoke. They had some concern about it being a tool of witchcraft and devil worshiping so naturally I followed their cue. Thousands of insects, worms, toads and other hideous critters came for the chalice, swarming the Fort Johnston where they were spending some downtime while one of the characters needed to heal.
In the following chaos a lot of rolls where made and luckily for me the players allowed me to make the situation worse almost every single time. They managed to carry the chalice to the river and tow it in the middle of water in a canoe. Someone mentioned that they should be on the look-out for any mandoags attacking them while outside the fort walls at night. And since a roll was totally missed almost immediately after that I made their fears come true.
The captain of the fort died with an arrow in his throat and the player characters had to step up to get the defenses on place. Because only Santtu’s character was actually any good with giving orders he tried to save the captain while commanding the soldiers into the fort. Naturally he only gained a partial success and I made him choose between saving the captain’s life and getting the defenses ready. He chose the later and I got to indulge in the gory fate of the captain.
Once the native threat was countered the party had a few hours of sleep after which they decided to retrieve the satanic chalice from the river into which it had dropped. They managed to get it out of the river only to find out that it had consumed the essence of the insects and was now partially [awakened].
While grasping the chalice Santtu’s character had a terrible vision of the supernatural forces that were after him. The chalice’s influence was corrupting and terrible but he managed to resist it – at least almost. I gave him a chance to choose between temporal (and minor) sanity loss and a permanent humanity loss (that would result into supernatural powers). Needless to say he went with the later.
So now we have Mikko’s character, the albino priest (raised by Knights Templar) working with a former pirate (and slave), two murderous frontier men and a time traveling coroner that tainted almost beyond redemption. An interesting posse, I might say! (Though I must add that none of the characters actually know about the time traveling part of the good doctor’s past.)
The characters studied the chalice and from what they could gather came into the conclusion that this was in fact the infamous “Black Grail” that belong to a witch coven in the old world and had been brought into the new world to bring for the realm of Satan.
During next session we try to narrate the whole following winter in one session. I might need to prepare for it in detail and usually it means that things cannot go too much wrong. Nevertheless I really feel that if my players forget to mark their experience at the end of the session I have done something right.