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Norse and Nerves

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  • #76
    Had another session a couple of days ago.

    So, the 5 minute version:

    After finishing their shift at the pier, the two female scions (Jamie and Leithe), who neither have Epic Stamina, had to sleep to prevent dice penalties. Which left the guys awake. So, I had originally had all of this material planned how they would either talk/seduce or sneak their way to the high school where the zombies, the Belt, and the boss is. I was so confident that I was ready for them, only to be derailed by this 'down time'. In hindsight, I should have just jumped to the point where everybody was awake, but I try to let my players do what they want to do.

    So, Elias ended up trailing a tabloid lead about a city of dwarves beneath the city in an abandoned subway tunnel. Although I wasn't planning on it, I decided to take mercy on Elias and allowed him to follow up the trail to a subway area where he could 'feel' something there. Basically, and I'm not sure if this is how it supposed to work, Elias has stumbled upon a Terra Incognita, one that connects to Svartheim, home of the dwarves. He found a rune put on a hidden rock that said dwarves, and, after waiting a couple of hours, found a dwarf walking out. After calming him down, Elias introduced himself, and learned that the dwarf is named Garik. From there, they chatted, establishing a cordial relationship. I didn't intend to explain this this early, but Garik explained that the dark alfs were active in NYC. Ah well.

    Meanwhile, Lad followed up with the female cultist who had the hots for him. Now, I had planned that this was one of the potential leads to finding the high school and zombies, but Lad said he was not going to try, merely establish a rapport with Christina the cultist. Well, he was successful, successful to the point where the neighbors complained about the racket.

    The session ended with the Band about to regroup with the ladies awake.

    Now, the biggest problem from the session I had was that two of my players feel like the Band has no direction and are frustrated. It's both of my female players, and to further muddle things, one of the male players feels like everything is going fine.

    Therefore, I'm confused. Is it just player activity imbalance? Or am I really too open-ended and need to make a couple of rails for my players?


    • #77
      It sounds like you are too open-ended. When planning a game, I try to have the beginning and end planned out, motivations for the bad guys, and the general plot-line mapped, but leave "wiggle-room" for the PCs to improvise, poke around, and not feel railroaded. But they HAVE to have an idea where things are supposed to be going, or its just "Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio", and everyone gets bored, or makes their own trouble. They need to know why they are together, and have a basic clue as to the crisis/problem/whatever that is driving the story, whether it's "Hey, did anyone else see the Zombies on the news?", or "Why did the Titanspawn try to eat our faces, guys? And why are they all wearing turquoise?" They don't need to play out nap-time, dinner at the greasy spoon, or the train ride to Pocatello, unless something that drives the game is going to happen when they are there. And if they don't get the clues ["I don't watch the news - it depresses me"], then you may have to hit them with a hint brick ["You get a message on your phone from your best friend - something about Zombies trying to eat everyone at the sorority mixer. There is a lot of screaming, and then the phone goes dead."]. It takes a bit of juggling, but players need to be motivated and guided - they won't usually go looking for the trouble on their own.


      • #78
        Yeah, Purple Snit hit the nail on the head. That looks like you played that Session far too open ended. Strict rails are not great, but having 'stuff' planned to throw at the players is a good idea. Making sure there is a healthy supply of hints and clues coming right at them is important when running something 'mystery-esque' as you are doing. You need to keep the players engaged, give them clues, and hints where to go next in-universe. Always make sure they a) have a goal, and b) know some steps to take to move towards that goal.

        Now, don't make it really blatant like one of the Ravens showing up and telling them to do X or go to Y, unless that itself is a clue or something out of the ordinary that will leave them asking questions. Leave hints here and there, have NPCs interact with them. The best thing to do is use these things as rewards or prizes for doing something particularly amazingly well. For example, in the ruined remnants of an ancient Gaulish spring I had left a strange, almost completely worn away painting on the wall. I had been leaving these strange, hint-ridden paintings in all of the underground locations my players had gone into through several stories.

        In this instance, one of my players used a Boon from a houseruled Purview that worked with Art, and Tools, and managed to repair the entire painting from almost nothing due to throwing down something like thirty successes at Legend 4. I retconned my own notes, and made this painting substantially more valuable a clue to make this reward more potent, giving the players a complete depiction of the Gaulish Pantheon, giving them a clue towards the function of the Gundestrup Cauldron which is a large plot point, and revealed to them the identity of a amnesiac NPC they kept meeting multiple different 'shards' of. With this, the players clarified their situation, and had a better grasp on 'what next', giving them information about different situations that could arise in their underground odyssey.

        And, possibly some of the best ST advice I have gotten from Iry is the idea of "Suddenly Ninjas!" which you don't need to use literally. If things ever stall, throw a new problem into the mix. Make things chaotic, dramatic, and throw an infusion into the situation. Your players are sitting around not sure what to do about the cult? When Christina and Lad were meeting up, you could have had the other players catch wind of a hit squad being sent by the cult to kill Christina and Lad both for posing a threat / Christina moving away from the cult's values. This accomplishes bringing PCs back into the same Scene, and then Christina can reveal more plot information in return for being saved. Or, if they fail to save her and Lad, they can overhear the assassins talking about the cult, they can trail the van back, ect.


        • #79
          Well, on the plus side, my confidence isn't shattering, so that's good.

          Alright, need more direction. I was thinking about the next session. To solve the immediate problem, I was going to let the Band discuss for a bit about their next step. If it still seems they are unsure of what to do, I was going to have a cultist text Jamie. Previously, Lad and Jamie killed the gang members after them, but then split the bodies (and profit) with the cultist clean-up crew that came to help them. So, I was thinking that one of those cultists would be eager for some money and would try to strike a deal with Jamie. The cultist knows that she wants to see where the bodies are being delivered, so he'll give the location for $100,000. Jamie has already collected $170,000 from previous 'donations', so they have the means.

          How does that sound?


          • #80
            Definitely not trying to shatter your confidence!
            I know you can't tell too much here, in case someone from your group reads the storyline, but what's relevant isn't necessarily what the players want to do - they aren't the Storytellers. What's relevant is, what is the story you are trying to write and tell? There needs to be an agreement between ST and players, which is, the ST agrees to provides a fun adventure, and the players agree to play characters that get involved. If they aren't really into playing Scion, then you can't fix that. And if they are, then they need to try to be engaged by the storyline and DO stuff.
            Ask yourself: what do you want/need them to do to advance the plot? And how can you make it so that they want to do that? Will the phone call engage them? Will it make it clear why they should be investigating this mystery/situation? If yes, go for it. If no, then you may need to throw a bigger hint brick.


            • #81
              Oh, sorry, didn't mean to suggest that you would. As Watcher knows, my first few runs as a ST crashed because my confidence was very shaky and easy to knock over. So, it's nice that I've gotten enough experience that I don't fall into a heap at the first sign of trouble.

              I think it'll work. What I need to do is get them the high school location and get them to stumble onto the zombie horde. That's what they're trying to do is figure out where the bodies are going to. When the Band defeats the aptranger and his zombie horde, they have finished the first campaign.

              And, don't worry, none of them know about this forum.


              • #82
                No, I'm not dead, and no I didn't end the game because my morale broke. Simply put, school become too much of a priority and my players' schedules become increasingly chaotic. So, we had to shut things down.

                However, the game was saved from oblivion by Lad's player. He's been feeling an RPG itch and suggested we get back into things. And, quite bluntly, I refuse to play a different RPG until we finish this campaign. That and seeing Wonder Woman has also put me into a kind of Scion mood.

                So, we've agreed to get the game restarted in the first week of July. The player line-up has shifted again.

                Leithe and Elias are out, while Vjun and (hopefully) Katya is back.

                In other words, the original team is back this time, including the Gambian rat.

                ...I just realized something. I had those two characters get kidnapped by their divine parents to remove them from play. I really should do a couple of individual sessions to bring them up to speed and let them catch up in experience points.

                At the same time, I need to remove Leithe and Elias. I'm tempted to hit the retcon button, but I'll resist that temptation. Maybe I should take over one or both of them. I still think it's really weird when a Band/DM group has the DM/ST playing as one of the companions. But, it'd be an easy way to provide guidance without just throwing random NPCs at the Band. Ideally, this campaign will be concluded in two or three sessions. All they need to do is find the zombie horde, end it, and retrieve the belt, and I'm about to give them a big help for them to get to the right place that I doubt they'll resist.

                As to why Leithe's and Elias' players are gone, well, they had a bad tendency to cause a bunch of drama. So, at the request of a couple of my other players, we're not letting them know about the Scion game. Which, I suspect, is half the reason Vjun's player is returning.

                Thinking on it, I feel like I should do a dream sequence with the Band as a whole and use that as an excuse to relearn the mechanics again. Is that a good idea or a waste of time?


                • #83
                  Hey Simison, no worries, don't be hard on yourself about calling a game due to education stuff. School first is one of the main rules in our groups. It's good you want to finish things up though!

                  You could totally do some individual sessions with the pair of them, but, if the scheduling can't work out, you could also sit down with the players shortly before game and just go over things in rough detail with them. Totally bump their exp up to the same as the rest of the group though, having stuff like that not balanced across characters can be tricky for you as the ST as well as be a bit of a downer for the players.

                  If you think your players need that little refresher course in the system, totally go with the dream sequence. But you could also give them some little cheat sheets for, "Roll X + Y + D to make an attack," and "You have X Knacks/Boons, they do Y." That sort of thing can really help people quickly get back into the swing of things I find. You could even just ease them into things slowly if you don't want to 'waste' time with a dream sequence.

                  If there are only a handful of sessions left in your mind, I would just keep the players who left around as DMPCs, it will just make your life easier than having to try to write them out or something similar. I'm normally not very big on DMPCs, but this isn't a bad situation for them to come up.


                  • #84
                    Alright, I guess it'll be a good chance to learn how to play as DMPCs. They'll also improve the Band's chances at containing the zombie horde.

                    And hopefully I'll be able to get those sessions in. I already have one arranged for Vjun who's player is coming over tonight.

                    I distinctly remember creating a Scion Cheat sheet, so, if I can find it, I will definitely print out some copies for the game. Fairly certain it's on my laptop.

                    The only new addition I want to add to the saga affects Jaime. Jaime's player is my wife, and she loves thunderstorms. So, I have a strong urge to have it that Jaime was originally Thor's daughter, but bargains were made and Loki was allowed to adopt her. Now, I know this won't affect Jaime's skill set, but I think it offers a rich story opportunity.


                    • #85
                      Reviewed my notes. Vjun needs at least two sessions, and Katya needs at least one. I'll work on that in the next two weeks before the actual game starts.

                      I did find my cheat sheet on my laptop. I'll do a more thorough review of it to see if I need to add anything before the sessions.

                      I'm also going over my mythology. Does anyone know what happened to the earliest members, like Buri, Bor, and Bergelmir? When the Band does get higher-powered, I want them to at least know that they have the potential to start their own new pantheon. And I think meeting some of these ancients could help with that since they transcend the titles of Vanir and Aesir. I'm imagining Odin having the Band try to find Buri as he becomes desperate for anything to stop or overcome Ragnorak. The Band find Buri, but he doesn't care and then puts the idea of them starting their own pantheon to save their own hides.


                      • #86
                        Buri and Bor seem like prime Titan Avatar material to me. They're both older figures who are directly descended from Ymir (definitely an Avatar) and don't do much beyond being the ancestors of the 'modern' Aesir. They're certainly never given more than a couple lines in what sources we have about Norse myth.

                        Back when JSR was still a thing I asked about hypothetical Norse Avatars for their Creation Titanrealm and they suggested Buri, possibly representing parthenogenesis since he was created by one parent and went on to create a son (Bor) without a mother being mentioned. And being Ymir's son (according to at least one source) he could also fit into a Frost Titanrealm as well.

                        If anything Bor has even less information about him than Buri, only being referenced in part of the Prose Edda and never again. So basically you can do whatever you want with him and unless you go really crazy you can probably justify it.

                        Bergelmir on the other hand is a frost giant and, given that he's Ymir's grandson, he's probably one of the older ones. If you don't want to make him an Avatar you could probably call him a leader among the giants, maybe a bit stronger than an average one.


                        • #87
                          I keep forgetting that Titans are weird in Scion. Regardless, thanks for the suggestions. I might save Buri for when the Band becomes demigods and get promoted to fighting the more serious threats in Scion. Bor might be introduced earlier since I'll treat him like a deity as opposed to a titan avatar, though I'll need to come up with an idea of what he's been up to.