Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shadows Over Freeport: True20 campaign wrap-up

It's been a little over two weeks since our Freeport campaign finished up. Freeport is Green Ronin's fantasy/pirates/Lovecraftian horror setting. The main book is systemless and GR has released or licensed rules companions for most of the major systems. We used GR's True20 system.

In total, we had sixty game sessions over three years and two months of real time. The final three sessions involved the party fighting a group of skeletal pirates at the bottom of the ocean, exploring a pyramid temple of serpent people on a sunken island while looking for the lost treasure of the legendary Captain Francisco, and fighting Deep Ones and their god who was imprisoned within the temple.

I'm still putting together my thoughts about the campaign. I think everyone enjoyed it. I often second-guess my game-mastering style, so I try to look over how the sessions went and what things I can improve on for the future.

Some ideas so far:

Talking with my hands: I tend to use my hands quite a bit when I talk. I hope that it isn't too distracting, but I'd like to cut down on it.

Speaking about the environment from my perspective: During this campaign, I noticed myself doing this and I tried not to make it a habit. When I describe a scene or location, I imagine it from the players' perspective and try to describe it as such. Unfortunately, I sometimes use directions from my point-of-view; that is, if I describe a tunnel to the left of the party, I would talk as if it was on my left--the opposite viewpoint of the party--which could get confusing for them. Perhaps even worse were the couple of times that I drew out maps on our miniatures grid mat facing me instead of the players.

Forgetting to use NPCs in combat: Often I found that I would forget about the allied NPCs that were with the party during combat. Usually I would have the NPCs take their actions before any of the group's adversaries. Missing their turns was never a determining factor in any of the combats so it wasn't an important issue but it could have lead to more interesting scenes. In my defense, one of my general guidelines is that NPC allies should never upstage the player characters.

Spending time looking up obscure rules: Part of this campaign's purpose was to try out True20, kick the tires and see how it works under actual play conditions. I'm still thinking about that and how it went. What I'd like to avoid is spending valuable time checking rules. At its heart, True20 is simple: roll a d20, add an attribute, and roll against a target number. With the additions of the Companion book, the Freeport Companion, the Bestiary, and the Handbooks for each of the three classes, there were some occasions where it became necessary to look something up. I was often torn between wanting to get the rules right and making a temporary ruling so that play would not slow down.

Not enough detail vs. too much detail: This is a tricky one. I tried to add enough detail to descriptions to make the campaign world seem real but without overwhelming the players with detail that wasn't significant to the game. I can recall describing some less-important NPCs with only the barest details.

These are only a few items that I've been thinking about. I'm sure I'll come back to this later. The next post about the Freeport campaign will have some photos of miniatures, maps and terrain from various important scenes. I also want to post some scans of my notes, charts and other notebook jottings.


Lowell Francis said...

Looking forward to seeing your campaign postmortem. I think its useful and important to get a kind of director's commentary on games after the fact. You should post it up on RPG Geek as well.

Kaiju said...

Thank you! I need to go back over my session notes. It's all a blur right now.