Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lookin' Back

This afternoon, I've begun reading Things Don't Go Smooth, the first major sourcebook for the Firefly RPG. As a result, I've been reminiscing a lot on my summer Firefly campaign.

Our campaign wrapped on August 18th. So it's been about two and a half months since the last episode. Whoa, it feels like it's been longer! But here are some of my thoughts on the campaign, looking back:

Things I Liked About the Campaign:

1. First and foremost, it was a great opportunity to bond with my friends. Again, it's only been two and a half months, but I feel like we really got to know each other and work with each other over the span of that campaign. Away from the table, I feel much closer to everyone in my group, and I think a lot of that had to do with the great chemistry we found at the table, while playing this game.

2. I've said this before, but I relished the opportunity to experiment with different adventure structures and storytelling techniques, stuff I never would have dared to try in a more conventional RPG. The experience of running those avant-garde style adventures is something I'll carry with me moving forward, ideas and methods that I can use to run better games in the future. The campaign was a tremendous learning experience for me.

3. I set out to run a campaign, from beginning to end, and I did it. Granted, there were distractions along the way, and sure enough, I wanted to quit at certain points, but with my friends egging me on, I embraced the momentum and followed through to the end. Many may scoff at a mere seven sessions as a "campaign," but for me, it was a pretty major achievement! That experience with running games consistently is definitely something I'll carry with me moving on. I'm really looking forward to my next opportunity to run a complete campaign. Who knows...the next one might even be eight adventures long!

Things I Would Have Done Differently:

1. Though I managed to break from my normal form and run a complete, persistent campaign, I failed to break from another habit I have: ignoring rules. Of course, I'm all about throwing out the rules when they get in the way of play, but if we're being honest here, I didn't throw out all of the rules because they were getting in the way. I was throwing out rules because I was lazy, didn't want to study them, and didn't do enough prep before the game. Again, I am not advocating having to follow every rule as written in the corebook to the letter/number, but I do believe you need to at least attempt to understand and use the rules before you make that judgement call. While reading Things Don't Go Smooth, there have been many moments...too many moments, in my opinion...where the book addresses a rule and I thought "Oh! THAT'S how I was supposed to do that!"

2. I don't mind running games from the seat of my pants. I do it all the time. But for a campaign where I had two weeks between most sessions, I wish I had done more prep. Good prep, in my experience, helps improv, it doesn't hurt it. You see, if you do your homework, then you're doing less scrambling in-game, which frees up your mind to come up with even better ideas on the spur of the moment. I had an opportunity, between the flexible nature of Cortex Plus, and the weeks of downtime between games, to craft some great adventures. I blew that opportunity. I hope I don't do that again, for the next campaign.

3. I discovered, somewhere around the fifth or sixth episode of watching Firefly, that I just don't care much for the show. I understand why people love it so much. I can objectively see the quality of the show. And I absolutely believe FOX cut it down before it's time. But I was not a fan of the show. It's hard to run a game when you don't care about the source material. My friend Boomer recently talked to me about how his fantasy campaign, which was originally supposed to be Dungeon World, got switched to D&D because he got caught up in the hype. I can certainly relate, because that's exactly what happened with me and Firefly. I was all set to run the Call of Cthulhu epic, Masks of Nyarlathotep, but then Firefly and all the extreme hype around both it and the Cortex Plus system showed up, and I got caught up in it. The previous two items are issues I've struggled with throughout my GMing "career." But this particular issue was a rookie mistake that I normally don't make. It definitely won't happen again.

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