February 24th, 2014

The Shape of 2014

With almost two months under the belt including Kapcon and first half of an excellent mini-campaign, the shape of my 2014 gaming year seems to be coming into shape.

The main opportunity for the year is a chance at running Atlantis: The Second Age with my Thursday night group. I consider this group to be my "regular" group. I haven't had chance to run anything long term for them on week nights due to the significant shift in my gaming brought on by parenthood. For the last 4.5 years we have also been playing the amazing Exalted, which is now beginning to wind down.

Atlantis will hopefully be a return to the sort of campaigns before parenthood, armed with new skills and insight. Parenthood made me realise that you have to take your RPG opportunities as they arise and so I hope to embrace the campaign in a big way. The whole thing has come as a bit of a surprise, almost like the stars were aligning themselves, even seeing one of the key Exalted players returning. The world and rules seem a great match for the group, reminiscent of Exalted of old but without the parts that became an issue over time. I also have a vast field of inspiration to draw on.

Given the size of that endeavour, I expect that my other RPGing may take a back seat this year:

1. I will be running the second half of my Double Cross mini-campaign, wrapping it up in April. Its been an excellent campaign, but the current story will have run its course and changes in players' schedules make running it with regularity difficult. I can see returning to the game with a new mini-campaign every now and then in the future though.

2. I hope to run either Star Wars' Edge of the Empire or Age of Rebellion out of the book/box for Kapiti College starting in March. That should scratch my itch for that RPG, running for that club and running "pre-written" adventures.

3. On the Con scene, I am looking to take a much more relaxed approach to things this year. Prepping Dungeon World for Buckets of Sand has made me want to do some low effort yet fun Con games only. I am hoping that Far Away Land will be a good option for this (without being as ubiquitous as Dungeon World) and it also works well for Adventure Squad.

Pitching Atlantis

When I pitched Atlantis: The Second Age for my Thursday group, I identified the following 5 goals (hopefully the references to other games don't lose the meaning):

1. Solid: I want to make this as solid as my brother's excellent D&D game (which Scott and Sam played in). He ran a pretty standard fantasy game with a passion that made it excellent without the need for the strange and bizarre. Atlantis is filled with exciting Sword and Sorcery tropes. Whilst not as common as those of more D&D like fantasy, they are familiar to most. Evil wizards, corrupt nobles, scheming femme fatales, maze-like cities and dangerous fantastical monsters.

2. Exciting: I want to recapture the excitement I felt in the first sessions of Nick's 1e Exalted game, where the world seemed vast, dangerous and full of wonder and possibility. I recall feeling like my PC was actually in the world, able to go anywhere despite not knowing what was over the horizon, and confident that he could face it with cold steel in his hands.

3. Open: I want the game to be filled with blank spaces like in Dungeon World. Though I plan to put work into the setting and stories, I want the PCs' actions to decide what happens in a sandbox type way. Like Exalted in Scavenger Sons, Atlantis is a vast and flavourful world but it is filled with blank spots where we can create entire empires inside of.

4. Compelling: I want to use what you want to see for your own PCs to drive story. Atlantis has a simple system for players to provide three "hooks" at any point in time for their PC. This is similar to Double Cross, which I am running at the moment, and it has resulted in compelling scenes being created with relatively reliability.

5. Fast: I also want to maintain a constant pace. I don't want to spend sessions traveling from A to Z or planning. I will use a loose episode structure, like in Tenra Bansho, with each episode being 2 to 5 sessions long. Episodes will normally start in media res, often bypassing weeks of downtime to get straight into the action and/or provide an interesting change of location.

Wishful thinking? Possibly :)