Its been a while since my last general progress report on my ongoing Atlantis campaign: "The Unbridled Blade", so it seems like a good time to talk about things.
Tonight will be the penultimate session for chapter 4, being the last chapter for the year as we are unable to run an entire chapter in the time remaining. At that point, there will have been a total of 28 sessions, which I feel is a significant run for a campaign that I created from scratch. Though my motivation hasn't been constant through that time, knocked also by departing and absent players, I am still happy with how things have gone and I am especially excited about how the chapter will end. Atlantis continues to prove excellent in being well suited to low prep and accommodating to a wide range of ideas.
As things have a tendency to do, my structure has devolved over time and Chapter 4 was an exhilarating and anxious example of "playing to find out what happened." I went in with a clear idea of themes, some factions and their goals, and a RPG supplement to steal from liberally for backdrop. I then let the PCs interact and have been writing the story a session or two ahead to great effect for the duration. Despite this, it has come together remarkably well, probably better than any climax that I could have planned from the outset.
With the break at the end of the year, I am hoping to re-establish some new thoughts about the campaign, as we have run through a good chunk of the material that was provided from character creation. I feel like the first four chapters form Act One and, energy permitting, this should be followed by two more Acts of the same length.
Though the immediate detail needs to be generated and refreshed, Act One has done a great job in making it clear to me what the campaigns long term trajectory to be. Act Two will be another 4 chapters and Act Three will be another four chapters. Where Act One, in retrospect, has been loosely about Stelaro, Act Two will be about Phaedra, and Act Three about Baram. This covers the three PCs that have formed the core of the protagonists around which there has been a concept of the Hero of Past, Present and Future. It is kind of cool to see this borne out with the campaign's Acts.
Act Two starts in February 2016 with Chapters 5 and 6. The first will be about a stand-off between pirates set on an island occupied by scary huge monsters. The second will be set in Gondwana and will focus around the PCs being strangers in a strange land. Both of these are very different to vibes for the first four chapters, so that should be an interesting contrast, and I have two decent RPG supplements to pillage for ideas.
Chapters 7 and 8 are hazier. I expect the first to be paranoid adventure in a city of depraved cult worship and the second to be centred on existential mystery and intrigue about the secrets of the cosmos. But that's all very far off, so I try not to think that far ahead to be honest :)
To finish, here's my report card for 2015, based on the five goals in the pitch I made in this LJ post: http://grandexperiment.livejournal.com/249689.html
1. Solid: Success.
This year has continued to expand on the S&S genre and provided a more coherent world view. We delved deep into the back stories of each PC, and visited one PC's background in detail.
2. Exciting: Success.
3. Open: Success.
With my time for pre decreasing and my confidence for the game increasing, I have felt like the campaign has become open within the limits of the episodic structure.
4. Compelling: Success.
Though I am happy that the primary three PCs are all engaged, the dropping of the meta-game communication channel has left me feeling like things are not as compelling as they could be. Its not an issue this year but it is likely to be a growing issue in coming years that will need careful management.
5. Fast: Success.
Though the pace remains fast, I have slowed it down to my satisfaction and have managed to hit quite a few great moments where cause and effect really hit home.
I have made previous progress reports here: http://grandexperiment.livejournal.com/268749.html
, and http://grandexperiment.livejournal.com/271969.html