No books! It’s been too hot to do anything but lay around.
This week I resumed my Traveller game, after a little break, and kicked off what I’m thinking of as the “second arc” of the campaign. This time, I’m trying something a little different.
The players like the idea of a sandbox campaign where they’re able to go anywhere and do anything, but in practice I don’t think they’re being self-directed enough for that. We’ve had times where the players completed a job, someone asked “well, what do we do now?”, and then there was an awkward period of silence before someone suggested “I guess we’ll go to our friend at so-and-so and see if he’s got any work for us.” I’ve tried throwing them some bones to inspire them to come up with their own goals, but it’s not really worked.
A couple of months back, I did a little survey about the state of the campaign, and the general feeling was that they wanted to have more external pressure and for things to be faster-paced. I made some immediate changes then but now, since we’ve had a break and are starting a new segment of the campaign, I’m being more direct.
I’ve picked a theme for the next bit of the campaign, I’ve decided on some high stakes,1 and I will have NPCs give them two significant missions in that theme. They’ll still have free time to get up to their own thing, but these missions will provide a strong default action (and some time pressure) which should cut down on uncertainty. I’ll present the arc as a unit of story, with a beginning, middle, and end. And then at the end we’ll have another break for another one-shot, and I’ll do another survey about how things are going.
My goal is that the players know their options (rather than feeling lost and defaulting to asking an NPC for some help), feel under enough pressure that they have to make trade-offs and difficult choices, and that the arc as a whole feels coherent and satisfying to the point where we could end the campaign here,2 without it feeling like we’re just stopping arbitrarily.
We’ve had the first session of the arc. The stakes have been hinted at. They’ve begun the first mission. Now to see how this plays out.
I paid off my student loan this week.
I had enough cash lying around, and thought “gee, it sure would be nice not to see that massive deduction on my payslip every month”, and so I rang up and paid it off over the phone.