The Dee Sanction at the Cow

gongfermor-playersThis weekend, I ran two games of The Dee Sanction, at Concrete Cow in Milton Keynes. I suspect I will ruminate and post more than once on the outcome from these sessions.

I ran two adventures, both of which I’d run before. ‘The Gongfermor Deception‘ has been run at least four times now, and I don’t think it has proceeded the same way on any of those occasions.

The adventure has a timeline in the background, to which the bad guys aspire to keep. The player characters have the opportunity to interfere with this timeline, if they can – though it depends on what information they can uncover.

I think I could benefit from applying some kind of countdown mechanic to this game so that I have the timeline forefront in my mind and give the players a greater sense as to their progress. I daresay seeing the counters slip away would add to the stress. The actions they take along the way occur within a confined location and getting a grip of distance and time expended wouldn’t be too hard.

I recently read (and posted a review at RPG Geek of) Levi Kornelsen’s Mechanisms For Tabletop Roleplaying. The short supplement offers five interesting mechanics to add elements to an existing game, one of which is a Countdown Stack that might work well in introducing this. I’ll have to give it some consideration.

The other adventure – ‘The Holy Wax Infant of Prague‘ – has more of a sandbox environment within which the events unfold. The characters have less pressure to face, but a wider range of options to consider. In investigating the mystery around the disappearance of an important relic, they have a whole valley of suspect people and locations to consider.

I ran this adventure at Dragonmeet and it ended quite differently to the one this weekend. It ended with a very different culprit to the original – and in writing this up, it will be very much a place with a detailed list of places and possibilities. I allowed the players this weekend to guide their own destiny and their actions gave form to the outcome.

In the end, they found themselves running for their lives from the rending claws and gnashing teeth of evil spirits. Finding solace in a church, they desperately called for the intervention of the angelic host to save them – and pulled off a credible success by slaying the unholy host with heavenly fire.

Both adventures ran well to time. The ‘Infant‘ ran 5 minutes short of the 3-hour slot, while the ‘Deception‘ closed 15-minutes off four hours. In both instances, the players managed to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

I really like the way the second session (Deception) ended, as it would have made the perfect start to a campaign, while definitely offering a single-session conclusion. The characters discovered a place of significance that could have served as the basis for long-term investigation and complications. Here, they walked away as Walsingham’s agents sealed the way with a thick black wax disc, bearing the insignia and motto of The Dee Sanction.

Quite satisfying.