We kicked off a new session last night with the intention for a longer game of The Dee Sanction than I have previously run.
Until now most adventures have been one-off sessions or convention slots. The adventures have been run to a 3 – 4-hour timeframe. The one game I have run with my local gaming group took a couple of sessions to complete, but that comes down to only really getting 2.5 hours of gaming time in a single evening.
Last night we kicked off around 20.30 and ran through to around 22.30 – or whenever the last orders bell rang.
The pub environment we play in is not ideal. While we managed to negotiate switching off the speakers in our area of the pub during the match between West Brom and Chelsea, after the match someone cranked them up again. I fail to understand the logic behind the playing of loud music in a small local pub. If we didn’t attend on Mondays like this, they’d have less than a dozen patrons filling a space that could accommodate 100+. Is the music intended to dampen the sense of despondency and loss that haunts their poetic souls?
While I had intended to run Thunder and Steel, the adventure I previously ran at Seven Hills last month, in the end, I came up with a new adventure. The characters arrive in Stettin, the capital of Pomerania, and a member of the Hanseatic League. They have arrived two days later than the ship carrying John Dee and his entourage and discover the good Doctor has already moved on without them. He has left them paid lodgings and a note with a nervous messenger boy called Andreas. They should follow on once they have handled the matter with the child, as he has pressed on along the road following the River Ober toward Moravia.
But what child…?
The only other thing the players had to go on was a flashback. A boy awoke from a nightmare, his face slick with sweat, abed in the dormitory of a school in Chelmsford, circa 1535. The boy had found himself lost and alone in a cloying darkness. He felt pursued by something or someone close on his heels. When he finally felt the hot breath of the beast on his neck, a light flared. A severed hand, with pointed fingers, surrounded by a halo of flame. The middle finger, pale and bloodless; the little finger, blackened as if burnt; the thumb, red like gore. After the boy woke, he didn’t speak and hardly ate for three days until he finally found his senses while studying Euclid in the school library. He had received some incite or experienced some revelation. This was John Dee.
And the flashback didn’t really help throw any light on their situation.
Giving the characters – a messenger, a courtier, a horse-trader, and a painter-stainer – just this to go on, they seemed a little lost. Perhaps I offered too little. I sort of thought that if you find yourself in an unfamiliar town with a message and little else, you’d at least put yourself about in the hope of finding something. Maybe I need to offer something more – I can adjust! Maybe fatigue, the loud music, or my lengthy exposition on the background of the game numbed their senses.
We will not play again for at least two weeks, so I have time to mull on the adventure. I must spend some more time on creating a condensed background summary for the game, as when improvising I go on too long. In a convention game, I don’t have the luxury of an hour for character generation and discussion on the nature of The Dee Sanction. I did draft something punchy in an earlier post on this blog – and I should likely stick to that in future, or some variant thereof.