“Mickey Rourke is in this movie. Val Kilmer is in this movie. It’s directed by Michael Mann, or maybe Tony Scott. But it’s not The Hunger. Luis Guzman has a role as a shiftless drifter who erupts into surprising bursts of violence.”
Hm. I never did get Luis Guzman into the movie, but in retrospect that was just as well. Danny Trejo made it in.
This is the first campaign I’ve ever run to completion. I planned for it to last about one long story-arc; this was really liberating in that I didn’t worry about handing out experience too quickly, and I didn’t worry about whether or not the world would be playable long term. I just went full speed ahead with whatever caught my eye, following the leads of the PCs, and it worked like a charm.
Things I concentrated on:
Cool NPCs. I do good NPCs, so I wanted to let that shine. (Also I’m modest.) I like to think I have a strong range of voices, and since every NPC was played by a well-known actor, it was even easier to make the characters memorable. I had to pull off imitations of Val Kilmer, Meryl Streep, and Nathan Lane — sometimes in the same scene — but I was pretty sure I could do that.
Big blatant plots. It turns out that it’s almost never a lose to telegraph stuff from a mile away, and it’s always easy to turn around and surprise players when you need to. Also, I have a tendency to automatically do mystery plots, and I wanted this to be an action flick rather than a detective thriller. So while I wrote in a certain amount of mystery, I never wanted it to be too mysterious — answers weren’t ever that far away. It is not my fault that the players occasionally decided to kill the source of the answers.
Balance between shooting things and talking. Given our approximately 3-4 hour session time, a good fight wound up taking up most of the session, as I discovered a few sessions in. That meant, to me, that the right thing to do was to throw in a chance for a good fight scene every two or three sessions. I think that worked well. I could have stepped up the fight scenes if the group had seemed to want more of them.
Player-driven. I let ’em do what they wanted, and it all worked out okay. I was ready for just about any turn of events, although I would have been sad if the group had split up. But I was ready for their allegiances to go wherever, I had spurs to push them back towards the action as needed — I was a leaf in the river of their plot interests. Boo yah.
Things I want to do better next time:
Foreshadowing. Example: in the last session, I pulled out Jack Trash’s body, and that was cool, and I showed them a letter clarifying a couple of issues. Also cool. But it would have been better if I’d pulled out Trash’s corpse in the previous session.
This goes with planning; I didn’t really have an overarching plan. I had a few key NPCs with strong motivations, and I let the world react to what the PCs do. Good for me for empowering the PCs and avoiding railroading, but it meant there wasn’t as much build as I woulda liked. I think the way to fix this is to have some cool multi-session things in mind, and remembering to drop the setup scene in there.
I’d also like to take more advantage of player backgrounds. I didn’t pay enough attention to that, particularly in Teo’s case.
But all in all? Quite happy.