One of my regular players could not make last weeks regularly scheduled game. Going on over two years of online play he has never missed a session so he is involved in like everything which has happened to date. During the previous session when the good Dr. Thomas Norton last played he ended up getting separated from the party so being absent didn't force any hand-waving to explain his absence. Still, with vacation coming up here at the end of the week another regularly scheduled session was going to be scratched leaving the next live session not until February 18. Damn, just too darn long for my tastes. What to do, what to do…
I decided on an off week bonus game session. It would focus on the activities of the Dr. until he was able to rejoin the party proper. This would also give me a chance to let a previous regular player jump in for a session since, no fault of his own, he had to change his schedule like last year and could no longer make the live sessions.
Without going into a detailed session report, okay, a mildly detailed session report, I have to say I really like splitting the party and having action happen “off-screen” to the rest of the party. Time commitments are the only thing holding me back from doing this ongoing, but getting in another session covering mushrooming campaign action was a blast. First, I get a bigger game world with multiple courses of action occurring. Second, it gives me practice towards accomplishing my ultimate role-playing goal. I'm sure this has been done before, but I would like to have different campaigns with different players meet up in special cross-over sessions much like Elric would run into manifestations of himself in the multiverse. This means I would have tangential relations to the major world changing effects/enemies in each of the different campaign worlds and players who previously didn't know anything about the other game would find themselves face to face with PC's they've never encountered before, even possibly playing a completely different game system then the other party. Something uniquely doable with online play.
But on this night of January 19, 1646 in Great Yarmouth the gasping, spent Dr. is urged on by his old Puritan soldiering grognard companion Saul Goodman coming out of the gloom. Recently returned from a secret mission on Zeal's behalf he immediately searched for Dr. Thomas Norton when finished debriefing. Norton had split from his badly wounded companions in the hopes of keeping the escaping Xaxus/Martyn, the current villainous threat, and his loaded wagon in sight.
Random rolls established how long before the pair located the now abandoned wagon and we got underway. This is where I hoped to channel some of those great city pursuit adventures. A bit of Carlito's Way, The Matrix Reloaded, Collateral, Bourne Identity, etc. was what I had in mind for the session, but this is 1646. What kind of sexy, neo-noir, dangerous urban challenges does a cold night in the golden age of dysentery have to offer our ruthless duo? What would actually be interesting to encounter but not seem like utter rubbish? Going to the historical record has been really useful for my game prep. One, I know “bollocks” about this period of time, and two, +James Raggi has built his successful line of game adventures on this time period so this tells me there are plenty of real horrible tales to be told from such a record. Still the question stands, what is their to do in a town like Great Yarmouth when street lights haven't even been invented yet?
The abandoned wagon provided a rather staid opening for session start. I spiced it up with some hanger-ons drinking and fornicating among the ransacked goods. This gave the PC's their first chance to pick up the trail. Their target left with one of the locals and they got a direction. The next possible encounter was a Puritan mass for some of the destitute locals. While there target was not here I provided another clue from a parishioner. What made it interesting? I poached descriptions from the beginning of Moby Dick. Ishmael's night wanderings in Nantucket can provide great sights, sounds and smells of an active fishing town. Sexy? In the eye of the beholder. But its Melville, the guy can write. You would have to be one of Dr. Norton's patients not to respond somehow to what he is laying down. So this encounter gets the PC's some more concrete location information and they make their move. I couldn't find any “historical” record of my next location, I made it up, but it was time to put out my 1646 disco ball! An illicit “tea” shop serving up the new rage from the New World; coffee and cocaine! Complete with a tuned-up accordion player and upscale clientele. I'm a big fan of random encounters and I rolled a Doctor, a Dr. Howy Brass, as the random NPC the villain would encounter here. I rolled this ahead of time during my session prep. This gives me time to ask myself the usual questions; "Why would Xaxus find this person interesting/useful?", "What would such an encounter lead to?". This would be my plot hook to hang my alien god on so I wanted it to be satisfying, make sense and offer opportunities to kill PC's. Back to historical research. What fucked up things could your average Paracelsan physician get up into? I came away from google with Distillation Furnaces and Boyle's Law. Click, click, click. So we have coked out monied gentleman, one experimenting with purifying the mind of ill-humors and a desperate alien entity looking to convert as many people as possible to his cause as willing slaves, hmm….
I won't bore you with any more details. Suffice to say this provided plenty of activity and action for the PC's to engage with and let the bloody chips fall where they may. And it left me feeling, split the party? Hell yeah!