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Tue, Aug. 30th, 2005, 04:39 pm
Gloria Mundi Report

This week's session - and, unfortunately, the whole story arc - was hampered by logistical problems. We had one player missing from the whole story arc, another only available intermittently, and a third sick for nearly half of it. Last night's session was a good one anyways, but I think despite every session of the story arc being successful, the story arc as a whole was not particularly so.

The session ended up being rather disjointed due to two players being absent and one arriving halfway through the session - and one of the absent players had a major chunk of plot hanging off him, which kind of cut the story arc short. Instead of having three plots going on, we were reduced down to two, and one of them had been mostly resolved in the previous session. They had successfully found an acceptable solution for the problem of the Praetorian Guard, and the plot involving Caracalla, Geta and the three athletes was mostly related to players who weren't here last night. They did have quite a time dealing with the death of Lucretia Valeria, but there was one PC who wasn't at all involved in that particular plot, so we were a bit at loose ends.

We managed to handle things and had some absolutely magnificent scenes, and I was rather proud of the way that I tried to integrate the various plots tactically. For example, Balachandra had saved Geta's life last session, so as co-Emperor, Geta wanted to reward him. This ended up causing political trouble for the PCs as it made it seem like they were taking sides in the Caracalla-Geta conflict while they had to remain neutral to see the Praetorians appropriately disposed of. This tied the Caracalla/Geta plot together with the Praetorian Guard plot nicely! Another example was about the death of Lucretia Valeria. A member of the group opposed to the PCs used this as an opportunity to make a client out of one of Quintus's childer, and now has their nose firmly poked into the Fifth District. I imagine this conflict will escalate slowly over time, which is nice, and it tied their larger political issues into their Fifth District woes. Finally, there were some great personal scenes with people, as when Netikerti (Remius's long-time lover) made a suggestion to Idir which practically made his hair stand on end . . . .

Strategically, though, the story arc didn't quite have the shape I'd hoped for. At the end of last session, Rufus of the Four Pillars had announced that he was going to oppose the PCs, and the PCs had a whole plan for how they were going to deal with him and with public opinion. I'd hoped to have this session be an escalating conflict between the opposing group and the PCs, but the players stubbornly refused to pick up on any of the hints I was dropping on them. Their opponents spread rumors of civil war in Parthia, got spies into the camps of the PCs' friends, and have managed to screw over someone the PCs tacitly agreed to protect. But somehow the PCs just refused to follow up on any of this stuff, and I couldn't keep throwing stuff at them without continuing to escalate the attacks to a point where I wasn't willing to go. I wanted this story to be about them being successful at manipulating the large-scale politics of Rome, and they were. But their ignoring the events of this story arc cut it short so that it ended relatively undramatically - and it will have consequences for them in the future. Two direct results of their actions? A temporary imposition of martial law, and an agreement made between Alliances that does not benefit them in the long term. But there will be more personal consequences later. It doesn't do to ignore one's enemies - all the more so when one isn't even sure who they are.

Nevertheless, the lack of narrative closure in this story arc was extremely frustrating for me, and I'm not pleased with how I ran things. I know there's only so much you can do, particularly when a major tenet of the game is about giving as much narrative control as possible to the players, but I'm still frustrated. Between the logistics problems and the players ignoring half the plot I threw at them, I felt like this wasn't really a story arc at all, just a couple of good conjoined sessions.

Wed, Aug. 31st, 2005 03:47 am (UTC)

Weird...I have no idea who these enemies are or what they are trying to do...Honestly, I don't really even know who Rufus is...Actually, I do know who he is, but only through Quintus, I'm not certain he was even mentioned to Ze'ev, save in passing. Of course, I also had no idea that the Hamsin house were even involved with the praetorian plotline until you announced it at the beginning of last session...And here Ze'ev was just going about his merry business, thinking he had some idea what was going on. Just thought it might be interesting for you, perspective-wise to know how little of the big picture some of the characters get to see. I'm sorry you didn't get any fish to bite your plot hooks, but I had fun just swimming about anyway.

Wed, Aug. 31st, 2005 04:35 am (UTC)

ditto on Rob - I'm sure that Ballachandra doesn't know Rufus, and if Marcus knows him I've forgotten it. Who are these enemies? I didn't hear rumors about wars in Parthia, either, which is weird since Ballachandra lived in Parthia for so long. I wonder if one of the reasons this plot failed to take is because you focused the plot hooks on a few PCs (perhaps Idir and Aniketos?)

Wed, Aug. 31st, 2005 11:03 am (UTC)

That's a little odd, because I distinctly heard Balachandra having a conversation with Idir about, "How did they know so fast you had a conversation with Geta, and who is making you look so bad for it?" Neither you and Idir did anything about it . . . but you did seem to know *something* was up. You also had some allusions to "issues" in your conversation with Netikerti. Ah well, it doesn't really matter.

I'm glad you guys had fun nevertheless, so maybe I'm overestimating the importance of that particular plot to the storyline. Perhaps I will reconsider exactly what Rufus et. al. are capable of doing based on player interest in these issues. It's really useful to know what you guys were and weren't aware of so that I can work on either a) being more obvious or b) choosing better enemies in the future. :)

Wed, Aug. 31st, 2005 07:07 am (UTC)

> Sigh <

I'd give anything to be in this game... At least I now get hilights on the sessions to follow. :)

Definately a BAD idea to let enemies get away with things, even worse is Not knowing who they are.... Enemies should be either dealt with or neutralized and then dealt with at leisure OR manipulated onto other enemies... >;)

But, it sounds like a good session despite all the troubles of logistics with players... Hopefully the unfinished arc will be resolved soon.