Flat Lands Era Pulp Nocturne 1930 March 8, 2014

November 24, 2014

As We Last Left widgetHello Folks,

It’s been a wild and crazy ride this year ever since I rejoined the PN 1930 campaign, so I would like to take a moment to make some campaign comments. I think that so far we’ve got a pretty good group with pretty distinguishable characters. Everyone seems to be trying to r/p their PCs and for the most part there is good cooperation amongst the party.  As far as the GMing goes, Al is known to provide a pretty viable campaign in which to play. The sessions seem to be very well prepared for, he’s well versed in the SW game system, familiar with the PCs, and pretty even-handed with game play calls. I like that Al regularly tries to avoid anachronistic game elements while emphasizing period appropriate ingredients. So far no one’s been seen with a cell phone, lap top or suitcase nuke. The game is in the1930s and it generally feels that way. Time management, and r/p of the NPCs is good too. No one is waiting 2 hours for his turn to play and the NPCs seem like actual characters rather than just extensions of the GM and/or one dimensional sheets of paper with names. Right now I’d say Al gets an A- grade.

There are a few things that we might want to keep in perspective in order to maintain the appropriate atmosphere however. Recently one of the players has mentioned on more than one occasion that he’s confused about what the overall point of the game is…he’s not sure about the story direction. Another player pointed out that there are multiple story lines going on at the same time and sometimes they become tangled up with one another. While this is definitely true, I would suggest that one thing that would help new players become oriented with the what’s going on is to limit introduction of too many different elements too quickly before the main plot can properly gel. In the last session the PCs were assigned to find the missing Father Barrett. In the session previous to that the PCs were assigned to investigate a weird occurrence at a restaurant. Previous to that session was the “rippers” adventure, and interspaced between these items was the deal at Bellevue.  Certainly all great stuff but, such a volume of stories will eventually become confusing to new players when tossed into the mix too quickly or altogether. Tenured PCs can always go back to investigate and initiate sub-plots whenever they see fit. A solidly established and revisited plot is the wise choice before brief exploration of too many alternatives. Throwing varied material at the players is advised but, apparently there is a point of diminishing returns which we look to have reached. Having no plot or story is a no-no but, having too many plot lines and story arcs at once can result in a choking and shell shocked reaction in the player(s), even if each individual plot line is very good standing alone.

One manifestation of this is what I’ve called the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” effect. If the PCs run into too many weird monsters too often, then the whole suspense and horror effect of finally encountering the vampire (or mummy or ghost or demon or lesser Cthulu beings), will become passé very quickly…then it becomes harder to evoke suspense or surprise in the players-or PCs for that matter. Such a game can settle into the routine “Buffy episode” where the PCs just do the perfunctory fight with the bad guys, collect XPs and then the players go home until the next session.  In Salem’s Lot you didn’t see the vampire for the first time until about the second episode, and in many CoC campaigns you do encounter bad guys but, they are often cultists instead of the actual monsters which you see a lot later after much foreshadowing. Horror overload on the other hand, quickly leads to a desensitized/numbed effect where the “monsters” are no longer feared so much as just being looked upon as “dangerous animals” that are encountered on so many “safaris” the PCs are participating in. Additionally, power levels have crept up and are approaching what some may consider a supers threshold rather than a pulp power level. Such a situation of taking the horrors for granted, or higher power levels, are pitfalls that must be regularly watched out for and is a slippery slope that even some of the best gamers find themselves upon. It’s happened before.

My above comments aren’t necessarily meant to be taken as the current state of affairs but, simply as observations on the current campaign direction. A PC mentioning confusion is generally a useful (and hopefully early) red flag that can be used to assess future play. We are all having a blast in PN-1930 this year and the group seems to have formed into a good collection of players but, it would be most wise to recognize the beginnings of that slippery slope we are poised to step onto.  With that being said, I look forward to the next PN-1930 session.





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