Session 1: Some Thoughts

A summary of our first session can be found at the Obsidian Portal page here.

Today I want to talk less about integrating a board game into roleplaying, and more about getting into the spirit of 13th Age’s storytelling mechanics. This was my first real game of 13th Age, my only other actual-play experience being a quick convention demo last month, so to see its elements in play was interesting. 

First of all, I want to talk about my players’ behavior. Except for one person, everyone in the group has played D&D at least once, and that sole exception is taking to roleplaying like a fish to water. That being said, it was easiest for them to pick up the idea of backgrounds. The party has quite a variety to draw from: the ranger is a tracker and “animal whisperer,” the cleric is a sometimes political advisor, and both the rogue and wizard have backgrounds related to criminal behavior. They never hesitated to bring these up in play, and their use of backgrounds will probably only get more inventive as time goes on. What was a bit harder for them was their Relationship rolls and when to use them. Maybe that was due to GM error, however; we’ll see as they are put into tougher situations.

On that subject, I’ll admit that is an area where I am struggling right now as well. Rolling a 5 on a Relationship roll means that, while the players gets a positive answer, a complication arises as well. A lower result might indicate another Icon/Faction getting involved instead. Coming up with these new situations on the spot can be a bit daunting, especially when the initial situation was a bit mundane. I decided to not have any other Faction butt in this session–I’ll use that for the bigger situations. As for the single 5 that was rolled in this session, I had it lead to the first combat: an ambush before the major scene of the evening.

That leads me to thinking about Intrigue cards. I used the Bidding War card as initial inspiration for using the gambling den and owlbear fight, but didn’t end up using the Intrigue deck like I was originally planning. However, since that 5 led to an Ambush, another card in LoW, maybe what I’ll do is mine that deck as inspiration for future complications–either have the player draw a card directly when they roll the 5, or maybe just keep a few in mind when that result is rolled. I’ll definitely test this out next session.

Finally, and this is less a thought about this game as it is advice to any GM: include a prop in your game. Even if it’s just a printout of a puzzle or, in this week’s session, a secret letter that features secrets about a particular character, having something tangible for the players to hold that isn’t dice and pencils and character sheets always increases the effect in your game and makes the party feel more involved. For ideas, head to Geek’s Dream Girl and GeekDad for great write-ups on props.

Anyone have anything to add about Relationship complications or using props in your roleplaying games?

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