Sunday, 24 July 2016

CSR Dark Sun Play Report # 1 - Prep Work

  • Planning of the first session
  • Rules: Cypher System
  • Setting: Dark Sun - Burnt World of Athas 
  • Number of players: 3 

Now that we've told you what happened during the Mekillot and Marauders session, I'd like to tell you a bit about the work that went into preparing it.

Clay daydreams a lot about upcoming gaming sessions: possible plot hooks, NPCs, fight scenarios, challenges, and complications. He almost always has an overarching goal or opponent, which the players have agreed to work toward. But he usually has surprisingly little prepared when we sit down to play. 

At first, I thought this practice would hinder the plot or the flow of the game. But it can be quite advantageous, especially when running a session for creative and unpredictable players.

By "creative and unpredictable players" I do not mean those people who refuse to follow plot hooks. But, rather, such incidents as:

  • One of the party members drinks heavily (purely narrative) for an entire scene, and then fails his roll to climb the ladder to the next scene.
  • The brawler decides to eat the wild mushrooms in the middle of the fight.
  • When facing off against a super-powered convict during a prison-break, the tactician decides to recruit the enemy to their team - he rolls a success.
  • The elf decides, on a whim, to pickpocket a random person in a crowd. He fails horribly, then proceeds to make the situation much worse, and ends up fleeing the city.
  • The magic compass points into a dark, dangerous wood. The party decides to take the main road that skirts around the woods, and turn in when the compass indicates they've passed their destination. The destination turns out to be on the other side of the woods. The journey took two extra days, but they avoided all the fights and traps.

So, going into the Mekillots and Marauders session, Clay had prepared the following:

  • To introduce Chris and Matt to the Cypher system - specifically, the battle system.
Plot Points:
  • Party finished job of escorting goods to Celik. Returning to Balic to find next job.
  • Goron smells blood spice.
  • Encounter stampeding mekillot.
  • Encounter Elvin marauders attacking merchant wagon.
  • Tarez - merchant (spices) - Lv 3
  • Elvin marauders - Lv 1
  • Mekillot
Resources / Bookmarks:
  • Description of region - Estuary of the Forked Tongue / Road of Legions
  • Description of Balic
  • Description of Mekillot
  • Map - Road of Legions
  • Map - City of Balic 
  • Cypher Deck
Available Items:
  • Random cypher - elf marauder
  • Black wooden box - outside merchant's wagon (part of that overarching goal I mentioned earlier)

That's about it. The session lasted about two hours.

When we started the battle scene, Clay threw coloured glass beads onto the coffee table to give us a rough idea of where everyone was and how many elves each player was facing. He changed his mind about how many marauders there were after the first round of combat - enough to be challenging, but few enough that the battle would not drag on forever.

Sometimes he has a lot more planned - extensive notes, even. But many sessions start like this.

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