Well, that was unexpected. I was really looking forward to running my session this week; my maps were made, my encounters weren’t too deadly as my PCs are still fledgling adventurers that I don’t want to kill with my creative boss encounters. I planned for a bit of moral ambiguity, which amusingly took me to a conclusion I didn’t think my players would take, and was super pumped to run the session. Everything was in place. Everything was wonderful.
There were obviously good points. There was some good tension between the players when I faced them with a moral dilemma concerning some captive aliens. I was honestly not expecting one of the players to free the Nurian captive and give her a vacc suit so she could escape the facility and survive on the surface of the toxic planet. The player who decided to try and uncover the planet’s history from the primitive patterns on the wall was another fun aspect, as I got to explain some of the lore behind this specific planet they found themselves on.
However, if everything was great I wouldn’t be feeling so down.
My players are not ideally suited for sticking together. I don’t want to railroad, but by this point it is starting to look like I may need to step in and provide some looming threat to keep the group together. The out of character tension was unfortunately thick this session, with players getting in each other’s way, causing more conflicts to spark up. While some of these in character conflicts are great and I love the crew dynamic at times, some of them seem to bubble over a bit too far and get uncomfortable.
One of the players also hated the more dungeon crawly aspect of the job. There were a series of caves the players had to go through and the enemies continuously failed their morale checks (as they were really crappy, but numerous. They were meant to swarm the PCs, but kept failing morale checks and ran away). I can agree that this dragged on a little, which is why at the end I just stopped doing morale checks and just made them fight to the death. The sole reason I kept the NPCs as these small pack animals was because I don’t like killing off players, unless they deserve it, that is, and that meant their morale score was utter garbage. I will be upping the difficulty now that my players have mostly hit level 3 and will be catapulting my players into the conflicts plaguing the universe a bit more. I can appreciate feedback, in fact I love it. I need it. As a writer, I need good feedback and the same is said for GMing, however after the level of planning I put in this week it has left me a little bit deflated. Also, only one of the PCs actually examined the walls in any detail, though was let down half way through by poor rolls. I had a lot of planetary history planned and no one even tried to find more out about it, but still decided the adventure was boring.
I was going to have the PCs stalked on their way back from these caves and subsequent facility they had to go into to help this trainee psychic complete his trials, hounded by Eridak hunting parties who remained on the planet surface after the war with the primitive natives and the aliens who lived on the surface before it was turned into a toxic wasteland. However, by this point I just wanted it to end. The energy of the group was depleted and I had already grasped that there was both negativity and tension running high since mid-session. I didn’t want to continue by this stage; quite the opposite to the start of the session.
I’m going to keep soldiering on for now. I will take the feedback to heart, but I’m certainly not doing any planning tomorrow. I just don’t feel like it. Maybe I’ll play some World of Warcraft, or maybe I’ll write some fiction. It’s my 2nd day off of the week, so I’d better make it a good one!
Also, it’s 3am in the UK. I think I should go to sleep…