Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"Mark the Berserker" or "Switching from continuous play to episodic play"

One thing that switches in different points in your life, is the regularity of your players. At some points in life, players can make it pretty much every game. This allows for really easy (95% of the time) continuity between games. Each game kicks off where the last one ended, there is no problem with ending in the middle of the dungeon and starting off next week exactly where you left in the dungeon.

But at some points in life there is the case where other obligations means that half of all games you are missing a player. This becomes a problem with "what to do with the PC in the here and now".

Do they excuse themselves and run back to town? What if they can't get back there easily? Do you bring them along as an NPC? What if the PC dies? Its not a problem if its and agreed upon rule, still blows though. In this case I have set up the "base camp" rule and the "Hans Solo" rule.

The base camp rule goes that the PC's must have a nearby, relatively secure and supplied base of operations. This could be a fortified cave, a room in the dungeon that has a lockable door, a town, a small island, a military camp (etc). This has to be somewhere the PC's can get back to with a reasonable chance of safety at any given point. This means that as long as the PC's don't end a game mid-combat, players can have SOME reason to go back to base camp (check on supplies, go to the bathroom, prepare a fallback position etc) between games.

This just plays shell games with the problems, now how does the PC get BACK to the party from the base camp? I use the Hans Solo rule. With no explanation of the Falcon gets past the turbolasers that are only unable to effectively target fighters (but can effectively target a much, much larger cargo carrying freighter), he shows up midcombat out of nowhere and jumps in.

This also means he can drop down from a ceiling vent, show up with some other chapter of the lambda lambda lambda fraternity, or pull up with a getaway car in the nick of time. I make the rule they have to answer any question with a throw away line such as "I'll explain later" or "Just get in the car, we'll talk after this"..and then just NEVER mention how.

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