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But unlike Ol’ Blue Eyes, I think mine are worth mentioning.  And pondering, and learning from.  My regrets are the big “Dead End” signs on the road to improving as a GM and a player.  I want to remember where they are so I can steer clear of them in future.

I remember the time…

…when Ryan was in a duel to the death with Yrkoon over the Runeswords, Stormbringer and Mourneblade. Ryan was about to be defeated, which would have meant the annihilation of his character’s soul. The stakes were absolutely clear. We all looked at each other in horror – it should have been a great moment – and I fudged a rule to allow him one more round. He won the duel. I think we all felt dirty after that moment, like we’d cheated ourselves.

My mistake was not being willing to let the PCs fail, not trusting in our ability to make failure interesting – even though defeat in that duel would have meant the end of Ry’s character. That kind of curveball is what drives emergent story at the table! I should have been willing to let it happen. Ry would have re-entered the story as another character, we would have turned it into something interesting.  Instead, we went for the hollow happy ending.

I remember the time…

…when, in the first session of a new campaign, the PCs captured and disarmed the guy whom I was going to turn into the master villain! I panicked, I was seeing all my carefully laid plans spiraling down the toilet – and I engineered the villain’s immediate escape.

My mistake was that I took away the players’ agency. They were driving the story by taking bold and provocative action, and I shut them down. I made them adjuncts to MY vision, instead of partners in storytelling. I strongly regret it now.

My other mistake was that I was too attached to my own plans. I didn’t have faith in my ability to still build a cool (but different) story around an unexpected outcome. It would have been simple: this would-be villain was the head of a family of powerful politicians and sorcerers. Kidnapping him as the PCs did would have instantly set off a war between noble houses! And the patriarch’s nephew would have made a fine arch enemy in his place. But I couldn’t see any of that, I had panicked.  I should have rolled with it.

I have more regrets, but those are the biggest that rattle around in my head.  If I can take the lessons from these, then I’ll make big strides towards becoming the kind of GM that I want to be.

-J

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Maybe this was an obvious one, but… yeah, bad-guys have to be prepared.

When GMing with Sorcerer’s Relationship-Map method, you (the GM) don’t decide who the main villain is; that comes out through play.  You start with lots of NPCs who each have their own motivations and plans, and who will each try to influence, recruit, help or hinder the PCs accordingly.  As the story develops, one (or more) of the NPCs will naturally end up opposing the PCs or trying to harm them.

My problem is: twice now in the current game, an NPC that had the potential to develop into the main villain has ended up dead.  In their very first interaction with the PCs.

I’ve been statting up these NPCs as if they were some-what experienced PCs, which I see now was not the right approach.  These are ambitious and dangerous people who already have a number of enemies.  They should each be walking around with the equivalent of a couple of Glocks, a kevlar vest and six body guards.  With a bullet-proof limo idling out front.

The prepared bad-guy was practically built into the dungeon-crawl model of play.  A whole maze of mooks, lieutenants and guard-dogs stood between the heroes and the villain.  In the new democratic world of R-map play, I will have to be a little smarter.  Or at least, my antagonists will have to be.

-J

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I foresee the possibility of armies clashing in our Elric campaign, so I did a little reading on The Forge as to how to handle that.  Here are the relevant threads: How would you do mass combat? Armies in Conflict .  And here’s what I gleaned:

Overview

Remember that Sorcerer is not a Simulationist system, and your goal in “playing out” mass combat should not be to simulate the battle.  The conflict between individuals and their demons (and Demons) should remain the focal point of any clash of armies.

The most dramatic way to play this out is for the principal characters to meet on the field and decide the outcome of the battle between themselves (a-la The Illiad). (more…)

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Hmm.

If this Elric game goes well, maybe for my next turn in the GM’s chair I’ll run an Apocalypse World hack in the same setting.

That would be…

-J

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Third of three character sketches of the player-characters.

Mosun Akao of Lormyr (human)

Human, Lormyrian, late 40s. A sea trader and a secret priest of Law.

As a sea-trader, Mosun visits many Young Kingdoms, ferrying all goods via Imrryr in accordance with imperial decree. This vocation gives him the freedom of movement to search the Bright Empire for his son Tarin, who was kidnapped by slavers ten years ago (at the age of 5). The ex-priest of Law also takes the opportunity to spread the worship of Elgis of Law – secretly so, in Melnibone.

History

Mosun Akao was a Lormyrian priest of Law. His mentor, Rumon, is the high priest of Elgis in Lormyr. When his son was kidnapped, Mosun and Rumon Contacted a demon of Law for help, but it attached many pre-conditions to its aid. Mosun grew impatient with the Law demon’s demands, and secretly Contacted a demon of Chaos instead. (more…)

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The second of three character sketches of the player-characters.

Lord Hibbukal of Khanjar’a

Exalt-Surgeon.  Younger brother of Duke Sendric.

Hibbukal is a frighteningly brilliant man who tends to arrogance.  He sees the incestuous decadence that afflicts Melnibonéan society and believes that the empire can only be saved by a near-death experience.  Only an ex-sanguination, perhaps brought on by a barbarian invasion, can wake Melniboné from itd deathbed and inspire the renewal it needs.  He believes that his destiny lies in going abroad, advising some human king and fomenting and aiding an uprising.

History

Born with a voracious intellect, Hibbukal studied medicine and surgery as well as sorcery.  In his twenties, he fell under an extended illness.  His body wasted and many expected that he would die.

His father Duke Arandur had been secretly grooming Hibbukal to be the next Duke, but after two years of illness, shifted his favour to Hibbukal’s brother Sendric.  Meanwhile, Hibbukal came to suspect that he was host to a demonic parasite, but needed supernatural aid to heal himself.  The family summoned a Chaos demon (“it had five arms and a face that was almost all mouth and all teeth – opened up to be almost the whole size of its face, like a predatory fish”), but the demon refused to help one so weak.  Thus spurned, Hibbukal secretly researched demons of Law.  He learned that house Jifar’a was the custodian of a forbidden tome of Law sorcery, The Book Of The Inverted Eye.  He entreated his brother Sendric to steal it for him. (more…)

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Here’s a page that identifies eight noble houses with significant roles in our Dictionary of Elric game.  Thanks to Ry for the layout idea.

(click HERE to download PDF).

Dictionary of Elric Melnibonean Noble Houses

Cheers,

-J

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