Beginning In Medias Res

Judging from the dragon inhaling for another breath above, the troglodyte with the whip making threatening gestures not far behind it, and the vampire they had been supposed to hunt decapitated on the ground nearby, something had clearly gone wrong, and figuring out what took second place to getting out of there alive.

They weren’t sure why they were there. Perhaps it was for a change in pace; most of them were used to beginnings where they were carefully herded together by the exposition. Or maybe they’d been sounding a bit too jaded when the game was originally announced. Of course, there was always the chance that the GM was just feeling a bit sadistic, or that, while they’d all agreed this was to be a one-shot, there really wasn’t time after the chargen to start off slow. Whatever it was had happened, they’d found themselves stuck in an in medias res beginning.

The advantages came into play almost immediately. When people thrive on having a clear goal and needing to improvise their way to it, putting them in a situation where the only thing that matters is the goal tends to set them on fire. Sure, the equipment they’d chosen wasn’t even remotely optimized for the task available, but it was enough, and since this lot thrived on getting unlikely results with even unlikelier collections of implements, the situation was ideal. Avoided were the thousand words that begin many campaigns, the swooping panorama of the shot slowly focusing down to a group of characters who had begun nodding off somewhere around the building of their noble realm and all of whom were either snoring or wandering away by the time they reached the present day. And certainly, when the enthusiasm of the group often correlates with their heart rates, starting them off with a bang makes for a nice high standard.

Of course, the disadvantages were there as well—for one, the fact that, while the characters had technically been present for all the stuff that had gotten them to this point, including the first half of the battle, their minds had literally been somewhere else. (Probably stuffing themselves on deviled eggs or salty snacks.) Where normally one might not make time for questions, the answers were needed here; the characters would probably know. Random chance had had to go into the situation—not that it always happens, but one does have to worry about bias when not everyone is in equally dire straits, and that might lead to people rolling dice before the session technically starts (which in this case had definitely occurred). And they were unfamiliar with the world and with their own abilities, and would need to dive for the book as often as not to make sure they were functional—fortunately, it wouldn’t slow this little lot down too much.

And this whole analysis flickered by in the eyes of the GM as he leaned over his laptop. “So there you are,” he finished. “Initiative, please?”

And then watched as they redefined “unpredictable”. Again. It had worked so much better when he was writing the characters….

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