Impractical Applications (One Big River Arc)

The first arc of game I ran wasn’t without its faults; it was my first time, it required a lot of back-pedaling and improvisation, and it regularly showed that I was still getting the hang of the game world. On the other hand, it managed to work as a serviceable overarching plot, lasting about a year overall.

I started, at about the same time, with the conflict and the scope. Very old, very powerful enemy wants to break boundary between two worlds on behalf of his much larger and more incomprehensible patron (hey, my prior GM had done that, I figured if I followed his pacing approximately, we’d be fine). I’d originally expected a prior meeting, a whole lot of running around finding ancient wonders and things to help out with the big fight, and then—behold, our resolving event—a big fight somewhere that wasn’t quite the land of the living and wasn’t quite the land of the dead.

All right, so far so good. Add PCs, stir. It took me five sessions to figure out his name. Two more to figure out what he was doing. Another dozen or so to design and introduce his offspring.

Right through the plotline, we had to deal with the regular question, “Why aren’t we there yet?” Needless to say, the whole time, “He’s too powerful as it stands” was a reason, but never the only one. What I came up with was something along these lines.

Sessions 1-5: We know someone’s out there, but we don’t know who.

Sessions 6-10: We know who’s out there, but we don’t know where he’ll strike next.

Sessions 11-15: We don’t know where he is, and we’re a little busy right now (fighting for our new friends, mitigating some near-fatal damage we’ve done to our reputations, fighting demons…)

Sessions 16-44 or so: We know where he is, but we’re not there yet, and we keep finding things to deal with en route.

Sessions 45-46: We’re there (sort of) but we haven’t gotten in the fortress yet.

Sessions 46ish-48ish: We’re there, our main baddie’s not home, one of our teammates might have switched sides and the main baddie’s subordinates are being reasonable.

Session 49: Forget fighting, we’re outta here! (This one was…. mostly the players’ fault.)

Session 50: DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE! (GM: whew. Finally.)

It kept us busy.

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