Hello students. Crunch here with your look behind the GM screen for Wrought Iron episode 16. This is going to be a shorter article as the content of this episode is fairly straightforward and roleplay-focused.
I must admit, I am really surprised that we haven’t heard more reactions to what happened in episode 15. That was a big moment and a surprise to everyone at the table, myself included. Does anyone have any thoughts to share? Raise your hands, please.
Episode 16 was another heavy one. We all came to the table with the burden of emotions from Tilly’s death. As a GM, I knew that we had to properly deal with this, but also keep the story moving forward. I think this episode successfully accomplished that. I owe it all to the amazing role playing of everyone at the table. But I have to give a specific shout out to Scott. His performance was absolute aces and exactly what the game needed.
The funeral, of course, was the focus of the episode. And that transitioned into the party’s decision to leave the island. This was my goal all along. When I pitched this campaign, one of the few plans I had was to create a living, vibrant game world with solid connections to the PCs (and players). My reason for doing this was to get to the story to a point where consequences not only happened, but mattered. I think we have accomplished that.
I was very impressed with the funeral rituals that the players came up with during the game. As is typical for our games, we discussed some details before recording, but the majority of what happened was made up on the spot. Creating story elements like this is a skill that is developed with experience. It also requires a level of trust with the other people at the game table.
Deign’s confrontation of Kymere was a big moment too. Scott let that happen in the course of the role play, so I was not prepared for the details of the conversation. However, I realized as it was happening that it was a perfect moment for some exposition I was able to include some details that I’ve been wanting to make known but I think I did it in such a way that this wasn’t simply an info dump. In my opinion, this set up the next chapter of the game quite nicely.
Speaking of details, there is one huge detail that hasn’t been addressed by the players. I kind of want to see if they’ll ever ask about it, so I don’t want to say anything. It’s a detail that I came up with in the heat of the moment and realized was a fun way to tie some larger story elements together. From a writer’s or show producer’s perspective, I want it to come up. I’ve thought about prompting it to happen. But as a game master, I want things to happen organically. I want that surprise moment. I really hope it happens. I tried to sneak a clue into the dream sequence. Have any of you picked up on it yet?
For the most part, I didn’t prepare anything for this game session. I knew we’d have to deal with the funeral and I knew that the story was getting to the “let’s leave island” point. I just left it up to the players to deal with their emotions and let scenes happen as necessary.
I always look for advice to share in these articles. Since there weren’t any mechanical events to deal with, I can’t talk about that. I think what’s most important to share here is about creating an atmosphere to let roleplay happen. Players need freedom to let their creativity flow, but they also need a basic structure to work within. The paralysis of indecision is a very real obstacle. But it’s easily overcome. However, the structure of the game should not interfere with player choice and agency. I basically gave the players absolute freedom in this game to resolve the events of the attack and funeral as they wanted. I felt confident in doing that because of our experience with each other. I know how these guys play games and how they play off each other.
That clearly can’t happen in a con game or when you’re meeting new players. But the same principles apply. As a GM, it’s your responsibility to give players guidance, but let them do what they want, within a reasonable context. This is why player buy-in and a session zero is so important. And remember that a session zero can be just a brief conversion with players before a game starts to discuss the focus of the game, its themes, and its content.
This episode could be considered the end of a chapter of Wrought Iron’s story. There is a definite change as we move forward, even though the events have not been fully resolved and there are still long-reaching consequences to be dealt with. Things should get very interesting very soon. I’ve been looking forward to this transition since the very first session.