Hello everyone. Crunch here to talk about Wrought Iron episode 9.
This was an interesting episode. My goal with these role play scenes was two fold. I wanted to flesh out the realism of the game world a bit and take a look at the characters in their natural habitats, so to speak. Thus, I brought in Captain Kymere to question each character in turn about the events of the previous night. I felt like this was a great way to not only see each character’s home and give their players a chance to act without relying on the group dynamic, but also to deepen the mystery surrounding the events happening on the Reforged Isles.
Of course, before that could happen, we had to deal with the impact of Michael’s very interesting and surprising choice for Arahamie to quit her job. This was an unexpected choice. We did not plan it out. I was as surprised as you when it happened. The reaction you hear in the episode is Scott’s very real gasp. I’m not sure if Michael had thought about it or if it was a spur of the moment choice. It certainly felt right based on the events Arahamie had just experienced. We had discussed in detail her connection to the temple and some of the events happening there. Her decision to leave forced a change in my tactics. Although I had not made any definite plans, my intention was to rely on that connection to delve into what was happening in the temple and reveal its impact.
This is a perfect example of allowing player agency. I’ve said several times that in this campaign, the players and I are telling the story together. It is not my tale about them. It is not my story that they are simply part of. I didn’t plan for Arahamie to quit her job. If I was writing this story as a piece of fiction, she would’ve remained with the church and eventually been part of the larger plot happening there. But Michael made a choice for how Arahamie would react to events. This is great role playing.
I could’ve said no. I could’ve presented a reason in game that this didn’t happen or just not allowed it to happen. Or I could’ve paused the game and discussed the choice, explaining my plan for why this might not work with the larger story. But this story is in the hands of the players. I gave them the prompt of “what is your character doing this morning” and they made their choices. The overall story is better for their decision and input. In this particular case, it also made my job as GM more challenging. But as you’ll see in the next few episodes, it turned out to be very entertaining.
I really enjoyed the one-on-one interactions between Kymere and each character. It was fun for me while it was happening. I used these moments to put a spotlight on each player to let them pick what elements of their character’s lives to present to the audience. I think that this was a great way to make these characters more real, dynamic, and interesting to you, the listeners.
I also used this opportunity to try and build more of the mystery. A few articles ago, I said that i had only been able to include two clues to what’s really happening. While working on this episode and writing this article, I realized that these conversations actually function as more clues. The information that Kymere asked about and focused on points to elements of the story that should fit in with the facts that have already been revealed. I stress “should” there, because I’m still developing my skills at creating a mystery game. It’s never something that I’ve been able to successfully pull off before.
When it came to Arahamie, I made a spur-of-the-moment choice to have Priestess Veralux show up instead of Kymere. The scene would’ve been just as interesting either way. But Michael had established a relationship based on one-sided admiration between Arahamie and Kymere, while Arahamie and Veralux had a relationship with much stronger family ties. Since my goal with these scenes was to explore more of the story, I felt that Veralux provided a better opportunity. As it turns out, I was right. This conversation turned out perfectly.
If you noticed, I started this conversation with a focus on the events of the previous night and those of the docks from the day before. However, Michael took the conversation a different direction. He made it about about Arahamie and her place on the island. Again, this is a perfect example of players making choices that impact and improve the story.
While I had always planned to make the Firebrands an elite force of troops, I did not define what made them special until this moment. Arahamie was already loyal to the temple and a proven warrior, so I had to come up with another qualification. I made the requirement having magical ability because it fit the flavor of the world and because it worked into the story elements of the choices Michael had made for Arahamie.
Without giving anything away (because the big reveal is happening in a few episodes), Michael made a choice when Arahamie leveled up about what mechanical benefit he would take for the character. It was not typical for the character class, so he wanted its development to be related to the story. The dream and the end of the conversation with Veralux are the first elements of this development.
The last thing that I want to highlight about this episode is Scott’s delivery of the scripture verses. He makes them up on the spot (unless he as a list that we don’t know about) and they’re always wonderful. They’re a minor detail, but they add to the realism of the game world and reveal more of Deign’s character. They also are evidence of Scott’s talent at role playing, which I appreciate and enjoy.
Episode 10 is up next and I cannot wait for you to hear it. We’ve never done anything like it on the Academy and I’ve never done anything like it in a home game. It’s also the start of some very intense events. Get yourselves ready.