Taking Back the GM Chair

Last night saw me return to the GM chair in my in-person game for the Skull and Shackles.  It was an odd feeling to sit there once again.  Don’t really know why as I was prepared and it is not as if I have stopped GMing over the past month or so.  Far from it!  We did try something fancy though as my daughter had a cold so we tried to get her in via a hangout but the internet connection was awful from the lube bay we played in.

The new module.  I love this artwork by the
way, it has fantastic pirate flair!

The game started at the point where the group had just taken the ship The Man’s Promise from the cruel pirates Mister Plugg and his Master Scourge.  The group had made sure not to kill either of these NPC’s as they are planning on torturing them like they did to the players.  They also plan (when Daranis the Necromancer is powerful enough) to turn them into undead and hang them in gibbets on the rigging.  Last night they began their evil ways and after a bit of a scuffle managed to chop off Master Scourges whip hand.  I think Captain Lem was a little disappointed he proved slippery enough that they were not able to cut out his tongue.  Still, they are taking the long term approach to it.

Last night the game was a lot about putting their home (read boat) in order.  The election for Captain was held.  I acted as devil’s advocate and tried to push Daranis into the role and he played me back.  As Lem finished his speech Daranis gave his and finished it with “Which is why we should all support Lem as captain!” Took me by surprise as he had given a reasonably good speech!  Daranis has taken on the role of the first mate, Claude the Tengu is Master of Arms, Rosie Cusswell is the boatswain, Sandara Quinn is the ship surgeon and Skye has been given the role as the quartermaster which I think will fit her well and she will enjoy having her hands on all the equipment.

The group sailed to Rickety Squib’s to get the rigging altered so it is not recognisable as the previous ship.  They scraped the money up by selling off a lot of the loot they found on Bonewrack Isle and swaggered into town with the attitude of seasoned pirates.  They negotiated well and the ship is now in dry dock.  The NPC’s of the area have been doing a good job to make them realise they may have a ship but pirates they are not until they get their reputation in order as well.  The captain also realised he is not going to be able to bully everyone into his crew and suddenly lamented the idea of not putting any ranks into diplomacy.  In fact, his reliance on his first mate has been noted by some of the NPC’s wondering who is really in charge!

It was a fun game.  Full of character role playing and apart from the unpleasantness with Scourge contained only one real combat encounter when a Naga decided to take one of their newly recruited sailors for a dip in the river.  There was some vicious poison damage to Claude and his Eidolon “Major”.  Still, they managed to get a nice discount for saving the sailor and the esteem of the members has gone up at the Squibs.

The Black Promise is about to get a major
workout in game!

I began to look at my own advice from yesterdays blog and allowed for the players to start to narrate a little bit of what was going on.  I actually had one player apologise to me because he narrated a bit of what was happening and I had to say that it was OK and I was happy for this to happen.  It was good to start this adventure path (AP) again after a bit of a break.  First and foremost this module is a fun romp on the open seas with a few scripted events but a lot of pirating to be done.  The best thing about all this is it is the players that are building up their own reputation and should easily see value in getting some plunder together and building their infamy.  Secondly it is a little bit sand-boxy in that events can happen when they happen and no real pressure on it all.

In fact, this AP is an excellent example of an adventure that is largely self directed by players.  Each module builds to a crescendo and the players generally get some real tangible reward for their efforts which I love!  I did find the oppressive nature of the first module hard to get through in hind sight though.  Reading it as a GM and understanding where it was going in the end is a completely different thing to actually being a player in it and having to be subjected to the degradation in every game for around 8 sessions or more.  I think our game fell apart a little bit because of this as there is only so many times a GM can say that it will get better to players and then strap them to the post for bloody hour.

Now they are under their own sail power and get a taste of the freedom that is inherent in the life of a pirate.  Happy players and a happy GM!   Once I read this AP I really wanted to run it for my players because as far as AP’s go it is really quite punchy (players will be 14th level at the end) and it is an AP that allows for the GM to really be the fan of the players.  They did not know it but I wanted to run this AP as a thank you for them getting me so fully immersed back into gaming again and it was why I was so largely upset when it fell apart toward the end of the first module.  Back on track and feeling energised I am looking forward to the next five modules as they build to the pinnacle of a massive fleet battle in the Shackles!  Until next time, keep rolling!

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