Contrary to the scenes playing out in my head, where we’d be able to play Harrowlands nearly every weekend, the kids’ summer break has proven to be even busier than the school year. Soccer, swimming, camping trips, theme parks have taken up everyone’s time and energy. There just hasn’t been much opportunity to play. My work schedule isn’t going to get any better, as there are some shake ups that will probably leave me working more through the rest of the year.
So what are we going to do?
First, I realized a couple things from the last gaming session.
One, I am incredibly distracted by my own kids. I’m already a little like Doug from Pixar’s Up, where I will “Squirrel!” at the slightest distraction, but with the boys, it’s much much worse because I don’t know how to get out of parent mode, and I continually lose track of what I’m making up to say.
This just makes the improv portions of the game harder for me, so I need to prep descriptions just a little bit better, so even if I’m distracted, I can get right back in with the proper prompts. I can wing it most of the time while GMing for adults, kids —especially my kids— is a different story.
Two, I need to move faster. Part of this is reducing being distracted and keeping the game rolling. But the biggest part is to reduce the slower bits of the game that I’m used to doing with adults. The boys aren’t quite ready to get into more role-playing character based stuff. I need to trim a lot of that and make sure that I hop right into some action. Something major and wild needs to happen in the first 10-15 minutes of starting the game, otherwise the boys will start squirming in their seats and blasting everyone with thunder or howling like a wolf.
Once the quest hub is established a bit, then I should be able to do more of that kind of roll into some sort of encounter or puzzle. Right now, there has been too much backstory and not enough stuff to do.
Both of these led me to the realization that I need to be quicker on my feet within the game and with my preparation. I’ve been doodling with the boys recently and we have a lot of fun with that, so I’ve decided to move away from the current art style I’ve been doing and go over to more of a cartoon doodle style. It will be sufficient for the game, will be quicker and more energetic, and I will not find myself being tempted to be a perfectionist about it.
To speed up the beginnings of game sessions, I will start drawing quick(ish) comics to get any vital information and the vibe for the story in place and the beginning of gaming sessions can be a couple of minutes reading the comic page out loud and then hopping into the action.
Not all of the scenarios need to be role-played in this case. I’m already going with a moderate railroading approach, so I have the luxury of knowing where each session is going to go for the most part and where I can speed things up.
Comics for the next session involve Momma Yrla showing the party around the farm and explaining a little bit about the Alfablot.
I’m still completely dedicated to making and running a fun game for my boys, even though the progress is much slower than I had hoped.I think simplifying the art style will open things up for me a little and allow me to put more and more content out there for when we do get the opportunities to play.