Coming back from vacation had one advantage, a trove of articles and posts that I missed last week. Which meant that I could spend some time today catching up. I am still behind of course, but I would be remiss if I did not discuss the topic brought up by one of them.
Once again the reliable AngryGM has written a post that got me thinking. His topic was about Pacing and RPG’s. There was nothing in the article that I could disagree with. It was quite interesting. But the thing that I have a problem with is applying this particular lesson.
I want to run a game with multiple scene types. Where I can create scenes that do not involve combat. I am telling an involved story with potentially many moving parts. And the party is just a part of it.
But my players are not up to a complex story line. The boys are enthusiastic, they want to play. But they are missing two important components to make complete role players. And what they lack are almost opposite sides of the same coin. First, they do not have the experience in the world, or even from books or movies to see what I describe in their minds. Second, for whatever reason, they are not the most imaginative kids so do not come up with lots of new ideas or approaches.
For example, in our last session, the party was traveling in a mountain canyon. But I had to explain what that was like, they just did not really grasp it. That is where experience comes in. You cannot create a lot of novel scenes when the group has no idea what you are talking about. That is a big part of role playing, having, at least, some frame of reference for what is being described.
As another example, when I presented them with a scene where their route through this canyon was partially blocked by a fortified camp of Hobgoblins the only thought and response they had was to attack. And then the attack was a simplistic approach without further scouting and much planning. This is a situation where some imagination might have gotten them around the roadblock without any danger.
Given these limitations, it is difficult to follow the advice of AngryGM regarding Pacing. My choices as far as Pacing, especially scene choices, are limited.
Now I can challenge them. Inspire them as best I can to broaden their horizons and use their imaginations. I will continue to do that as best I can. And try not to limit what I plan because of their limits.
On the other hand, it might be good to alter things a little, to make allowances. Design games and scenes based on the idea that they will almost always approach every problem like it is a nail and they are the hammer. In fact, some of my more successful nights have had a much faster pace. Make things more action based, until they demonstrate an interest in thinking outside that box on a consistent basis.
It is a good idea to follow Angry’s rules of thumb of alternating the combat scenes with non-combat scenes. I like that pacing in general. My point is that rule does not apply to my situation.