Day 52: Unintended Consequences

September 17, 2009

At our Fairy’s Tale game, I was having a lot of fun at the table, but afterwards when Peter gave me a lift home I realized exactly how and why we hit it out of the park.  Basically, it was the GMing.

The game is about a victorian-era Belltown (think London) neighbourhood and the fairies that live in the park.  The place is threatened by developers, union busters, poverty, witches, goblins, and dragons.  When we were putting the idea together, we hit on the idea of unintended consequences as being the theme of the game.

John, our GM, nailed that theme.  Pretty much everything we’ve done has had unintended consequences – in fact, some of the stuff that happens back to us is from the unintended consequences of the NPCs’ actions.

Setup: Connor (PC) owes the witch a boon.

Action: PCs Aiden and Connor steal a magical amulet from the fairy queen’s palace.

Unintended Consequence 1: A dragon is released.

Unintended Consequence 2: Half of the orphanage is destroyed.

Setup: PCs need information about the dragon, and try to meet the spider king.

Action: Give a knife from the fight with the cat to the spider king, ask him about the dragon released by the amulet.

Unintended Consequence 1: Apparently the amulet is more important than the dragon.  The spider king orders us seized.

Unintended Consequence 2: The redcap whose house we stole the knife from is there, and now Yak is supposed to fight him.

Setup: NPC dockworkers form a union.

Action: The neighbourhood bands together.

Unintended Consequence 1: Rowdy union members buy Joe Stillgar some drinks (he’s a good listener)

Unintended Consequence 2: Yak sees people being friendly to Joe Stillgar and tries to help his friends rather than murdering a much-deserving cat.

Setup: The PCs decide to try to push back against the union-busting owner.

Action: Sneak over to his place.

Unintended Consequence 1: We get details of a deal between the owner and a developer.

Unintended Consequence 2: We make relations between them sour considerably.  Also milk.

And so on and so on.  This was a wicked session, and not by accident.  John internalized Echo Park enough to both use his prep, and improvise with it.  I couldn’t tell the difference at the table, but I know he was doing both because he had notes but I didn’t catch him looking at them.  That meant that I could step right into the imaginary space John was creating and feel like I was really interacting with it.   That’s a form of alchemy, and that made for my favorite night at the House on the Hill so far.


6 Responses to “Day 52: Unintended Consequences”

  1. Johnny Oneiric Says:

    Wow, thanks for the high kudos! I too was very pleased with the way the session flowed.

    (just catching up on your blog – had a hell week last week – haven’t had a chance to write up my own game summary, so I’m glad to see yours)

    Don’t give me too much credit, though — this is a player-driven game. One of the reasons that our Victorian Echo Park feels so rich is that all four of us have contributed ideas.

    Next week I’m going to kick it up a notch. It’s time for the third act. 🙂

    • stoughton Says:

      You know, I must say I’m VERY attached to the Aiden-Yak-Connor trio. How many more sessions do you think we’re looking at?

      Cheers –ry

      • Johnny Oneiric Says:

        In general I don’t like to answer that question anymore — I have frustrated my players in the past by predicting a quick end to an adventure that ended up taking a few more sessions. But in this case, I think I do need to poll the players:

        I was feeling that at this point I need to drive towards concluding scenes for the conflicts that we have in motion (the dragon, the witch, the developer, etc) lest the players get frustrated. Am I wrong? Instead, I could let the PCs continue to drive the action and see where it goes.

        So, if you guys want resolution: 1 more session, maybe 2. If y’all want more mid-story-type exploration, chr development, complications and plot-bifurcations: a few more sessions. I still have plenty of unused plot elements up my sleeve!

      • Mike R. Says:

        I was thinking, based on our last session, that we would probably end up having two more. It seems we spent the second session introducing new information and points of interest, so the action is still building. Now I think we’ve got enough plot threads to start aiming ourselves in a specific direction, working towards and end, but there’s a lot to do, and forcing it in a single session would probably make it feel rushed.

  2. Peter Says:

    I have to agree that it’s been a good collaborative effort on this one. Ryan has pushed the story with his play of Yak and John has played off the decisions of the players to create a complex storyline.

    I’m not sure if it’s necessary to predict an endpoint considering there are so many plot lines that can be pursued. Also, I’m not in a rush as I find for me the majority of my roleplaying has been superhero, D&D or shadowrun based as a teen which means it was all about combat. So for me it takes me time to flesh out the character.

  3. Johnny Oneiric Says:

    Thanks for the feedback guys, I’ll plan accordingly!

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