Okay, first a brief side note. Yes, I’m writing about make-believe and not much more important things today. I confess I’m getting worn out. But I’m in it for the long haul, so I’m pacing myself and that means indulging in less-serious things. If that’s a problem for you, please do unfollow my collection.
We had our fourth session of Sagas of the Icelanders last night, my first attempt at running the game as a campaign and not a convention one-shot. I’m still learning so much as I dig deeper into it as a campaign vehicle.
The big one is figuring out efficient prep. There’s real history and momentum on several tracks in the game at this point, so it’s easy to let some issues subside or percolate for a while while bringing others to the forefront. So when I look at the current situation, what I look for is unaddressed tensions. What do we need to be reminded of from two sessions ago? We usually have one or two major unresolved problems as well, so I try to add one new factor to the unresolved problem to see if that finally shakes something loose.
I’m happy about so many things that came about this session, it’s really hard to point at any one item as the focal point. That I think is what makes campaign-style SotI different than con-style, the fact that there are so many moving parts now.
* The woman thrall, who got introduced last session, had terrific momentum and really fit into the situation nicely. That was great. I was a little concerned about the player — she’s predominantly a D&D player — but I think SotI has worked its magic yet again and gotten an inexperienced player to really buy in. I point at the accessible melodrama quality of the game. She finally figured out the power of enticing men, playing them against one another, working with limited tools to get out from under the constraints of her slavery.
* The focal point I concentrated on during prep was bringing the question of the unclaimed property to a head. The past three sessions, I’ve been slowly stacking conflicting interest atop one another: the Goði’s greed, his niece-maybe-daughter’s role in the murder of the last owner (her stepmother), the resentful huscarl with eyes toward being more than a bodyguard while renewing his friendship with the goði, the Goði’s little brother and his ambitious wife, the neighbor with the money and staff to actually run the thing. Everyone wants it and the goði finally had to make a ruling. So really it’s The Goði Show, which the player of course is loving despite being painted into more and more corners.
* The “new element” I added to the inheritance problem was the dead wife’s family, who showed up seeking justice in the form of weregeld or blood. Her dad, his huscarl and his son — the twin brother of the dead wife — all arrived on the scene right at the beginning. Everyone groaned and it was hilarious: literally the last people anyone in the game wanted to come knocking. They’re also a spot of hope for the thrall, who entices the grieving brother, succeeds hard, and might actually get bought and emancipated by him at some point. But then later it’s revealed that the brother is married — what a scumbag! maybe! — so who knows. We’ll play to find out.
* The second major thread is the growing supernatural thread that runs throughout the game. At least one of my players reads my threads here so I’m not going to reveal what I’ve got in mind, but they’ve had their first landvættir experiences so that’s interesting. The seiðkona’s dead mother made an appearance and a very dark demand of the old matriarch — “bring me my Rurik” (the goði) she says. The spooky seiðkona continues to be weird and mysterious and is probably my favorite character to play in the game.
* Next session will be winter 900AD, so that’ll be interesting. The Man made the right call taking the Thralls move for his first upgrade: combined with a sudden windfall of sheep, they’ll scrape by. Interested to see what everyone else does with their winter option, because I could legitimately see all of them (retire/die, new character, change playbooks, new relationship) as good choices for anyone.
I have no idea how long we’re going to play but so far so good.
Hope y’all have a great February. Stay sane.