The One Ring
Derpening of Mirkwood returns!
More Sandplot Talk
Tonight is the triumphant return of Tuesday game night, woo! I cannot express how much I just need some normalcy in my schedule again. Past couple weeks have left me unsettled, moody, generally shitty toward and about everyone and everything. Apologies if you’ve been on the receiving end of that.
So we haven’t played The One Ring in a month. A fucking month, which is way past my normal 2-week window after which the fizz escapes the bottle. Everyone is allegedly stoked. We’ll see.
We had only one session prior to this, and that was mostly to get the company injected into the Wilderlands, out in the world and doing stuff. There’s hardly any momentum there, either to disrupt nor to rely on. It’s basically starting over.
We’re bringing a character into the company this evening as well, because the player (who was present to make characters) couldn’t attend the first go. This same player also missed our first session of Urban Shadows, and bringing his storyline into that game was tricky and a little disruptive. Not terrible! And US relies on interpersonal stuff way more than TOR does, of course. They don’t talk about how to add new characters in TOR but I assume players can reorganize their characters’ fellowship focus at whim. Probably with a little explanation of what’s happening in the fiction to rationalize it.
This session is also the verrrrry beginning of my experiment with kinda-sorta sandbox/sandplot play in the Wilderlands. They’re away from home at Woodmen-town, and we’re playing through the backdrop in Darkening of Mirkwood. Sooo, you know, maybe they’ll go check out the folk-moot that’s laid out in the campaign! Or maybe they’ll wander around the map. The planning and prep to manage this feels absurd, at least until I’ve mostly memorized the content of Heart of the Wild. There has to be a better way.
This is pretty much the grail of total-freedom trad play, right? Create and maintain a living world outside the PCs that feels credible and interesting no matter when or how they engage with it? Really it’s no wonder, as a practical matter, that PC-centered nar play (build a relationship map, start pressing on unstable triangles, occasionally produce external threats) and railroading (build a physical map, provide narrow and explicit choices, occasionally produce external threats) are such well-defined modes of play.
I think, really, the only successful sandbox/sandplot game I’ve ever run is Mutant: Year Zero. The plot was buried in the sandbox creation procedures and the premise had no particular timeline, other than what was driven by threats to the Ark (random) and food/water/bullet grinds. Unfortunately when you have a Darkening of Mirkwood or Great Pendragon Campaign type setup, the tick-tock of the clock itself is what’s supposed to generate urgency.
Reporting back in tomorrow with results. Fingers crossed.