#29: Slow Time
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue.
I don’t know how many other Referees run games in 45 minute chunks but I’d warmly recommend it. You don’t get quite enough time to really immerse players in more than a scene or two but there are benefits which I wasn’t expecting.
A subset of my every-other-month-in-the-pub-after-work group which is running through The Traveller Adventure were keen to try a little more gaming. So we also play every other week (or so) in lunchtimes, holed up in a part of the library where we can’t disturb anyone.
One of the original aims was specifically to allow me to try ‘making it up as I go’ and we had a very successful romp through some city scenes followed by some desert scenes as the PCs attempted to retrieve a missing batch of anagathics – although the nature of what they were after only became apparent later. Though the adventure worked well, taking it in short chunks with a week or two between gave me plenty of opportunity to ‘think up the next bit’ – once we’d got started – so the improvised nature of the sessions wasn’t quite so successful.
Following that, the players decided to try something I’d written and planned out. They opted for Into the Unknown which we’re just finishing now. Well, I say finishing, but in the last session there was such consternation that I was going to wrap it up they demanded we play out the journey home, with all the villagers, in detail. I’ve not done this before with any group. (All my previous runs through this have been in four hour sessions.)
Although I haven’t had to write anything between times, we’ve mostly taken the adventure as published, the intervals between sessions have allowed me to create details and intricacies that are either not present in the book or only briefly alluded to. For example, some of the villagers taking a dislike to the PCs (partly because one intruded on a relationship, partly because some fear change) and attempting to sabotage the Kankurur is completely new. Alternatively, we’ve had time to explore some of the detail I only mentioned in passing and have never had time to play out before – such as the birth of a baby (the PCs and players were delighted to get to name the child) or the finding of the bodies up river. For the first time through this, some of the villagers have really come alive as people in their own right and the players have had fun with bits that I’ve never touched before. It’s not a different adventure, but in moments I thought it might have been tedious it’s gained a freshness for me.
The 45 minutes may fly past all too quickly but it means we can play relatively frequently as it’s ‘only’ a lunch break, it lets me see my own adventure in a new light, and it’s a good way of giving my Traveller Adventure merchant crew another side of Traveller.