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Masks..take 2.....and.....Action


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Hello, I'm considering attempting to Run Masks of Nyarlathotep again. Last attempt made it to the end of London and that was it.

 

From my calculations this will take us about 77  3 hour sessions assuming we dont miss a single week this will take 1.5 years.

 

I have mixed emotions about this.

On 1 hand I'm super excited on the other I'm full of dread and stress.

 

My 1st attempt went very well...for 50 % of the group.  Masks resulted in the end of and separation of a 6 year weekly gaming group.  50% loved it 50% hated it. We have gone our separate ways.

 

I really loved running it but the prep work was absurd.  This brings me to my questions. 

1) I know I can drop Peru to shave off 4 sessions but has anyone ran this in fewer than 77 session?  How did you do it?

 

2) my Prep work is about 20 hours for the initial new location. Ie. Pcs head to London for the 1st time that is a 20 hour week.  All additional weeks are about 8 to 10 hours of prep.

Does your prep take that long and how do you prep to save time?

 

3) How do you prep and does it take you from 8 to 20 hours of prep per week to run masks?

 

4) Any ideas on how to get this Down to like 30 to 52 sessions?

 

Thanks for any suggestions 

Gary

ps sorry I'm typing this on my cell phone

 

 

Edited by Gman
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20 hours ago, Gman said:

1) I know I can drop Peru to shave off 4 sessions but has anyone ran this in fewer than 77 session?  How did you do it?

I'm running MoN for the first time. We're 24 sessions in, but session tend to go about 5 hours (Sunday afternoon). Completed Peru, New York, London and most of Shanghai.

20 hours ago, Gman said:

2) my Prep work is about 20 hours for the initial new location. Ie. Pcs head to London for the 1st time that is a 20 hour week.  All additional weeks are about 8 to 10 hours of prep.

I'm super lazy. I ready the handouts but otherwise my prep consists of reading and re-reading the chapter we're playing. So Saturday night or Sunday morning I'll read the chapter again. And the further we get through the chapter the less I have to read. 😀 

I'm curious of what your prep consists.

20 hours ago, Gman said:

4) Any ideas on how to get this Down to like 30 to 52 sessions?

The side scenarios, while fun, are (as the name suggests) not central to the plot. In London you could cut Shipley and Lesser Edale; in Shanghai you could cut the demon cabinet. The demon cabinet I find fairly weak. Effectively it's a long description with the players just going along, leading up to an action/fight scene.

Africa you could cut the hunting lodge, Egypt you could cut the temple of Bast.

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Thanks for the reply.  My mind is blown that you have gotten through so much of the campaign in such a short time.

 

I'm open to cutting some of the side missions and agree that would cut quite a few sessions off.

 

My prep.  Well I dont read super fast and my retention is not great so I have to take notes and then study the notes.

1) I read the campaign cover to cover

2) I read the section the players are starting in again

3) I read the same section and take notes to make a master copy I will run the game from

4) I read the notes for the current section cover to cover each day. As the players finish a section I stop reading it until I'm only reading a few pages because they are about to finish a location.

5) players go to a new location ie Egypt and the processes begins again.

I write my notes by hand to better remember them.  

My hand written notes for London including the side missions 79 pages.

 

Hope this clarifies and again thanks for the reply.

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I know it's near-blasphemy to even consider, but I'm also interested to hear if anyone has suggestions for a "shorter" or "abbreviated" approach to Masks. I completely understand the open-ended nature and epic length are the beating heart of the campaign for many people, but I'd still love to give my players a taste of this classic. 

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Believe it or not: I've run the previous edition at conventions, with each of the six chapters being a 4 hour session (discussed here). It worked pretty well, but I was also very fast and organized (having just run it for multiple home groups, where each chapter usually took about two 4-hour sessions).

Some tips:

  1. Use (blue) painter's tape to affix the handouts to the appropriate pages in the book (so they are quickly ready)
  2. Prep ahead half a chapter at a time
  3. Skip side scenarios if need be
  4. Australia can be skipped (it wasn't in the original edition anyway).
  5. During play: skip Order-of-Attack. Just go clockwise around the table and ask each player what they want to do. Skip to the next player if they are not ready (while assuring them they will still get to go before the bad-guys next turn anyway, so order doesn't really matter). This method works well outside of combat too, and often gets players to investigate separate leads (which can actually speed things up greatly).

 

Edited by mvincent
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6 hours ago, mvincent said:

I've run the previous edition at conventions, with each of the six chapters being a 4 hour session

Wow! As well as being highly organised yourself, the players must have been highly focused and motivated.

Trying to get my players moving forward is like herding cats. If there is the slightest uncertainty about what to do next the conversation gets very tangential.

The players also create a lot of complications themselves. Like the character who has been taking doses of Liao trying to gain insight into the past events of the Carlyle expedition. This character is currently hiding in an iron sphere they had specially manufactured in the hope of escaping the Hounds of Tindalos. Or when the characters decided to find a way to sterilise a certain parent and child in order to end a certain family curse. One of the characters made a Cthulhu Mythos check, so I advised them that they knew of a concoction they could brew that would permanently sterilise the imbiber. That whole episode ended much better than I expected.

All this adds to the length of the campaign but suggests that the players are invested and having fun, which is kind of the point.

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12 hours ago, mvincent said:

Believe it or not: I've run the previous edition at conventions, with each of the six chapters being a 4 hour session (discussed here). It worked pretty well, but I was also very fast and organized (having just run it for multiple home groups, where each chapter usually took about two 4-hour sessions).

Some tips:

  1. Use (blue) painter's tape to affix the handouts to the appropriate pages in the book (so they are quickly ready)
  2. Prep ahead half a chapter at a time
  3. Skip side scenarios if need be
  4. Australia can be skipped (it wasn't in the original edition anyway).
  5. During play: skip Order-of-Attack. Just go clockwise around the table and ask each player what they want to do. Skip to the next player if they are not ready (while assuring them they will still get to go before the bad-guys next turn anyway, so order doesn't really matter). This method works well outside of combat too, and often gets players to investigate separate leads (which can actually speed things up greatly).

 

Wow!! That's awesome.  I will read over your linked post just as soon as I get the chance 

 

Thanks

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On 8/4/2020 at 10:58 PM, mvincent said:

Believe it or not: I've run the previous edition at conventions, with each of the six chapters being a 4 hour session (discussed here).

Locked behind yog-sothoth! I've been waiting months for my membership to be approved. :(

All the rest of your tips sound solid. Thanks for the advice!

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On 8/5/2020 at 2:18 AM, tendentious said:

Wow! As well as being highly organised yourself, the players must have been highly focused and motivated.

Trying to get my players moving forward is like herding cats. If there is the slightest uncertainty about what to do next the conversation gets very tangential.

That's what tip #5 is for. Pointing to a player and asking "what do you wish to do now?" focuses them. Move on (clockwise) to the next player if they don't know yet. By the time you reach the last player, any previously undecided players usually have an idea what they want to do (even if that's only joining one of the other PC's on their idea).

It's ok (even preferable) for PC's to split up and follow different leads here... conversations are expedited with fewer PC's involved (and they're assumed to relay the information later).

Edited by mvincent
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My group is three chapters in to Masks--we start Cairo tomorrow night.  I hadn't thought about how much time it would ultimately take until reading @Gman's calculations. Yikes, what have I signed up for?!

We're playing on Roll20. That adds a complication and a benefit.  The complication is I have to convert all the maps and handouts to digital (copy and past from screen grabs).  That was real chore in Roll20, but then I made a Google drive folder for the players that the screen grabs from the PDF go straight into. Thus, I can now "hand them out" them on the fly.  I also started out converting all the NPCs to the online sheets--now I just use the printed information and roll like I would if were playing together.  Because combat isn't as tactical as D&D, I really don't need the stat blocks, etc.

I also try to ditch the side adventures, but some are really interesting while others more of a red herring. Generally, I give them the option but hint it might be a distraction. 

Otherwise, my prep sounds similar to most--I write out notes as well as NPC and clue webs (the one's in the book are maddening to follow). My home-made diagrams and concept maps have been very helpful keeping everything straight.

While this is more work, I often will write a short 'story' from a player's or NPCs perspective (or perhaps a new papers article) that summarizes the past week's action and try to link up the clues. I post those in the Roll20 game blog. A big problem is the players often forget something important in between games. They love the clues, but it does create a bit of homework for them. Nevertheless, they love the detail.

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  • 4 months later...
On 8/3/2020 at 11:33 PM, Gman said:

From my calculations this will take us about 77  3 hour sessions assuming we dont miss a single week this will take 1.5 years.

Finished running Masks on the weekend after 42 sessions. Each session was about 5 hours, for a total of more than 200 hours! So the total time is not much different from your estimated 77 3-hour sessions.

The players went most places in the campaign. They didn't do the side missions in Shanghai and in Australia. They also skipped investigating the Clive Expedition in Egypt, no matter how many times I mentioned it.

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