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Jwfortune

Getting Ready to Start Horror on the Orient Tonight (Mild Spoilers)

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Hi Everyone,

After finishing up a Time to Harvest last week, I am getting ready to start Horror on the Orient Express for my group tonight.  I am both excited and nervous.  We have a large group, sometimes there are 6 or 7 investigators...although tonight I am thinking 5.   I have read through and made notes on the first three chapters I plan on running (Skipping Fez but doing Doomtrain), and am a little curious about how our party will like all of the investigation and fact finding.   I am also a little concerned about how I will handle all of the possible locations they could visit.  

Let me know if there is any advice out there for starting this campaign!

 

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Most of my HotOE tips are available here.

In regard to all of the investigation and fact finding: maybe spice it up with some action when possible. Example: the first scenario was more fun when I had the PC's rescue their burned friend from a flaming house (possibly fighting fire creatures), rather than hearing about it afterwards.

(My input for handling all of the possible locations they could visit is already here.)

Edited by mvincent
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On 3/10/2017 at 5:59 AM, mvincent said:

Most of my HotOE tips are available here.

In regard to all of the investigation and fact finding: maybe spice it up with some action when possible. Example: the first scenario was more fun when I had the PC's rescue their burned friend from a flaming house (possibly fighting fire creatures), rather than hearing about it afterwards.

(My input for handling all of the possible locations they could visit is already here.)

Damn fine tips those. :)

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So after running the mission and talking with the team about how it went, it seems that I might be more apprehensive than the players are about pace of game.  

When I am a player in an RPG, I tend to get antsy if I am not doing anything and want the pace of the story to be brisk.  However, the players I run for don't seem to have this same feeling.  Maybe I am better suited to running games than playing in them because I like to always be thinking and taking actions.

Our first session was crowded and after 2 hours of play, I thought I was losing the group.  There were some side discussions going on and thought they had lost interest.  But they all reported having fun and enjoyed interacting with each others characters.

Obviously I am still learning how to read my group.  This RPG stuff is fascinating.

 

 

 

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20 hours ago, Jwfortune said:

So after running the mission and talking with the team about how it went, it seems that I might be more apprehensive than the players are about pace of game.  

When I am a player in an RPG, I tend to get antsy if I am not doing anything and want the pace of the story to be brisk.  However, the players I run for don't seem to have this same feeling.  Maybe I am better suited to running games than playing in them because I like to always be thinking and taking actions.

Our first session was crowded and after 2 hours of play, I thought I was losing the group.  There were some side discussions going on and thought they had lost interest.  But they all reported having fun and enjoyed interacting with each others characters.

Obviously I am still learning how to read my group.  This RPG stuff is fascinating.

Group size is probably your issue.  I find that parties tend to lose focus once they get over 4 people.  The relative experience of players can be an issue too.  Beginning players are either right into it and totally focussed or drift off.  Experienced players can get blase about some encounters and start being disruptive too.  

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I am almost done with the second scenario book, and pacing, for the most part, has not been too bad. There is one key handout the players get at the start, which is Mr. Beddow's notes. I would say that, at the very least, print off a few copies of that to hand out to players so that they have an idea on what they are doing with each location. The little blue traveler's guide book is also a big help. I have one player who loves reading the section on the current city they are in and visiting mentioned locations, which usually tie into the story. Also, if players get stuck, you can always fall back on the idea roll or just throw them a clue or event to get them back on track. It turns out that it is pretty linear as the players just follow Bedeow's notes, traveling from one town to the next, and doing mostly the same pattern of actions in each town (get a hotel, research at local library/museum, meet with people, get clues, encounter danger at the moment of completing task, then ride train to next destination). 

I think the pacing is really flexible. I have seen youtube videos with very slow pacing, with lots of detailed descriptions and in-character role-playing. My group, however, runs much quicker. For example, we don't spend a lot of time during the research parts. A player might say "I want to research at the library for the day" and then I just have them roll their skill checks without bothering too much with finding translators or describing what the library looks like. In my game, we can have a whole day go by in 4 seconds by narrating that "you spend the day searching dusty tomes in the library in Pairs and (rolls dice) you don't find anything of interest." 

The danger level has also been very low in my game. It didn't necessarily have to be that way, but the choices my players made mostly kept them safe, along with a few lucky rolls (that, and being nice with one particularly deadly encounter where I had the antagonist opt for non-deadly attacks). One character, however, just went indefinitely insane, and his luck has been reduced to one percent, so things should start getting interesting. Again, this is something that is flexible, and for a large group, you might want to increase the danger levels.   

Having a lot of players I think would be tough. I have three players and I wouldn't mind having one more, but four would be my cap. There just isn't quite enough stuff for everyone to do, it seems. With your number of players, if possible, it might be worth getting a second keeper to help manage things. That way, one group of players can go off to research at the library, while maybe another group goes off to meet contacts. Then they can all join back up for the final act of the chapter. 

Finally, I find that it sometimes help to give a little bit of prodding. I find myself having to ask things like "So, is there anything else you want to do today, or do you just want to head back to the hotel and sleep for your meeting tomorrow morning?" (this is where the blue book comes in handy) And, a lot of the time I can just sit quietly and let them talk about what they want to do or try to figure out what is going on. 

It has been a lot of fun, but I am looking forward to wrapping it up and maybe starting the two-headed serpent campaign if I can convert it into standard CoC. 

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