Herein are secrets. Read no further players of mine or anyone who wants to maintain the mystery.
Normally our games are pretty light hearted affairs for much of the time with plenty of banter and ooc wisecracks. Things tighten up when things get exciting or if the players really get stuck into a problem but generally this is a pretty natural occurrence. However, for the first time I actually got strict about no ooc comments or discussion and insisted on roleplaying, specifically for the imprisonment section. It took a few attempts for them to get the idea but once they did I think it helped in keeping things focussed and helped reinforce the danger they were in. Will I do it again? Possibly, but Iím loath to end up playing teacher with them all: after all, this is supposed to be fun.
As it was, they very nearly didnít actually take the one real option to escape that I was offering them. I should have known by now that there is no way that my (any) players will do what is expected of them but it genuinely surprised me for them to all look the gift horse in the mouth considering the situation they were in. I (very) briefly debated how I was going to save them from their own stubbornness but in the end decided that actually this might be the juncture for a TPK. Because this scenario was going to bring one section of the campaign to a close it wouldnít matter if they all died, especially as the knowledge they had gained in the UK could all be surmised from other sources. However, it wasnít something I wanted to do so whilst I was roleplaying out the ever calm Alzis and they were arguing about what to do, my guts were churning. In the end Johannes forced everyoneís hands and the all lived to fight another day.
In some ways I think a TPK might have been a good way to go. Unfortunately, as the characters have been forced further and further off reservation the less the players have seemed to care about them. Because I never spent long enough creating their backgrounds, none of them really seem to have anything to lose. Iím sure that real FBI agents pushed this far would be really suffering from the emotional strain of it all but my players have reached the point where a SAN loss for intimidating and imprisoning a little old lady in her home is seen as harsh.
I think part of the problem is Keeper burnout. Iíve never really suffered this before but then I donít think Iíve ever run such a complex game for so long before. Iíve always either been able to tap out and allow someone else to run a game for a while or Iíve used material that required a lot less effort on my part. It has meant that things have become increasingly sloppy with much of the investigative elements improvised and only the odd action sequence properly planned. Thankfully these have been good enough to save sessions but Iím going to have to buck my ideas up.
Thankfully the natural interval the campaign has reached means that I can plan out some more ďtraditionalĒ scenarios with library visits, Spot Hidden rolls, roleplaying to get information, the whole nine yards. Iíll see how this weekís preparation goes but I may decide to have a week off so I can present something that is really together for the players rather than rush into something half-baked. Iím still having fun here but thereís a nagging voice that tells me it could all be better and itís getting louder.