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Beagle

Masks - GM intervention

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Beagle

Spoiler warning

 

I'm currently GM-ing MON for a group that are new to RPGs, it's going well and we're having a lot of fun. We've been through the Peru chapter, completed most of the New York chapter (without a showdown with the Bloody Tongue) and we're now in the UK.

 

One session into the UK setting the players have poked around in London a little and researched Gavigan, discovering that he owns Misr House, which they decided to visit. Suspicious of the heavy security arrangements the investigators had their specialist break into the house and clean up (hoovering up handouts etc). The outcome of this is that they're now determined to head on to Egypt immediately.

 

So on the one hand I, being very much against railroading, am content to let them choose their fate. On the other hand there's such a wealth of good scenario material in the UK chapter that it would be a real shame if we didn't play out at least the London section. 

 

My players have a background with board games (Eldritch Horror led them to CoC), and I think that they may be struggling to adjust from the mindset of 'lets power through and win the game' to settling into their characters and enjoying the journey. 

 

There are a number of things I could do to drag them back to London but it's going to feel a bit forced, and they're all intelligent people they'll see through my machinations no matter how subtle I try to make it. 

 

Any thoughts?

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BigJackBrass

I think I'd be inclined to let them go, perhaps having a travel agent or customs officer casually remark on their flying visit to the UK, or maybe throw in a delay of a few days until their ship sails (a strike at the port, inclement weather, bureaucracy or whatever). You can then give them the option of skipping ahead or playing through that time in London and give them a second chance to find the bits they've missed.

 

Certainly I'd be reluctant to really push them towards things they overlooked, however good or even important: with a scenario like Masks I reckon it's important to learn as you go, and if that means realising you've charged ahead too quickly then so be it.

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johnmcfloss

I'd be half tempted in this situation to go "Look, if you guys want to push ahead, that's entirely fine - we can deal with that. But on an out-of-character level, I just want to point out that there's still a lot you could do in London before all of that's resolved, and I'm not going to punish your characters for not dashing off"

 

If they decide they want to push on, that's fine. If they decide to stick around and explore the rest of this scenario, that's also fine. It's their choice.

 

(It's, admittedly, a little bit meta, but if you're playing this for the story, I think it's worth it)

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klecser
2 hours ago, BigJackBrass said:

I think I'd be inclined to let them go, perhaps having a travel agent or customs officer casually remark on their flying visit to the UK, or maybe throw in a delay of a few days until their ship sails (a strike at the port, inclement weather, bureaucracy or whatever). You can then give them the option of skipping ahead or playing through that time in London and give them a second chance to find the bits they've missed.

 

Certainly I'd be reluctant to really push them towards things they overlooked, however good or even important: with a scenario like Masks I reckon it's important to learn as you go, and if that means realising you've charged ahead too quickly then so be it.

 

I would also resist the urge to stop them. It's everyone's story and there are more voices on that side of the table.  In addition to the suggestions above, this is where you go to work as Keeper.  While they are in Egypt, you can have a heavier hand in placing clues that may lead them back to the UK, if they choose to go back.  And if they don't? You have to let it go. Clues are designed to entice, and the truth is that we have to be prepared for certain clues to not entice certain players or play groups.  Also remember that you can ADD handouts to any section. What might you create that will let them know a bit more about what they might discover in London that may not be discover-able elsewhere? 

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Beagle

Thanks for the replies, I appreciate it.

 

I should have added that I have the HPLHS prop set, and these are definitely a factor in trying to encourage the players to locations where they can pick up the props.

 

Some food for thought in the replies though. It shouldn't be too difficult to work those handouts into other locations.

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mvincent
7 hours ago, Beagle said:

One session into the UK setting the players have poked around in London a little and researched Gavigan, discovering that he owns Misr House, which they decided to visit. Suspicious of the heavy security arrangements the investigators had their specialist break into the house and clean up (hoovering up handouts etc). The outcome of this is that they're now determined to head on to Egypt immediately.

 

Since so many MoN campaigns burn-out before reaching the end. it's fine if the players have no interest in the unrelated sidequests (alluded to in the newspaper). You can always run those as one-shots after the campaign concludes.

 

As for the related material, some methods to get the PC's interested may include:

 

1) Have the Misr house documents allude to the other material

2) Have an informant tip the PC's off

3) Have Gavigan use his influence to get a PC arrested (perhaps the mirror tipped him off on who broke into his house).

4) Mention it the players out-of-character

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Gaffer
3 hours ago, mvincent said:

3) Have Gavigan use his influence to get a PC arrested (perhaps the mirror tipped him off on who broke into his house).

 

I'll point out that getting passage from London to Alexandria isn't as easy as catching the next bus across town or even getting on the next flight to a popular destination these days. The ships from the UK to Egyptaren't as large as a modern cruise ship by a long shot, so passenger space is limited and probably booked well ahead on reputable ships. The alternative of rail travel from the UK to Marseilles or Genoa and finding a ship from there can also take a bit of time to arrange. And then there may be visa issues. So you can probably slow their departure by a day or several even without any Gavigan shenanigans.

That said I agree with the faction that says give the players their head. Maybe they'll loop back to England at a later time.

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nclarke

Thought this might be of interest.

P & O shipping line

TL:DR extract, sailing to India in the 1930's (I believe)

"The ss Ranchi was built for P&O by Hawthorn Leslie & Co. at Newcastle Upon Tyne, and was launched on 24th January 1925. Her gross registered tonnage was 16,650, her length 547 feet and her beam 71 feet. She was one of the Company's  R-class liners, and like her sisters, Rawalpindi, Rajputana and Ranpura, had much of her interior designed by Lord Inchcape’s daughter, Elsie Mackay.  Named after Ranchi, the capital city of Jharkhand state in eastern India, she sailed on a regular route between England and Bombay. The P&O liners called at Gibraltar, Marseilles, Port Said, Aden and arrived at Bombay on Friday - just three weeks after departure Tilbury."

 

Concerning Marseille

"We arrived at eight in the morning, on schedule, and stayed for six hours, long enough to embark a few dozen passengers, who had chosen to travel overland from London rather than risk seasickness in the Bay of Biscay. "

 

More P & O material

TL:DR extract

"The voyage from London to Bombay took 12½ days in the 1890s. The steamers left London every Saturday for India and fortnightly for Australia and China. Fares were £55 first class to India; £35 - £37 10s for second class. To Australia the first class fare was £60 - £70 and second class was £35 - £40. First class to China or Japan was £73 10s. and second class was £42."

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littleo

Mvincent has it with multiple suggestions. One more- Gavigan is a powerful sorcerer. As soon as he realizes he's been robbed he will send a hunting horror in the dark of night to punish the thieves, backed up by a band of cultists to retrieve his stolen items. Do they really want to leave England with him still active?

M

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MikeM

Have the PCs made a bit of noise in London? Is it possible for Inspector Barrington to approach them for help with his case (pulling them into some of the London caper)? Certainly, if Gavigan suspects the PCs involvement - his hand could stretch beyond London and forewarn ahead (perhaps even saying to hold the PCs until he can arrive to deal with them personally). But, nevertheless, if the Barrington approach won't work, and they have covered their tracks, then send them on to Egypt etc - but ensure a few clues are then found (letter from Gavigan talking about the robbery etc.) that point back to the threat still posed in England - which allows the PCs to backtrack - or just have Gavigan and co turn up later in African or Shanghai to add to the mix and big celebration about to happen.... 

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HerbirdFluWest

There's nothing wrong with goint to the meta level, especially so, if it happens before or after the session, so that the players' immersion is not broken. So if you feel your players are too much into a boardgame kind of mindset, explain to them that this can be beside the point in an rpg. And while you talk, it might turn out that your players really DO want to play the way they are doing it right now, which is valuable information for you as a keeper. And you can be at ease with them moving on briskly.

 

Generally I'm all for having a meta discussion before a campaign where everybody can state their expectations, red lines, etc. and a common ground can be decided on.

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Beagle

Thanks again for all of the good advice. 

 

I've been thinking about the group and their shift from board games to RPGs, and I've concluded that they're struggling to adjust to the fact that RPGs are not about going for the win, so much as enjoying the journey. They're clearly enjoying the role-playing but their under-pinning subconscious 'strategy' is still to win by a direct route. 

So while they may have 4 leads in England, one of which is moving on to Cairo, they've all naturally gravitated towards the lead they think is the one that gets them closer to the conclusion and victory.

 

When we reached the end of the New York chapter and the investigators were aboard their ship to England,  I decided to read aloud the sanity rewards/penalties. It went something like this:

 

"Well done, you've completed the New York chapter. You discovered who killed Jackson Elias, you burned down the Ju Ju House and killed the horror in the basement, and you gathered a wealth of material about the Carlyle Expedition. However, you failed to thwart the efforts of the Bloody Tongue and to avenge Elias, you made no efforts to exonerate Hilton Adams, you failed to take action against the corrupt NY police and you neglected to follow through on a number of your leads. So net sanity gain is zero"

 

I could see on their faces the look of surprise as it dawned on them that they'd missed so much. I thought this would be enough to ensure that they would be more thorough in England, but I think they've come to the conclusion that England is just a quick stop-over before they really get into things.

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littleo

You might have the Brotherhood react strongly in some fashion to the thefts at Misr House. Cult teams are scouring the countryside and London attempting to ID the players. Cult contacts are working in customs and the London police to ID them. Eventually they will figure out the players arrived some time after the destruction of the Ju Ju House. If Gavigan can locate them he will attack them full force to destroy them, or better yet send an emissary first to suggest a "sit down". He might just show up to confront them in a very public place and perhaps lead them into an ambush. If they have done such a good job that the cult can't reasonably figure out their identities, good for them. However, Gavigan will quickly find and sacrifice everyone who helped them in England. This should cost them a nice sanity hit when they realize they abandoned their allies to death.

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klecser
7 hours ago, Beagle said:

I've been thinking about the group and their shift from board games to RPGs, and I've concluded that they're struggling to adjust to the fact that RPGs are not about going for the win, so much as enjoying the journey. They're clearly enjoying the role-playing but their under-pinning subconscious 'strategy' is still to win by a direct route. 

So while they may have 4 leads in England, one of which is moving on to Cairo, they've all naturally gravitated towards the lead they think is the one that gets them closer to the conclusion and victory.

 

Thanks for the update.  It sounds like you've done some really strong reflection in that first part, working to understand the mentality of your players.

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Gaffer
On 15/02/2019 at 09:51, Beagle said:

...but I think they've come to the conclusion that England is just a quick stop-over before they really get into things.

 

I can easily imagine them deciding that Cairo is just a stopover on the way to the next location, and so on, and so on. They may think they're still in the little airplane showing the route shot of the movie.

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