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Gaming in the Wild: The Perfect Weekend…For Crime

Last year around this time I got to have a fun weekend away with some old friends and new ones (Gaming in the Wild: You Never Forget your First, and Making New Memories with Old Friends). Guess what, we are doing it again! Except this time my community partner Mike will be playing and I will be running the shenanigan show. How do you prepare for this? Let’s find out together…

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So the message came out a month or so ago that my old friend Kevan was inviting us up for another weekend of good clean (ish) gaming fun. Some men go fishing, others hunt. There are camping trips and poker weekends, and even NASCAR rallies that go all weekend long. Or so I’m told. My band has played a yearly horseshoe tournament that starts Friday and ends on Sunday. All of these things are a blast, and they allow people of all passions to indulge their hobbies with like-minded folks.

Let’s face it, we all have games that sit on the shelves. Not because they aren’t good, or because they are too hard, but because even though your gaming group might be awesome and eclectic, they just aren’t the people who want to play Twilight Imperium, Firefly, or Mage Knight. And that’s not a bad thing, though it is inconvenient if you really love those kinds of games and forked over the dosh to put them on the table.

A great gaming weekend is that opportunity to break out those games because you have sequestered yourselves in a private location and will have the uninterrupted time to get those games out and play the heck out of them. We are using Saturday (our complete twenty four hour day bookended by two partial days), to play FFG’s Star Wars RPG, Edge of the Empire. And I am the GM.

Last year, Mike took us through a highly adapted and raucous romp through the Tomb of Horrors, reskinned for the newest edition of D&D, and we had a great time. The flaw in his plan though was the sheer scope.

I will say that we did manage to pull it off, albeit with some severe DM fiat and more than a little corner cutting, thanks to Jay and his Boots of Spider Climb which incidentally, hadn’t been created when Gary first wrote the module way back when. I say this because Jay was able to circumvent a lot of traps and hazards. We broke Mike…A little…And he did a great job.

So this year my task is to come up with an adventure which we will be able to knock out in one day. Some of you may be tittering away, saying that your group does a module a week in single sessions, and that’s fine. Enjoy. What I am after is that complete experience. I don’t want to cut corners mid session because we are all suddenly looking at the clock and realising that half the module is yet to come. So I had a look through my books.

You may be asking why I didn’t just write something up, and the quick answer is, I don’t have time. I have the Princes of the Apocalypse running at the community, the X-Wing demo I just hosted, my bass guitar duties for the production of Rocky Horror Show I’m participating in…you get it. AND I have to be a good dad and hubby at the same time. All of these things I love doing, but they all take time.

So I looked at Beyond the Rim. That one might have been a good candidate, but four members of the group have played it. With me running it. No fun to be had there. The same with the GM Screen adventure and the Core Book adventure. They are great stories, but they have had their day with most of these guys.

That left the internet (which can be a scary and deceiving place), and two more published modules: The Jewel of Yavin and The Mask of the Pirate Queen.

I won’t spoil anything for all you wonderful people, but I will give a teaser of their plots. The Jewel of Yavin is a true heist adventure, as your team of adventurers must race against time to steal a precious corusca gem in Cloud City on Bespin. Think Ocean’s Eleven and you are halfway there.

The Mask of the Pirate Queen is a manhunt through the Outer Rim and elsewhere, desperately searching for the leader of a crack group of pirates who are getting too big for their britches. Think buckled swashes and set piece skirmishes that only lead to the next lead.

These are both great titles and stories, but I had to do what I advised GMs to do last year: consider the group, consider the themes, and consider what will be happening in real life around the table. For us, around the table will be too much bad food and a healthy supply of beverages and man talk. You might think that this would make for a great backdrop to the Pirate Hunt, but I disagree.

We are all heist fans, and we are all thinkers, to one degree or another. A space romp is fun, but trying to maintain interest over the course of a marathon session would be hard to do if the synopsis went “there they are, get them!” Followed by “Oh no, they got away…Again…Now where to?” “Here’s a clue…”

Over multiple sessions, this would be a great series of cliffhangers and session breaks. It would keep a group quite entertained for up to a half-dozen sessions of reasonable length, as you would always be looking forward to next time, and the next location, and the next plot twist.

What I like about The Jewel of Yavin is that it requires the group to be focused. They are given a set of tasks to accomplish in a limited time, so that they can execute a heist which they must plan ahead of execution, and then escape with their lives, and hopefully their pay. They have to retain all of the information they acquire, so that they can use it to their advantage when the time comes.

They have to be at least capable of looking after themselves, so the PCs used can’t be too specialised, as there are multiple encounters in which the party will be split and depending on each other from afar. All of these factors translate to a module that is best run in one galloping session of brainstorming and speculation, investigation and manipulation, which culminates in a few edge of your seat encounters. Their success (or lack thereof) will ultimately tell the tale of whether these would be cat burglars can pull off one of the biggest robberies since the Death Star plans were “liberated.”

Alongside all of this there will be other games. Alex, Jay and I are bringing X-Wing, and Mike, Richard and Kevan would love to give it a go. Codenames, Forbidden Desert, Coup, Tiny Epic Galaxies, Harbour. I’m even bringing my Bocce Ball set, as I hear outside can be nice once in awhile, especially when the barbecue is going. There will be countless other games to play on Friday night and Sunday morning, but what I need to focus on is Saturday. My day to lead this disreputable crew of motley characters deeper into the intrigue that is Cloud City, and the incestuous machinations of the galaxies’ underworld as they vie to pay top dollar for a one of a kind jewel.

So how am I going to do that, you may ask? Well, the answer is simple. Ish. And I’ll fill you in on my plans…next week.

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