We got into the second session of our Chill campaign that we are playing online through Google Hangouts last night. I could have screwed the entire thing up about 10 different times, were it not for the inquisitive nature of one of my players. His questions kept reminding me of setting details I'd meant to tell them - like weather conditions, time of night, and so on.
We started out discussing the game and characters from an out-of-game standpoint and slowly transitioned into playing, and it kind of threw me. However, it was a very smooth transition and I liked recapping events and concepts before we started anew, so I may try to keep going in that direction. It came about naturally, as there were only two of us for about 10-15 minutes before the other players arrived, so we naturally started discussing the game. When the others arrived, the talks deepened. Eventually, the discussion petered-out and one of the players dived straight in. We can transition even more smoothly and keep the recap discussion.
Another issue that emerged is one of breaks. I may try to coordinate five minute breaks every hour or so next time. I know that is probably more than we need, but that's part of the point. It keeps things loose, including my joints.
We did not include the soundtrack last night, just because. I made playlists for various sets, as well as a running background playlist. We used them during the first session and they were very effective. The weird way we transitioned into playing is what threw me this week, and I forgot to start the playlists. Play went well without them, though. Actually, because this session had so little action, I think the driving soundtrack could have worked against us.
I kept quiet more than usual this week. I also stayed out of character - doing the bare minimum of tabletop acting to make sure the players knew which character was talking, but not getting into any clever dialogue, repeated mannerisms, or anything too deep. The purpose was to keep the focus on the PCs and let them figure some things out on their own. I still kept giving them information by reading my notes aloud without thinking, but they did all the hard work.
It took a while for them to really get going, so the game was slow almost from the start. Unlike D&D or some other games, you can't just throw in a random encounter to spice-up Chill games. You have to suffer through the slow periods, but I noticed the players often discussing things to a point then lingering, as though they were waiting for me to interject. I wanted to be sure to break that, too. I simply kept my mouth shut and answered questions. Even more to their credit, the troupe stayed in-character while they interacted, so it was really fun in that the characters themselves stumbled upon the answers to many of the clues they'd found.
The session was more of a success than it may have seemed, specifically because the players managed to get as far as they did. We won't always roleplay Investigation sessions, but I thought it important the players realize what all their characters are doing when we downtime past it so often. They also needed the break from ongoing story to talk things out and figure things out on their own - something they could not have done, had I kept hammering away with all the characters, places, and story involved. The Investigation was also carried out at an important locale, broadening the characters' knowledge of that location. All in all, it was a dicey call for a second session, but the right one.
© C Harris Lynn, 2011