With May's usual schedule chaos wreaking havoc on my plans I've been trying to come up with a plan for another game that's not dependent on a specific set of players being available. Originally that was supposed to be the Freedom City M&M campaign but I optimistically started it off with a specific set of players in a set adventure with a defined and ongoing plot and then half of my players promptly became unavailable for 3 months! It's really not that long of an adventure but it's going to feel like it by the time we're done with it!
When you have a matrix of games to play based on who is available it's all good for a while but what do you do when none of those combinations are available for an extended period of time? Every single one of my players has had to cancel at least once in April and May! Well first you get frustrated, at least I do, vent about it to the wife and some friends, then you start figuring out Plans J thru M. Then I realized I might need to take a different approach.
A better answer here may be to set one of the games to "no specific players". That means any combination of players can show up and we can still run. It's not strictly open table as I am not really advertising it online or anything but it means I am not really looking to make sure players A, B, and C, are there before I can run. It's not heavily plotted and it doesn't have big important story stuff tied to any one player character. This is kind of what I originally envisioned the M&M game to be but I had to go and complicate that by beginning with Time of Crisis instead of just running short adventures/encounters/episodes.
So what am I contemplating?
- Set that first weekend back up as the "M&M Open Campaign" set in Freedom City. Sure, we have a group of characters stuck in another dimension averting a universal crisis but this is like when the Justice League is off fighting on some other planet but the same month's issue of Superman has him stopping a bank robbery in Metropolis. Comic time is fluid, right? The plot or story here is a group of heroes doing stuff in a comic book city, not the story of any one individual.
- Same concept as above but go even simpler and use something like ICONS, BASH, or Supers so people can jump right in even if they have to make a new hero on the spot.
- Set a 5th edition D&D game in a ruined city of some kind and let the PC's form their own adventuring bands each session. This would look something like my 4E Ruins of Adventure campaign where I tried to keep individual adventures short enough to only last one session. It didn't always work but it might be easier to pull off with the shorter combat in the new edition. Frostgrave is a concept I am interested in, or the classic ruined jungle city infested with snakemen - there are a lot of ways this could go. The "story" in this case is the exploration and possible plundering/conquest of the area.
The key thing here, regardless of the actual game, is to try and keep things episodic and not end sessions in the middle of a fight or a plot complication. This does limit some of what I can do but not as much as you might think. Longer plots or adventures just get broken up into separate chunks that are not tied to specific characters. if there is a group identity like the Justice League or the crew of the Enterprise or the Company of the Black Mace then it gets pretty east to stick factional reputations and grudges to the group and not to a character so things still feel personal while not being dependent on Captain Zoom being present for every session.
There will also be no big adventure path type scenarios used - this will all be shorter stuff. They have a place for sure, but I am tired of trying to make them fit our group with all of our scheduling issues.
Anyway that's the new plan for the summer. I'm hoping to get together with at least some of the group this weekend and nail some of this down - and maybe even get in a game.