Interludes - General Discussion Discussions on Obsidian Portal Community Forums
edited November 2007
What are some fun interludes you've done for your players after a really tense several sessions where everything that could go wrong does go wrong to help lighten the mood a little?
I once had my player characters go to a tower in search of an archwizard, but the wizard's childern (who happen to be rather magically adept, and aware of all the "Tricks" of the Tower) where there instead of him. Lead to a very commical and light-hearted game session while the party experienced one practical joke after the next. Eventually they caught the childern, and waited for their father to get home at which time the storyline resumed, but it was a nice break from the intense onslaught of events leading up to that point.
That wouldn't work in Aidan's campaign. One of our players would light the tower on fire and we'd be TPKd by the wizard when he found out his children were barbecued.
It's not my fault you're pyromaniacs.
That tower was not supposed to burn!
What I usually shoot for is an opportunity to let my characters retreat to a main city and enjoy "the high life" for a session or two. They get to reconnect with NPCs who they care for, visit their favorite establishments, engage in tournaments or other sporting/social events and generally enjoy the pleasures that fame and fortune provide.
This also leads to another particularly good tension building tool... if you've established over time that "the capital is a safe spot" or that "NPC#3's house is always a good time" and you've got your players really caring about certain NPCs - when a villain threatens that place or person in order to lash out at your party, they will REALLY get motivated to go on whatever adventure you want in order to solve the problem.
An example of this that I recently used...
Our party has been tracking down and rescuing abductees for some time. One of those abductees (one of the first rescued, in fact) is also one of the PCs' brothers. A few weeks ago they had agreed to meet up with the brother and his party at a small trading town, to compare progress and generally enjoy each other's company. When they arrived, the city was under seige, and they had no idea whether the brother and his party were inside, outside, still alive or already dead - and had no way to contact them. The tension in the air was incredible, and there was some really great RP going on as they tried to figure out what to do and get past the legion of orcs without getting killed, in order to find the brother and rescue him.
I think the thing that works best with long campaigns is the rollercoaster effect... you take them to high points of tension and excitement, and then you lull them down into the valleys of relaxation and peace. The critical moments of the campaign are often the points in which you start to go in either of those directions, and then suddenly veer back the way you came. Coming off a high tension moment and going toward a lull, you suddenly rocket them back into even higher tension - and they will do amazingly heroic and spectacular things - and love it. Conversely, coming off a lull of relaxation and moving into an adventure, it may turn out that the dangerous quest actually turns out to be a round of fun flirting and banter at a tavern in order to get a prize even greater than they were seeking, and meet some new NPCs as well - and the party will really relax and enjoy their characters as well.
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