Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Great Pumpkins

I played in an 11-hour halloween one-shot last night, run by my friend Jeremy Hill. It was a solid game, lots of fun. Every player had 2 PCs, college students who were going to a Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch. Each of your two PCs would arrive in two different car pools.

Scenes bounced back and forth between these two groups. One group ran into bloodthirsty ghosts at the pumpkin patch. The other group's car broke down, and they ended up asking for help at a creepy old house a few miles down the road... a house full of cannibal cultists. They seemed to be two entirely separate adventures taking place on the same night but just a few miles apart, but we eventually learned that the cannibal cult were actually the ones responsible for stirring up the ghosts that the other groups was battling.

It was pretty nifty way to tell the story. Jumping back and forth between the two groups allowed some cool "cliffhanger" cuts. Because each player had a two characters (one in each group), every time we hit a dead end in one mystery investigation, we could cut away to the other group for a little while.

When we'd come back to the previous "dead-end" later, in the intervening break one player or another would always have come up with another option that we hadn't tried before. I feel like there were places where we would have otherwise gotten frustrated or locked up, but the scene-hopping just naturally shook us free of that every time. It organically encouraged us to think outside the box. What's more, switching between our two characters worked to give you a break, so the nearly 12-hour session seemed to flash by super fast. Without exception, each player chose radically different personality and character types for their two characters, which probably amplified this rejuvenating effect. It worked really well.

I'm seriously considering stealing this trick for my own games going forward.