Monday, December 12, 2016

How My 7th Sea Game Died

On Friday my 7th Sea game came to a pre-mature end. It didn't die from a TPK. It didn't die from lack of player interest. It died because somehow over the last couple months I completely lost the thread of the game and what was going on. I lost track of the world, and couldn't get it back. Today I want to talk about that, and how we handled that.

Identifying The Problem
In the near 24 years I've been running games at this point I've never had this happen to me. However, I think I know how it did. We've missed a lot of games lately. It's been very stop and go. Sickness, work trips, family emergencies, planned missed sessions, holidays, all of it has come and gone. Over the past 3 months we've met maybe once? Twice? Combine that with stress from work and the fact I'm running 2 other games, and I think the thread just kinda poofed on me.

Check The Notes
Some of you are probably wondering if I had notes. I did. They didn't help. I had fairly detailed notes for the villains, how they became villains, and what they were trying to do. I had a sketch out of what would happen if unmolested. I had a lot of notes for the game. Enough someone else probably could have picked the game up and ran it. Only, I couldn't. I checked my notes. I went through them several times and couldn't piece together the notes. I was stuck.

Up Front and Honest
The only solution I could find was to be up front and honest with my players. At the beginning of the session I told them the problem and I gave them 3 possible solutions. As a note, we're set to miss the next scheduled session too due to Christmas, so it may have factored.

  1. We do a completely new game, new system and all
  2. We do a completely new 7th Sea game (i.e. re-roll characters)
  3. We continue forward, but assume all dangling plot lines are tied off and done
After some deliberation the group decided on Option 1 and we'll be starting a D&D 5th Ed game soon.

What Does This Mean?
This means that I'll be GMing 5th Ed D&D and not 7th Sea going forward, at least for now. I have no doubt I'll be GMing 7th Sea again soon, though maybe with a different group.

How Do I Prevent This In The Future?
The problem here is two fold: lots of missed sessions, and a bunch of other stuff to do. Neither is really able to be planned around. So, instead, what I'm going to need is a means of moving the game forward even if there is a missed session.

The real problem was lack of touching the world in a meaningful way. That I can fix. Hopefully I won't have to kill another game like this again. Though, I am excited for the coming D&D game now. 


  1. It's never fun when a game dies, and I've noticed it can be really difficult to make the decision to stop the game and try something new. It might be even harder than to keep trying and watch it die a slow death, leaving everyone dissatisfied in the meantime.

    So I hope you don't mind me asking, but how did you eventually decide to present your players with these three options? Is it something you learned through years and years of GMing and experiencing situations you'd rather avoid, or is it more than that?

  2. Honestly, I probably should've made the call before the last session we had but I thought I could salvage it if I got things in motion. Seeing how hard that session was to keep on task, and then the realization that we'd be missing another session right after meant I had to do something because coasting was just going to leave a bad taste.

    Recognizing it came down to experience. I've had games die as both a player and a GM before so I've seen it happen. The signs in particular were problems in keeping track of where the game was aside from the name of the country, difficulty in figuring out what the villains next moves would be, and difficulty in figuring out how the PCs would end up involved. Normally these things are already prepared and good to go before the PCs even get tot he location. From there, it was just a case of playing it out in my head and realizing I had no idea what was going to happen (as I'd also lost mental track of the PCs, even if individual players had not.)

    And no problem in asking at all. Generally problems plotting is my big sign. Like normal hurdles are fine, but when I find myself fighting against the idea or saying I'm in a situation where I need to see what the PCs do (because villains can always have contingency plans) it usually means there is some trouble. THe more it happens, the bigger the problem.