My 4th Edition All-Girl Gaming group met on Saturday for our second session. (We have gotten together three times, but the time in the middle was all visiting and no gaming due to a series of unfortunate events and the fact that we were missing a player.) This week we were still missing that player, so I decided not to wait any longer, and presented her as an NPC so we could move forward with the adventure. Her character was serving as an adventure hook, really, as a way to introduce her to the group, since the other three players were all present for the backstory/RP session I blogged about before.
The players all took to that hook with no trouble, behaving almost exactly as I had hoped they would. They did engage an NPC in combat that I hadn’t anticipated being a part of combat, but I was able to roll with that, and it was really my fault for not getting him clear of the “scene of the crime” faster.
What I didn’t anticipate, though, was their first and emphatic response to the campaign hook I introduced that night. None of my girls read my blog, and if they do, I don’t mind them knowing this, anyway. As I introduced the game, I told them that the Count of the region had announced a contest to collect the most impressive caravan of magical creatures, for him to keep as his personal carnival. The winners would be granted an enormous island on a massive inland lake in the Count’s lands, as their very own. I thought, surely, this introduction would make it pretty clear that the intention was for the party to collect their own carnival, too, and compete.
Instead, as their characters stood huddled on the dusty edge of Mommy Fortuna’s ring of cages, they whispered to each other about how wrong this all was, how these creatures (kobolds! a cockatrice! a mummy!) shouldn’t be held captive in these cages and put on display like side-show freaks. They decided that they should free the monsters that Mommy Fortuna had collected, and then travel to the Count’s castle, destroying any other carnival caravans they may find. I was flabberghasted.
This is only my first time as a GM, so I expected rough patches, but this is what my husband (a veteran GM) refers to as “Going East.” It’s when the GM invests hours and effort designing a carefully constructed game world, maps and locations and quest givers and the like, all hinging on the party taking the adventure hook and proceeding West, but then the party chooses to go East.
I have to admit that I’m not entirely certain how to recover from this. I mean, yes… I can certainly trundle a caravan or two down the road every now and them for the ladies to liberate, but the purpose was not to have carnivals cropping up every night! I am going to have to design another unifying arc for this group, I guess, and in the meantime, come up with some adventures/directions to encourage them to travel in the meantime.
I guess you’ll be hearing about it in the future!