First of all, several characters were reduced to negative hit points, and, although they survived and have undergone magical healing, will now be out of play for several days. This means they will not be out of action for some considerable time while they heal. Their players have presently taken on the roles of the Trog guides (and are doing a marvelous job of role-playing them too, I might add).
Like most of my fellow Old School Bloggers, I believe very strongly in the idea that the game world should not revolve solely around the actions of the players. There are multiple factions on the island, each with their own agenda and their own timetable. The player characters might disrupt these activities (intentionally or otherwise) but these plots won't necessarily rely on the actions of the players. Or even (at least initially) include the PC's as a factor to be considered. After all, how could they? Most of the factions on the Island don't even know the PC's are there yet. This brings is to the second interesting situation that arisen: a very major campaign event is about to occur which will directly effect the player characters. Only it's happening in a location that MOST of the current PC's aren't anywhere near.
Third, I stopped the session right in the middle of the dungeon, rather than ending it back at camp like I usually do. This is because our time ran out at a cliff-hanger I just couldn't ignore: when the PC's first encounter the Shroom in his lair. This complicates things somewhat. While most of the players booked in for next Friday have characters in or near the Caves that can participate in the boss fight, others will not. Seeing as I personally regard allowing someone else play my characters in my absence with abject horror (at least in an Old School game) I'm not about to let any-one play someone else's character either.
How then, am I going to keep everyone involved in the game?
Tonight, I gave everyone present the task of the creating their spare character. I'll also contact the other players on facebook and advise them to do the same. While most of the players (and their primary characters) will be fighting the Shroom, the spare characters will be actively engaged in the major event happening elsewhere. By cutting back and forth between the caverns and the major event every few rounds or so (at dramatically appropriate moment) every player present next Friday should have at least one character actively engaged in the session.
I"m also going to rule that anytime a character has to recover from being taken down to negative hit points, rather than playing an NPC like Sparious, the player takes over their spare character temporarily. Rather like the old Character Tree system in 2nd ed Darksun, it means that the player can continue to accrue XP that benefits the player, rather than XP that only benefits an NPC.
It's been a while since I've ran a big cut-scene with two major battles running simultaneously. In fact, I think both of the last two occasions have been during Star Wars campaigns where ground combats and space combats were going on at once. I'm rather looking forward to it. Going by the players reactions last time, they were an absolutely huge success that left all involved (including me) with an awesome buzz at the end of the session.
Let's hope we can repeat that success this time round.
Appendix: Instructions for creating your spare character.
- At the moment, your spare character must be human. Once (if) the PC's make friendly contact with non-humans of a player character race, the option to create a non-human PC will become open again.
- You can choose any class or multi-class combination open to humans under the House Rules.
- The spare PC starts with a quarter of your main characters current XP.
- Don't bother selecting any equipment. You probably won't start with any -although there are a few spare weapons lying around back at the Temple (mostly stuff made by Thoht and Andros) which you might have access to. The reason the main characters are the most active members of the group is because they have all the best gear available. After next Fridays session, you're spare characters will only be able to use equipment which they find themselves or which is donated to them by another PC.