The Languid and the Focused

Most of my games have some way for the players to communicate with the GM their desires and what they want their PC to do in the game. In Nefertiti Overdrive and Centurion, these are Pivots. Pivots are not only signposts for the GM, they are reminders to the players of what they said they wanted their PCs to be about.

Pivots are pretty important when I design adventures. The players are telling me this is what they want their characters to do, so I better make sure their characters get to do that. However, there is a large difference between using Pivots in a regular, ongoing campaign and in a one-shot or convention game.

In a campaign, having each character hit at least one Pivot during an adventure is fine. An adventure might last a single session if you are lucky enough to have six-hour sessions. For the adventure I’m running over Google Hangouts for two backers from the Nefertiti Overdrive Kickstarters, our sessions are two hours.

In a one-shot or convention game, the session is the adventure, and it has to fit into a specific timeframe – generally four hours. The adventure in the Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart was designed as a convention one-shot, and fits into a four-hour session. In it, each of the six characters can hit both of their Pivots. I’m finishing my Gen Con adventure right now, and I am wrestling with Pivots to try to make sure each character hits their two.

This is important because in a regular adventure, there might be scenes that have a purpose and might even spotlight a character, but that do not hit a Pivot. In a one-session adventure, each scene needs all three. That’s tough.

Think of the regular adventure or campaign as a novel while the one-session adventure is a short story. A writer can engage in diversions and sub-plots, characters that only tangentially touch on the story but are of interest, scenes that can explore at great length some small point. A short story needs to be laser-focused, everything contributing to moving the story forward.

A regular adventure can be languid and discursive while a one-session adventure must be focused.

You can find Centurion: Legionaries of Rome at Amazon and Drive Thru RPG.

You can find out more about Nefertiti Overdrive here.

You can find the Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart here.

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