Iron Kingdoms – Epic Ghost Ship versus Shopping

iron kingdoms core rules coverThere are many ways to introduce new characters into a campaign. A memorable introduction can really set the tone for how the other players will interact with the new guy or gal. And sometimes, it’s just fun to have a really ridiculous and flashy entrance to help get things rolling.

I had one such entrance planned for a tavern by the docks. Only, the new player caught a nasty stomach flu and couldn’t play. Well, what to do? I had a whole session planned around his introduction and a connected side quest. I didn’t want to let that go to waste.

So I changed some of my long term plans for the campaign and introduce one of the NPCs early, a cheerful but shifty treasure-hunting gobber. He crashed through the tavern window like a missile, skidded across the table, stopped in front of the players, told them to run, and scurried out the door.

Naturally, with an introduction like that, the party ignored him completely and went about their business of picking pockets and brooding in shadowed corners.

Then the bow of a warship crashed through the same tavern wall.

Yes. You read that right. The bow of a warship. You see that players? Ignore my quest-giving NPC will you? Well, guess what? He was right! You’ve got thousands of tons of boat heading straight for you. Think fast or get run over.

Fortunately, they ran.

And now I had the perfect setup. Not only had I delivered the quest-giver directly to the players, I’d delivered the quest location as well. Today would focus on a derelict vessel with a mysteriously slaughtered crew, ghostly lights up on the deck, and treasure deep in its holds. Everything was set up for a creepy journey through its dark, dank corridors. I even had some music ready to set the tone. There’s no way they could screw this up, right?


Yeah. About that.

Erik: Is there any place around here I can upgrade my laborjack?
Jacob Holo: Yeah, sure. Plenty of places to choose from.
Erik: Come on, team. Let’s go shopping.
Sam: All right.
Fiz: Yay! Shopping!
Ferrous Claw: What about the boat?
Erik: It’s not going anywhere.
Jacob Holo: Oh, for goodness sake. You want to go shopping now?
Erik: Well, we don’t know what’s in there. It might be dangerous.
Jacob Holo: Of course it’s dangerous. Something killed the entire crew.
Erik: Right. So, I want to upgrade my laborjack to get ready.
Jacob Holo: Seriously?
Erik: Yeah.
Jacob Holo: I am so sending a Machine Wraith after you.
Erik: What’s that?
Jacob Holo: You’ll find out.

And so the brave party of adventurers went shopping. For waaaaaaaaaaaay too long. They purchased a grand total of 15 arrows, 15 rifle shells, 2 grenades, and a buckler. I am not kidding. With this heavy ordnance, they felt appropriately girded for whatever awaited them. With a final bit of apprehension, they proceeded into the derelict ship where the meat of the session could finally begin.

Let’s recap this, shall we? I set up the session for a fast, exciting start. The quest-giver crashes through the window. The quest location crashes through the wall. The quest is provided with everything in place. The party goes in and starts the adventure.

Time from mission start to target entry?

2 hours.

Uhhh… Sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get these players moving.

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4 replies

  1. I feel your pain. I find that as GMs we always want things to be as cinematic as possible, while the characters are aware they are playing a game and would rather be prepared them create a well paced narrative. You can’t blame them, in a well crafted story characters often die, when you’re playing a game you try and avoid that at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing the narrative flow!

    • Very true, Matt. This particular party is a fun group to GM for. They’re just really indecisive at times and need to be prodded in the plot’s direction. I thought the ship through the wall would do the trick, but oh well. 🙂

  2. I completly understand. My current gorup did this to me all the time. Now I have one player who has taken it upon himself to help me move the story along when the game drags.

    He is REALLY tired of people spending 2 hours flipping thoruhg books during game time trying to figure out what to buy or upgrade or research when there is a mission that for all intents and purposes should be time sensitve.

    Of course the players have really cut down on “wasting” time lik ethis sinc we picked up the IKRPG rules.

    So in the end I still feel your pain.

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