Our group was a little smaller than usual this last session. Two players got plucked away by PAX and so there were just four people for me to torment. I thought it went fairly well. I managed to dump a lot of info onto the players and did so in a fashion where they couldn’t really help but share the big chunks. I think the only thing that nagged me was one player who managed to get himself a bit orphaned. I never know what to do in those circumstances.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going off to a location distantly seperated from the other PCs.”
“And what are you going to do there?”
“Something that will take me off camera for several hours of game time.”
I never know what to do with that. As a GM, I try to be a conductor of fun, but sometimes there’s just a disconnect between what I’m offering and what the player wants. I’ve been the player in those situations and invariably it comes about for me because I’m stuck and trying to see if there’s some small clue that I have strangely overlooked. One campaign I played in it became such a problem that I based my internal terminology off the experience: swimming in the Abyss. (To the tune of “Soulful Strut.”)
As a GM, I always dread that scenario. The scenario where a player is trying to follow my cookie crumb trails, does something I don’t know how to deal with but inadvertantly provide enough positive reinforcement that the player ends up spending a large chunk of the session doing that one thing, certain that if they keep doing it they will be Greatly Rewarded.
The scenario that arose this last session was a bit different. The PC had started out vastly seperated from the rest of the group and I just didn’t have enough earth shaking plot devices to throw at him as he led his army though the arctic wastes. So he got a lot of me improvising roleplaying scenarios, which is always awful for me as a GM because I’m not great with NPCs. (Though I think Whisper, the sycophantic ghost-blooded, was a hit.)
Then, after the players get merged back together, things go pretty well till close to the end, and then he splits off to do what ultimately amounts to administrative work. Everyone else is having this intense conversation in the daimyo’s palace because they all stuck close together and were easy to reach. He’s off sleeping with his character’s girlfriend. Which in my games is kind of a non-event. You don’t really get romantic build up. It’s just “My character is going to have sex!” “Great! Fade to black! Moving on to the next player!”
The obvious solution is just to email him and check in on how he’s doing. I got most of this written before that thought occurred to me. (Which is funny, because it’s the first bit of advice I give everyone else.) Because it could be he’s satisfied. It’s often hard to guage how interested someone is into the game their doing when they aren’t actively engaged with you. But just because they aren’t highly active doesn’t necessarily mean they are bored. Which in the end is that I need to learn to be less paranoid about player satisfaction as a GM.