Blog posts and advice articles I’ve written about roleplaying games (RPGs).
Epic campaigns are tricky to run at the best of times. I think its safe to say that most RPGs are character-driven or location focused. When I say “character driven”, I’m talking about systems like FATE where PCs can pretty much do anything with their character in return for some kind of trade off or disadvantage. It’s not an easy concept for those new to RPGs, or even those who have been playing for years. I found the Aspects of the Dresden Files RPG confusing for quite some time and still aren’t totally clear on them. It also encourages players to create a decent back story. On the one hand it very easy to create an epic plot, but difficult to create an adventure beyond a basic framework, as the PCs can go off on huge tangents from the plot. It can also lead to accusations of favoritism (sometimes quite rightly) on the GM’s part if players aren’t given their own chance to shine.
Location focused is more old school D&D. A dungeon or city is the focus of the campaign, and in itself applies restrictions to what a group can do. The characters are still important but much of their development is the result of a background created earlier, or expanded upon during session downtime. This is the easiest for a GM to run as most players can relate to it from computer games, or personal experience.
I’m planning to go back to running some old AD&D soon at ORC, which includes some higher level games – I also got in on the Rise of eh Drow Pathfinder series too -so I’ve been thinking a bit about things. Whether your game is character-driven or location focused, when the players become seriously powerful then the entire game changes. In D&D, it’s called Epic or Paragon tier – that’s a good enough name for it. It’s when your PCs can go toe to toe (hoof?) with Orcus, Vecna, or the other Bigger Bads. Wizards can warp reality, and fighters can cut through hordes like butter.
So when it comes to epic campaigns, sometimes it helps to do some of the following.
Dr. Evil: You know, I have one simple request. And that is to have sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads! Now evidently my cycloptic colleague informs me that that cannot be done. Ah, would you remind me what I pay you people for, honestly? Throw me a bone here! What do we have?
Number Two: Sea Bass.
Dr. Evil: [pause] Right.
Number Two: They’re mutated sea bass.
Dr. Evil: Are they ill tempered?
Number Two: Absolutely.
Dr. Evil: Oh well, that’s a start
- Austin Powers
Ditch it. I’ve mentioned it before but I really hate Challenge Rating (CR). It should be used by GMs as a tool, not a crutch or other impediment. It doesn’t balance the game – especially when they started assigning CR to traps! PCs should know that running away is definitely an option; sometimes the monsters win! This outcome doesn’t always factor into player thinking as a result of CR, and the “fight or flee” option is definitely one to bear in mind for Epic Campaigns.
The Astartes Effect
“They shall be my finest warriors, these men who give of themselves to me. Like clay I shall mould them, and in the furnace of war forge them. They will be of iron will and steely muscle. In great armour shall I clad them and with the mightiest guns will they be armed. They will be untouched by plague or disease, no sickness will blight them. They will have tactics, strategies and machines so that no foe can best them in battle. They are my bulwark against the Terror. They are the Defenders of Humanity. They are my Space Marines and they shall know no fear.” – The Emperor, the Horus Heresy Bk.1: Betrayal.
Adeptus Astartes, or Space Marines, in the wh40k universe are the genetically-engineered warrior elites of Humanity. They are so powerful that they can gun down or cut through dozens of opponents faster than their human counterparts. I call this the Astartes effect: when a small group of hugely powerful characters are under attack from a numerically superior force; a horde in effect (its as good a name as any). In the Deathwatch RPG (and Black Crusade), there are rules allowing for hordes and for Astartes facing off against them. It helps prevent the game being bogged down with individual damage rolls. In games like D&D, try using narrative combat – unless the PCs are in danger of being overborne or swarmed under. Narrative combat means that players and GMs don’t have to keep account of every single Kobold they hit, but still get a feel for the battle. They’re killing a number of opponents when they hit not one per attack.
”…. like giants in the playground ….” John Sheridan, Babylon 5
Any Epic Campaign should have epic battles. If your PCs can plan and lead the battle even better – but remember to keep it simple initially. Keep in mind that your players perspective is that of their PCs – make them the focus, than the battle as a whole. Don’t have NPCs rushing up and saving the PCs every 5 minutes, and try and make it clear that is pure chaos on the battlefield – whether a fantasy world or the void of space. Watch movies like 300, Zulu, or the various LotR, to see how movie directors deal with this sort of thing – they focus on the characters. Don’t fall into the trap of describing the whole battle: let the PCs think they are pivotal to events.
“NOOOOOOO!” – Luke Skywalker, The Empire Strikes Back AND Return of the Jedi
Epic moments or “White vest moments” are those moments in films that usually have a stirring tune or strong motif. Luke giving in to his anger (Return of the Jedi), John Mclane leaping off the roof in Die Hard (which is why I call them white vest moments). Any time the character has been beaten down, to his last healing surge, and has one last witty rejoinder to say. That’s a white vest moment. The bad guys can have them too, but that’s a bit of an action movie cliche these days. If the PC is dying then let them have them one final moment to pull the trigger, disarm the bomb, hold back the enemy etc.
Plotting blocks of stories
I always have a basic plot outline, but I like to leave some things to be decided while I write. – J. K. Rowling
If you’re planning an epic campaign, make sure it can go the distance. If you’re starting your PCs off at a low level, then its worth taking a leaf out of Babylon 5‘s book and create a long-term story arc or meta plot. Maybe the setting has some meta plot already. Perhaps the villains from the beginning of the campaign gain new powers or advances as the players do, there’s clues to major event that will happen. Or the PCs are in the wrong place at the right time (maybe not right for the PCs!). Also get some ideas from your PC backgrounds and weave them in. Perhaps the best way to do this is write down your ideas and see how they could be made to work together, rearranging them as needed. Just remember, more a few long-term plot lines (3-5 is safe) and it all goes Wheel of Time. ARGH.
Avoid Monster of the Week
If you don’t plan your campaign you’ll likely find yourself stumped trying to find new opponents to challenge your PCs. usually this manifests as Monster of the Week, when a GM throws powerful monsters at a PC party to fill the time. There are plenty of ways to keep your PCs busy: Politics; planar travel; building their castle! In sufficient numbers, even low-level monsters are dangerous to PCs – or their sidekicks. The PCs are the top of the heap at this point, but there will be others out there who will be the “Next Generation” and might be looking to get ahead.
“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” – Inigo Montoya, the Princess Bride
Other adventurers are always good opponents! Not to mention enemies looking to get even – tribal vendettas, demonic vengeance, and undead retribution can all be used to rain down some payback for the PCs earlier actions. When you’re feeling really evil, one of the PCs becomes an evil NPC. That’s tricky to do as you’re pretty much killing off someone’s PC (whether they are still playing or not).
“No sleep till Brooklyn!” – Beastie Boys, No sleep till Brooklyn
Players love their PCs to have magic items, equipment, feats, and powers. They scream blue murder when you take them away – especially if an NPC uses a spell like Mordenkainen’s Disjunction upon them (a spell that strips items of their magic PERMANENTLY). That’s a bit extreme but there’s a strong reliance on these to balance the game at higher levels, providing buffs to the character’s stats. Feats and Powers are nearly staggering in their complexity and variety at higher levels in epic campaigns. Unfortunately this can slow things down immensely (D&D 4e can be very slow sometimes), but when you’re running a epic campaign there’s one thing you can do: use imminent peril.
Imminent peril can be anything from the PCs being hunted, a constant running battle, or being unable to sleep or recharge their powers. An encounter that continues with reinforcements flooding in means that you’ll likely have your players getting worried as their Healing Surges creep down, their powers are used up, and their ammunition depleted… At some point one of the PCs will fall, possibly fatally and at that point you can give the PCs their way out if they committed themselves to hanging around! Sometimes, surrender or fleeing is the only option.
Location-focused games can add another facet: the environment. Places like D&Ds Ravenloft or the Abyss have a lot of magic-resistant creatures who also use magic items themselves. In the Dark Sun setting, the world itself can kill the PCs through dehydration or exposure.
Epic Campaigns & Failure
“A very small man can cast a very large shadow.” – Varys – Game of Thrones
Sometimes things go wrong for the PCs. This should be a fact of life at high level campaigns: the actions of one individual can sometimes have a huge affect. Londo Mollari (Babylon 5) stops caring. As a result the galaxy is plunged further into war by his actions. What about Isildur choosing to keep the Ring of Power in Lord of the Rings? In the latter example, that’s a very good illustration of what can happen when things go wrong for PCs in a epic campaign. A simple choice to keep the Ring after the Dark Lord had fallen, like the PCs looting the fallen – what if they fail to destroy (or decide to keep) a cursed item like the Hand or Eye of Vecna?
Would Elrond have attempted to kill Isildur for the ring to destroy it? He was a “party member”, and we know Boromir and Galadriel were tempted by the ring too – it’s not uncommon that former NPCs, allies or even PCs may turn on their former comrades (in fact that’s common practice in games like PARANOIA or BLACK CRUSADE.
Of course the most spectacular fall from grace is reserved for those who hold themselves to the highest moral standards: Paladins and Jedi, I’m looking at you. For them to fall from grace really is the stuff of epic campaigns. Whether its for love, revenge, or the fact that they doubt themselves: their fall and possible salvation really can be rewarding to run.
Hail to the King
“A new power has arisen” – Saruman, Lord of the Rings.
Even if your PCs have got lands and titles they still need to hold onto them. Politics can be subtle intrigues, a knife in the dark, or it could brutal civil war if the lands and titles were held by someone who does not look kindly upon the PCs. The Nobility may regard them with contempt or fear and the PCs will find themselves involved in some form of politics. It’s not unlikely that a PC could end up as royalty or even married. As we know from Game of Thrones, wedding feasts are great fun for plots! It also possible that the PCs become the new tools of oppression, setting up another Dark Lord (possibly even one of them). All the time spent fighting the establishment and they have become the establishment.
Death is not the end
Despite the reluctance of many GMs to kill off higher level characters, there’s a possibility that the PCs may reach some form of apotheosis or ascension in an epic campaign. They may even become some form of demi-god or aspire to be one – consider liches or even Raistlin Majere in DRAGONLANCE, or the Ancients in STARGATE SG-1. The journey to the point of apotheosis should be full of trials, and should not come easily. It’s also possible that a party can go walking the Planes, Kung-fu style on their own Long Walk. Planar journeys can be a lot of fun for epic campaigns!
So there’s my thoughts on epic campaigns. I hope you’ve found them useful or thought-provoking at least.
I finished running Shadows over Bogenhafen for WFRP last weekend. The experience I had was interesting, to say the least. Although it was fun to run, there are some significant flaws in the supplement and adventure. Although Mistaken Identity from the Enemy Within campaign book is linear it provided quite a good way to get the PCs hooked into going to Bogenhafen. I ran it “as is”, and that may have been a mistake on my part (the first of several).
Now comes the inevitable *SPOILER* alert! If you’ve never played Shadows over Bogenhafen (or the Enemy Within series) for WFRP, be warned. I’m discussing some of the plot here, as well as some of the NPCs! If you’re actually planning to run it, I hope this helps.
Staging Shadows over Bogenhafen
Actually running Shadow over Bogenhafen is quite easy, but you may find yourself flipping through the adventure a lot. It’s about 12 hours to run through, although if things go badly wrong (Apocalypse!), it may take longer. Especially if your Players decide to split the party – it’s a lot more fun when things go wrong that way!
Events take place according to the timetable set out in the book but its sometime a bit tricky to keep track of when things happen. I’d recommend getting a summary printout of the events so that you can refer to them later, or attach them to a GM screen. I often lost track of what day we were on – this can be a bit of a problem unless your players are taking copious notes too. I also made a mistake in starting to run it just before Xmas. This meant a serious time lapse between sessions.
The Schaffenfest is a riot and a lot of fun to run as the PCs blew some of their dosh on armour and equipment in places like Boch and Queller (B&Q). They also had some fun at the wrestling ring with some typical dwarf-elf animosity going on in the wrestling ring. It was pretty much an assault on the senses for the PCs, and one section that went really well. I recommend that anyone running that section try and use as many events as they can, dropping in occurrences like the fortune teller and Elvyra Kleinestun, not to mention some random anarchy. I also inserted Hieronymus Blitzen (a wizard) into the events as the group as no real magic oomph, just in case someone fancied following that path in Death on the Reik. You may want to add other NPCs that can act as mentors or tutors to the Schaffenfest as well.
Players should become aware the when the sun goes down, Bogenhafen is far more sinister place as the river fog creeps in, and the town quietens down for the night. The City Watch are heavily armed and armoured (crossbows, mail shirts and hand weapons make them pretty tough). In hindsight I should have made the Players aware that their PCs carrying weapons were likely to meet with some very serious questions from the Watch. I’ve fairly certain that they would have screamed blue murder.
In previous games, I’d established that “rats of unusual size” were rumored to be living in the sewers as an urban myth: the Warhammer players immediately leaped to the conclusion that Skaven (Chaos Ratmen) were involved. This made the sewer expedition vastly entertaining, with them jumping at every sound. Not to mention highly amusing as the group tried to avoid landing in the Via Cloaca. Worth bringing in things like these urban myths from time – naturally, some of these are false but you never know…
There’s a lot of investigation in Shadows over Bogenhafen. There’s also a lot of running around town chasing up leads, and for me, this was my failure as a GM. WFRP has a very low level of success, with the average human Stat being 30 out if 100. The average skill score relies on these stats, so there’s a very low chance of success, particularly on social Fellowship (Fel) tests. This was where I made a cardinal mistake, and asked for Fel tests when I could have roleplayed them out better. My mistake is that I adhered too strongly to the rules on this. As someone who’s been GMing for a long time, this was pretty much a colossal mistake for me to make. The Players were getting frustrated as result, particularly their low rate of success.
There’s also a lot of “low reward dead-ends”. A lead/NPC seems promising, then the players discover that: the witness is dead, has somehow forgotten everything, doesn’t want to get involved, or was Gideon in disguise. The whole Kastor Lieberung sub-plot effectively dead-ends for the PCs in Bogenhafen. My players missed the fact that they could have gone to the printers to find who ordered the Lock, Stock, and Barl stationery too. If I was running it again, I’d possibly shove a run-in with the Red Crown and also the whole “purpled hand” incident from DotR. However, Adolphus Kuftos could also put in an appearance: by the end of Shadows over Bogenhafen, the PCs are wanted for murder and arson too. The bounty on the PCs is likely to be considerable.
If the players decide to burglarize the Steinhager offices they may get lucky. There’s a lot of cash the PCs can make from this raid (and a spellbook – if you want the Wizard PC to get certain spells later in Enemy Within, this is where to put them), and it was one of the more rewarding incidents in the game. As a GM, I decided to make this gold newly minted (i.e. easily recognisable!) and part of the Steinhager payroll. The following day the Watch were searching the town looking for some freshly minted Gold Crowns, especially the waterfront where the PCs were staying on the Berebeli. The players had a lot of gold, but no way to spend it. Actions have consequences and all that. It was also a good way of getting the PCs to see how much pull the Steinhagers had in the town.
Something for Everyone
As mentioned previously, there’s a lot of investigation going on, and players won’t be able to follow every lead. It can be tricky to keep all the Players engaged. Here’s what I’d do in hindsight:
- If they’ve ever played Call of Cthulhu, the group’s Academics will likely hit the Temple of Verena and the library there. They can also use their elevated social status to try and get in with the merchants and upper classes. Those with magical or healing skills may also be able to help with the diagnosis of Richter or even recognise Gideon for what he is. Not to mention the whole Morrslieb being full as a Bad Thing.
- Warriors haven’t much to do except in a couple of situations, and at the Ritual (add a few Bodyguards to make it a little more “tasty”) . They should probably get involved with wrestling at the Schaffenfest, and a drunken brawl or the joust there. The Guardian Daemon should be beefed up a bit, perhaps with a couple of magical powers too. Alternatively, use a Pink Horror . Make sure they get attacked by the Giant Rats (of Unusual Size) in the sewers too.
- Rangers should get the chance to shine in the sewers with their tracking skills, and possibly their Hide skill during any stake out. There’s not much “wilderness work” for them, but their BS skills may also come in handy at the Ritual, e.g. shooting the knife out of Teugen’s hand for example.
- Rogues will probably spend most of their time talking to NPCs or sticking their nose where it’s not wanted. Try and orchestrate a meeting with Baumann at the Crossed Lances, or a Rogue notices a Thieves Guild symbol. They could also have to talk their way out of the Crossed Lances out of they wander in thereby mistake from the sewers.
The Ordo Septanarius aren’t a Chaos cult as such, more like a secret society – and that’s how I played it to the players. However, once they found the “temple”, they pretty much went on the whole “Dark God” schtick. However I managed to make it quite clear that the group had powerful friends in the town. They fixated on the Ordo as a cult though: there was no way that the Players were going to believe that the Ordo were some benevolent organisation (particularly after fighting the Guardian Daemon).
To summarise, Johannes Teugen is planning to open a Chaos Gate in the town. He has been duped by a Lesser Daemon of Tzeentch, by the name of Gideon. Teugen believes that he and his followers, the Ordo Septanarius, will be rewarded if they complete a ritual designed to give them “wealth and power”. It’s a lie of course, concocted by Gideon for Teugen. My concept of Teugen is someone who’s 100% control of any situation: he’s used to getting his own way and no scruffy band will stop him. His appearance really put the fear of god into the PCs at the interview, as most are used to playing FRPGs where vampires and the like can wield huge power…
Gideon is a Lesser Daemon of Tzeentch. Not a Pink Horror, just an “independent contractor”, as it were. The adventure was written before Realm of Chaos came out, so fair enough. However, if I was to run it again, I’d make Gideon a Chaos Champion (with magical powers), not a Daemon. He’s a bit too human and underpowered – plus a Chaos Champion makes a great nemesis further down the line. Also, Gideon is very much more than Teugen’s hitman. He has his own agenda, and he interactions with the PCs pretty much make him more than a glorified Pink Horror. He’s the one that frames the PCs for arson AND the murder of Magirius. He deserved better treatment than he gets in the adventure.
Changes to the adventure
Running it “as is” was something of a mistake for me. Looking back, there’s a few things I’d change:
- Make a Gideon a Chaos Champion, not a lesser Daemon. A number of his abilities are essentially magic powers.
- Make the Guardian Daemon a Pink Horror. The Ordo knows nothing about it.
- The PCs arrive at the warehouse when the Ritual has already begun, and the PCs are already on the run (for both arson and murder). If they hide out inside, add some armed Bodyguards (they’re paid generously for their silence!).
- If the PCs decide to raid the homes of Teugen or Steinhager it should receive the full weight of the City Watch’s attention. The Adel Ring has regular patrols, and both houses have their own guards. Teugen and Steinhager may not be there anyway.
- Throw in a few NPCs like a mercenary captain or other advanced career at the Schaffenfest. If the PCs want to progress to a new career, the Schaffenfest is a great way to introduce possible tutors or mentors.
- Don’t rely on Fel tests. Let the Players roleplay it.
- Aside from Temples to Shallya and Verena, the various Temple Priests aren’t mentioned. Come up with NPCs for them (or at least the ones for Boganeur, Sigmar, Ulric and Myrmdia). Chances are the PCs will visit them.
- Make sure that heavily-armed PCs wearing armour roaming the streets attract a lot of attention from the Watch. This can lead to them getting hauled up before Richter on charges, or hauled in front of the Watch Captain, Reiner Goertrin, for a “chat”.
- If your PCs decide to do their own thing – ignoring leads, making a mess of the plot, legging it out of town, and generally making a nuisance of themselves in the town – without at least trying to stop the ritual, then let them. Unleash the full horror of “Apocalypse!” upon them. If you’re a cruel GM you could do this as well, but the Players should at least feel they tried to stop it.
Although it didn’t happen in my game, it could have (and I’d have huge amounts of fun doing it!). Apocalypse! should cost the life of at least one PC (but avoid a TPK – Total Party Kill), and the whole atmosphere should be one of panic. Don’t give them a chance to plan things out in detail – get them to react. If it means leaving a PC behind so be it – remember you’ll have Pink Horrors roaming the streets, possibly a Lord of Change to terrify the PCs as it manifests – and of course Tzeentch himself (automatic Terror tests!). Don’t let up on the pace as the PCs flee the doomed town – the Chaos Gate widens slowly. Add Discs of Tzeentch (Void Sharks) to harry the PCs, and Flamers randomly setting buildings and people on fire, Tzeentch’s hand scooping up felling townsfolk etc.
This is epic fail mode for the PCs – roll out the disaster movie cliches and anime-style explosions – use Godzilla and Avengers Assemble for inspiration on how to trash a city! Remember that this will have ramifications on Death on the Reik and later, so you may have to do some more work for those!
Running a VC RPG
It seems to be a given these days that whenever an RPG session is planned, at least one player can’t make it. It’s a bit of a pain at the best of times, but many groups seem to cope. Others have turned to using technology to allow other players to participate, no matter the distance. Video Conferencing (VC) is a powerful collaboration tool often used in academic or other collaborative environments. Running a VC RPG session can be a bit of a challenge but it doesn’t have to be, provided you make a few allowances. Although VoIP and other tools are also involved in many cases, we’ll stick with calling it VC RPG.
I did a degree in AV Technology back in the 90s. Technology has moved on and evolved significantly since! The ‘net was still largely unused at that time – most people had access through dial-up modems at the time. The speeds and technology available weren’t really up to spec. Until the broadband “revolution”, the technologies required were way too expensive.
Nowadays it’s a lot easier to run a VC RPG. All you need is a broadband connection, webcam, and microphone. You also need to consider whether you want to run it completely over a VC, or combine it with an actual “live” session with other players. When one or more players are remote it requires a little shift in the way a game runs.
Equipment you’ll need
Unless you can afford a device such as a Polycom HDX professional VC unit, you’ll need a webcam, microphone and computer. At work I’ve used the Logitech Webcam Pro 9000 andLogitech C310. The C310 is superior, as it uses auto-focus and actually doesn’t work too bad for the cheap cost – plus it is also High Definition (HD). The microphone quality will usually be pretty poor: if you are the only participant you might get away with it. I’ve also heard to that the X-Box Kinect can also be used although I can’t comment on how effective it is. You may not even need a video link, but it is recommended.
Where you might skimp on video quality, good audio is essential. If you are hosting a VC with multiple participants you should probably look at something like the CM11b microphone or Jabra Speak 410 USB. These are pretty cheap and should pick up what the group is saying. If you’ve got some serious cash, the Duet Executive from OneVideo is a bit expensive but the audio quality is excellent.
Below are links to some of the equipment I’ve just mentioned.
Running the VC RPG
At work, we use the JANET Access Grid software – this uses a piece of software called IOCOM VisiMeet. This works as a single collaboration tool that also allows multiple cameras, desktop sharing, etc. It’s likely that it’s too expensive for home users, but it might be worth considering if you got money to burn.
However, by far the best solution is Skype. It is designed for multiple participants and has a proven record. Microsoft’s acquisition and their recent faux pas with their WSUS update service, may tarnish that reputation somewhat though! The best tools for running the actual game itself is MapTools from rptools.net. It may need a bit of technical know-how (requiring ports opened on a firewall) and uses Java. It can be a powerful tool, and also allows scripting as well.
No matter what you’re using, the actual set-up can make all the difference. If you are the only participant it does not really matter. If there are others you may want to consider the following guidelines.
- Try and find a location that does not have sudden loud noises like doors slamming, sirens etc. These can drown out what people are saying. The human ear can filter out audio, most mikes can’t.
- Make sure that your players understand that they shouldn’t talk over each other, or carry on other conversations – microphones pick up everything.
- If you can, cover the gaming table with soft cloth (like a tablecloth). It will muffle the sounds of clattering dice and shuffling papers during a VC RPG.
- Run a VC RPG in a small room rather than a large hall. You can minimise echo with some soft furnishings like cushions or sofas. A carpeted room is better than a laminate or concrete floor.
- Place the microphone in a central location – closer to the GM than the players.
- Make sure that anyone remote from the session gets a chance to speak, and make sure the GM speaks clearly to the room during a VC RPG, not just a single player.
- Check that the audio is working and set it up before the VC RPG starts (both spoken and heard at both ends).
- Make sure that the camera covers the entire room and that all the group can be seen. This might need some furniture rearrangement!
- It is easier to understand people when they face you. Try and avoid people having their back to the camera.
- Point the camera away from light sources or windows. With most cameras, white balance will be affected by strong sources of light. It can a lead a “flare” effect and the group may appear to be in darkness.
- Make sure the room is well-lit. Remember: avoid pointing the camera directly at light sources.
- Ensure the auto-focus doesn’t continually reset - a lot of movement will set it off and readjust so again keep the camera pointed away from windows or areas with a lot of passing traffic or people.
- Make sure that any trailing cables are squared away for safety. It also stops the camera from tipping over.
- Check that the camera works and set it up before the VC RPG starts.
In summary: running a VC RPG for this first time isn’t easy. It will get easier though. If you give yourself enough setup time and invest in a bit of effort initially, a VC RPG will run well.