Short Sessions: Crafting the Two-Hour Mission
Agents of Oblivion immediately struck a cord with me, and by reading this I assume it has already done so with you as well. It was a world I wanted to involve myself in with further, I wanted to play it on a regular basis and allow me to weave my stories of intrigue and the weird together. That desire to run AoO became stronger when I was assimilated by the Blur and donned the uniform of the Tech Ninja. The curtain had been pulled back and I was allowed to see what the Mad Lab was building behind the scenes. I became energized to run this game as often as I could.
The issue is I don’t have a lot of free time. I’m spinning a lot of plates and I just don’t have the time to game like I used to. I struggled with this as I would play the occasional game of AoO and wanted to immerse myself in this world more. Then one day the solution came to me: A Tuesday night game that would only run for two hours.
I immediately reserved a gaming table at my local game store and started getting in touch with others whom I knew would be interested in playing AoO weekly. Then I ran into the next challenge with my idea: What if people couldn’t make it every week? No one wants to miss out on the larger plot arcs that are normally associated with a regular game. I knew I would have to make the games independent enough of each other the players could drop in and out, but also maintain a semblance of a story arc to connect them together.
The games themselves have to follow a basic three to four scene structure that I shuffle to fit the mission: Mission briefing/equipment picks, Investigation, minor battle, major battle. I have had varying degrees of success with the flow and pace of the two-hour game. The one issue I have come across is I have to push the Agents into moving sometimes and glaze over the minor details. You can’t introduce anything into the game just to create red herrings or distractions (which I would argue you shouldn’t do too much of in any game).
Each game is a single mission. Oblivion has to send teams of varying Agent structure together all the time, and one mission may have nothing to do with the last. Every mission is just a piece in the puzzle of the world of AoO. And so far no one has been too last or confused about what is going on. It helps that I e-mail the Agents every Monday and sum up anything that they may need to know.
I talk more about this in my article on the RoleplayDNA site. You might even find an old forum post here on RealityBlurs.com talking about the Tuesday night missions (my handle is Dunthall). I would enjoy talking to you more about this if you have questions or you have your own experiences running the shorter game. I would never want to give up a full night of gaming, but in a pinch a lot can happen in two hours with a group of Agents willing to risk it all to save the world from evil.
Justin aka The Tech Ninja