I run a fortnightly D&D 5e game for coworkers set in a nonsense jumbled-up mess of a campaign world kind-of-but-not-entirely-inspired by Ultraviolet Grasslands. I’m taking the same GMing approach here as I do with my local group’s Savage Rifts game – hold on loosely and don’t worry too much about continuity or geography. Last session we had a 2 hour fight that despite everyone’s best efforts still advanced the “story”.
Our sessions are only 2 and a half hours, by the way. Some of that time was spent trying to establish if the bard’s player was truly a hipster. I’m still not sure we know yet.
Coaxing the party the rest of the way through a Stargate-esque magic mirror and into a deadly forest took the following: one of the ranger’s sworn enemies, coinage, and the impending threat of a subterranean cartilaginous giant yoinked from Deep Carbon Observatory from the previously “safe” side of the mirror. Could I have split the party? Probably! In a longer time slot, it could’ve been pretty cool to have one group explore the deathworld-style forest while the remainder tried to finish clearing the wizard bunker they hit last session, but with our limited time it would’ve probably left several players with little to do.
Most of the session was spent dealing with the nest of harpies that had brought the forest-side mirror to their lair, magpie-style. The commotion from *that* fight drew the attention of a rival group of adventurers led by one of the ranger’s sworn enemies. He was able to sway some of the mercenaries to either stay out of the fight or switch sides, which evened the odds considerably until displacer beasts showed up, drawn by *this* battle’s noise and blood.
We had to call it there, with the ranger’s nemesis jumping off a cliff rather than face down the hungry displacer beasts as well as a beefy party. I’d say the lesson I learned from this session was that I shouldn’t tease out the PCs’ background relationships. I should hammer the group with their own hooks as often as I can. I’m going to double down on this and have the nemesis guy looking for an oracle that the halfling wizard PC is also hunting. The players would go for it anyway, because despite being pretty new to RPGs they all get the idea that you buy into the adventure in front of you, but it’s a good opportunity to pass the spotlight around.