Lessons from Buffy's Homecoming

I'm watching Buffy, again. I still find new things there, quite a lot, actually, which is kinda nice. Anyway, in season 3, there's an episode that just screams: "GMs, learn from me!" This episode is on the right with this scream. It's a golden episode for GMs.
So, without any far ado, let's get to the nitty business. What can we learn from this episode?

  • Drama is prominent in the small details and not only in the big ones. Look at the conversation between Buffy and Angel at the beginning of the episode. You can feel the tension in the air. You can sense the drama that whispers in our ears when she tells him that she moved forward. It's a small scene, the only scene with Angel in this episode, and yet it's one of the most dramatic ones in the episode.
  • To create a sense of conspiracy, little hints are all you need. Look at the beginning of the episode, when Scott breaks with her. We suddenly move to a view from a camera. It's all we needed. There's a conspiracy there, and we know it. It was prominent earlier in the season, when Snyder talked about the mayor also. Little details and little hints, and suddenly the sense of conspiracy is there.
  • The protagonists have normal life also. Even slayers like Buffy have normal life, or at least the need for it. A contest for the Homecoming Queen, a basketball game, it doesn't really matter what it is exactly, but give a sense of normality. No one is a hero (or a heroine) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • When done good, party conflicts can bump the tension quite a lot. It can also give excuses for adventures. If there wasn't this conflict, it would have been Buffy and Faith, and as such much less interesting.
  • If the players come with a nonviolent way to solve a violent event, go for it. Cordelia lies to Lyle about being a slayer, and the better one, and it works. Being used after such a conflict between them, I wished to see the face of Buffy when she heard it...
  • Think about how you show your big bad of the campaign. The mayor is presented greatly, with a scene that both shows how he reacts with people, and both shows how evil he is. Having your villain focus on such things as how dirty one's hands are, we get an intriguing fella. Use it.
  • Using meanwhile scenes to present the dangers that are coming to the PCs can be a useful tool. It both shows the antagonists at their peaks, and also creates a sense of danger.
  • Contests are a sure way to get the engines rolling.
  • When organising a cool adventure, think about its name, and present it to the players (and to their characters) in an intriguing way. An exploding TV, a plane that falls on them, a dream sequence... If it will come in a cool way, it will be remembered better.
So, these are my 9 lessons from this episode. How about you? What lessons did you take from this episode?

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