Development, heroes, villains, and previous session notes for this game can be found at http://adeptplay.com/comment/1682#
Our final session, after Breakthrough and his daughter encountered Arachnon and his daughter at the comic convention, contained a GMing decision I want to ask about.
Early in 2019, the Adept play forum had a discussion of the GM technique of creating events wherever the players go vs. having situation develop based on prep. At this writing I can't recall the term for the wherever-you-go-there-you-find-it approach, but I hope what I've said here is specific enough.
I will describe that game situation and the decision I made. I'm wondering where it falls in the range between those two approaches.
Situation and Play
AJ, Breakthrough, is now at the comic convention with his daughter (DNPC) Ellie and her friend, Angel, DNPC of the villain Arachnon. Breatkthrough and Arachnon, in their secret IDs, did not recognize each other. When an alien space craft crashlands a mile south of the convention, Arachnon gets a message and asks AJ to watch both the kids while he runs off to something urgent. The characters are ignorant but the players all know Arachnon is running off to get involved with the space craft.
Meanwhile the other player heroes, Radioshack and Gray Wraith are in the villain base they cleaned out the night before. They and the representatives of the Technology Oversight Security Service are escorting the escaped alien Vell Princess to see if she can use the dimensional tap power generator of the based to signal her fleet to come rescue her.
At this point, the spaceship of a Von Hunter slams into the cieling of the base and the heros must fight off the attempt to capture the Princess. This is of course the same incident Breatkthrough witness through the conventions window and the same event Arachnon was called away to support his team with. (they've got a temporary alliance with the Von).
Unknown to the players, Arachnon and Spinmeister are trying to sneak into the base during the alien fight in order to trigger the generator to self-destruct and wipe out evidence and research.
This is all developed from prepped material and what happened in the previous session.
Two of the players are involved in a phase by phase battle over the base, Breakthrough's player has decided his character is going to stolidly keep the kids safe. So, while two players are in what looks to be an hour of fighting in real time, I was anxious about Breakthrough's not having anything to do.
At this point, I decided to pull out something that wasn't originaly planned. One of Radioshack's hunteds was a kind of cyber-luddite group opposed to Amazon and it's secret villain organization APEX, which includes Arachnon and other villains mentioned in earlier posts. The Luddites had never made an appearance and had no prepped plans, but I decided to bring them in.
They show up in cosplay disguise and attempt to kidnap Arachnon's daughter — only they make a mistake and grab Ellie instead. They're nonsuper, so Breakthrough takes them on and drives them off before they can grab anyone.
Meanwhile the other two players have almost defeated the invading Hunters and their robots.
During Breakthrough's fight with the luddites, Breakthrough puts together that Angel is Arachnon's daughter and, thus, the guy who ran off is a villain. When Breakthrough's battle is done, he borrows Angel's phone and calls Arachnon to tell him his daughter was in danger. Arachnon acts on his psychological limitation about his daughter and aborts what he's doing, saying he will return and pick up Angel.
I used an audience only cutaway technique that I've used a couple times before to show off stage activity. Eg "We see a cutaway panel where Arachnon is tunneling under the city towards the generator room of the base. Spinmeister is following him through the tunnel, carrying detonators, when Arachnon gets the special ring tone for his daughter, speaks with Breakthrough, and turns back, much to Spinmeister's annoyance. They won't be able to trigger the base self-destruct now."
This was the first time the players learned someone was trying to backdoor the base. While no one commented on it, I felt that letting Breakthrough know his actions had had major effect on the ongoing plot was valuable.
Breakthrough, AJ, had a nice little father to father scene where he and Arachnon, back in secret ID, tacitly agreed not to fight. Arachnon took Angel home.
The session ended there, with the Von Hunters and the villains driven back. Radioshack tuned the dimensional tap generator to contact the Princess's fleet through hyperspace and signal for rescue.
Final Observations and Questions
I found the outcome of play was very satisfying and the final mood of the players supports that. But I did throw in some adversity just to give a player something to do. I guess that speaks to my own anxiety wanting to keep all the player's happy.
After the session, Bill, Breakthrough's player said he was happy with the opportunity to play his character's concerns even if it meant not being involved in a time-consuming fight. He found it rewarding.
I might take Bill's response as a lesson that I don't have to be so worried about that. Breakthrough's decision not to find a way to ditch the kids and join the big battle was a statement of character that Bill enjoyed. I wonder how things would have gone had I not thrown the Luddites at him? It seems that some judicious use of creating conflict where none was planned contributed some great extra spin to the plot.