This post stems from a short conversation on the Adept Play discord, which I recommend visiting.
I recently had a half-mediocre experience playing Solar System. I’m feeling kind of disappointed because I was feeling very excited both about this game and this very campaign. We were playing using the Elder Scrolls setting as a starting point and one of the players – who’s a bit more experienced with the game – had written some Solar System crunch to go with it.
I don’t know if I’m preparing wrongly as a GM, but I’m struggling to bring the Keys and themes into play in practice at the table. We’re at the third session, the first being occupied almost exclusively by character creation, and it seems that the game quality is going down rather than up. After a second session which had a couple of dull moments but seemed to be going in the right direction as we were ‘finding our voice’ with these characters, who they are and what is their deal, I was expecting the third session to improve as we learn to focus our scenes on what matters to us. However, I had the opposite experience.
The system makes a lot of sense to me while reading it, but it seems that I’m missing something while playing it. Or – best guess – I’m preparing improperly. The setting is already there, and all the players were familiar with it, except for one – and that’s a good thing, since he brought a fresh perspective on it – and we’re using the community wiki pages as loose guidelines and inspiration.
My preparation has been this: I set my mind on a bunch of major NPCs who were likely to have objectives who touched on the character’s Keys. During the session, I took the first occasion to introduce such NPCs while keeping their motivations in mind. I try to follow what the players want to do, but I have no issue aggressively setting a scene with a dramatic coincidence or some other contrivance in order to bring some question to the forefront.
There is also the fact that two of the players are young and new and one of them stated during the debriefing that they were not making the best use of their characters in the last session. One player had technical issues with the Discord call which exacerbated the general murkiness. And finally, we were all a bit learning the rules, so going into the first extended conflict things slowed down a bit too much.
In any case, it seems like this campaign will not continue – but I would like to try Solar System again in the future and possibly learn from whatever mistake I made in this case.