The best-laid plans of GMs and men fizzle into INCANDESCENT STEAM upon contact with the players.
Perhaps I should be doing NaNoWriMo after all. All this seems to be so much better when it's going on in my head.
The big point of today was for the players to learn the identity of the Emperor's assassin. This did come to pass. But I had plans, such as them contacting Elyssisoriel who would say, "I don't want to leap to conclusions, but you should know that Garrett had vibrant purple eyes." These plans fell through--they suspected Garrett well before contacting Elyssisoriel.
My own personal goal was to really do a good job of portraying all the NPCs. To this end, I assigned each of the NPCs to one of the players, with the directive that whenever that player said something, they should remind me to say something for their designated NPC.
This plan sank like a lead balloon. Most of the players showed no interest in the NPCs' reactions, and the NPCs were just too overwhelmed by everything they were told to really have interesting reactions. So I've shortchanged the campaign by this. For example, I'd wanted to establish Karameikos as a cocky glory-seeker, which might add a note of emotion later if his hubris leads him to catastrophe--but there's not much room for that now. And I think the campaign is the worse for it.
I do feel, though, that this experiment indicates more strongly that I'm really not going to be able to portray vivid NPCs within this campaign--at least, not without a lot more help from the players. This is a very bitter pill for my story-oriented side.
Then the PCs decided to go looking for a fight, and they found one. This was reasonably exciting, even though it was a heavily unbalanced fight, because the fight started with Turok fighting alone against the ferocious hell-hound.
Then, the players neatly out-played me. Instead of waiting to take on the vampire (which I had thought wouldn't be for a while yet), they decided to scry on him and teleport directly to him. This is, in many ways, a very good plan--in particular, it neatly subverts a lot of the defenses I had been planning for him for the past month. Fooey.
The other reason it's a good plan is that there's a fair chance that the PCs might get lucky, because they only have to get lucky for a moment.
And we've established that the PCs are all expecting vampiric domination, so I don't get any surprise with that.
Not sure what I'll do yet. Maybe I'll just stew in my juices for a while.
Darn it, I want to feel happy about the results of the game more often.