I’m a bit late for day seven, having had birthday parties for kids, myself, and other end of the summer nonsense to deal with, so let’s roll!

“impactful” is a strange word for this…do we mean the most meaningful session for the characters? The players? The storyline? In the current game(s) or from 30+ years of gaming?

I chose to go with recent games — within two years. Probably the most important and emotional session in recent memory for player, character, and for the storyline would have been in our successfully concluded Battlestar Galactica game. The rag-tag fleet had reached Kobol, which was sharply different from the one of the show. This world was overrun by Cylons and was the base of operations for “the Blaze” — some kind of jealous “god” that had destroyed the Kobolians 2000 years ago. To find the way to Earth, they needed to raid the Tomb of Athena.

This was a massive battle set-piece that took two full sessions, and included space, air, and ground battles. The first night was just the insertion of the team which saw a few PCs die. The second session was the real push session: a major NPC and love interest for the “main” character of Galactica‘s commander is fatally injured and dying, they manage to get into the tomb and find there’s a lot more going on than the holographic sky map of the show. The session gave us the deaths of major PCs and NPCs, saw the fleet have to really fight it out with the Cylons, and revealed the metaplot of the game universe — the fight between this Blaze (and his real identity), the history of the gods themselves, as well as Earth, and broke away from the RDM Galactica in a sharp way. (The synopsis here.)

It was also “impactful” in that this was the first time I ran a licensed, established universe and really broke away from canon. I had run Star Trek with a lot of caveats — certain episodes (and series) didn’t happen, tech worked a certain way (no rewiring the deflector dish to fix plot element X), and we explored what the Federation might actually look like. But for the most part, the overarching series themes from the various shows were maintained. The first abortive attempt to run BSG was much closer to the structure and canon of the Moore reboot, and our Serenity  campaign stuck pretty tightly to what we saw in Firefly.

This was the game where I finally learned to treat a universe like a Chinese salad bar: take what you want and leave the rest. It set me up well for the recently on hiatus Hollow Earth Expedition, in which I had to fight my urge to make the game more historical and realistic, instead pushing the envelop on pulp/comic outrageousness. That Galactica session probably also gave me some of the storytelling tools and confidence to really strike out on the current Dungeons & Dragons campaign — which has grown from a alternate Roman period game where a few humanoid critters take the place of other races, and has veered heavily into an intertwined Christian and Classical mythology story involving issues of morality, ethics, and the nature of gods, angels, etc.

That single session was a real jump in quality and confident as a gamemaster and storyteller. It also was one of a few sessions in that campaign that really stood out and had a effect on the players.