The first game session is always the hardest.

“You all start in a tavern” is a cliche for a reason — it’s a pain in the butt to bring together a bunch of strangers without making it sound contrived. Especially when several of them have no reason to breathe the same air.

I forget how I started Praise of Stone a year ago, but I started Works and Days by asking tons of questions and pointing fingers. I tried to figure out why the outsiders were in Thebes, and I tried to figure out why the natives would get involved.

For Praise of Stone I planned out a veritable amusement park of activities for the players to observe and participate in — I didn’t do that for Works and Days. Months and months ago, I decided I was going to aim for a low-stress campaign. That’s the primary reason for introducing Beliefs and Instincts.

Once I had established roughly where everyone was — or maybe before that, I don’t remember now — I described an earthquake. I’ve been meaning to incorporate more natural disasters into my stories, and the new Greek campaign seemed opportune.

For the most part, the characters were all simply near one another when the chaos started. Talus tried to take advantage of the confusion by pick-pocketing some locals, but he botched the roll. Two big guys dragged him into a building to beat him up.

Malako looked for a convenient place to loot, and botched his dice roll too. He ran right into a building that was on the verge of collapse when the big guys dragged Talus inside. Malako tried to help out, but wound up getting thrown about.

Jason had clambered up to the rooftops to avoid the chaos of the streets when he spotted Talus and Malako in a building that was threatening to collapse. He dove in through the window to help — and grievously wounded one of the big guys.

The big guy ran out of the building, bloody and screaming, and barreled into Sorrow — knocking her down and infuriating Reverence in the process. Reverence started screaming for the guy’s blood, and a wounded Malako was happy to oblige.

As the smoking corpse of the first big guy collapsed onto Sorrow, Jason chased the second guy out of the building, where the party quickly dispatched him. By that point, everyone had demonstrated some helpful skill, so they decided to band together.