I'm presently running a campaign in a custom sci-fi universe (using Chaosium's BRP system as a ruleset) and my party have just finished getting through the equivalent of what in a fantasy game would have been a large multi-session dungeon and a major boss. The characters are now in a town-like space and are all taking part in individual mini plots they've self-selected from a set I constructed for them in the town as part of recovery from the harrowing big adventure.

Is it still important for me to have at least one major action or combat encounter for the party as a whole to take part in or should I let these stories continue, potentially with no-major combat at all for a session?

To provide some additional context, the game is no magic but soft sci-fi, with the main focus of the adventure being for them to solve a mysterious conspiracy they've all got accidentally involved with while having fun exploring this universe which I'm developing as they go.

Gameplay has been normally clue finding and heavy NPC interaction and story, with a few combats sprinkled in when the party encounter those involved in the conspiracy, but the last few sessions were higher combat as they had entered an innocent ship that's computer system had been corrupted by a criminal they were chasing and they had to get through many malfunctioning security systems to reach them. I come myself from being a player of lots of Cthulhu and Deadlands campaigns so a heavy story focus comes from that.

I am worrying about accidentally having a 'boring' session after a major action one, so should I plot out a specific event in the town that will almost certainly trigger combat or action and guide the party towards it, or should I leave off and let things return to a more relaxed pace for a while?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this question is really answerable in its current state. The answer depends on what is your game about, what your players' expectations are. We don't know this. \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    Oct 11, 2018 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the feedback on my question, I'll see if I can add a few more details. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nidonocu
    Oct 12, 2018 at 9:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ Even after edit, the problem with the question is that there is no clear question. I recommend you propose a specific course of action rather than an open-ended inquiry. "Should I do [this]?" or "Is [that] a bad idea?" \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12, 2018 at 12:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Okay, I've added a more specific closing question, one which ValhallaGH was able to infer and has so far given a good answer, but I'm keen obviously for other opinions and ideas! \$\endgroup\$
    – Nidonocu
    Oct 12, 2018 at 13:28

1 Answer 1


Combat is NOT required for an interesting session.

I've had entire sessions, as player and GM, that were just in character shopping expeditions. And everyone had a lot of fun.
I've had other sessions with lots of conversation, investigation, world building, and relationship development; again with no combat. Complete success.

As long as everyone is having fun then you don't need to have a combat. But if someone is getting bored with the lack of violence then you may need to introduce some. It might be a purse snatcher in the vicinity, a mundane mugger that chose the worst possible targets, vengeful lackeys of the recently defeated villain, assassins sent by the True Mastermind, or part of a location based story.

If you do have a combat scene in town, make sure it ties into a larger purpose. It might simply showcase the current crime rates, the hopeless nature of the populace, the casual brutality of the ruling regime, or similar "set dressing". It might be the first hooks of the next story arc. It might be foreshadowing for a future story arc. It might be another clue to the Big Bad behind everything. But whatever it does, it needs to serve that larger purpose.
Don't interrupt the characters' fun day off for meaningless violence. That can sour an otherwise excellent, if pacifistic, session.

Good luck!


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