The status of things
So I figure I haven't posted regarding my RPG in a while. Things have been going well on all fronts it seems. I designed a multi-level "dungeon" that has kept them occupied these past 5 sessions, that's 10 weeks! The dungeon is really an airship, a massive airship called The Invincible, not so much. Things are all trying to be tied together storyline wise, and so far two of them have been, the main plot has sadly taken a backseat. A while back I railroaded my players into a storyline that I thought would get them interested in the epic plot I had created, but it seemed that they just resented not being able to play their own way into things. It took a lot of thinking, and even some soul-searching to see if I was even going to continue, but I eventually started thinking from their pov and developed a method for making them happy. Mark will say, "Happy wife, happy home." but I'm not married so I'd have to put my RPers into that slot and I'm not a homeowner so I'll put GM in that spot.
So with a bit more railroading (I got them captured by pirate/slavers, foiled their escape attempts, sold them to a monster arena, killed them, and then sold their corpses to a crazy old inventor who took them away on his airship) I got them in a position to get back to basics. I had a benefactor (the crazy airship man) and he had goals, the party could then work toward those goals, or not and run away. The goals turned out interesting enough to keep them loyal, and then I threw in more options, ones that were easy enough to predict, but that let the players have an amount of choice in their storyline.
So back to this massive "dungeon", their airship captain/crazy-old-man (Dr. Cid) had previously run askew of a very powerful power, the Empire of Rozzaria, who were now trying to catch up with him with The Invincible. Cids airship is smaller and faster, but he can't really shake them, they are tenacious. Some last minute changes to plans, due to The Invincible, strands the party as Cid takes off to hide once more. This allows them to encounter another group of people, The Hokuten Knights. The knights are a rebel group based in the forest north of the town called Timber, their goal: the party hasn't really asked directly yet, but it involves re-forming the city of Cornelia and its surrounding towns, now all part of the Dukedom of Cornelia, once again into the Kingdom of Cornelia, gaining independance from the Kingdom of Thamasa under a rightful heir to the Cornelian throne. The party lets slip something about an airship (fantastic flying contraptions that haven't been seen in this part of the world for a few decades at the least) probably as some sort of status symbol, "Don't mess with us, we've got an airship!" The Hokuten Knights decide that an airship would be a splendid thing to own if they are to take Cornelia by force, especially if their enemies do not have one themselves, air-superiority!
After a bit of a three-way scuffle between the knights, Cid's Moogle crew + the party, and some Rozzarian Imperial soldiers, Cid hatches a plan to get rid of his hunters, save his airship, and satisfy the knights. The party is sent up to The Invincible to take it down, by resequencing its navigation systems, and blowing up its primary lift engines, afterwhich it should descend right where the Hokuten Knights are waiting for it, so that they may take it by force. Cid is essentially wagering his airship on the success of the party, if they fail the knights still get an airship, if they succeed they just get a massively bigger one with lots and lots of firepower. If they kinda succeed, then the knights and the Rozzarians will keep each other occupied long enough for him to make an escape.
As of now they have exactly 15 minutes left before the charges (set on the main fuel lines) detonate. I had to give them a time limit, a dread time limit, otherwise they would have tried to kill the entire crew (600+) themselves (they were actually well on their way). They have beaten the boss, and one character has already made good his escape in a small aircraft. After that who knows... I forsee a lot of loot splitting and gil spending, but really, where to next? I really want to get into the main storyline but I don't see many viable ways to introduce it without it seeming forced, and I'm not doing that again.