Who runs the city (or cities) that your players are based out of or traveling through? This is an important detail of flavor that Johnn goes into great detail with in his post.
In my earlier days of gaming, I always took death before retreat. That was my immaturity showing through. Later on, I’d still be reckless because I had the “I can load my saved game” mentality going… even though that wasn’t the case. As I’ve gotten older and more experienced with life in general and role playing games specifically, I’ve grown accustom to running away from certain fights. There are some obstacles that are best left alone or gone around when it comes to gaming. There’s no need to rush into every fight as if death wouldn’t happen and success was guaranteed.
YES! Strongholds (or schools or churches or temples or guilds or cities or kingdoms or whatever) have a place in every role playing game. There comes a time when the amassed wealth of a character (or group) can only be put to use in building a stronghold of some kind. Sure, more potent magic items could be obtained, but there comes a point when it’s time to start a new path with strongholds. In almost every game that I’ve played in the past 15 years (which isn’t many since I’m usually the GM,) I’ve had a long-term goal of establishing a stronghold or school or temple or something similar to that. Only once have I pulled it off, though…. and it was very rewarding for me as the player.
I’m linking to this article for one reason: The Hierarchy of Dominance. If you do nothing else with this link but read the list near the top of the post, you’ve done yourself a favor. This goes for players, GMs, game designers and anyone else remotely involved in role playing games. My hat’s off to Mike and Blair for putting together such a succinct and wonderful list. Thanks!
I’m linking to this post because it is spot on. As a GM, it aggravates me when a player is always at the ready with a nocked arrow (even after miles of marching,) their shield on their arm (even though they’re drinking a tankard of ale,) or have their crowbar, spikes and fifteen pound sledgehammer at the ready (even though they’ve clearly stated that it’s on the mule.) As a case-in-point: Last week, our camp was ambushed by some serpent-woman-caster-thing that choked our campsite with smoke and other nastiness that forced us to run from camp. It was the 4th out of 6 watches, so it was pretty much in the middle of the night. The only person armed and armored was the thief since she was on watch. The rest of us were sleeping in our skivvies, but with weapons nearby. When the battle started, we grabbed our handy weapons, jumped from our bedrolls and ran around like chickens with no heads since we couldn’t see through the smoke. We ran around the edge of the camp long enough to allow the serpent woman to grab damn near all of our gear and spirit away with it. The fighters lost their weapons (except the main ones they were using,) their armor, their coins and all of their survival gear. The end result was a group stranded in a swamp with no way to track the serpent woman that had absconded with our gear. (One character [mine] did have a soul-attached ax that the woman ran off with that we were able to use to track her to her city.) Could we have claimed to have been sleeping in our armor and have our gear in hand while fighting? Sure. Would that have been bullshit. Absolutely. If we pulled such a stunt, what should the GM do? Allow it and punish us later? Call it was it was (bullshit) and not allow it? Just let it pass? In this case, we were all experienced role players and we, the players, did the right thing in stating that we had nothing on us but our skivvies and our weapons. Damn, I can’t wait to get my hands on that serpent woman when we play again in a few weeks.