This is a couple of days late. I think I’m slipping down into a depression cycle. I didn’t much feel like doing lots of anything over the weekend (a sign of a down cycle in my bipolar), so I didn’t do much other than play video games. Part of the problem is that my family (wife and son) have been out of town since the 17th, and I miss them horribly. As much as I like being left alone sometimes, I don’t think I could live the life of a hermit. My family returns tomorrow. I can’t wait for them to get back home!
Anyway… I have a few (very few) links for last week. I’m not sure what happened last week. Maybe I was more picky? Maybe I missed some good posts? Maybe the RPG blogosphere was light last week? Not sure.
Here are those links!
Mike has a good layout and plan for an improvised campaign. I like this quite a bit. The only thing I’d add is “hooks.” This falls into two categories in my mind. The first is “Hooks for the PCs” and this can come in the form of factions, rumors, recent events (personal and otherwise), and named NPCs. The second is “Hooks for the Setting” where the setting evolves and changes itself around the PCs actions. What balls are in motion? What courses of action are already moving forward that will impact the PCs. How can the PCs alter this inertia? I fully realize these are “prep work” things and this post is about improving a campaign. I feel like these are “prep lite” activities that can be (as Mike has done with parts of this article) on public transportation… or at a lunch break, or some such. Don’t get me wrong. I do love what Mike has here even if I did spot a small gap in the information provided. Also, the player briefing near the bottom reads a bit long to me. I’m avid reader. Most of my players are avid readers. However, if I were to drop this document into their inbox before “session zero” or provide printouts at that same session, they wouldn’t read it. Maybe that’s where my players differ from Mike’s players. I wish (oh how I wish!) that my players would invest a little into background information, but that’s just not gonna happen with my group.
These are really cool sets of maps, and this one in particular looks really fun to run a group through. If I didn’t tie it into the larger setting, I’d probably provide more entrance/egress points, but since this is part of a larger complex, it looks great as it is!
I’ve always wondered that why, in a world with powerful magic, were tools beyond the basics ever invented? I get it if magic was suppressed or didn’t exist for a long time and then came about to disrupt the status quo. However, in most fantasy settings, magic was and always was. If magic is highly limited, that’ll explain the use of technology. However, in worlds where magic feels common place, I would love to see a magical “IT” economy in play. I also love Matt’s idea of a “goblin Internet.” Heh. So many ideas sprouted in my head from that one.
I’ll admit that I only skimmed this article. As the politics got heavy in this one (for good reason, it’s a post about politics in gaming!), I checked out. I’m not much one for political issues, debates, hatred, and rants. This post was nothing along those lines, but those are the emotions that I feel (that’s on me, not Mike), when politics are brought up. Anyway… I did read the RPG-related section of this post with much of the other context. In that summary section, I see Mike’s point (I hope). It’s rare for any large group of people to have a black or white moral stance. There are shades of grey that can be (and usually are) interpreted as black or white, depending on the point of view of the person doing the interpretation. There is subtlety and nuance to human opinions, interactions, and outlooks. You’d think it’d be hard to emulate that in a game, but it’s not. We’re humans. We can do this. It’s just a matter of thinking about it clearly and executing on those thoughts. Mike, I’m sorry if my comments are off target here. I just don’t handle politics well. Not in my nature. (PS: Before anyone goes off the rails: I read about the issues. I understand them. I read about those people running for elected office. I try to understand them. I vote. Just because I don’t like it, this doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention when the time comes to do so.)
Jeff has a great article here about how to take a wonderful building or creation and ruin it. It doesn’t happen overnight. Far from it. I’m going to talk about my childhood home for a bit. This home was with my grandparents, and when my grandmother passed away, my grandfather didn’t have the emotional energy (or physical energy) to keep the place spotless like they did together. The ruin started with dust, cobwebs, and general disrepair. A couple of short years later, my grandfather passed away. The home became abandoned. No effort was taken to keep it up, repair it, or clean it. Vandals, thieves, and other miscreants eventually found out about the emptiness of the house and broke in (doors/windows busted in). There was graffiti everywhere, busted walls, shredded walls where the copper wiring was literally ripped through the sheetrock by thieves that wanted the quick cash at the recyclers. We eventually sold the house and property it sat on. Then a few months later, the now-empty, now-former home (“abandoned building” according to the news report), burned to the ground. The eventual destruction of my childhood home started in 2000, but didn’t finalize until 2015. Fifteen years of steady ruin. The point? Think about the small steps that took a glorious palace or castle or tower from pristine and new and cherished…. to the rotted, horrific state it’s in when the PCs arrive upon the scene. You’ll be amazed what you’ll discover and create for the PCs to find.