So, what do I want to play?
That questions is utmost on my mind, as the newly-reconstituted gaming group prepares to assemble yet again at Chez Ryan this Saturday. Our simple agenda is to finish our tour of D&D Gamma World and discuss how we would like to proceed. What is next? I’d like to kindle a campaign, a long string of episodic stories built around the same protagonists. I’m better at instigating episodes than creating protagonists, meaning I’m a better referee than player (he thinks – he might suck at both), and I like to form the stories that the other players steer their characters through. Forming stories is fun and I like creating fantastic settings, dangerous obstacles, and the motivations of the group’s antagonists. I don’t want to be a ball hog, however, and if another member has a good idea for a campaign they’d like to run I’m more than willing to release the refereeing reins.
If I’m running the campaign, which I’d like to but won’t necessitate, I should think about the type of campaign I’d like to run and the game I’d do it with. We might continue the Gamma World game. The folks like their characters and the rules are pretty simple. If so, D&D 4th edition being more board game than rpg, I’d need to create a home base, a place for the player characters to set up shop, some safe niche they have carved loose from the radiation-blasted landscape. Then they would need neighbors, friendlies and hostiles that they can interact with, swapping bullets for butter or stealing butter with bullets as the situation demands. I could simply dump them in Famine in Far-Go, the next official adventure. That will certainly be fun, since playing is fun and the gang is fun, but jumping into the next published module won’t scratch my “need to create” itch. Of course, I could tailor the adventure to our specifics, but that still falls short of my whole authorial desire.
We are dyed in the wool Ars Magica players and often default to running an Ars game. We know the rules and like history, so Ars is a very nice fit. I’m good at building stories from historical events, basing an evening’s entertainment on some tidbit from Europe’s past. One of my favorites is in the publishing cycle and I can’t talk about it. Another is here, an adventure about preserving or exploiting a magic resource in war torn Ireland. I also have a great Ars Magica collection, and I like using material from older editions. One of our most memorable 5th edition story involved one of the characters sneaking in the main headquarters of House Mercere. I used the 3rd edition setting and characters, handing the canonical NPCs to the other players so we could focus on the exploits of the single snooping wizard. If we move back to Ars I’m going to suggest we stage it in Ireland. I like drawing dungeons, and Ireland is littered with tumuli, barrows, and cairns. Each could hide a fabulous treasure, mysterious lore, or ancient secret. And each might be protected by some chthonic evil, eager to sup on an intruder’s broken bones.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of old school D&D blogs and I’m wondering what a campaign that I designed out of whole clothe would look like. Maybe I’ll spend some time crafting and selling that. Again, I’d start with a dungeon, something small and something simple. “Cross the Black Pig Dyke into the enemy Cenel Eoghain territory and retrieve the Heart of Crom Dubh.” Oh, too Irish (again). Well, I’ll change the names. Figure out a place for the characters to come from, a quest-item for the characters to get, and a few obstacles in the way. “You are all members of the Elk People Clan. Your leader summons you because the council of wise elders says that the current drought won’t end until the magic gem stolen long ago is recovered from the Dark God’s Cave. Each of you has something special to contribute, and combined you make a propitious group. Grab your spear/sword/magic fetish and head north.”
Gee, tonight is fairly free. Maybe I’ll cozy up in the study with a cup of coffee and find a simple rules system.
What do you think? Would you join the Elk People in recovering their stolen gem from the Dark God’s Cave?