Tuesday, July 19, 2011


(A minor family emergency stopped me from getting this out Monday night, but here I am today. Resolution!)

My favorite stories are very character driven and I endeavor to run my games in the same way. Unfortunately my boyfriend prefers to play his PCs as much more reactive: he wants to find out what problems are happening and fix them as opposed to going out and getting into every NPC's business in the name of his ideals/king/god/detective agency. Therefore, if I want a character steering events forward, I'll need a strong antagonist.

To be honest, I don't have much experience making strong antagonists. When I've written short stories in the past I tended to focus on the protagonists and any villains were more "people with differing viewpoints." Even those antagonists that were more traditionally evil were there to represent an issue within the protagonist that needed to be dealt with--a dark reflection, so to speak. All roads led back to the hero of the story and their own ambitions.

Would those sort of villains work in a tabletop RPG? Maybe. I could easily see them in a sandbox-esque game, but perhaps not in the strongly narrative-driven game my boyfriend is asking for this time around. I'd like to stretch my creative muscles as well, and try my hand at an antagonist more like Emperor Palpatine: a character whose schemes set the status-quo, putting the PC in a position where he must respond and focus his energies on undermining and ultimately stopping the villain.

Rather than just write up a generic Evil Lich King From A Far Away Land, I also want this antagonist to have a personal connection with the PC. His schemes should affect something that my boyfriend considers an important part of his PC. (Because, of course, I'm really trying to get a rise out of my player.)

I have some ideas on this front, though I think I'll save those for another post, when they are more fully formed.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Back in the saddle

I of course mean "back in the saddle" for both DMing and blogging.

Running D&D games has been a long and involved process for me. I never had a Great DM, just DMs in the range of Pretty Good to Simply Terrible, so I've had to make due on my own. For the most part I just use published adventures to take advantage of others' experience and ability, and then try to patch the gaps by using my background in writing and my love of video games.

I have about as many successes as failures.

The important thing is, I'm learning. I take risks and try new techniques, and though it doesn't always pay off (and may, indeed, blow up spectacularly) I feel like I find new tricks for myself and new confidence.

So I've returned to DMing because... well, because I love it. It's fun to make silly voices for captured Kobolds. It's fun to design some horrible problem for the NPCs and then be surprised by my boyfriend's plan to solve it. It's a hobby that isn't very cost intensive but also constantly replenishes. I like the commmunity. (Sometimes I like complaining about the community.)


I've already run a few sessions of my Unnamed Eberron game for my boyfriend. We went through The Forgotten Forge and now we're finishing up Shadows of the Last War. My boyfriend's PC is Lord Jasek Kelswa d'Cannith, a warrior-wizard sort.

I've become very adept at running the beginnings of games. I usually pick a published module to serve as my framework and then spend my energies customizing the game to the PC: hooks tailor-made to get the PC involved, tweaking the antagonists so they are a hindrance/threat to something the PC values, changing around dungeons so they focus on what my boyfriend enjoys and minimize what he finds frustrating/uninteresting. I feel techniques like that are probably the bread and butter of any good DM, so while it's not brag-worthy I'm still pleased to have gotten to this point.

My issues come once I need to move beyond the introduction, and that's my major focus for this game: designing adventures to build off of what has come previously. There should be consequences for the PC's actions or else why bother doing anything at all?

I've resolved to run a game that gets the PC up to level 10. I'm almost halfway there already and now it's time to really push myself. Lord Jasek is getting the attention of some powerful people with his antics and I want to run a game where the PC actually starts affecting the world in meaningful ways. Which factions will he side with--or will he be a unifier? Can he stand against those who mean his family harm--or will he discover there's more to it than simple good versus evil?

I've also resolved to update this blog more often. (So long as one goes about resolving things, one might as well go all the way.) Since I use frameworks for my games as a jumping off point, I'll do the same here. Starting Monday the 18th I'm going to update every other day. The theme of each post will revolve around a letter of the alphabet--A for Monday, B for Wednesday, C for Friday, etc. Hopefully that will inspire me to write more frequently.

Yeah! Resolutions!