Oct 23, 2012

Game Summary Oct 18, 2012

They enter the Vessan Well.

They have black over their eyes like the mimes, which they cannot remove.

They are lost in a forest w/in the Well being hunted by tigers.

They meet a strange man in an iron mask named Arud (guest player Sam E)

Aline, the elf girl they found earlier, gets killed by some tigers.

Arud starts flipping out, Boone is scared shitless and stabs him in the back.

Arud takes off his mask and turns out to be one of these. Roll initiative.

Everyone goes down, even after Locke tackles Arud 30 feet out of a tree and both barely survive. They each get one last shot to hit Arud as he cuts them open to eat their hearts.
Tark fails. Heart eaten. Dead.
Boone succeeds and kills Arud in the neck with his dirk.
Everybody sleeps for a long time to get back health and spells and, weakened, go one and eventually find the passage to the next level, where:

There are lots of magic pools and zombies behind a fence such that they must be released for the players to succeed.

But Decanus finds a handy spell to kill them all, they waste a lot of time trying to neutralize acid, and eventually give up and leave the room.

But not before Decanus and Boone drink a pink potion. The effects of which are so far unknown. (More on that later when they figure it out.)

Locke, Boone, and Decanus remain.

Another Gameplay Recording

The adventurers venture into the giant petrified worm in search of the entrance to the next Well of Vessa.

As we begin, they are about halfway through.

Then they spend a long time on a fire trap,
find an elf girl,
fight a Bear-Octopus,
senselessly slaughter some mimes,
and finally enter the Well.

But you can hear for yourself:
My brother plays Boone in the place of his usual player.

Oct 1, 2012

The Art of Worldbuilding and Why It's Not

So my group has been playing for about a year now; maybe more, maybe less; and are all around level four.
Which is absolutely fine: we've all enjoyed the progress and no one seems to mind being "low" leveled, though granted most of my players hadn't played before this campaign.
The real point is that DnD is a long-run game, at least when you play it right. And by right I mean good ol' OSR style. Because what's the point if you never get to see any improvement? But my opinions on that are old news and I digress;

So I have laid out almost all of the continent of Hommund, which should encompass levels 1-20 or so. Which means that, at the current rate, it would take my party five years to explore all of Hommund. I have also drawn up four other provinces, for the most part yet to be populated with dungeons but still existing either incomplete or as concepts and maps.

This point brings me to the real gist of this post: Worldbuilding will never be an art.

At least not in the traditional sense.

See, obviously it takes a great deal of creativity and imagination and some talent to build an entire world. It takes creating ideas, having the patience to flesh out each idea, a knowledge of the rules you are writing for and the ability to create elegant systems that all match your aesthetic, and a persistent conceptual vision.
But the problem is: no one will ever appreciate this the way they appreciate a painting, or a movie, or as closely as possible a long novel.
Because an entire world cannot be easily consumed. No one ever reads the whole Silmarillion.

Traditional art has always been something that one can easily consume within a reasonable unit of time with relative passivity. The problem with DnD is: to most people, five years (at very least) is not a reasonable amount of time.
And then comes the matter of passivity. No matter how much you get into a book, you are still reading it. You can only look at a painting while it hangs there, unresponsive, within its frame.
Playing a long-form DnD campaign is like experiencing a play from within it, except there is no other way to experience it. Whole masses like to watch plays, and obviously some groups like to act in them, but if no one could ever witness a play without acting within it, even on improv without any timecost besides, the crowd might last a few weeks and quickly dwindle. After months even actors would tire.
And on top of all that still another cost: the burden of contribution.
In my game, a burnt village exists only because that's where a player said he came from. A cult and subsequent evil lair exists because one of my players said he was hunted by Vessa-worshippers, which in turn led to a bit of Hobbit history and an entire dungeon's plot hook and final "boss".
You read a book, you do not edit it with your own contributions (normally). Thus, you remain passive to your entertainment. Even in a video game where you can make choices, you still lack true freedom as all of your choices had to be pre-programmed by someone who had the same idea.

Worldbuilding is unquestionably an artistic effort and a remarkable feat, but it will never be an art in the traditional sense. Only a handful, if any, people will ever say "I liked Greyhawk better than Hommund, but I think the werewolf castle north of Termine Bay had a better atmosphere than the keep by the southwest shore." Because that is ridiculous and no large enough group will ever have experienced both worlds in their entirety for that conversation to last more than two minutes. One and a half minutes for guy A to say all that, and the next for guy B to slap him upside the head for thinking that could last as discussion.