857 days since last post.

dooley's picture

After years of leaving it derelict, I've decided to update my Dungeons & Dragons portal.
I've removed a few old bits, such as the XP Fairy, Injection System and other facets.
I've removed these things as they are no longer relevant to the sort of game I'm running.
I was once asked, "What sort of story are you trying to tell?"
I've never forgotten that question and ask it of myself when ever I'm preparing a session.

The injection system was a method for audience participation in an open ended story line and it had some merit when I wasn't telling a story, or when the game was an open ended sandbox (aka evil campaign). Some may disagree with my insinuations or blanket definition thereby, but my anecdotal evidence is mine to provide my assertions from and you may do with it what you will.

My campaigns nowadays have a very established story. Each session is geared towards an objective that comes as a result of the plot and the characters in it.
I feel I've learned a great deal in the many years I've spent operating table top games and developing these democratic storylines.

When my game was open ended, I was providing the audience with the same agency I was giving the players.
These days the injection system doesn't work unless I wanted to provide viewers with events they could vote on and control, but that would take more prep and do I have that in me?
Maybe one day.

The point is that I didn't care about 'telling a story' once upon a time and so it didn't really matter if the audience threw stuff at the game. There were some interesting moments as a result, but on the whole the experience is never as fulfilling as delivering a meaningful root that the players can grow upon.

Once grand piece of advice I read once was "No orphans" and I've held to that since. My rule to players is as such that while they don't have to be local to the player, some one, some where wants to see their character for the holidays. Some one, some where, for whatever reason, loves your character as family.

My wanting to tell a story is not a new facet of my operation and the Cloudspires campaign was my first major foray into writing a story, my inexperience showing up all over the place. Since then, I've learned much, and specifically that it's better to keep things small in scope; as personal to the players as possible.

Epic stories of kingdoms, political doings and high intrigue are well and good, but I'd argue that it's easy for participants (that means the dungeon master as well) can lose sight of the objective, lose focus of the plot, and generally lose direction in the midst of the story.

Keeping things simple and small may seem itself simple but every writer knows how quickly something from the imagination can flourish and spread wide. This doesn't mean you can't have complex story, but there should always be a clear objective and clear stakes. Try to avoid stacking side quests, ensure you've established clear reasons why quests (objectives) exist. Do all this without being hamfisted.

I took a year off from dungeon mastering, deciding to enjoy the summer away at festivals and house parties. I eventually missed DMing enough to return and maybe at some point will pick up the next season of Blackthumb.

I've spent some time writing some adventure modules although none of them are finished such that I'd see fit to release them as yet.
Oddly enough both are lacking an epilogue but insofar as art work goes, I have to admit the AI art revolution is wonderful.
If you're interested in what I might release, stay tuned as I'll be linking to them here.

The latest campaign I've been operating is a rewrite of my previous campaign Cormyr wherein I started with the storyline that I'm featuring here but tried to incorporate elements that ultimately went sideways. I had a false start some time later but as they say, third time(?) is the charm and now several sessions into the campaign I can proudly say that the plot is a success.

The players are entertained, which is always a good thing, but moreover I feel I've successfully delivered an allegory and meaningful plot that involves the players and makes them central while not being about the players. What I mean is that the players are involved in whatever intrigue and feel like they are central to the plot, however the plot, the doings of the NPCs, the story that they're a part of is not rooted in them. Despite this, they have very clear stakes and success is very much in their interest.
I'm quite proud of how I've woven this one together and have started to write a module describing the elements that I've produced herein.
I've recently rediscovered and will be reviewing realmshelps.net and their entries on the Farsea region (known historically as The Vast Swamp).
Specific reading would include: https://www.realmshelps.net/faerun/lore/ecologies/cormyr1.shtml
At some point I may have the wherewithal to publish details of Blackthumb and the Farsea characters to the wiki herein. There's a lot to document, so we'll see.

It's good to be back.