Welcome to Day 3 #RPGaDay2018, we’re here to stay!
The question for today is: What gives a game “staying power”?
I’m going to tackle the topic from two perspectives in the videos, the game as the experience shared by players when they play, and the game as a game line you buy through books and supplements. Here are the videos…
I have been away for the past two weeks touring Iceland. Iceland is a country with a rich mythology of trolls, elves (the hidden people), viking sagas including berserkers, sorcery and witchcraft. It is a great place for getting inspiration as a GM.
I have also spent my holiday reading the complete works of H P Lovecraft. The Icelandic summer is the best time to read these if you are a wuss like me as it never gets dark.
Over the past two weeks I have written five adventures but for every one of them I have created new monsters. That is a really odd thing to do as nearly every well established game has volume after volume of monsters. Why do I need yet more or feel that none of the five thousand monsters I have at my disposal are quite right?
The adventures I have written are, first and foremost, for my long standing group and will probably slot into the campaign after they complete their current adventure. I say probably as I am not a railroading GM and if they don’t take the bait then they could easily miss all of these adventures.
These adventures are also the ones I intend to submit to ICE for The Adventurers Guild. I would like to have played through them at least once before submitting them to the editor.
So why make new monsters?
I think the combination of the Lovecraftian influences and the Icelandic mythology have created a set of adventures that need the perfect monster but also it needs a monster, or a better word would be foe, that the players do not know down to the last statistic, how tough it to kill, how dangerous it is in a fight and how to defeat it. Familiarity breeds contempt as the cliche says.
I left the monster building until I came home, I didn’t take a computer on holiday with me or rule books. I could check the odd rule here or there using the PDF rules on my phone but it was very liberating to just write the description of the creatures I wanted as I wanted them to be rather than be constrained by what was in the books.
The common factor is of course that rules play no part in the whole creation process. I can always ‘fix’ the rules afterwards. In this case it is just monsters. In this context rules equates to constraints and creativity and constraints are never easy bedfellows.
I have mixed feelings about the D&D Core Rules Gift Set announced by Wizards of the Coast. True, a gift set with the core books and a screen could be useful for a new player, and if this bundle was offered upon the release of D&D 5th edition I would have certainly brought it, but the price for the three books and the GM screen is the same as buying them individually, plus $5 for the cardboard box! The special covers are a nice touch, and since they are only available via retailers, it drives business to FLGS which can certainly use the exposure and traffic. If your books are work out and could use a refresh, one of the angles they take on the product page, it would certainly be worth checking out the special covers.
Yet I feel it is too soon to replace my books. Mine are in a backpack in my car, have certainly seen plenty of use, but they are fine. I also spent money on buying this content in D&D Beyond. Content I preferred to pay for legally rather than download the pirated PDFs. And true, there is greater functionality when the content is used with all the features on the platform, but my point is I’ve already paid for this content twice.
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