Well...more like really soon. "On the horizon" makes me think of a ways off, but in just a couple of weeks, the DS campaign will be underway and hopefully off to a good start.
Though I've thrown out the group models for DS, I haven't truly thrown out other things I've spoken of. The sandbox model, for instance, isn't necessarily out, it's just modified for my purposes. As it stands, perhaps only one or two characters will know each other at the start of the game. This creates a powerful dynamic, much like the shows Lost or Heroes, who the characters are will be easier to define because there's not a default group mechanic to deal with right out of the gate.
Truth be told, I don't know how the ensemble cast thing will work. I really am just hoping for the best on this. I think it will go well, though. I've always ran Vampire like that in the past, and I think it's a workable model in D&D, though I've not used it before.
I'm not saying, also, that things won't bring certain characters together. There might just be story elements that will do just that, but that all depends on the characters themselves.
Having everyone with a developed character is primary to me, as well as introducing the things that make Athas a unique D&D world, and the adversity to playing that this might bring to the table. Gameplay might be profoundly different with the model I have in mind, and it might challenge some of those who are fairly new to gaming, but I want to build up a campaign that everyone will continue to want to play in for some time.
It all sounds really pretentious, but do I think I'm reinventing the wheel with this game? Not at all, and I'm not going to sit here and say that I'm implementing things that NOBODY has ever done before. I'm just taking all my past experience, and all these thoughts and inspirations that I've gathered from various sources and blending them into a style of gamemastering that will be new to me, and new (most likely) to some of my players.
In addition to the ensemble style, with everyone doing their own things, I've also been thinking about pitching dynamic storytelling to my players. I know that "shared experience" gaming is huge with some groups, but the concepts posited by my fellow bloggers and the online communities out there fails to reach my group.
And so, I'm hoping that a situation might crop up similar to this:
Me: "As you finally take stock of your surroundings, you note that this room is, strangely, more damp than the last few, with molds creeping up the walls of the far corners. The only other feature other than a door leading out the opposite way is a rusty axe with strange runic carvings on the blade."
Paul: "These carvings look familiar. Almost exactly likes the ones on that onyx orb that guy tried to sell me the other day. He claimed it was a relic of the Green Age!"
Sure, I might have to tell Paul he's on the wrong track once he studies the runes more, but to have that kind of spontaneous interaction with the game would make things much richer, not just for me, but for the players and their characters, as well.
There are a few other things...optional crit and fumble rules, alternative social interaction resolution, variants on initiative and combat. These will be addressed later in the blog, and spoken about with the group, but there are a fair amount of changes I want to go over with the players to see what they think will work and what won't, and perhaps someone else will have a suggestion that will be implemented.