A Few Thoughts On A Game I Was Invited To...

As I mentioned last post, I have been invited to join a group that's playing through a 12th level 3.5-only campaign.

This could be fun. Epic (not in game-rule-sense) characters, trying to stabilize the world in the aftermath of war! Or cleaning up the remnants of the dark forces before they can rebuild their most devastating weapons! Or resealing the wards that lock down the ancient terror(s) that one army was trying to unleash upon the world!

Sounds cool, right? Any way that could go would be awesome, but the bad thing about the campaign is that, try as I might, I can't get any info about the setting from the person that runs the game. Info that even a character as high level as 12th would know. Not even day-to-day stuff.

Not only that, but I also can't get the information I need to make a character, so that I can bring something to the table and not have to drag the game down with time-consuming character choices.

This seems to be for multiple reasons. First, the person running the game is apparently writing a book, and seems to think that even IP that doesn't belong to her is her IP, and thus, is wary of sharing anything that could aid and expedite her game (character creation away from the table) and also seems to make arbitrary calls on what is and is not allowed in the game.

Granted, these calls could very well be made to uphold the flavor of the setting, but I just feel that this person is falling into a trap that many novice GMs fall into... the "My Game Is So Cool" trap. This is characterized, variously, by different things that GMs do to make sure the PCs don't mess up their campaign worlds.

Things like...
  • GM PCs, characters created and ran by the GM to railroad the group into not doing things that the GM feels would spoil their world (i.e., takeovers, assassinations, etc.) These characters are generally characterized by being created outside the boundaries of player creation rules.
  • Intense control of character options through every step of creation. On the outside, one might say that every GM does this, but usually not to the same extent. In these cases, very few limitations are actually communicated, but then crop up at every stage of character creation, limiting class, race, spells, and even feats and skills.
  • Setting Static, in which no matter what you may do to disrupt person, place, or thing X, there is always answer Y to counter it, whether that be the person being immensely more powerful than they should be, protective wards on the location, or unforeseen NPCs ready to jump into any vacancies created by the PCs before they, themselves, have a chance to do so.
The fallacy here is that by putting up these things, that the GM invariably sees as non-restrictive, they are choking the life out of their own creativity and the creativity of their players, which can lead to bitterness between players, or between players and GMs.

The fact that it is a fallacy is upheld by the fact that, no matter how many limitations are put into place, the players, if they are not having fun, will begin to make the campaign fun for themselves, or will eventually end up dropping out of the group. To quote a classic paraphrase in the gaming community, "No campaign survives contact with the players."

Having said all that, it may seem that I am being very derisive toward the game and the persons running and playing in it, but that's not my intent. I'm merely putting forward an at-a-glace opinion of what I see.

I certainly do hope that the game is fun, and that all participating enjoy themselves, but ultimately, I feel that the game will fail on the points I have presented above. Already, one campaign was aborted after only a few meetings, and I just feel that, perhaps, there is too much on the plate of someone who seems new to the task of GMing.

Happy Halloween!

First off, let me wish everyone a Happy Halloween, and I hope that if anyone goes out tonight with their kids or otherwise, that they are safe and have a blast.

Gaming, for me, has fallen off a little, as our group currently doesn't have a place to play regularly, but there are still some things on the plate that I hope will continue.

First of those things is Magic. I've been playing quite a bit more, and I really love the new set, Innistrad. Though there's really nothing new and innovative in the set, I do think it balances the comfortable play speeds of older sets with the rising power curve in cards that have been seen in the past few years.

Playing Limited in Innistrad is a blast, also, and that's always good with a new set.

Second, Paul has begun a game on Wednesdays at Batesville Gaming Center using the 3.x rules, and me, David, John C, Taylor, and Steve have all hopped on board. John C has yet to make a character, but so far we have a Spellthief, a Marshall, a Dragon Shaman, and a Paladin of Tyranny/Hexblade.

I know a little of the story, but I'll not post here til Paul lets everyone in on it.

Next are the two games our group has going... David's Dark Heresy game, and a new Pathfinder game I'm running set in the Forgotten Realms (the nation of Halruaa, to be exact.)

Obviously, with me running a new game, that means the Wilderlands game has come to an end, and indeed it has. With a TPK, no less. I may eventually get around to posting what happened there, but right now, I'm working fairly hard on putting together what I hope will be a fun game for my players, and will give them an opportunity to explore the Realms!

The characters are an eclectic mix, and have yet to have their mettle tested, but time will tell for our Rock Gnome Gunslinger (Steve,) Fire Genasi Sorceror[Wordcaster] (David,) Human Monk (Taylor,) and Human Bard[Dervish Dancer] (Angela.)

So far, all they've done is met some powerful wizards and delivered invitations to a number of them for a party of some sort. Action packed!

David's Dark Heresy game has furthered only a little, as we've slogged through slow investigation, and ultimately lost Steve's Guardsman to a grenade party that Taylor decided to throw for some warp zombies. We have yet to see the conclusion of our venture onto Sinophia, and hopefully can solve the mysteries of the Archenemy that hide there!

I've also been throwing around the possibility of running various other games, either via text, like picking up the WoD game, or at the shop, etc.

Finally, I'm going to touch a little on a game that I have been invited to in my next post. It's ran by some former patrons of my shop. The game is presented as a 12th level high-fantasy campaign set in a world that, apparently, has just experienced war.


Magic Put A Spell On Me

It's obvious that I've not been posting on here in quite some time, and the reason is that pretty much all of my downtime has gone into Magic: The Gathering.

I had been reading articles, doing research into the meta, and tweaking the deck that I eventually ran at the "2011s" yesterday.

Here (That "Here" will be a link to the decklist as soon as MTGFanatic fixes their site) is the deck that I ran at the State Championships, that got me 57th place out of 108 total entrants. I would like to think that I did better than that other 51, and in a sense I did, but the truth of the matter is that at the end of the tournament, there were only 63 players still in.

57th out of 63 places just doesn't feel as good.

Looking back, there are certainly things I could have done to make the deck more consistent. It played strong in early turns, but when it came down to winning, I hadn't put enough finishers in. I had discussed the deck the previous night with Carl some, but didn't change the list, and then he text me again on event day, but it was too late for me to have changed my list.

In his text, he again urged me to consider adding draw and bolstering my finishers by adding maybe more titans or swords to my deck. Now, as I think about the games I played, other than a few mistakes made during play, I feel I should have listened when we spoke on Friday night, and at least tested the options.

Overall, I was overconfident in my deck's ability. It tested well in the preceeding days, and I felt like I had the major players covered with my sideboard options. I feel, perhaps, that if testing had gone worse, I would have been more prone to make the changes. It would have helped to have had more practice against Geistblade, Mono Red, and the mirror, as that's what I played against.

Having said all that, I did have fun. It's always a good experience to play in larger tournaments like that, if for no other reason than to play against people who you'd not normally have the chance.

I'd like to congratulate the guys I went down with... Taylor, who took 49th, and David, who was edged out of Top 8 contention on tie-breakers and took a very strong 12th place. I'd also like to congratulate all the Top 8, and especially the Arkansas State Champion and all the other State and Provincial Champions out there!