11 December 2007

Building a story, a world, or...

It seems it’s been a while since I posted anything RPG related. I guess I’ve been taking a mental break from the hobby. Except for playing my PCs. I’ve been mulling things over in the back of my mind, though. I think I really need to make an effort to focus less on mechanics and more on...content. Ray Winninger’s seventh rule of dungeoncraft has been haunting me: “Running a good D&D campaign is about building a world, not about building a story.” (Please note that this is about my own interpretations of those phrases, not necessarily Ray’s. I’m sure I’ve forgotten many important parts of his articles.) Building a story has actually worked pretty well for me in the past. I even tried to fool myself into thinking I wasn’t building a rail-road when I really was. I want to try to avoid doing that again. I’ve tried a pure sandbox campaigns (a sandbox for the PCs to play in rather than a plot for the PCs to follow), but those often haven’t been very satisfying either. (And I’ve currently sworn off modules again. I’m seldom happy with the outcome when I run someone else’s adventure. Though the recent running of B4 wasn’t too bad.) I think the Lord of the Rings campaign went pretty well. Ostensibly it was a sandbox—or I tried to convince myself it was one—but it wasn’t really. It was creating and playing antagonists. There were events afoot that the PCs were going to choose to get involved in, but their parts weren’t written for them. Presumably they could have not gotten involved, but I had no doubt they would. Another set of players might not have, and it probably wouldn’t have gone so well in that case. Of course, another big ingredient in the LotR campaign was the encounters I made up for their journeys across Middle-earth, which would often be more local color than anything to do with the wider events taking place. But enough rambling aimlessly. The essential point is that I really think I need to think more about “content” for the next campaign I run and less about mechanics.

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