Wednesday, August 17, 2011

And so here we are...

This.... this is, I suppose, my blog.

Well, then, the next question I guess you would have is, "Who are you?"

At the time of this writing, I'm a 26 year old Oklahoma boy who has spent the last ten years playing pen and paper roleplaying games.
Principally, my game of choice is Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition. It's the game I started playing back in 1998 or 1999, and it's the game I've most loved. I've also played Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and a slue of other D20 system games. I've dabbled in Vampires of the Masquerade, Rifts, Traveller, Weird West, and a couple of homebrew systems.

I'm currently DMing an ADnD game and sending my players through The Temple of Elemental Evil. I'd say that they're a little more than halfway through at this point. I'll use their exploits in the Temple as blog fodder for when I'm not ranting about my views on roleplaying and roleplaying games in general.

I've found that The TOEE is a poor setting to foster roleplaying, at least with this group. I fear that our game sessions have become "what's behind this door? oh, good, more monsters". In a group a seasoned roleplayers, I could see the scenario being much different. The temple is very much a stressful situation, and could inspire a varied range of emotional responses in the characters. I think it's a shame that my players are using their characters more as a collection of bonuses and combat statistics to try and best each room. They seem relatively uninterested in the story behind the dungeon, and I am now actively exploring ways to speed the adventure along.

I'm not without fault though, I didn't supervise character creation, and so some characters have been superbly min/maxed. For instance, I have a human ranger, raised by humans, traveling with humans, whose species enemies are, you guessed it, humans. I know the player made the choice simply because he figured he'd be facing a lot of humans in combat.

I'm not saying that a human that hates humans shouldn't be allowed, but there should be more reason behind it than a combat bonus. The reason he hates a particular species should come first, the bonus is just that, a bonus - icing on the cake.

Pursuant to trying to inject some life and pathos into my campaign, I've assigned my players homework. I asked them for the full names of their characters, and all their characters extended family. I wanted to know their back stories and what their characters were doing for a full year before they started adventuring. I also wanted an explanation for each skill, proficiency (both weapon and non-weapon), language, and ability they possessed.

My goal is to urge them into thinking about why they have this skill or that bonus, not just know they have it. The "why" is the most important thing, I think. It's what sets games like DnD apart from games like Monopoly.

When I rolled my first character, I decided that I wanted him to know how to speak elven as well as the common tongue.
"Why?" My DM asked me. I faltered. I was allowed to know elven, the rules said so. "Yes, by why?" my DM asked me. The question wasn't "Why would you want your character to know elven?" but "Why does your character know elven?"
As in real life, new languages don't spring unbidden into one's head. I had to add a paragraph to my character's history about how he traveled to elvish lands, which is far more interesting than "I know elven because this book says it's OK for me to know elven."

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