Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I Changed My Mind

Why should I keep blogging?  That is the question I'm asking myself this week.  I recently passed a 2nd year anniversary, of sorts, two whole years of steady posts at The Lich House.  Have my games gotten better?  Is there some element of the craft that has improved?

There is a side benefit to the effort of writing… it challenges you to express complex ideas with simplicity and brevity.  Writing forces organization on those voices in your head, turning them into a narrative for transcription.  Sure, that’s valuable.

But have my games gotten better?

I do a lot of things at the table differently these days.  My table manners have changed.  I don't use a game master screen any longer, and I used to mandate them.  I keep my notes  or map off to one side, but I'd much rather be present in the player circle during the action.  I roll all the important dice in the open these days.  I don’t alter any rolls; there's an immediacy to the results, and it's very clear when someone is going to live or die, or when the monster just got wrecked by a player's massive roll.  I used to think the DM knows best, and I'd discretely alter the results for dramatic purposes.  Ironically, the games are far more dramatic and interesting now.  I also stopped requiring backstories as much as possible, figuring that if the information was important, it would come up at the right time.

On the other hand, I'm a lot more open-minded about scenario structures; I've come to view it as finding the right tool for the job; in some types of games, an adventure path or plotted narrative or "mission of the week" is warranted, and a sandbox style won't work.  That's an improvement over my opinion a few year ago, which was 'if you're not running a player-driven sandbox, you're doing it all wrong wrong wrong.'  See that?   A modicum of maturity and growth.  I prefer site-based locations and a sandbox format, but I understand the need to deviate.

As the calendar moves into January, I'm going to sift through the blog's back catalog and pull out those ideas here and there where I've noted changes in my approach or identified something to distillate.  Blog posts are ephemeral and fleeting - I think it's fair to ask the question from time to time, is the blogging worth the effort?  But this is rhetorical, since I'm not closing shop.

What kind of things do you do differently since you've encountered the blogosphere?  The internet often seems like tribes of angry folks yelling at each other across a room, and no one ever changes their mind.  (See also, Edition Wars et al).  I've changed my mind about some things.  How about you?