Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Too many projects?

Perhaps it's "new blogger exuberance", but I'm finding that I keep proposing new projects for myself, and I need to do some prioritizing or I won't get any of them done.

The Black City
I've crumpled at least 3 map attempts to make a surface ruins of the Black City that I like; I've been feeling a bit blocked (but my friend Dave has come to the rescue with some super cool inspirational sketches).  I feel a blitz of cool Black City development coming on, once I get a workable surface map.  (Or I'll just skip the surface for now).

War Machine and Domain Economics for Greyhawk
The progress of the Ghoul Plague in my weekly game (and getting to use the companion set War Machine) got me thinking how cool it would be to stat out all the Greyhawk nations similar to the old Known World of Mystara, and create the standing armies in War Machine terms.

AD&D Implied Setting
I've been using the AD&D DMG more and more at the table for ideas (not rules) and it got me thinking about going through the whole thing and creating a list of attributes that would be part of any core D&D setting if one played 100% by-the-book.

For instance, if you use the training rules in the DMG, it implies the ready availability of paid trainers in some of the home bases, which would imply an economy where adventurers show up for training... maybe even adventurer guilds for networking with trainers.  That's just one element, and the DMG is full of them!

I threw another quick poll on the side there - which project is most interesting to readers?

Oh, and to help apologize for some blatant navel-gazing, here are some interesting quotes on sandboxes vs railroads to ponder - since I mentioned I'm introducing some metaplot to my sandbox:

Sandbox: An imaginary environment within which the game master builds enough railroad tracks to create the illusion that the players aren't being railroaded.

--Frank Mentzer, BECMI author

Railroading is a perjorative term for a game where something gets done.    Most players would rather be on the Orient Express than standing in the station waiting for something to happen.

--Ken Hite (Call of Cthulhu, Trail of Cthulhu author)


  1. Welcome to the dance. My writing experience has always been about choosing something to care about more than the rest. :)

  2. I agree with both of those quotes. Incidentally, I'll be playing in a game at at Total Confusion with Frank on Friday evening. He's the best DM I've ever played with. Anywho, There are a ton of implied things in the DMG and what I've been trying to do with my current campaign has been:

    1) Take the logic train right to the end


    2) Decide that it doesn't work the way I like it to so I'm ignoring the rule or replacing it with something that works the way I like it.

    So far I have players driving through snow storms to come play. I must be doing OK.

  3. I voted for "The Black City" because I like the sound of it, but I would ALSO really like to read your thoughts about how the hell to play the DMG by the book!

  4. Incidentally, I'll be playing in a game at at Total Confusion with Frank on Friday evening. He's the best DM I've ever played with...

    Nice - now I'm super jealous. Frank seems to be very practical when getting sucked into the contentious rules/judgment arguments on the various message boards, I'd be you could learn a lot watching him run some games.

  5. "The Black City" is definitely the way to go, though if you can do both do both. I'd run the Black City myself if I had been smart enough to think of it.

  6. I voted for the Black City - epic and innovating at the same time!

  7. Good luck! I'm in the same boat: too many projects, too little time. Just keep plugging away at 'em!

  8. I voted for the Black City - there are enough BTB threads for AD&D between Knights-and-Knaves and Dragonsfoot. If anything BTB can be rather obscure, though salvagable. Once Unearthed Arcana comes into play the spirit of the game becomes more of a question than what is BTB. Honestly without an earnest retrospection of OD&D, explicitly Chainmail, it's pretty hard to understand how we got to the DMG. On the other hand, The Black City could be a rather ausome offspring of Lovecraftian influence and its derivative, the OD&D Blackmoor Supplement, for starters.

  9. Thanks for voting sepulchre - the Black City is now starting to pull ahead, but for a while there it looked like Implied Setting was going to be the top.

    I agree the topic of implied setting has been breached superficially over at Dragonsfoot and K&K, just not to the level of a close page-by-page read.

    Take the training example I mentioned above, and the questions it raises about adventurers as a social class, the presence of trainers (everywhere), adventuring guilds, the economy around training and supporting adventurers, etc. Who plays like that?

    And yet, in the next poll, 52% of us try to use D&D or AD&D as is. (For many of us, OD&D has no training rules... whew.)

    And lest one thinks training is a straw man, the only AD&D home base penned by Gary (the Village of Hommlet) - goes out of it's way to mention training and importing trainers to the sleepy village of Hommlet.

    Funny stuff! But I agree, the Black City should be creative and fresh.

    Still time for the fence sitters to vote!