Friday, July 1, 2011

The Lows and The Highs

Posting’s been fairly squalid the last week due to a bunch of factors. Fatigue and business as usual, of course, but also a general malaise and lack of inspiration. It may just be that the “stuff on my mind” (work, home, un-finished books, and an upcoming family trip), have been squeezing my creative juices dry. I don’t know. “Bear Week” felt pretty forced to me, and a lot of my spare internet time has been spent surfing RPG forums and making a general nuisance of myself on the boards.

Today, though, I feel surprisingly better…really better than I have any right to feel. Last night was my 3rd (4th?) consecutive night of 3-4 hours of sleep, and while I did get to go back to sleep for an extra hour (from 5 to 6am), this was after a night of gaming and carousing and beer consumption. I should be “dead on my feet.”

But I’m not. [**EDIT: several hours later, I am!**] What’s more, I’m feeling totally inspired! I’ve got two or three halfway decent blog posts dreamed up that I’m putting together in my pointy head right now. My only worry about them is I won’t have a chance to post ‘em before I leave for Mexico tomorrow, and I’d hate to miss the opportunity while I’m feeling enthused.

I think the reason for my fire here is the actual gaming (again). God, it is so nice to actually get out to the gaming table and put theory into action. Last night’s game went great…it worked out about as well as I could have hoped, none of the player characters died (and their survival was due to their own cleverness/resourcefulness), and the party walked away with a big score of loot. My “toad god” adventure went down great, and for the first time in 11 sessions the players completed an adventure site under what can only be termed “victory conditions;” i.e. heading back to town with mostly intact bodies, and their camels’ saddlebags stuffed with loot.

Up until now, their usual M.O. has been one or two survivors fleeing a complete clusterfk bloodbath.

It’s funny how quickly things can “go south” when you’re out adventuring (I’m talking in the GAME people…my own real life “adventures” tend to be cautious and light-hearted affairs where everyone survives). Stepping into the underworld, girded for battle takes courage, sure…and an ability to laugh (or at least snicker) in the face of death. But if your attitude isn’t well adjusted for the seriousness of the undertaking, if you’re not mentally prepared to adapt to the situation, things can rapidly turn ugly.

We saw it in the Caves of Chaos when goblins over-ran the PCs position nearly wiped out the entire party. We saw it again when PCs were trapped like rats by rats in the kobold caves. And, of course, we saw this in the Paschendale Necropolis when zombies took down all but two party members.

The last three sessions have seen the PCs face a good number of challenges in the Temple of the Toad, and come out laden with swag and wiser for the experience. Some of my more surly players might suggest this is due to an improvement in MY ability to craft dungeons that aren’t total player killers. Personally, I completely disagree with that assessment. There were plenty of moments when this particular adventure looked like it was “heading south” but the PCs managed to pull themselves out of the fire without any fudging on my part.

I mean, really, I figured that last encounter would finish at least a couple of party members (leaving the survivors stronger for the experience); when a couple players suggested the group “quit while ahead” I actually (silently) applauded the decision as a valid choice. Who says you have to explore every single nook and cranny of a dungeon? How many times in a movie or book do you see some dumb schmuck get taken down for “getting greedy?”

Yes, there were some lucky breaks…the bandits were a rather fierce (2nd level) encounter that nearly ended the journey right at the start. But the party DID luck out a bit with that encounter, and they CAPITALIZED on that luck by not getting into the same type of sticky situation later on (i.e. getting trapped in a small room and being over-run).

Anyway, I’m happy for the players, and especially happy we completed the adventure prior to my leaving for vacation…no cliff hangers and when I get back we can go onto the next adventure scenario or play something completely different (Luke’s going to run the DCC RPG while I’m gone next week…who knows? Maybe people will prefer character death when they’ve got a stash of back-up characters!). I’ll post my new "inspired" posts as I can, but expect overall posting to be light for the next ten days. As a teaser, here’s what I want to write about:

- Traps (one- or two-part post)
- Henchmen/Charisma (two- or three-part post)
- Dungeon Design (Moldvay Style)
- My Monsters

We’ll see how much of that I get to.

Prost, folks!
: )

[additional EDIT: Wow! Between yesterday and today, I see that I'm down 5 followers! Talk about "fairweather fans!" Jeesh! I promise I'll try to put out some better quality in the near future!]


  1. i lost 3 today. it appears blogger has been purging dead accounts or some such

  2. Yeah, I lost one too. Glad it wasn't just me!

  3. Down two followers here--I'd guess a Blogger purge as well, or else some kind of hiccup and the "missing" followers will suddenly reappear in a day or two.

  4. Oh wow - I lost one, too, and thought it was due to someone not liking one of my latest posts. But, it seems like we're all in the same boat!