Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Seat of the Pants DM'ing and Another Delay of Game

I just couldn't do it anymore - My modus operandi had been to have some brief preparations and then to just DM spontaneously. If the party didn’t go the way I’d expected them to (trying to lure them via various hooks as I was), then I would grab some published material and wing it. I’d adjust the setting, names, and stats of creatures and move it along. It worked fine for me for awhile, but I finally decided that I needed a break from this.

The bottom line is that working with someone else’s creation doesn’t feel natural enough - there’s a certain amount of alienation from it. Of course in a sense I’m always acting as DM, but it feels like I’m even more acting when I’m using someone else’s script, rather than my own. Perhaps script is the wrong word here, because I don’t script (that is, write down any dialogue) beforehand of course, but script in terms of the setting, characters, and set. I really just wanted to put pencil in hand and craft my own dungeon. A simple kobold warren! Or who knows?

So we skipped tonight’s S&W session (already once delayed) and I played again in Nick’s own OSRIC campaign. In the end, the party might still choose to go in an unexpected direction (literally or metaphorically) from where’d I’d been more prepared for it to go. But dungeon creation is just so much fun on its own (and I’d forgotten that recently) that I’m glad to have realized something was amiss and to delay the game so I could spend some more time on preparation.

Nick's done a great job of throwing out hooks for his part. There's a tower to explore (that we've already begun), a Druid looking for a team to help him acquire a certain magic item to "restore balance", a group of bandits whose leader has a price on his head, and a cave to explore (the latter pointed out by an NPC as a place of possible shelter in the downpour we were experiencing). Or we could return to town and find any number of other possibilities.


Daddy Grognard said...

I know what you mean on this one - my most recent sandbox session saw the party go marching across the wilds, no wandering monsters to get in their way (thanks, dice) and they arrived at a dungeon that I'd thought about but had no plans and no idea what was down there. I used a monster from MM2 that was close to what I had in mind (and nearly killed the party as a result) but other than that, the dungeon was strangely empty - the reason being that I'd no time to go leafing through MM, MM2 and FF to find appropriate beasties for them to face. And no traps either.

DMing on the fly is a skill, for sure, but sometimes it's nice to have a little prep, even if it is a few scribbled page numbers and a hasty sketch map of some caves.

Don Snabulus said...

I tried winging a blog-based campaign using 1E rules and it worked for a while...but eventually we got bogged down because the hooks were to distant and monumental. Having some preplanned miniadventures in between and a better, more detailed grasp of the mythos I created would have helped. It was the first role playing I had done in well over a decade and I am sure that also had something to do with it.

Timeshadows said...

Much success to you & your group. :)

ze bulette said...

Thanks TS - our "group" is comprised of two people, another who's played once in the last year, and a nephew once or twice a year. Still hoping to get my wife involved soon and one of my nephews to play on a regular basis.

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