Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Players and the Masters

I have always wanted to get into some form of pen-&-paper RPG. It seemed to be right up my alley - a medium where my love of storytelling and performance dovetailed nicely with my love of cooperation, competition and emergent experiences. Combined with a few like-minded individuals I thought this kind of gaming would make for hours of memorable entertainment.

Sadly, I only ever gave it one try, and it turned out that the group of people who'd invited me were not so much interested in the roleplay or storytelling aspects. Rather, they were the D&D equivalent of powergamers. They were after the loot and the experience points, and their Dungeon Master obligingly doled them out. Every character went up one level per adventure, they said. Every character got one piece of new useful equipment.

I tried to mix it up a bit, which weirded them out to no end. When my half-elven fighter tried to fling a bronze gong at an orc, they were pretty stumped.

To be fair, it wasn't really until I met these guys that I clarified what I was looking for in a pen-and-paper experience. I suppose, when it comes right down to it, I would actually prefer a malign dungeon master to a benign one. I don't want a steady flow of loot and treasure - I want challenge, danger and adventure. I want a world that responds to my inventiveness.

No doubt it is my evolving love of storytelling that has led me to think I would enjoy the role of the Dungeon Master more than the Dungeon Delver. I tried to learn the rules of D&D - but frankly, I think they've become too convoluted for pen and paper. They are now native to the realm of computer gaming, which is really where all my familiarity comes from. Lately I've been looking up other rulesets which tend more towards simplicity. There have been plenty recommended to me - Seventh Sea and Burning Wheel being two prominent candidates - but I haven't shaken the feeling that I probably won't be happy until I've designed my own. So I've set out to do exactly that.

I don't know when. I don't know with whom. But someday I will lead a selection of adventurers through a terrible and wonderful landscape. Oh yes I will.

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