Friday, March 27, 2009

General Comments

I feel as though I've said this before, but I feel now that I have to say it again:

I am not going to suddenly KILL characters who fail to overlook some small detail, or who stumble into someone's presence, or who otherwise do something stupid. I may, with some development, make an attempt on a character's life, because they have failed to overlook something they've done, but in EVERY case this will be done in a manner that allows a reasonable expectation of the character overcoming the situation.

I will set up death dealing traps. These will not occur is apparently benign places, but will ONLY occur in situations where it is reasonable to assume that a death dealing trap would be almost certain to occur. I will not have vastly powerful, high ranking masters of power sitting randomly at the next table, who might take offense with a party member and then kill them mercilessly and without cause. I will not have a mage randomly blast a party member out of boredom (he'd send his minions to do it, and probably very minor minions if the party was low level).

Once again: I have absolutely nothing to gain by killing a party member just for the hell of it.

There is practically ZERO chance in my world that you would walk into a shanty and find inside the Lord of the Barony there. His retinue, entourage, what have you, would be parked all around the shanty, and its likely you wouldn't get within fifty feet of the place. If, by some queer or bizarre reason the Baron would be present because he likes to hide himself among the people, then he's not going to reveal himself without cause, is he?

Please understand, my world is reactive. It is there to present drama, create situations and provide opportunities. It is not a fantasy fun-kill murder death house for my amused and sadistic delights. People will not kill you if you do not give them reason. People will befriend you if you do not act like a constantly distrustful, defensive, timid mouse. I appreciate a reasonable amount of fear; but I am noticing an almost complete resistance to taking any kind of action, and it is beginning to drag the whole process down.

I have described and provided details and made up settings and introduced characters...on and on, in fact, for about a month now, and the party STILL has no plan, will pick no side and displays no willingness to take risk. I just about shouted out at work when Anshelm robbed the mage: "AT LAST!"

I am hesitant to encourage players to take action. Doing so for the sake of doing it would probably be bad, though I can't see how in comparison with the freight train that is coming at the party through the inaction they have embarked upon from the beginning. There is a lot of shit going on that no one has bothered to inquire into, and many, many people who have never been rationally questioned. Tiberius yesterday did not ask one question along the lines of "WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON," while pretty much taking a position of righteous indignation.

Please, please, please, find some kind of action to take. This wandering around and wandering around is driving me mental.


Carl said...

Amen, brother.

Sometimes I think that presentation of a 'realistic' world without clear courses of action pre-defined for players is so disorienting that it causes the Analysis-Paralysis phenomenon.

In my last D&D game, the opening 4 sessions were so slow they were painful. No one knew what to do. Adventure lay just beyond the reaches of "town" but the group could not get it together and just agree to walk as a group from the center of town in any direction. I had to put the wizened old geezer in the bar with a map to an old fortress to get them started, and even then it took them two sessions just to try and get out there.

When we started playing Traveller and everyone had these veteran characters with money and starships, it actually made the problem worse, and for two sessions all they did was swap money and ship shares around. Fortunately, that time has passed.

This process that your group is going through is normal. Remember the four stages of grouping: Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Your group looks to me like its in the forming stage.

"All wandering and no action make Alexis something-something."

Hold fast, matey!

Alexis said...

Maybe it is that I haven't started a party out in seven years. My present offline party is based upon two characters who started playing in fall of 2002.

I can't ever remember experiencing anything like this. I wonder if this doesn't have something to do with the overall nature of the game, as it has been screwed with and fucked over by modules ad nauseum.

Joseph said...

I do want to pick a side, but no one else likes that side. Also, the side that I want to pick has been unavailable for conversation for the past two game days. Flimsy excuses, I know, but oh well. I'm trying my best, though.

Alexis said...


You might have attacked Karl. You might have called the guards and made accusations. You might have screamed at me, the DM, that you were following Karl on the sly. You might have sent messages to Johann, or to his brother. You might have found where Johann or his brother lived and spoken to the household. You might have tried to stop the murder of Johann's horse, the seventh murder. All risky, yes. But all perfectly in your means.

KenHR said...

Eh, yeah, I've been very guilty of being every player that's driven me up the wall when I'm behind the screen. Suddenly forgetting the mechanics of a game I've played for 20 years was icing on the cake for you, I'm sure. :)

As Joseph indicates, we're all still working out how to operate as a group. And there has been a bit of disagreement regarding what side to back. It's the kind of stuff that I've seen a lot with a new group. At least no one else is going to commit a random least, I think no one else is going to commit a random murder.

And I know I'm still adjusting to setting and trying (not doing very well, apparently...I had a feeling I was taking waaaaaay to long with the mage) to keep an eye out for anything that would help us. I haven't been expecting any insta-death scenario at any point, but I guess my head is still stuck in "standard play" mode.

I dunno, maybe for me it's the combination of a new group, a new DM, a new world...we're still in the getting our shit together phase, I guess.

Alexis said...

Yes Ken, I know.

The storm is coming, all the same. I've given warnings and hints and provided opportunities for it to be averted and so on. But the deadline is coming. You can see from today's campaign thread that a timeline is set.

KenHR said...

Yes, you've definitely made that clear.

I do hope we can get to the "have our shit together" phase quickly. I'm truly enjoying this game, despite any missteps.

Ryan said...

I guess I have just two comments:

1. I'm still trying to figure out what it is Kazimir wants to do. His current motivation just involves getting some coin. I'm still feeling out the character.

2. I think that, in games that do not run on the "plotted" model (or, as I referred to it before, the Campbellian Monomyth On Rails) often run as a series of "Gotcha!" scenarios in which characters are killed or left in unfortunate circumstances. I know this is not your intention, but the last couple of "old" AD&D games I've been in have been Gotcha-fests and I suppose my behavior is partially a reflex of that. We will endeavor to do better.

Anonymous said...

I've typed several answers and they all aren't saying what I want to say. I don't know what to say. If my play is pissing you off, I'm sorry. Not trying to cause you stress. I'm trying to learn your world as best I can. I'm not sure what else to say other than that.

Ryan said...

I think we just needed some time to adjust. It has been rather a long time since I played under a DM with Alexis' play style. Hell, given my tendency to be the DM, it has been a long time since I've played under a DM with *any* play style.

Carl said...

I came back to see what happened to the thread here.

You may be right, Alexis. Module-driven or story-driven play may have badly damaged the old open-world exploration model. Lots of people don't know how to play D&D outside the tactical game. Maybe more than I originally thought.

Your players seem like they're trying, so you've got that going for you.