Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Proposal to Raggi

Not too exciting, I know, but I felt the need to write the previous post outlining those metals and minerals that I incorporate into my trading tables.  It's nice to have that finished.

In fact, it's nice to have anything finished.  One of the realities of working on the kind of world I run and build, nothing ever is.  I tend to think of projects in terms of years.  For some of the projects that I conceive of, it is doubtful that I'll live to complete them.  But c'est la vie, the pleasure is in the effort.

I was reading Cyclopaetron's blog, where the discussion was going on that modules are better than self-made adventures because they're written by professionals.  There seemed to be a lot of support for that position.  I gave it a big belly-laugh ... but perhaps that was premature.  Perhaps it's true.  After all, I don't run in most people's worlds, and I wouldn't run in their worlds either.  I have to admit that virtually all the worlds I've ever had contact with were unmitigatingly awful.

'Course, that was during those years that the Old School movement claims to laud and worship; could be that things have changed out there.  But I'm not getting any local invitations, and those that I know who have witnessed the games going on Sunday afternoons at the local gaming store are just ... yes, again, awful.  But that's not personal experience, that's second-hand ... and from my players.  I don't feel the need to go and find out first-hand, however.  I can just see another horrid little in-party battle scenario, people butchering each other and wasting half the afternoon looking for secret doors.

As I remember it, the modules were pretty much the same shit as the home-made stuff, mostly because the homemade stuff was always doing it's best to copy the principles and methodology of the modules.  Same rooms, same hallways, same throne rooms and treasure rooms.  Same gang of monsters approaching, same puzzles and tricks and 'oh look, another trap.'

Lately I've been hearing considerable gushing over Raggi's module work - which I can't comment on myself because I haven't read it.  I've heard its good.  I've heard it is low on combat.  I've heard much excitement.  I haven't heard anything bad.

But I'll never know first hand, because I'll never buy it.  I quit reading Raggi's site because it became sell, sell, sell all the time.  Raggi, if you want to send me a copy, I'll review it (fairly), but I don't think I'll like it.  I'm pretty sure I'll have lots that's bad to say about it.

And this from someone who just spent a week describing rocks.  Gawd help me if I ran my world that way, huh?

Half the time I think about writing down the events going on in my world and I sigh, and think, it's too boring.  D&D is not a game that translates well to after-campaign descriptions.  "And then they found the stone, and they dug down beneath it, and they found a huge empty chamber below the ground, and then they found out the stone was a mechanism, which they unwittingly started, and woke up an unstoppable half-golem-half-mechanoid that started tunnelling its way in an apparently random direction through rock at one foot per minute."

It took five hours to run that scenario, with lots of concern, terror and puzzlement on the part of the players.  Lots of yelling and high running emotions at several points, also.  But the gentle reader, right now, can't get it, because the gentle reader wasn't there.  There's no way for you to judge if that was a good running or not.  And I could give the particulars, but that wouldn't guarantee that you would provide my facial expressions, my tone, my acting ability or my cold-hearted indifference - which was mentioned several times during the running - to get the right emotional impact.

There's NO WAY this game is built on the quality of the 'dungeon' or the 'scenario.'  This game is built on the clever dissemination of information in a tactical, rationed manner.  Indeed, information given in a principled manner, also.  It takes confidence to run a session, certainty that you ARE giving the right information in the right order.  If you have that, you could run the crummiest piece of written shit in the world and it would still come out like roses.

But if you hem and haw your way through an adventure written by the Gods Themselves, it's going to suck as a game.  It's just going to be awful.

I'm waffling my way through this.  I'm a bit punch drunk from finishing the previous post and I hadn't intended a rant at the beginning of this.  I'm only trying to say that it's not the material, its the job done with it.  I advocate people making their own setting because it might help them develop some of that confidence necessary to actually run a campaign well.  But some people, well, you can't help them.


jgbrowning said...

I'd argue that it's both the material and the job done with it.

Ian said...

I'm curious what you think a good game, world, or game session is. I've been reading this blog for a while now (agreeing, actually with most of what you say), but never had a heard any specifics about what makes a *great* adventure/campaign/atmosphere/world/etc. for roleplaying. I'm curious what you think makes something great as opposed to mediocre or "unmitigatingly awful."

This isn't meant as an insult, just an expression of curiosity.

cyclopeatron said...

I like your basic thesis... It would be an interesting experiment to try to run the lamest module ever written. I wonder what the worst module is...?

Also... you probably SHOULD drop $10 for a Raggi module. I resisted for a long time because of the tone of his blog and was highly skeptical. But hot damn, Death Frost Doom is pretty great stuff. I think this guy can actually justify his arrogance.

By the way, I reckon this is the post that inspired you...

Scott said...

Under the Storm Giant's Castle is ... not amazing, except in the Hargravian Bugfuckism sense.

Speaking of which, I think some of the Arduin modules have to be up there for "crappiest module ever." Great background writeups, then the most pedestrian dungeons you can imagine. You'll roll more d6s for secret door detection than for weapon damage and Fire Balls combined. That is not hyperbole.

Then again, by all firsthand accounts, Hargrave was a hell of a fun Ref.

Alexis said...


I'll write you an entire post.


Thank you; my introduction has been updated.

Alexander said...

Holy crap you are the most pretentious old school blogger in the world.

There's no practical advice in here at all.

If you actually cared to pass on this incredible DMing ability you supposedly have you would take the time and effort to look objectively at what you are doing and glean at least a few bullet point, practical bits of advice. You're rambling not because good DMing is ineffable artistry but because you are lazy and self-indulgent.

I have no doubt that Raggi's games are more entertaining than yours.

PatrickW said...

Professionals are people who got paid to write something, which does not guarantee quality - People got paid by AEG to write portions of "World's Largest Dungeon" and that was a stinking pile through and through.

Put me in the "no campaign or module is better until it has proven itself so" camp.