Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I Am Not Cool

Is my world 'cool'?

I wouldn't know.  Doug used the word in relation to the post I wrote after my session, early Sunday morning.  I've been mulling over that ever since.

People have said that I am too much a simulationist; they have intimated that my world can't possibly be 'fun' given how much work that I do.  At least one blogger has 'quit' because of something he read here (since March, 2013, no posts), describing it as crap that I've wasted my life for.

Perhaps that is because I am just so darn cool.

Cool is a word that will go straight to your head.  I've gotten a lot of praise here, in various forms, all of which has made me grateful - but I am a child of the 70s, I hit puberty in a time when nostalgia for leather jackets hit its peak, when it became possible to buy porn under the counter at a bookstore (even when we were 13), when crashing cars and dancing ruled.  Cool was defined by strange things in those days.

There's no way in hell it applied to me.  I was a nerd of the first order, back when nerds were not defined by how much fan-boy shit they collected, but by their clumsiness, their social failings, their interest in 'crap' like space, robotics and electronics . . . and in how they could not get girls.  I fit helplessly into that category.  Oh, so helplessly.

But those things rule now, don't they; and it turns out that girls like socially awkward boys.  Seems the real problem was all those toxic masculine idiots pushing the girls around and telling them what to like.  Feminism is a great thing for young nerds who don't want to fight, drink or compensate for their flatulent manhood.  Turns out, where it comes to having to deal with abusive men, women and nerds are on the same team.

Obviously, that is totally not cool.

I know that I'm going strange places where Doug never intended me to go when making the point about the adventure I'm running.  Sometimes, my brain just finds its own way.

JB made a comment on the same post, about playing AD&D like in the old days.  To be honest, I am not sure what that means.  This is how I've always played it; contriving ideas to enable the players to get what they want.  In this case, they want the character back; they are deeply curious about the items and would like to know what they're about or where they go; and people are always interested in travelling about my world, to see how I'll run different places.  All they need is an excuse.

How do other people play the game?  I confess to being baffled.  The party Saturday goes down on Wednesdays to play in a WOTC-sponsored campaign, where they fill out forms explaining what they did on a given running (which they hate), to play what they've described to me as a badly designed module.  See, apparently, the people at WOTC who invented the rules were not the same people who spent their time designing the campaign, and at certain points, well, the campaign has to be stupidly adapted so that the characters are strong enough at certain points don't die.  Like, as it was described to me, everyone magically jumping from 5th to 7th level.

I guess.  The people who play Olie and Demifee in my world must be getting something, though they come every other week to play, bitching about the WOTC.  And we know how I hate that sort of thing.

Yes, I'm baffled.  Because I thought everyone was playing modules.  Aren't modules all about sending people on quests?  That's all I've done with this latest adventure.  It's a simple quest.  Return the items.  Don't die.  Do it within a year.  Everything else is interesting window dressing.

They'll make their way to each location, getting convenient information that tells them where the next place is.  I've decided I'm not going to contrive a villain to block them, but I've already got a parallel narrative that's going to follow them along, tying them up in various ways, both wasting their time and rewarding them enough to make it too tempting to ignore.

(just an aside; the link I just gave starts with me liking Anne Hathaway and thus enduring Batman for her; and I just did that again, with Interstellar; I am going to have to start hating Anne Hathaway if she won't stop working with Christopher Nolan.  That is not cool).

Isn't this the way everyone plays?  Move, fight, plunder, town, exposition, move, explore, fight, exposition, plunder, town, repeat.


What the hell sort of game are you people playing?

Maybe I am cool.

Nah.  That's ridiculous.  Just look at me.


Matt said...

I think the "cool" thing, or at least the thing that I think is great, is that you broke the rules in a way that was interesting, and mythologically satisfying. Demifee didn't just come back due to fiat, there is a purpose, and a reason, and a quest. You didn't just say "nah, it's fine, your character is fine because I don't want to hurt your feelings." Instead you gave the party an opportunity akin to Orpheus journeying into the underworld to rescue Eurydice. You've given the party a clear challenge, and made their conditions very clear. They'll be tempted along the way, and the success or failure of this endeavor is entirely in their hands.

A WOTC sponsored events can't make the players responsible for actually succeeding at something, because if the players don't do the things that they are supposed to they won't be ready for the next part of the adventure. And that adventure is really "cool"! They promise!

I don't know if you qualify as cool or not, but when it comes to cantankerous, old, D&D bloggers you're the coolest of the bunch.

Jeremiah Scott said...

My party seldom fights--which is strange to me, I certainly wouldn't mind seeing them engage in more combat. They try to diffuse every situation with diplomacy. And since I don't do a lot of monsters in my game, they are usually able to find some way to reason with their opponents.

My party (seldom) plunders or steals. Though they will take unscrupulous jobs if the conditions are right. My party usually earns their treasure through enterprise.

The thing my party seems most interested in is politics and negotiation. Even at low levels they are continually trying to find some way to get an audience with the people in power. They want influence.

The thing is, they get themselves in over their heads all the time. So I rarely have to contrive any adventures at all, as they spend most of their time just trying to survive the storm they create.

That's the kind of game I play.

Tim said...

Maybe it's thanks to my personal role models, but I have always thought that those who are confident in what they do are cool.
If you're insecure about who you are, you're not cool (which holds for most teenagers anyway).
You've always come across as confident, especially when talking about your world. So I would say you're cool.

Jomo Rising said...

You've written books. That alone makes you cool.

T. Xenos said...

It's interesting to hear the word 'module' refer to something flexible rather than the prefab monstrosities normally associated with that term. I wonder, how much do your players pick up on the hints that you put forth along the way? In glancing at my players' notes, I've often found that the things they thought important enough to write down were supposed to be 'window dressing' while a lot of the significant hints went unnoticed. I find myself tweaking the quest bit by bit so that eventually it becomes something different to what I originally intended. In practise, I don't know how similar that is to how your campaign unfolds, but I try to take my cue from you because of the demonstrated effectiveness of your approach.

Tremain (possibly no longer showing up as Anonymous now that I have a profile)

JB said...

Hmm...the only thing I meant by my comment was that this sort of adventure (quests based on unique situations outside the scope of the game rules) reminded me of my old AD&D days. I haven't played AD&D since...oh, say, 1988 or so, save for a few one-off games or a brief foray into the 2nd edition round about 1997.