Saturday, December 5, 2015

Undiscovered Countries

I don't want this post to hide the fact that I finished the last technology of the series - but this is an important day today and I didn't want to let it pass without making some note about it.

I won't give away the reader's name - he can give it himself if it pleases him - but I'm going to be introducing into my campaign this evening the first person I've met directly through this blog and not some other event.  I hope like hell I don't disappoint him.  I'm also hoping he'll be in the mood to say a word or two regarding how the actual play compares with all the hoity-toity shit I've been spewing online for eight years.

Mmph.  Should be fun.


Zrog (ESR) said...

Since some may remember that I requested to play in Alexis' campaign awhile back, via a blog comment, and Alexis requested that I comment, here goes:

There is a definite "flavour" to Alexis' campaign that I participated in, given that he knows intimately where we are in the world, what the people are like, and what goods are worth there. I think detailed world development allows a DM to offer this flavour, and with a lot less effort expended AT THE TABLE. Sure, lots of work gets put in beforehand, but WHEN the DM needs it, the work shows though.

Despite Alexis' aversion to the use of "puzzles", I would say that last night's adventure was, indeed, the party facing the "puzzle" of a dungeon, where we could become trapped by wrong choices. We talked about this afterward, and Alexis' objection to "puzzles" are the ones with ONE PRE-ORDAINED ANSWER, where the DM has already determined the solution, and the players must discover/guess/find that one answer, or else. Alexis told me that he believes that a "puzzle" need NOT, and perhaps SHOULD NOT, have a predefined answer, only that the DM must judge when the players have come up with, and implemented, a workable solution to the challenge they face. In practice, it worked out fairly well.

As there wasn't any combat (although there will be next session), I cannot comment on the combat system, but I do look forward to seeing how the stunning rules play out. My level-one character, given that I'm a ranger with 26 hp (max mass bonus, a bit of Con bonus, and 2d8 for Hit Die), may even survive... but we'll see (my AC is 7... because metal armor in Afghanistan is imported and hellishly expensive - see? Flavour!).

I was most focused on the other players than the DM, since "fitting in" with the players is, in a sense, more important than "liking" the DM, in my opinion. That said, it reflects well on the DM when his chosen players are polite, respectful, have good social skills, and don't automatically kill everything they come across. In this sense, it's similar to one's work life: ever work at a company where the boss won't fire people who really need to be fired? Yeah, I have too - and it sucks. As the DM, you owe it to your good players to "fire" the bad ones. I had no doubts that Alexis would do this at need... I just didn't want to be the one getting fired!

I think Alexis said this in another post but... I don't think judgments on DM'ing can be made in one session. The challenges a DM must face could never all appear in one night of play, so I will say only that his judgments as a DM, thus far, were fair and sensible, but a lot of the advice in this blog CANNOT be displayed in one go. And, since I've been invited back... I can comment further at a later time.

Two things I think readers of this blog should be aware of, though (Alexis talked about this as I was leaving):

1) Alexis does not edit his blog entries before he posts. They are "stream of consciousness" writing. Make your own conclusions.

2) The blog posts are, by intent, inflammatory and judgmental of what Alexis perceives as "DM cop-out" (in addition to the occasional commentary on real world events). The intent is to give people a slap through the Internet, so they (hopefully) wake up and toss some of their illusions aside. My impression was that Alexis' crusade is against cop-outs such as "okay is good enough", and "things are okay even if they don't make sense". If you're not making sense, here's one guy that will call you on the shit that you're spouting.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Hey. Thanks Zrog.