That’s because most war stories used to go on and on, pretty much like listening to someone tell you the dream they had last night:
”…and then we found a sword, and the sword had the ability to control dragons, but not all dragons, just green and white dragons, dragons that were evil but not as powerful as red dragons, oh and black dragons too, the sword controlled black dragons. But we didn’t know that when we first got the sword, first we had to try putting the sword into the right groove in the temple, which wasn’t easy. First the fighter tried it, but his intelligence wasn’t high enough so we had the mage do it, but then we found out that it had to be done by a fighter, so the paladin tried and the sword started to glow and speak and the sword said, ‘I am the Great Sword of Baldish, and I control evil dragons!’ That was great. So then we had to have a mock fight to find out who would use the sword, but then the paladin said he didn’t want it because he had a +2 holy sword already…”
And at this point you’re ready to kill people.
Invariably the guy telling you this story is the same guy who already has 600 pages of his novel written based on the campaign he’s running, based on a system he’s worked out for meshing together Middle Earth and Star Wars. With a little of Champions thrown in.
No, not all players tell stories like this. But if you tell your story, you know dipshit is going to tell his…so let’s just have everyone NOT, okay?
It is for these reasons that I have resisted getting into any play-by-play descriptions of my campaign (yes, I know, I’ve broken that rule a little…and not just in three sentences). I’m a little safer here on the blog because it isn’t quite as difficult to stop reading as it is to stop listening, which usually requires leaving the room, jacking up one’s MP3 player and moving quickly before blood starts coming out of one’s ears. But still, I ask myself, why press the point?
One time I have been driven to attempt a novel based upon something that happened in my D&D world. But the novel I tried to write was intended as a stand-alone story based on the peculiar circumstance, included none of the characters of my world and was not even meant to be a fantasy novel (I made an attempt at something closer to Ivanhoe). It sits, unfinished, unenjoyed, among the papers of my room. For a long time I thought I would dig into it and finish it, but generally I found that people could not relate to a story told in 15th century Ireland that was not fundamentally a Romance. Not wanting to make it a Romance, I gave it up.
The D&D running that inspired it involved a large castle, Killybegs Castle, in Connemara in Ireland. The players had smashed their ship upon the shore after a storm, refused to pay the nobility there the treasure the party brought with them from the West Indies and wound up losing a standup fight, mostly due to a lot of bad, bad luck. Most of the party escaped, but two were thrown into a dungeon of the castle, presumably to be ransomed. The party decided to slip into the castle at night and free their friends.
The castle being very large, and the party numbering about twelve players and henchmen, they decided to break into different parts of the castle simultaneously, in groups of two or three—though the monk and the thief went in singly. What resulted was a comic farce. Of course, the players in the dungeon managed to escape in the following chaos. While the castle guards tipped onto different groups (some of which were able to kill the guards quickly and slip back into the shadows), a series of mishaps resulted in a launched catapult by one party group nearly killing another party group, the thief indirectly setting a part of the castle on fire and the monk’s slipping from the roof of the keep succeeding in killing the master of the guard seconds before executing the mage’s group. The adventure ran over a series of four nights, was anything but pre-planned (I tend to have a general idea of what is in a room or who is present, but I make my character personalities up as I go) and was a complete and total success, both from play and from the position of treasure/experience.
But that’s as much detail as I care to go into. It all happened about 18 years ago and I hardly even remember the castle’s layout, never mind the moment-by-moment order of events. There was a lot of hiding in shadows and backstabbing and thieving and creating diversions and costumes worn to fool guards and so on. There was a lot of laughter.
Should I tell other stories like that?