Sunday, February 28, 2010

Whitewashing History

I recently posted about a Deadlands game that one of my players started. As I was reviewing the rulebook, I came upon a sidebar where the authors explain that racism, slavery, and sexism are all things of the past in the world of Deadlands. Keep in mind, Deadlands takes place somewhere around 1877. Granted, this game is not supposed to be highly historical... after all, the Civil War continues to drag on and monsters/magic/steam-tech exist. However, I find that I have a bit of a problem with the notion that all the unpleasant historical tensions that our country grappled with are simply gone, poof. The book acknowledges that not everyone has transitioned into this new, enlightened Old West, but those people are in the pun intended.

Something about revisionist/apologist history rankles me. I know Deadlands is just supposed to be a role-playing game, and it is a game I enjoy. I can certainly understand the reasons for omitting some of the unpleasant historical social models. For one, this is supposed to be a recreational hobby, and a game with those elements present might be quite unpleasant for some players. (This is the part where I expect at least one of you sitting behind your monitor to say, "Coward!", since that's what seems to happen any time anyone expresses opposition to controversy or squickyness in their games.) Another reason is that it can limit character concepts. Imagine playing a female character in a Deadlands game that adhered strictly to gender and race politics of the U.S. in 1877 (on the other hand, I can think of at least a few gamers I've known who would enjoy such a thing.)

Perhaps this entire blog entry speaks to my own personal cynicism about human nature. After all, I am admitting that I can suspend my disbelief in a world full of monsters, crazy-ass technology, and supernatural powers, but I have trouble swallowing the notion that the Confederacy just up and quit slavery, or that the human race is capable of putting aside bigotry on a societal level. When I ran Deadlands, I had the unpleasant elements present, but I did not beat the players over the head with it, nor did I use it to make some kind of statement... to me, it's just how society was in late 19th century America. I would hope that the kind of people who I would game with are able to acknowledge that the US could be a pretty ugly place back then (and still can be) and to recognize how far we have progressed as a society since then, and that they wouldn't need to have such elements ignored completely for the sake of playability.

At the same time, I have that tiny but persistent voice in the back of my head that says, "Oh, just shut the fuck up and enjoy it, will you? Why must you analyze and nitpick everything? "

I do intend to enjoy this game, but I can't help but mull this over.

Josh, if you happen to read this, just ignore this entry and chalk it up to my compulsive over-analysis of everything. Run your game how you run your game. I will be in my seat, dice in hand, ready to blind people with Science!

...hmm, now I want to flip through Vampire: the Dark Ages. I wonder if they had a similar sidebar in there somewhere...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Party Upset and a new direction

Well, an unfortunate encounter with 8 wandering minotaurs resulted in the death of the last original character...

but... he ended up being reincarnated, for the low, low price of pledging his services to Aziil, one of the Lords of Chaos. On impulse, half the party pledged their allegiance to Aziil and were spirited away.

So.... now we have pretty much an entirely new party of characters.

From here, the campaign will likely be going in a new direction. The characters could end up returning to their original campaign world, or perhaps to another world or another time. Players have different ideas about what to do next.

An interesting thing... the slain character's future self was previously encountered. Now that he has been revived (sort of) he may yet fulfill that destiny, but not necessarily as a party member.

I'm going to continue running my campaign, but I think the next session might take place a year or more later, and under different circumstances.

Some options I've bandied about:

-Oriental Adventures
-A different era
-A different setting altogether
-The original setting.

I have also decided on the fate of the original three characters whose fate was left undecided. They survived the disintegration of Radamant's tower (though more than  a year has passed "back home") and, assuming their friends were forever lost, cut their losses and struck out on their own.

Thus, the original party is turned over, and their fates are thus:
*Quorry Tarmikos, human magic-user- slain in the Citadel of Chaos, only to be reincarnated and pledge his loyalty to Aziil, Lord of Chaos. Current whereabouts unknown.
*Keldrond, elf fighter/thief- slain by a Lurker Above in the caves above Radamant's Tower
*Kitor-human cleric-turned medic/technician slain my blowgun-wielding mutants in the abandoned nuclear facility in the Red Wastes on Tarraxian
*Tylon the Bladesinger, human fighter- separated from the party after Radamant's Tower disintegrated, he struck out to seek his fortune with...
*Agnomar of the White Eye, human barbarian and
*Muyule, half-elf thief. The three of them are presumably adventuring on their own in the kingdom of Avengard.

Other characters who have come and gone:
*Daspian, elf fighter/druid- Killed by laser-wielding mutant raccoons in the nuclear facility on Tarraxian.
*Rantz, mutant fighter- Killed by Ant Horrors in the nuclear facility on Tarraxian.
*Draxix- mutant fighter- Killed by a mutant plant in the Citadel of Chaos
*Axin, human ranger- Swore his loyalty to Aziil. Current whereabouts unknown.

and finally, the new party members:
*"Stilden, human fighter" (Actually an elf assassin of unknown name)- rescued by the party in the Citadel of Chaos.
*Georges, human bard- rescued by the party in the Citadel of Chaos
*Rosco Arkam, halfling thief- rescued by the party in the Citadel of Chaos. He pledged his loyalty to Aziil, but was rejected and, after a bit of torture, was returned to the party.

*New characters to be rolled up by Kurt and Anthony. (A monk and a cleric, as I understand it.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Don't Send Me the Secret Decoder Ring Just Yet...

Sometimes I think this corner of the internet suffers from just a little too much echo-chamberism.

I don't consider myself part of the OSR; I just happen to like the old editions much, much better than the new ones.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I play Deadlands

Since the Sunday Warhammer group hasn't been meeting for some time now, another one of the players in my AD&D game decided to run Deadlands (the shiny new Savage Worlds version) tonight.

The short verdict: I like it.

I haven't played Savage Worlds since 2007, and I haven't played Deadlands since about 2004 (and that was the "classic" version of the rules). For all my gripes about the Deadlands meta-setting, it is still a fun game to play. (My friend has decided he doesn't much care for the meta-setting, so more power to him) The evening consisted mainly of character generation and a short combat (your classic Western bar fight) to get things rolling.

I like that Savage Worlds moves fast. I like that Savage Worlds puts simplicity over strict "realism." While I first balked at the idea that one skill handles all forms of hand-to-hand combat, I realized that D&D handles fighting in a very similar fashion. No, it isn't skill based, but in most basic iterations of D&D use your class and level to determine how well you hit in all combat. Even when you add weapon proficiencies into the game, your character is still equally skilled with all weapons he is proficient with (of course, there's also specialization, but let us not split hairs).  If I can accept it in D&D, I can accept it in Savage Worlds.

This is also the first time I have played something non-fantasy in quite awhile. (I never did return to the Shadowrun group I mentioned back in January) It's nice to shake things up, genre-wise, once in awhile.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

New books

Today the missus and I decided to go down to the used book store with a crate of dust-covered DVDs and books from the "we will never use these again and forgot that we owned most of them" category of personal belongings. With the resultant cash, we proceeded to acquire further books. (Just what we need) I added two books to my gaming library:

1. Unknown Armies- This is a game that I really, really used to want to play about seven or eight years ago. I'm not sure why I never did, but this thing was right up my alley back in those days. I have no idea if I would enjoy such a thing now, but the parts I skimmed have been very entertaining. My first impression is that it is like an older school White Wolf/oWoD game, but with the whiny artiste crap* turned down a bit and the ass kickery turned up. Even if it is not compatible with my shifted tastes, it was only six bucks, and I can at least say that I read it. I appear to have scored a first edition copy, though I'm not one hundred percent sure there ever was a second edition.

2. Mongoose's version of Runequest. I have to admit I was always curious about RQ, but never to the extent that I would pay full price. On the other hand, less than half price with a further ten percent discount sounded just about right. I haven't skimmed enough to form a first impression, but I have read enough to know that there are something like five or six magic systems, and only one is present in the core book. This rankles me somewhat, as I would have liked at least a taste of the other systems, but the industry exists to sell books, after all. I'm still not sure why I compulsively buy new fantasy games, when I don't think I've run anything fantasy that wasn't some incarnation of D&D in more than ten years.

*Yes, I know I used to like that sort of thing, but I find I no longer have much of a tolerance for games that try to be "edgy" and books that are filled with quotes from New Age books and bands I don't listen to anymore. This is one of the reasons I like the nWoD so much.

Oh, and by the by... this is my 200th post on Save vs. Poison! Thanks for reading, everyone!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

During my AD&D game last night, the magic-user was using Detect Evil on a number of objects the party had found within the Citadel of Chaos. While using the spell, which lasts 5 rounds per level, the magic-user decided to sweep the rest of the party, as it contained two relatively new characters. He discovered that the "fighter" who recently joined them is evil.

"Don't ask, don't tell, motherfucker!" the assassin's player exclaimed.(Out of character, naturally) This, by the way, is one of the funniest things I have heard at my gaming table in recent memory. (Though perhaps it was one of those "you had to be there" moments...)

It has been a well known fact that one of the party members is an evil elf assassin disguised as an elderly human fighter. The magic-user, whose player is known for advocating party harmony, has decided to keep the information to himself. (That is, the whole group knows, but in-character, only the magic-user knows, and all he knows is that the "old codger" is evil.)

I make it no secret that I am not a fan of AD&D's alignment system. In fact, of all alignment systems, the only two I really like are Palladium's, as it clearly spells out what is expected of each alignment within the game's framework, and basic D&D, since good and evil have nothing to do with it. (Though many writers of older D&D material seemed to just use Law and Chaos as synonyms for Good and Evil...) In my campaign I have largely ignored alignment, but until now we haven't had characters of opposite alignment in the same party.

Since only one character knows the truth, and he is not of a character class that has restrictions on what alignments he may associate with, it appears that these characters might actually be able to coexist. The assassin has acted in a more or less neutral fashion, as he wants to maintain his disguise. From what I understand, he is evil because of his profession, but doesn't intentionally screw other people over for no reason. I consider the next several sessions to be an experiment on the vestigial nature of the alignment system.

Interestingly enough, I'm told that the original purpose of alignment, dating way back to Chainmail methinks, was simply to indicate which types of creatures could be in the same army. 

Now...what about you, my dear readers? Have you had alignment coexistence in your games?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feats of... (not the d20 kind)

Here is an idea I have been turning over in my mind lately.

The inspiration came from a rule used by an old gaming buddy of mine from my college years, one with whom I have occasional online chats about D&D. He is currently DMing a long running campaign of heavily house-ruled Cyclopedia D&D. One of his many rules modifications is that magic-users, once per level, can perform a "Great Work." The Great Work is a magical effect that is not a spell, and the power level of said effect is usually far beyond what the magic-user is normally capable of, though still determined by level. For instance, a low level magic-user might be able to redirect the course of a river or wither a field of crops, while a high level magic-user might be able to build a flying castle or cause a plauge. I'm not sure if unused Great Works carry from level to level... in fact, beyond the "once per level" rule, I don't have many of the specifics, but it gave me an idea...

So far I can think of no better title than Feats, though more along the lines of Feats of Strength or Feats of Skill, rather than the d20 mechanic. Basically, what it entails is that once per experience level, a player may do something quite impressive. A fighter might choose to perform a Feat of Strength, where, for one particular task, he is treated as having the strength of an ogre, or, if he is that strong already, a hill giant. The fighter might instead perform a Feat of Accuracy where he shoots out the eye of a dragon or makes a one-in-a-million shot. A cleric might perform a Feat of Faith where he heals all the dying on a battlefield or cleanses a town of the plague. I haven't hammered down any specifics; for now this is just an idea. For some reason, I can see this implemented in a basic D&D game, but this isn't something I'd include in my current AD&D campaign. A few of the parameters I am considering:

1. The feats one can perform (strength, archery/accuracy, skill, magic, faith, thievery, etc.) are limited by character class.
2. You can only do this once per experience level, and unused feats do not carry over.
3. The scope of the feat is determined somewhat by experience level... a small time 1st level character's Feat of Strength isn't going to make it into bard songs quite the way a 10th level lord's is.
4. Optionally, the character might have to save vs. some consequence... perhaps a great feat of ogre strength requires a successful save vs. death to avoid perishing from the strain. (Upon the deed's completion, of course)
5. Level draining does not "reset" a feat. (Though you may recall that energy drain takes away Hit Die, not levels, as described in an older post.)
6. Since this is presently imagined for basic D&D, I don't have to answer the multi-class question just yet.
7. Option- For a human-centric campaign, consider demi-humans only getting a feat ad odd numbered levels. (Or some other arbitrary limitation) If I do include Feats in a future game, I most likely will not implement this... it's just food for thought.

Some possible examples of Feats:
1. Inflictt a mighty blow that instantly kills a greater foe. For those DMs uncomfortable with this, consider maximum damage or a damage multiplier or some such.
2. Damage a creature that ordinarily cannot be damaged by the weapon you wield. (Slay a gargoyle with a normal weapon, for instance)
3. Automatically pass a saving throw, or perhaps ignore the results of a failed saving throw
4. Temporarily gain extra hit points, which vanish after a great and terrible battle. (Yes, you can die when they go away) Alternately, resist dying of lost hit points until some immediate foe or deed is conquered. (Think Beowulf and the dragon)
5. Temporarily gain the strength of an ogre to complete a given task. (Smash open the gates of an enemy fort, lift a fallen tree blocking a river, etc.)
6. Cast a spell beyond one's level, or perform a feat of magic not found among the spell lists.
7. Automatically succeed at a thief skill roll, even under conditions that would normally make it impossible. At high levels, perhaps gain 99% in all thief skills for 1d4 rounds or to complete an immediate task.

Well, that's the skeleton of the idea. Any thoughts? This is something I'm interesting in tinkering with further. It might be a nice, happy medium between totally mundane PCs and the more cinematic hero approach adopted by 4e.

Monday, February 15, 2010

We're Getting the Band Back Together

I was recently contacted by a former player who left my game when he and his fiance welcomed a young'un into the world. His schedule is now clear and he has expressed interest in rejoining the game. We'll have all our original crew back except for the new mother. He hasn't decided if he'll play his previous character (whose fate, like the others who departed, was left quite ambiguous) or roll up a new one. Unfortunately, another player is moving to my former hometown and will likely have to play via Skype. However, if I can get the other interested local to join (blast, I was supposed to call him today....but got caught up in my lesson planning) I can keep the ratio of physcially present players vs. Skypers at a comfortable 2-to-1. (I haven't minded the Skype thing so far, but I am most certainly focused on running a game where the majority of players are physically present at my table)

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Other Half of Supplement VI

Okay, so this entry is a bit belated, but I did promise I would post my feedback on the second half of the book.

The second half of Supplement VI describes the campaign world, the demi-humans, and the gods. All of the material would be called "fluff" by our modern gamer parlance, but I find that descriptor a bit insulting, so I shall say that it is all setting/inspiration as opposed to mechanical things like sub-classes and monsters.

The Wilderlands is split into many regions, most of which receive a fairly brief treatment. In fact, many of the regions are more seeds for campaign ideas than anything else, with the various regions being suited to vastly different campaigns; everything from the Stone Age to Asian-themed to Vikings to Greek voyage to courtly intrigue modeled after the Italian City-States. An added bonus is these historical tie-ins provided. It is a compliment to Conley that each of these sections got me thinking that I wanted to run that type of D&D game somewhere down the road.

We get history here, and we get gods We get demi-humans and we get different races of humans who are different in terms of culture rather than game mechanics. That's right... sometimes in this age of endless splatbooks I forget that you don't need a prestige class and half a dozen feats to play a Viking warrior; it really is as simple as playing a fighter.

Again I will mention that I typically do not use published settings, but I do like to read them for inspiration and the purpose of comparing notes, as it were. It has been awhile since I read a setting that started so many fires in my imagination. While it is unlikely anything from the book will make it into my campaign, (at least, as written) it has the gears a'turnin', and with the unfavorable ratio of drek-to-gems clouding the gaming market these days, I consider that among the highest compliments I can give to a product. Well done, sir.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Am I a Killer DM?

We had another character death in this week's session. One player lost his 4th character since June 2009. In addition to this, we have had two other players lose a character each.

...the party encountered two wandering medusae, disguised as fair maidens. In the ensuing combat, the ranger was petrified. One of the medusae was reduced to 9 hit points and begged for her life, telling the party that she knew of a flower growing in the dungeon that could be rendered into an unguent that would restore the petrified ranger. The second medusa, laid low by the magic-user's stinking cloud spell, was bound and had a bag placed over her head. The party held the second medusa hostage while the first led the mutant fighter (who can see with echo vision and this did not fear her gaze) to find the plant.

...medusae are neutral evil. As the garden keepers of the citadel of Chaos, the sisters had adorned themselves with a special musk that rendered them immune to the more dangerous inhabitants of the garden. One such inhabitant was a variation of the amber creeper... a plant that moves in hypnotic patters to lure unsuspecting prey into its fronds, wherein their brains are sucked out and replaced with a new plant bulb. Well, guess what plant the medusa led the fighter to? He failed his saving throw.

Twenty five minutes later, the party decides they've been had, and escort the second medusa to the garden. They find their companion dead and the flower they originally sought mangled and cut. (By the first medusa, of course) They scraped together enough of the dead plant to make a paste that managed to revive the ranger, who had to make a die roll to come back normal. The party released the second medusa, but they still suffered the loss of a companion.

I have never had a campaign kill this many players. There are a number of reasons for it, I think... firstly, I do not fudge die rolls anymore. I don't fudge attack rolls, traps, etc. I use monsters that have poison, petrification, and even instant-kill attacks, though they are in the minority. I include situations where not putting two and two together can get you killed. My games do not have a pre-determined story, so I leave the players to keep themselves alive, rather than me trying to keep them alive.

...on the other hand, I allow my players the opportunity to gain fantastic boons as well. This last session, they found a book that they could use to alter the destinies of themselves and even their arch-enemy. They found lasers and grenades and other weird technology. They befriended a village full of mystical druid types who gave them a free place to stay for some time, as well as access to magic to remove curses and the like. I try to throw in wild, strange rewards to balance out the strange and deadly things they encounter.

...and yet, sometimes I think maybe I am too lethal and too capricious. My campaign has lost three players, though two of them left because they were a couple who had a baby.

Perhaps it was a stretch to call myself a killer DM, but I certainly am a lot more deadly than I was previously. In fact, the player who has lost several characters used to say I was one of the softest DMs he knew. (That was back in our 3.5 days, which are forever behind me.)

So Josh, if you're reading this... erm, sorry you got killed again!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Eight months!

It was eight months ago today that I started my AD&D campaign, and I am proud to say we're still running and have thus far missed only two sessions. Of the original group of six, four players remain, though only one of the original characters is still alive. The game went from being fairly standard AD&D to having some Vance-bits to being a Gamma World/Mutant Future crossover to flirting with some Zelazny/Amber influence, with an option on returning to the "ordinary" fantasy world from whence they came any session now. (Of course, I do have some surprises lined up...) Our youngest player quit again, this time for good, as he does not enjoy playing via Skype. (I think he and his dad ought to just move back, of course!) A potential local has been following my blog and shown interest in joining. My commuting player moved into my neighborhood about a month ago and rejoined the game, though with a different character. (Now that I think about it, his old one was never actually killed... in fact, his fate is rather ambiguous.)

Leveling has been a little slow, if only because the party has had some trouble keeping its treasure, and I had to get adjusted to the AD&D way of doing things, although I do not do experience as written. Many of our sessions are a bit shorter due to travel times on the part of the players, lingering technology problems, and a variety of other factors. Still, we soldier on, and the players keep coming back each week, so I must be doing something right.

Anyway, this post was largely self-indulgent. I still look forward to my game with each week, and I have a lot of great ideas I want to try. I've changed my DMing style quite a bit from previous campaigns, and I've moved outside of my usual favorite tropes and trappings to be included in a D&D game. I would say that this game has been influenced a lot by authors I hadn't read much until relatively recently, and I have been more "experimental" as a DM. Let's see how long we can keep this crazy thing going.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Metaplot and Setting Advancement

The short version: I hate them, as I hate Hell, and all Montagues.

The not-as-short version:

I recently came down on campaigns where there is a set ending toward which the players are gently (or not so gently) guided. On a related subject are games where the setting"develops" through updates found in the splatbooks. No, White Wolf isn't the only company guilty of this; Dream Pod 9 did it with Tribe 8, TSR did it with Dark Sun, and so on.

I despise metaplot for a number of reasons. Firstly, metaplot tends to become "the story of a bunch of  badass NPCs that your players might, if they are lucky, get to watch.. They are Luke Skywalker, and you are Red-4 or Rebel Commando #3 or whatever. While I no longer gravitate towards "hero with a capital H" style gaming, neither am I satisfied to play a game where the only important things that are happening are instigated or shaped by NPCs.

Secondly, metaplot tends to waste valuable page count in books. Yes, I can ignore the meteplot, but this renders many parts of many books useless. Maybe I'm interested in the revised mechanics of the new setting book, but I want to use the old setting before the Big Evil Guy was killed off and a bunch of shit was arbitrarily changed... and I can certainly do that, but I'm also paying for that material that I don't want. (This, in recent times and certainly going forward, will preclude me from buying "revised" settings.)

Thirdly, and perhaps this is just me being persnickity, but almost every metaplot I've ever seen has dropped the ball in some way at or near the end. The ending is illogical, poorly thought out, etc. Metaplots also tend to advance the setting in ways I find uninteresting. I freely admit that point three might just be my general bias towards metaplots.

I do have one notable exception to my general metaplot hate:

 In Nomine, the Revelations campaign. The actions that characters take can actually influence the setting in ways that are not contradicted. For instance, the players have the chance to save an Archangel from spiraling into a fall from grace, and the book presents write-ups on the Archangel redeemed and the Demon Prince he becomes if he should fall. The players have the chance to confirm/prevent the ascension of another, more minor, Demon Prince as well. Finally, the players can prevent Armageddon, or they can usher it in. (Though on the flip side, it is *very* difficult to cause Armageddon as opposed to stopping it... difficult, though not impossible) No further campaigns were ever released for In Nomine, so changes to the setting were never contradicted. (Really, if you think about it, what campaign could have possibly topped the aversion of Armageddon?)

Even when I was into games with more story/narrative focused bent, I never like metaplots... back then, the reason was mainly due to the fact that I wanted to tell my own stories. Now, I want a game that drops a setting in my lap and lets me run and play. Give me more options, I might buy them... give me a great module, I might drop it in, but don't fuck around with the setting in ways that make me have to ignore/reconcile the published world vs. the one I've carved from it. (See also: my gripe about Deadlands and its totally fucking UNVINCIBLE* pet NPCs that they  straight up ask you not to kill so as not to muck around with their publishing plans.)

*Yes, unvincible, which is way less vincible than invincible. Don't believe me? Look up the stats for Stone and Raven and Reverend Grimm. Seriously. Why bother with the long, atrocious stat blocks when they could just save space and print You lose! Good DAY, sir! after the descriptions.

Oh, and Elminster can suck it. So can Drizz'zzt'ttt or whatever the hell his name is.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

More Al-Qadim Goodness

I was once again haunting the LGS today when I ran across the battered Land of Fate boxed set. The price was right so I found myself unable to resist the indulgence. There was also a Dark Sun boxed set, but I exercised restraint and did not purchase it. (Also, it was the 'expanded and revised' version, so it was post-Dragon King... had it been the very original DS boxed set I'd probably have tightened my belt and just bought it anyway.)

The maps in the boxed set are beautiful. Al-Qadim truly had impressive production quality.

The bit about the Dark Sun set has planted the seed of metaplot and "setting advancement" in my head, but that will be another blog post for later.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Maybe a little too epic...

So I started perusing White Wolf's Fall of the Camarilla, an epic campaign meant to be played with their Requiem for Rome campaign setting. The short version: The Camarilla of Vampire: the Requiem is similar to the similarly-named group from Vampire: the Masquerade; it is sort of a "vampire United Nations." The difference between the two games is that in VtM the Camarilla is the "default" mode of play, and in Requiem the organization crumbled and broke apart around the same time that the Roman Empire was in decay. Fall of the Camarilla is a campaign in which your groups' characters experience, shape, and possibly die in said fall.

There was a time in my life where I'd have already had a group with characters ready to go, and I would be chomping at the bit to run a game like this. Unfortunately, I don't know that my gaming tastes are compatible with this sort of thing anymore.

For one thing, how can any player derive much enjoyment from a campaign where the ending is already a foregone conclusion? The players know that the Camarilla is history well before the modern era, and there isn't really much they can do to stop it. (I haven't read the book in its entirely, so forgive me if you know this not to be true, but from what I could find in the epilogue section, the fall is inevitable.)

One thing that I have become big on is player choice and player navigation; I make the world, they play in it, and they mess with the stuff they like. I do not try to force them in any given direction. In my current game, the party has chosen to leave Tarraxian and return home. If they had decided to spend the rest of their days on Tarraxian, I'd have filed away all the information on their home world and mapped out the rest of the post-apocalyptic world. In my last (failed) World of Darkness game, I let the characters loose in a mental asylum that had a lot of bad, evil, eldritch shit going down, and my intention was that they would run and play in the sandbox. (It didn't quite turn out that way, but that is another story, and I'm still not convinced that I couldn't pull it off if I tried it again.)

I still like White Wolf and I'd like to try another chronicle someday, but my tastes have changed so much that I'm not sure how I'd fare in another "story" based game. I think the simulation bug has bitten me and I now find the idea of baiting the players along a pre-determined story to be kind of.... I don't know, cheap. I know that I, as a player, am most frustrated when I feel like my decisions have little to no effect on the game (beyond, perhaps, do I charge the guy or use my Improved Face Punch feat?) If I were invited to play in Fall of the Camarilla, would I accept the invitation? Yeah, maybe...and then I'd try like hell to stop it, not because I want to be a fucktard or screw with my GM's carefully laid plans, but because hey- this type of game lets me play a character and do what I want! If your Super Secret Vampire Club of Rome was going down in flames, wouldn't you want to stop it? I suddenly envision a session of Deadlands or Boot Hill where the GM says, "Hey, don't fight too hard, guys... this is the Alamo, after all!" The treasure in Raggi's Grinding Gear may be damn difficult to get, but the most important thing is that it is possible.

I noted earlier that I am involved in a WFRP1 campaign. The campaign is a pre-published affair called "The Doomstones." I know how it ends because the ending is somewhat infamous, but I'm going to see what I can do to shake things up....because, really, if you're just going to follow a pre-set plot where all you do is mash the buttons-er, I mean, roll to hit, well... you might as well pop in Final Fantasy XIII or Assassin's Creed II....not that there is anything wrong with that, but roleplaying games can go beyond the confines of memory space and programming limitations, and that is why I love gaming so much more when it is the pencil and paper variety instead of the 360 or PS3 variety.

um....and that's what diversity means to me...