Sunday, July 31, 2011

Games I Want to Run, Part 2

So the votes are in among the options I posted here, from three players from last semester.  One vote of "Fields of Blood would be cool if you can fix the caster issues, but Western Marches would also be badass", one vote of "Fields of Blood would be awesome if you added rules for fighters training units and such, but Wilderlands / episodic would be awesome too", and one that was primarily for Wilderlands.  This input leaves my predicament ultimately unsolved...  but that's OK, because the purpose of asking for feedback wasn't to resolve it, but to get some thoughts from third parties.

So...  Fields of Blood got a good bit of support, but it was all predicated on shrinking the strategic advantage casters get as a result of FoB's increased scales.  First, I'm not sure that's doable; non-casters have no equivalent to spells to be researched, nor an equivalent to items to be created, and they just can't do the strategic-level movement and reconnaissance that teleport and scrying permit.  Craft Fortification, letting individuals boost unit training rates, Command as a class skill, and solo missions into enemy territory are all well and good, but I really don't think it's fixable.

There's also a kind of timing problem - I don't know how long Tim's current campaign is going to run into the semester.  If it runs long, then FoB might end up starting up towards the end of the semester, and then I foresee it dying on Thanksgiving and Winterbreak.  Since FoB would require a lot of work to prep, that would be kind of a shame and a waste.  The episodic structure of Wilderlands would be more likely to survive this kind of thing - as long as I keep a one-adventure buffer prepped and ready to go, Wilderlands could almost be run on a spontaneous basis.  Tim also mentioned today that alternating DMing / co-DMing would make everybody's life a lot easier; as it stands, we have more players than a single DM can run a game for.  Having two DMs who kind of work in parallel, allowing players from the other game into their own game would allow each of them a little more slack.  There is much potential here.

Finally, Western Marches.  I had an epiphany last week, which was kind of disappointing to me...  It was prompted by an observation Ben Robbins makes in the last post in his Western Marches series.  To quote:
You could have a “solo” West Marches game with just one group doing all the exploring, and it would probably be a fun and pleasant affair, but it’s nothing compared to the frenzy you’ll see when players know other players are out there finding secrets and taking treasure that they could be getting, if only they got their butts out of the tavern.
 So: to capture the awesome that was WM, I'd need to have a big playerpool with multiple groups.  This means that I can't run WM during the summer; there just aren't enough people around.  Likewise, to run it as well as possible, I'd also need to have multiple, competing groups meeting regularly at different times.  This implies that I'd need to have a couple nights free a week to run games for different groups...  and I don't see that happening during the semester.  So there is basically no time when I can run it.  After college, I imagine I may have trouble finding a playerpool of sufficient size...  so I think that's a dream which may never come to fruition.  Saddening, but I'm going to keep it in the back of my brain nonetheless in case an opportunity presents itself (say, spring of senior year maybe).

So, conclusions:  Wilderlands it is for the parts of next semester when I'm not playing in Tim's game (I don't think I'll be able to commit to both running and playing regular games, and I really want to finish Fjolkir's grudge against the dragon).  Now the task becomes tweaking Trailblazer for the episodic style of play, studying the setting, and coming up with good hooks and opposition.


  1. Obviously I won't be here to play in your games, but it seems like you could alleviate the problems in Fields of Blood by making everyone casters. Since you're directing armies anyway, you don't lose a whole lot, do you?


  2. While that is one possibility, I don't think it's something people would be up for... the mercenary captain, knight in shining armor, berserker chieftain, crusading paladin, and royal spymaster are all non-caster tropes that people _want_ to play. Tim expressed primary interest in running a straight fighter, and Alex wanted to go rogue...

  3. An alternate solution, I suppose, would be to run a game of entirely non-casters / less than full BmB casters... that could actually get really interesting, and would solve a lot of headaches. The problem of a prep-heavy game running into the breaks still stands, though.