Sunday, 16 February 2014

Retrospective 0 - Welcome to the Recap Zone

This blog will contain mostly-weekly recaps of my actual campaign.
Quite rightly, my players pointed out that I shunt out thousands of words of D&D content every week and they're the only ones who see it.

Since I'm copy-pasting and back-dating these in from my email one by one, I'm going to break up every ten recaps with a retrospective. This is for both self-aggrandisement and sanity reasons.

Since this is the first entry, I might as well start with MAXIMUM RETROSPECTIVE. The state of play as the England campaign REALLY BEGAN.

Retrospective 0 - The Memoir Section

So here we are. 2014. London.
The beginning of the England portion of the campaign.
At this point the campaign world is just over 2 years old.

Wind back. December 2011

Players first entered the boundaries of the campaign map in December of 2011. This was back in 4th edition, and they were annoyingly high level for the game I really wanted to run.

Wind back further. 2008? 2009?

The first thing I ever ran was Keep on the Shadowfell.
It's linear and a bit shitty, but I remember that running a game was electrifying. I was fucking hooked.
The plan was I'd run Keep on the Shadowfell, we'd switch DM to my mate Alex who also wanted to try running a game, and at level 10 it'd be my turn again.

The ending of Keep on the Shadowfell had a couple of firsts for me.
- First time I ever killed a character
- First time the players ever fucked up the world

Character death was traumatic.
I'd had a skeleton throw Alex's (the next DM, unrelated) character down a hole, then jump down and shank him to death. He said it was very unfair, should have given him skill rolls to avoid falling, the whole shebang.
I wouldn't do it again for years.
My game suffered for it.

However... players fucking up the world was awesome!
The final boss of the module, Kalarel, was MOMENTS AWAY from completing a ritual that would UNLEASH HORDES OF HORRORS UPON THE WORLD.
If you failed to stop him, in true toothless 4th ed style, nothing happens and the players could go back and fight him again until he died. I didn't read that bit.
Instead they failed, one of them died, and the others fled and spent a few hours hiding as thousands of evil demons and horrors poured out of the rift and went out to fuck up the world.

Skip forward to December 2011 again

10th level 4th edition D&D characters. Very powerful. More or less immune to death.
Caravan guards, naturally.

Caravan guards, travelling towards my new campaign map.
It was called Tralsk at the time. Shit name.
It was separated from the established world by an anti-magic wall. This was because I had been reading old school blogs and wanted a low magic world, with an excuse as to why the proliferation of magic elsewhere hadn't spread in.

The map was the same, but a lot more sparse. I remember being worried about whether a character could ride off the map in one day.
The rulesy one-fight-per-night 4e thing burned me out.
At some point there was a big boss battle, I passed the torch back to Alex, Katie and I went on holiday for a few weeks.
And the game died.

Skip forward almost a year, October 2012

I, as a DM, would quite like to run a high-lethality, low-power campaign where character deaths would be fast and brutal, but quick wits, fast talking, and inventive use of items and the environment would win the day.
How does that sound?

This was the pitch.
Originally envisaged as a B-Team to the 4th ed A-Team, a parellel game I'd be running. In our minds the 4e game wasn't dead, just on an apathetic hiatus.
It never continued. This did.

Labyrinth Lord.
I was hooked again.
Looking back, it wasn't great. I think this is the curse of art. Anything you've ever made is worse than what you'd make now.
I had this idea that a high lethality game meant players would learn post-death. Like "green slime killed me, better look out for green slime" or "ghoul paralyis killed me, better look out for ghouls".
But this was the cauldron for me. I felt alive. Every week I would pull in some new rule I'd found. It was a rich soup of all sorts of nonsense. Alex got killed by a giant beetle landing on him and didn't come back, but by then I'd learned to externalise blame and think "that beetle killed him" not "I killed him with a beetle".

I ran lots of LotFP adventures. After a month or so we transitioned to LotFP.

And a couple of years later, I left it all behind when my flatmates and I moved to England.

Here we are again, 2014

I came to England two months before the rest of my flatmates, spending most of that time getting wasted with my younger brother before he and my Dad went back to Australia.
I'd had a vain, foolish hope that the dnd game would continue with the old group, just over the internet. It never happened.
I can't survive without running a game any more. D&D is my drug.
Three months passed. I had the itch bad. I needed to run some shit.

I went on 4chan's /tg/ one night, on the hunt for something to give me the shadow of a fix, and serendipitously the first post was a guy who wanted to start up a dnd group in London.
This was Tom. He was flaky and unreliable and always wanted to change the date of the game then still didn't show up when we did.
But he started my game back up. Thanks, Tom.

Also present at the game was Emmi. I can't remember where I met her, but she was interested.

These two were the first in the London group. They don't play in my game any more.
Emmi moved back to Finland and Tom just sort of stopped coming.
But I owe them my world.

And that's where these stories begin.

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