Behind the Screens: Weekend of 4/10/09

Behind the Screens is going to be my “column” name for my gaming reports here at the Chaos Grenade . Yeah the name is kinda cheesy and generic; but really my whole campaign is just all the big fantasy cliche’s cranked up to 11. Long time D&D players will probably facepalm reading these entries as they catch the blatant ripping-off of so many D&D campaigns/adventures. But hey, with the exception of my fiancee this is my group’s first real endeavor into a long-term D&D game. Might as well deliver what all the hype is about, right?

The Dragon Chronicles: Tock’s Journal
As I’ve mentioned in a previous thread, my fiancee’ has started an in-character journal as told by cross-dressing, Gnomish Wizard, Tock. She’s updated her journal reflecting the events of our power-RP session on Thursday Night and as promised, I’d provide an updated Digest of her journals here. I’m also re-linking to the original post in this digest:

Chapter 1:  Expecting

Chapter 2: The Message

Chapter 3: Bad Girls

Chapter 4:  Secrets

Chapter 5: Hands


Taking into consideration: Party Alignment

What has been an interesting experience in running this campaign is the fact that every player character is Unaligned. Doing things in the name of Truth, Justice, and the Bahamut way isn’t necessarily a motivating factor to this crew. Money, of course, was the big ploy to get them into the story: It all started with a troubled merchant willing to pay a group of adventurers to resuce his kidnapped daughter.

But an entire group of Unaligned’s can actually work out quite nicely in terms of flavor and style for the story. A Tiefling Warlord who is always in search of battle and glory. A Dragonborn Fighter, who chooses to walk a different path than what the Church of Bahamut in this setting normally imposes for roles of his race. A halfling rogue (enough said.) And of course, the Gnomis Wizard transvestite who worships Sehanine and changes personas by the daily cards of the Tarot. 

It all has a chemistry of that “bad boy” hero flair. In a world desperate for heroes and knights and champions of Order, the ones who are falling into place as the deciders of Good vs. Evil are the rogues, the mercenaries, the freaks. Not to mention, it’s thrown all sorts kinks into my DM’ing as they wind up resorting to tactics I didn’t expect.

For instance, the character Heddro in my campaign I had no intentions of becoming a returning character. He was a lone bandit, standing watch in the trees who opened a shot at the party and wound up being knocked to the ground and forced into answers. Suddenly, he became a big part of the plot as the Halfling Rogue antagonized the captured bandit at camp which prompted him to attack and eventually escape.

At this point, I planned on turning Heddro into a returning nemesis. I figured he could be the money-hungry villain who keeps getting in the way of the heroes, especially the half-pint thief who’s caused him nothing but grief (and lots of injuries). However, if you read through all of Tock’s journals, you’ll find out that after crossing the players time and time again, he’s now become a hired henchman for the party. This wasn’t anything near what I had planned; it was all role played off the cuff, and with a few good roles mixed in with a lot of good Role Play, they now have an uneasy business partner. Tell me any group of Lawful Goods would attempt to bribe the Bandit that has attempted to kill them over and over?

Running by the seat of my pants

Last session was full of surprises, and most of the time it was surprising for me. I had sat down with a piece of software NewbieDM had written about, called Master Plan.

I had taken advantage of the flow-chart style encounter setups to brew up not only side adventures for different party members to do, as well as planning Skill Challenges, but also to keep track of a time frame of events. I wanted some things to go down and give the players a chance to possibly prevent things from happening. I actually had written down a small time line of how things would go over the course of an evening, pending player’s didn’t change things. Let’s just say I schemed things from A to M, and the player’s changed the outcome at part C.

Which was cool; the beforementioned encounter that resulted in them hiring their nemesis after thwarting him a third time would have NEVER happened if things didn’t fall the way they did. But man, it just goes to show no matter how much you prep things ahead of time, you’ll never really know how things will go.

I’ve decided I’ll continue prepping what I can, but nothing will be etched in stone.  I think the game has been moving at the pace it has been because I haven’t been bogged down with trying to keep the players on course. Besides, it’s more fun that way right? It means the DM also is getting to experience the story. Going back  and reading Tock’s journal, it just seems unreal knowing I was the guy behind the screen for all of that.