The DM, Plot Building and Forced Conflict


Last night we got back to our campaign that I do not GM (for a change). Our group has three campaigns going on, and we take turns over weeks running the main table. I DM my game for an 8-12 hour session, three times, every other week, then we rest from my campaign and return to one of my best friend's campaign for another three games played every other week.

Every odd sunday is reseved for our giant games and we get alot of players ready to sell thier entire day for a good romping adventure. And, since most players get to enjoy being a player in both games, I think I enjoy this campaign more then any, cus I can't be a PC in my own I have waited to return to this realm for 8 weeks now (6 weeks it took to run my game's course, and then 2 more weeks cus the GM was outta town.

Yesterday we sat down and we were all ready. My PC is named Elfabah Wicked, or Wicked Red (her theiving name). She is a 16 year old human with spunk and whimsey, her hair is a died green mohawk and she has a rock-star tattoo (lightining bolt) over her left eye. She wears bright red and sees herself as a robin hood type with a trucker's mouth (she swears more then a prison guard in a riot). I'm fith level and pretty damn boyish...Back to my point.

The GM spent the past 8 weeks giving us mental previews about how the game was going to be great, how the plot was set to roll, how everything was gunna get going real fast once we entered the town of Mokibo...Well it didn't.

After ariving at the city/town of Mokibo, I fewlt instantly at home...being a city girl and a lover of good times...We were told the city is a good city that has balance and I had made much attempts at learning about the law here months prior to us embarking on even coming here. The city is not huge but well known to locals and travelers who come south looking for trade. I know alot of traders (and traitors...but thats another story), and I spent games trying to get all the info I could on how the city was governed. I am a good alighned person who is often mistaken for evil cus I enjoy wealth and have the speach of a venom spitting cobra on a bad day...(I punched a cleric female who I thought was making fun of my small boobs and dirty I wacked her in the nose to show I wasnt no I said, I'm a tomboy punk)...

We were told tha city was balaneced, the people were good, the law was fair, the Queen was respected, yadda yadda. So we went there in hopes to find a necklace that was missing and possibly went north with a theif named Kennith the Wise.

Now I must tell you, My PC (Wicked from now on)was never seen with the party, never really made a public display with the group, and the party that I DID travel with was dead...They all died and I left them buried in a rocky valley with tears of saddness, I even left there treasur with the bodies...hows that for caring?

Anyway, the party I now traveled with was innocent of any crime the other party had on them...I was never pegged as an escort to that party as well (all my levels were achieved in the darkest part of a evil forest where no one saw me befriend and help them). Anyway...the second we enter the city, a bunch og guards point us out and scream "theres the Elf! (we travel with the only elf to allow humans to see him in over 4000 years) and hes with WICKED RED!).

Ummmm...I'm known here? uh..ok...thats cool....since I love attention and it makes me feel important...we run. The GM wants us caught, I can tell...but being smart and quick, me and the elf run, but the rest of the party gets captured. I run into the first home that sports an unlocked door, an old lady freeks out, I pull out a handful of small gems ranging in value from 10-gld to 100-gold a peice. I say

"My name is Wicked Red, I'm a good girl who is in trouble. I wish to remove your poverty forever if you would simply show us a safe way outta here"

The lady takes us to a window leading to roof-ways that we take with speed. We get away, the rest of the party allow the guard to arrest them (for what reason?). Fine, they are all lawful and don't want to be fugetives in a city that is "lawful"...we spent enough time asking about the mighty city, we know of its good queen, so allowing the good queen's soilders to capture them wasn't that stupid...was it?

Anyway, they get pulled in and questioned by the police of Mokibo. They don't hurt them or and the Elf are watching OOG while they play out there instalment to the story (seperated party). The guards accuse them of trying to assasinate the Queen....WHAT!? (thats cus a super powerful Litch told us to do it games ago, and we were Anyway, they tell the police of the litch and they wave it away as poppy-cock (ok, understandable I guess, but it is a high magic world and they do know the litch is alive and well...well, not alive, but...yknow). The guards announce that all triles of crime are delt with in the arena...that battle is the answer for all forms of crime, other then murder (thats death, no trile)...WHAT!? Lawful Mokiboien people get in a fight over land disputing or farming tax, and they end up inb a battle ring fighting to the death for the lawful outcome of the problem? WHAT?! Ok. perhaps all the people who told us the city was lawful and balaenced have a screwed up idea of what lawful means.

So they fight a giant lizard and win...they are free to go...WHAT!? You think that a bunch of killers have been sent to kil your queen, sent by a litch, and since they fight a fricken beast, they are now free to go!? WHAT KINDA SAFTY DOES THIS QUEEN HAVE? anyway...screw it...I judge the city to be god-awful and evil now...and make a huge stink about it after watching them fight the case out in the arena.

During my wait for that battle, I found out by snooping around that the law of this city had just placed a huge fortune on my head (one hundred and fity thousand gold to be on the dot). Now Wicked's face grows into a huge smile at this point, this bounty means I'm famous! It means I'm the most wanted Thief in the entire world as far as I'm concerned! The elf thinks I'm crazy...He may be right...whatever, wheres HIS bounty huh!? Jealous Fey thing...

Anyway, Insted of running from the law, running from a queen that I had all intentions of warning about the litch, I decided to turn myself in. But I was sure to do it in plain view of the public, so no back-ally exicution takes place...

So after the rest of our boys finish killing the lizard in plain view of the public, I jump into the arena and scream "ITS ME!!! WICKED RED! I COME TO SAVE THE QUEEN!"...I wince and wait for the I go on.

I tell the people that a powerful undead monster wishes to harm the queen, that I know where its lair is, that I have a map to it, that I am willing to lead soilders to the thing and help destroy it...blah blah blah.

The queen retorts...

"You are a lier and criminal intent on killing me! You must fight in the arena!"

WHAT!? So my good aligned thief begins to cry a little girl's tears as she begs mercy and understanding from the good people of good...they want me to fight some stupid dude with the ability to shoot 4 arrows a round, with a +6/+6 modifier due to magic bow and trained skill...whatever...screw that! I traveled all this way to warn a queen, do the good thing, and then this happens? Fine, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I wont let this ruin my game. I refuse the fight...the queen bugs out...the elf offers to fight for me...she allows it. WHAT!?

by that law...lemmie recap. By that law, if I robbed the crown of all its jewels and then planned to slit the princes throat but was caught before the slice...Id end up here, fighting who or whatever. And if I was friends with a 11th level fighter sword-master, I could have him fight my battle and the crime would be dropped forever? WHAT!?

The GM sees my loss of interest in this plot's twisting turns by now...I ask questions such as "how did they know me?" and "how do they even know what I look like" (cus the GM said prior to this that every thief was looking for me...and knew my face)...I can understand the all-point look-out for a chick with a zig-zagging red tattoo on her face...but to have every thief notice me from any distance, no matter what sized hood I had to cover my face, whatever...thats weird...we don't have TV or photos, but every ork seems to know my face and voice like we grew up together...whatever. the elf wins the fight...and I am allowed to go free...ummmm ok...uh ok. But still, I am a force of GOOD and I will NOT allow a queen to be killed by a demon-looking dead guy who plots to destroy the I beg her attention and tell her everything I know....The GM says she dont trust me and thinks its all lies...I point out the the queen is a powerful Mage and has access to detect lie...he says "she dont have that spell"...shes like 15th level dude! ok....I begin to cry (my pc, not me) and beg her to pay attention, she warns me that I can go to the arena and work things out with a bad guy...I say forget it...never mind that I have 12 hitpoints, a strength of 7 (-1 to hit prob) and I have yet to kill a living thing cus I don't get into that kinda stuff...The fight that the elf had fought for me was agfaisnt a 8th level fighter, with magic arrows, over 50 hitpoints and a +6 to everything...dude, I tell the GM that thats impossible for me to heres the main point of the whole post (wow, like your still here reading by now)

The GM gave me this quick speach about how this was all part of the adventure, it would all soon make sence, and that I shoulda thought about my choices better , then I wouldnt have had to fight such a powerful foe in the arena.

So nowe I almost lose it...I'm trying to share the fustration of a PC when he/she can't do anything right cus the GM has it out to punish or trick the players at any cost. I then point out that I doubt there is any way a lawful city would use such a way of law, and that no one leaving this city would say this place was lawful good by definition. I then point out that if she knows the litch is real, and thinks that I was sent by him, then why wont she listen to me more about the subject, or kill me on the spot?

anyway...the game went on and on...and none of these questions fouind suitable answers. The party didn't seem to find any of this foul-ballish or wrong, and I am aware that since I spend hours and hours a week detailing entire worlds to allow my players free-move around the entire campaign setting, that this guy isnt as well=prepaired for his game as I am (cus my game is over 20 years old and has a line of about 50 notebooks worth of maps n notes for every thing from the goblin's underdark to the Whemic society of the Morgewoods...

This guy's campaign is new, and yes It should be taken softer then my game since he is just trying to paint a new world for new eyes. But seriously...Should I just allow a GM to paint a plot like this without showing concern? I mean, the queen is a high level mage, she can pull god from her butt for all I care...I dont understand magics, I am a theif, if she pooped platmail Id just chalk it up as magics. But when every crude ork, oger, kobold and goblin in the area knows me by name, sight, smell and voice, I start to wonder....did the GM have a game planned in the first place?

Or did he just have a long loooong arena fight planned, at the exspence of our trust in the info we searched for for many games? I don't like when a GM takes librity with our trust, or changes info often enough to question the integrity of his note-style.

At the end of the game we all chatted for some time (as always). The GM pointed out that I am a handful to have at a table...Now I don't think I am. I trhink if the GM took time in thinking about the mechanics of a city, the importance of law, the meaning of lawful-good in manner of government, that this all could have been avoided. Or perhaps when I asked around about Mokibo in the other games, people coulda said "dude, that place is f&cked up! they put you in a arena no matter your side in the crime to fight to the death!"...then I wouldnt have a problem with this twisted queen.

anyway...there was alot of other little things that erked me, and I will disscuss them with the GM next time...

I guess what I am saying is this...If you are a GM, do not look for every chance to throw an attack at your party of playuers, or try to trick them with everything you say and do...cus it will ALWAYS appear that there is nothing you can trust in this fake relaity, it will seem stilted, on the fly and sloppy. If you cant trust a couple dozen travelrs from the north to correctly discribe or remeber the city they greww up in, but your NPCs can smell or notice a non-important PC who is hiding her face, how the hell am I to judge the balance here?

As a DM its your job to entertain and keep your info correct. to trick me into thinking I am in Mokibo, not my living room. But I feel abused by a GM when he never connects his information correctly or takes the time to think things through. Dont put a hook line into a plot that has no other out-come but a fight in an area, take into account that the realm is 3 dimensional (or more) and that players drive the story not you. If you wrote a whole 20 page note on a big battle in a city 20 days to the north, that would take place as soon as they entered tha gates, don't force it...dont lead them there with no choice in the hands of the PCs...we just might not want to go to your dumb city in the first place...we have choices, fancey and thoughts of our own. So don't battle up hill to control our direction, simply do everything you can before game to make as many notes on all reachable areas inb the realm, note who is there, whats going on with-or-without-pc-interaction, and then allow us to go there if we so wish. Then jump us...dont write an entire adventure with a linear practice that allows the GM to push our direction.

An apple on a stick can lead a horse anywhere....stupid horse.
Beating a horse with a stick, till its knocked out, and then dragging him there is wrong....stupid GM.

sorry for the length...just wanted to type.

Man, I hate it when you get GMs like that! Was this guy any good running games BEFORE you got to visit the oh-so-appealing city of Mokibo? From what you've described, it seems like you'd have some warning signs that this GM wasn't all that great.

Maybe you could run some private one-on-one games with him, show him how he screwed up, and then teach him something that works better. You've been running games since before cars were invented, so I know that you have a lot to teach a young, eager, inexperienced, confused sap like this.

Train him to be a GM that you'd wanna play with. It will benefit everyone involved.

Unless you LIKE roleplaying horror stories...

I know the guy is very creative (drama major) and that he has been in theater for years, enjoys reading from all sorts of books, smart dude...real smart. I guess I'm being hard on him by writing this. But I didn't write it to scold him, i wrote it to stop anyone who runs a game and tends to use the fish-hook story method.

I do remember when cars were invented, it was scary and they made too much noise.

I've been sharing my mechanics with two people latly who were interested in just seeing how I run my stuff. This guy is one of them. The other dude was impressed and said he out-n-out took from my style of "note keeping" and "plot setup/release".

anyway..the guy got the ability to be a great GM, and I stick in the game to watch it happen more and more each game...but this game just left me with a bad feeling.

So who was lying when they said that the city was good and lawful? Was it the commoners, or the DM himself?

There is heroism and brute warfare on the ocean floor, unnoticed by land-dwellers. There are gods and catastrophes.
-"The Scar", China Mieville

Have you tried taking him under your wing and giving him positive/negative/positive constructive feedback yet? That's worked pretty well in the past. Or some one on ones with you.

Maybe you could sit down with him and help him write up a short adventure, politely and unobtrusively teaching him the craft?

Or you could hit him upside the head with the baseball bat of logic.

Whatever works for you.

I have been talking "shop" with him on DMing for the past year. Its weird, cus he has addmited to knowing too much about whats going on in my game now that he knows how I run things. Its really weird how he can look at me during a game now and he smiles, knowing what I just did (mechanics wise) or when and how I fudge a roll. He knows what I am doing by my notes and when I stray for sake of story.

But we are still talking about a DM-style that is mine, and not his. I think back to my beginings as a DM and wonder if I woulda took advice from a DM who ran games for a longer period of time. Or if NOW a DM were to come to me and say "Hey, look, Ive being doing this longer, and I think you NEED my advice on this craft" would I take it? Id prolly listen, pick small tricks n stuff from his style, and then forget or intentionally ignore the rest...why? Cus being a DM usually comes with this inner desire to be in control, to get the credit for the good adventure, to please the table with your personal ability to tell a good story and create tension and dynamic plot.
So I would listen, and yes I would learn...but I doubt I would ditch my entire style (in fact I know I wouldnt ditch my style) for his, just cus he has more time at it then I do. So no matter how I do this with this newer DM, I wont be able to guide him into creating freedom for his PCs the way my style does.

The way I run a campaign is open enough to begin a campaign with me allowing you full freedom to go anywhere you wish, as long as you have method of travel and the drive to go there.
I never have one plot...that just drags the PCs along on good story, but it still a one-way adventure.
Insted I hide the main plot among dozens of smaller adventures that somtimes connect to the bigger picture. I have small one-shots, larger plot driven quests, emotionally charged personal interactions that dont nessarly need the PCs to make a move, but it may be too close to home or family for the players to ignore.
The entire campaign does have a "end" "middle" and "begining" but its easy to lose perspective on what the main story is since there is a fully working world moving along side your every choice.

I also make a note besides every smaller plot, hook, one-shot, quest etc, what the outcome will be if the party chooses to not interact with that smaller side-adventure

"since no one decided the trolls to the north of Mercamere castle was anything worth investigating, they have bred to double their numbers and now have control of the northern caves n farming road. You guys coulda stopped that but you were all too busy fighting the dragon-whorshiping zealots of the Themshuk."

With this style of play, nothing ever gets fully "fixed", it is almost impossible to handle every adventure, small side quest, save every kiddnapped NPC, all the while mlving towards the money-shot quest that is the hidden point of the entire campaign.

This form of play allows a party to choose what is and what is not interesting to the group. As the GM I never have any idea where they will go next, or what order these adventures will be done in...and THAT is important. NON-LINEAR! Writing a campaign from point-A to point-B is cute, but its stale and boxed-in. You are on a coaster-track with no flexibility unless the GM chooses to derail from his linear notes to add to the flavour of the game. Such derailing never really happens as much as it should, the GM usually dosnt want to afford the chance at losing his presious window of oppertunity to drop his bad-ass NPC on the party, at the right time, on the right day, when the notes say it should happen. Most DMs (newer ones) think they themselvs are the drivers of the adventure, thats wrong. The players should be the driver. The GM is simply the law of physics in the campaign setting, not the guy who chooses what you will and wont do.

In the game mentioned above, the party is being hunted by a city of assh*l*s, and I as a players reccomended that, "since there is an entire city against you guys, and you are very favoured down south (they saved a king's life about 5 gamnes ago), perhaps we can all just travel there and talk to the king who loves you all...perhaps he will back us up, get a mounted army to help stop this evil kingdom?"

the party thought this a great Idea...the GM looked at his notes (not seeing them discribing a entire army coming from the south cus the party decided to go get help insted of enter the queens fortress with sword in hand, highly outnumbered etc) and said

"wellll, thats really far, and getting there would take almost a prolly dont want to go all the way there and all the way back...sooooo"

NO!!! SEE!? thats my game, if you won the love of a kingdom, and the politics between the two kingdoms allowed it, I would allow you to travel back to the king...I have every mile between the two kingdoms mapped and noted for random encounters, who lives there, what you may or may not meet on the way...I also have the King's army noted and the size of his forces. But the king wont just say "sure! Ill help kill a queen!" it all depends on politics...if it would cuase political problems with allies, will it disrupt trade? Does this king have anything stopping him from sending a armed attack on this queen? Perhaps there is too many monsters attacking the king, and sending his army would leave his people open for an attack...whatever.

Or perhaps the king says "fine..this queen is evil, lets do this"

That too will be played out in a fasion that meets the standards of an open-game. I have rules for mass combat if thats what it comes down to...I have everything ready to go. Its all documented, who is where, who is what, what is going on where. Its the players that get it moving...Everything is almost stagnent before the players enter the mix..they are the mover n mixers of the story, not me...I simply know what will happen if the players do not intervien. thats how it should be done in my opinion. It always makes for a great fluid adventure, and cuases the players to see that they are the ones running the game...I simply am governing physics and the NPCs around them.

One more thing:

If anyone chooses to exsperiment with this way of running a game, there is alot of advice I can give, as well as tell you how I set up the notes to run mechanically for a entire land.

There are a few snags that you will have to be aware of, and players learn them quickly.

The main snag with this sort of play is, that you the GM have no idea when the party will go this-way-or-that, or what side adventures are going to meet the party next. This mean you must make adventures for all levels...put a bunch of first level theives in the city that are stealing from the church as one side-adventure, and then put three stone giants to the north that have nothing to do with the city but somhow they know of the theivs in the city (they trade).

Now if your first game consists of 1st level PCs, you might want to hint at the church having a problem....but nothing is stopping them from travling north were they might randomly meet stone giants...those stone giants will no-doubt kill a party of that size...the important thing here is that the PCs are told of the horror. They should be aware from locals, other adventurers etc, that the north has an evil that can crush 30 armed men, or just bne plain told that three stone giants are guarding the mountain pass...

It is very possible for players to run into danger that is way above there level of play this way...but its not nessarly bad. One- it shows that they must build up in levels and power before going north (perhaps help the church for some xp?), and it puts the whole "real world" feeling into the area. The pcs quickly learn that not everything they meet is going to take thier level into question. If you go to the Red-Mountains, you might meet the evil Red dont go there. Unless you want a chance at a red dragon's anger.

I have my entire world done like this...about 25 note books, (about1-4 for each land), and there asre things still living in those notes that no-one has ever choosen to go find, or meet...then again, after a long time of playing (about 4 years) a party finally decided to go kill the dragonlitch in Brakken, they all went fully armed and decided to remove this acient evil that has pluaged my game for over a decade...and they were destoryed trying. sad end to a happy hoo.

But then a year later, another group went and won..the dragonlitch was killed and his treasure was devided between 3 lands, 4 hoards and a handful of kings...those players came equiped correctly, and I didnt write that adventure with those players in mind...I simply had a dragonlitch's history, lair, motives, and normal actions noted for the future IF somone finally decided to trek to Brakken for some dragonlitch-fighting.


Taking GMing advice from someone is an iffy topic. If I were a newb GM and a more experienced GM that I enjoy playing with (who runs a mean game) wants to take me under his wing, then I'd be a sponge absorbing the sweaty moisture of information from his furrowed brow.

Me personally? With all the experience that I have running games? If the person in question ran a great game I might take some pointers, but I have players who like my games and probably wouldn't make major changes to my game unless they left.

Same here...

You still bored? Dude, I'm trying my best! But I gotta leave in about 10 minutes, so you're not gonna get much more outta me.

lol. you did good, at ease soilder. good shot./

Heck, I'm willing to take anyone's advice.
Sif, although I know you've been GMing for ages, it appears your method requires those ages of work to be done before a single adventure has been...well, adventured.
It seems to me like an awful lot of work to do all the stuff you mention and prep all those NPCs, lands and tales so the group has a "real world" feeling and the freedom to do anything. and since i'm not an ad-hoc kind of guy to improvise it at a drop of a hat, I don't see how it's possible.

I'm thinking of Oblivion, which I'm now playing, which is in the same vein; It has lots of places to go, people doing their thing and plots happening, but that took dozens of people around 3 years to build!

- reading a signature is silly -

When I was a new GM I fell into the trap of doing too much at once. I ran my first game about a month after I started roleplaying and I ran a game that I had only played a couple of times (AD&D 2nd Ed) whose system was completely different than the one game that I had played enough to learn (TMNT by Palladium). My players, munchkins from birth, overwhelmed me with their advanced knowledge of the game, the story grew out of my control, and the characters ended up as gods waging a war against each other and all the other gods.

While my players thought this was great fun, I thought it was lame, stupid, childish, and boring. Munchkinism and Monty Haul gaming at its worst.

I did learn a lot from that game though. I learned what a level is and that the difference between 3rd level and 30th level is HUGE! I learned that constantly throwing magical items at characters makes those magical items worthless. I learned that the GM must control the players and their characters in order to prevent the game from getting out of control. And I learned that high powered characters had no fear, which means that there is no tension in the game. Without tension in the game, concern for the character's well being, the game becomes boring, stagnant, like the story that Dr. Malcolm Crow told Cole in the hospital during the movie the 6th sense.

I learned from the same players when they GMed that while the GM must control the players and their characters, they can't be obvious about it. The GM must be subtle and discreet, guiding the characters rather than bludgeoning them with a script. The goal of the GM is to guide the characters in the direction that the GM wants without the players knowing that they are being guided.

Like Zipdrive, I don't usually have the time nor the inclination to create a fully detailed and rich world that I can run games in forever. My world changes with the story that I want to run.

I create the story first, and then I design a world to fit that story. I create one main story, complete with a timeline, characters, and main events. Once I have the world built for that story I craft about a dozen overlapping smaller stories that fit into the world. I start the campaign with the small adventures, gradually introducing elements of the larger storyline over time. Sooner or later the characters get swallowed up into the main story without realizing it.

I have dozens of worlds that I've ran adventures in. I even have worlds that I've used for multiple campaigns. But I don't think that I'll ever have a world like Sifolis does. Something like that takes for too much time and stability for me.

When I do write adventures and campaigns, I tend to write them as a story. I use Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey concept as a guide and then I let my imagination soar. Once I have the major components of the story in place and a world created, I have the players make their characters within the world's guidelines (no gunslingers in a fantasy world, here are the cultures/races, etc). Then I write up the short adventures and fine tune the main campaign to fit the characters and their backgrounds.

Hope this helps Zip!

The fact behind it is , that creating a world like I am discribing takes little time, over time. People wonder how I can have so much detailed, and have so many freedom options of travel or choice of quest without pushing towards somthing or another.

Fact is, the system I use prolly takes so much less work then yours. Yes thats a bold statment, but I truly think its true. Last week a DM I have been coaching said he wanted to see how I run a nation called "Qwom" I brought the book to work and showed him...his eyes lit up and he said "wow, I'm gunna use 'some' of this"

He returned a few days later and said

"I out n out stole everything you did..its a great system"

its an illusion of compleation, not truly a detailed work of micro-perfection. The way I keep things, all notes double as both random encounter lists, realm notes and population information, quick reference and still remains detailed enough to keep a good eye on the mechanics of your entire realm, while remaining easy enough to map, stat and discribe a whole nation in just under two hours of light work. I can have an entire city, three forests and two mountain ranges consist of just under 5 pages, where I see many DMs with less attention to note orginization or detail take 30 pages to discribe one jog to the next town...

Some day I might just share the method I use (it was passed down to me by an older DM in its purest form, but I evolved it over the years to be a completly new animal of note keeping)

But, if time is your reason for not having a world that you can watch "run itself" then my friend, you are missing my point. I spend prolly less time then you making an adventure, realm, world whatever...its all about how its done.

From what you have said (several times in fact) you have an entire bookshelf of information devoted to your world that you have built up over the span of twenty years or so. That's a lot of work.

I do admit, I am horrible about taking notes. I always hated that part of school and never really bothered to learn how.

I also like to jump from world to world. Much like my reading, my GMing is pretty eclectic and I can go from science fiction to fantasy and then to modern day games without breaking a sweat.

I am trying very hard to get a good long lasting world together, like what you have, although with much less paperwork.

It's pretty tough though...

How hard do you think that it'd be if you had to design an entire world instead of just "an entire city, three forests and two mountain ranges"?

"And on the seventh day he rested. For he was tired and out of beer."

Uh-oh. I see trouble brewing....

Let's not be too quick to judge each other's games based on sparse evidence or notions about one style of gaming being better than another in any absolute sense. The object of the game is enjoyment, for referee and players. Sif, you like to take the 'one world to rule them all' approach (same as me, in fact!) and that's great if you and your players enjoy that approach. Calamar and his players evidently enjoy more variety in terms of genre and system (and I'm not saying *you* don't, Sif, it's just that your priorities are different!)

Also some refs are good at ad hoc and others prefer detailed preparation. I tend towards the latter - I'm not very spontaneous and this often leads to me over-preparing. I couldn't possibly devote only five pages to a city let alone describe a city, three forests and two mountain ranges on five pages of notes.

Typically I only end up using between one quarter and one half of my prepared material during an adventure, sometimes less than that depending on player choices. That's OK, I can recycle! And sometimes characters return to adventure settings at a later date and discover things they weren't previously aware of, so I never consider my excess preparation as wasted.

I would love to have the time to create my own world from scratch (well, I have done so in the past, for various short-lived campaigns....) but for better or worse, the setting I'm using right now is a somewhat mutated version of the World of Greyhawk. Reason? I inherited this campaign from another GM! Because I have a need for detailed preparation, creating a whole setting from scratch isn't really an option for me, given the constraints on my time (I have a wife, child, full-time job and several other hobbies besides). I do have respect for anyone who has made their own original setting, though.

You know, recently I have started keeping a campaign journal. I've found this to actually enhance the development of plot and sense of immersion the players get, because they receive a reinforcement of their memory of events by reading the journal. I also sometimes elaborate on things in the journal that I maybe skimmed over during the session.

You can take a look if you like. People reading this might think 'Oh, that doesn't sound like the sort of game I'd enjoy' but my players seem to be (on the whole) fairly content with what we're doing. I'm not posting this as an example of the way I think the game should be played, I'm just putting it up here for general comment really. Everyone has a different style of game.

Anyone who does have any comments, please post here rather than on the journal itself. Knowing the denizens of Gamegrene as I do, I am sure someone will take issue with something!

Oh, here's the 'Cast of Characters' in my campaign:

As you can see, our D&D campaign is a bit of a pot-pourri of influences and - yes, I'll admit it - clichés - and there are more than a few stereotypes amongst the characters!

The 'Hanging Glacier' adventure has finished now, in fact - I'm still catching up on the journal. We've since started a new adventure with another bunch of characters.

We also play GURPS. 4th edition, WWII-meets-Stargate campaign setting. I don't run that one, I play a chap who's a Bletchley Park boffin (codebreaker, worked on the 'Colossus' project).

No trouble, just a misunderstanding. You assume since I have a realm that was built in a 20 year span, that the level of detail within that realm must be a product of years and years of work.

Yes cal, your right, I do mention my bookself of creation enough times to sound redundant, and even though it sounds like bragging, its not. Its simply me trying to connect with ONE gamemaster who does the same, or has put such work into thier realm(s) as I have.

But that realm is old, and the main game we play every other sunday. it is overly huge, and has evolved into such a piece of art that I can not even begin to wish that any game I play in will have that sort of depth or complexity. But that's that realm, and by-god its older then most people on this board.

But building a working world like I first discribed above these posts, a realm that allows freedom of player choice, is not a 20-year task. Ill tell you, the side-game we play in (Qwom) was first created one night when we were bord and I was given the task to make a realm within 2 hours that sported the same style of "freeplay" that all my realms have.

I spent about 2 hours prepearing for this new realm, and I was on time and ready when the players sat down.

The game ran for about 8 hours, They traveled through three kingdoms, a island consisting of 4 forests that were filled with horrors, story, plot hooks, fun NPCs, and a few secrets to keep them guessing. The game has now been active for about 8-10 games, and since then it has grown to fill one subject-part of a 5 subject notebook. And its huge even for its lack of space thast it takes up.

In just under 30 pages of notes, it is now
3 kingdoms, fully detailed.
9 forests, each with their own fingerprinted meaning, and individual history.
a span of mountains (the Baddlunds) where crude folk seem to have discovered a way to inhance their inteligence (trolls who speak and use tools? woe!)
A third dimension that lingers between two islands that is a realm in itself, created long ago by a wizard who was on the run from demons...

The detail here would be lost on you...but I will say that this mini-realm is fully working, I stopped making full notes on it by the third game, now I just tweek and move parts of the notes depending on NPC travel, political change (due to PC interaction with the world) and of course erasing what has been killed or removed and replacing it with what I deem the proper replacment for whatever was erased (you killed the 8 orks, but failed to track them to their lair, so now there is 16 orks in place of those you killed, and they are looking for wqho killed their tribe's hunters).

I tell you, in all honesty, that when I say I have a kingdom mapped and noted within 2-3 pages, its not for lack of detail or any understanding of the finer workings of its structure of government. I have looked over hundreds of notes from other DMs in my years as a geek. I hunt out DMs to study how they run stuff, and I often see DMs who over prepear, or use 30-sumthing pages to detail a city, and thats fine...really, Its good. But Its a waste of my time spending days detailing a city and how it works when I can do it in under an hour with 2-3 pages.

I recently allowed my notes to be copied by a fellow DM, who decided the way I run things is condensed enough to allow large scale play all the while saving time in creating it. Two DMs who I play with are now using this system, and they love it. Ok, get upset like I am pooping on your way, I'm really not. I simply am saying I never seen a game that even touches the depth of my realms. I have seen many DMs with AWSOME style and great note keeping, but they took alot of time detailing the smallest week's travel to the north can take up 30 pages, while 30 pages can easyly be used to discribe a whole nation and all its important moving parts (npcs,monsters,merchents,guards,kingdoms and their lords, etc)

I dunno man, look I have met many nay-sayers in my time. When I disscuss mechanics behind DMing (shop talk), and they always roll their eyes and say things like "yeah, cool..whatever...I got my own system"

But when they see that the system I use (and have been using for a loooooooong time) covers everything they are doing, and way more, they get interested in how it works.

A whole city CAN be discribed in working fashion in 2 pages. You dont have to draw a picture of every building, discribe every guard, write a history of grand scale for every NPC whos there. Small notes consisting of three-to-10 words can be as deep and insightful into an NPCs entire way of life, just as well as a long version that taskes up 5 pages.

Some DMs will write a long history for an NPC, I write 3-5 sentences that cap the NPCs main goals, desires, hates, fears, etc etc. I then write the stats and use the guidlines presented in this short notes to guide the NPC.
Alot of DMs will map out a village house for house, drawing roads and street signs in their maps, trying to acheive realism. I just write down the main buildings, the main merchents, the main NPCs with there name and level (spells, treasure, followers etc), and then look at the short-hand notes and judge the NPCs normal actions.

I dont need a novel's worth of notes to know that Sir Phallus is a knight of the square table, hell bent on returning glory to his king's land, but hates crude to the point where he is dangerously close to becoming crude himself. I simply write

Phallus, 4th lev, knight of square,motivation-honor for king,hates-crude,personality-honor but close to sinnning in anger agisnt them. History worth noting: Family killed by orks at young age, raised by the guard, father figure-Sir Dillard Doe (see Dill). Age 34,height-6'2,family-none, weapons-n-armor all +1.
Skills: firebuilding, manners (cus I cant spell ediquett), heraldry,specil-in-long,shrt-swrd.

Then I note the %chance on every location of meeting Sir phallus there. The pub? %5, The guard house 15%, the king's side 30%.

Now, I neve rhave to write where he is, what he is doing, when why how etc. I simply allow him freedom to move around where he is, using the % to place him (unless I choose to move him myself or make him go sumwhere). If the party does somthing to change his placment It is noted. They may find an ork tribe to the south, and ask for him to gather men and help, that would cuase his % chance to be 95% in the woods of the orks, or less, or more, depending on where I want to puit him. I play Phallus as a working NPC with choice and freedom to change. I dont allow my notes to dictate his actions, cus I know how he acts in all conflicts of choice. I know who he is, I know how he works, etc etc...ive played him out in my head a thousand times. So if there is a fire in town cuased by raiding orks, I know he will be there. If a PC plays a half-ork, it might not be written that Sir Phallus comes running whenever a half-ork starts a fire, i just know he will, and I run him according to his notes and desires.

I know DMs who would detail the event of this fire if they were prewarned of it, but if it wasnt prewarned, within the time it would take for a DM to make notes for it, then the GM might run this senerio sloppy cus it goes agaisnt what is already prepeared. Or worse, stop it from happening cus the story might be changed for it...

Think about that. The PC wants to burn the church down, but in Act-2 you were gunna throw a huge plot-hooking part of the story in that very church...your notes say that church is there in act 2, so you do what? A good DM wouldnt stop them cus it went agianst his notes, he would freestyle the event and allow it to change the future of your plans...but most times its more then a fire that gunna conflict with whats going to happen in the near future. It may be the killing of an NPC, or the leaving of an important area, or the destruction of an important magic item, etc...your detailed story and plot suffer when ever somone derails from it.

I dont have that problem. I have a realm that works mechanically, with peices and parts that have pre-noted intentions and desires, but nothing in my notes says "when". You choose when. I will have a working system of about 4 mini-adventures that somhow tie in together, but I have no ideas how much interest my players will devote to any single one, or in what order they will happen in, or what they will learn, take from, or do in these adventures.

Its all in the mix, its all working normally untill the players come in and make things screwy. Once they begin interaqcting with the notes, they begin to set off triggers, cuase NPCs to react, make things change, cuase notes to change, make monsters come or go...etc. And I never have an idea what the order or action of the PCs will be.

I dunno..I'm at work, and i have lost my train of thought on this matter, I wish i could show you how its orginized so you could see what I was talking about while I discribe it.

Alls I will say is, that I dissagree with the common law of GMing..

"its the GMs job to guide the party towards the story all the while hiding the fact that they are guided, creating an 'illusion' that the players are in control"

That sort of game, though fun, is not what I want to enjoy...I tottally wanna be able to play withinhj a game that allows the players full control. To the exstream that the DM himself has no real idea the outcome of the player's day of play. Thats fun, thats unpredictible, thats the players playing out their own story within a working realm, not the GM hiding the fact that your really just playing along side his little fantasy, that no matter how hard you try, you will never go much further then he has in mind...cus your trapped in a pre-ordained furture that he has spent wayyyyyyy too much time detailing in preperation for a story that follows "his idea" of a good story.

again, I'm not crapping on DMs here...I'm simply saying I have never played in a game that allows freedom. And I am dieing to play in one. Cus out of the dozens of games Ive seen, no one ever gets as passionat about the game as they do in my game. Ive seen it a hundred times. Players quit other games to play mine...why? cus they know (and its told to them) that they are driving the story

On the topic of having tons and tons of information on your setting, I know where you're coming from Sifolis. I have LOT'S of info on my previous setting collecting dust on my bookshelf. And that doesn't include the huge volume of info that exists solely in the heads of my players. We used and developed the setting over the span of 15 years. I had to stop using it though...too many adventures took place there, spread out over the whole timeline of the world. All the areas were explored, all the secrets revealed, and all the huge ass enemies conquered. Obviously, I could always have come up with something new that would have made everything seem fresh again, but the world was what it was...adding something or inventing something or destroying something would have just been repetition. I had dropped the other shoe so many times that it got to the point where it was starting to seem cheesy to me, so I retired it.

I've found some kind of zen state in the act of building a new that is far simpler, stripped down, and just plain...well, plain. Low fantasy, low technology...and far less notes sitting around gathering dust. I keep all my notes for this setting and the campaign I'm running in it in KeyNote (which is alot like MyInfo that Johnn Four from Roleplaying Tips Weekly always rapped about)...and I've had great success.

But, back to your original point in your post, Sif. I, like you, try to develop the notion of "setting-as-campaign". I design the world (or region), populate it, and then give the population motivation that exists beyond the characters that my players make. Then you add PCs to the mix and adventures just seem to happen.

Once, long long long ago, I was the kind of GM that this guy you were playing with was. The first time I had someone run like that *for* me, I realized how much it sucked, and began to revise my style. Of course, that was when I was quite a young man, and these days I think I'm too set in my ways to change if it turned out that I was still a bad GM (which I may would I know?). I hope you can get through to this guy though...cause it doesn't sound like something *I* would want to play. I feel for ya brotha.

Your post may have been directed at Calamar, but I'll just make a few comments.

The game ran for about 8 hours, They traveled through three kingdoms

Whoa, stop right there! You see - it's all a matter of style. The only way players in my campaign would make a journey through three kingdoms in an 8-hour session is if they were on a flying carpet, invisible (to avoid aerial patrols), and fairly antisocial. Or else, they are travelling a route they are already familiar with. In point of fact, as I mentioned on another thread, I'd probably handle much of the journey on a play-by-e-mail basis (which is exactly what I've done on a number of occasions). The transcripts of such a journey would take up quite a few pages if they made it to print. Our present campaign has been running for around ten years - and we've actually covered about ten years of game time in that span!

A whole city CAN be discribed in working fashion in 2 pages

Sure it can. If the PCs are just passing through. I wouldn't call this 'detailing' the city, though.

your detailed story and plot suffer when ever somone derails from it.

That's exactly why I personally don't detail the story or plot. I detail the situation. The plot develops as an interaction between the players and the situation. That's not to say I never do any steering, but a lot of the story is built not by me but by the players and their dice rolls. Oh, and by the NPCs and their own motivations of course.

The Hanging Glacier journal was all written after the event and describes what the players did when they encountered those situations. In fact they ended up taking a rather different approach to the expected one, but they got the job done in the end, albeit in a rather clumsy way....

Regarding your comment on finding a GM who has put the same amount of work into their realm as you have. This is tricky - it's hard to judge that from reading stuff on this forum and jumping to conclusions. Suppose I said that my entire realm consists of just one city that the players adventure in. Does that mean I have put less work into it than someone else who says that their realm spans six entire planes of existence? Of course not. The devil is in the details and if my players and I want a microscopic level of texture then who is to say that my small realm is in any way a lesser creation than a much larger but more sparsely detailed realm?

You say 'po-tay-to' and I say 'po-tah-to'.....your campaign sounds like fun, sif, in its own way. But if you and I swapped our respective groups of players we'd probably both be in culture shock.....

Culture shock isnt a bad thing.

3 cities in 8 games sint a bad thing. I see you take the DMing style that every day must be in-play. I can make a year or ten pass in under an hour (with players detailing what they do during that time). A player can feel free to build a home, learn a new weapon style, take the task on of learning a new langue in a game that took the place of a 5 month span. I see days go by in minutes, and minutes go by in all depends on the flow of time at the time of play. So instead of making a 5 month travel between cities last 5 months real time, its fast-forwarded and rolled as such, fast.

A campaign in one city? Ive seen this done and find closed eviroments to be awsome when done well. In fact I think those types of games tend to be more real, cus people arnt travling all over the world at the drop of a no, I dont think thats insain, In fact Ive done it many times..and enjoy that sort of thing.

The three cities that my players traveled in 8 (4-12 hour) games, didnt need a flying carpet, cus it traversed about 12 years in-game play. the humans became adults, the elvin players saw it as 12 months.

I have started games that end in one year, and the next instalment takes place 20 years later after they raised children, became politcal figures, gathered small armies, etc etc. I dont usually have anything agsint play-by-day games that take time playing within every day of the week, in effect role-playing every day of the year by the end of a 45-game span. But I also see that as a trap of "focred play" at times...meaning, I am forced to make these PCs live a life so fricking amazing that somthing incredibly impossible (like an adventure of D&D status) happens so often that a mortal expects to battle a dragon 10 times in a life time.

Time passage is key to my realm, and its handled in a very delicate way. It is virtually inmpossible to judge a style of DMing between any of us here..and I am not doing that. I am simply pointing out what I see as the common norm, here in my area, between other DMs in the tri-state area. Not trying to judge you, and yours...just those around here and the many games I have personally seen.

I understand the small details of our campaigns are impossible to detail in this forum though.

I see you take the DMing style that every day must be in-play

Ummm, I don't quite go to those extremes! Here's our campaign timeline for the current year:

CY 578 has actually been a very busy year, I mean very adventure-dense. Now if you look down the bottom at those guys in Pulitzol, they are quite a bit behind the 'front line' of the time line. They will probably be 'caught up' via a few e-mails detailing stuff like 'I spend x hours a day practising this 'n' that for 3 months, how many skill points do I get?" (We use a points-based system for characters to learn skills not directly related to their class). I'll also inform them of political developments in their area etc.

When characters are on 'an adventure' then yes, usually it's about one day of campaign time per session, on average (and quite often less, especially if there's a big, messy fight going on!). I do occasionally say 'well, two weeks go by and nothing much happens' but I tend to avoid this line.

Like you say it's all a matter of personal preference.

There's going to be a major conflict kick off soon which might well kill off some of the player characters.....(By no means certain of course. They might all decide to go and find a nice little island and hide there for a while! On second thoughts....nah!)

Not all of those player characters actually know each other - in some cases its two or even three degrees of seperation.

I went and glanced at your time line...and WHOA...thats nice. See? thats great, I like this alot. The work you put into making things work shows in your time-line alone. I always love seeing this kind-o stuff, and I'm gunna go steal from it if there is somthing I see thats streamlined and better then what I do.

See? thats the point here. A DM who takes care of his fantasy reality, cuasing it to become logical and real. I would prolly feel safe losing myself in one of your games, weather you use wide open maps, closed-in city play, flying orks or what not...then again, who knows, pretty notes dont always mean attractive DM skills.

But this sort of thing shows me you are a DM who takes time to make sure that his players arnt just farting around in a half-ass world that is more of a mystery to the DM himself then it is to the players. Solid foundation of time, plot, pace, story..all this should be concrete! All this things shouyld never be left to a guessing game, in the middle of a game, when a player asks a question.

I know for a fact that if I was a PC in your game, and I asked when somthing happend on grand scale of our adventures, that you would have the resoucres and notes to give me a good answer without guessing or fibbing to protect the fact that you are not prepeared enough for a serious game session...

And thats what it boils down to with me...I do not enjoy GMs who have no clue to the rules, no idea whats going on in his own realm, inconsistant answers dealing with major things in his/her realm, etc etc.

I have witness far more DMs then not, lieing, fudging, faking, falsifieing and squeezing-rules just to make up for bad planning, bad notes, bad delivery and just bad DMing.

Its my view that a good DM is not only the story master and physics of the realm, but also the end-all say in what really did and didnt happen. With bad notes, or too little work on thier behalf- a game becomes just a whistling fart from the butt of a idiot who shouldnt have the right to guide 3-8 players to the bathroom, nevermind on the tail of an epic adventure...

But yeah...I dug your timeline alot.

Ps: Faceless queen? AWSOME!

Glad you liked it. It's basically done on an excel spreadsheet then exported to html and uploaded. It gradually evolved as a method of keeping tabs on who's where and when in the campaign.

I try not to let anyone slip too far behind anyone else because that invites temporal paradox or else divine intervention to prevent this! Actually I don't have too many problems as my players are fairly cooperative and work with me to avoid having anyone who's 'behind' on the timeline visiting people or places that are ahead of them.

Inspired by this to wander off-topic, New Scientist published an article last week reporting on Stephen Hawking and Tomas Hertog's theoretical research on 'quantum histories of the universe'.

In a nutshell, there is no single 'past history' of the universe, there are many possible histories that lead up to the observed present and when we make observations we force the universe to choose between them (like Schrodinger's Cat if you like - until you open the box the cat is neither dead nor alive and the act of opening the box is what determines the outcome!). There is however a 'most likely history' formed from the superposition of all possible histories, and this 'most likely history' looks rather like the inflationary model of the universe (I have a problem even with this, personally - since this is based on only a smattering of observations we have made over a century or so - given the potential size of the universe is this statistically significant?). But the point is that the past is not set in stone any more than the future is!

(Actually I've been saying this for years....)

(Or have I?)

I regret not having a subscription, so I can't read the whole thing...but I really dislike the whole idea.
If I'm getting this right, they're claiming that wavefunctions and the uncertainity principle work in the macro universe as well as the micro world of quantum phenomena. I find it very abbhorrent to my common sense (which is something Quantum Mechanics usually are) that the past, as I recall it, might not have been (or is it that if I witnessed it, it HAS been?)

In any case, it's all very confusing..I think I'm gonna have to lie down

- reading a signature is silly -

I got a headache just reading your post! =)

"I spent about 2 hours prepearing for this new realm, and I was on time and ready when the players sat down.
In just under 30 pages of notes, it is now
3 kingdoms, fully detailed.
9 forests, each with their own fingerprinted meaning, and individual history.
a span of mountains (the Baddlunds) where crude folk seem to have discovered a way to inhance their inteligence (trolls who speak and use tools? woe!)
A third dimension that lingers between two islands that is a realm in itself, created long ago by a wizard who was on the run from demons..."

I've just started working on a new world of my own. So I have an example of the creation process fresh on hand for you. Since you showed me yours, here's mine ;-)

As I have stated before, I tend to use real world cultures, maps, ideas, and whatnot. I started this world with an idea of using the history of the Shaolin Temple, its destruction, and the origins of the Chinese Triad as a starting point. I also wondered if I could mix in the basic plot to Star Wars: Knight of the Old Republic II.

I decided that Jedi were most like mages with some special abilities. I'm using GURPS 4th ed. which allows for flexibility with these kinds of characters as opposed to a class driven game.

I named these mages Taika (Finnish for magic, spell) and divided them into two versions, Good (Avedis) and Evil (Charna).
I summed up their history, the differences between the Avedis and Charna Taika and the destruction of their temple.

Then I picked out a land (Spain as it turns out) and printed out a physical map (physical maps show forests, mountains, rivers, etc, but no cities or roads) and filled in cities, towns, road and other things.

I decided to play around with governments a bit and made four distinct governments. A theocracy, a monarchy with a strong central religious base, a confederacy, and a monarchy with no religious affiliation.

The theocracy has three shinning cities, fully mapped out, three orders of Knighthood, a detail religion, and an order of Paladins. The culture here is a mixture of Old English, Old French, and Fantasy.

The confederacy has one city and a completely different belief and law system. The culture here is mostly a mixture of Norse, Panamanian, and American Indian. They speak Portuguese, Spanish, and Native Mexican dialects.

The monarchy with religion is a lot like modern England.
The monarchy without a religious base is much more like a dictatorship than anything else. A free for all city-state.
The common languages are Old English for commoners and Old French for aristocrats.
These are all human cities and lands. The only other sentient beings so far are a race of man sized humanoid cats and lizardmen from the desert to the south, each with their own religion, government, and culture.
I haven't decided if I'm gonna have elves, dwarves, or any of the other "normal" races.

I work on the computer so the number of pages may be different than what you are used to. I use 12 point font and have about five pages so far, including the Taika history. I will add more pages as I detail the religions and governments a bit more.

I don't waste time making up individual NPCs until I've started running the game, although I do have a list of appropriate sounding names (I find that the hardest thing to improve are good names).
Nor do I have an accurate way to tell how much time I've put into this. I work on it at work when ideas hit and it's slow around here. I've put in several hours at least.

I'll be running two, possibly three, separate groups at the same time in this setting. I'm already running one group and I'll continuously update the world based on the character's needs. I tend to stick with a low magic, low powered character approach with my worlds.

From what I understand, we tend to create worlds in a similar short note fashion, although I tend to use sentences and paragraphs while you favor a shorthand note approach. The concepts aren't incompatible.

It does sound like we use simular style in creating a world.

As for good names, I agree, nothing is as rewarding as a NPC whos name brings fear, cuases emotion, induces a chuckle, cuases a party to have found memories, etc.

Best name as of recent is the elvin King's virgin duaghter "Newpoonani"...Just funny, yet somhow very elvin sounding.

I also keep a list of good names without knowing who will use them, for random encounters, NPCs that didnt get written in as important as they turned out to be (the shop keeper that everyone decided was gunna be a best friend of the group).

I also keep a handy pile of plays next to my table, within reach at a moment's need. Works of great playwrites always come in handy cus the names are easy to find (left hand of page) and they are easy to change one letter quickly to make them not a total rip-off. Changing "Ceaser" into "Celzer" is good for a pinch NPC in the nick of time.

Since I last been here, I have played twice within "Qwom", and added 4 more regions to the land (one they have recently entered and say its the best place they have adventured within the realm yet!)

I have fully fleshed out these four areas in just under 5 hours (with blunt breaks and work inbetween the note keeping).

I also have re-tweeked all the areas that they have physically or politcally changed in the last game (removing what was killed, forced out, or just retired from being in the area), and we are planning another game for tonight or possibly tommorow. They recently removed Igoore the stone giant from the Bhad-Lhands, but now have good reason to think they giants brothers will be coming soon to find out what happend to Igoore...The sister giant will also be around in the next few months when she notices the lack of brothers to mate with...The have made friends with an interesting lost tribe of humans (the Hewhos) and have earned tribe-rights to be welcome in all tribe activities (killing a giant that cuases trouble locally will get any good tribe to be nice to ya)...

Now as the DM for next game, I have no idea what the party will do. Nothing is planned to force them to do anything, they simply hunt down adventure and interact with the locals. The last two games have found the players leaving the elvin forest (in fear of their lives, and pockets filled with elvin treasure...bad move). They learned that the elvs do not travel into the mountains for any reason, so they escaped to the Bhad-Lhands to hide from the forest dwellers...

Since my notes allow open play, I didnt keep them around in the forest to finish out the story they began, I really wanted to but thats not what I do (my players often comment that they enjoy the right to do whatever they wish). If I didnt do things my way, I woulda forced them (tricked them) into staying in the forest. So m,uch is happening there now that they spent 6 games kicking butt and robbing elvs...but they wanted out, and thats what they got to do.

I had no idea thats where this was going, I am not incontrol of their actions or path, simply whats in their way. I can not sing loud enough about the quality of play when you allow the players freedom. Its actually less work then prepearing every step of the way through a small area...

The stone giant almost murdered them, but they knew what was there (lore says giants are in the Bhad Lhands)...So if they venture there and die at the hands of giants, I dont ever get the blame...they went there, the sotry didnt force them there, my hands are clean of blame.

So next game, I dont have to write a damn thing, simply run the land and allow them to make choices and actions within it. I know, by the notes, if any giant is dead in 1-4 months the rest will gather to attack. The giants will prolly blame the Hewhos (since they are common enemies), so natrually I will cuase the giants to move south towards the tribe...Thats where the story is next game...I didnt write it, I simply am making the giants move accoring to whats obveious or natrual for the giants to do in the event of their kin dieing.

The giants also had the ability to work alongside the party to battle the crude to the north if some kind of deal could be worked out. the giants could also have been delt with in other ways...It was all up to the players....heck the giants could have never been in this game if they didnt travel so far to hide in a remote area far away from the elvin forests where the adventure had been rooted thus far.

Lastly, I want to say, playing this way has one huge advantage...The DM gets to be shocked. Not by rolls of dice, or weird critical failures or hits, but by not knowing anything about the path of the player's next move.

that allows me to actually be surprised as much as my players...and allows a whole dimension to my role as a DM

Adding to the NPC comments...

I've had a party meet up with some superfluous NPC and for whatever reason they later think that this NPC has something that they need (info, item, etc) and go back. game years after this encounter, they may decide that this person may know more than they're letting on, and the next time may offer something to this person for it. Later still, they remember this guy when they're back in town, look him up, and find out that he's moved up in society, and now they may have some mutual need for each other.

It hasn't been often, but there have been those times where an NPC I've just tossed out there b/c I needed one ends up being someone that gets written into the story.

I also agree with the name-thing. I have several NPCs that when their names come up, the party groans; either that or they guess that this person is behind the goings-on (whether the NPC is or not), and they groan. Or, rather, they know that they need to go into a certain area of the land where this NPC holds sway, and they groan.

And the players have the audacity to claim that I enjoy this kind of toruture?

Adding to comments about letting the party just "go"...

I tell my players that the world is set up for them, and they are like the characters in a book that is being written by their actions. They are warned that the world doesn't revolve around them, and that there are other forces (good and evil) that are doing their things, too. I have been accused of offering the party too many choices in direction, but as a DM I tell them that it the party's decision to decide what is the most important task at hand that will lead them toward the eventual goal of the storyline that they're in.

Not sure if I've explained that too well. =/

I found that the best way to come up with names is to pick a culture (Scottish or Basque for example) for a region. Then I look up names for the culture at:

This website gives the name, it's meaning and history, variations of the name, and examples of famous people who bore the name. You can research names by country, meaning, description, or name.

Gender: Feminine
Usage: Native American
Means "I love you" in the Zapotec language.

When I make a country, I pick a real world culture that most closely resembles what I have created. Specifically, I choose a language. Having a real world language gives you the ability to show your players what the language sounds like, allows you to pick names from that language (or to invent authentic sounding names), and gives you the opportunity to incorporate any religion, holiday, dress, or figures from that cultures history.

This gives you a huge advantage when designing and running games set in a world that you have created.

"If you don't control the Darkness, it'll control you."

I've read how several GMs and their players enjoy playing open ended games with no defining story arc or ending. Games where the players drive the story and the GM invents encounters and adventures in response to what their characters have done.

While I wholeheartedly agree with having realistic responses to character actions and allowing the players the freedom to do and say whatever they want, I don't like the non-linear open-ended style of play.

Please let me explain.

I am currently playing with a GM who is actively running a GURPS fantasy campaign as well as three inactive (due to the logistical problem of getting all the players together) Shadowrun campaigns.

We have been playing for several months now, a little over a year in game-time.

The game world is very interesting, our characters are good (although one character is OCD with a lunar-based bipolar problem), and the events in the world are not something that we can just quietly ignore (an army of orcs have completely over-run one country and a demon possessed army of elves, centaur, dwarves, and more are marching on two other kingdoms which are already at war with each other).

But the game is too open ended. My character is a knight of the church and seems to get sent on various missions that serve to propel the campaign forward in fits and starts, but that's about it. We haven't been drawn in like we would with a more tightly focus storyline. Nor do we have the opportunity to learn much about the things that we have to deal with (the demons, the church, our respective countries of origin, and other things)because we don't know how to find out. We don't get much help from the GM.

The other players, none of whom belong to the church, don't want to have anything to do with the church or its missions. They couldn't care less about the impending demise of the church and barely care about their homeland.

When we have a decision to make (like, "what do we do now that we have accomplished this mission?"), we don't have anything pointing us in any direction. We have no motivation, no REASON to do anything. The whole game feels: apathetic.

Before you jump on the GM (who is running his first fantasy game) please note that I have soloed in his Shadowrun game which was much more compelling and I still came up blank more often then not. My character spent a lot of time sitting at Denny's and drinking coffee while he thought about what to do. I didn't have a clue and the GM wanted this to be open-ended and didn't wanna "force" or "lead" me in any direction. I do not believe that this is a bad GM. Nor am I a bad player. I just do a LOT better when I have some idea of what is going on. When there is a compelling story to follow.

Some people like games that are so completely open-ended that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. The game Grand Theft Auto is a good example of this. But sometimes direction is a good thing. Especially if the players get stuck.

Other games have a linear storyline while also allowing the players the freedom of choice. The characters are driven by plot and story but don't feel manipulated or forced into a predetermined path. The best example that I can think of is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

And still other games force characters on a very strict path, only allowing limited freedom during combat. This ruins games, no matter how awesome the plot ends up being. Final Fantasy IX is a great example of this.

My point is that having a linear storyline helps to focus the players and keep the game moving. It motivates the characters and drives the story forward. Players don't get "lost" as often. When they do, a simple plot hook will pull them back into the right direction.

But that may just be my experience with open-ended games.

Cal, I hear ya...sounds right too, but I am not talking about linear "story". In any game a good DM has a story that gets the bones moving, keep attention of all involved, makes one ponder at every turn, and yes- has a definite arch and logic behind it.

In my open-style game, everyone has learned clues, and found hints towards a huge magic portal created from the scient horns of lost unicorns, its happening in a magically created dimension that is only heard about in cryptic nursery rhymes and older lore...the party is begining to think this dimension (called Sharrow) is actually real...not a boogy man tale...and that there may be great evil happening there...

they are right...its there...they have yet found the way there...I have no idea when they will...But i do have idea on the two ways there, and what must be acomplished before they can go there. I also know who is there, whats happening in all areas around Sharrow, and whos doing what...

I always wonder if my party will ever make it there, adventure in this tiny pocket of evil hidden between reality and magic. Thats what the whole campaign's meaning is actually....stop the unicorn horns from being used, to conqure another world...

Now I fully agree, this style of play dosnt put the DM or the player in perfect position at all times...but at lest you know the DM aint just fancy pantsing around, getting you to the win, just so he feels everything is going smooth.

Lack of direction is a matter of all games, no matter the style. It usually is the DMs fualt, but PCs can be blind at times as well.

I spent last night thumbing through the old Campaign source book for D&D, and it defines everything we are talking about here into three styles of DMing.

Linear play: story guided, DM heavy, and less choice. They say this game is usually enjoy by newbies, but it soon gets boring for vetren players...ouch. Isnt that the one you like? lol.

Trigger play Much like my style. But the DM still guides and things only happen after triggers. It usually is played in small areas (dungeons, caves, houses, castles) and again they point out these games can be fun...but tend to get boring. Seriously, read the book. All of D&D comes from a long history of books...your not one of those 3e guys are ya?

Matrix play: my style of play...ahem. Saying that the world is pre crafted to handle any choices that the players wish to do, its all ready before hand (or most of it) allowing the players to wander and choose through pre-exsisting adventures and search pre-made areas.

Matrix style is also said in this book to be the best style (is it true? I think so, TSR thought who cares). They go on to a warning, this kind of style leads often to "dm burnout", now I must figure they mean DM dieing from too much work. I can see why...they show you how to make an entire land, and the way they do it looks complicated and long-form.

Thats why I enjoy the way I do things. Its open, it has huge story and plot based action, but it allows the PCs to go find it, earn it, and not have it served to them like ice-cream.

Hmmm... Based on those examples I'd have to say that I'm a combination of all three with more of an emphasis on the linear and matrix styles of play.

I start with an idea for the campaign and then I draw up a rough sketch or storyline (timeline). I build a world to fit that campaign, inserting various interesting (to me) things like alternative governments, religion, holidays, races, and other crap.

I give the players the world info so that they can write up backgrounds for their characters and I make their character based on those backgrounds after discussing the finer points with them (this allows me to prevent munchkinism in character creation and to make sure that the character fits the world).

I write up 3+ short adventures based on the characters and set the players loose.

When I guide the players, it is almost always without them knowing it. Very rarely do I have to intervene, and usually that's because there is something about their character that forces me to do so.

The Common Sense advantage in GURPS is a good example. When a character has this advantage it forces the GM to roll vs the character's IQ whenever the GM feels that the player is doing something stupid (actual definition). If the roll succeeds, then the GM has to tell the player that their current course of action is dumb and that they should seriously reconsider what they are about to do.

Of course, if the player insist on continuing that curse of action, the GM is almost OBLIGATED to be harsh.

I tend to start adventures with something like, "You guys are all pretty poor, what money you do have is not enough to provide shelter and food for more than a few weeks. The penalty for stealing is branding and forced servitude at a copper a day until your debt has been paid off. What do you do?"

While I start the characters this way, I already have plans for what they'll do (join a caravan) and simply let them explore their options until they choose to hire on with a caravan.

Once they are with the caravan, I can start the adventure that I had planned. Sending them on short missions that include bringing birthday present to a local sheik, picking up the caravan leader's daughter from a local monastery, etc...

Dont sound bad Cal. i have said before, you seem like a wiser DM then most, and i dont assume you cant throw a good game for all. Nit picking style is stupid and immature, two things I personally take credit for being at all times...But trying to make one DM admit that another is better then he, is retarded and I doubt either of us will ever do such a thing...and really,m id hate to even attempt to remove your pride with how you do things your way. A dm is best when he knows his style works and brings in players who have the face of hunger for more story, more adventure, more play.

I will say I never write a story that says "they will join the carravan" and then "do somthing"...why? becuase when I am a PC i am completly agianst going along with things just for the sake of the DMs presious fragile story...I want to live in a world thats as real as can be, and being forced to join anything is a direct slap to that intention.
What i would do is- detail what would happen "IF" they joined the carravan...but id also have the stats and information ready for if they

robbed the carravan
battled the carravan
ignored the carravan
purchased the carravan with intent to run it as their own
detail the direction of the carravan incase they meet up in the future and decide to put action towards the carravan in any manner.

I can not state enough how much more I enjoy playing in a game that is free for all involved to choose and do whatever they would normally choose or do without a magical voice from above screaming "im the DM! this is where you are, and how i am putting you into all this"...I seriously can not fully enjoy a game that falls on the same old trite tricks of cuasing my PC to move a direction i didnt choose, love a thing I didnt have reason to love, protect a nation that i couldnt care less about, etc etc.

Your players seem to enjoy small guidence or just dont notice it cus your so sneeky (every DM is sneeky)...but I also assure you my players would drop dead with shock if I made the slightest choice "for" them. I wouldnt ever place the party in a place within the land unless they wanted to start there, I wouldnt ever begin a game with a preordained direction or force the players to work along side people that they may very well want to conqure or just ignore.

I know you look down on my style of posting, but I hope you see what i am getting at here. Ill tell you, for years all the games I ran and played within as a PC were mostly linear, and Its my beleife that MOST table top RPGs are ran that way...the finer craft of allowing full freedom of play (resulting in total escapism)is not one thats overabundant in the RPG world. Most adventures you read even pre-made from published works are just bumper-car adventures, they bump and are fun, but in all aspects they are hooked to a track and not made to allow a player to enjoy an off-road free-for-all adventure.

My players demand this style of play now...before we played this way, it wasnt ever noticed that I was guiding them. it never really is by players who havnt had fun in a real "Matrix" game (says that in the campaign source book too). And it makes sence

Who notices that crackers are crap if they never had brownies?

But ever since years ago, when i started to put more effort into allowing the players to make the story move, not my divine hand, I started to see my players grow more addicted. I cant discribe the change that took place when I started to understand that "to really get my players thinking and actually "feeling" like they are in my worlds" I must allow them to do whatever they wish, and allow them the chance to fail or succeed without painting a single step ahead for them.

I dont wish to sound rude...i really dont, but sumhow I know with you Cal, that it dont matter,,,its our little way with each other.
I will say that if I started a game where I was told "you all start in service to a carravan, king, nation, anything" that my exspectations for the game would go many levels lower. I would know what style of game this is..and though it may be a great game, I personally lost all interest in guided story lines that are only as logical and progressive as the DM ultimitly allows.

I wouldnt want to serve the carravan...I may wish to escape and go north to hunt and find a monster to call my prey...I may want to travel west to kick a king's ass, i may want to begin my adventure with my party as a bunch of carravan dont know...and to take librity with my small choices makes me feel boxed in...its like when you play a 3d video game and you find the wall that cuts the level off...its like having a baby sitter who wants you to do the right thing insted of allowing you learn by doing whatever you want, possibly getting killed in the venture, but still choosing any direction that you would normally be able to choose if you acutally were in the realm you play in.

Say whatever you wish...if your players are happy, then you rule at running your games. But i have said this before, and yes its me boasting-but for good reason, almost every player I have ever had has quit games to become my player. I have never met a single player say anything less then

"Brian...your the best GM i ever had"

I have had people cry in game(over an NPC who died cus of a player's mistake in free choice), break tables out of anger over the outcome of there own choices, walk over 5 miles to reach our table, make shirts that have printed pictures of my realm's NPCs, quit other games, and even had GMs come to watch us play simply to see what the big hubbub is about my game.

I normally have about 8-11 players, but i have seen 21 people show up for one game, and even though it was horrible to run that many people- they all still loved it. Screw ill say this

"I put heart, blood and tears into my game and its details. Everything I do is for my players and their displacment of beleife so they can fully dive into a fantasy realm of complexity and life. I never half ass or take short cuts in story just to get the ball rolling...I am not the best DM in the world....Gary Gygax is...Im just the second best there ever sucks being second, but hey, Ill survive."

cal...all banter and jib aside, I know you run a mature game that has alot of effort put into it to make everyone happy...but I assume your players would be shocked at how much control they actually lack if it was allowed to be known to them.

Believe me Sif, I'm picking up what you're puttin' down. I think that I have a LOT of control over the players' characters. It starts in character creation. If the campaign world has four very distinct lands (governments, religions, cultures, and language) that are human and no other races are available, then I don't allow players to make half elves or dwarves or anything not Human.

Same with culture. You can't play a Conan type barbarian in this world because there are none. Nor can you play a Three Musketeers Swashbuckler, gunpowder is nonexistent in this world.

It get's more restrictive the more into the culture that you try to go. Since I invented everything in this world, the players have to play catch up with what I've made.

Playing a Holy Knight of the Shield from the City of Three Suns in the Kingdom of Light has religious restrictions and obligations that the player will not know about. Knights of the Shield have different training, requirements and obligations than the Knights of the Sword, and both orders of Knights differ from the Knights of the Heart.

So if the player wants a Holy Knight, we have to discuss it and if the character is being played out of character for the order of knighthood that they belong to I may ask the player if the act was intentional or whether it was a misunderstanding.

Of course, the longer a character is played, the less often that I'll have to do this.

The player comes up with the back ground story, including what country the character is from, where they were raised and how, their current age, who their parents were and what they do (or did), their description (within the confines of their culture), and what they do or would like to do for a living.

The player also describes their character's personality, likes/dislikes, religious beliefs (again, within the restrictions of the game world. There were no atheist or agnostic Vikings for example), turn ons/turn offs (I actually incorporate this into the game on occasion), and other things.

I make the character for the player and fit them into the world.

I start the group where I want them to start and I give them a short term goal (get a job so that you have something to eat usually works well). What they do from there is up to them.

I don't usually start the characters knowing each other, thus I need to get them together and keep them that way for a spell in order to form a group. I usually do this by having them start by getting a job together or other small goal (joining a caravan, journeying by ship, theive's guild, fixer, etc), starting off as a unit (city watch, squad of mercs or soldiers, team of shadowrunners), or by attacking them (Trollocs, orcs, something mean nasty and numerous).

In this example I want them to join a caravan. If the characters are poor (typical fighter, mage, ranger, whatever) then it's good money, steady pay, has decent benefits and many opportunities for advancement.

If they are a theif, a caravan allows a LOT of opportunities both within and without the caravan. An aspiring mage will get lots of practice whether they are illusionist, healers, combat oriented or something else.

Other characters may simply be traveling in the same direction. Safety in numbers and all that jazz.

The characters will hear about the caravan that is hiring people through various means, but I don't restrict them to joining the caravan. If they choose not to, so be it. I can always improvise and run another adventure. I may not use the caravan with these characters at all, but I'll have it saved for another time.

Once I set the characters on a path, I let them do whatever they want. If one of the characters who picked up the caravan leader's daughter from the monastery decides to hit on her, and she reciprocates passionately, then whatever happens is up to the player and the girl (and her father when he finds out, and her betrothed when HE finds out, etc).

When I wanna send the PCs somewhere I have someone ask them (unless they are in the military or something). Usually some sort of reward (money, no harm to your sister, etc) is given. If they choose not to do what they have been requested, life moves on in another direction.

You couldn't pay me enough to carry a cursed magical ring into Satan's backyard and drop it into an active volcano. Call me a wimp but I'd rather find a nice island somewhere and relax while the world ends.

Is this how you do it?

Here's another example.

The players are members of the city watch. A beautiful young woman in rich clothes approaches them and shows them a note that she found in her belongings while studying scrolls in the library.

The note is very menacing and written by someone who is obviously deranged. The girl who received the note is a young journeyman apprentice to a rich, well respected sorceress. The corporal in command of the squad informs the squad members that the girl is a personal friend and requests that they devote some extra time to this issue.

A short time later another note, this one written as a poem, is found. It describes the death of a woman in a red dress. Shortly thereafter a woman's body turns up matching the location and description in the poem.

The players want to stop and catch the person that they believe is a serial killer (they are correct in this assumption) and are actively searching for the killer.

While running this game, I drop the occasional clue (the two note, the body, etc) but I leave everything else up to the characters. Eventually, I'll become more involved as the killer starts taking notice of the characters' actions and reacting to them accordingly.

The players in this case were very limited in character creation. I told them all about the city that they would start in, a lot about the Watch, and then set them loose to create characters that would start off as members of a watch patrol.

Everything since then has been the result of the players reacting to whatever situation that they meet while patrolling, how and what they choose to do while off duty, and their continuing investigation into the serial killer (and in one soldier's case, his continuing investigation into the young woman's home).

To me that sounds like matrix (bullet time) GMing. But I do set the path for them. What do you think?

Yeah, sounds like alot of matrix style play. Like I have said, its very clear that you run a mature game made for serious players. Your obveiously not throwing a table-party for newbies.

Id prolly end up sitting in the game and enjoying my stay there. Ive told you before my soul reason for searching this site out is to locate and communicate with DMs of real weight and skill. You seem to have a alot of heart in your campaign worlds...I dig it.

Well, last night was another very good session.

Let me start by saying that there are two main adventuring parties in the campaign, that I will call Party A and Party B.

Last night Party A managed to capture a high-ranking member of an enemy 'faction' who then basically ratted out on his people in order to save his own skin. In fact it went a bit deeper than this - it was to save his soul. By a flukey accident, he and the party are trapped in a 'very bad place' and he needed to throw himself on the party's mercy in order to have any chance of escape, as they are a little better equipped than he to survive in this place.

During the course of interrogation it emerged that the person who is Party B's patron is a member of the faction who are the enemies of Party A.

In other words, their own characters in Party B had been working at cross-purposes with their Party A characters for the past two years.

Mwoooourghahahahaha! It's at times like these I love being a DM!

This presents them with an interesting roleplaying challenge. You see, their Party A characters still don't know that Party B exists, or the nature of their quest. Nor do Party B know of the existence of Party A. But the players now know....ah, you should have seen the looks on their faces...

Now, with reference to the whole 'forced conflict' debate, it might sound as if I contrived the whole thing, but the reality is that I didn't have to do very much work to make it happen. A gentle touch here and there...Party B's patron is actually someone that Party A knows, but they weren't aware that he'd been 'seduced by the dark side'.

It's not so much 'plot steering' as 'plot shaping'. This situation wasn't inevitable, the players might have acted differently to my expectations in any number of ways, such that the lid would have been blown a lot earlier and it would have had less dramatic effect. If that had happened I wouldn't have tried too hard to force the plot back onto my desired course. As Al Stewart once said, 'If it doesn't come naturally, leave it'!

Now, the burning question is...will Party A discover Party B's existence and be able to stop them before it's too late...?!!!

Last night we played the next instalment in this kid's campaign (the one that got me typing this post in the first place). Since the last game me and him have sat down, read over the old TSR building-campaigns book, discussed notes, shared notes, disscussed the pros and cons of running an open-face game vs a DM-designed driven plot style.

We started with reading the entire chapter on this subject in the blue campaign book that I have been singing about (prolly one of the best books ever published for any RPG, nevermind just D&D).

We ended with him seeing how I set up the realm mechanically, and disscussing his desire to try that style of play.

So we played...he used pretty much the same style that I have been using for ever. By the end of the game we had all battled a bunch of large roaches for the local Gnomes of Horizen Mountains, killed a single wandering umber hulk, and gained the respect and gradtitude of the gnomes...Nothing grand, nothing epic, no giant story written to flip our minds and make us remember Tolkien.

But let me tell you what the players thought after the game.

Every player said it was the best game he ever ran...I myself have said "its the only game I ever played in that I fully enjoyed", and I ment it. We all got so involved that everyone had a ball. This DM is known for throwing "ok" games, but the players always want me to DM the current gasme insted of anyone else. Everyone usually says "great game" but then we all disscuss my game, or plan to play mine soon (even the DM admits to everyone paying more attention to my campaigns then anyone else's.)

Not this time. it felt real, we died twice, but still we enjoyed the game greatly. In fact, insted of my game tonight, we are going back to the gnomes to help with the umberhulk problems...And for the first time ever- I cant wait to play as a PC not a DM.

Freedom as a PC allows so much more depth in player action and involvment. The DM sat with me and said this

"this style allows me to relax and run a smoother game. At first I thought there wasnt enough notes, that there wasnt enough detail, how could a story take place with no real clue as to where your PCs are going to go, or a pre-made direction?"

afterwards he commented

"Wow...Dude, thats so easy for me. There was no pressure, less work, and total freedom for me to relax and just run the game."

He then told me he would never run a game with pre-destined direction again. He cant wait to explore this way of DMing in the future. I told him we can talk shop when ever he wants, and we will.

The players saw a huge improvment in game style, and I for the first time in my life played in a game that didnt feel like a DM was lieing, cheating and bending reality just to protect his fragile story that he spent days overly detailing.

I was good. I am happy. I waited over 20 years to play in this game. Its nice to have finally had more fun then I do DMing. It was also fun to see another DM having the fun that I have when I run a game. He was just as shocked by our choices as we where with what the outcome of our actions. This style allows the DM to actually play and be surprised along the way just as much as the players...and thats awsome.

Well, it sounds like you're a really good teacher. It's a good thing this guy had you there to save him from himself. There's nothing greater than finding another way to do something that works better...especially when it was there all along and you just didn't understand the ins and outs of making it work.

Is this blue book you keep referring to the "Campaign Sourcebook and Catacomb Guide" that came out for 2nd Edition AD&D? That really is a great book. It changed the way I ran my stuff back when it came out. I still flip through that one every now and then to "brush up" so to speak.

Same book...glad you dug it too. Yeah that book made me the DM I am today...perhaps thats a grand statment that isnt fully true...

or perhaps its dead on balls accurate.

Either way, the book is worth searching for, and can teach alot about the art of game running for any game you play....not just D&D

Good for you man!

My GM when I first started playing was named James. James was a study of what NOT to do as a GM. He showed blantant favoritism, munchinism, god-like NPCs, and an unhealthy disregard for any of the laws of physics.

Part of the reason that I started GMing in the first place was that I could see the storytelling potential of the game, but I was frustrated by James' inability to achieve even part of that potential.

So I started running games and after a little while, I got to be pretty good at it. So much so that I started GMing full time and attracted other players into our game. James became a fulltime player.

Years passed, during which I honed my GM skills.

Eventually James decided that he wanted to start running games again. I took him under my wing and began teaching him how I did what I did.

I think the most important lessons that I taught him was to write adventures and run games that he would want to play in. Don't write stuff that you think is cool, or that you think will challenge the players. Write stuff that excites you as a player, not a GM.

If you write something that you wanna hand off to someone else so that you can experience it as a player, then you have done a good job.

When running a game, make sure that you'd wanna play in that game. No one wants to be railroaded. No one wants to have everything handed to them, and no one enjoys GOD-like NPCs.

He did take my advice and became a very good GM. I loved playing with him running the game. Unfortunately, I couldn't stand being around drugs and booze and ended up leaving the group.

Eight years later, I'm still looking for a decent replacement.

The moral of my story? Cherish your new GM. He'd be hard to replace.

added point: I diudnt save no one from nothing, I simply showed him other ways to run a reality. Most dms embark on the duty of GMing the same way; Plot a course, write a cute lil story, and force feed it to the players behind a hidden veil of seemingly free choice of action...this fools most newbie players, or players who never delved into a ripe realm of freedom and choice. But as stated in the very blue book

"these sort of games usually become boring to vetran players"

And its true...since ive been running open games that allow freedom of the players, i cant stomach another dime-a-dozen plot directed mini-play where we are forced to play roles that the DM intended for each one of us before we even rolled a charicture. Its cute to play along and feed the DM what he wants in the line of story and action, but damnit, that style of play has so many fualts that i couldnt touch each one with a free 4 hours of typing.

I fully think that directed play is a sham and a waste of a thinking man's time. I refuse to waste my day playing along, and pretending that i am making the story move, when in effect no matter what we do the outcome is strangly simular to what the dm worte before hand, allowing the story to evolve in the proper way for his story to play out just how he wanted.

Why fool yourself into thinking your a hero in this sort of game? with or without you the DM woulda made it all happen didnt do anything but play a part in his little drama. Thats just bad gaming in my opinion. If you ever play in a game that allows you to build everything from your actions and choices, fail or succeed based ONLY on your choices in a realm that has logic and play value, then you will never enjoy another run-o-the-mill DM-guided adventure again....this I promise you.

Unless of course your one of the newbies who wants the DM to hold your hand through an entire campaign.

Hi Sif,

I'm not disagreeing with the idea that PCs need to be given freedom to act. I've always hated the bits in certain modules where it says, 'No matter what, such-and-such happens'.

But playing devil's advocate, I think it's very hard to avoid 'directed play' in some form or another - unless you have a random world generator at your disposal, the world you create will inevitably carry the imprint of your own personality, and that's a healthy thing. And what about the motivations of non-player characters? The GM plays these characters and makes their decisions for them. Should their descisions be as random as possible, to avoid the dreaded 'directed play' creeping in? What about lawmakers and nobility that have great influence within the campaign? What about wars? These things are events outside the PC's control (usually). Isn't this a form of directed play?

Plot shaping, as I like to call it, is where referee makes decisions regarding the behaviour of creatures and NPCs in their campaign so as to make a more interesting story emerge - or rather, to create an environment that favours the emergence of an interesting story. This is done with the following caveats:

1) The creatures in question should not take actions that are out of character, unreasonable, or very very unlikely! If your players ask 'Why did so-and-so do such-and-such' you should always have an explanation ready that is reasonable.

2) The aim of this is to INCREASE PLAYER ENJOYMENT. In the case of the '2 parties' plotline, I knew my players would absolutely love it when they found out, and that the longer the thing played out for without the lid being blown, the better it would be. The main thing I had to do was make sure that the Party B patron had covered his tracks very well.

3) DON'T PUSH IT. If things aren't going the way you had hoped for, give it up. Remember the aim of those gentle touches is to shape things to increase player enjoyment. Once your gentle guidance becomes an iron hand that is restricting their freedom, or you start refusing to yield to players that are making intelligent usage of their characters' resources and abilities, then that is where you have forgotten point 2 above.....

I definitely believe that you shouldn't try to shape everything or predict everything. Unexpected and unpredictable things are all part of the fun, for you and the players. In long running campaigns especially, the story seems to start writing itself...just go with the flow.

To be a successful plot shaper (as opposed to plot writer) is actually quite difficult. It really helps to have players who you know very well (like, 25 years in the case of some people in my group)!

O.k.... So in your style of running games, how do you set up for an epic, Star Wars style campaign?

If the GM only reacts to things that the players do, than what starts the game? What keeps it interesting? Where's the conflict and motivation?

I'm running a fantasy game set in a city where the characters, mostly members of the city watch, are trying to find and stop a serial killer.

Whenever the game slows down I throw in a body or two, or a letter or poem from the killer.

The killer has already focused his attention on one of the PCs and is leaving her the notes. As the game progresses, the killer will focus more and more on getting this character's attention (he is in "love" with her and wants her to respect, fear, and love him in return). As such he may target her friend's and acquaintces as victims, including the other PCs.

I guide the PC's with clues in the shape of bodies and letters from the killer. I also have the corporal in charge of the watch member PCs as friend's with the pc who is receiving the letters, he has asked those PCs to keep an eye on the girl as a security measure.

Thus you could say that I am guiding these players, but I'm not holding their hand.

The problem isn't whether or not to guide the players, it is simply how much guidance do the players need? A nudge here or there will point the characters in the right direction (I'm talking big picture here) and the rest can take care of itself.

If you give the characters no guidance, than you will be running a reactionary game that can't really move forward unless the characters do something stupid.

Unless you LIKE killing monsters and orcs and stuff like that. But that would be like being big game hunters and would get boring pretty quickly.

So Sif, my question is this: What makes your game interesting from a storytelling point of view? Do you have a story arc, plot, subplots, etc.?

What starts your story? What ends it? Do you plan out a story ahead of time, develope one as you go, or ignore storytelling in favor of keeping the game open-ended?

Story, plot and arch are always important, so yes, yes I have PLENTY of story and plot. The level of story incorperated into my campaigns is often discribed as "epic" or "too much to take in at first", or just plain "huge". The campaign world that we play in the majority of the time is a creation of my own that has been running forever, we know this, and its chock full of indepth story, conflict, political complication, mystery and comical elements. Its giant- and for its size and age it has everything a campaign should have...but for sake of the argument that "well that campaigns really old, so wonder it runs smooth open ended", Ill disscuss my side campaign world called "Qwom".

In this setting there is a huge story. The human lands are sperated by a weeks sail from the Fey lands of "Qwom" (an island forbidden to humans for over 400 years). The players began with me asking them a few questions...

Questions such as-
Where are you from? (they were given a run down of the areas of the campaign setting before game, since no one had ever played here before...the setting is only a few months old now).

What does your PC do for a living? (I always figure this out before we play, I find it helps me and the players both when it comes to picturing a life for a PC before any adventuring career)

Why are you adventuring? Are you seeking riches? Fame? Searching to better your world? etc etc... (I always make a written side note of this stuff for future reward or story hooks for the individual player).

I also allow players to begin knowing each other if they so wish, this usually makes for smoother introductions and right-of-the-bat movment, insted of bickering or players trying to one-up each other with stupid little things like "watch this! Im a fighter! whooooo! see! see!"

After that is all said and done...i began the campaign.

Now for the story. This is what I had preplanned for the realm before we started.

In Qwom (the island) there were a few interesting plots n hooks for party memebers to find if they so went that way. These interesting points were
1-Three mongrell men who pre-dated the downfall of the human race (over 400 years ago), they had memory of what it was like before the dark ages, and the interesting point here was that the mongrell men were magic creations made to serve the woman who was noted for bringing the war that crushed all human history cuasing a loss of the human's true orgins and struggles before the downfall.
The history that the humans preach is twisted and untrue, and these mongrell men have the true history of the land in their heads...but one was an evil mongrell man who would lie, one was nutrual but appeared evil due to his disgusting look and manner of speaking (cuasing the PCs to think HE was the lier)- but he would give the TRUEST form of human history...and of course there was a good aligned one, who also lied about much of the history...but for good reason. reason being- knowing the truth could begin it all again, and send the human race spirling back towards another cataclysm of man...

The mongrell men's information, if figured out or discipered from lies, or just aquired from the truthful one, could lead them to the tomb of the women who cuased the downfall of man...

2- There is a tomb of the woman who cuased the end of human history (in effect cuasing it to start again from the stone age over 400 years ago)...her name is Tolllyenna Magheek, but the crazy part is this....She rules over the human lands as a queen, an immortal queen, who has ruled from her thrown well past the dark ages, over 1000 years now...the humans teach she is a wonderful person who saved the humans from total distruction....depending on who you talk to you will get differnt stories on that. But even though she rules, alive and well across the sea, here she is buried in a tomb on qwom, in the middle of a dusty city that appears to be a twin of the capitol city of the human lands "Magheek".

when the players found this place, they had only spoken to the evil Mongrell man (hence how they found it, and they didnt have anyway to ressurect the dead queen, and they wanted to distroy the body cus they thought an evil NPC was looking to ressurect her...they wouldnt allow this cus they figured the queen to be evil and the bringer of doom.

3-The elvs live on qwom, remaining invisible to human eyes hiding in the trees and living a perfect life of harmony. The players had one problem, the elvs seemed to kill humans on site, no questions, no warning..just pop out and BOOM! arrows...death. They would kill women, children, men alike...even their rangers didnt lose their ranger status killing humans who begged for mercy....the players were confused and disgusted at the elvs of this land compaired to the elvs of my other campaign that would NEVER harm a creature begging for mercy.

Why did the elvs get away with such actions? slughtering any human who entered the woods of qwom? How did they retain their good clerics and rangers even when they hunted and killed humans for sport? Duun Duun Dhuuuuuun!

4- There were a few monsters here and there in the forest to hunt n kill to gain the help of a few elvs who felt that human hunting was wrong no matter what they said in the elven kingdom...Those little forest monsters were there for passsing time, seperating plot from time to time for distraction, or just for danger value of the forest...all those big bad monsters are dead now and the forest is temporaly tame...

5- A knight was one the island of Qwom for over 15 years, they met him randomly in a forest and he insisted they take him home to the Queen on urgent orders...he commendeared (sp? bah) their ship and forced them to take him home...after a week he was prepearing 10 ships to sail to qwom, and no one knew was the Queen's secret mission, sending her knights to do "somthing"...but what?

The players had the option to fight the knight the first time they met him, one player did and lost....he went to prison yknow...poor guy. the rest just obeyed the law and let him have the ship.

there was alot of other stuff going on as well, stuff that had little to do with the Queen's mystery, but I could spend all day disscussing the smaller plots n hooks, but the one im discribing now is the "main story"

Now the PCs have this big backyard called "Qwom" to figure out stuff...I have all the peices ready and placed, maps drawn, NPCs (yes, AND the NPC's personalities, alignments, goals and desires noted)and all the small details ready and waiting for PC interaction. I had no idea where they would go, or if they would even try to figure out the Queen's interesting history of action throughout the two histories of man...They did.

Heres what happend in a game by game short discription...

Game 1- The players decided to cash in on the human market for Elvin antiquities. they decided, screw story and dramatic play...lets just rob the elvs and sell their stuff! So they did...a few got shot at, and one died, but mostly they got a few elven swords and sold them for alot of was a fun game, had no heaveyness to its play. No one wanted a big epic at that time...They did wonder how the elvs got away with killing innocent humans...even the good clerics of the elvs seemed to kill without warning or punishment. Weird. But they got paid...and hired again by the local mafia to bring back MORE stuff, since one PC told the city guild that he saw an elvin graveyard that must have had hundreds of tombs in it...MONEY! weeeee!

Game 2- the players got funded by the guild to retrieve this amazing graveyard's worth of stuff. The humans had no idea such a huge disposit of elven stuff could be one ever reported seeing such a sight in Qwom, and the PCs swore they could lead the party to it..but they needed men, weapons, ships, etc...So they hired a bunch of 1-hitdie mercs to help out, promising them that the elvs are no challenge for a mob of humans fully armed and prepeared...they were wrong, as they tromped across the woods, every day humans died in the darkest shadows of the journy...every morning 1-6 humans were missing, being preyed apon by the elven fighters now following the party...
They got in a huge fight with over 30 elvs who arrived after the first game, hearing that humans were raiding the coasts of Bhechwood. (this was in the elven notes...30 fully armed elvs will come in 1d20 days to confront any human problems that the rangers couldnt handle)...They returned with 90% of thier mercs dead, two ships lost and burned, and no elven treasure. Two Pcs almost died and one lost his hands...resulting in the guild shooting him in the head (he was usless to them now)...The guild now was getting angry cus the party wasnt producing the treasures promised...this led to more fun stuff, but it still didnt touch on the big story.

Game 3- By now they had made friends with one elf who was a travel guide (for lack of a better word) of the woods...She was an elf with a view that "Life shouldnt be killed no matter what, it should be guided towards good and gently tamed by kindness). They distroyed a bunch of monsters by now and the elven woman was very interesting in keeping these humans safe from the elvs. This cuased alot of political stress among the elvs since she was a political figure taking sides with the humans.

She told them what the elvs teach. The humans came here 400 years ago and slaughter most of the elvs...there used to be more then 25-thousand elvs,m and now there is less then 300 (284 to be on the money)...they refuse to allow humans to come here for that reason. She told them the reason it was evil to slaughter was a loophole...humans had no souls. No souls, no was like smashing a table or chair...not a crime of any kind.

The PCs were shocked by this! Sure the humans had no casting church, and the god they worshiped was powerless and just a passion of faith...mucvh like churches of earth, the humans never witnessed divine power...magic was all there was that broke the laws of science, and it was all powerful cept for two things....magic couldnt heal or resserect. Two things humans forever thought impossible....But the elvs proved both very possible and easy for the elven people. This lead to the PCs having inner debates with themselvs one what to think about having no soul.

Game-4 The humans faught the evil clerics of Mezzel. the elvs knew that Kobolds worshiped an evil god, and that they were polluting the very soil withg thier demons of evil. So the party took it upon themselvs to clense the elven lands of this evil. They was epic, it had story, plot, arch went down fast and hard, PCs died, a few lived...but this gained the party a never-before-granted pardon from elven exicution. They were the first humans to ever be welcomed to travel unharmed by elvs within qwom..this pissed off many elkvs, but the clerics of the land decided they deserved it,,,,they removed Mezzel from the land...This game led them to finding the Queens tomb.

This game was really cool cus the player's lost their minds. In the tomb they found out
Humans dont have souls cus they are not humans...they are man made constructs that were created by the queen before she was killed. (hence why she is buried here, but still is alive and ruling the lands of man)...they found out that the living queen is not really the queen, she is a construct as well.

The elf in the party (who has not spoken or even appeared to them but once, and that was just to attack them to prevent them from raiding a grave), laughed at them, saying "hahahah! your a toy!" in the voice of tom hanks from toystory...the party bugged out.

Game-5 This game they started really getting into the plot..they found it without me guiding them,,,,it seemd more mysterious since it was hidden and the GM made no attempt to even guide them there. They searched out the rest of the Mongrell men (killing the nutrual one cus he seemed evil at the time, and very jumpy)...what they learned was a huge peice of the game...

its not just the humans...or just the queen...all life on Qwom is fake...constructs made by the original queen. Also, the queen in the tomb was fake as well...another construct...and she was evil, she was good....and didnt get defeated by the elvs (as the elvs teach) she died to protect themm from the living queen....the thousands of elvs that dided didnt die fighting her, they died fighting along side her....only one elf retained this elven history, and he kept it secret for plot reasoins that would take to long to disccuss.

Anyway...the story is deeper then this, and there is also 5 other sotries going on in the realm (some not found yet like the secret island of Sharrow where the original Queen still lives...and she is the only real living thing here in this realm, everything else was created by magic)

The end of this story, weather the PCs ever get that far into the story or not is this...

Thousands of years ago a good Wizard was banished to a banishment realm that was empty and just a black void...she was a huge powerful wizard of impossible level (above what the book allows), boardering on goddlyness. She was banished by the world that the PCs thought they were actually in, and sent to this void. over the years she had created a world of her own, and her creations have grown to be a real world...there are many plots, tricks, and traps dealing with figuring out the truth...the PCs now often speak of the "good old days" when they thought they were they know they are magical creations that possess inner programed abilities that they should have..they are evolving themselvs through this, and gaining abilities such as infravision, ability to never sleep or eat, no need to breath air, grow doppleganger claws (1d12) at will...etc the cost of there innoicence and humanity.

The party has banded together now in effort for a great adventure...alls they want to do is win souls for the human race (since all other fake life seems to have gotten souls over the years, and no one knows how..only the humans and the halflings dont have souls in this realm) They have decided to embark on an adventure to save the afterlives of all humans...they do not know if it is possible, or even how to begin....but as the DM i will tell you

"I know where all the races got souls...and I know the horrible adventure of pain and horror that awaits those who find this secret place"

its gunna be fun watching them find itt....they may never actually go that direction...oh well..its only the biggest plot in a small realm of many.,.,Im glad they found that one interesting enough to devoute time to exploring...

Make sence?

prolly not...sorry this post was so long..I typed it in under 14 minutes, at work...peace

Now THAT'S a weird plot!

Question time:

1. How did the PCs find out about Qwom? Seems to me that records of that island, especially it's location, would be few and far between. Something that the PCs might piece together over years of adventuring, research and study, but not something that they'd start off knowing.

2. If humans have no souls, then what happens to free will? How can humans build cities, have art, make choices, etc. without a soul?

Without a soul there can be no creativity. Thus no one can lie, steal, or do anything else outside the parameters of their normal function.

From what you have written, it seems like the PCs (how are mostly human) are no different the normal characters. What does a soul give them that they don't already have? What's the benefit? Why risk the harrowing journey to achieve a soul when you hoave so many benefits to not having one? Especially if there are no detrimental aspects to ot having one?

It would have been really cool to visit this world somehow from your other world. Then you could have left humans here as soulless as the humans on Planet of the Apes. That would have puckered their butt!

3. If there were originally 25k elves, and they can reincarnate, how come there's only 284 left?

4. Why would killing humans be evil? Whether or not they have a soul shouldn't matter. Don't all sentient creatures with free will and choice have souls? That'd include orcs, dragons, centaurs, lizardmen, etc.

5. What is the average airspeed of the unladen swallow?

Ok...lemmie answer what I can.

1. How did the PCs find out about Qwom?

The entire human nation knows of Qwom. It is the place only the magi are allowed to venture (as of law of the Queen). The nations of man think this is becuase those few who do venture there, never return (the humans do not think elves to be real but know monsters must be there). It is a crime to venture there unless you are a magheekien berry picker...Magi of the Queen pluck berries used to make healing potions (the realms usual way of healing since magic cant do it, and clerics dont exsist among the humans). The party itself heard of elven treasures lost in qwom...they had choice to venture in the city, they got ahold of a boat (life's savings to rent for a few months), and then went artifact hunting in the forbidden lands.
The humans have documented Qwom for many years as "A hostile place, crawling with monsters of all shapes and sizes"

2. If humans have no souls, then what happens to free will? How can humans build cities, have art, make choices, etc. without a soul?

See? you would be a fun player to have running in Qwom. I have hinted at the political and spiritual debate of "are there really souls?" , the clerics of the elvs think so, but do humans really have anything different to them just cus its said they lack a true soul?

I will tell you, I do try to lead players down that philosphofical (sp) debate all the time. I have two players constintly asking the question "what if there is NO souls!?" or "what says we doont have souls?"

Saddly for them, the story is there and its ture they lack any true soul. it means they have no after life..they wont go to heaven. The way the elves got souls hundreds of years ago was for great sacrifice...if the humans make great sacrifice then they can be granted souls. An avatar of a real god follows them around in the form of a cat (I hope they dont sneek here to read that), and its judging them as they go..they gained its attention through doing good for the land.
How does a civilization get made without souls? Easy...they have already found out that every skill in the book is pre-proggramed into them...if they try to hunt hard enough, and make the correct roll, they gain (mentally unlock pre-exsisting data) on how to hunt...they get the has its draw backs, the more they learn (every ten skills make a roll vs effect) they get dangerously close to finding out what they can really become....and it aint nice...and its very clive barker weird. I wont share that here, just in case my players have found me...

"It would have been really cool to visit this world somehow from your other world."

THATS funny....ysee, in my other realm, years ago, a great mage created a void, a bansihment realm to lock away three evil gods forever...that banishment realm has a viewing window in my "main" realm...the players have looked into the limbo hole 3 times in past epic adventures...they once used it to get information on the future from an acient banished god named Cree...

In the Qwom game, the humans worship a god that gives them no divine spells. Just church like here on earth...the god they worship is called Cree...this was the first hint to where they really are.

Now in this game (qwom) they have heard tails that if they sail towards the "dark star" (a black star only seen during the day) that they will find another world...but no man has ever returned from that journey...its a myth...but it isnt...what it really is- is the limbo hole from my other realm...its the only working door from my other game...if both games had players looking through the hole at the same time....they would see each other.

So would be cool...and it has been incorperated..infact it was the thought that started the realm "wouldnt it be cool if somone made a realm INSIDE the banishment void!?"

3. If there were originally 25k elves, and they can reincarnate, how come there's only 284 left?

The elves cant reincarnate...but they do have endless supply of an herb that picked from the Jabbarwokey's cave (only elves can venture there without waking the beast). The herb is a leaf from a bush called "Penasylvan" and it makes resserection potions....each elf carried one from birth. So YES why are there thousands of elves dead!????

that question was part of the mystery up untill about 4 games ago...they wondered why the elvs didnt fix the damage of all the elf was going to start bringing them to life and he was arrested by the woodland guards (in my games, elven cops are called Ormayus...its been that way for decades. it means Elvan weapon)

They found the answer from talking to Hadabra (one of the three mongrell men) who told them...that before those elvs died in the great war, elves didnt have souls...not a single elf but one was old enough to remember the day of that war....just Polokus, the wood's elder. He alone shares the horrible secret...the elves didnt die fighting in that war..they died willingly, never raising a sword, to show full peace of being, and total good....that many martyrs was enough to cuase the remaining elves (at that time they were the elven children..283 babies and toddlers, 284 counting the elder). Those who died granted the children souls..making them true elves...the elders died in effort to give the children a chance at being real elvs...forever granting them afterlifes.

4. Why would killing humans be evil? Whether or not they have a soul shouldn't matter. Don't all sentient creatures with free will and choice have souls? That'd include orcs, dragons, centaurs, lizardmen, etc.

Why would? Cus killing is wrong...its wrong to murder for pleasure, greed or gain...its wrong to prey on life. (ehtically in my god's eyes). But the loop hole is that these humans havent gained souls yet...all other races have but them and the halflings (called halfees, they are evil halflings).

Not all things have souls in my realm here, cus they were made by magics...magics one step below that of a god's was dangerous and unstable...there is a reason she started "the project" and thats important info to be found if they ever travel to the far away lands of Penrose (notice the quantum-esk name...hint hint)

Also, the dragons (there are only two in exsistence in this realm) are said to be servants of two of the clone queens. The gold (Lusterlux) serves the dead good Tollyenna (T2), while the black serves the evil first queen...the original (T1)...does T3 also have a dragon servant? Im not telling, but its not a "normal" dragon by any means.

Hadabra, the mongrell man hinted at somthing called "The project" when talking about Qwom and the creation of fake life...and he also said humans are deadly close to failing the project...and he said that was bad...thats got the players looking for more answers.

5. What is the average airspeed of the unladen swallow?

Im sure I dont know...and whats it matter? Its already been eaten by that Roc.

I hope this made sence...again, to discribe each reason vs logical answer for each question would result in a total geek-out of me telling you ever small footprint of information in a huge mystery plot...its cute, its kinda twisted and weird...and its all about not knowing the truth at face value...

impressive, Sif...sounds twisty, all right.

calamar, are you referring to a europian or african swallow?

- reading a signature is silly -

FINALLY! Someone got the joke. Man, I was feeling pretty geeky for a bit there... Now I know I'm not the only one who remembers Monty Python... Thanks Zip!

Comon I dont own every monty python movie ever released on VHS, and now DVD...comon How dare you assume I dont- nevermind man. Im ashamed and insulted.

One aspect in which I am not a stereotypical gamer is in the whole Monty Python thing.

My wife is thankful. =)'s your own should have cooperated.

OldTimer...I'm sorry...for betraying the geek ethos, we will have to put you in....THE COMFY CHAIR!

- reading a signature is silly -

I suppose that's a somewhat veiled reference to something Python-esque?

you will never know!


- reading a signature is silly -

Its not dead...its just sleeping.

but its nailed to the perch!!!

But thats cus its a very strong bird, it can bend the bars and POP, off he goes!

So much for pathos ;)

Do you honestly think that GG is the best DM ever? Why?

I dunno Gil...prolly not. But then again, imagin every rule you have fabricated for your games, how many house rules or on the fly judgments you have ever made or designed, and how much they have made you games better.

now imagin he did the same thing when he wanted to be a dm...cept he fabricated an entire game...the whole game was house rules...i bet he is a great dm, he has (had) love for the game and a wild mind.

But seriously, im prolly strike my last post, and rewrite ME as the best DM to grace mother earth.

So written.

Hmm... maybe I'll move closer to enlightenment if I buy this?

Probably not enlightenment, but you'll sure be more geeky.
Plush dolls, indeed.

try, this one, though:

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