Friday, April 19, 2013

[D&D] Kylind Campaign - Philosophy

Rather than just copy paste something else out of my source documentation, I wanted to talk a little bit today about inspiration and philosophy for my campaign setting. This week has been particularly rough in terms of motivation, and I couldn't help but feel like the best exercise I could provide to myself to get out of that was stepping back and attempting to analyze what it is that I want to do with this campaign.

Let's start with my original goal. Initially, I imagined my campaign to be built around running two tables of characters simultaneously, alongside a second DM. Unfortunately, this didn't happen, mostly because the logistics are simply unrealistic when you or the people you play with are working adults. That idea had to be scrapped almost immediately. What I had wanted to do was have two DMs who go covert as players in each others' games, pitting the two parties in competition unwittingly in a race to acquire an artifact of great power. My plan was to prevent burnout on the parts of both Dungeon Masters. The hardest thing about being a Dungeon Master is constantly having to be in this state of creativity, and never really getting to just sit back and enjoy the storytelling. It's a lot of work being a Dungeon Master, and rotating helps prevent burnout.

Because I couldn't set that dynamic up, I've had to cut a lot of ideas from the board. The artifact and competition is still there, but my players are no longer competing against a "second party." Even more unfortunately, I have to find another way to deal with potential burnout. I'm on my own when designing encounters, story, and the land around the players, and it's no longer a co-operative effort from the Dungeon Master's seat. This results in my having more power about the story I want to tell, but I worry that I baby mechanics, characters, or my own creations too much.

At this point, I have a pretty clear outline of where I want the story to go. Any good Dungeon Master will tell you that you can't plan too far in advance, because an enjoyable game is one where the players feel they're in a world they get to explore rather than one you are showcasing to them. So, I keep points loose and write no more than one adventure in advance, as anything more may be wasted efforts when the group decides to go off and do their own thing. As it is, I've thrown away several encounters because the party simply missed them or did something I didn't really anticipate. It happens, and getting frustrated about it only serves to hinder your future aims.

My goal now is simply to tell a good story in an engaging world. I have a theme, one focused and centered around time and time manipulation, and that's a pretty difficult one to tackle. After all, if it had been done and done well, it would already exist by now. I'm also trying to strain against the limitations of an inherently broken rules system when creating my own rules, and trying to be wary of balance in a system that significantly lacked it in the first place is a bit of a challenge. Throw in my penchant for running high-powered games, and you really chuck balance out the window.

Ultimately, I just want the Kylind Campaign and the documentation that comes of it to be an interesting change of pace for players that want "something different." It gets boring playing the same old universes over and over again, but D&D players tend to wear rose-tinted glasses the most when it comes to nostalgia. Taking both those into account, I aimed to design something that remained familiar while providing a unique take on old standbys. If someone is interested in the story that I've told and wants to learn more, then I'll feel I have accomplished my goal.

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