Monday, November 2, 2009

Gaming = Barely Controlled Chaos

Okay, I let that go a little longer than I should have.

I sort-of ran out of stuff to talk about, though. I was thinking of going back and re-organizing a bit. I had a style... a plan that I was following to start, and I went off track from that. It's a little disappointing that I couldn't keep it up. Oh well. Maybe I'll do the reorganization again and alter things a bit, but I'll keep the content the same.

In the meantime, a story.

One thing I love about RPGs is their unpredictability. No matter how you plan, no matter how you try to organize things, to lay things down in a line of progression, temporal or otherwise, the players will find a way to go astray... and it typically produces wonderful, highly entertaining results. There are those times when you are forced to deal with a total pooch-screw, to borrow from True Lies dialogue, but thankfully those times are few and far in between, and even when you have reached pooch-screw levels of boneheadedness, as long as everyone is having fun, it usually comes off as a success regardless.

When I think about campaigns gone astray, I typically think back to Steve's awesome campaign world that we completely boned... and it can all be traced to one specific event. I've gone over it already. Our fateful premature interaction with the entity formerly known as Ikthara (I think I got that right). However, I've gone there. This is not the time to go over it again. I've worn that tshirt before.

Instead, I will don another tshirt, one with colorful illustrations by the wonderful Larry Elmore. I come to my online game of 3.5e D&D Dragonlance.

I've mentioned this before, but this is about something specific to the game, rather than how long it was taking.

Now, if you haven't read the books, well, you're in for a spoiler here, so if you don't like spoilers, just stop reading now.

In the books, there is a blacksmith character named Theros Ironfeld, who lives in the hometown of the main characters. Early on, he is caught by the Dragon Armies, as he had been helping to hide elves (who were killed on sight) and sneak them out of town.

The characters arrive back at their hometown after an adventure in a ruined city, where they found The Disks of Mishikal, which contain knowledge of the gods and anyone who reads them can become a cleric. They find their town overrun and occupied by an army of dragon-men supported by dragons and led by a human "Dragonlord" named Verminaard. They also encounter an old friend of the main character, Tanis... an elf named Gilthanas. The elf came to find the other elves, which Theros had been helping, but he was too late. The elves were captured and killed by Verminaard's dragon in the town square. He almost ran in to his death, but Theros knocked him unconscious and dragged him off to his house to save him. The main characters catch up as Gilthanas is out and about the next day, and they are all captured by the dragon army. Theros is brought over shortly after with his arm cut off, and nearly dies, except for the cleric in the main group healing him... but his arm is still missing.

This is a rather large plot point, because there is a legend that the man who produces the dragonlances will have a silver arm... conveniently provided as a magical artifact by the story... so Theros is all set up... a blacksmith, with his arm missing... there you go. Just need some heroes to drag him along until they get him in the right place to get that arm, stick it on him to replace his missing one and the world is saved.... right?

Well, lemme tell yah. heh.

The characters in my game ended up being a day or two early in the "timeline" of the story, due to taking some alternate routes, and returned to their hometown just as the elves that Theros had been hiding were being killed by the Dragon. They helped Theros subdue Gilthanas and they all went back to his house to hide out. The next day, the group went off to the Inn to see what more information they could find, and overheard a dragon army officer saying that they were going to get the blacksmith. Well, a few members of the group took off to his blacksmith shop, and save him... and save him they did! When they arrived, a draconian had just raised a huge partially-forged two-handed sword, ready to bring it down on Theros' arm, when the party members broke in through the door and killed the draconians! It was all very dramatic and heroic and they were able to flee with the blacksmith intact...


there goes the prophecy out the window. hehe.

It wasn't a problem for me, because at that point, it actually opened up a lot of options for me. Now the story became about searching out the dragonlances that were still around, rather than forging new dragonlances.

Now, as I'd said in the previous post, we didn't get very far into the story, because it was taking too long, but it's a good example of how the actions of the players can completely change the direction of a campaign.

1 comment:

  1. I forgot that we did that. It's a shame we had to stop. I would have liked to have seen how we were going to win the war without lances.