Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Overthinking my Underthinking

 I've been doing my writing group every week, but I haven't always been carving out time to blog.

I'm sure I've mentioned my idea of doing a blank map/sandbox/hexcrawl campaign. The reason for the "blank map" part of the idea is simply because I don't enjoy mapping out all of the details of a fantasy setting, so my plan was to have the setting mapped and detailed as it's explored by the characters.

The problem is that I got so dedicated to underthinking (putting everything into the hands of the players and their characters) that I wound up overthinking (trying to find or create systems for this to happen). Just something like a setting building questionnaire or session of Microscope might be all it takes.

Taking a step back, I think I should take a moment to reassess my goals. A big part of it is treating the OSR as a storygame. By which I mean using the incentives and structures of Old School D&D and letting the story come from that, instead of trying to impose a story structure onto it.

GP=XP: This is to be the main driver of game play. If you want to level up, you do it by chasing gold. Monsters are minor to moderate sources of XP, but the big one is treasure.

Resource management: One of the things that sets Old School D&D apart from later editions is how tight the resource management is. A magic-user with 1 spell per day. Handfuls of hit points. Encumbrance determining how much you can bring into the dungeon. Necessity is the mother of invention and the goal here is to create those necessities.

Reaction rolls and Morale: These rules will keep every encounter from being a simply slugfest to the death.

Procedural generation: This is something that I realized that I really liked as I was working on other games. First of all, since I'm terrible at coming up with ideas, elements from a random table can be a big spur to my creativity. Secondly, by not having a strong attachment to the outcome of an event or encounter. since it's not part of my big, deep plot, I let myself be surprised by the players' responses, which makes me something of a player at the table as well, even if I'm the GM.

The big thing that I'm not completely decided on is the history of the world. While I don't intend to generate a big elaborate timeline, So what I'm trying to decide is whether the world is new (as it was in my initial "blank map" concept) or if it had a history that I just haven't detailed, but might be created as details are filled in.

As I did game prep for my "zero-history" version of this, I wound up trying to roll up certain details, such as background elements for an intelligent NPC and rejecting a lot of results because they assumed that the world existed for longer than it had. So details that addressed the NPCs parents, for example, couldn't be used, because the world hadn't been around long enough for anyone to have children.

If I were to go with a world with history, it would be as simple as letting those sorts of historical details back in. Once enough events get nailed down, maybe they turn into a timeline and eventually, coupled with the actions of the PCs themselves, into a vast and interconnected history

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