Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Creative Stumbling Blocks

I'm back from my business trip and have started looking ahead to my game session tomorrow, and with a bit more dread to the final act of my grand-mega campaign of doom. As I mentioned last month, many of the newbie mistakes I made two years ago while starting this campaign are now threatening to trip me up. The biggest challenge weighing on my mind at the moment is figuring out how to create a satisfying payoff for my players as they proceed into the third and final act of the current campaign structure. I wish I had known about Rob Donaghue's Underpants Gnome theory of adventure design when I first started DMing. The premise is Zen-like in its wisdom and simplicity. Having missed the underpants train, the myriad threads of my grandiose plot loom before me like the tangled arms of the mighty Kraken, threatening to pull me under. Deep breath... you can do it. Just tie them all together with lots of blood and explosions.

In another creative setback, my external hard drive decided to crap out on me, clicking its way to the grave. While all of my immediate adventure notes are safe, much of my early world-building archive, including the carefully rendered world map that had been an ongoing project for months, is now entombed in a silicon crypt. I need to get a quote from a data-recovery company to see how many organs they will require me to donate to cover the cost of regaining access to my stuff.

However, just as I have run into digitally mediated issues, so have I stumbled onto the decidedly low-tech work of Dyson Logos. His blog, A Character for Every Game has been featuring a series of really beautiful maps, which were originally hand-drawn on ordinary graph paper. Once again, something Zen-like in its simplicity proves at least as effective as an elaborate technological construct.

Finally, on a more upbeat note, I started reading the English translation of Kirill Yeskov's The Last Ringbearer while on my trip. As someone who enjoys studying history and how it is mythologized for political or other purposes, Yeskov's alternate account of the War of the Ring is proving to be a real treat. I am about 1/4 through the book and have passed beyond where the Lord of the Rings left off. So far, I have especially enjoyed Yeskov's alternate account of the seige of Minas Tirith, which paints Aragorn as a usurper and master of propaganda.

Anyway, if you get a chance, I highly recommend downloading the pdf.

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