It’s the last day of Speak Out With Your Geek Out and, once again, I missed my midweek post. Oh well…
Okay, this may sound like a bit of a cop-out or catch-all, but I am an “idea geek” I love to learn and try new things! From new foods, to new places to new software, I constantly crave new knowledge. I soak it up! It’s weird though because, despite loving new things, I get really antsy about change. I also tend to become obsessed with particular subjects, which seems counterintuitive. Whether its politics or D&D or gardening or Minecraft or spaceflight, if I get into something, I want to know EVERYTHING about it.
One down side to my constant search for new ideas is that I often flit from one new shiny to the next, leaving the other by the wayside like yesterday’s discarded Popple. This works in tandem with the abovementioned obsessiveness to send my focus ping-ponging around to numerous ideas that fit within my obsession du jour.
My love of new things has definitely manifested within my extended obsession with D&D. I have tried numerous game management styles, from a laptop running purpose-made DM software, to custom built Excel spreadheets, Word Docs, One Note, to printouts, hand-written notebooks, aaand notecards. I have invented and discarded house rules, character templates and uncountable planning and time management techniques. I often worry that my players feel overwhelmed just trying to keep up with the “so, I had an idea”s.
That being said, occasionally my dalliances with new things bear lasting fruit. Just last night, I tried an experiment inspired by TheSheDM over at NewbieDM.com. My players ran across a slave-toting ogre panning for blighted blood rock along a river. Rather than plan out the map ahead of time, I decided to let the players draw what they saw. As they approached the river, I announced that they saw a river approximately 40’ wide with a bridge running across it, and let them draw the rest. The resulting battle map featured more tactical potential than anything my overworked mind would have come up with during my prep time. There were rocky stepping stones paralleling the bridge (with a mermaid drawn on one.) there were trees to provide concealment, a waterfall and a “zip line” which I converted to a rope that the ogre’s slaves used to keep from going over the falls as they panned.
During the course of the encounter, most of these features were not put to use, but having that potential made the fight feel more alive-at least to me. While I didn’t receive specific feedback from my players, they seemed to enjoy the experience and I suspect I will use the technique again. Hopefully this is one new shiny that will retain its luster for quite awhile.