Last week I was bemoaning the fact to my lady that all my buds who enjoy searching for treasure and vanquishing eldritch evil lived so far away from Madison, when the other day at work I saw a dude I didn't know (outside of IT) sneak-reading the Order of the Stick on his computer.
This, of course, led me to drop some hints that I knew about his "hobbies" and that he was a "dice roller." I was promptly invited to check out the game he runs down at the FLGS on Monday nights. I hemmed and hawwed to Dr. Girlfriend about going, because every time I've ever seen a game run at a game store it contains some of the most portulent and immature 30-somethings that ever lived. But this guy seemed alright so I went and sat in on a combat.
Everybody there was pretty cool (all 6 of them), and all of them were very new to the game (like, 3.0 or later --> late adopters), so I shared with them some of the traits of games I like to run. The DM happened to be really wanting to play and was wrapping up his campaign in the next couple weeks, so after hearing my ideas they asked me to DM! After more hemming and hawing with the good doctor back home I agreed to run a new campaign, starting April 28th, for six folks I barely know.
I gave a pitch for the campaign based on a an old-school playing style I wanted to try out after reading some stuff at the Gameblog, with particular attention paid to this paragraph:
"One good place to put this principle in play is at character generation. Even a guy like me, who like robots and lasers in his D&D, occasionally gets on this funk where I consider trimming down the character build options to achieve some sort of artsy-fartsy effect. You know the drill. "I want to do something Arthurian, so no Asian-flavored classes in this campaign." or "This is going to be all Conan-y with the swords & the sorcery, so no demi-humans in this campaign." Although I truly, deeply understand the profound artistic reasons for such an approach, let me simply say: fuck that shit. We're talking about D&D here. If you can't fold themes and motifs into a game starring an elf ninja, a halfling bard, and two ill-tempered gnome wizards then you should be writing bad fan fiction, not running actual games for real players. Just please don't post your stories anywhere on the net where I might see them." -Jeff's Gameblog.
So here's I decided to do (and now realize is going to be a bit of work):
Everybody makes three 1st-level characters who all happen to be staying in the same town (in this case it will be the town of Longsaddle, in case any Faerun-ians are out there who care). We will have a big map with encounter locations that we'll flesh out while the game progresses, and the players choose which character they want to play with that night. I plan on having a number of dungeons and short adventures planned for the world and be ready to pull one out at a moment's notice. Also no character in your character "pool" should be more than two levels above any other, as best as you can manage it. So that'll lead to lots of switching characters, and some interesting party mixing (including opportunities for things like all-rogue or all-wizard parties occasionally). This way I can make stuff without even worrying (or caring) what adventurers will be going in there, and drop hints to the particular dungeon's deadliness or particulars in the tavern when they Gather Information ("Don't enter the Temple of the Skull without a powerful priest of Lathander at your side!" or "The Tower of the Serpent contains many traps that kill those foolhardy enough to enter!" etc.), so they can choose who to take before they leave. Also with three characters each if one dies I don't have to care or feel bad (just bring in that player's halfling monk that had been secretly following the party since they left town).
The idea is that the other DM would take over once and a while and I'd play some characters too, and if any of the other players felt like DMing they'd get a shot and both DMs would play while the newbie cut their teeth on the DMG. Each adventure will be self-contained, and there's no overall campaign plot that has to be hammered out before the first adventure (when I tie one in later, it will only be thanks to my DMing genius). But I agreed to DM the first four games at least until the other DM got the gist of what I am trying to do. I went from zero-gaming to maximum overdrive in a matter of days.
Time to put on the pointy hat once again, and tell a group of grown men (and women, actually) that they feel a cold wind blowing from the north...