Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Clearing my Head and Thinking About DMing

Being a player again in a D&D 4e game has gotten me thinking more about running, and what kind of game I want to run. The first thing I have realized is that, while I am having fun as a player, I just don't want to run a 4e game. Unlike vociferous critics of the game, I don't fundamentally have a problem with 4e. But I do think it fails to address what I disliked about 3.x, and remains as cumbersome in many of the same ways. While I don't doubt it is easier to prep for, and even if it may be easier to run than a high-level 3.x game, I think that the game still requires too much cognitive engagement with the rules implementation to really get my DMing motor running.

However, while I'm making notes about dungeons and other stereotypically "old-school" elements of the game, I'm also less than excited about that. But then, I realized that much of my gaming after junior high school eschewed the dungeon crawl and the Judges-Guild/Wilderlands sandbox and approach and really was about ad-libbing plots, dropping interesting characters into the game, and creating a sense of involvement by making it seem like things were happening that were driven by the players and my hints of events. Sure, that may be a bit of a sandbox, but it's mostly story-driven gaming, and I would have to say that that's my strength. Ad-libbed games based on a loose "plot" mostly filled in by the players.

Some would call that not very old-school, but that's how I played since the early 1980s, so it's not exactly newfangled either.

So as I look at prepping for the campaign, I need to keep that in mind and come up with some notes and ideas based on what I like, what I think I can provide for players, and without creating too small a box for it to be fun to play in.