Sunday, April 22, 2012

Roleplaying Daydreams

In addition to my interest in Chinese and movies, I also enjoy playing roleplaying games - some console, but mainly tabletop:  Pathfinder, Dungeons & Dragons, Mutants & Masterminds, Champions, Warhammer Fantasy...  I've been playing for about 18 years.  Most of my closest friends are also roleplayers, and several of them act as Dungeonmaster / Gamemaster / referee for our games. 

Roleplaying inspires my imagination.  It's like writing a collaborative novel or screenplay.  Some of my roleplaying experiences have inspired my writing.  But sometimes all this inspiration can be a little frustrating.  I often find myself thinking of game settings or stories that I'd like to play in, but no one else is interested, or there's no place in our schedule for another game.  I'm planning to convert one of these ideas into the plot for a novel.  But I don't want to do that with all of them.  I don't necessarily want to create all the characters and the plot and action myself.  I like seeing what my fellow players do with the basic concept of a campaign setting, what kind of characters they think will suit that setting and how those characters will respond to the events the GM presents us with.  

When I propose one of these ideas to my gaming friends, their response is often "When are you going to start (the game)?"  This response is also a source of frustration to me.  I've tried GMing a couple of times, and I didn't really enjoy it.  I'm indecisive as a player, and I don't think an indecisive GM is a good idea.  I don't really enjoy dealing with all the rules you have to juggle in order to direct and referee a game.  I also fear that I might try too hard to tell the players how to play their characters to suit the way I envision them, which I don't think is really a good behavior for a GM.  There's a limited amount of dictating character behavior involved in GMing, but I'm afraid I might overstep the bounds. 

Of course, even just coming up with the concept and letting someone else run it might pose other problems for me.  Would I be unhappy with what someone else does with my concept?  For that reason, I try to keep my concepts pretty simple.  And just to amuse myself, I'm going to describe some of them here.

1.  When looking for a basic way to start a new fantasy campaign, I think making the player-characters professional monster hunters ought to be a good start.  It gives an opportunity for them to face a variety of challenges, which would increase in difficulty as the characters increase in level.  They could travel, and possibly become famous and wealthy.  If more complexity is desired than simply a "monster of the week", perhaps they could end up fighting an invading army using monsters as weapons, or combating a secret army of vampires/demons/extraplanar beings infiltrating their homeland.

2.  The PCs are hired by a wizard or group of wizards to collect magic item components and potion ingredients.  This gives them a convenient place to acquire some magic items, which their employer(s) might give them to help them with their tasks.  As they increase in level, they can be sent off to distant lands or long-forgotten ruins to acquire magic items that have been lost to the ages.  If one wanted a deeper story, perhaps the wizards are building an ultimate device to take over the world, or to defend it against some terrible threat predicted by prophecy.

3. A "Hyborean Age" campaign, similar to Conan the Barbarian.  Magic is less common and more feared, common components of high-magic fantasy are absent.  Plate armor is unknown, everyone doesn't have a horse, and every town doesn't have an inn.  Everything is just a little more rugged than in typical fantasy games.  It wouldn't require any major revisions to the rules of Pathfinder or D&D, except to remove the availability of some goods and services. 

4.  I like superheroes, too.  I've played in a number of games, in which the characters were all heroic defenders of a single city.  Someday I'd like to play in a campaign in which the characters are part of an organization similar to the Justice League, with lots of really powerful heroes defending the entire planet, not just one city.  But to make it more interesting for the players, the characters would be newcomers to this organization, not yet assigned to the biggest tasks.  They might be called on to work with the "big guns" occasionally for a special mission - or even to cover for the big names if the Alpha team is off-world or busy with something else.  

That's all for now.  The next time I get an idea, I'll probably add to the list.  For the present I'll go back to wistfully daydreaming about one day getting a chance to play in a campaign like one of the above.

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