Prologue:

Before I begin posting this, a few words on the setting.

This is a fantasy world. It is not a future or past version of our world. And it has been created with one driving principle; the world does not stop once the characters move out of sight.

The world is a large place, and magic is alive in it, more vibrantly in some areas than others, it’s true. And things are happening everywhere, all the time. Nothing ever stands still. And the characters, while the focus of our story, are not the center of the universe. The characters actions will affect all the events around them, but things can and will happen of which they have no knowledge, that may have nothing at all to do with their quest, or story, or troubles. Shit happens.

I have a timeline, a very, very long timeline, covering ages past and hints of the future, for many cultures. There are a;ways plots abrewing aplenty.

I designed things this way, a ‘defense in depth’, so that players could truly go haring off in any direction, or pursue any plan, and encounter a wild world full of adventure in every direction. The catch, of course, is that while they are doing something in one part of the world, events are continuing to move forward in others. And perhaps, just perhaps, the players choose poorly on their priorities… or maybe not.

I know from experience with previous groups, that knowing that you truly have free reign to act as you feel your character would, and role play, rather than try to act within the confines of what you believe the GM wants you to do to advance the story, has strange effects on players. Some take it as a challenge to try and game the system, stress test the GM, and ‘break’ the game. 18 years designing this world, baby. Go for it. :)

The other thing I have seen, though, is that players feel both freer to have fun and play a character and try new things or take the chance to go off on a personal quest, and also feel under much more pressure to understand what is going on in the game, put clues together, and choose a course of action that will lead them closest to their goal. With so much personal control over what happens, the pressure is on, and you become much more attached to your character.

Manny, having played with me in real life, also knows that I delight in several things. First, I love to provide clues, backstory, details and information. I bury a player in information, since I despise games where you are only told what is necessary to further the plot. A player asks what the barkeeps’ name is, and the GM says… “Umm, uh… Frank.” The player knows, immediately, Frank is undeveloped and has no importance to the story. No worries that ‘Frank’ is part of an underground bootlegging operation, or an assassin lying in wait for our heroes, or in possession of an important clue that you might be able to wheedle out of him.

Hah! Try that shit in my game, bub. Frank may very well be a dragon of the greater bronze lying low and having secrets of his own, that have absolutely NOTHING to do with the story the players are involved in. I love it when new players see a well developed NPC and freak out, sure it MUST have something of importance.

“You see a gazebo in the grassy field to the right. It is alrge, and round, and seems to look very sturdy and strong.” “I attack the gazebo.” “You what?”

You know what I mean.  

And of course, I believe 100% in the adage “When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s sometimes hard to remember you’re job is to drain the swamp.”

I will set the characters on the path to great adventure. And then I will besiege them with endless plot hooks to entice them into wandering astray, losing focus, and getting totally distracted and confused, chasing shadows and having fun mini adventures, until someone says, “Hey, weren’t we trying to rescue a damsel from an evil Warlock?” And I reply, “Yes, too bad your deadline to prevent her sacrifice ended on the last full moon… two weeks ago. Right about the time you were fighting off pirates on the Black Wind.” “Shit.”

I find adversity builds character. Focus, focus, focus. :)

And one last thing. I ain’t monty hall, I don’t godmode, my NPCs, no matter how powerful, never take center stage over the players’ characters (at least not for long), and if I seem to have handed a player an item or ability of game breaking power… well, let’s just say the last time I did something like that, every player in the room stopped, shook their heads and said “Oh shit, we’re fucked.”

I think that’s enough of a warning… and I think I’m not going to discuss the setting at this time. there is just way too damn much backstory to lead into how things have gotten to where we are now. Instead, I’m going to post the first THREE turns of Manny’s character Lauchlin, so you get a bit more than just one small intro. And because there is a ton to post eventually before I am posting brand new material.

So today you get three turns at once, broken into chapters. It won’t continue to be this big a flood.

6 Responses to “PBeM: Prologue”
  1. Ailtia says:

    i am going to love this.

  2. Beowulfa says:

    I should have read this post first …..

  3. Chopz says:

    Ok, first of all I’d like to say, this is going to be awesome. Second,

    “And one last thing. I ain’t monty hall, I don’t godmode, my NPCs, no matter how powerful, never take center stage over the players’ characters (at least not for long),”

    Thank you! I’ve been in several RP campaigns where the NPCs were the center stage, and we the players were the backup singers. In one D&D Forgotten Realms campaign, the DM decided that in every adventure, we would somehow get captured, or be put into a situation where only D’rizzt (or how ever you spell his name) and Elminster (again, don’t think thats spelled right) could save us by crashing in through a window, or some such nonsense. Needless to say, the campaign didn’t last long.

    When I do a campaign, the only NPCs that are more powerful than the PCs are the enemies. Sure, certain key figures, like a high priest, or possibly a warrior king may have them out leveled, but they never “dirty their hands” with the grunt work the PCs need to take care of.

    Again, thank you for spreading the concept that the players are the heroes of the story, not phil the uber ninja.

    ~Chopz

  4. FNORD says:

    “A player asks what the barkeeps’ name is, and the GM says… “Umm, uh… Frank.” The player knows, immediately, Frank is undeveloped and has no importance to the story. No worries that ‘Frank’ is part of an underground bootlegging operation, or an assassin lying in wait for our heroes, or in possession of an important clue that you might be able to wheedle out of him.”

    I’m just bad with names. The fact that I can’t think up a name for an NPC does not show he has no importance. I tend to refer to any character as “the barkeep” or “the priest”. Even if the priest in question is the head of a secret conspiracy to plunge the world into a magical ice age.

    My whole group is this way; while we have actual names on our character sheets, even PCs are almost always refered to by their class or the player’s name.

  5. Wildhermit says:

    Nice BBB, I like it already. Can’t wait to see this all flesh itself out :)

  6. Ellis (Eonar) says:

    Things I never expect to see reference to in BBB’s blog:

    “You see a gazebo in the grassy field to the right. It is alrge, and round, and seems to look very sturdy and strong.” “I attack the gazebo.” “You what?”

    I remember reading about that incident years ago, and the very mention of it still brings a smile to my face. There’s gotta be a link to this story somewhere.

    Sad thing is, that little story was probably more relevant to my group than most, as one of our members who occasionally GM’d games often confused the words “Cavern”, and “Caravan”. It eventually reached the point where the phrase “You find yourselves in a large cavern.” was immediately followed by the question, “You mean the kind with the wagons, or is it actually a big hole in the ground this time?” (Regardless of whatever contextual information preceded the original statement.)

    Imagine, if you will, the confusion and hilarity that resulted from a session that involved the players escorting a trade caravan through the Underdark.

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