Monday, August 29, 2016

End of the the Prequel

Thus far, the stories, maps, timelines and histories have been a prequel of sorts. I've taken you, my readers, on a journey of discovery, wandering through time and geography on the continent of Mor-Thir. When I started, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on in the kingdom of Mareten, and what the map looked like, and so on. But I didn't know the whole story; often, you learned at the same time I did. Who knew that the Wall of Mareten was that big? Not me! In fact, I didn't even know how magical the towers were until I set fingers to keyboard.

I've made a lot of progress behind the scenes, too; there are a number of things that I haven't shared (as much as I'd like to), simply because it has to do with the adventure itself. I have reams of notes on timetables, encounters, and sneaky railroading that no one will ever suspect. I've created a sandbox, full of countless adventures. The party wants to stay in Mareten? No problem, there's plenty to see and do. The party wants to explore Riverbend? Go ahead! It's a big city, with all sorts of strange things underneath. The party wants to run for the Wall and out into the wilderness? Boom, got ya covered. The party decides to buy a ship and head as far off the map as they can, to deliberately foil my plans? No worries, I've got that covered too. Well, ok, unless they are really good, it's going to be "You were eaten by a sea serpent, everyone dies, roll up new characters." But still. Plan in place, that's what counts. Want to spent years building a space ship to fly to the moon? Good luck with that, because unless you've got soundless casting, you're going to have a hard time casting "Sphere of Atmos." But, even so... I still have a plan. Plans within plans! Stories within stories!

Granted, some adventures are really nothing more than a random encounter. [Roll, roll] It's a pack of wolves! [Roll, roll] It's a gang of [roll] 2 thieves! [Roll, roll] It's an elder dragon! Just kidding, it's a circus wagon with a dragon on the side.

On the other (much more interesting) hand, some adventures are plot hooks for larger stories. Those are the ones I'm anxious for my players to uncover. Exciting!

However, that's all planning, and as many a wise man has said, plans never survive their first battle. I don't expect half of my plans to last; in fact, I expect two thirds of the plot hooks I've written down are going to to be tossed out after the first session. Unlike a TV show with a long string of episodes, proceeding in a straight line (or thereabouts) from beginning to end, these adventures are going to be quite a bit less linear. TV shows can be written long in advance; an RPG can be, but only in loose terms. If the party gets halfway through an adventure and decides to stop, that's perfectly allowed, but it means that part of the adventure is on hold. All the plot hooks are abandoned, and a new plot is born. Sure, they may return eventually, but it's going to be much different than the original excursion.

These stories I've written have to be flexible, and I have to be willing to discard them. Otherwise, I'll end up railroading my players, which is uncomfortable for all involved.

But soon, this won't be a blog about how I created a world; it'll be a blog about a yet-unknown number of players struggle to survive in a land of magic, peril, and rewards! Will they defeat evil and protect the world? Will they strike out on their own and start their own kingdom? Or will they turn against the country of their childhood, embracing chaos? I don't know! No amount of random numbers can match the strangeness of a party of PCs. I have no idea what story they will grab hold of, nor what path they will choose. I just have to lay out my plans and see what happens.

And so will you! If my plans hold true, the next blog I write will be about the first company of heroes to form on the continent of Mor-Thir, and their epic adventures! Or misadventures. Actually, that's probably most likely... I fully expect someone to die from stupidity and/or in-party backstabbing within the first two sessions.

Let the games begin!