Friday, October 9, 2009

Why I'm doing this

As a recent post of mine reveals, I have been reading lots of posts over at James Maliszewski's excellent GROGNARDIA blog about the zeitgeist of old-school gaming, those aspects of OD&D that may feel like "gaps" or "omissions" to some (maybe particularly new-school gamers who grew up playing D&D 3e and its spawn), but feel like opportunities for world-building, improvisation, and, well, adventure for those of us who prefer the older "rules light" systems.  Clearly, I identify myself as being in the latter category, an old-schooler through-and-through.  Why, then, do I decide to blog about a homegrown campaign world?  Doesn't that run counter to the school of thought that says we OD&D'ers should be D.I.Y.'ers when it comes to world-building?

And indeed, I must admit that my primary aim here is neither altruistic nor an explicit endorsement of how I think the hobby should be.  I tend to agree with James M.'s critical views on the era of prepackaged TSR campaign worlds, and I absolutely love the diversity and variation that emerges when each gaming group has its own "house rules" and house campaign settings.  Obviously, I really enjoy world-building myself and never had much use for prepackaged game worlds like Greyhawk.  So when it comes to my work here on the Lands of Ara, I mostly post this stuff for myself because I would be writing it out in one form or another for my own use anyway.  I am primarily working out my own ideas for a forthcoming Labyrinth Lord campaign, here in a public forum.  I don't actually care that much if anyone else ever uses it, because I am going to use the shit out of it when I get my campaign going in the next couple of months.

Nevertheless, I think there may possibly be something of value on my "Lands of Ara" blog for other referees too.  I have had conversations with RPG'ing friends and read blog posts that acknowledge how inspiring and creativity-generating it can be to simply read other people's stuff: adventure ideas, traps, new monsters, discussion of character class parameters, random tables for generating who-knows-what.  Just the other evening I was leafing through the old AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide, reading about magic swords (the "treasure" chapter has always been my favorite in the DMG) and getting some great dungeon encounter ideas therefrom.  We get inspired by what we read; whether we directly utilize other people's stuff in our campaigns or not, reading other people's stuff has its own intrinsic rewards.  This is why I am so enthusiastic about the old-school gaming community right now.

And the Lands of Ara is the best thing I have to offer.  Like many referees, I am a big-picture guy; I like to set up a few broad details about a region, prepare a few adventure hooks with at least a session's worth of follow-up materials, and let 'er rip.  I love to improvise in response to players and their desires and actions, so my campaigns often go "off the map" into unpredicted areas.  But Ara is my favorite continent on which to do all this, and since I am not particularly good at inventing cool new traps or exciting new monsters, this is what you get from me, since I need to convert it into OD&D terms for my own use anyway.  I hope some of it is useful and/or inspiring to others.

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