Thursday, June 2, 2011

Strategic Control, Tactical Chaos

It is possible that I share with many DM's a penchant for slight control-freakishness, especially at the strategic or world-building level. Like most DM's, I like to create a big container (a "sandbox") in which others may come and play. While I am extremely flexible about what goes on at the tactical level -- I like chaos, surprises, and lack of control in the heat of the game session -- I nevertheless like to be the "holder of the container" for the gaming group as a whole. I enjoy providing the base content for the game-world, I enjoy refereeing, and I enjoy setting a general vibe which provides context for the group's interactions.

I mention this because in the wake of my confession yesterday that I am having doubts about hijacking that local teen-oriented 4e group in the name of Labyrinth Lord, I have realized that there is more to it than simply a resistance to playing 4e. In fact, there is an even more important reason why I am wavering from my original plan to convert that group to the Old Ways: because there is another, more appealing public gaming venue opening itself to me.

I mentioned a month or so ago that I have been in dialogue with a staff member at my town's local bookstore about possibly hosting some monthly LL games there. Every indication is that the owners are into it -- they host multiple reading groups and community activities there already -- and I admit that I am much more excited to start something from scratch than I am to convert the preexisting teen group to my will. Why?

1. The teen group meets way too often, i.e., weekly. My preferred meeting frequency for the public LL group would be monthly, or, at most, semi-weekly. Starting a new thing at the bookstore would allow me to set up the schedule to best suit my needs and capabilities.

2. The world-builder / container-holder in me likes the idea of a blank slate. At the bookstore, I can create my own announcement and flyer and set the proper tone for the group from the get-go. I could advertise the group specifically as an old-school gaming group, and might hopefully obtain support materials (Posters? Retail editions of the LL rulebook to stock in the store?) via my official participation in the Labyrinth Lord Demo Team.

Is it greedy of me to want my own "virgin" territory in which to set up my first open-to-the-public gaming group? Might I be screwing up those teenaged kids' souls forever by abandoning them to D&D IV?

Obviously I melodramatize a bit here: that group seemed perfectly happy playing 4e.

And I feel myself more strongly drawn toward initiating my own LL-based setup at the book shop in September.

So there's the second reason for my waning interest in the extant D&D IV group, and here is my Joesky payment:

Globe of Immersion
This powerful magical item looks like a perfectly spherical, 9" diameter, light-blue crystal. It is surprisingly weightless given its size and its hard, crystalline surface -- it is as if the object were hollow. The Globe of Immersion may be thrown at a single sentient target up to 20' away; when so thrown, it flies toward the target at lightning speed, completely surrounding the target's head (or whatever portion of its body contains its brain and/or eyes). The Globe shrinks to fit small heads and expands to fit big ones. After affixing itself around the target's head, the Globe causes the target to believe that he/she/it has been teleported to whatever location/plane/world the Globe's user describes. In reality, the affected creature is still in the same physical place as before, but under the spell of a powerful full-sensory hallucination. Nothing short of disabling the Globe via Dispel Magic will permit the target to break free of the Globe's hallucination. The target will feel pain or damage if attacked while under the spell of the Globe, but will believe that the damage comes from some source within his/her/its hallucinatory world. The Globe of Immersion is usable by arcanists only; its effect lasts 1 hour per caster (user) level.

1 comment:

  1. I think it'd be neat for people to be able to buy the LL books like you mentioned. It'd be so cool for passer bys to get interested in what you're doing at the table and join in. That's how I learned about Traveller. I saw some kids playing it and said, "Whatcha doing?" The rest, as they say, is history.