Monday, February 27, 2012

Naming the Inkeeper: People vs. Encounter Based Gaming

I never can quite write the adventure I am trying to for this pathfinder game.

Since most of my players are old hands at WoD but new to D&D, I sat down at work last night while the calls were slow and banged out a sort of tutorial dungeon and a town that we will be using as a base of operations when we start cracking the big dungeon I am designing. The intro dungeon is just a couple of levels and some giant rats, just an introduction to the kind of things you can expect to encounter in a dungeon so when the PC's go into the Sunken Temple of Fucka-You-Humans (working title) they don't get annihilated in the first corridor.

I put in things that a D&D gamer would expect by default but a WoD gamer would have no clue about so they know how to save against a trap, how to make an attack roll, how to target an area effect kind of ended up like every tutorial to every first person shooter ever made. And, because at heart I am a wannabe writer, I tried to shoehorn a story into it that goes with the town that I had developed.

The town was just supposed to be a base of operations, but I can't resist creating some local color, from the wisecracking bumpkin mayor to the reclusive cleric in a crumbling temple. I have details about the architecture and history of the town in the dungeon and my players will never care about it; they just want to stomp another monster. I'm not complaining about this; I don't get all butthurt about the "right" way to game and I think people that do are fuckin' stupid. But I'm looking over this adventure and going "Aaaagh, it's just the resupply point and the tutorial dungeon, you don't need these kinds of details!"

But I can't help it, man-for me, gaming is less about the mechanical encounter challenge rating and more about the human interaction element. If I want a carefully patterned, ECL appropriate campaign with five or six limited cut-and-dry options, I'd fire up a console RPG-but I don't, I want the human interaction.

So the grubby little hamlet of Muckshire now has a complete history, some kind of buried sin in the town's past, some interpersonal conflicts, and a diverse cast of townsfolk that is ENTIRELY UNNECESSARY. And I haven't even started the main dungeon yet. I just can't help it-I love people based stories more than nifty collections of traps and monsters.

Hope the PC's don't burn it down in the first scene.


  1. Does it have a gazebo? XD

  2. Remember the lessons of Team Lovefist- as our good Cthuloid DM figured out right quick, sometimes, all your carefully-made NPCs are just notches on some lunatic's belt- and it's STILL an exercise in role-playing.