>You know what’s cool? A-Z blogging is cool.
Least, it seems to be; damn near every rpg blog I read regularly or recently is on that tip. And while I’ve rarely met a bandwagon I liked, this one dovetails nicely with my efforts to get more regular content updates running through Ego Poisoning.
To that end, fully aware of the shameful consequences of failure (I’d be shamed, mostly), I embark on this journey as well. It won’t really change most of what I’m going to write about, realistically; just drive me to write more often, and to occasionally shoehorn a post that I wanted to make, or discussion I wanted to comment on, into a particular alphabetical niche.
For A, then, I want to talk about Ambition. Now, what got me thinking about this topic was actually the nature of this blog itself; what it started out as (Me being in a strange new town for a strange new experiment known as grad school…me occasionally being drunk and watching strange YouTube videos at 3 in the morning) and what it’s gradually evolved into (Dungeons and Dragons, occasionally a movie review). It’s left me wondering, somewhat, why I didn’t just start a DnD blog in the first place, though ultimately I don’t think that would have worked given how overwhelming the first semester of grad school was. But for the immediate future I can definitely see running this as all gaming and the occasional movie review; hell, if someone gave me money and/or digital space to yammer about films elsewhere, I’d leave Ego Poisoning as sacrosanct to just gaming.
The other, and probably larger, reason I decided to kick my 26 entries off with Ambition is my recent ruminations about campaigns, including—of course—Tinderbox. I haven’t been satisfied with how either of the groups I’m running through the city are progressing, and I haven’t been sure how much of the blame for that I should apportion myself (but I know it’s a significant share, with what the multi-month hiatus and such). However, I recognize that a major element in my dissatisfaction is the contrast between what I envisioned for this sandbox campaign, and what I’m seeing so far from the parties.
When I set out to run Tinderbox, I knew I’d be running a continuation of Lockout; in essence, the same game but a few weeks later, giving the factions a chance to solidify and carve up the city. The core conceits, even many of the core NPCs, remained the same. It was still a game about a disparate group of individuals stuck in, effectively, a very large and very dangerous box. I still find that concept extremely attractive, all the more so because I have these grand visions for plotlines and great battles and surprises and unexpected dungeons and valuable NPCs and shifting political conflicts…and yet, the simple fact is I haven’t even sat down and written Slaughterhouse statblocks for ANY of my zones. Not even the one both parties are in right now. The one that, ostensibly, they’re depleting opponents from.
I have a grand vision for converting treasure parcels into Progress Points, which players can then cash in for wealth and favors. The party also accrues these points, and can use them for purchasing safehouses throughout the city. I have this vision, and I have sketches of how it plays out, but I haven’t sat down and written functions to determine all of this—though I have tried to pawn that task off on my cousin, because despite being a little more than half my age she manages to make me look like a simpleton.
The most recent entry in the Architect DM series ends with the exhortation “Don’t Be Afraid of World Building.” I’m not, as evidenced by the cultures, races, feats, class alterations, and history I’ve crafted for Tinderbox. I thought out, and wrote out, three entire continents’ worth of empires and peoples for a game that I knew, at its outset, was going to be about a single—albeit large—dangerous box. I love worldbuilding. I have campaigns for days.
I have not, on the other hand, named the city. At all. Anywhere. Even when it was Lockout, before. I have a city, I have a general knowledge of how the zones are laid out, I have a much better knowledge of how the factions within it interact, and I have all sorts of great vignettes involving specific encounters that I want the PCs to have at various points. I have multiple out of place NPCs I plan to seed the city with, just to give the PCs unexpected challenges or opportunities largely divorced from the whole faction concept.
But I don’t have a name for the city. Because the way my ambition functions, I tend to see and hunger for this vast, intricate, detailed contraption…but quickly lose interest in the sorts of critical information one would find in the owner’s manual of said contraption.
So I really should name the city…maybe something that starts with A.
One thought on “>That A-Z Action: A is for Ambition”
>Thyme, I obviously don't know what's going on in your head beyond what you share with us… but if I was to guess, I'd say that pacing is behind the general frustration, along with a healthy dose of personality clashes.Its swung back and forth with who feels who is posting too slow or fast (players upset at other players, you upset with us, us upset with you, and now everyone just generally not really seeming to care about how often ANYONE posts). But I feel like its been a constant point of contention that's just left the group PISSY. There is markedly less friendly banter going on than I usually see in OOC threads, and I don't really know how to get that back. But again, I don't think that general grumpiness is the MAIN problem. The main problem is that the selling point for this campaign, as you mentioned above, is that you wrote a CAMPAIGN, a "vast, intricate, detailed contraption," and we just haven't really progressed far enough to have seen or interacted with very much of it. A sandbox only becomes distinguishable from a narrow adventure path once the characters get room to go in different directions, make their own choices. So far, because of the (apparent) exigency of retrieving our jacked gear, we have had only one viable path before us.Fighting fish beasts is fun, but I get the sense that it isn't what the campaign is ABOUT for you. You aren't doing it wrong, and I honestly don't really think we are either…it's just that combat takes a while in PBP games, and for the 6 months or whatever that this game has been going, all we've had the opportunity to do is be in combat.As the game progresses past this initial stage of chasing people that took our gear and securing a bit of breathing room, I fully anticipate that we'll get down to interacting with your city like you want us to, and branching out in fun and unexpected ways. But its going to take time. I just hope that we can all figure out a pace that keeps your frustration at a minimum, because I really DO want to get a chance at actually playing in this sandbox. Don't. Give. Up. On. Us.