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Friday, June 5, 2015

Changing Gears

The DCC game sort of fizzled, which is too bad because there are many things I like about the system. Spotty attendance coupled with my less than expert grasp of the new rule set were the main culprits.

Lately we've been playing Lady Blackbird. It's a story-based game a friend is running (I'm a shapeshifting goblin). It's a neat change of pace, but I think we are nearing the wind-down point with the system. This naturally turns my thoughts to what I might to run if I take a seat in the GM's chair again.

So –big surprise– I'm thinking about BX/LL. More specifically, I'm thinking about a "name level" campaign, where the PCs start at or near the 9th level range, where all the "endgame" stuff starts to happen.

This is a realm of the game that I rarely get to play with, mostly because I've always pushed for the extended campaign where PCs earn those levels all the way from 1st. Sadly, nowadays that's a level of time commitment that most players (and GMs) our age simply find difficult to manage.

One of the reasons I like the idea of the long slog up the XP ladder (besides being a grumpy SOB of a GM) is the way that all those sessions create a bond between the PC and the larger campaign world. It's hardly a new idea, I know, but it's still true. One of the appeals of higher level play is the idea that the PCs become movers and shakers in the greater world, not just better orc-killers.

To balance these challenges, I may try borrowing from more story-based games and have the players devise "hooks" for their character that are already in play, instead of developing in-game. Again, not a new concept.

The next issue I need to address, for my own preference, is that of higher power PCs. I loves me some low level grinds. I know, I know, evil GM and all that; but the tighter resources present their own challenges in the game. Over the years, I've been guilty of letting lower level/power campaigns make my job easier because the PCs simply couldn't muster the magic or puissance to face harder challenges easily. Nothing's worse than a carefully crafted encounter or puzzle being sidestepped by an unanticipated spell or item in the party's arsenal.

I'm trying to push outside my comfort zone a little by giving the players higher level options and resources. In return, I want them to see beyond the crawl and use those resources on a larger scale. At the same time, I think I may introduce a few house-ruled bits of DCC-inspired weirdness to keep things like spells and magic items from being too easy to depend upon. [evil laugh] But that's a different post.


  1. Good luck, it sounds like fun. I've also been considering a high level campaign for a while now. I'm thinking of using the slick domain rules in An Echo Resounding for domain building and resource tracking. Then I'd mix that with some calendar event charts like those from Oriental Adventures (http://jrients.blogspot.com/2012/04/oa-event-charts.html). Throw in a lower level PC party that occasionally works for the high level PCs. They can be sent out on smaller jobs like clearing out monsters from map hexes, rebuilding war-torn acquisitions, or acquiring new resources for the domain. For a change of pace the players could play as those lower level guys for a session or few. Just some thoughts.