Friday, July 24, 2009

The "evil" campaign

Here's a brilliant in-character justification from one of my players for why his hobgoblin character just turned around and ran away from the campaign's grand finale battle. Slightly edited to preserve the sensitive sensibilities of potential younger audience members.

Technically, this campaign isn't "evil" it's alignment-less. But really; most of these characters aren't nice people. Entertaining, certainly. But not nice.

"He's been carved up badly in less than 10 seconds, his employer, who he thought of as a slightly damp source of money and Ricardo plaything, just displayed a level of skill and fighting prowess far in excess of his own, or most people he's fought, and the Mist-blasted Hobgoblin King, who has to be tough by dint of his position, is here dishing the hurt. Lash isn't especially patriotic, but it's the King! That's a bit intimidating to him. (Also, being a regicide might hurt business.)

His friends are either turning into demons and blathering incoherently or wildly jumping on guards with daggers, or otherwise just crazy.

Also, there is no money to be made by staying. I don't think I can emphasize this enough.

It's just time to go."

I think people really overestimate the difficulties of playing an "evil" campaign. I've actually come to prefer it. Maybe it's just that I like the antics of roguish characters, like the the old Sword & Sorcery stories used to focus on (did anyone ever mistake Fafhrd, the Gray Mouser, Conan, or even Cugel the "Clever" for heroes? No. Protagonists, yes. But not heroes.) Maybe I just find the motivations realistic because I'm a cynical old fart myself. Anyway, the old Demons in the Mist campaign that I've blogged about in the past is in its swan song phase; I thought it best to end on a high note rather than let it slip away ignominously. I could already see a few signs that its heyday was over.

In real life rather than online as a play-by-post, it might have lasted longer. Either that, or done exactly as it has done and merely ended a long time ago because the pacing of the two mediums is different. Although I thought that somehow I had escaped many of the problems that have always plagued any attempt at a play-by-post (Pbp) game, I did eventually start catching up to them. It just took me a lot longer. Two players have gone completely AWOL; they essentially don't even post at all anymore (and not just in the game, I mean... I haven't seen them anywhere else anymore either) and I'm getting more and more frustrated with trying to run combat in a map-based system online without a map. Maybe I'm just using the wrong system for online games, but d20 works so reasonably well for literally everything else I could want to run that it didn't really occur to me to entertain any alternatives.

When I'm completely done, I'd like to take a few posts reflecting on the nature of Pbp games, the wild success of this particular one, and anything else related to online gaming with people who are widely separated geographically in real life.

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