Situation Generation/Prep.

Started by Callan S., November 02, 2011, 03:20:54 AM

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Callan S.

I'm not really comfortable with the 'counter-factual' requirement of the other thread. Given the subjective way we remember things, it seems a process of simply eliminating certain counter factuals. No? People remember with computer accuracy and so suggesting otherwise is a dread thing to say? Anyway, here's some meandering and bits of actual play in terms of prepping situation.

For 3.5 years back, I found a dungeon generator (alot like this one, but not actually that one) which used the dungeon generation rules in the book, which were always a slog to actually use. But to have one made up instantly was quite nice. I would look them over and either trim the contents to fit an adventure I had in mind, or just look at what was there and see if I could 'see' something that was going on in that dungeon and that would be the adventures core. Once a player went to knock the not just apparent randomness of some monsters in a room. But I said that the bad guys had placed the monsters there as cheap and safe way of guarding against intruders. It was both, really. The monsters had come up randomly, but in looking at them prior to play, I decided the badguys could have placed them there. Sometimes these dungeons have lead to a tense fight with mummies in a tight corridor. Another time, I held my breath as the players approached a door with a flesh golum behind it, well above their CR (I tended to turn up the average CR a little bit on the dungeons). Fortunately they listened at the door and heard it's deep, haggard breathing. Can't remember if they managed to see in as well. But they backed off from that one. I don't think I telegraphed that responce - I didn't try to, anyway. In prior editions of D&D we often would only play one shots then, with much fervor and excitement for the char gen process from my friends, make new characters, a new start...over and over. With D&D 3.5, I think largely because the map gen provided alot of content and so I ran alot of adventures for it (not the sole GM) we got up to level 10 on average, which we all thought alot of. Though at that point we'd basically met our characters wildest dreams - we had a small castle, a bit of magic weaponry and armour and a few bags of gold each. Yes, the stuff of our wildest dreams, actually realised!

Othertimes I've run rifts and it's very "Your walking along and bang, bad guys turn up". I can remember having what would seem like pretty regular bad guys (bandits in armour) and really the chipping down of MDC was...slow and dragging. I think with the first game I tried running, Underground, I hit a similar thing. I dunno, if I'm supposed to use my imagination, then my imagination thinks that there isn't a tentacle monster from mars around every corner. It's gunna be relatively regular dudes. No, that's wrong? But that's my imagination? Am I supposed to use that? Yes...but my imagination is wrong in how it imagines?? I think that's brain damage stuff.

Here is a series of single player computer game play diaries I've made around the game 'Unreal world' which is set in the iron age wilderness. In it, although pretty low key stuff, you do wander around and a conglomeration of stuff happening leads to events occuring. I think I've had about three characters die during this series, as well.

Another computer game, Mount and Blade, I had a huge saga after I just decided to help Lady Isolla of Suno retake the throne she deserved. Heck of a time, given I hadn't gained trust with any of the lords of her side first. Never mind the ones I talked over, and then they betrayed me for another faction! And trying to pay for an army via trading, while defending castles I'd taken...gah!

In the end, I think where I've had assistance with situation generation, I've had the better times. If I just wanted to use my imagination, well my imagination doesn't work in a +2/-2 Party Level framework. If an ancient dragon turns up minute one of gameplay, it would. So I want help with situation generation, because clearly my imagination is essentially too explosive or corrosive of play structure to use for actual play. I don't want to dot a crossword corridor with orcs. Or more to the point, my mind might want to do a hundred or a thousand other things, which are essentially rocks fall, everybody dies moments (a behemoth the size of an island erupts up through the corridor...). There's 'play unsafe'. And there's just plain 'no play at all'.

I don't think I like a game that puts constrictions on my imagination (and really, they all do if they are worth anything) and also leaves me 'free' to do situation prep. It's not easy. And it's not because of analysis paralysis. It's just kinda crazy - I pick up someone elses game because I want to engage the stuff of their imagination to some degree. I don't want to engage my own or worse, be told to use my own, but then actually start constricting it to deliver what the game seems to be supposed to deliver. Apart from the stone soup aspect of that, that constriction of imagination basically makes you imagine like the author of the book imagines (at best). This really isn't a good thing, unless you like harmoginisation.