So I mentioned in my post on the 24th that I would talk about all the stuff I had learned from this campaign thus far. And for this post I will be as honest as I can be about all that went on, while not being negative, and where we are going, as a group, now.
When I created this version of Eberron, it was a world of strife, where everything was falling apart, nature was dying, magic wasn’t working properly, etc. It was a world of people fighting for survival. Monsters were stronger, the wilds more dangerous, and those places that people pocketed together weren’t even beacons of light so much as a closet kept alight by a dying candle.
While this was fun, especially for the first 3-5 sessions, it did become tiresome… and something happened that I should have foreseen, but in building the world, didn’t. Railroading. This is entirely my fault. When the game started the group had NO clue where they were, or how they got there and all they had was a set of tracks leading to the north. So they followed it. As I’ve stated in the adventure log, the group encountered two different villages, both in horrible states, starving, destitute, and frightened. This began to wear on the players psyche. I will admit some amount of pride at being able to achieve this sort of feeling in my players. It isn’t why we come to the game table, to feel depressed. My players would go from the different scattered villages and since there wasn’t really anything there, they didn’t explore or interact. They just did, and thus both the players and I fell into the terrible point A to point B circuit.
Before I get to the next part, which will largely be some sort of pity party, another thing that the players felt was fear.. fear of their characters dying. Almost every combat there was a close call. I do not go out of my way to actively kill my characters, because I’m in this for fun, and I like to see characters develop and grow into something more. How can they do that if they are always dying? No one had died, but close, and so they were guarding their characters. They never shied away from an adventure or upholding what they thought their character would do, but they were nervous about their character entering that cave, because it may be the last time that character does so.
I know how my tea brewed, I have crumpets, and I’m wearing a bonnet… So I think it’s time for my pity party. I’ll just through it out there. I was feeling so fucking stagnant that it was disgusting. Partly because I felt kind of dissatisfied with where the role-playing sessions were going, because I felt crapped out because I felt that the railroading was going on, and there were other reasons that could be summed up to DM burnout. The other problem I had created and was being let down by was in what I did to my players, they were quite a lot, not venturing out, exploring, etc at all. We started becoming one of those groups that just does the “I attack… I got a 16.. Do I hit?”
I don’t pretend to be a great DM.. But I KNOW that every group I’ve ran, ever game, that people have fun, and I tend to be on the creative side.. And this was something that was really bothering me, because I was failing so miserably, in my opinion. So I was thinking about giving up the campaign, starting from scratch, or taking a break. Maybe be a player in a game, if I could find a group, and recharge the old battery.
I was on the verge of that decision when several things happened all around the same time. I mentioned to my players, kind of, my desire to kill the campaign, and they had said that they really enjoyed their characters and wanted to see them through… This gave me a good boost and made me feel good. Also, while I didn’t find a RPG group I could meet with and play, I DID discover something that helped me immensely… And I SWEAR this isn’t ass kissing, but I believe in giving thanks where it is due..
I discovered some really great websites that were loaded with information, ideas, and a sense o’ community that I hadn’t felt in a long while with role-playing. I am, of course, referring to Johnn Four, Dungeon Mastering, RPG Bloogers Network (where I discovered some of my fav sites like Chatty DM or Newbie DM. Sorry for those of you on RPG Blogger that I’m not mentioning, I could do a whole post about the awesome blogs that are on that site!) and You Meet in a Tavern Forum.
Going to these sites gave me ideas on how to shake things up, change what I was doing, try different things, etc. It got me excited again, wanting to get to the next session so I could try things out. It was exactly what I needed. And while I wouldn’t say to being able to sit in on a DnD again (it has been 8 years since I’ve been a player), being able to communicate with other GM’s/DM’s and players has given me a boost. So thank you!
So with a new bit of knowledge and my inspiration back I set myself into fixing THIS campaign.. How did I do that? I decided (even though I wanted to avoid going with an epic storyline for a while longer) to have the characters cure the Blight (which I had mentioned in a few previous posts). This whole thing took 5 sessions to do, because I wanted to do it right and not rush it, even though we were all done, mentally, with the Blight.
The characters beat the Blight and lived to fight another day, they changed the world and the players had REALLY enjoyed the last 5 sessions of development in how the Blight would end and what MIGHT happen to the world when the Blight ended…
The next question that was forming in my head as they were diving through hell to end the Blight was…. What’s the next step?…
*Next: Really… One Year Later….*