Monday, January 9, 2012, 5:14 PM
I thought it was time to dust off the old WotC blog and make my statement about 5e and its bearing on a narrative that has been a big part of my life for two decades: the Forgotten Realms. So here goes!
I'm sure folks don't need to hear WotC's announcement from me, but just in case, here's a link.
This raises the question of the fate of the Forgotten Realms in 5e. According to EN World, The Forgotten Realms will be supported from the start, and a video game art studio from China has been hired to fully detail the Realms. I asked if going forward support would be continued for the current time after the Spellplague and the Neverwinter Campaign. A WotC spokesperson answered, "The Forgotten Realms has a rich history and we will support all of it. It is for the gamers to decide which time they would enjoy playing in." That would allow Wizards to take advantage of a massive back catalog of products; however, there are no current plans that we know of for other settings - we assume these will follow in later years.
That's promising but not very specific.
What follows is my list of what WotC should do, IMO, to make the Forgotten Realms the awesome, financially successful, flagship setting it deserves to be.
1. Don't retcon 4e out of existence--rather than destroy, BUILD:
Personally, I would not do a retcon. That would be bad from a business standpoint, a fan standpoint, and a story standpoint. Not only would they burn bridges with all their fans of 4e, but they'd also demolish story hooks that are being advanced in 4e. Erevis Cale? Done. Shadowbane? Done. Even DRIZZT? Done. Fortunately, I also don't think WotC is going to go that way. They already saw the havoc that wreaked on Dragonlance. Do they--or we--really want to see our beloved Realms go down in flames like that?
Also, we saw what happened when we tried to enact sweeping, unprecedented changes to the setting.
What would be BEST is if we could get to a place where we all agree on the setting, and just go with it there. But since that isn't going to happen, what *I* would do is release stuff that supports all eras of the Realms, so that people playing 1e, 2e, 3e, 4e, or 5e can still use anything that comes out. I'm completely fine with seeing the mechanical stuff that comes out support whatever edition is *current*, but story material should support any edition. I'd like to return to the days of 75% flavor, 25% crunch. (Which is where I think WotC design is headed, actually.)
2. Support all eras--sourcebooks, novels (more, please!), and online fiction included:
Give the eras of the Realms the Star Wars Expanded Universe treatment. Release sourcebooks that support multiple eras--that give you a baseline of what a place is like (Waterdeep, Suzail, Silverymoon, Dalelands, etc.), then give you customizing tools to tailor it to whatever era you want to play in.
Authors and designers should work in all eras. I want to see this made not only more possible but actively encouraged. The problem is a little bit the business case--people want to feel as though they are witnessing progress, so novels set mostly or entirely in the past need to have some clear connection to the future--they still need to move things along. Thankfully, Realms history is so rich with mysterious events and cool happenings (see Grand History of the Realms) that I don't see this being a problem. I would love to write a whole series about more than one of my "post-dated" characters--Fox-at-Twilight and Arya Venkyr spring to mind.
I would like to see WotC put out more novels (15-20 a year, not the 10-12 we have now) and I'd like to see them move into inexpensive online fiction, which hits every other week or so. $1-$2 for a 6k-8k story, downloadable from WotC, from Amazon, the iTunes store, or whatever you want. These may be included with your DDI subscription (up to WotC to decide that--I would personally do it).
A thought occurred to me, to have our cake and eat it too: what about TWO Realms novel lines? The regular Forgotten Realms line (which features stories set in the 1480s), and then "Forgotten Realms: Legends," which features stories not only from the pre-Spellplague era but also from far-removed times/places?
3. Work hard to give us a strong mechanical system and also ACRES OF STORY:
I don't know about 5e's mechanics--they're still in the works. But the big opportunity here is to build a system that lends itself to ALL ERAS of play. You could pull this off with previous editions, too, with a lot of work. But 5e can be integrated--can bring all eras together under one umbrella so that you can flow into anything you want. This game should be so badass that you'll WANT to use the system.
And for those players who don't want to use 5e? What about people who are perfectly happy with 1e, 2e, 3e, 4e, or (yes) Pathfinder RPG? (Because no matter how good the system is, there will be some, I promise!) Fortunately, there's everything that goes along with it: story, sourcebooks, content up the wazoo. The business case for this is simple: reach out to everyone who plays any sort of D&D and say "here--here's a setting you can use whole-cloth with whatever you're doing. Have at it."
Anyone playing any edition should be able to pick up a 5e Forgotten Realms sourcebook and use it in his/her game. It's as simple as that.
The Realms is vastly underdetailed, especially considering the scope of its history. Start with better explanations of the 4e transitions. There's a lot of story there, and I think we can get to a narrative point where some of the big shenanigans are resolved. And I think that a lot of this is being dealt with as we speak, er, type. Let Ed deal with the Mystra situation, for instance (which he's currently doing). Give us another piece about the drow and their pantheon (hint hint, Menzo sourcebook). Let me deal with Helm (which I'm currently doing). Give Paul time to work the Shar/Mask/Erevis Cale thing (again). Continue this trend.
Also, let us fill in some of that gap. I know it's nice for DMs to have an open area they can "fill in" with their own stuff, but it's far better for them to have the information to use if they want, and ignore it if they don't, rather than be FORCED to make it all up.
5e is our opportunity to pull everything together and move forward with a strong, vibrant Realms that is better than ever before.
Now let's get to work.
Sunday, December 18, 2011, 9:52 PM
Some of you may know about Shadowbane, and some of you may be hearing the name for the first time. But here are some thoughts on this whole big Forgotten Realms series I'm writing. (Originally posted on my website: erikscottdebie.com/2011/12/18/weaving-a-...
The Shadowbane series is all about my ephemeral, troubled hero: Kalen “Shadowbane” Dren.
When he first appeared as Shadowbane in Downshadow (book 1), Kalen was an uncompromising thief-turned-paladin who routinely bent the law in his one-man war against evil. He is chosen by the dead god of guardians, Helm, and gifted with a powerful magic sword (Vindicator) to cleanse the world of darkness.
Now in Shadowbane (book 2), Kalen returns to the thieves’ city of his birth, where his paradigm must evolve if he is to survive and save the woman he loves. His sense of right and wrong grows stronger and more complex, and he must accept the darkness within him to be worthy of Vindicator.
The sequel, Eye of Justice (book 3, Fall 2012), will see him come face to face with the consequences of his actions and the legacy of his past mistakes. And he will learn that he is not the only worthy wielder of Helm’s sword or divine power.
As with all antiheroes, Kalen’s greatest enemy in his quest is himself. He comes from a violent past, growing up a thief and occasional murderer on the mean streets of Luskan, city of thieves. He naturally distrusts all those around him, from a long series of betrayals at the hands of would-be friends. His body rots from within due to a magical curse, making him feel no pain and strengthening him, but also killing him slowly.
When I created him, I wanted Kalen to be strong and brave, but also weak and self-doubting. Any man without flaws can rise up to become a hero, but it makes it so much more valuable when he must face his demons and overcome his shortcomings to do what must be done. Kalen is also living on borrowed time: there is no doubt in his mind that he will die soon, either in battle or from his curse. The only question is what he will do with the time he has, making his quest all the more poignant.
The series also nods in homage to my love of comic book superheroes. While Batman is the most obvious parallel to Kalen, with his double life and grim manner as the vigilante “Shadowbane,” but I’ve tried to instill echoes of heroes like Daredevil (Kalen’s religious connection and focus on justice) and the Punisher (Kalen’s uncompromising, ruthless attitude). I drew on my love of the X-Men through the use of spellscars—hereditary magical blessings/curses that grant power even as they mark a wielder as different and (in many cases) feared.
And finally, the Shadowbane series grows out of my enduring love for the panoramic Forgotten Realms fantasy setting. It was my goal to create a story that would stand alongside the exploits of Elminster, Erevis Cale, Arilyn Moonblade, and the legendary Drizzt Do’Urden. The series gives me a chance to tell a story I love in a setting I love, weaving in lore and themes that have captivated me since my youth.
Enough philosophy. Next up, some lore!
Thursday, August 18, 2011, 5:27 PM
Hail and well met,
I conducted an interview recently with Ed Greenwood regarding his new novel, BURY ELMINSTER DEEP. Check it out!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011, 8:49 AM
Jaleigh Johnson is the author of numerous Forgotten Realms novels, her most recent of which is Unbroken Chain: The Darker Road. She sat down recently to talk about darkness, emotional trauma, and ferocious battle—all the good things that come from writing about the shadar-kai.
Q. The Darker Road is the sequel to your novel, Unbroken Chain. Without any major spoilers, can you catch up those of us who haven't read the first one in a while? What's the peril?
I guess you could say Ilvani is the peril—she’s both in peril and she is the peril—heh, enigmatic enough? Ilvani came late to the story in Unbroken Chain, so almost as soon as I’d gotten confirmation that there was going to be a second book, I knew it would be hers. The shadar-kai witch comes face to face with the witches of Rashemen in order to confront a common threat—that’s the shell of it anyway, but there’s a lot of carryover from the first book too. Ashok and Ilvani are both trying to heal from the scars they received in Unbroken Chain, the physical and especially the emotional scars. They’re trying to find a way to move forward, but as with anything relating to the shadar-kai, their journeys are long, hard, and sometimes heartbreaking.
Q. Unbroken Chain was a very dark novel with some seriously adult themes, which one can assume carry over to the next book. How is it, writing in this dark place?
It can be enjoyable, challenging and stressful all at the same time. My editors at Wizards have trusted me and given me great freedom to explore the darker aspects of the shadar-kai, and I’m immensely grateful for that trust, but it comes with a lot of responsibility too. There’s a particular scene in Unbroken Chain—those who’ve read the book know which scene I’m talking about—that was one of the hardest I’ve ever had to write. Depictions of the aftermath of rape, torture, and the trauma that comes from them, can be very triggering for people, so it’s all about striking a balance between offering an honest, hard look at the dark side of this society but at the same time not making the violence gratuitous. I credit my editor, Erin Evans, with being an incredible guide and sounding board for these concerns.
Q. You seem to be in the process of doing for shadar-kai what Bob Salvatore has done for drow, Elaine Cunningham for elves, etc. How do you feel about having such a dark, broody signature race?
I do sometimes wonder why the shadar-kai were given to me to write—those who know me know that I’m usually the polar opposite of dark and broody. Funny story, my dentist is a friend and a voracious reader of histories and biographies, and he’d been asking to read my books for a while, so I gave him a copy of Unbroken Chain when it came out, making sure to warn him that it probably wasn’t the type of book he was expecting. After he read it, he was kind of at a loss for words. He said I had an incredible imagination, but he couldn’t believe that a petite, quiet, polite young woman like me could have written “such bloodcurdling stuff,” to use his words. But really, the shadar-kai have been amazing to write about, developing their culture and society, asking the “what if?” questions about everything from their religion, government, and interrelationships to their chances of long-term survival as a people. The shadar-kai live on the knife’s edge in more ways than one, and exploring that through Ashok, Ilvani, Uwan, Vedoran, and the rest has been quite an unexpected joy.
Q. Let's talk about your main man, Ashok. Other than being a badass, this guy has some serious issues. Is he closer to resolving them? Are more character conflicts on the horizon? Where's he heading?
Heh, he does have the angst, poor thing. I think in some ways Ashok is closer to knowing what he wants and being comfortable with his place in the world. He believes in the idea of Ikemmu as a place where the shadar-kai can thrive under the right conditions, and he’s forged strong bonds with his companions in the city. They’ve become the center of his world. In other ways, though, he’s still conflicted, especially when it comes to his spiritual side. He’s still no friend of Tempus, and he continues to struggle with his feelings about the gods. He holds onto life so hard, living eternally in the moment, tempting death at the same time, and all the while trying to cope with the fear and uncertainty of what comes after. That spiritual struggle is what makes him most human and relatable, in my mind.
Q. On the subject of shadar-kai and their emotional extremes: call me a romantic, but I couldn't help but pick up on some tension between a few of your characters, even it wasn't overt. Do you plan to explore some of the brighter emotions, in addition to the dark ones?
I have had some people comment that Ashok needs a girlfriend—oh the angst. I do believe the shadar-kai are capable of the brighter emotions—the introduction to The Darker Road states a lot of my feelings on that point—the problem is, I don’t think Ashok is at a place yet where he can handle those emotions fully since so much of his life has been about violence and pain. I also see shadar-kai relationships as having a different focus than human ones, and I touch on this a bit in The Darker Road. Having said that, as I mentioned earlier, this book is a lot about healing, and I think there are some good scenes between Ashok and his companions that reflect this, the shadar-kai capacity for strong positive feeling.
Q. What's it like writing combats with a spiked chain?
About the Author:
Erik Scott de Bie is the author of numerous Forgotten Realms novels (see his next, Shadowbane, out in October), game design (including the forthcoming Neverwinter Campaign Guide) and quite a bit of short fiction, within and outside the setting. He’s a particular fan of dark fantasy, and drew on Johnson’s Unbroken Chain novels for his work on the Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond boxed set. He lives in Seattle, where he is married with cats.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011, 7:05 PM
So in honor of a discussion I had with an editor of mine, I'm doing what I promised/threatened to do, which is this:
Halfling + Human romance. Icky?
Thursday, January 20, 2011, 10:42 AM
My good friend Andrew (a.k.a. Wulf Waters) runs the Faerun-RP website, a play-by-post roleplaying website devoted to stories told in the Forgotten Realms setting, and he's in the market for more members.
The site is unique among its peers in that it focuses not on mechanics or gameplay, but rather on STORY. What determines how effective your characters are in F-RP stories is your writing ability, not your strength with numbers or randomized die results. It's almost pure storytelling, where the DM and players work together to write what turns out to be a fantasy short story, novella, or even entire novel. Seriously, this is an EXCELLENT place to practice and hone your skills, and the people are extremely welcoming.
I highly recommend you go check it out, and see about getting involved. AFAIK, they have threads devoted both to the pre-Spellplague Forgotten Realms as well as the 4e FR, and no judgment about which you prefer.
Go there, and tell 'em I sent ya. :D
Wednesday, December 15, 2010, 9:52 AM
A recent conversation over on Candlekeep prompted me to post some suggestions for running a sandbox game. Definitionally speaking, this is a campaign in which the players—not the DM—determine the course of the campaign, through their decisions. The DM’s role becomes mostly reactionary or anticipatory: adjusting the game to suit player’s needs and sometimes unexpected decisions.
Some of us already do this to some extent in our games—basing things on PC decisions, motivations, and goals. In a full-on sandbox game, you take things to the next level: let the PCs rule, and just run with it.
Here are some thoughts to keep in mind:
1) Keep open a clear line of communication with your players. If they're going to direct the course of the campaign, you need to know where they're interested in going so you can react and build things ahead of time. Maybe you're really good at improvisational DMing (some of us are), but it never hurts to be able to know about character decisions ahead of time and make plans.
2) Though the PCs are going to guide the game, you need to have a list of plot elements to throw in if your characters don't offer clear guidance. The last thing you want is the heroes wandering aimlessly and thinking "man, this is boring!" You want an exciting story that they mainly direct, but that you step in sometimes to keep things on track.
Keep this list adaptable. Write down connections that MIGHT be between enemies, but might not, depending on the needs of the story at the time. Improvise as you go along, because the flexible nature of this campaign only allows so much before planning.
You should plan a series of major plot events that will take place "in some form" as you go. For instance, there is a conspiracy of people who are after one or more PCs for some reason as yet unidentified--they launch a major attack on the PCs every five levels or so, and each foiled attack gets the PCs closer to puzzling out who's after them. At the same time, a particular priesthood is going through a major schism that could be fixed or worsened by the PCs, and several things happen at set points in the game. Etc.
Plan on a major plot point every 2-3 levels, is what I would suggest.
3) NPCs have their own lives and pursuits. If the PCs are going to be going about their business, you have to have NPCs who are doing the same thing. This is really the only way to give the PCs the choice of whether to support a given NPC or work against him--this is what's happening, take it or leave it, do what you want with it.
Some of the NPC action takes place off-stage, and the PCs can get involved if they want. For instance, to expand on the example in #2, a priestess might be speaking out against the patriarchical establishment in the church of Lathander; left unchecked, she might incite a movement in the church, or she might be captured/imprisoned/executed as a heretic. The PCs can support her or move against her--they shouldn't feel obligated to follow either course.
4) This sort of game lends itself very well to tying plot elements, villains, treasures, and destinations into the character's backgrounds, motivations, and goals. Your players need to do more work than usual to pull off a game like this: have them craft detailed backstories along with friends, family, enemies, and nemeses for their characters, then use these with abandon in the game. Make some of them what the players might expect, and invert their expectations sometimes. Also, tie some of the characters together in ways they didn't necessarily see coming.
5) D&D is a very swingy game, level-wise, and different places in the campaign are bound to have enemies of different levels. In a normal campaign, you feel justified in railroading the 1st level PCs toward the dungeon with the kobolds, rather than the haunted castle with the epic level lich. But in a sandbox, your tendency is going to be to let the heroes go where they want, and let them suffer the consequences. You need to avoid this, lest you freak your players out and make them too hesitant/timid to do anything, for fear of getting ruthlessly annihilated. You want your PCs to be brave and bold and take chances.
Have a definite "upper-limit" to where your game is going to go. Make a commitment to yourself and your players that you're going to guide the PCs on an adventure, not send them into the jaws of death. Do not send low-level PCs against epic level threats--don't involve those threats at all in the PCs' direct business.
This is not to say, however, that you should not feel free to send them up against overwhelming threats from time to time, to put the fear of the DM in them. This is just a staple of good DMing, albeit sometimes tricky to pull off: heroes should run away sometimes, and PCs who never have to run away may conceive the irrational belief that they can always handle what the DM throws at them. This attitude must be stamped out.
All I'm warning against is sending the PCs *consistently* against threats that are too powerful for them, and/or making it impossible to retreat. Big bads should just let them go sometimes, particularly seeing as they're low-level and weak and not terribly useful for the bad guy. YET.
6) Have an endgame--or rather, several endgames. You don't necessarily need to know how the campaign's going to end, but you should know roughly where it's going before you even start it. Knowing who the ultimate villains are will help you make the story coherent and keep the characters engaged in unraveling the mystery.
Those are just some of my ideas, which come from having run two long-running FR sandbox campaigns, and played in another one (which tragically fizzled from too much story damage thanks to a violation of #5).
Sunday, October 17, 2010, 12:11 PM
RAID RIGHT BACK!
So the whole crazy situation needs a little explication.
The GAME is my paragon 4e plane-hopping game, which uses core 4e stuff, Realms, and whatever else our DM decides to throw against us. I happen to LOVE this game.
The CHARACTERS (from right to left in the picture), all of them 14th level at the time:
Tristan (male elf/dragonborn avenging paladin), the heavy hitter in this combat
Vayne (female shadar-kai shielding swordmage, my character), the ostensible captain of our ship, who has three longswords: +3 jagged, +2 farbond spellblade, and (most significant when facing githyanki), a +3 githyanki silver sword, which in case you don't know, is a HOLIEST OF HOLY relics to githyanki.
J'Div (male stormsoul genasi inspiring warlord), elemental destroyer
Ysabelle (bloodied female kalashtar telepathic psion), creepy little girl with mental powers; and yes, she is currently flanked by two githyanki warriors, but they're both aegis'd by Vayne, so they're not hitting Ysabelle, and even if they did, Vayne would reduce the damage by 20 (I play defenders really well)
Brandis (male human monk [ex-thief]), the one surrounded by all the githyanki on THEIR ship
We hired a dodgy "merchant" vessel to take us across the Astral Sea to the Shrapnels, where we need to recover my character's pirate ship. Along the way, it turned out the "merchants" were slavers, and we ended up taking over their ship through a little mutiny, but unfortunately the controls were configured for a mind flayer pilot (who died), so we were set adrift for a few days.
Ultimately, we got the controls to work again, but by then, a githyanki pirate ship was headed our way and probably going to catch us. Knowing we couldn't outrun the githyanki, we stowed Vayne's silver sword (attuned to her through her distant swordbond, which lets her summon it to her hand from a mile away), as if they saw that they would annihilate us to get it back. Also, we put all the crew below decks.
The githyanki sent over their red dragon rider scout (along with his dragon), and we negotiated for safe passage, saying they could have our ship (it was a broken down spelljammer with a helm we couldn't really use) once we got to our destination (the shrapnels). The dragon rider took the offer to the captain of the gith, who refused. They countered with "we'll take your ship right now and set you in an astral skiff." Our counter offer was to attack.
After a harrowing battle, we ended up killing the dragon, but not before he'd savaged one of our masts with a bite meant for my character (doing 76 damage with one attack--yikes!). Now, what a spelljammer on the astral sea really needs sails for is a good question, but it's D&D, y'know? So we were really, really slowed down. And the githyanki were then chasing us. (It might have had something to do with us launching the dragon rider's corpse back to them, with a note pinned to him with his own silver sword saying "what else ya got?")
So the pirates eventually caught us (though the time it took gave us a welcome short rest) and proceeded to sail in above us and board us with their telekinetic leap abilities. At that point, we summoned the crew back aboard to help (they would have been wiped out by one dragon breath). It was then that we realized our DM has decided to throw us up against githyanki pirate minions (from Dragon 168), which are 19th level and have AC 34 (the best attacker among us has to roll about a 15 or 16 to hit), +26 to hit AC (my character has an AC 32, and that's the highest base in the party), do 16 damage with every hit, and about 30 of them. No, no kidding. Fortunately, they only come in waves of 6 or so at a time. We also have our own crewmen (14th level soldier minions), who actually did pretty well against the opposing minions--that was, until the captain of the githyanki (a half-red dragon himself) swooped in and wasted most of them with his fire breath. Bad day.
Tristan (dragonborn) paladin finally said "hell with that" and blasted the captain with a gout of silver fire. (He is, apparently some sort of chosen of Mystra, who has been dead 100 years, not that he accepts that.) Of course, since his goddess doesn't actually exist, using her power provokes a wild surge. He rolls--no lie--00 on the wild magic table, which is "Increase range, effect, and duration of spell by 200%." So basically he annihilates the opposing captain and blows a huge hole in our ship destroying another of our three masts (see the picture, the pencils represent the masts).
Oh, and J'Div can channel the storm of Kord and starts shooting 2d10 lightning bolts once a round as a free action. Sweet.
At that point, the opposing navigator (now the new captain) of the githyanki says "look what they just did to their OWN ship! Hell with THAT" and starts piloting his ship away.
My character is a little shocked at the uber display of magical force, so she can't really issue clear orders to prevent our pilot Ysabelle (kalashtar psion) from realizing that ship is really our only means of transport, and thus, we'd better pursue it. So she does what any self-respecting pirate would do in this situation: she rams our ship into theirs, getting it stuck on the spikes coming from their stern. Brandis the monk, seeing his opportunity, leaps from our ship to theirs and decides to engage . . . well, you can see how many opponents are over there.
That leads us to this picture. Our ship, basically crippled, wedged onto a far superior githyanki pirate ship, the crew of which is VERY sorry they messed with us that particular day.
As you can see, our ship is stuck to theirs thanks to those spikes. Brandis is currently surounded by LOTS of githyanki, including pirates, soldiers, a blackweave caster (see the Plane Above book). Ysabelle and J'div are still dealing with a couple marked githyanki warriors who can't seem to hit/damage Ysabelle (happy day). The pencils on our ship represent our broken masts (difficult terrain). (Oh, and the d4 on their ship is some sort of fiery battle standard that enhances their attacks with fire and gives them fire resistance.)
Next, we two defenders jumped onto the enemy ship and Vayne (my charry) has the bright idea to distract them by summoning her silver sword into her hand. Well, it worked: everyone came over to attack HER to get that holy relic back. Tristan wasted a lot of their minions with dragon breath and Vayne got critted, dropping her to a quarter hit points and she went into total defense/impenetrable warding mode, wherein she has AC 36, Fort 35, Ref 36, Will 33 . . . which she kinda needs to keep from being killed every round. Brandis ran up and grabbed their captain/navigator and teleported him to OUR ship, just as their ship began to float away, uncontrolled. Unfortunately, one of the gith warriors brought him back with telekinesis and our ships got farther apart, leaving Brandis back on our ship. Uh-oh.
At this point, with the two defenders on the enemy ship being swarmed, with ranged attacks coming from Ysabelle and J'Div on our crippled ship (who are themselves still being harried by two githyanki warriors, who stayed in the fight a LONG time), things look good for the gith. They can get away and kill us defenders at leisure.
HOWEVER . . .
J'Div has issued TOTALLY insane orders to launch our ship's anchor at the githyanki ship, which successfully links us together. Also, the stress of the chain coming up from the lower hold basically tears our ship in half, but at least we're attached. The gith can't get away. (Big turn from our initial "let's try and get away" plan.) Brandis tight-rope walked the chain and helped us mop up the bad guys, and ultimately we won. Only the captain was left, and him we put adrift in a skiff with all the collected silver swords (so that the gith wouldn't come after us) and hopefully a story about how they SHOULDN'T come mess with us. Vayne also tossed her silver sword over the side, saying it was a fake (and promptly resummoned it when she was alone)--with a sufficient bluff check to convince him.
And now we're sailing a githyanki pirate ship toward the Shrapnels. Out of the frying pan, as it were!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010, 7:52 AM
My Forgotten Realms gaming group has decided that three weeks is entirely too long to wait after their cliff-hanger Sunday session, so they insisted on meeting again tonight (a mere 3 days later) to continue the saga.
I take that as high praise--and the fact that they really, REALLY hate the recurring villain who's been plaguing them, and this session is their first chance to strike back at her. But will it go as planned?
Wednesday, September 29, 2010, 9:47 AM
I thought I'd post on the subject of meta-knowledge, and not just what's going on with players but also the DM.
For those not up on the concept, "meta-knowledge" means knowledge you-the-player might have, but your character would not have. This could include knowledge about how to make an internal combustion engine and thus make a MINT in a fantasy campaign world, as well as canonical secrets about who the true master of the Zhentarim is (or probably is, if your DM has changed things for his game, which he should indeed do).
Obviously meta-knowledge is something we have to deal with at the table, but the question I want to ask today is, even if we don't use our meta-knowledge, does it sometimes color our characters' perceptions and actions?
Sometimes we think of something as a bigger deal out-of-character than it really is in-character. It isn't just, for instance, if you as the DM really like the PHB3 shardmind race, you might suddenly have shardminds popping up everywhere, while the idea of the race might have been more rarity. That's a good thing: take an idea presented and make it your own, making it as plentiful or rare as works for your campaign.
It's more like you are personally invested in something that happened, so you consider it to be very important in your game, even if it's kind of a logical stretch that the NPCs would even *know* about it, much less care the same way you do.
If your party beats the snot out of the supposed leader of a villainous organization, but you-the-player know (from reading the sourcebook) that the true leader is someone else, then you might not go looking for that person immediately, but would you let it rest and say "job's done"? Or would your character be suspicious and say "hey guys, I think there's more to this . . ."
Let's look at a full-fledged example.
In a paragon-level 4e game I'm playing right now (mostly a plane-hopping romp), everyone seems to know about Mystra--the goddess of magic in the Forgotten Realms who perished 100 years ago. I mean, the DM had me know all about it with a combination of Arcana and History checks, at which I have pretty high modifiers.
I dampened the knowledge I imparted, considering the context: my character, old as she is (she's 48), wasn't alive during the time of Mystra, and she's from the Shadowfell anyway (being a shadar-kai swordmage) and has never been to the Realms. So logically, how would she even know about this whole thing with some random goddess (powerful as she was) on some random world?
Now, that was a big thing in the setting and part of a huge shift in the canon of the world, but I wonder if the confluence of time and distance (i.e., we haven't been to the mortal World more than once in the campaign, and that definitely wasn't the Realms) shouldn't provide a buffer against people actually knowing anything about it.
I rather suspect that the DM and several of the other players (certainly including myself) are very invested in the world of the Forgotten Realms, and so the deal with Mystra's on the forefront of our minds. And that's clearly part of the campaign he wants to run--something Realms-related (see below). I'm just wondering if it shouldn't be more mysterious.
Has anyone else run into a situation like this, where you as a player know substantially more than the PCs about a particular subject which is important to the game, but aren't sure you should be getting all that information so easily?
P.S. A little more about my game:
I love this campaign, don't get me wrong--it just illustrates the topic I'm asking about extremely well.
There are also a couple of mitigating factors that tie our campaign to Mystra and the Realms:
1) One of our party members is an actual paladin of Mystra, (perhaps) brought forward in time, who before the campaign didn't know anything about the supposed death of his goddess.
He is also the son of a paladin of Mystra from a previous campaign in the same canon, played by the same player, I think.
(Also my character is sleeping with his sworn nemesis. Heh heh!)
2) My character learned sword magic at the knee of someone from the FR who was around in the pre-Spellplague era. He's an eladrin bladesinger, devoted to Mystra and Corellon, who left the world around 1400 (for personal reasons) and hasn't been back to Faerun since.
3) One of the big plot points in the campaign has to do with the Realms: specifically, the Cyrinishad. In our campaign, several of the gods (including Oghma, Tyr, and Kelemvor, I'm pretty sure, and possibly even Mystra) were corrupted by the artifact until a previous group of PCs (an earlier campaign) fixed all that. Now we're dealing with a serious consequence of that campaign.
So yeah, the Realms history is still present and alive in our game, even if it's mostly plane-hopping.