|Left to right: Lieres, Goloxir, Aeneas:
Aeneas perished in last night's game
Over the last month, I have been sitting at the helm of my friend Stephen's campaign world, Weirth, while he did some catching up on personal projects. It is the second time that I have created and run an adventure for his very detailed, and very weird setting.
I have to confess, it is very strange trying to capture the flavor and intent of another GM's world at times. Weirth is very different from the kind of game I like to run: it is a gritty, low-fantasy setting where the gods are silent, most knowledge is lost to the ages, and the people bound up in a mix of survival-mode desperation and elaborate tradition. Where the most magic most people encounter is the constant low-grade zombie apocalypse that is ongoing, but has been going on so long most people know how to handle it.
Compared to my bright, weird, high-tech, high-magic setting of Xen, or my noble-bright realm of divine heroism in Aldrune, Wierth requires a totally different mindset and design principles. Accordingly, I worry often about introducing elements that may foul up the setting. Especially once I add intrigue, politics, or intelligent beings to the mix.The Queen of Decay, which I posted at the end of March on my itch page, and will soon be migrating to DTRPG.
I think he enjoys the effort I put into being an asset at his table. Including taking the roles of Mapper and Caller with deadly seriousness (even if I have to do both at once), and creating silly fan art of the campaign.
But last night I did something that surprised me, and that bothered me a little;
I killed everyone.
Thanks to stupidly good dice rolls in some places and terrible dice rolls in others, my one-month run as DM ended in a Total Party Kill as the PCs were just inches away from Victory.
Now, Stephen is no dummy. He built Wierth to last. It run using one-to-one time with the players handling a stable of three to eight PCs each, plus a small army of henchmen who can be promoted to PCs at a moment's notice. We currently have two large groups of PCs in different regions of the campaign world.my specialty!) where even radical events wouldn't have much impact on the campaign.
But what if it had?
If I had been guest GMing a more modern campaign, I might have been in the positions to say "Sorry, Stephen, I'm afraid I wiped the campaign. You are going to need all of us to roll up new characters... maybe build a new world."
There is definitely something to be said about the power and flexibility of multi-PC campaigns where we were playing with strict one-to-one time. It made it possible for Stephen to hand me his game without worrying about whether he would have one when he came back. It makes the game so much more flexible. It proofs it against abrupt endings.
I also consider myself to be very lucky to be playing with a group of mature Old-School guys: like me, they all can enjoy a good character death. They found the tragic tale of these PCs amusing. I deeply appreciate players who remember that this is a game and comes at it with good sportsmanship. They would have been very disappointed if I had fudged my rolls.
They are true champions.
I also want to say a special thank you to my friend and fellow-player Abraham, who is leaving the Wierth game for at least a little while because of the other demands of life. Abe has been a real net plus to the game. And sending his character out eaten by monstrous fish for some players might have been a disappointment. In his case, he thought it was a laugh.
Abe, you were a real asset to the table.