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Early Music Festival
Just got back from the Boston Early Music Festival. Actually, just the exhibit hall and CD store part. We didn't go to any of the concerts, thoguh I would have liked to. None of the ones on today really caught my eye.

The exhibit hall was fun, though it was mostly just recorders. The Early Music Shop, England was there with some interesting percussion and reed instruments, and there were quite a few gorgeous harpsicords there. A few places carrying some string instruments too. Still, it was mostly recorders. Also, much of the music (written or recorded) was Baroque, which is I suppose technically part of early music, but I'd much prefer to see more medieval and renaissance stuff.

Furthermore, I couldn't help but feel a little intimidated by the people there. It seemed everyone that stopped to try a recorder or play a harpsicord was stunningly talented. I felt way too much of an amateur to even try picking up one of the instruments there. Especially given that I haven't played anything at all in months. What I really need is someone more into this stuff than I am to motivate me. I'd love to play more, but I just don't have the energy to be the sole organizer and motivator for any such thing.

Ah well, it was still fun. I came home with a couple neat CDs, and some interesting flyers of local groups. The pictures don't have any captions, but I don't think they need any. Enjoy.
June 13th, 2009 - 05:00 pm | Comments (0) | PERMALINK

Sandboxes
I had a real 'Come to Gygax' moment recently in regards to Sandboxes, brought on again by reading a Grognardia post -- How Dragonlance Ruined Everything. Obviously by the title it's a pretty controversial post, even though the author clearly states that the title is Hyperbole right off the bat. The post is really interesting, as are many of the comments afterwards.

That aside, what this did for me was define in my head the concept of just what a sandbox style game really meant. I know BJ has recently been runnign a self-professed 'sandbox' game, but I think in my head I wasn't separating the concept properly from the other interesting aspect of his game involving a sort of West Marches style of scheduling. The scheduling bit aside, the basic gyst of sandbox style seems to me the concept of creating the world ahead of time without any real thought to plot lines, and then allowing the plot to grow organically from the players bouncing off the setting and NPCs you created.

What I didn't realize is that this is exactly how I'm running my current Warhammer RPG game. Prior to this game I had been running a Savage Worlds plot-point game (Solomon Kane), which is pretty much the opposite of sandbox style. The plot is very rigid, though the books present it as a moduler style (hence the 'plot points'), still the over-arching story line of the entire campaign is pre-ordained from day one. This is actually similar to the way I had been running other games prior to this as well, in an effort to promote 'role-play over roll-play', I put tons of effort into an intricate plot for the players to unravel. The only real difference with the Solomon Kane game was that someone else had done all the prep work for me, I just had to run it.

And what was the most enjoyable and memorable part of that Solomon Kane game? I think for both myself and the players it was their nemesis, a minor character they had defeated early on and allowed to live, that I harrangued them with for the rest of the campaign. Oh yeah, a character that didn't even exist in any of the pre-written material.

I knew I wanted more elements like this, and I knew I wanted to spend less time in prep each week for games, but I still hadn't put the pieces together. Jenn wanted me to run a Warhammer game, so I dragged out all the books I've accumulated that I never used to see what might grab me for a basis of the new game. And through an extremely happy accident, I picked up my copy of Renegade Crowns, supplement on the Border Princes, a volitile part of the warhammer world where many small lordlings squabble over resources and the political landscape is constantly in flux. I had never actually read the book, it was just collecting dust on my bookshelf. So I picked it up and read it.

This book is not your usual supplement. It has no locations, no dungeons, no NPCs, no new monsters. What it has is rules for randomly generating your own section of the Border Princes, including laying out the geography, creating the local Princes and their motivations and relationships, populating monster lairs, etc. Yeah, it's a random generator for your own warhammer sandbox. For larks, I followed the steps and built a few principalities.

We've been playing this game for I think over 6 months now. I barely do any prep between sessions. The players have created their own goals to follow, of which there are actually several and they love to argue over which to do next. I just make the NPCs re-act to player actions. Occaisonally I do spend some time drawing out a location they're going to visit, but more often than not I just lift a location from Karak Azgal, Sigmar's Heirs, or some random adventure I found online. It's fantastic. I actually feel like I'm playing the game too, not just putting on a show for my players.

I bet this was the problem Dan and I hit against when co-GMing. Not that that went badly, but I bet any friction we felt was probably due to his being more sandbox oriented while I felt the need to push some pre-determined plot forward. Well, I've come around, I think sandbox is the way to go. Next I want to build a sandbox entirely of my own devising, instead of playing in a prefabbed Games Workshop sandbox. Also, I have to figure out how to get the same feeling into one-shot convention style play. Actually, I already have some ideas formulating. I'll save it for another post.
June 13th, 2009 - 05:17 pm | Comments (1) | PERMALINK

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