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Archive for September, 2010

Part of the reason I started this blog was to develop my writing skills. A common reason, vaguely noble in its own way. I wanted to see how I would write under the threat of constant deadlines. I have to say, honestly, I’m not especially happy with the quality of my writing as of late. This decline in quality, coupled with some real life stuff, have made me realize that something has to give. And of all my leisure activities, Something Shiny is the one I’m the least emotionally invested in.

So what does this mean for this bit of virtual landscape? To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure. I don’t really want to give up Something Shiny altogether, but on the other hand, I’m not sure how much time I can devote to producing quality posts that I’m actually proud to have my name attached. One thing I do know for sure, I need some time off to regroup my thoughts, and figure out where I am right now. For the next two weeks, I’ll be on hiatus. After that… I really don’t know. As it stands now, my options are: stop updating for an indefinite period of time, or provide longer posts less frequently. I don’t know. I need to do some thinking.

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I never really understood method acting. It seems so… contrived in my mind. After all, the audience doesn’t care about what you feel, they’re more interested in what image you present. To paraphrase Lord Olivier: “Try acting, dear boy.”

Given that, it seems paradoxical that I’m spending so much time in character heads while planning out my weekly D&D session. But I assure you, I have good reason. Well, I have a good justification, anyway. Because the thing is the adventures that I think have flowed the best are the ones where I plan “bullet points” and then use my knowledge of the characters (and players, too) to fill in the rest during the session.

Here’s a recent example:

1) Party arrives in Ingleham

2) Kurt isn’t there (local lord re: attacks)

3) Alanna asks party to go to shrine

4) MONSTERS IN THIS SHIT!!!

5) No sign of Alanna’s mother! ZOMG!

6) Footprints head east into swamp area

7) OH NO HARPIES

8 ) Clarice goes crazy again, attacks party.
a) win- [redacted]
b) lose- teleports away, goes to super-secret awesome lair

9) Rescue Tamara and Pankiron (the younger, and he of ever-changing first names).

10) Halfling entrails! ❤

And you know what? I think that was the best dungeon delve I’ve ever done. And even though the party kind of ignored everything saying “GO EAST! THAT’S WHERE THE STUFF IS!” for as long as possible, I didn’t care because, hey, it’s not like my plans were set in stone. And it’s not like bullet point nine HAD to happen as written… or any of them, really, when I think about it (except 10, I was getting antsy for some entrails). I liked having the flexibility, and I certainly plan on using this technique in the future.

But really, part of why I think I can plan sessions like this now is because I’ve spent so much time thinking about the PCs. So much time. A ridiculous amount of time. But it’s a good way for me to plan when I don’t have pen/paper/a computer/recording device handy. And so I spend a good chunk of my daydreaming time thinking about character motivations, responses, and quirks.

Thinking like that can be a bit disorienting sometimes.

But I have to admit, it can be a lot of fun. 🙂

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In our campaign, we are very close to where we left the original 4e timeline. Comparing the two timelines, there are several things that are different:

1) Fewer dead NPCs. In fact, I’m trying to think of any NPCs that have died in the 3.5 timeline, and I’m drawing a blank. Of course, most of these people aren’t scheduled to die for another five years. But then again, the chronomancer is still alive….

2) Fewer entrails. This kind of goes hand in hand with the dead NPC point above.

3) More focused, overall. The 4e storyline did suffer from me trying to figure things out as a DM. And I have a better idea of where the story is going to end up. (Here’s a hint: knee-deep in entrails)

4) Perhaps the most fun I’ve had with the whole experience is turning perceptions of NPCs around. The party never really met Rose, so it was fun having her splash acid water over Cedrick in order to get information about Jilad out of him. Ditto with Lord Pankiron, he of the ever-changing first name, and the Blue Robed Bitch.

5) Better character development. I have a better feel for a lot of the PCs in this timeline than I think I ever did in 4e. That’s good! That means I can really mess with people’s heads!

When planning up how things would be working in this alternate timeline, perhaps the most useful thing for me has been my list of reminders. It’s very short, but it keeps me honest.

1) The other campaign is merely a starting point. Do not be trapped by what came before you if it stands in the way of good narrative structure.

2) Be liberal with call-backs. People enjoy them, and it lends a sense of consistency to the whole mess.

3) This is a good opportunity to answer questions about characters and motivations that you couldn’t necessarily address before.

4) [removed for spoilers]

5) Old motifs (spirals, entrails) are good, but don’t be afraid to create new, disturbing things.

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The party has been thwarted in their quest to find and talk to Kurt. Falling back to the inn, they decide to plan their next course of action.

The Inn
The inn is packed, filled with refugees. Rila walks up to the bar and starts talking to the man behind the counter. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the exact dialogue that happened here, but Rila paid for the refugees to stay for several weeks, and in return got free drinks. Israfel walked up to a random guy, put his hand on the man’s shoulder, and said, simply, “hey. Don’t stop believing” before walking away. At some point, the party decided to try and meet up with Kurt at Lord Pankiron’s keep.

North-East, and Six Hours Away
The party arrived at the keep with no problems or encounters. Approaching the walls, the more observant party members notice that the sounds and bustle associated with castle life are strangely silent. Looking around, they realize that everything has fallen eerily, deathly silent. While the rest of the party exchanges uneasy glances, Israfel barges through the open gate, loudly announcing his presence and his wish to kill anything that wanted to fight him. Sadly, there was no answer, so Israfel pouted off, looking for something to steal.

Through the main gate of the keep, the party was again struck by how empty the keep was. The practice yard looked as though it had been left in a hurry, same with the stalls lining the walls. Something had happened here, something that had driven the inhabitants away quickly. But if that were so, wouldn’t those in Ingleham and other nearby towns have heard about it? With a growing sense of unease, the party went further into the keep.

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Cthulhu’s Clues

Children\’s shows enter the realm of horror as the old ones rise … and appear on PBS? Dragon*ConTV\’s first combination of animation and live-action.

via Cthulhu’s Clues.

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ConAir [DCTV 2010]

The sights and sounds of Dragon*Con create memories that last forever. But what about the smells? Dragon*ConTV has an answer for the convention fan who wants to

via ConAir [DCTV 2010].

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Dear real life, why do you mock me so? No updates until Friday. Sorry for the week long break, but I seem to have a mild case of con crud. >.<

In any case, I’ll be posting some of my favorite DC*TV moments in the interlude. Sorry, it’s now a reflex.

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