Received an unusual request from Simon the other day. After having declared that I will never play conventional role-playing again as it is too programmed and lacking in spontaneity, he calls and says he wants to play a an old-fashioned AD&D game. “One with some structure.”
This is just fine, in the great scheme of things, because it is better to play something linear than nothing at all. And the truth is that I have a great nostalgia for AD&D. It was, after all, what got me started in the creative fiction field.
So now I am preparing to DM my first conventional game in a very long time. Already I feel the old strings of power and control pulling at me. Already I want to define the setting, the economy, the manners, diet and fashions of the inhabitants. I want to understand the political structure and the ecology of the land so that I can present this to Greg and Simon and Guiseppe. This egocentric urge was one of the main reasons why I moved away from regular role-playing and into Mythic story telling. I felt guilty when I was DMing that I was dictating to the players. And as the player I felt frustrated that the DM was not presenting a world that I considered to be either logical, or even interesting.
Here’s the trick, then, to guide but not command: to structure but not regiment. At the end of the day it is relaxing to not have to create everything as you go – as one does in Mythic. I can appreciate this. At the moment it sounds as though Simon wants to be taken on a journey. That’s fun. I can come to that. I’m looking forward to it.
But while I will create the general background and elements of the story, I will use Mythic to elaborate, invigorate, and assist in driving the plot. Because I need to be taken on a journey as well.
Thoughts so far:
- Abandonned lighthouse
- Characters are officials (but this does not give them carte blanche to be bullies, they just have a reason for wandering around fully armed and poking their noses into other people’s business); Imperial structure with many provinces
- a sleepy town of no particular importance