Sunday, October 17, 2010

Here's What I'm Working on Now


Dreamlands critters have a whole soul.
- can't divide soul from body
- can't invest soul into objects
(permanent and temporary)

Those who work magic tend to have a handful of innate abilities that they can always access.
- Improve & expand abilities through meditation and adventure
- Exploration of the quality of their souls and themselves
- Use of these abilities leads to exhaustion rather than insanity
- Restored through rest, meditation
Sometimes special ceremonies?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Ending Another Game

After some thought I've come to the conclusion that the main reason I had as much trouble with the game on Friday as I did was that I didn't really want to be running that campaign in the first place. I was just doing it because I felt like I should. That's a lousy reason to be running a game, and it leads to lousy, short-shrift DMing. So I'm taking another break.

Not 100% sure when that's going to end. Or if it will. The last three games I've run have been frustrating, painful, and ended before they were intended to. I'm pretty happy with the gaming I'm already doing, and as long as that continues, I'm not sure running my own would be worth the potential for more frustration.

Now, that hasn't stopped me from starting to fiddle with a setting for a new campaign -- or rather, another campaign, since the planning for this one significantly predates the game I was running this semester. But I'm not entirely sure that this one will ever get run, and if it does, it will at least be very, very different from the kinds of games I've been trying to run. The "next game," if there is one, will almost certainly be online, via text chat, and it's only slightly less likely to be a solo game. It's probably going to be a system of my own invention, and it won't have many, if any, dungeons in it.

For now, though, I'm content to scribble. I'm also planning on doing more of a number of things that, lately, I've been thinking I'd much rather spend my time on than running the tabletop game. I've got a couple of fantasy novels to read, some drawing to do, and Settlers of Catan and Texas Hold 'Em to play, never mind the "regular" socializing that I'm finally starting to get the hang of. I'm going to do my best not to obsessively analyze and try to figure out "why" the games haven't been working. If an interesting setting comes out of my scribblings, I'll run another game. If not, I'll keep playing in the two games I'm already in, and find some other ways to occupy my time.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Why I'm Not Going to (English) Grad School

I suppose I haven't ruled out law or business school entirely yet (though law school is basically off the table for now), and I might end up getting a Masters or something in another discipline, but I'm absolutely not going further with my major discipline, English. I love English -- as an undergrad. But I don't have any interest in teaching, if I was going to write as a career it'd be speculative/commercial fiction rather than MFA fiction/poetry, and, well...

So I'm reading A Princess of Mars. Haven't gotten very far into it yet, but in the first couple of chapters he deals with some hostile natives of both an earthling and Martian variety. So I'm sitting there pondering the broader cultural narrative that these depictions of native people fit into, what statements the overall work is making as opposed to the specific character, what points of view the work is privileging and what it's trying to shut down, and how complete that process is. I took that class last semester and I've already forgotten the relevant terminology, so that should tell you something.

I do enjoy this kind of thing, and I can have fun talking about it. I'm not one of those people who complains that now I know deconstructionism I "can't turn it off," because I can't "turn off" thinking about stuff no matter what tools I have to do it with. A Princess of Mars isn't actually a very good book to do this with, of course, at least out the bits that I've done so far; with straightforwardly negative depictions of a group like that pretty much all you can do is comment on what it means that Burroughs can grab this group and present them as straight up bad-guys without a whole lot of modification. I'm hopeful that the handling of the natives of Mars will provide some counterpoints to that initial sequence.

But my basic approach to the whole thing is "intellectual toy." I'm at least as interested in the technical aspects of how Burroughs is telling his story as I am in any of the literary criticism buzzwords I can attach to it. I'm more interested in just reading the damn book than I am either of those two things. I can enjoy a good bit of lit crit, but then I get bored and want to go find something else to do.

A lot of people with similar interests and academic proclivities don't feel this way; they take these ideas very seriously, think about them a lot, and feel that they're making an important contribution to the country's political and intellectual discourse by studying them. Which I don't think is untrue, exactly, it's just not my attitude towards those ideas at all. I can't summon the necessary passion, or maintain the long term interest. They're toys. And not even particularly engaging ones at that.

Saturday, October 02, 2010


Have you ever just completely frozen as a DM? Sat down to play, with notes that a week ago you were sure would be more than enough to run a session, and just stared at them, thinking, "I have no idea what to do with this. This makes no sense. I can't do this," for a full five minutes, while your players make awkward conversation?