On the relationship between the decline of emergent structure in mainstream FRP game design, and the commercialization of the hobby:
Thinking about why my current campaign has worked out so well:
I've been thinking about what makes FRP fun, and decided to start at the beginning.
Talking about the rolling mechanic we developed for my Sunday campaign, using Wordle-style boxes.
🟥 Missed due to target's AC.
🟦 Missed due to lack of ability.
🟨 Criticial Hit.
Read Master Mind of Mars this week; the pulp simplicity of the tale is refreshing and it has a very D&D feel to it - a party of misfits with different skills and personal objectives, harebrained impersonation and kidnapping schemes, heists and ruses, secret doors and strange transformations, the slight veering between self-interested amorality and heroism that adventuring parties tend to do.
We can try to imagine how these things might look in their uncorrupted form.
I think it was a glimpse of one such form that got me into the OSR a couple of years ago - an abundance of game material made primarily for its own sake, for use, for the love of it, not for its exchange-value.
Saw Grognardia contemplating consumerism and how, much as he resents it, it was through consumerism that FRP entered his orbit.
"Capitalism will give us everything we want, and it will give it to us wrong" is a quote I think of often. It has a corollary:
That each thing capitalism sets before us is a shabby and twisted version of some object of authentic desire.
So the latest session was a pitched battle with two PCs running around gathering defenders to recapture the island and slaughtering hordes of low-level goons, and the other players running NPCs - very well, I might add.
The island was saved, and the bodies dumped into the harbour. The mermaids fed well that day.
Both PCs were celebrated, and the rogue was offered a home on the island.
For this week's DT the rogue wanted to return and develop the relationship with the Enraptured Isle community, but rolled a serious complication: After a day of helping them to train in swordplay, she gets drunk and passes out, only to wake up and find the island has been taken over by raiders.
Worse, the raiders are slavers associated with her arch nemesis, the Bloody Hand Gang.
We spent a couple of sessions on Untrodden Isle, where the PCs found the terrible Vault of the Whisperer from Black Pudding: Heavy Helping #1.
It's a fun little dungeon with a consistent and kind of gross theme. The whole book is beautifully illustrated and playful. I printed my copy out on newsprint because it just felt like the right medium for it.
The party rogue fell in love with the place immediately, seeing in the inhabitants the carefree innocence she'd lost when she'd ended up on the streets as a child, and vowed to protect them.
I was not expecting this but it's such a great development in her story arc I quickly put together a relationship clock for the island, with tiers from Honoured Guest to Champion.
Sunday Game: Previously the PCs turned the abandoned lab at Hissing Cay into a workshop for reproducing the hi-tech weapons of the Alkaline Wastes; discovered the awesome secret of the Turquoise Pylon, and found their way to Enraptured Isle, AKA "femboy isle".
Home to the descendants of the escaped magically created courtesans of the Sorceror Lords, it's full of beautiful people of varied gender presentation who love art and music and despise hierarchy.
I've slunk into #zinequest3 at the last minute with an offering of celestial spheres and wooden spaceships:
RIP Christopher Plummer. It's one thing to sound impressive reciting Shakespeare; another to make schlock riveting.
Ghosts, death, and the zine that formed the basis for my current campaign.
Tabletop Gaming Account: Oldhammer, OSR, Weird Pulp Fantasy
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