Tuesday, January 17, 2012

FLAILSNAILS: Conan = You.

[FYI: This post is not official FLAILSNAILS doctrine. Beyond the simple agreement to be cool to each other, which I consider to be the spirit of the original conventions, there is no official FLAILSNAILS doctrine. Nor is there a central committee capable of handing down an official doctrine. FLAILSNAILS is a non-centralized, non-localized network of autonomous GMs and players, bound together by mutual respect and love for the game. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you something and should not be trusted.]

You know what's one of the neat effects about running your FLAILSNAILS character through multiple campaign worlds?  It becomes crystal clear (from your point of view) who the protagonist of this saga is.  It can't be anybody but your PC because the rest of the cast keeps changing.  In most rpg campaigns I get a nagging little feeling that the real star is the party (whoever is in it this week) or the setting (if you're playing in that kind of game). 

You can go through umpteen PCs and the party somehow remains intact.  How many times have you seen a total party kill followed by a totally new group of PCs picking up the adventure right where it left off?  Makes my dude-of-the-moment seem a little less grandiose every time that happens, like any old cookie cutter dungeon jerks can finish this all-important quest.  And while I like a well-crafted campaign as much as the next guy, a crummy setting pretty much forces the heroes to the forefront.

Speaking of crummy settings: Hyboria.  Don't get me wrong here.  Those old Conan tales are on the very short list of fantasy fiction I will read.  (I honestly don't know how so many of you slog through so much drek in search of the occasional good fantasy novel. Howard. Tolkien. Lovecraft. Vance. Smith. Dunsany.  That's the pretty much all of Appendix N that I can stand.) But seriously, Hyboria is a jumbled-up mess of patchwork sections of any nation that ol' Two-Gun Bob wanted to use for the latest Conan romp.  Nothing more.  And that's why it's effin' brilliant for gaming.  Not that we should be running Hyboria.  No, no, no.  But I think we could do good work emulating it's seat-of-the-pants rip-off-whatever-you-can methodology.

And whaddya know, that's pretty much how FLAILSNAILS operates.  I run a little piece of the setting right here.  Evan runs another section, totally unrelated to mine, over there.  Jeremy runs a third chunk of the multiverse on over there.  If you look too closely they don't fit that well together, the way the medieval Aquilonia and sorta-Renaissance Zingara don't really compute in the same setting. But as a backdrop for the adventures of your mighty hero?  Works just fine.  In fact, you could string together individual sessions in faraway settings the way L. Sprague de Camp introduces each story in the old Ace editions of Conan, with a brief intro paragraph of connective tissue:
Fed up with civilization and its magic, Conan rides back to his native Cimmeria.  After a month or two of wenching and drinking, however, he grows restless enough to join his old friends, the Aesir, in a raid into Vanaheim.
Or you can keep a log of each adventure, like this crude one I have for my FLAILSNAILS guy Young MacDonnal.
8-10-11 Donnal was 1 of 4 crappy 0-level PCs (3 of 8 total) to survive the canonical DCC intro adventure “The Portal Under the Stars”. DM: Shawn Sanford (arcadayn). Fellow players: Zak S.  Looted the weapons and armor of the War-Wizard.


11-19-11 Donnal adventured briefly with Zaunn the Mighty (Niles Calder), Redwall the Thief (now Boner the Pig, Jeremy Deram), Agnes the Amazon (?). Visited Nightwick Abbey (Evan van Elkins) for about 10 minutes before DMs internet went out. Donnal refuses to discuss what happened that fateful day.

1-10-12 - Stan [Donnal's henchman] begins adventuring with Donnal. Sold mithral from 1st adventure to a sage in Jeremy Deram’s Outland. Adventured with Blixa the Thief & Abe (Zak S), Steve Albertson’s Tengu thief Scarecrow Hooker & his henchman the dwarf Barkbeard Woodsack, Kyrinn Eis of Urutsk's 0-level troupe (Doc Sampson, alchemist; Ozzy Sweetleaf, goblin glassblower/astrologer; John Plisskin, carpenter; Hell Tanner, tanner). Ransacked the Mysterious Cave Epsilon. Gained pet psionic lizard guy.
There's nothing particularly special about this little twerp of a fighter 2.  Seriously, his only bonus in life is a Charisma of fifteen.  There are better PCs out there.  And guys with a lot more kickass adventures under their belt.  We're basically all treading jeweled thrones under our feet.  So do yourself a solid and savor this stuff.  It's not about the party.  It's not about some quest.  It sure as hell ain't about the setting.  FLAILSNAILS is all about [your PC's name here].