Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The day I killed two campaigns

After much consideration of recent events Doug, Pat, and I have decided to bow out of the World of Alidor. And I'm abandoning my Eberron effort, with a new project to follow on its heels.

It might be possible to misread my report of the last session and come to the conclusion that Jon is some sort of blackhearted villain. That's not the problem. I think that there was an ongoing issue of incompatible priorities. We wanted to roll around the campaign world getting into trouble and breaking shit, while Jon had some sort of epic plotline he wanted to play out. We never seemed to get those interests to sufficiently overlap, frustrating both us and the DM.

The sidetrip to Hell and the events that followed only served as the camel that broke the straw's back. Every gamer I know has one or more hotbutton issues that simply turn them off completely. Doug bristles under permanent ability drain effects. Pat loathes being told he must play a Good character. When I go to the trouble of writing an elaborate background for my PC, I absolutely hate the DM overwriting my ideas and telling me that my background story was a false memory implant. The diabolic sodomy and the events leading to it were not my idea of a good time. Nor Pat's. Nor Doug's. I can't really speak for Jason as I haven't discussed the matter with him at as great a length, but I think he agrees with us.

Has everyone else been following the most recent Marvel crossover, Civil War? It takes the old Marvel universe we all know and love and makes some pretty startling changes. Iron Man becomes a fascist in the name of national security. He gets onboard a government program to either conscript or imprison all known superheroes. He does horrible and reprehensible things in the name of public safety. Captain America (you know, the Sentinel of Liberty) leads a ragtag group of rebels against Iron Man and his crew. In the final issue of the main mini-series, Cap surrenders to government authority and Tony Stark's fascism brigade wins. It's ugly.

And that's sort of my point here. For serious storytelling, maybe Alidor and the new Marvel universe work. As venues for escapist fantasy they are simply too ugly for my tastes. The thing that sticks out in my mind about Alidor right now is that in all our globe-trotting adventures we never found one place worth fighting for. As far as Osric the Slayer can see there's no Shire, no village of Hommlet. The elves are opressive samurai racists. The halfings are cannibalistic draco-lich worshippers. The dwarves are surly and inhospitable, even moreso than usual. The humans of Jelling, where we started the campaign, are all either totalitarian thugs or bumpkins straight out of Deliverance. Can all these ideas be the grist of great stories? Hell, yes! But as the player of a fighting man, I'm completely at a loss at to what the hell I'm fighting for. I am not exaggerating when I say that I've seen Gamma World set-ups more inviting and cheery.

And then there's my game. I'm not going to lie to you. One of the reason's I'm dropping the game is because I'm a big wuss. I don't want to call Jon on the phone and tell him that I don't want him to come to the next session. Out of fairness to the other player's I wouldn't drop the game for just that one cause. But even before this present mess I got a clear vibe about this new campaign that it wasn't gelling in the way that I had hoped. Something's not quite right. In actual play Eberron isn't speaking to me the way I had hoped it would. The setting seems almost like a burden. So I'm going to look into doing something else.

So there you have it. I sincerely hope Jon finds players that are more comptible with his ideas as to how D&D is run. I don't wish the man ill. But his ideas as to what goes into a good D&D game and mine seem to be at a fork in the road, and I'm going the other way.