You don’t have time to build up to something great

Let’s get down to our roots.

“You’ve got your equipment, worked out your marching order. Your party traveled through the swamps following the ancient crumbling road. You’ve made your way to the ruined moathouse. Its open gates yawn open before you, great planks shattered by some forgotten siege, now covered in moss.”

The next thing that happens needs to be the best thing you can think of. Don’t hold that idea back for use later in the dungeon, or in some other campaign. Trust me, you’ll have other ideas. Maybe better ones. What you can not afford is to have a mostly empty ground floor with some bandits who don’t know about the snake living in the corner.

Let’s say you game every Saturday for a few hours, every single week of the year. You could play through the old school modules in a couple years. Mix in the One Page Dungeon contest winners and you’ve got at least another couple years. By then you probably have a bunch of adventure ideas of your own, maybe a big campaign idea. Assuming no gaps in gaming, and that you’re one of those lifelong gamers, and you don’t play other games, I could hand you enough free resources to run games for a decade. The stuff I write, I’ll probably never get a chance to use all of it. Not to say it’s all good, but I sure like it.

This embarrassment of riches demands discretion. You have only so much life to live, only so many rolls of that d20, so every lame battle with some kobolds in a field means one less fight with a fire-eating Kool-Aid Man who took over a dual-phase wizard’s mansion.

Next game session, use up the best idea you have right away. I think you’ll find it refreshing.

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5 Responses to “You don’t have time to build up to something great”

  1. ClawCarver Says:

    Wise words. I will try to bear them in mind.

  2. Blog Watch: Pulp Fantasy’s Nabokov, Supplanting the Canon, Sword-and-Soul, and Radical Heterogeneity | Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog Says:

    […] (1d30) You don’t have time to build up to something great — “The next thing that happens needs to be the best thing you can think of. Don’t […]

  3. morrisonmp Says:

    Just remember that “the best idea” is subjective (specifically, it is group dependent). I, for one, have been gaming for 32+ years at this point and I still enjoy the basics (like a kobold fight in a field). I don’t equate zaniness with quality. I’m not saying you do, just working off your example. But then, to be fair, my joy in gaming primarily comes from in character interaction and personal world-building (during play) so the gonzo factor of a trap or encounter is probably lost on me anyway.

  4. 1d30 Says:

    @morrisonmp: I think some people really enjoy novelty more, and some people enjoy the familiar more (with a lot of people in the middle and few on the extremes). I try to figure out what my group likes. But as an example, about a year back I had a bunch of kobolds in wicker nests in the trees scattered around an old barrow-graveyard. They were living in the cracked-open tombs but had sentries in the trees, and set up all kinds of booby-traps around the place. Ran it as a mass-combat thing where each player had their own figure but the kobolds were d6s with the number of pips being the number of kobolds. It was still a kobold fight but it had some interesting things going on.

    Regardless, all I’m getting at is if I have an idea for a great kobold fight, I’ll write that up in the adventure next, instead of a more basic and less interesting fight. If I come across a cool magic sword that’s about the same power level as a +1 sword, and there’s a +1 sword in my adventure, I’m gonna replace the boring one instead of adding the cool one later.

    Another way to look at it is an outline or a sketch. I’ll write the adventure in broad strokes and come in for details later. Part of that process is amping up boring stuff. Even if it’s something dumb like “the thug has a fresh face tattoo because he just joined the gang and he’s got something to prove”.

  5. RETROSPECTIVE: Stormbringer by Michael Moorcock – castaliahouse.com Says:

    […] saving back this sort of thing, you need to get with it, because as the 1d30 blog can tell you,  you don’t have time to build up to something great. (This link also courtesy of Dyvers Best Reads of the […]

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