• Jonah Elliot

Setting boundaries - My current game

My Current Game

So, let’s just get one thing straight about how I run RPGs now: I will not, I swear to the Lord above, ever have that party of Black Cloak players who refuse to work together … like back in High School. Forget it. I’m not going through that again. Ever since then, players make their characters together. And they make their pre-determined relationships before it starts.

Okay, maybe I don’t always do this. But every time I didn’t, I ended up regretting it.

So after my hiatus of years, I finally was persuaded to try running D&D game. Homebrew. No more marching through modules. I’d do the legwork to make this a powerful experience for my players. And hopefully an excuse to get out of the house every two weeks.

I faced the players. Many were new to me. And I gave them my standard speech. “I’m going to lay down the rules. You’re going to follow them. You don’t get to play anything you want. You can play within the structure I give you. So here are the rules.”

First…. All of you are human.

Second…. I want each of the four classes represented: Fighter, Mage, Thief, Cleric.

Third…. Oh, did I mention? We’re playing second edition.

Fourth…. Once you decided on your class… pick one of the five index cards I have here.

And I also went into depth that I wanted their backgrounds defined. I wanted to know where the fighter got his training. I wanted to know the cleric’s deity. Who’s the old man who taught the wizard magic? And what’s the thief’s favorite way to make money?

So they did. And they drew the cards.

The Paladin drew the card: “Love Interest.”

The Cleric drew the card: “Younger sister.”

And now the Cleric gave a dirty look to the Paladin. “Your love interest better not be my little sister.”

So of course, it was.

The mage drew the “farmboy” card. And the thief got the “nobility” card.

That made an interesting dynamic. Maybe I figured the thief would be a hardscrabble kid, trying to feed a little sister by ripping off pockets while living on the streets, a destitute picture of humanity.

Nope. Instead, he was the son of the Baron himself, bored with his life, and getting extra money through smuggling, because he found his allowance insufficient.

The Paladin and the Cleric worshipped the same god, who had the same temple. But despite a similar background, religion, and alignment, they still squabbled all the time about the well-being of the girlfriend / sister.

Now this – is a party with personality.

As the adventure went forward, the thief clashed with the paladin. Supposedly, the paladin was in charge of their quest. But the thief considered his nobility sufficient to put him in charge. He also tried to ally with the wizard, figuring a farm boy would be susceptible to money. The Cleric and the Paladin are kind of allies because they serve the same deity – but have plenty to squabble about as well.

It could be a book. Maybe I’ll make it one sometime.

Anyway, why the restrictions? Some of them I can explain now. I wanted to have a pretty rich town and I was interested in exploring the regular dynamics of institutions and human organizations. Demi humans through in a different dynamic. When I want to do a story on the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker, I’m not sure where Dwarves fit into that equation. But hey, maybe in my next game

I’ll tell them to make all Elves or something.

Second edition – I’ve been out of D&D a long time. I’m basically a fossil. I may break down and examine 5th edition at some point and give my opinion on that. But that’s for another day.

As for class limitation – again, that’s a storytelling aspect. And also so players each bring something unique to the table. But I have another reason, and I’ll get to it next time.

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