Today’s article on Gnome Stew seems more than apt to describe the inner conflict I have brewing in my own campaign right now, but serves as a reminder as to why I had to let the players choose what they wanted and not force any particular character (or in this case, race) on them.
Thursday begins my Pathfinder drow campaign (one long in the coming) with a motley crew of agents for House Xaniqos of Erelhei-Cinlu. Originally, I had envisioned a game of disinheritance and a power struggle between the PC’s and their erstwhile family. However, I still don’t have any full-blooded drow characters on the table, with the exception of one PC who may yet come and make a character, and one other who expressed interest in the game but whom I have yet to hear back from. My players chose two Ratmen (so they could power game and swarm (read: flank from one square) for sneak attacks forever), one Duergar, and one Half-drow to play, all of whom are loosely in the employ of the house but by no means invested. So. Back to the drawing board–this is why I hadn’t done more than the most cursory prep beforehand.
Sensing my disappointment (and owing in some part to my complete lack of pokerface), my boyfriend and immediately offered to go drow. No, I told him, I left the possibility open because I wanted you to play the characters and game you wanted, not the one I wanted; if I don’t entertain my players, there won’t be a game for very long. Moreover, I had already braced myself to run a more martial Underdark expedition, and upped them from level 7 to 9 so I could utilize material and encounters from City of the Spider Queen, so the basic game remains the same. Only the context changes, from dispossessed nobles to manipulated agents.
If it had been just him playing a monstrous class, I may have accepted his offer. But for the whole party to choose anything but drow, that tells me something.
First of all, maybe it’s only me that finds evil, flawed, and tragic characters (e.g. Drow, Ven, 18th century Aristocracy) attractive, my love for them being but a reflection of my own dark and twisted soul. Secondly, to me d20 systems are inherently combat-oriented, otherwise we would have been playing using HotB or SoIFRP instead. This just furthers my resolve to NOT GM AT ALL during my upcoming semester at Wittenberg, primarily for a break from the stress of entertaining my friends but also so I can play in games that will fit my characters better (but also because I won’t have any time for prep).
I’ll just have to run more Dungeon Crawl Classics to vent my GM frustrations on my players, mercilessly slaying their 0-level peasants and delighting in their soul-crushing disappointment as they cross out all four of their petty characters. More on that later.
About the author Katrina Ostrander
Katrina Ostrander is a twenty-something gamer chick, game master, and fiction editor working at Fantasy Flight Games. Her previous credits include work as a game developer on the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire and Age of Rebellion roleplaying game lines. When she's not gaming (or working, which is practically same thing), she enjoys reading, writing, singing karaoke and trying craft beers.