16 November 2010

Reflections on Forgotten Songs -- Prelude

I want to diverge a bit from the scattered work on the Pirates vs. Vikings setting to comment on some posts from my good friend Risus Monkey.  A long time ago, RM was a player in a longer-term 3.0 edition game I ran when we both lived in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Now, having uncovered his player logs from that campaign, he's posting them periodically to his blog.  This has brought back a lot of memories and prompted a lot of reflection on my part.  I thought I'd repay RM's kindness in writing and posting these stories by adding a "commentary track"; I'll post my own DM's Screen take on Katja's diary as time and energy warrant.

A couple of preliminaries, however.  Risus Monkey pays me high compliment when he says:
Professor Pope's D&D3e Forgotten Songs campaign ranks among my top role-playing experiences as a player.
Honestly this is pretty flattering.  It's high praise because Risus Monkey himself is a wonderful GM.  Not only that, my memories of this campaign are emotionally mixed.  One one hand, we no doubt had fun.  Risus Monkey and Cthulhu's Librarian (who played Bix) are still two of my closest friends today.  On the other, I remember struggling mightily with the new 3.0 system, being frustrated by many elements of it, and dealing with a number of inter-personal player conflicts that, years later, still resonate.  The later is especially keen, since I think our gaming group was, for a time, much more than a gaming group and was a close group of friends that approached family-like status.  I am sure ruminations on all of the above will show up in my commentary, but I'll try not to air any dirty laundry.  That sounds rather expose of me, I suppose.  But I can't completely separate the game from the players, since we were all so close for a time.

Forgotten Songs (FS) was my attempt to run a long-term game, somewhat epic in scope.  The Virginia group had played in a short-lived game prior to FS, but we restarted with new characters and the addition of another player.  My goal was to run a game as lengthy and fun as the 2nd Edition game I had played in before moving to Virginia.  In fact, I chose to set FS in the same world as that previous game -- Ermoon.  Ermoon was a homebrew world developed by my former DM Darren, whom I played with in graduate school in Texas.  It incorporated lots of real-world mythology, with various sections of the world having a different "feel".  The Forgotten Songs game was set in the part of Ermoon that resembled pagan Celtic lands (hence Oghma).  I was also constantly challenged and inspired by Story Hours posted on ENWorld, particually those of Sagiro and Piratecat.  Those games, which had been running for years, coupled with my own fairly recent epic game history, set high expectations for the game in my own mind, even before it had gotten started. 

Initially, I tried to follow the rules set forth in the Dungeoncraft series of articles in Dragon magazine, the first of which was start small but have secrets.  I laid out this backwoods village of Harcomb, which was near to some ruins that were supposedly a forgotten temple of Oghma, a god no one worshiped any longer.  The initial arc of the campaign would be having the players engage in small adventures near the ruins, gaining experience (both XP and simply playing with the new rules and working together), gathering some basic information about Oghma, the temple, and the socio-politcal state of things.  Then, they would venture into the dungeon, gradually exploring it bit by bit, leaving to do other things and returning at will.  They would uncover it's secrets, some of which related directly to PC's histories,  Other secrets were literally earth-shaking, threatening to upset the established politcal and religious order, unleash nasty evil on the world, or both at the same time.  The PC's would work up to that, however.  First, they had to meet each other.  Then they had to learn to work together and gain some resources before entering the temple. Katja's first entry tells of the initial meeting of the PC's.

4 comments:

  1. I am really looking forward to reading the GM's perspective on the game. I have read through Risus Monkey's posts and can't wait for him to post more. I wish I could play in a game like this again.

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  2. "Forgotten Songs: The Director's Cut"

    Awesome.

    It's perfectly understandable that you'd have a different (and decidedly mixed) recollection of the game. As GM, you had to deal with all the personality issues and I imagine that it was very frustrating that we never did get to the temple of Oghma. But despite the extraneous drama, I was really able to immerse myself in my character and that is why I remember the campaign so fondly. Up until that point, I'd never had a character with such a well-defined story arc. And regardless of how the group would eventually collapse, I'll always remember the friendships that we enjoyed at that particular moment in time.

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  3. Glad you guys are excited about it. I am, too, even if there are mixed feelings about revisiting all of it.

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  4. Just to second Risus Monkey's complement, the Forgotten Songs campaign is easily at the top of my gaming experiences as well. I had a great time as a player, and it definitely cemented my friendships with both you & RM. Definitely some mixed feelings here as well as far as personality clashes and outside drama that occurred over time, but as RM said, I'll always value the friendships that we had as a group at the time. It was so much more than just a gaming group for a few years-many good times and some not so good.

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