Yesterday marked the beginning of my third week of unemployment. While the stress of my previous job is no longer an issue, I am faced with a whole new host of things to worry about. The first is, obviously, trying to find a new job. There’s lots of things to get done around the house, so it’s not as if I have a lack of things to do. Getting them done with a 3 year old who has no regard for his own personal safety (much less the well-being and structural integrity of his parents’ belongings, the furniture, or even the house) significantly raises the challenge rating on keeping my sanity. I’m used to spending my days in my own little world hacking away at some perl script, or among adults, talking about programming and D&D. I am reasonably sure, however, that my level of reading comprehension has risen somewhat after watching forty-seven episodes of Super Why.
To cope, I’m using a strategy I got from the father from Calvin and Hobbes. I’m not very good at lies, but I figure I can stunt my son’s development sufficiently if I teach him a bunch of random strange information that he will slowly peel open like an onion over the course of his adult life. When he hears thunder, he says “that’s Mjölnir.” When he hears “Welcome To The Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses, I have him trained to say “shananananananana knees.” And people, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard a toddler say “algorithm.”
From The Comfort Of Your Own Castle
It occurred to me this morning during the few precious seconds between Super Why episodes that you don’t see very many D&D campaigns set in one place with the PC’s never really leaving. My first impulse is to think such a campaign would be boring without the joy of exploration and travel. Would it still be boring if everything you would have fought on the way came to you? A frequently used setting would be a benefit to DMs in that they could work on scenarios in a semi-constant familiar place, and the players might get emotionally attached to it. Then again, familiarity breeds contempt, and there’s the risk of both the DM and the players growing bored.
It should be said that I can’t quite unflag this as an Awful Idea, but I was intrigued enough that I figured I could run the risk of boring all of you for a few minutes. (It’s what I do.)
Shiv +3, Soap Tongue
It seems to me that there are several scenarios ripe for not-going-anywhere: prisons and castles.
The prison scenario would have to drive its plot with the actions of the inmates. It could be as simple as the campaign representing the PCs’ sentence in prison, ending in their release, and all they have to do is survive for the duration. Individual adventures could deal with trying to negotiate with prison gangs or evading the brutal prison guards, eventually culminating in large-scale prison riots (and possibly escape attempts). One potential limitation I can see is that your players had better enjoy fighting other humanoids and using primitive hand-made weapons. Also, rules regarding the consumption of pruno would need to be written.
A scenario in which the PCs were castle guards (or some other employee of the kingdom based in said castle) intrigues me for the simple reason that the dreaded Campaign Rails are not really an issue because that’s just sort of how the whole thing works. The PCs are doing their jobs, and the adventures show up at their doorstep. In a given session, they could be repelling an invasion, driving off monsters, or trying to make sure no harm befalls a particularly hedonistic nobleman. (Yes, that last one was inspired by my 3-year-old.) It’s certainly not out of the question that the PCs might run an errand outside the castle, but that’s not where all the fun is. Yup, there’s the little voice that makes me want to put my players on rails. I knew it would show up eventually.
A Man’s Castle Is His Home
Ultimately, even after thinking about how to make this more fun, I don’t really know if cooping the players up in one place for that long is such a good plan. I do, however, think this kind of idea might be used successfully — in moderation. This kind of thinking seems well-suited to a campaign where the players have a home base, especially if the PCs ended the last session at the home base and the DM has limited time to plan the next session.
Anyway, that was a fun little excursion. With any luck, I’ll be using my at-will power of “D&D As A Metaphor” to write an article about how to play adventurers who have recently been hired as IT professionals. (There’s usually quite a bit of culture shock, and the wizards don’t do as well as you’d think.)