The holidays always plays havoc with the gaming schedule, and this year was no different. There were two games cancelled because of familial responsibilities, which meant no further exploration of Freeport and the portal or of the Plain of Cairns in the Wilderlands. Last Friday should have been a return to Freeport, but we ended up talking about the various editions of D&D, old gaming groups and adventures, what we all got for Christmas, and generally cutting up. It was fun and nice to just sit and relax with folks who share the same hobbies.
One of the points of discussion was the new Hobbit movie. While I'm not a full fledged Tolkien scholar, I am a rather big fan of Middle Earth and the associated books describing it. Thus, I found the film somewhat enjoyable but uneven. I thought the added material about Thorin was done very well but the depiction of Radagast was horrible. The goblins were cartoonish, as opposed to being a variant of the orcs as they should be. And one of the battles is completely different from what I distinctly remember in the book. But, if you've not read the book (like my wife), then the movie was enjoyable and fun and left you wanting to see the next one. Which makes me wonder how they can turn this little book into 3 movies? This installment ends at (almost literally) the halfway point in the book. The only thing I can think of that will be added is a much larger sequence of Gandalf and the Council fighting the Necromancer at Dol Guldur and an expanded view of the Battle of Five Armies. But then, I may be mistaken. It has been more than 10 years since I read the book, which I did to my kids over many nights as a bedtime story. So, I dug out a copy of the Annotated version and am working my way through that. Maybe I'll go see the movie again after I finish the book.
On another tangent, not related to the non-game which happened last week, I have been pondering what my approach to gaming is based upon and how that translates to the games I play and run. The impetus for this navel gazing, self absorption and critique occurred in a couple of recent games with 3 different groups. After each game, I felt like I had missed out on something really interesting in the game world because I wasn't paying attention to everything being described. I also noticed that I like puzzles and challenges in which I can exercise some creativity by finding non-standard solutions, like using magic items in ways they were not initially intended to be used or roleplaying through a negotiation which pits two opposing sides against each other instead of having them gang up on me and my fellow PC's. Those are the fun games. As DM though, I am often upset with myself because I can never seem to get the image of a room or street or town properly described. I tend to cut corners and make allusions rather than take the time to really describe the situations around the PC's. This has often led to misunderstandings and either foolish choices or severe over cautiousness by the group. As I pondered on these different views, I started looking for patterns of behavior in myself and others to determine where the feelings of disquietude originated. One thing which I have noticed in the recent years in almost everyone around me is a growing lack of patience with each other and with processes. I wonder if my lack of description is due to this sense of impatience I find growing within me? I wonder if my feeling of "missing out" is due to a lack of patience I have when the DM is trying to convey a certain tone or present a more fleshed out scene? Or could it really all be a product of maturity and depth of understanding of the genre and rules which has taken away that sense of wide-eyed wonder I had when I first sat down to play this game over 30 years ago? I don't know. I do know that I wish I could get a little of that sense of wonder back, like not knowing what the monster is or how many HD it has or what it can do. I especially wish I could rid myself of the idea of "balanced encounters" and "CR" and other metagaming ideas which cause me to not think of what would be fun but what are the statistics and mods and such.
Sorry for the boring discussion. I hope to have a game report next week. See y'all then.