Friday, June 27, 2014


So...the wife went and spent a week up in Kansas with her mother and family.  She spent most of that time as relief for her older sister who has had to be the caretaker for their mother.  Susan's mom was diagnosed back in February with Stage 4 lung cancer and it had probably metastasized to her hip and other body parts.  Rather than fight the disease with chemo or radiation, her mother said "I'm going to die anyway and I'd rather not be miserable".  The oldest child then contacted hospice and we've all been put into "waiting mode", which is a horribly callous way to say basically the truth.  The oldest is a school teacher and her husband has also been fighting prostate cancer.  Anyway, things are beginning to culminate now.  My mother-in-law has been pretty much bedridden for the past week.  She's lost a great deal of weight.  She sleeps almost constantly.  When she is awake, she is often confused by who is who and why she's where she is.  Based upon what I dealt with last summer, the end is near and it's tough watching it happen again to someone so close.

With this hanging over us all, the wife and I decided to steal away for a few days for a little bit of time just for us.  We took off to our time share in the backwoods of Arkansas and just rested.  We focused on supporting each other and strengthening our connection so we can better weather the storms ahead.  It was nice.

That being said, not much else was done on the gaming front.  I've been working on putting together a campaign as I mentioned before, mainly trying to get a good idea for a starting point.  In the old days, we all just wanted to loot dungeons and kill monsters.  Nowadays we need better and clearer incentive.  The last few games which have really stood the test of time had a common starting point.  The old kobold game had the group begin play as part of a kobold band.  The next campaign had us all starting off as kidnapped fishermen.  These were emotional hooks.  I've tried other ideas for other starts, but those all fizzled, mostly because I couldn't get the emotional buy-in that these other campaigns had.  So, I'm going back to an old, old idea from the beginning of my gaming days that worked then; the group is a soon to be "graduated" class of former apprentices facing their final exam.  They must survive a sample dungeon crawl to "graduate". 

The main problem with this start, though, is that the players need to show up at the table ready to play whatever the dice tells them to play and not try to start with a character already in mind.  This blank slate approach allows for more creativity when the character is being rolled up.  I would like to be able to feed a few ideas into the creation process to use for later adventures.  But such an approach is anathema to how a character is created in these later editions of D&D.  So, we'll see if I am able to get anything actually played.

Side Note:  I realize that I may sound pretty harsh when I discuss the later editions of D&D and it's spinoffs (like Pathfinder), but I really cannot fathom the long term interest in these systems.  I have had the epiphany that when I say that a system is "number heavy" or "unbalanced" or even "munchkin-esque", I am generally thinking of a different definition of these terms than others.  To me, the new systems require the use of a computer to make a "proper" character, in the sense that the number of rules makes calculating the hundreds of bonus and penalty modifiers is absolutely staggering.  This then allows for multiple rules lawyering discussions to break out, followed by the discussion of which computer character generator was used and the weaknesses and failings in each one.  The characters made with just the book and a pencil then become unbalanced, typically toward being weaker as some of the bonuses do not all get added in or all the penalties applied.  And thus, to make the "best" character possible, one needs to become the munchkin and find all the loopholes and gray areas.'s just too much work.  And if you enjoy that sort of game, more power to you.  I wholeheartedly support you as you are playing a game you enjoy.  That's the most important thing of all: Play what you enjoy and to hell with what anyone else thinks of it.

I believe that is the lesson I have learned through all this, be yourself and enjoy yourself.  Life is too short to do otherwise.
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