A while ago I figured out an ending to this campaign. It was going to be the main focus of the latter "epic" level portions of the campaign. It was going to change things and alter the nature of the players and The Known World itself, perhaps even Hekinoe itself. I liked it, it was a literal save the world plot that had them gallivanting from nation to nation fighting foes and dark sorcery and such. I thought it was cool and it would show a lot of the secrets Fred is curious about, and it would tie up a lot of little plot loose ends that have been hanging around,m.
The thing is, I'm not sure if that is appropriate for these guys. They only reluctantly venture out of the comfort zone of Meroteth and Kusseth. Usually only when the plot railroads them into it. They don't seem to want to get out and experience the world or affect the countries and their borders, let alone the planet itself. I guess what I am saying is that world spanning plots that involve saving and destroying the world are not really their forte. Fred talks about Kethralzahn wanting to go back to Steeltown, Eric talks about Xein wanting to meet his mother or go see John, and Jeremy talks about wanting to figure out who D'alton is. They also want to work for bards and get information. None of that screams to me that their characters have hopes and dreams and want to be important and affect the fates of nations. It tells me they want to keep doing what they do, be bossed around and become ridiculously powerful for their place in the world. Would they go along with saving or damning the world? Yeah, definitely, but just like last campaign, I would have to railroad them into it any time I wanted them to step out of their comfort zone, and I am sick of railroading.
On a completely unrelated not that has no bearing on this topic at all, I've read recently on one of the many blogs I follow via Google Reader for Android, about Dave Arneson and impartial DMing. The more I learn about Arneson, the more I feel like he is unkindly relegated to a behind the scenes or footnote status in the history of the game. Anyway, the gist of impartial DMing is as follows:
The DM is impartial, he is there to create the world as is, he is there to present it to the players, he is there to adjudicate rolls and disputes. He is not there to baby them or hold their hands while they remember their schedules or feed them or anything. He does not fudge dice rolls in any way, he does not reward stupidity or give hints and suggest that maybe they should recheck that loose flagstone or say maybe they should arm themselves with more than pitchforks and straw hats before they try to fight their way into the evil overlord's keep of damnation. He does not remind them that deserts are hot and they have no horses and perhaps they should stock up on extra food and water. He presents the world to them, and allows them to interact with it and suffer the consequences of their foolish mistakes or inattention. He is impartial and mercilessly so and rewards cunning and intelligence, but punishes stupidity and rudeness. He does not fetishize the rules, but he does not break them upon the anvil of a player's whining merely to appease the players. He is in effect, True Neutral (or perhaps Lawful Neutral), an uncaring bastion of observation, rules knowledge, and judgement.
Something about that description fills me with awe. To play in a game with an Impartial DM would be like...I dunno, it sounds cool. It sounds challenging. Rarely does a Game Master hate his players, I certainly don't. So we tend to fudge and advise and hint, basically we coddle them, because they are our friends and we like them. Impartial DMing sounds like playing DnD with some sort of silent, impassive bastion of law and order. Kind of like Kethralzahn.
Anyway, back to the larger issue, the scale of the campaign. So, Eric and John want to be high level. We can do that. It will take longer than fifteen sessions this time though. We're still level one after three sessions, but they're earning their levels. They are working to figure things out and find a niche to occupy while they amass cash and strength. Fred wants to experience the story and know the secrets of the world, that can easily be done, and we don't need high level play to do it. Going to Steeltown is actually the first step in experiencing some secrets. Jeremy wants to figure out who D'alton is, and well, that is part of playing role-playing games. It seems like playing from session to session will satisfy their goals. I don't know. I guess I am saying my epic level plot is on hold for now. I'm going to be patient and throw plot hooks at them by the dozen until something sticks. There is no time limit or session limit to this campaign, so I am content to be patient and let it happen at their speed.
Besides, every time they ruin something in Hekinoe, I can just make them suffer for it in Fourthcore. Hehe.