Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Crawling Horror of the Playerless DM

Interesting, to me at least, is the fact that while there is a super-abundance of players and games on G+, it can be somewhat difficult to actually get a game going as a DM.  That's my experience, I don't know how it goes for you, Dear Reader.

This is partly due to scheduling, and also partly due to the fact that no one knows me from fuck-all, except a couple of really cool people I've gamed with who are also hip deep in a couple of ongoing games, already.

So what's a floundering and up-coming DM to do?  Is there some method aside from the "attract-players-you-like-and-hope-for-the-best" approach?  It seems to me that my throwing out "game on Wednesday night" is bound to get about a less-than 30% success rate, even with a sound campaign that is well known and atmospheric (i.e. the Barrowmaze), and a system that has a strong foothold in a certain type of gamer (i.e. DCC).

These animated skeletons and the risen corpses of previous adventures are growing bored with sharpening their rusty blades.  Wights and wraiths and ghouls fight a slow and endless war to gain favour with Nergal, Kyuss, Gax, Nyarlathotep... let us say that the list of god-things that scrabble over the salted earth of the marsh is wearying and nigh endless.  What the campaign needs (when it starts) is something, not just the standard creepy horror, but some kind of imminent disaster.

I'm toying with an "apocalypse counter" a la some great Mythos-flavored board games that counts inexorably down to '0' at which time the horrors of the Barrowmaze will simply break free of their constraints of stone and turn the whole of the land around Helix into a hellish wasteland.  The only thing that offsets the countdown is the number of Luck points or XP earned by the party, in some totally unfair and unpleasant ratio.  The only way to stop it, well, I mean you'd need to have read it to know this but .... well, let us say there are clues in abundance if the players will only play.

In my head and campaign notes, I run the luckless meatshields I have at hand through the first few rooms, chuckling at their demise.  To turn them into dungeon dressing, or have them await the next batch of heroes in their undeath, that is the question!

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